Category Archives: Down and Nerdy

Down and Nerdy episode 40: Oh, grow up!

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scottslucher.comThis week, James stirred the proverbial pot by raising the spectre of the NFL’s controversey du jour, Ray Rice. He also issued some homework to the D&N gang – A.O. Scott’s recent New York Times piece titled “The Death of Adulthood in American Culture,” a cultural tar-baby that was as divisive as it was impossible to put down.

I think we discussed some other things, but I’ll be danged if I can remember.

Next week, we’ll give our nominations for the best TV shows and movies of 2014. Click through to our Facebook page to issue your $0.02 on the subject.

You can now find us on iTunes or you can click here to listen.

Down and Nerdy episode 38: Oh captain, my captain

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I haven’t posted the episodes for a few weeks. Life has had me running around like the proverbial chicken with its head lopped off.

Robin WilliamsThis week was a bad one. We lost one of the Great Ones, Robin Williams. As James says in the podcast, not everyone loved everything he did, but everyone has a Robin Williams experience: a movie, Mork & Mindy, stand-up special, or an appearance that is pivotal in his or her life. We talk about our touchstone moments with Robin Williams as we lament the passing of this sweet and gentle man.

We also managed to get into other things as well:

In Louisville, a high-schooler’s prank sent the city into a state of hysteria this week, in anticipation of what was called the Louisville Purge. The hoax was inspired by the premise of the movie The Purge, where on day each year, for twelve hours, all crime is legal.  

Down and Nerdy episode 38: Oh captain, my captainThe high-schooler took the movie poster, edited in the name of Louisville and the date 8/15/14 and chose the period from 8:00 pm to 6:30 am for the carnage to take place. This meme quickly took hold and metasticized when the local news media, nothing more than gossip and fear mongers, whipped their viewers into a frenzy of panic.

Of course, nothing happened. Well, almost nothing. What did happen was a lot of people who would have normally been out enjoying a Friday night stayed home, hurting local businesses that depend on the weekend business.

Guardians of the Galaxy recently opened, and James and Rachel and Kevin discussed the movie while I took a short nap. Evidently, it’s real good. It has a talking raccoon and tree, and the hero is Andy from Parks and Recreaction.


Down and Nerdy episode 38: Oh captain, my captainI finally got around to seeing Her, Spike Jonze’s wonderful movie about what it costs to have a truly open and healthy relationship. The movie is a treasure trove of delights, from the cinematography to the acting by Joaquin Phoenix, Amy Adams and Scarlett Johansson to the themes and ideas the movie so delicately advances.

I won’t spoil it here (though we do in the podcast), but Her is as hopeful and true about the human condition as any movie I’ve seen in a while. Check it out.

Listen to the podcast to hear our usual reading lists and Netflix choices.

CLICK to stream or download.


Down and Nerdy Episode 32: Once Upon a Time

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James and the gang are back together this week to kvetch about the heat and humidity, but don’t worry, they also got into some  topics that didn’t involve sweat and lethargy.

Tomi Ungerer

The Three Robbers“Far Out Isn’t Far Enough” took up the first half of the show.  The documentary, available on Netflix, delves into the life of Tomi Ungerer, a controversial figure who at one time was the biggest thing in children’s publishing.

Born in Alsace in 1931, Ungerer lived through the Nazi occupation of France during World War II.  Ungerer’s artistic gifts blossomed early, but he was a terrible student.  After being invited to leave the Municipal School for Decorative Arts in Strasbourg, he began a period of restless wandering that led him to America.

In 1957, Ungerer met Ursula Nordstrom, a towering figure in children’s publishing, who was an editor at Harper and Row in New York.  This meeting led to the publication of Ungerer’s first book, “The Mellops go Flying”, about a family of pigs.  The book won a trove of awards and set Ungerer on his way.

During his career as a children’s book author/illustrator, Ungerer also worked in advertising, magazine publishing, as well as creating political posters speaking out against the war in Vietnam.  Ungerer also published books of erotic art that eventually led to a falling out with the children’s publishing intelligentsia.

After being blacklisted as a children’s book author, Ungerer married and left the country, moving first to Nova Scotia, and then to Ireland.

The documentary paints a picture of a sensitive man who has retained a child-like fascination with the world, despite heavy loss.  It’s his response to the loss, his sense of making something good of the bad, that is among the many interesting things about Tomi Ungerer.  Watch this film!

Once Upon a Time

Next, James introduced the gang to a game called Once Upon a Time.  It’s a storytelling game where participants draw five cards containing elements that must be included in a story they will tell.  Additionally, a card is drawn with the last line of the story.  This being a fairy tale game, each story begins with “Once upon a time….”

This is a great game to play with the family, to help kids (and grownups) get their heads around the mechanics of how to move a story from beginning to middle to end.  It’s also great exercise for the imagination.  Try it out!


Finally, the gang recommended some TV shows that have caught their attention:

  • “Orange Is The New Black” – Scott is in love with Pennsatucky (Taryn Manning), who is to OITNB what Walton Goggins is to “Justified.”
  • “Orphan Black” – Rachel keeps pushing this show, so we must watch it.
  • “Fargo” – Kevin and James both agree that this is must-see-TV.
  • “The Leftovers” – based on a Tom Perrotta novel, Kevin is really looking forward to this series that sounds like a post-rapture world.

Everyone agreed that “Halt and Catch Fire” registers as a big “meh” and has a stupid name.  How’s that for in-depth criticism?

Click here to stream the episode.

Down and Nerdy episode 31: One Small Step for Mad Men

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The Down and Nerdy crew took their summer hiatus early so they could be fresh and ready for the big Mad Men finale, which they dissect for your listening pleasure.  Also, the gang notes the passing of an era – Saturday morning cartoons on network television, Kevin gushes over Elon Musk and SpaceX’s manned space missions, and we all share our favorite binge-watching experiences.

Click HERE for a link to the show.

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Mad Men

Down and Nerdy: Spoiler Alert!

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SpoilerArt~OptimizedOn this week’s episode of Down and Nerdy, we get into the ethics of the spoiler and how and whether spoilers should be tipped off.  This leads to a conversation the proliferation of web chatter about TV episodes, where everyone is an expert and has a blog devoted to the deconstruction of their favorite show.

Mad Men is back for its seventh and final season, and the premiere episode is thoroughly dissected and digested.  We chew it up and feed it to you just like Alicia Silverstone feeding her baby.

Kevin has some thoughts on Google Glass, but James is totally freaked out at the potential for criminal mischief this powerful technology possesses.

Finally, we get into the problem of Elon Musk, a man who should be revered as a national hero but is treated like a human shoulder shrug.

This Week’s Movie Recommendations:

Milius: Scott loved this documentary about 70’s icon John Milius, who went to college with Spielberg and Lucas and wrote and/or directed movies like Dirty Harry, Jeremiah Johnson, Apocalypse Now, Red Dawn and Rome.  Milius is available on Netflix streaming.  Watch it.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier: Kevin & Rachel recommend the newest Marvel movie, which is getting great reviews, and Rachel lobbies for Black Widow to get her own movie.

The Conspiracy: James loves the found footage genre of horror/thrillers, and wants you to see this one.  Now.  It has a fun premise.  Two filmmakers set out to make a movie about a nut job conspiracy theorist and get much more than they bargained for.

Down and Nerdy: the 2048 Edition

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2048Last week, I received an email from James Bickers that included a link to a game called 2048.  He told me to start playing and be prepared to defend my high-score when we taped this week’s episode of Down and Nerdy.  I marked the message as unread and went about my business.

Later, after lunch, I went back to the message and clicked the link, which was akin to opening Pandora’s Box.  2048 is like highly concentrated crack cocaine in its addictiveness, and once I began playing I didn’t stop until I realized I was late picking my kids up from school.

The game, actually a clone of a similar game called Threes, is at the center of our fun and games this week.  It might help your listening experience if you play 2048 for 8 or 10 hours before listening to the podcast.  Don’t worry.  The time will fly by in a snap.

In addition to 2048, we covered a broad spectrum of obsessions that included Mark Zuckerberg and his just announced Facebook Connectivity Lab, harkening back to the 50’s, when we thought science would cure all our problems.  I’ve included Facebook’s recruitment video, which is probably more PR/propaganda than help wanted ad, but who cares?  I’m sold.

We also bounced around TV recommendations that included:

Finally, we got into Wattpad, a storytelling app that exemplifies the way the internet is democratizing creativity by eliminating gatekeepers and creating a direct conduit from the artist to the masses.  Anybody can post a story, leaving it to users to choose whether or not to read.

Wattpad boasts 20 million readers and 2 million authors posting 100,000 pieces daily.  This means a lot of sifting for users, but if you believe, as I do, that the cream rises to the top, then sites like this are a good thing.

If you have any recommendations for off-the-beaten path TV shows, movies or books, drop me a line in the comments section below.  I’d love to hear from you.


Listen to the Down & Nerdy Podcast

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Down & NerdyDo you wish you could find some friends who shared your love for Neil Gaiman or Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Cormac McCarthy or comic books?

Look no further because Down & Nerdy is here to keep you company.  Each week, James Bickers and fellow nerds Rachel Raphael, Kevin Kinsella and Scott Slucher crack wise on the geeky side-streets of pop-culture, commenting on the latest news, gossip and releases from the artists nobody but us love.

This week, we talked about Ban BossyAgents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and consent, President Obama’s appearance on Between Two Ferns, the Welcome to Night Vale podcast, MirandaSings and a whole lot more.

Click here to download the podcast or stream it live over the interweb.