When I’m Bored I Pretend to Be a Geeky YouTube Star

I don’t think I’ve made a secret of the various geeky enterprises I enjoy supporting with my social media capital (and occasionally with actual capital). In case you haven’t been paying attention, though, let me introduce you to some wonderfully geeky monkeys on my back.


The Nerdist, Chris Hardwick. This is just what he does.

First, there’s the Nerdist podcast and YouTube Channel. I started listening to the podcast early last year, and I’ve attended two live recordings, one with Veronica Belmont, the other with Dan Harmon (this episode has never been released for some reason). The YouTube Channel includes a show called “All Star Celebrity Bowling”, which pits Nerdist teams against teams of people involved with various shows or projects, like Mad Men, Breaking Bad, Doctor Who, and The Walking Dead. Do you want to see Matt Smith or Jon Hamm bowl? Yes you do.

Clare Kramer in a pedicab with Dexter’s Julie Benz and Jaime Murray

Second, there’s GeekNation, a website enterprise started by Clare Kramer and friends. Clare might be more familiar to you as Glory, the Big Bad from the fifth season of Buffy, or as Courtney from Bring It On, and she has many connections to the geek universe that make her site a draw. GeekNation features a number of podcast and video shows, and articles of a geeky bent. Say “geek” again, me. Geek.

Speaking of geek. the third timesuck to mention is Geek and Sundry, a YouTube channel started by another Buffy alum, Felicia Day. I’ve been a fan of Geek and Sundry since the channel started, as has been well, nay, exhaustively documented here, and I continue to follow shows like Written By a Kid, The Guild and Tabletop, among others.

More importantly, Tabletop inspired me to create my own YouTube sensation.

I call it “Tablepop”, because I think I’m funny.

Go spend your time geekily.

Freerunning for Five-Year Olds: Trading Patty-cake for Parkour

Erin is a born daredevil. When she was a baby, she would commando-crawl to the edge of her play spaces, finding doors and staircases leading to new worlds. She was so fast as a commando she never really bothered crawling upright. She passed quickly from crawling to running, and then the world was her oyster.

Honestly, carrying her in the backpack was partly inspired by how much trouble she could get into if she were let loose.

Now, my little commando is five, and doorways and staircases are boring. Now she flips, spins, cartwheels, somersaults, climbs, and swings her way around the world. When she talks about kindergarten, it is to tell me how many rungs she can skip on the monkey bars (two now); when I pick her up, she always wants a few more minutes to hang upside-down from her knees on the climbing structure.

Someone introduced her to the idea of handstands in the last week, and my little freerunner would not be satisfied until she had mastered whatever combination of muscles and balance is required to perform that feat.


She practiced out on the lawn, over and over, for over thirty minutes. Popping up, falling over, popping up again. She worked out a complicated system of nods, winks, headshakes, and claps with me so that she could know immediately how closely she had come to getting completely vertical, paused, before falling over. And she succeeded.

On that day, her longest hold was about half a second. So short it could barely be called a handstand at all; more like falling over very slowly. But today, at the mall playpit, she just rolled on up into a full handstand like it was nothing. She paused there at the top for two or three seconds, then repeated the maneuver a couple of more times before I started fearing she would kick someone in the head on the way up or down.

When we returned home from our daytrip, she was out on the lawn again, practicing her moves. Her shoulders already look more developed than just a few days ago. That’s ridiculous; it must be self-deception. And yet, my little girl can pop herself up into a handstand.

She realized she could do something else this week, too. So let me leave you with this, dear readers.

Look out, American Ninja Warrior. Your 2025 Champion is already training.

I said a hip, hop, the hippie, the hippie to the hip hip hop.

I bought my first music album in 1988. I was eleven years old. I’d never had a reason to buy music before. Music was either on the radio, or scattered on tapes throughout family cars. I remember sitting in my parents’ car listening to their Queen and Huey Lewis & The News tapes over and over again. I remember riding in my grandfather’s car, listening to The Eagles. I remember calling in to the local radio station to request songs, or to dedicate songs, and then sitting there, waiting for the song to be played. But the first time I ever paid money for music was in 1988. It was Def Leppard’s “Hysteria”, and I bought it because I was in a lip-synching competition at school. I had decided (after the radio played the song over and over) that I would lip-synch “Pour Some Sugar On Me” with my friends as my backup band. I bought the tape, and listened to it ceaselessly for days, working on my moves, getting the lyrics wrong (I still get the lyrics wrong), and deciding on an outfit. (I went with a jean jacket. Jean jackets are cool.) Eventually the day came, we performed, and we lost to the group that performed George Michael’s “Faith”. I’m still upset about that.

In 1989, I bought the second album I ever bought for myself. “Hysteria” had been different from anything else we had in the house already (Queen, Huey, The Beach Boys, Randy Travis), but the second album I ever bought was something very different. It was Rapmasters 5.


I know exactly why I bought it. I had seen Run D.M.C.’s “It’s Tricky” video (featuring Penn & Teller; do you remember that?) a bunch of times, and heard the Fat Boys’ “Wipeout” all over the place. I was browsing around a cassette carousel at K-Mart and a bunch of these Rapmasters tapes were on it. I saw “Run D.M.C.” and “Fat Boys” and thought that was enough of a reason. I could have spent money on a Bon Jovi album, or Guns N’ Roses, or U2. But no, I needed Rapmasters. Rapmasters 5.

Although I had heard “It’s Tricky” (and “Walk This Way”) before, I had never heard anything like the sound of most of the songs on this tape. This wasn’t rock-backed stuff, like Run D.M.C. or The Beastie Boys seemed to offer. It was all swaying beats; head-nodding, grooving. It was personal narration, not songs about stuff. I wore the tape out.

The next year, both Vanilla Ice and M.C. Hammer released their huge albums. I bought both of those albums, but I don’t remember any songs except the hits from them. I remember all of the songs from Rapmasters 5.

I remembered that tape tonight, and of course I had to track down videos for those songs. As soon as E.P.M.D.’s “Strictly Business” started up, I was eleven again, spouting lyrics I had no business saying.

I was this kid:

My parents must have heard the music I was listening to. We didn’t have Walkmans, or even headphones in the house. I played my tape on a portable tape deck (I called it a ghetto blaster, but that’s because I didn’t know any better), and I played it all the time. If my parents ever said anything about the music I was listening to, I have no memory of it. I don’t know if they cared. I don’t know if this tape annoyed them.

I wonder, though, because of what Erin has started dragging home with her. After attending some summer camp sessions, and essentially being entertained by teenagers for two weeks. she came home with “Call Me Maybe” stuck in her head, and it’s been there for a month. I know that I’m all done with that song, and its lyrics are pretty tame for kids to hear. What must my parents have thought of Erik B. and Rakim?

I’ve had “I like to slam it when I’m done and make sure it’s broke” in my head for over twenty years. That’s a hell of an earworm.

The only lesson here is that listening to music, even being fully invested in music, will not dictate who your children become. There is so much more to them than a vessel to be filled with lyrics. I ended up being able to appreciate U.T.F.O and E.P.M.D., but they didn’t turn me into someone my parents wouldn’t recognize as being part of them. I still love Queen and Huey Lewis, and I will listen to The Eagles while I’m driving and think of my grandfather.