The Nola Nerd Couple Podcast Episode 9: Star Wars, Comic Conventions, Zelda, and Hogs for the Cause

The Nola Nerd Couple is back with another episode covering quite a few topics.  First, we discuss the newest guests added to Celebration, and Mrs. Nola Nerd Couple tells the story of how excited the Mr. was to hear that Sarah Michelle Gellar was going to be there.  We then talk about rebels and how our jobs as teachers really make us like Ezra Bridger, a character that’s hard to like.  We go through the latest guest announcements to Comicpalooza and MegaCon.  Mrs. Nola Nerd Couple gives her first impressions of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.  Finally, we didn’t think we would be able to go to our favorite festival in New Orleans, Hogs for the Cause, but with a stroke of luck, we will be able to go with VIP tickets!

Show Notes:

Star Wars Celebration (and our coverage here)

Google search of “Ezra Bridger Annoying”

Comicpalooza (and our coverage here)

MegaCon (and our coverage here)

Hogs for the Cause 

Concert-ing: Strand of Oaks at Hogs for the Cause on March 27, 2015

Strand of Oaks at Hogs for the Cause

Strand of Oaks at Hogs for the Cause

As Cristina promised in her blog about OUR favorite festival, Hogs for the Cause, I would follow it up with one about Strand of Oaks.

I’m constantly listening to new albums using Spotify.  I scour the sites Any Decent Music and MetaCritic trying to find good new music.  The first few seconds of Strand of Oaks HEAL were enough to make me know that this would be one of my favorite albums of the year.  When Goshen ’97 bursts into life, the music brings you back to that time when you first discovered your favorite band.  It doesn’t hurt that J. Mascis’ guitar shimmers throughout the song and that it’s extremely catchy.

However, Goshen ’97 did not prepare me for how deep the album is.  The album comes off as memoir in song.  Tim Showalter, the driving force behind Strand of Oaks, was processing quite a bit of pain in the writing of this album and using the music and lyrics to exercise the demons.  The record is not depressing, but allows for Tim to help him, um, HEAL.  Considering the year I had last year, the album struck a particular cord with me.

When Hogs for the Cause announced that they booked Strand of Oaks, I was excited to say the least.  When the night came, I actually stressed about my wardrobe.  Not because I’m a snappy dresser, but because it was supposed to be in the high 50s, which after just a week of weather in the 70s equals freezing temperatures for folks from south Louisiana.  I chose my Replacements jacket.  While waiting for the first band, I checked setlist.fm to see what songs to expect. The last song at the last shows proved that I probably wore the right jacket for more than one reason.

Strand of Oaks at Hogs for the Cause

Strand of Oaks at Hogs for the Cause

Most of the songs came from HEAL.  Goshen ’97 of course rocked which was impressive in that it was only the guitarist’s third day with the band.  The title track actually sounded better and fuller live.  JM, a deeply personal song about his fallen hero, Jason Molina, was soulful and soothing.

Strand of Oaks at Hogs for the Cause

Strand of Oaks at Hogs for the Cause

At the end of the set, Cristina came up front.  I warned her for the last song, so she could record it. They announced they were going to do a cover, and then they ripped into  The Replacements’ “Alex Chilton.”  Of course, I turned into the kid that Showalter talks about in Goshen ’97.  At one point, he forgot the lyrics but made up for it in enthusiasm.  Coolest part, he pointed to me and my jacket mid song, recognizing me as a fan.

Strand of Oaks at Hogs for the Cause

Strand of Oaks at Hogs for the Cause

Because they are still an up and coming band, Tim and the drummer actually worked the merchandise booth after the show, allowing us to meet the band.  They both jokingly admitted they knew they had to cover The Replacements when they saw my jacket, even though it made them nervous. Both were so nice and thankful to be playing a festival for such a great cause.

Tim Showalter from Strand of Oaks at Hogs for the Cause

Kurt and Tim Showalter from Strand of Oaks at Hogs for the Cause

Both told us we needed to check out Hiss Golden Messenger the next day because he was really great.  We had already planned to and so when we took our place for that show, we weren’t surprised to see them rocking out in the crowd just like we were.

Festing: Hogs for the Cause, My Favorite Festival

My absolute favorite New Orleans festival is Hogs for the Cause. Every year at the festival grounds at City Park, Hogs has a food and music festival, raising money to donate to pediatric brain cancer research and care. Teams from all over cook mouth-watering pork dishes, from the traditional ribs, tacos, and sliders, to culinary creations such as a corn dog with pimento filling, pork grits, a pork filled “hupig” pie, bacon sundaes, and pretty much any other thing of which you can think, just add pork. This was our fourth year attending, over the weekend of March 27-28, 2015, and once again, it did not disappoint. Continue reading

Reviewing: 2014 Year In Review – January through April

2014 was a great year, one filled with fun memories and many great opportunities. Now that grad school is over, I can finally start blogging again, so to start, let’s wrap up last year.

January

We started the year going to Space City Con in Galveston, Texas. We’ve never been there, but we loved it. It was freezing, so we didn’t get to experience the beach/water too much, but it was just so quaint and there were so many cool little places to check out, that we enjoyed just wandering. The con was awesome too, with the highlight being meeting so many Game of Thrones characters (Renly, Loras, Hodor, Syrio, Khal Drogo, and Ros). I’d love to go back and explore, especially the Moody Gardens Hotel, where the con was located.

Games of Thrones actors Finn Jones (Loras Tyrell) and Gethin Anthony (Renly Baratheon) at Space City Con.

Games of Thrones actors Finn Jones (Loras Tyrell) and Gethin Anthony (Renly Baratheon) at Space City Con.

February

At the NOLA Comic Con, we were able to meet Matt Smith (11th Doctor), John Ratzenburger, Linda Hamilton, and a few other cool people. Matt Smith was a giant disappointment (which will be in another blog, but the quick story is that I spent all that money for a Matt Smith autograph to have him fly through the line at lightning speed, which wasn’t long at all, and not even look at me. When I said thank you he ignored me), but besides that, we had a blast.

Simpsons illustrator Phil Ortiz Simpsonized me at New Orleans Comic Con.

Simpsons illustrator Phil Ortiz Simpsonized me at New Orleans Comic Con.

I finally got to see one of Kurt’s music obsessions, Neutral Milk Hotel. The first time I heard them, I thought it was The Decemberists, so I was very quickly put in my place that NMH came first and that the Decemberists sound like them, not the other way around. They played on every instrument imaginable, including things like milk jugs, so it was definitely an experience. They only have two full albums, so I would check them out. You can listen to their whole catalogue fairly quickly (In the Aeroplane Over the Sea is my favorite of the two).

Setup for Neutral Milk Hotel.

Setup for Neutral Milk Hotel.

I also went to Pensacon and met a few cool people, like Deep Roy, Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca), and some others. Pensacon suffered from experiencing an incredible turnout their first year as a con. The talent they had was very good, but it was cramped and hard to walk from the exhibitors to the media guests. I couldn’t even stop to see any of the booths, because the aisles were so small that if you stopped, you literally blocked everyone behind you. I hope they fix the logistical issues this year, because it has the potential to be really great.

March

On Mardi Gras day, Kurt and I worked “security” for my friend’s dance group, the Nola Nyxettes. We walked in Zulu! It was so awesome walking in a NOLA parade on Mardi Gras day, especially one as iconic as Zulu. I would march every year if I could, because interacting with all the parade goers was fun and downright interesting. You meet a lot of cool people along the route, way more than I thought!

NBC Learn honored me by giving me the K-12 Subscriber Spotlight. All I do is use their videos in my class to enhance my lessons, and they interviewed me about my experience. Such a nice honor and such a useful tool for my classroom!

My friend Beth and I went to the 311 Day concert on 3/11. We finagled some backstage passes thanks to Beth’s husband and were able to see the boys up close and personal. They are still one of my favorite bands and they never disappoint. I highly recommend seeing them, especially on 311 Day! Five great hours of playing.

Kurt and I saw Elton John, a bucket list artist for me. He played for three hours and sounded phenomenal. I loved that once he came back for his encore, for almost five minutes, he signed autographs for all the people that were in the first rows in front of the stage. A class act!

The Bitch is Back!

The Bitch is Back!

Hogs for the Cause is one of our favorite charities/festivals. It’s a huge contest where you cook a pig every which way you can imagine, and different contestants enter under fun names such as “Piggy Stardust” and “Sweet Swine O Mine.” The different types of foods from pigs is astounding – chocolate covered bacon, ribs, pork tongue tacos, pulled pork nachos, cracklins’…you name it, them make it. And it all supports pediatric brain cancer, so how could you not be behind something like that? Plus, they have great bands. Hooray for Riff Raff and The Hold Steady were the two that we specifically wanted to see, and they did not disappoint.

Hogs for the Cause

Hogs for the Cause

April

WrestleMania XXX was such a blast. Hulk Hogan, Steve Austin, and The Rock opened up the show. We got to see Brock Lesnar defeat The Undertaker. I mean, who saw that coming?! Daniel Bryan beat Randy Orton and Batista, much to Triple H’s chagrin. It was so much fun being there and the best part was seeing the little kids get so into it. WrestleMania is just one of those big things people should experience, and I’m glad I did.

Daniel Bryan winning the World Heavyweight Champion at WrestleMania XXX

Daniel Bryan winning the World Heavyweight Champion at WrestleMania XXX.

For Spring Break, we went down to Disney World. We spent Easter at a great Cuban restaurant in Celebration, FL called Columbia with my sister and her boyfriend. Celebration is the cutest little town, right on a lake. It’s like Stars Hollow from Gilmore Girls or the town on The Truman Show. Plenty of cute shops, bands, a lake, good restaurants. Definitely make the trip one day if you’re looking for something to do outside of Disney. Disney itself was, of course, a blast. I’ll always be a Disney kid at heart. The new Beauty and the Beast restaurant was well worth it. We went for breakfast and dinner. It’s gorgeous and the food is wonderful.

Kurt enjoying the gargoyles in front of the Beauty and the Beast restaurant.

Kurt enjoying the gargoyles in front of the Beauty and the Beast restaurant.

The first weekend of Jazz Fest we saw Vampire Weekend on not the main stage. They were on point and it wasn’t too crowded.

Vampire Weekend at Jazz Fest

Vampire Weekend at Jazz Fest

Listening: Best Albums of 2014 – Number Ten to Number Six

I realize that for this section I might need to make a few purchases. (Note: I picked up number 7 after I wrote this).

10: Spoon: They Want My Soul 

I’m not the first to say this (it seems a running theme in all their reviews and listings in the best-of lists) but Spoon is the most consistent band in rock. Each album delivers what you expect from a Spoon album while at the same time constantly surprising you. If you have followed this list and don’t recognize any bands on it, this is the one to start with. They won’t disappoint.

  1. Grouper: Ruins

Most albums I look up the lyrics to get the full idea of the album. I refuse to do that with this one. Gothic and dreamy, it’s a perfect album to listen to while alone with a cup of tea or trying to fall asleep. It’s more of a document to a certain period in someone’s life including the beep of the microwave.

  1. Lydia Loveless: Somewhere Else
Lydia Loveless Something Else

Lydia Loveless Something Else (It’s a dark album cover, sorry for the picture)

This is the best country release that no one heard. Yet, it is more than a country album, it’s also a rock album, a punk album. In fact, classifying good music is often stupid because good albums, like this one, defy classification. Like Taylor Swift, ex-boyfriends can be targets like on the song “Chris Issak” about a boyfriend who used to sing that singers songs to her. Unlike Taylor Swift, she can write a depressing song about “Head.” But, I haven’t heard the new Taylor Swift album so I may be wrong.

  1. Pallbearer: Foundations of Burden. 

I discovered Pallbearer a few years ago, but forgot about them. Then I saw them open for Deafheaven. Deafheaven is one of my favorite bands and they were just as good as them that night. Their version of doom metal is slow, melodic, and, of course, heavy. I worry about their guitar sting budget. On the first album, the leader singer,  Brett Campbell, tried to hard to reach certain sounds.  On this one, he only tries to sound like himself.  This is the album for people who love heavy music but also like good vocals such as Black Sabbath. If the 14 year old version of myself had heard this album, I would have grown out my hair, converted my wardrobe to Iron Maiden T-shirts, and learned how to play bass guitar.

  1. Strand of Oaks: Heal

“Goshen ‘97” is the best opening song on album this year. J. Mascis provides some of his finest guitar work in years on this song. It’s such a good song not only does Timothy Showalter, the main force behind Strand of Oaks, makes a cheesy lyric such as “That’s where the magic began” not only work, but essential to the song. The rest of the album explores different music styles all successful. The next best song “JM” is a haunting tribute to one of Stand of Oaks idols, Jason Molina.  Strand of Oaks will be playing at my favorite New Orleans festival this year, Hogs for the Cause. . Considering Drive-By Tuckers will also be there, this is the show I can’t wait to see.

Tomorrow the top five.

Rambling: March Madness

A couple of highlights on the calendar for March.

March 7: Gambit Food Revue. Cristina and I will be attending this event which highlights the food that Ian McNulty has reviewed in the last year for the paper.  Over 30 restaurants will be serving samples from their kitchens.

March 9: A Streetcar Named Desire will be screened outdoors in NOMA’s Sculpture Garden. Cristina and I both attended a screening at the Saenger Theater before Katrina. We didn’t know each other then.

March 10: Oyster Jubilee. While we can’t make it, you can head down to the Quarter and see the construction of the “Longest Oyster Po-boy”. Not sure if you get to help deconstruct it.

March 16 and 30: Starlight Racing. I’ve never actually been to the fairgrounds outside of Jazz Fest.  Any betting tips?

March 24: Hogs for the Cause. Let me get this straight: I can help children with brain cancer by eating pork? I’m in.

And of course, there is the real March Madness which will end in New Orleans this year.