Episode 4: Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

Nola Nerd Couple presents “Watching: Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.” Cristina and Kurt share their views of the new DC movie, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. They share what they liked, and debate what they didn’t. Warning: Spoilers.

Intro and Exit Music: Lady of the Punks by Martijn de Boer (NiGiD) (c) 2015 Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Noncommercial (3.0) license. dig.ccmixter.org/files/NiGiD/49068 Ft: Doxent Zsigmond


Listening: Rediscovering Hip-Hop

Early in my career, we were told successful teachers had “withitness.” I’m serious. They would have been less square if they used “hip.” I pointed out to my principal anyone who uses the word “withitness” obviously is not “with it.” However, they did have a point. To understand your students, you have to truly understand them. That means know what movies they are watching, what internet memes are out there, and what music they listen to. You don’t necessarily have to like it, but you have to understand what they like. By doing so, you have some common ground. Think about it, if write a test question in which Kanye West has to borrow $53 million and the bank will charge him 12% interest how much will have to pay back? The boring question about interest and principal has sudden meaning to students.

I truly believe that if you can find music of the current generation to listen to because it’s not as good as your generation’s music means that you are officially old. (The Beatles don’t count. They belong to all generations.) I don’t want to grow old. The music that I’ve been finding that I like the most lately is hip-hop. Hip-hop isn’t dead and yes it’s an art form. While it may not be a musicians medium (which is not entirely true), it is definitely a producers medium. Much in the same way that the Beatles and George Martin experimented to get certain sounds, hip-hop producers today do much of the same thing. Also, very few modern hip-hop songs steal whole sale like “Ice, Ice Baby” did. Now, I understand that the words can through people off. I respect that opinion for I prefer it when rappers don’t use offensive language. Yet, this is vernacular of the genre. I highly recommend using the app Genius when listening to rap, because more than any other music genre, it begs for you to understand the lyrics.

Even though I could list ten to twenty artists that I think are bring the game to its highest levels right now, I want to focus on two. First is Run the Jewels. I discovered them from tweets by music magazines that kept praising the duo of Killer Mike and El-P. Then I listened to Run the Jewels 2, their second album. The music is what drew me in. El-p creates soundscapes. This is the kind of music I would recommend people run to or listen to when trying to focus. It doesn’t need the words. At a recent concert at the Republic in New Orleans, the moment “Oh My Darling Don’t Cry” came on the crowd lost their collective minds. Everyone was dancing. Everyone was caught up in the moment. I’ve been to rap concerts before, but this was the first that caught everyone up in the moment like that.   However, as good as the music is, the lyrics are just as good. The lyrics are mainly about questioning authority. Knowing a little about the artists help bring the lyrics in focus. Some of Killer Mike’s lyrics can be considered anti-police, yet his father is retired policeman. Killer Mike respects good policemen; he doesn’t like bads ones. I feel that way about everyone at every job. While Killer Mike drew me in with his masterful and passionate lyrics, El-P’s proved, over a period of time, to be just as good if a little more abstract.


Kendrick Lamar in complete command

My favorite artist in the genre is Kendrick Lamar. He has the intelligence and eye for politics that Chuck D, my favorite rapper of all time has. He has the street viewpoint and sometimes anger of Ice Cube. He also has an ear for great music. One of jazz’s brightest talents, Kamasi Washington (whose 2015 release The Epic is a must-listen), is all over Lamar’s latest record, To Pimp a Butterfly. In fact, I would argue that To Pimp a Butterfly is jazz record. Lyrically, he discusses hatred (racial, generational, institutional), self-love, self-hate, God, and the price of fame. TPAB was nominated for 11 Grammy awards which shows that this is accessible music. Scarily, his previous album, good kid, m.A.A.d city, is just as good. He performed this fall at the Civic Theater in New Orleans. I’ve seen a lot of concerts, and none have come close to the energy put out at this show. I’ve never seen an artist in this much control of his music and the crowd. Having a live band elevated the performance. This is what I would imagine see the Rolling Stones on tour after Exile was like – an artist at the top of their game with no peers.

Of all the things I nerd out about, music is probably number one. In fact, on Sundays I try to articulate my feelings about certain albums in our podcasts. I keep searching for new artist to listen to like Kendrick and Run the Jewels. I keep searching for music I may have never heard but is out there. Of course, I ‘ve heard the Isely Brothers, but thanks to Kendrick using their music (and giving writing credits to as well), I’ve discovered more deep cuts besides the singles.

What ever kind of music you like, keep searching.  Keep finding new sounds.  Keep finding new challenges. And keep listening.

Episode 3: Disintegration by the Cure

This podcast discusses George Martin’s influence on how I listen to music and how I apply that to teaching, our On the Shelf album Disintegration by the Cure, our Want on the Shelf album Is the Is Are by DIIV, and our recommendations for things to do in New Orleans for the week of March 13-19 2016.

Intro and Exit Music: Lady of the Punks by Martijn de Boer (NiGiD) (c) 2015 Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Noncommercial (3.0) license. Ft: Doxent Zsigmond

Reading: Marvel Unlimited

About ten months ago, I signed up for Marvel Unlimited. It is a decision that I do not regret.

In a previous post, I talked about how I read the core books of Marvel’s Civil War event. On its own, it is not a very good story.  It starts with a great premise, the registering of Super-Heroes with the government, but it did not end satisfyingly.  One side inexplicably gives up and gives in.

Then I got Marvel Unlimited.

Continue reading

Cooking: Big Green Egg Resources

Ok, I have only had my Big Green Egg for two and half months and this is my third post on it (here and here). I am a little obsessed.  When I’m not cooking on it, I’m thinking about cooking on it.  What is great about the Big Green Egg, and barbecue in general, is that there is no “right” way to do it.  Now, of course, there is a difference between grilling and barbecuing. Of course, the Big Green Egg is not perfect.  It is not as good as an offset pit that allows for true indirect cooking.   However, considering my lack of a backyard, it is perfect for my needs.  Adding a plate setter allows to cheat the structure of the Egg to do some indirect cooking.   That and the fact that I can control the temperature of my cooks allows me to do what every type of cook I want (barbecue, grilling, cookout, and even baking) on the same instrument.

What makes the Big Green Egg so enjoyable is the number of resources available. Here is a few of my favorites:

Big Green Egg: Plenty of good recipes and videos to help you get started.

EggHead Forum: I admit, I am a lurker on these forums.  I often look at threads for different advice.  I have noticed that for every situation there are 10 solutions and all are correct.  Barbecue is a science, but it is not an exact one.

Amazing Ribs: Not a Big Green Egg site, but a general slow and low site.  Good, solid advice that also helps explain the science behind slow and low cooks.

Big Green Craig: A guy who love to cook on his Big Green Egg and Komodo cooking in general.  He keeps up a blog with pictures that will make your mouth water.

Bouillie: One of the best, if not the best, blogs about Louisiana cooking and food.  While not a blog dedicated to the Big Green Egg, if you look to the right side you will see a tag cloud with Big Green Egg toward the top.  Click it and you will find some interesting ways to use the Big Green Egg.

Again, these are just a few resources.  I really could make this blog several pages long with all the resources available.  And no, we don’t receive anything from Big Green Egg to talk about it.  We just really love our BGE and for people like us with limited space and a small family, the Mini Max is a brilliant purchase for people who love to cook outdoors.

Reading: Hawkeye

In the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Hawkeye is the most fascinating character to me.  He’s one superpower is that he sees really well.  He has the largest weakness in that he has a regular family.  This led me to find out more about the character in the comics.  Twitter led me to the Hawkeye series by writer Matt Fraction and drawn by David Aja.  This Hawkeye is way more fascinating than the one in the MCU.

First of all, this series deals with Hawkeye when he is not being an Avenger.  It focuses on his problems with Russian mafia who want to take over his apartment building.  He is rarely is in uniform.  It focuses on his relationships with lovers, past lovers, his neighbors, and his brother.  It also focuses on his relationship with the other Hawkeye, Kate Bishop.  In fact, sometimes the comic focuses soley on her.

This is a Hawkeye who wants to do good.  Yet, doing good often leads to trouble.  It’s easier to stay out of trouble if you don’t get involved.  However, that’s not Clint Barton nor Kate Bishop.  People depend on them.  Most of the time, Hawkeye is covered in bandaids.  He pushes people away.  Barton learns to ask for help from others (however, he refuses to ask help from the Avengers.)  In the end, Hawkeye is able to do right by the people he cares for.

Fractions scripts are moving and inventive.  One particular script is from the point of view of a dog that Hawkeye has rescued.  The scripts that deal with Kate are just different enough to feel that they are in a different series but just enough like the Barton story line to tie them together.  Aja has created  some of the beautiful panels and  the rest of the artistic team has created some of the most stylized comics I’ve read yet.  The muted purples and oranges make for a gorgeous comic book. (I would have post some panels here but I try to respect copyright laws and couldn’t find any labeled for reuse.)

What makes this Hawkeye so damned readable is the fact that he so like us.  He has money but he lives in an apartment building that is definitely lower middle class.  He has women issues, trust issues, and abandonment issues.  He has trouble hooking up his VCR.

In other words, he is just like us.

ComicCon-ing: Pensacon 2016 Full Recap

Pensacon celebrated its third year in Pensacola this year and we decided to make a weekend of it and attend all three days. The first year, I drove up on Saturday morning with two of my good friends and last year, Kurt and I drove up on Saturday morning. Both years we made the three hour trek back to New Orleans at the end of the day, but this year, we drove up Friday afternoon and came back Sunday evening. Thus, we were able to experience much more than in previous years and enjoy many more aspects of the con that we had missed.

One of my big collections is autographs. I love meeting celebrities that star in shows that I love to watch and having that thirty second connection with them. This year, there were almost twenty people I wanted to meet and besides one, whom I decided to put off until another con, I accomplished my goal and received many new autographs and treasured items in the process. Continue reading