Listening: Music Education starting with A for At The Drive In

Recently we had to make a surprise trip to Florida to be with an ailing family member. While there is a lot of stuff to do, there is plenty of downtime as well when a trip is unplanned. Plus there is the drive. I started to think about music. I realized that while my music listening is varied, I was beginning to stick to the same 30-40 bands. This came painfully apparent when I started to make a playlist with my new Apple music streaming account.  I was trying to put a list together for the trip of my favorite artists from their essentials series. My playlist is up to 1750 something songs.

But let’s face it.  That is a drop in the bucket of the music that is out there. One night I thought of a new idea for the blog. Every week I would use my Apple Music account to dig into an artist/band I haven’t heard anything beyond the singles. I’ve always been an album person so this a good way to have the soundtrack for the week.

Then I realized there were 28 weeks left for the year.  How about making this more of a novelty project and work my way through the alphabet while taking a break for Thanksgiving and Christmas.

So I was confronted with choosing a band that started with the letter A. So I decided to start with At the Drive-In.


At the Drive-In, live at Lollapalooza in 2012. From left to right, Omar Rodríguez-López, Cedric Bixler-Zavala, Jim Ward, Tony Hajjar (partially obscured), and Paul Hinojos Credit: Shane Hirschman

For some of you, you will be head scratching.  Others, you will be thinking how haven’t you listened to them.


For the first group, they are often described as post-hardcore whatever that means.  I really can’t explain them. They rock, that’s all you need to know. For the second group, they were around at a time when I really couldn’t afford music, and my dial-up was too slow for Napster.  In fact, I didn’t know they existed until I got a work computer from New Orleans Parish Schools that hadn’t been wiped from the previous year. The person’s mom was dean of NYU Student Life, so the former teacher went and ripped a bunch of their CDs to the computer.  One that struck me was the Mars Volta’s Frances the Mute. It’s a prog album, and it became one of my soundtrack albums for my post-Katrina year.

The Mars Volta features Omar Rodriguez-Lopez and Cedric Bilxer-Zavala from At the Drive-In. I’ve always been one of those people that when they discover an artist, they like they want to learn everything about that artist. So I’ve wanted to listen to At The Drive-In for some time.

They didn’t disappoint.

Brief history, they made three albums and various eps in the late 90s ending with Relationship of Command.  They split into the aforementioned prog Mars Volta and the more alternative-rock Sparta.  We saw Sparta live about a decade ago opening for Old 97s.  The reunited for a few shows in 2012 and then came back together around 2015 minus only one member, Jim Ward. They have recorded one album in the new newly reformed lineup.

They rock very hard, and these albums contain some of the most vivid imagery in their lyrics (Tease this amputation/Splintered larynx) even if they are always cryptic. Bilxer-Zavala also has one of those voices that only about one percent of humans have and he can’t take it almost anywhere he wants. Musically, they sound as if their songs are well planned out, scripted even, and the result of jam at the same time. However, after listening to their albums and watching some live performances, I’m not sure they have ever been adequately captured in the studio. They are not a band that can be contained well.  They are a band that when they are together, they can make a glorious noise.

Next up: The Band


Star Wars-ing: Celebration News

Star Wars fans love Celebration. The five day passes for adults and kids have sold out! Saturday tickets as well. We had to go out of town for a family medical emergency, so we are thankful we bought our tickets before we left!

Celebration will bring back the stages and panels that have been a feature at the previous shows. The Celebration stage, which will be at Wintrust Arena, will have the stars from the saga as well as entertainment productions. The Galaxy stage will have some celebrity guests and other Star Wars entertainment. The Behind-the-Scene stage will feature those artists and craftspeople who make Star Wars. The Fan stage allows fans to be in control of the content. The Collectors stage is always a treasure trove of information from some of the greatest collectors of Star Wars memorabilia. One of our favorite stages, Star Wars University, will be back as well. Many of the presentations at this stage are workshop type panels where you can learn the finer points of crafts such as writing, art, vegetable carving(!), and more. Finally, the Live stage will be on the show floor. This area will often be streaming interviews and panels and usually draws great crowds.

As you know, we do podcasts as well as keep up this blog. Unfortunately, we had to put the podcast on hold due to the extreme naseau. We plan on bringing it back soon (hopefully before the end of June). Well, Star Wars Celebration has a Podcast Stage and we will be throwing our hat’s into the ring. We will probably focus on Star Wars autograph collecting but are brainstorming other ideas as well.  If you are a podcaster, you can fill out the application here.

Check back weekly for more updates!


Parenting: The One Obstacle When Taking Nola Nerd Baby Places

One of the things having a child teaches you is that we are still behind the times when it comes to parenting. Society, for all it’s preaching, still treats men as babysitters of their kid. I will never babysit Ms. Nola Nerd Baby. I’m her parent.


The Nola Nerd Baby is always ready for an adventure!

Our baby is well behaved, and we only take her to places that are baby friendly. We won’t take her to five-star restaurants. Mostly, we take her to places that if she cried, very few people would notice because most of those restaurants are already noisy. One of us would take her outside if she caused a ruckus. So far, she hasn’t. We have yet to have a server who hasn’t fawned over her…I know we are biased, but she is the cutest.

We just both wish more places would have changing stations in both bathrooms. In older restaurants, we understand they are hard to figure in because men didn’t do that sort of thing before. New restaurants have no excuse. Plan it into the design of the restroom. Too many newer restaurants have them in women’s bathrooms only. My wife deserves a break, and I am fully capable of tending to my child. Also, if possible, don’t put them in the accessible stall. I know it makes sense to put it there space wise, but you are also taking a bathroom away designed for people with special needs when we have to use it.


This Storm Pooper was pooped out at the end of the day at Disney!

Worse are venues that you can’t leave. The Audubon Zoo and Disneyworld both have excellent places to change your child in the men’s room. However, we were recently one place that didn’t have one in all bathrooms. Ms. Nola Nerd Baby had a major blowout. The one I picked didn’t have a changing station, so I made a place. We’ll continue to do that, but it would be easier if there were a place.


Before we get some eye-rolls about taking our baby out in public. We didn’t take her to crowded places before she had her first round of vaccinations. No one besides family has touched her out in public (and a great big shout out to the public for not doing that!).

Right now, we enjoy taking the Nola Nerd Baby out. She enjoys it. In fact, she loves looking at people, and if you carry her, you must carry her facing forward. It would just be nice if could both change her when we take her places.

ComicCon-ing: MS Comic Con, Louisiana Comic Con, and Gulf Coast Fan Fest Updates


Mississippi Comic Con (MS Trade Mart in Jackson, Mississippi, June 23-24): Woah.  I didn’t see this coming.  Not at all. Mississippi Comic con added Linda Blair to their list of celebrities coming to Jackson. The Exorcist is the greatest horror film ever and one of the best films to examine what it means to believe in something greater than yourself. Her acting is instrumental to the film’s success. For any serious horror fan autograph collector, she is a must get.  Joining her in Jackson will be the savior of the universe, Sam Jones.  Mr. Jones played the title character in Flash Gordon and himself in Ted. If you can’t get enough fun at the con there is the after party at Hal and Mal’s after. Editor’s note: We can’t make it to this con due to Nola Nerd Baby’s christening. So everyone going have fun for us and tell Ms. Blair hello for us!


Louisiana Comic Con (The CajunDome, Lafayette, October 6&7): This con will be held on October 6 & 7 at the Cajundome in Lafayette.  Joining Eisner award winner Rob Gillory will be Paul Blake. Mr. Blake is best known for his role as Greedo in Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope.  If you are a fan of Nintendo and Mario, then Charles Martinet is a must meet for you.  He is a great con guest and is super entertaining to all the fans that meet him. Besides voicing Mario, he has done voice work in Skyrim and acted in The Game as Micheal Douglas’s father.



Gulf Coast Fan Fest (Mississippi Coast Convention Center, Biloxi, October 13 & 14):  This con already has a great lineup and they keep adding to it weekly.  Rick Worthy of The Magians and Supernatural will be appearing at the con. One of my favorite artists, Ken Kelly, will be at the con.  He painted the covers for Love Gun and Destroyer by KISS. One of the few Star Trek members I haven’t met yet is Denis Crosby.  Maybe I can fix that the GCFF.  Also, appearing will be William Katt, or as I like to call him The Greatest American Hero.

Next week: A family illness kept us away last week, so we apologize for missing a week. Next week, we will add Pensacon to the rotation since they are announcing guests already!


Star Wars-ing: Star Wars Celebration 2019 in Chicago!

Yes, we are starting back up our weekly Star Wars features.  We had to take a break due to Mrs. Nola Nerd Couple’s complicated pregnancy (which you can read about here and here). She and baby are fine, and we plan on bringing you as much information about Celebration and Star Wars in general as we can!

Star Wars Celebration 2019 has been announced, and its location is a new one: Chicago, Illinois. It will be held in the West Building at McCormick Place. Not only is it in a new city, but it will also be five days this year! For those of you who are not sure what Celebration is, it’s just that – a celebration of Star Wars.  It’s a comic con but only for Star Wars.  ReedPOP, along with LucasFilm, put on this event as a thank you to fans.  It serves as an excellent way for Star Wars fans to meet people who were in the movies and that write the books and comics.  It’s also a great way for Star Wars fans to get together. (You can read about past Star Wars Celebration coverage here and all of our Star Wars related posts here).

Tickets went on sale yesterday. You can buy five-day passes or individual day passes at the Celebration website.  If you order by February 27 at midnight central standard time, you will receive your passes by mail avoiding the will call lines.

What is no longer available is the Jedi Master VIP.  This pass is a very exclusive ticket that sold out in less than a minute. It includes:

One (1) Jedi Master VIP Badge Featuring Exclusive Art
One (1) Official Show Poster (Rolled, complete with poster tube)
One (1) Commemorative Program Guide
VIP Lounge with coat check and concierge
Half Hour Early Access to Exhibit Hall
Half Hour Early Access to the Official Celebration Store each day
Exclusive Celebration Store private shopping experience on Thursday, April 11 at 11:00 AM
VIP Express Checkout Lane at the Official Celebration Store
Unlimited use of the Lightspeed Lane to enter the Official Celebration Store
Express Autograph Hall Autograph line pass and checkout for up to six (6) Autograph Sessions. Price of Autographs not included.
First Access to Panels at the Celebration Stage
One(1) Private Meet & Greet with select Star Wars Celebration guest or guests
One (1) Original signed art print, created exclusively for Celebration Chicago Jedi Master VIPs
One (1) Extremely Limited Jedi Master VIP character pin shared only, in very limited amounts, with staff as a giveaway pin that will not otherwise be made available for sale to Star Wars Celebration Chicago Attendees.
One (1) Exclusive Jedi Master VIP Lanyard
One (1) Exclusive Jedi Master VIP Embroidered Patch
One time 10% off discount at the Official Celebration Store

We have tried every year to get this elusive item, but have come up short every year.


Mrs. Nola Nerd was able to get one! She’s going as a VIP! Of course, she is beyond excited. Plans are already being made.  Plus it is our first time in Chicago, so we plan on staying a few extra days!

May the force be with you, my friends and see you in Chicago!

Parenting: Must Have – Dr. Brown’s Formula Pitcher

This review is not an endorsed review.  We are not affiliated with Amazon nor Dr. Brown’s. We bought this product on a whim and love it. 

Mrs. Nola Nerd Couple wanted to breastfeed the Nola Nerd Baby. However, when all the postpartum complications arose, we had no choice to switch to formula. We understand how great breastfeeding can be for a baby. We also understand that having a healthy mom is better for a baby.  Fed is best.


I immediately just took over the making bottle duties. My wife had been hospitalized for six of the baby’s first ten days in the hospital and needed to every moment she could get to catch up the time she missed. When Nola Nerd Baby was taking two ounces making bottles wasn’t hard.  However, of course, she progressed.  She’s now taking 5-6 6 oz bottles a day.  (Well, she usually eats between five to six ounces, but we rather have more than less.).

Mixing six bottles once they get to be more than 4 ounces is a choir.  The formula doesn’t just mix well by handshaking, not at those quantities. I would shake and shake then put down the bottles and shake two more.  It would take nearly a half hour till there were no clumps for six bottles. There had to be a more natural way.

So I googled searched for formula mixer, and the first product that came up was Dr. Brown’s Formula Pitcher. 


If you can afford it, or have relatives that can, we also recommend getting a dorm fridge just for little one and her milk supply. 

One of the reviews of this product on Amazon had a wife asking her husband how many stars would he give the product out of five.  He answered twelve.  This was when I knew the product was for us.

That man didn’t give it enough stars.

This product is a total game changer. It cut down bottle making time in half. I can’t scientifically state this, but both my wife and I have noticed that our sweet little one has had fewer gas issues since we started using this product. During school, we had to send little one to daycare, and this made the process of getting bottles ready so much easier.

Once you get past the essentials for babies, and if you are formula feeding, buy this product.