Calling All Nerds!

*** UPDATE 4/16/14 *** This is Nerd War! Since TBS still hasn’t renewed King of the Nerds, the rest of the Nerd Army “commanders” and I have decided to focus our meme efforts. This week, Kayla wants everyone to send her their best Janeway memes. Tag @On2Mars_Kayla @tbsveryfunny and use #nerdsrule when you post them to Twitter and we’ll try to show the best ones during the “Briefing” tomorrow night. Oh yeah, don’t forget, we’re doing another live show – every Thursday at 7pm Pacific, 9pm Central, 10pm Eastern. Links to the first two are below. Keep Tweeting TBS! Don’t give up hope! Tune in tomorrow night – 4/17/14.

Last week’s Hangout:

 

TBS, as of yet, has not renewed King of the Nerds for a third season.

To me and to the myriad of KOTN fans, this is an egregious mistake. The show means far too much to many of us to let this go on.  So, the reigning winner Kayla LaFrance and a couple fans, per her request, have started a campaign to make sure we have another season.

Within the last few days, blogger Melissa Corley (@thedolphinpoet) of Your Reality Recaps and the blog Talk Nerdy to Me have posted a few words from Kayla.

In a nut shell, Kayla has proposed a plan to barrage TBS about renewal and to display our support for the show through social media.

Please follow one of the two links above to find out how you can join the #NerdArmy and show your support for King of the Nerds.

And when you do, personally thank Melissa for creating the create images/avatars for the campaign.

I already have.

We need you!

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Teaser Trailer for Michael Bay’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Released

Earlier this morning there were murmurs around the internet of a TMNT teaser trailer.

Some sources, while at CinemaCon, were privileged enough to catch a glimpse of the trailer, and then graciously shared their thoughts with the Interwebs.

Much to my chagrin I could not find it anywhere. So like those reporting on the trailer, I suspected we’d see it pop up within the next week.

Nope. Within the last hour I was just browsing through my Twitter feed and stumbled on one made by Nerdist.com:

At that point I’m sure the apartment above me was curious as to why a little girl was shouting with glee below them.

So without further adieu check out the teaser trailer:

I’ll be honest. Since this movie was announced a few years ago I have gone through a myriad of emotions. There was utter joy when I found out the Ninja Turtles would would be returning to theaters. Then I went through the five stages of grief when Michael Bay’s involvement was announced.

And of course there was the tirade when Bay announced the alien origin story. Holy shit guys… I was absolutely furious. Luckily I wasn’t the only one and eventually he backed off of that idea. I think the universal sigh of relief can still be heard.

Now I have returned to the excitement of seeing TMNT return to the silver screen in a live action film. Nonetheless I am still a little apprehensive about the “Bay”stardization of TMNT.

Who knows? At least he’s only the producer. Hopefully there won’t be exploding pizzas or mutagen.

Tell me what you think about the trailer. Let’s discuss below what this movie could entail.

They told me I could be anything I wanted…

…so I became a blog contributor.

Michael “djplaeskool” Hamilton here. Mid-level IT professional and amateur music producer at your service. It’s my pleasure to share with you, o’ fairest denizens of yon internet, my random musings on gaming, music, and perhaps a few things in-between.  I may talk about how DJ Shadow’s 2006 album The Outsider is an underrated gem and provides an eclectic look at the Hyphy subculture. Perhaps I rant about how Sega’s insistence on bypassing the localization of key software is not only damaging their relationship with their wider fan base, but furthering the perception of an increasingly isolated Japanese development scene (Seriously though, I’m working on a draft of the latter as we speak).

Though I used to rap blog-like about this and that in my more formative years (re: four years ago), it’s nice to be able to again express myself in a format that allows more than 140 characters. Speaking of which, and in completely unironic fashion, feel free to follow me on Twitter @djplaeskool. Also, if you feel inclined to tune in for some random gaming and speed-running, you can follow my twitch channel at Twitch.tv. I’m currently in the process of shaving time off my run of Genesis classic, Gunstar Heroes.

I look forward to sharing more with you all in the near future.

Oh…
If you’re wondering about the nickname, I’ll spare you the details and say that it involves a pair of turntables, a party at a friend’s house, and a mid-afternoon trip to Wendy’s.

Interview with Kayla LaFrance of TBS’ King of the Nerds #NerdsRule

All hail the Queen of Nerds.. Kayla!

Er…well… she actually prefers Captain, so…

Captain LaFrance has entered the bridge!

By the time she was crowned, Kayla proved that she was a force to be reckoned with. And she did it while using quite the cloaking device. Her pure joy for all things nerdy and in Nerdvana was such a joy to watch, but she also did it while quietly being a very important part of her team.

She avoided being in any Nerd Offs, and proved vital to winning several Nerd Wars. Furthermore it was her strategic choices of nerd helpers for the Nerdliminator and willingness to utilize that help that proved to be paramount in her victory.

Now before reading the interview meet Kayla LaFrance once more, or for the first time:

Also, go ahead a relive the moment of her crowning:

Jarrod:  Growing up, who were your major influences? Were they in the field you are pursuing now?

Kayla:  I was 9 years old when Captain Janeway took command of the USS Voyager and that left a HUGE mark on me every since. I know she might not be the fan favorite or the best of the Star Trek Captains, however, Janeway was able to inspire me in a way that Kirk, Picard and Sisko never could. Janeway was shown as a strong leader in charge of a starship and crew and also a brilliant scientific mind. Seeing a female in that role really inspired me, and to this day I remain devoted to her crew, and the role model that she is.

 The other two people that I have looked up to since my pre-teen years would be Dr. Werner von Braun and Gene Kranz. Both of these gentleman played very large roles in the history of the space race.  Von Braun was the mastermind behind the Saturn rockets that sent man to the moon and Kranz was a Flight Director in Mission Control as those men walked on the moon. They both serve as excellent examples of great leadership and that perseverance and determination are keys to success.

Jarrod:  How did Janeway’s impact on your life come about? We know that you love Star Trek, but was there something specifically about her character that spoke to you?

In general it comes down to the fact that we both have matching double X-chromosomes. Yes she is a girl and so am I. But one thing to consider is that I was only 9 years old when Voyager hit the TV. I was a nine year old girl that LOVED Star Trek and science. I knew all about Picard and Kirk and Sisko. They are all great captains in their own right, but none of them could inspire me like Janeway could.

Nine year old me was absolutely amazed to see a strong female in a leadership role.  I saw a respected captain that would not back down from a fight, but would try diplomacy first; a woman scientist that would work with her crew to solve problems and was respected for her brains; and I saw a strong leader.  I followed that crew and idolized that captain from age 9-16. It made me want to grow up and be a strong leader who is respect for her abilities and not because of her looks or gender.

Janeway may not be the fan fave captain, and she might not be the best written. Nevertheless, she made a huge impact on me and at age 28. I still wish I could be even half of the leader and mentor that she was to her crew and to me.

 And let me tell you this. Kate Mulgrew is an amazing woman in her own right. I have had the privilege to talk with her and meet her on several separate occasions now, and she always is humble and encouraging; a true role model on and off the screen.

kaylawkatemulgrew
Photo Courtesty of Kayla LaFrance

Jarrod:  Other than Captain Janeway, who is your favorite character and why?  We’ve seen the brass-balled Janeway style, but who else do you admire?

Kayla:  Janeway is really the only fictional character that I have taken such a huge admiration too over the years. The only other people that I admire are real life influential people such as Amelia Earhart, Dr. Werner von Braun and Gene Kranz.

Sure I obsess over Batman, but never see him as a true role model or inspiration in my daily life.

batgirl_begins__-_Copy
Photo Courtesy of Kayla LaFrance

Jarrod:  Did you have anyone in your life that helped you believe in who you were as a person? Friends? Family?

Kayla:  My grandpa LaFrance was always there for me and always was willing to teach me everything he knew. The ultimate lesson that he taught me was to “Never change who you are.” All the time spent in the field or the garage with him and all of the things that he taught me about cars and tools was all secondary to his overlying message to always be me and to be proud of who I am.

Photo Courtesy of Kayla LaFrance
Photo Courtesy of Kayla LaFrance

I was also greatly motivated and inspired by my 7th grade science teacher, Mr. Thomas Herrmann. He was the teacher that told me to stop fooling around with Star Trek and to take the time to discover what was really out in the universe. He changed my perspective on school and was the starting thread in a tapestry of a life devoted to space exploration and astronomy.

Jarrod:  How did you decide to audition for the show? Was it on a whim? Or did someone encourage you?

Kayla:  A little bit of both. When I heard about KOTN before the 1st season I was very interested and intrigued. I talked it over with a few of my closest friends, and they all agreed with me that it would never hurt to go ahead and give it a go.

Jarrod:  What was the audition process like?

Kayla:  I had a different path than my fellow contestants. I had tried to get on season 1 and was asked to come to LA for the last selection phase; however, I turned KOTN down when I was offered a chance to spend the summer working at NASA Ames on some Mars exploration research. When they started casting for season 2 they contacted me and asked if I wanted to give it another go, I was thrilled! It is not every day that you have such a unique opportunity come up twice. I still had to start at the beginning and go through the same selection process as everyone else. Nevertheless, when I made it to the final 11, it felt like a long 2-year journey was finally culminating in one of the best adventures I could imagine.

Season 1:

    1. Submitted a bio and photos – was asked to send in a video answering set questions.
    2. I made and submitted 1 video  – asked to fill out a questionnaire
    3. Submitted answers – then was asked to come to LA
    4. Turned down KOTN

Season 2:

    1. Asked to make an updated video if I was still interested
    2. Fill out updated questions
    3. Came to LA with the top 20 or so for final interviews
    4. Made top 11 to go into Nerdvana

 Jarrod:  We got a good idea of everyone’s areas of study or their profession. Was there anything in particular any of you were doing or working on prior to being on the show?

Kayla:  I am currently looking for employment post graduation. This means that I really do not have anything fancy to brag about. I would love to start working within my industry or continue my education with a PhD program by this summer.  Though, you might be interested to know that I did my independent research for my MS on “The Organization of Mission Control during Manned Surface Exploration of Mars.”

Jarrod:  What were your initial feelings when you first arrived at Nerdvana (best reality show campus name ever, by the way)?

Kayla:  The Journey Begins… Going into Nerdvana reminded me of the anticipation that one would feel on the first day of school when you did not know your classmates or teacher yet. However, it was also as exciting as the first day of summer vacation!

Jarrod:  Other than what was shown on camera and in the show, what was Nerdvana like? Did the viewers receive a pretty good illustration of what the house was like?

Kayla:  Nerdvana was a safe haven. It was fun. From the moment you walk in you are surrounded by all things nerd – statutes and posters, robots and games, computers and soldering irons. Everywhere you go in Nerdvana was dedicated to the game and to the nerd culture.  The rec room always had something fun or stupid going on. The Radio shack lab was an engineer’s DREAM. I lived in that room by the end of my stay at Nerdvana. The bed rooms were always comfy and relaxing and the war rooms were always well stocked and ready for action! From the moment you get there until the heartbreaking moment when you live. Nerdvana feels like home.

Jarrod:  The viewers didn’t get to see much of the good-byes other than the player being eliminated and then leaving Nerdvana. Was there more to the good-byes than what was shown on camera?

Kayla:  We had a letter tradition. Every nerd that left Nerdvana would leave letters behind. Some nerds would write an individual letter for each remaining contestant, while others would leave a note per team. In the Orion – that is the name the Titans of Rigel gave to our room – we turned Kelsey’s bed into the memorial bed. We placed a wampa rug on the bed, our mascot Hydra, and all of the notes would collect there until the last Titan remained. On the last day we slip the notes up. I have all of my individual notes and a few team notes as well in my memorabilia from my time at KOTN.

Jarrod:  Throughout the season, and especially during the finale, we had the pleasure of experiencing your musical stylings. Was this a regular thing? Did you put on shows off camera? 

Kayla:  Xander is one of my best friends from that experience, and yes. He is a character at all times. An absolute gentle giant who is full of life and energy!

Jarrod:  What is the story behind Bacon, the Nerdvana house friend?

Kayla:  In our rooms we all were given slippers and some form of stuffed animal from Think Geek. Bacon was on Brian’s bed and he just LOVED bacon. We took him to the Radio Shack lab to feed him some batteries and the rest was history. Bacon became a stress reliever for the Titans. His “I’m Bacon” saying would fill awkward moments and leave us all in giggles, a comedic distraction during challenging and stressful days.

Jarrod:  What was your favorite part of your experience at Nerdvana?

Kayla:  I would have to say that the best part of Nerdvana was the people, both on and off the screen. While at Nerdvana, I was surrounded by nerds and people of the highest caliber who made the experience what it was for me. There was always something to learn from one of the nerds about a fandom that they enjoy more than I do, there were always reasons to laugh and enjoy the moment – even in the midst of battle and competition.

The people that ran the show and kept things moving forward were a privilege to work with as well. Whether they were keeping us fed, keeping us safe, or throwing us into some really amazing challenges, they all loved their job, loved the show, and wanted to make sure that we nerds enjoyed the journey that we shared with them. Then there was Bobby and Curtis – Amazing Nerd Gents.

Photo Courtesy of TBS
Photo Courtesy of TBS

Amazing people all around.

Jarrod:  How did you guys pass your time between Nerd Wars, etc.? Anything you can share that we may not have seen on camera?

Kayla:  We did have a lot of fun at Nerdvana. The viewers see such a tiny and selected part of our time there. For the Titans of Rigel, we had a lot of nights were we did not have to worry about votes and the next coming days. This meant we had a lot of free time on our hands to mess around. “Between Two Nerds” is a great example of that!

While there were still a lot of Nerds in the house we would pass the time playing table top games. As the numbers began to dwindle, we found ourselves playing more individual games on the computer. By the time we were down to the last 6, I was ALWAYS in the Radio Shack room building something. It was my way of trying to shave off some of the tension and stress and find some time away from the others.

As for other lighthearted moments that have not been seen. There are two of them:

    • Chris loves to solve rubik’s cubes. We would sit there and solve one after another after another. After a few days, he had at least 20 solved cubes lying around. Therefore, I decided to go through and scramble them all up. I left them on the pool table for him to find. For the next few days, I would covertly scramble every cube he solved. Once he realized it was me he would try and hid them. It became a fun little game.
    • The night after the debate Xander and I spent hours singing Broadway musicals. Wicked, Avenue Q, Rent and Les Mes. During this time, I went through a 2 liter Mt. Dew and was feeling pretty high on a sugar rush and good vibes. The viewers saw the aftermath of that event, in my very giddy interviews and my epic goggle/Google moment.

Here is that moment [**EDIT** The video was supposed to start at the exact moment but for some reason the link is not working. Start watching at 35 min 50 sec]:

And another one of my favorite Kayla moments from the same episode [**EDIT** The video was supposed to start at the exact moment but for some reason the link is not working. Start watching at 34 min 40 sec]:

I think we all can relate to having moments such as these when our behavior is fueled by intense Mt. Dew/sugar rushes. 

Jarrod:  Does anyone have hidden talents we didn’t get to see?

Kayla:  I would have to say that we all do. For me, I never did get to go ice skating on the show! Though on one of our off days Xander and I did go ice skating and he was not that bad for someone that had only skated a handful of times in his life! (Yes I brought my personal pair of skates to Nerdvana with me! Ha! ) 

Jarrod:  Other than George Takei, Bill Nye, and other nerd deities you have had the chance to meet on the show, have you had the chance to meet any amazing nerds?

Kayla:  This is a question I really cannot answer. Not simply at least. I have a long list of astronauts that I have rubbed elbows with ranging from Buzz Aldrin to Clay Anderson, Cady Coleman and much more. I have had the chance to meet Phil Plait and John Dobson and other names in astronomy that I respect. Since I was about 14 years old, I have gone to space camps and astronomy conventions, astronomy organizations and student group seminars. This has really opened the door to meet some amazing people in my chosen field of study.

Then there are the years that I have gone to Dragon*Con, Trek Conventions, and other fan conventions that has opened the door to meet some of the nerd cultures most believed characters. I am currently on a mission to have a photo taken with every actor of Star Trek I can. At this point I am about 50% through the major roles and 30% through minor roles.

Jarrod:  How has your life changed since the show?

Kayla:  I feel like it is a little too early to tell at this point. I hope that the show will be able to open some new opportunities for me in the near future.

Jarrod:  What has it been like living in a male-dominated nerd world? Have you been faced with trouble or ridicule because female nerds aren’t the “right kind of nerdy” or because females don’t belong? Is this a reality you have dealt with?

Kayla:  This has not really an issue that I have faced. I have always been more of a tomboy. I have played sports with the guys and worked on cars with the guys. I am very use to being the only girl around. I suppose this has taught me to be very blunt and assertive when in a male-dominated environment. I do not ask for special treatment because I am a girl and I expect to be treated equally.  I can keep up with the guys and make sure that they all know that I am not someone to take lightly because of my double X-chromosomes. If they call into question my nerd-cred, then I defend myself. Usually all that takes is spitting out some random fact that is not known by a “general” fan and they usually back off. It might also help that I have a way of intimidating most guys too. 😉

Jarrod:  Do you have anything to say to perhaps young people who may think girls shouldn’t be nerdy? Or maybe to young females who love science or other subjects, but are discouraged from pursuing them because of their gender?

Kayla:  There really should not be a separate message here- the same message I would give to a young man I would also give to a young lady. And this is what I would tell the next generation:

 Find your passion. No matter what it might be, find it, hold on to it and follow it. Do not let anyone tell you otherwise. If people tease you, forget about them, because before you know it you are out of school and you leave those people behind forever.

Find the thing that motivates you and drives you to achieve your goals. When you have passion then you can work past hiccups in the road and you can find new ways to get what you want. When you follow your passion you will always have something to look forward to and will always be working towards something that makes you happy.

Following your passion might also take you out of your comfort zone, but the growth you experience will be amazing. So be ready to say ‘Yes’ when you want to say ‘No’. Say ‘Goodbye’ when you want to say ‘Hello’. And surround yourself with a good crew to help support you.

Follow your dreams with passion.

Jarrod:  Whether you guys realize it or not, you have become heroes and inspirations to nerds alike. You have become examples of accepting one’s self for who one is, and to never deny the greatness of who you are. How do you feel about fans looking to you in that way?

Kayla:  It feels great. That was always the message that my grandpa tried to teach me, so to have the chance to show others the same thing through my own actions, is a great honor to myself and to my grandfather’s memory.

Jarrod:  How do you feel about possibly being to young females who Captain Janeway was to you?

Kayla:  Even before KOTN, I had hoped that one day I would be able to have that kind of impact on some of the younger girls that I meet. I would be honored if I could influence just one young woman to follow her dreams with passion and to never change who she is. Heck, I would be happy if I could have even a small fraction of the impact on someone that Janeway had on me.

Jarrod:  For females who have been singled out because of their gender, how do you recommend responding? How do you react?  Tell them off, or is that feeding the trolls?

Kayla:  The best way to deal with someone that doubts your ability is to prove them wrong. You do not have to make a big show of it, just work hard and accomplish your goal. When you do, the person that doubted you will have no room to talk. I had dealt with a lot of crap from school bullies over my dreams of space growing up, and I always would ignore them, but would make a mental note. I turned my anger and sadness over my peer’s actions towards me into fuel to feed my determination. Instead of fighting back or hiding, I would hold my head up high and follow my dreams. I always knew that I would get the laugh last because of that!

Jarrod:  Do you have any words of encouragement for young female nerds that may feel like they don’t have a place in science or are singled out?

Kayla:  Never give up, never change, and stay strong. You will preserver and you will win in life.  You are the only person that can tell you what you can and cannot do with the destiny of your life. If you want a place in science then go for it! No one can tell you no. If you fail a test or are struggling in a topic it is not the end of the world. It just means to try again. It does not mean that you are stupid, that you are not qualified to be called a nerd, or that you cannot succeed. Failing a test or a class does indicate that you need to tackle the problem from a different angle. Do not give up, do not give in; fight for what you want and try again. Never let a failure win, always try again. Never let someone tell you that you can not do something, always try it for yourself.

________

I hope you guys enjoyed the interview as much as I did. There will be a break in the interviews for a bit. I am waiting on responses from other cast members who are, quite understandably, rather busy.

Don’t forget to take the survey and bug TBS (@tbsveryfunny) to get the show renewed. Also, use #nerdsrule as MUCH as you can.

Interview with Chris Jackson of TBS’ King of the Nerds #NerdsRule

Much like the Rubik’s Cube, Chris Jackson was a puzzle I could not solve. At first it seemed like he was going to play the game while staying in the background. Then he would assert himself ONLY when necessary, and then just slink back into the shadows. He truly was KOTN’s man of mystery.

It served him well as he just missed the final four. Regardless of what we saw on camera, my interview with him proved one thing: maybe he’s not so mysterious.

Before you enjoy the interview itself, meet Chris Jackson once more, or for the first time:

Jarrod:  Growing up, who were your major influences? Were they in the field you are pursuing now?

Chris:  Growing up my major influences were my parents (cliché I know).  My dad used to work for one of the IBM computer manufacturing divisions, and he taught me everything he knew about computers. My mom is a certified public accountant, and she always encouraged me to pursue a career that involved using my head. For the longest time I wanted to work somewhere in the computer science field, but I found the work to be tedious, frustrating, and not fun at times. I ended up switching to engineering (which is awesome) while I was at Rice University.

Jarrod:  Did you have anyone in your life that helped you believe in who you were as a person? Friends? Family?

Chris:  Yes! My brother definitely helped me to believe in myself.  Regardless of our brotherly disputes, he inculcated into me an inquisitive mindset.  This mindset, he taught me, didn’t have to be toward my surrounding world but could also be directed toward myself.  My mom was also very inspiring because she always encouraged me to better myself regardless of the accolades I received.  My family has always encouraged me to try my best regardless of outside expectations, and I think that has greatly helped me throughout my life.  They both have helped me greatly in learning to just be me.

Jarrod:  How did you decide to audition for the show? Was it on a whim? Or did someone encourage you?

Chris: Ha! I auditioned as a joke.  I was actually trying to get my coworkers to audition, and I was demonstrating how easy it was to apply.  Turns out that none of my coworkers applied.  Oh well.

Jarrod:  What was the audition process like?

Chris:  For me the audition process was very surreal.  I never expected a response from my initial application and then I kept getting called back.  After every call back, I thought “that’s it. It was fun. They’ll never call me back now.”  But they did.

Jarrod:  We got a good idea of everyone’s areas of study or their profession. Was there anything in particular any of you were doing or working on prior to being on the show?

Chris:  Currently I am a structural engineer for an aircraft modification center.  My job involves  analyzing aircraft parts, assemblies, and installations to ensure they meet airworthiness  requirements.  Simple enough, right?  My main goal is to get hired into the space  exploration industry (SpaceX!!) but they only take the best of the best of the best (sir!),  and I’m not there yet professionally.  Outside of that I’m trying to get in to high-powered  rocketry, but I don’t have the workspace I need in my apartment.

Jarrod:  What were your initial feelings when you first arrived at Nerdvana (best reality show campus name ever, by the way)?

Chris:  My first feeling was that I had no idea what I got myself into.  I was really nervous.  “I’m  going to be on television! Don’t look like an idiot.  Do I look like an idiot?  What do you  mean there’s only one take?? Crap. Crap Crap Crap.”

Jarrod:  Other than what was shown on camera and in the show, what was Nerdvana like? Did the viewers receive a pretty good illustration of what the house was like?

Chris:  Yes and no.  The viewers received an excellent taste of what Nerdvana was like with the  exception of the living arrangements.  Most of our side conversations in and around our  beds were left out, but who really needs to see that stuff anyways?

Jarrod:  The viewers didn’t get to see much of the good-byes other than the player being eliminated and then leaving Nerdvana. Was there more to the good-byes than what was shown on camera?

Chris:  Yes! Every contestant left detailed notes saying goodbye to the other nerds.  Kelsey  started the tradition by leaving the Titans of Rigel a very sweet note when she left.  It was  really sad seeing her go, but it became bittersweet when we saw her letter.  After that  everyone that left decided to leave a note.  I’m almost glad they didn’t show the notes  because it’s something we get to keep to ourselves. 

Jarrod:  Throughout the season, and especially during the finale, we had the pleasure of experiencing your musical stylings. Was this a regular thing? Did you put on shows off camera? 

Chris:  Xander was singing all the time.  ALL THE TIME!!!  Not really, but it was surprising  because he was quite good.  I don’t think he likes drawing attention to his singing  abilities though.

Jarrod:  What was your favorite part of your experience at Nerdvana?

Chris:  The people! I don’t care if that is cliché.  And meeting Bill Nye the Science Guy.

And winning four Nerd Wars in a row.  And the extremely cool challenges we got to participate in or watch.  The whole experience was my favorite part.

Jarrod:  What is the story behind Bacon, the Nerdvana house friend?

Chris:  “I’m Bacon.”  Haha!  We all just loved the various nerdy things the Nerd Elves stocked  Nerdvana with. [Uh.. Nerd Elves? Jealous!]

Jarrod:  How did you guys pass your time between Nerd Wars, etc.? Anything you can share that we may not have seen on camera?

Chris:  There was hardly any time between Nerd Wars that didn’t involve a Nerd-Off or voting  for a Nerd-Off.  We did manage to squeeze in some hilarious Between Two Nerds (which are starting to surface on TBS’s YouTube page) awesomeness with Katie and Brian.  Hopefully more of those will get posted!

The moment love blossomed:

 

Jarrod:  Does anyone have hidden talents we didn’t get to see?

Chris:  A surprising number of nerds on the show can speak or understand Japanese.  Brian, Xander, Kelsey, and Nicole have some understanding of Japanese.  It was frightening  when I realized that.  I also learned how to solve a Rubik’s Cube and while at Nerdvana successfully taught Xander how to solve one on his own. 

My archnemesis. Rubiiiiiiiiiiks!!!
My archnemesis. Rubiiiiiiiiiiks!!! Maybe Chris could teach me?

Jarrod:  Other than George Takei, Bill Nye, and other nerd deities you have had the chance to meet on the show, have you had the chance to meet any amazing nerds?

Chris:  You mean besides the other amazing nerds on the show???  I’m not that big on meeting celebrities.  I’ll go to panels (NerdHQ anyone?) and conventions, but I won’t try to bother anyone for a picture or autograph.  I bumped into Molly Quinn several years ago (my first celebrity encounter), and I was terribly nervous.  I’m not a fan of making a fool of myself in front of someone I’ve seen on television or interrupting others.  Those amazing nerds are normal people, and I’m perfectly fine admiring from afar (or on my couch).

[Random PSA, but everyone check out NerdHQ’s IndieGoGo campaign and support them.]

Jarrod:  How has your life changed since the show?

Chris:  My life hasn’t changed much since I’ve been on the show except that I now have several new awesomely amazing friends.  Other than that, my life seems exactly the same as before I was on the show.

Jarrod:  Most importantly, whether you guys realize it or not, you have become heroes and inspirations to nerds alike. You have become examples of accepting one’s self for who one is, and to never deny the greatness of who you are. How do you feel about fans looking to you in that way?

Chris:  That’s crazy!!  I never expected to be inspiring to others, but I’ll try my best to continue on the same path. It’s very important to be comfortable just being you. I spent a lot of time not being me and trying to fit in and be what I thought was cool, but it’s very exhausting. I definitely don’t recommend it.

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I hope you guys enjoyed the interview as much as I did. Next up will be the winner herself,  Kayla LaFrance.

Don’t forget to take the survey and bug TBS (@tbsveryfunny) to get the show renewed. Also, use #nerdsrule as MUCH as you can.

Special Announcement

Hey guys… thanks again for reading. The blog is starting to take off a little faster than I expected, but it’s been so fun. I just wanted to give you all a heads up what is to come in the near future.

First, I’m excited to announce that I’m bringing on my good friend and roommate Michael Hamilton, known by some throughout the Interwebs as djplaeskool, to write some guest contributions here and there. He’ll primarily focus on electronic music, MMORPGs, and even video game scores. Essentially topics that I do not know as much about. His first contribution will be on his favorite video game scores/songs. I’ll definitely keep all of you in the loop as to when that post will be written.

As for what I have in the works to write, I am working on my Top 20 list for my favorite games of all time, my Top 10 worst games of all time list, and my favorite games of the 90s list.

I plan to continue writing reviews of ABC’s Resurrection, and plan to start review video games (starting with inFamous: Second Son) and movies soon. I am also currently reading a book by a friend to review for the blog. I want talk much about it until I’ve finished it.

My Creative Corner feature will begin shortly as I am building a list of local artists, musicians, writers, and more to feature.  I am pretty excited about this. I really want to use the blog to champion those who work independently in the creative arts.

Lastly,  I have interviews lined up with people involved in the two big MMPR fan films that are currently in production. I am so excited about this.

Thank you again for reading, and I hope all of you continue to follow me. I have big plans for this website.

Jarrod

Interview with Katie Correll of TBS’ King of the Nerds #NerdsRule

Anyone, nerd or not, that works with The Jim Henson Company is inherently awesome in my eyes. Add to that purple hair and a fashion sense you get, well, Katie Correll.

I had the sneaking suspicion that she’d be the type of contestant that would do well, and if it wasn’t for a single Spelling Bee I believe she could have been in the final four.

Regardless of when she left the show, one my favorite parts of the whole season was the Robot Dodgeball competition. Seeing Katie look like a child on Christmas morning was an absolute joy.

robotdodgeball
Photo Courtesy of TBS

Now before reading the interview meet Katie Correll once more, or for the first time:

Jarrod:  Growing up, who were your major influences? Were they in the field you are pursuing now?

Katie:  I’ve always been a huge fan of Theodore Roosevelt, who was an unstoppable force that changed the world, and Frank Zappa, who ignored critics and made the music he wanted to make- and it was great! I try to be a combination of both of these guys and apply all of their positive qualities to my own field of robotics- pushing the limits of design and performance and trying to make something memorable.

Jarrod:  Did you have anyone in your life that helped you believe in who you were as a person? Friends? Family?

Katie:  My family has always supported me in anything I wanted to do and even supported me during college when everyone else thought I was crazy for trying to mix engineering and art.

Jarrod:  How did you decide to audition for the show? Was it on a whim? Or did someone encourage you?

Katie:  When I was contacted by the show to audition, I had never seen an episode. After some cursory Wikipedia research, however, I decided it would be a great platform to promote girls being awesome in STEM careers.

Jarrod:  What was the audition process like?

Katie:  A lot quicker than I thought it would be. I made an audition tape (that I hope will never see the light of day) in a couple of hours one afternoon with my roommate, and a few weeks, questionnaires and phone calls later I was on my way to LA! 

Jarrod:  We got a good idea of everyone’s areas of study or their profession. Was there anything in particular any of you were doing or working on prior to being on the show?

Katie:  At the time of filming I was interning with the Jim Henson company doing puppet and prop building for Sesame Street, the Jane Henson memorial Nativity show and other assorted projects.

Now I’m working for Disney Imagineering R&D doing mechanical design for a robotic manipulation system. I absolutely love my job and couldn’t imagine anything better suited for me.

Jarrod:  What were your initial feelings when you first arrived at Nerdvana (best reality show campus name ever, by the way)?

Katie:  It looks a lot like my department at CMU, down to the popcorn machine and pop-culture statues all over the place, so I felt right at home.

Jarrod:  Other than what was shown on camera and in the show, what was Nerdvana like? Did the viewers receive a pretty good illustration of what the house was like?

Katie: I wish you’d been able to see more of the bedrooms because those were really fun. We bunked together by team but everyone always wound up hanging out in the purple room.

Jarrod:  The viewers didn’t get to see much of the good-byes other than the player being eliminated and then leaving Nerdvana. Was there more to the good-byes than what was shown on camera?

Katie:  Everyone left a note and we would have a sort of “Note Reading Ceremony” when we’d return to the dorms after the nerd-off. Those were sweet, and I wish we’d seen more of them in the final cut.

Jarrod:  Throughout the season, and especially during the finale, we had the pleasure of experiencing your musical stylings. Was this a regular thing? Did you put on shows off camera? 

Katie:  I think we all did a lot of goofy stuff. Brian and I would gather the gang together and perform episodes of Between Two Nerds. We had a sing along party one night and built an epic blanket fort in the game room. 

Jarrod:  What is the story behind Bacon, the Nerdvana house friend?

Katie:  He’s bacon. [‘Nuff said]

Jarrod:  What was your favorite part of your experience at Nerdvana?

Katie:  The obvious (and cheesy) answer of meeting a lot of great nerds. But also I was incredibly curious about how a show like this is put together, how much prompting is done…etc, and I was pleasantly surprised at how real it was (and how chaotic it is on set!).

Jarrod:  How did you guys pass your time between Nerd Wars, etc.? Anything you can share that we may not have seen on camera?

Kate:  [We] played a LOT of Dominion (which is one of my favorite board games). Xander also taught us this game that was a cross between Whisper Down the Lane and Pictionary- everyone tries to interpret the last persons picture with hilarious results.

Best. Board Game. EVER.
Best. Board Game. EVER.

Jarrod:  Does anyone have hidden talents we didn’t get to see?

Kate:  Chris Jackson is full of secrets.

Jarrod:  Other than George Takei, Bill Nye, and other nerd deities you have had the chance to meet on the show, have you had the chance to meet any amazing nerds?

Katie:  No! I would love to meet the Mythbusters (I was completely convinced that Grant was going to judge our robotics challenge and was sorely disappointed). 

Jarrod:  How has your life changed since the show?

Katie:  I’ve been recognized a lot, which is a strange thing to get used to, but ultimately really fun. I’m also really excited that I have a really amazing group of twitter followers who are willing to listen to my crazy rants about science, robots and various nerdy things.

Jarrod:  What has it been like living in a male-dominated nerd world? Have you been faced with trouble or ridicule because female nerds aren’t the “right kind of nerdy” or because females don’t belong? Is this a reality you have dealt with?

Katie:  The only time I ran into that sort of criticism was as a result of this show. I was the only female mechanical engineer in my graduating class at Cooper Union, but my classmates respected me enough to elect me class representative and Chair of their professional society. I guess I just never let it cross my mind that I didn’t belong, or that gender could possibly be an issue, and that confidence inspired those around me to never question things either.

Jarrod:  Do you have anything to say to perhaps young people who may think girls shouldn’t be nerdy? Or maybe to young females who love science or other subjects, but are discouraged from pursuing because of their gender?

Katie:  I would tell anyone of age, gender or place in life to pursue what makes them happy and not listen to what anyone else says about it. Your happiness isn’t their business.

Jarrod:  Most importantly, whether you guys realize it or not, you have become heroes and inspirations to nerds alike. You have become examples of accepting one’s self for who one is, and to never deny the greatness of who you are. How do you feel about fans looking to you in that way?

Katie:  I love it! I ran into a lot of criticism as a kid for having weird interests, and even in college for not fitting into the MechE mold and I hope I can inspire other people to power through that kind of thing and do what they love. Don’t let anyone tell you ‘no’.

________

I hope you guys enjoyed the interview as much as I did. Next up will be Chris’ interview.

Don’t forget to take the survey and bug TBS (@tbsveryfunny) to get the show renewed. Also, use #nerdsrule as MUCH as you can.