Wednesday, December 18, 2013

2013 Nerd Gift Guide - Vance

Last year I went kind of broad with Star Trek, Back to the Future, and Cthulhu (but seriously, you have to check out the Cuddlethulhu), so this year I've decided to focus on the micro. I've picked three gifts that are almost mind-bogglingly specific, so it's possible no one but me will be interested in them. But believe me, they're all excellent and will be worthy gifts for that special nerd in your life.

For Writers/Word Nerds: Shady Characters [Buy the book or download for Kindle .]

We are huge advocates here at Nerds of a Feather for independent authors and literary voices that fall outside of the mainstream. But we also understand that many (so, so many) independent works are bedeviled by spelling and punctuation errors. That got me thinking about Keith Houston's surprisingly engaging Shady Characters: The Secret Life of Punctuation, Symbols, and Other Typographical Marks. As a type and design nerd, the idea of learning the history of these marks I use every day was quite alluring. I mean, what the hell is up with that paragraph symbol, anyway? If you watched and enjoyed Helvetica, you can't go wrong with this.

For the Film/Animation Nerd: Cartoon Modern [Buy it today.]

This had been on my wish list for a long time, and I'm thrilled I finally got my hands on it. I grew up watching a lot of animation, I still do, and have even done a little myself. While I'm impressed as hell with the work that big shops like Disney have always done, I've been far more inspired by folks that undertook this hugely labor-intensive artform with very few resources, an idiosyncratic vision, or a hunger for experimentation. All of those things flourished in the 1950s, as artists began to break away from the "centerline" school of animation at the same time that TV networks and advertising outfits embraced animation for mass audiences. Cartoon Modern does a very thorough job of profiling all of the animation companies that were active at the time, including tons of amazing production and pre-production images, and puts everything into a larger cultural context. Also, many of the films are available on YouTube if you look, so you can enjoy a DIY multimedia extravaganza!

For the Beer Nerd/Snob: Beer-of-the-Month Club (Sign up here)
No doubt, this is not the cheapest way to buy beer, but if you know a beer nerd who enjoys supporting microbreweries and trying as many different styles and variations as he or she can find, then this is a great way to go. It was the first time, for instance, that I had heard of and was able to try a Milk Stout, of all things. Also, the newsletter they include is interesting, with a little background on each style and brewery. Needless to say, this is only for nerds of legal drinking age.

And on that note, all this typing is some thirsty business. I think I'll see what I've got in the fridge...