Posted tagged ‘Jonathan Coulton’

Review: More Information Than You Require

May 20, 2009

It absolutely amazes me that I could be the exact target audience for a book.  And by that I mean a Jonathan Coulton/They Might Be Giants listening, Battlestar Galactica obsessed, Loren Coleman fan, with a decent grasp of US history, and ties to the outer edges of Massachusetts’ Pioneer Valley.  OK, I guess that actually describes everyone who hangs out on Doombot, but you’ve gotta admit that’s fairly specific.

Anyway, John Hodgeman’s second book of fake knowledge is a great improvement over the still brilliant original.  The joke mostly remains the same, Hodgeman rattles off absurdities with an amazingly authoritative voice, and then finishes up with a list of 700 silly names (with molemen replacing the Hobos of the first book).  Many of these jokes have just enough ties to reality (i.e. Weekend At Burnies was inspired by United Artists filming a Pink Panther movie with the corpse of Peter Sellers) to make you momentarily question reality.  It’s a great shtick, and it’s amazing just how well Hodgman is able to pull it off throughout the book.

This is maybe the greatest bathroom book I’ve ever read, something you can pick up for 2 minutes and come back to later.  However, that’s also why it took me 6 months to finish, which is something I’m not terribly proud of.

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Spotlight On Jonathan Coulton

August 9, 2008

Jonathan Coulton is the best thing to come along in geek music in ages.  Coulton is a Yale educated, ex computer programer turned geek rocker who play about a dozen instruments and has mastered the art of self-promotion.  His entire catalog is available online (many for free and everything comes with creative commons liscenses), his tour dates are partially based upon fans who have contacted him through his website, and he’s joined Daily Show regular John Hodgman on a book tour and on the show (twice I believe).

His music borrows from all aspects of geek culture.  He’s written songs about zombies, mad scientists, Flickr, engineering, math, and astronomy.  As if that didn’t cement the claim enough he also writes music for Popular Science and wrote the best piece of video game music in history, the ending credits song to Portal, “Still Alive”.

Oh, and lest it go unsaid he’s also really really good.  A lot of geek music gets by on the gimmick at worst, or clever lyrics without much musical talent at best.  But Coulton is a real musician who constantly pushes himself.  His Thing A Week Project was a particular standout, in which he tried to write a new song each week for a year, and managed to produce some of his best work in the process (I’m Your Moon, Code Monkey, Shop Vac).  And the live shows are pretty great too.