Unless your home is a dirty hole under a lead boulder, you've undoubtedly noticed America's tremendous about-face over the last decade in terms of what it defines as "cool."
The nearly annual release of new "Call of Duty" titles is cause for millions of gamers to engage in marathon sessions that undoubtedly strain plenty of marriages, either because only one partner plays or because both do and one "totally pwns" the other.
Film series such as "Iron Man," "Harry Potter" and "Transformers" have made superheroes, wizards and transforming robots some of the most lucrative entertainment properties of all time. The moviegoers of 1950s America undoubtedly would give modern Americans a wedgie.
And then there's HBO's ludicrously popular "Game of Thrones" drama based on George R.R. Martin's fantasy series "A Song of Ice and Fire," a nerd-core literary staple for 15 years. The show's rabid fanbase made a reported 700,000 Tweets, forum posts and other online chatter in response to the shocking revelations of June 2's "The Rains of Castamere" episode. According to the network, this set a new benchmark for social interaction with its programming, which is especially impressive considering its catalog includes shows such as "The Sopranos" and "Deadwood."
On Sunday, I wrote a feature about tabletop role-playing, which has ranked as one of the most stereotypically nerdy activities there is since Dungeons & Dragons was published in 1974. Given the recent rise of nerd culture, it came as no surprise to discover that it, too, has an enthusiastic and growing local fan base.
When I write, I like to listen to thematically appropriate music. Here are a few songs I turned to for geeky inspiration as I compiled my D&D piece.
• "Why Does the Sun Shine?" by They Might Be Giants - This song is most certainly catchy, but it also teaches a legitimate astronomy lesson about Earth's dependence on its "middle-sized star."
• "Big Bang Theory Theme" by Barenaked Ladies - In only 105 seconds, this intro to one of the nerdiest TV shows ever hits a ton of scientific touchstones, from cosmic origin theory to Australopithecus.
• "Code Monkey" by Jonathan Coulton - Although it specifically references a "code monkey" (read: programmer), this song is a worthy anthem for pretty much everyone who has been a victim of unrequited love.
• "In the Garage" by Weezer - Talk about geek rock. Before the first chorus, lead singer Rivers Cuomo references D&D (12-sided dice and a Dungeon Masters guide) and Marvel comic heroes (Nightcrawler and Kitty Pryde).
There were more on the play list, obviously, and if you'd like a complete rundown or would like to share your own nerd-rock favorites, shoot me an email.
Contact staff writer Casey Phillips at email@example.com or 423-757-6205. Follow him on Twitter at @PhillipsCTFP.