Music for Mad Scientists, Mathematicians, and Other Interesting and Clever People

Life is better with a theme song. Background music is nice also, but if you have a song that sums up everything important about you then you really have something. Look how people like to yell, "This is my song, turn it up!" Imagine how excited I was when I found a song called Skullcrusher Mountain by Jonathan Coulton, a song about an evil genius/mad scientist who woos the object of his affections with the gift of a homemade half pony half monkey monster and laments the fact that he is much too smart for her.

November is the birth month of Benoît B. Mandelbrot, the father of fractals, the god of chaos theory, and the author of the butterfly effect, so this is the perfect month to listen to JC's song Mandelbrot Set. This is my own personal favorite song about math. How can you not love a song that says that Sierpinski Gaskets make you cry?

The September issue of Popular Science carried a special section called The Future of the Body and gave away an online copy of an EP called Our Bodies, Ourselves, Our Cybernetic Arms by JC. He is after all the Contributing Troubadour for the magazine. The EP consists of five songs, each in support of an article running in the magazine. That Spells DNA is a peppy little song about how medicine is changing as we understand more about the human genome (also the theme of Robin Cook's newest book Marker). I Feel Fantastic is a pop/rock song is one answer to the question "Will drugs make us smarter and happier?" This song is catchy and hilarious with lines like "steak tastes better when I take my steak tastes better pill." Womb With a View is a touching ballad told from the perspective of a developing fetus in an artificial womb. Todd the T1000 is about a guy who gets a new robot to help out around the house. The android turns out to be rather terrifying so he gets some artificial muscle in order to be bigger and scarier than the robot. When I hear this song I think if I had a big smashy claw nobody would ever cut in line in front of me again. Better is a great song about someone who isn’t very happy with the cybernetic changes their partner has undertaken. They start off with infrared eyes and by the end of the song he says, "You look like a victim of a surgical crime, a little Darth Vader, a little Optimus Prime." It's hilarious and clever. All of these songs, as well as the cover art, can be downloaded for free from a page at the Popular Science website.

Not all of JC's work is inspired by science or math and some songs don't even have squids in them. As part of his project where he records a track a week he created a sincere, folksy version of Baby Got Back that is filled with yearning. When he rhapsodizes about the joys of the big booty you feel like you're having one of those intense philosophical conversations with a half drunk cousin who really wants you to see the light. Want a sports related song? Try Kenesaw Mountain Landis, a song about the White Sox scandal of 1919. Do you want to hear a song that mentions WaMu? Give Millionaire Girlfriend a listen. All of the songs are released under a Creative Commons license and are available at JC's website where you can also purchase the CDs and, as a bonus, shirts.

The Six Cities Noisy Outlaws Extravaganza takes place on the twelfth and if you are in or near one of the six cities you should absolutely go. I'll be wildly jealous as I am not near any of the cities. Lemony Snicket will be at all six locations, in a move that only Lemony Snicket could pull off with aplomb and flair. It will be your chance to complete the story he left unfinished in the wonderful book Noisy Outlaws, Unfriendly Blobs, and Some Other Things That Aren’t as Scary, Maybe, Depending on How You Feel About Lost Lands, Stray Cellphones, Creatures from the Sky, Parents Who Disappear in Peru, a Man Named Lars Farf, and One Other Story We Couldn’t Quite Finish, So Maybe You Could Help Us Out. There will be an author to help out at every location. It's free and, as you know, Bob, profits from the book are in support of 826NYC, a nonprofit writing and tutoring center. Fun, free and a good cause. W00t!