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Down and Nerdy: Holiday shopping for nerds and Penny Arcade Expo

IN WHICH holiday shopping options are laid out for ways in which to spend money upon things, and we wax rhapsodical about a certain web comic and its associated gathering of geeks.

Briana's pick: Holiday shopping ideas for the nerd in your life

‘Tis the season to spend a lot of money on stuff….Here at Down and Nerdy headquarters, we have devised a list of gift ideas to fit every level of geek in your life.

SAMURAI SWORD UMBRELLA -- Let’s face it. We all can’t be samurai warriors, but that doesn’t mean we all can’t defend ourselves from the rain.

TAUNTAUN SLEEPING BAG -- I GUARANTEE that Luke Skywalker would have preferred this cozy sleeping bag to the disgusting innards of his deceased mount while on the planet Hoth. It even comes with a free light saber zipper pull! Boo-yah!

BOOK A TRIP TO OUTER SPACE via VIRGIN GALACTIC -- I want to go to there.

BOX SETS -- Music geeks love box sets. Because you can’t truly understand an artist until you have EVERY b-side, rarity, studio version, remixed and previously unreleased track they’ve ever recorded. Neil Young, Big Star, Kraftwerk, Pixies, Miles Davis and Creedence Clearwater Revival all have new box sets out this year.

THE COMPLETE MONTY PYTHON’S FLYING CIRCUS MEGASET – This collector’s edition megaset came out last year, but it took an entire year before I could afford it. Someone in my family will be getting this for the holidays and that someone will be me.

MAKE YOUR OWN MANGA – Get your art on.

MR. WIZARD’S WORLD DVD & BOOKS -- Before there was Bill Nye, Beakman or MythBusters, there was Mr. Wizard. For all those aspiring scientists out there…

James' pick: Penny Arcade

One of my favorite destinations online is the webcomic Penny Arcade. (A webcomic, as you might infer from the name, is a comic strip that is on the web. Hence the name.) It's the brainchild of two really cool guys, Jerry Holkins and Mike Krahulik (Jerry writes it, Mike draws it).

Now in its 11th year, PA is the story of friends Gabe and Tycho, big-time video game enthusiasts. The strip's humor is usually rooted in video game culture, but not always. What it is always, though, is funny. Man, what a clumsy sentence that was. Whatever. Anyway, it's totally awesome. Click that sample panel there on the right to visit the site.

A warning! The boys do use adult language, so the site may be considered NSFW and NSF Delicate Constitutions.

Jerry and Mike do two other really cool things, one of which is Penny Arcade Expo, or PAX. And in March, they're having an east-coast version in Boston. Woot! Can't wait!

But the best thing of all is Child's Play, the charity they started several years ago. The organization raises money to put games and toys in children's hospitals all over the country. Just think about it – if you're a little kid, being in a hospital for any length of time must totally suck. It must suck a lot less if they can wheel a Nintendo into your room. And so far, Child's Play has raised almost $6 million worth of games and toys. Totally awesome.

Finally, consider watching the first few episodes of Penny Arcade TV, a really well-made behind-the-scenes documentary. It's genuinely touching in places – these are two normal guys, doing something they love and making a lot of people very happy with it.

[podcast]http://archive.wfpk.org/Podcasts/20091204-nerdy.mp3[/podcast]