Three things I learned from Justin Kendall’s profile of U.S. air-guitar champion Justin “Nordic Thunder” Howard in this week’s Reader:

1. Competitive air guitar is far more serious than I ever imagined: now that he’s solved some passport-related issues, Howard is going to the 16th annual Air Guitar World Championships in Finland.

2. No, I mean really serious: Howard “tore a meniscus in his knee playing air guitar in 2005 and ruptured a disk in his back and herniated two more during the 2008 Chicago regionals. Despite his injuries, he competed in the 2008 U.S. finals eight weeks later—but afterward he needed surgery and was laid up for three months.”

3. The Wisconsin state legislature counts among its members someone who once performed on the competitive air guitar circuit under the name Krye Tuff.

In my column this week I profile local sludge-pop outfit Rodeo, whose guitarist, Richard Giraldi, runs the excellent local music blog Loud Loop Press. The latest installment of In Rotation leads off with picks from music editor Philip Montoro, who passes the metaphorical mike to Ga’an drummer Seth Sher and prog-rock guru Charles Snider. Three Beats has local news from the emo, jazz-soundtrack, and indie-rock-supergroup fronts, while Gossip Wolf reports on an alt-rock reunion, happenings in the local Twitterverse, and what’s up with guitarist/visionary Sam Zurick. The bit in GW about the departure of Tom Breihan from Pitchfork and the Chicago area about how “you won’t see any more Pitchfork rap reviews by someone who actually knows and understands hip-hop” is so true and so sad.

Oh yeah, and the Soundboard features recommended shows coming up from the Hold Steady, Six Organs of Admittance, NRBQ, Braid, Peter Bjorn and John, and more.