Nerd Nite No. 55: Digging Dinos, COP21, and the Return of the Sears Wishbook Trivia Game!

Ho ho ho hey there Nerds!

Too soon for holiday-related greetings? We won’t break out the Christmas tunes like B101 at least! Still consider joining us on Wednesday, December 2 for a fantastic Nerd Nite featuring talks about digging for dinosaurs, the climate change talk in Paris, and a trivia game featuring the 1985 Sears Wishbook. We’re seriously stoked for this great line up and we hope that you will be too, because the December Nerd Nite bench has some real depth.


First, we have Raluca Ellis, the Chief Environmental Scientist at the Franklin Institute, whose leading the charge in engaging Philadelphians in #PhillyClimateTalks. She’ll share some insights about what’s happening at COP21, the Paris Climate Change Talks in which global leaders are negotiating terms  of an agreement to limit further damage to the climate.

Jason Poole, from the Academy of Natural Sciences, will talk about the Bighorn Basin Dinosaur Project:

Our excavation team has been working to unearth Jurassic and Cretaceous dinosaurs found in the Bighorn Basin of Northern Wyoming and Southern Montana. Each summer the BBDP takes students and volunteers for a dig season of paleontological discovery and wicked cool science!! Join us to see what these wacky folks are digging up and why.

And finally, join Ben Leach for a couple rounds of the Cost is Correct with the 1985 Sears Wishbook Catalog

Tis the season to indulge all of our deepest materialistic desires and spend as much money as possible. Long before online shopping was the norm, our parents used the Sears Wishbook – a 600+ behemoth of a catalog – to help them order everything from the latest toys and electronic gizmos to elegant fashion and even gaudy, overpriced crap! Back by popular demand, Nerd Nite utility player Ben Leach will host a game show where the audience helps him navigate the trends of yesteryear by guessing the 30-year-old retail prices from the 1985 edition of the Wishbook as they play for fabulous nerd-friendly prizes!


Entertainment in between will be by local musician Chris Gennett!


Wednesday, December 2nd. 7:30 pm., $5
(Doors open at 4, we recommend arriving early to ensure you get a good seat).
Frankford Hall, 1210 Frankford Ave, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19125


Nerd Nite No 54: Social Media Travels, America’s True Birthplace, and Fun with Weird Al

Greetings Nerds!

Are you ready to enjoy a fine fall evening with us on November 4? We know we are! Check back soon for more details on our talks, but in the meantime, we’ll hopefully pique your interest with the following info:

Kae Lani Kennedy will present “Your Social Media Habits are F*cking with the Travel Industry: Here’s How We’re Adapting”.

Social media is driven by users sharing experiences and one of the most commonly shared experiences online is travel.  Whether it’s to a restaurant in our city, or to a distant continent, we want to humblebrag, take selfies, and hashtag where we and what we’re doing.  So what does all this social media jargon mean for the travel industry?  In this talk, we’ll discuss the social implications of social media, shifting trends and travel habits, and how the travel industry is adapting to this changing media landscape.

Kae Lani Kennedy is a Philadelphia-based travel journalist and the Social Media Manager for Matador Network, an independent travel media site specializing in capturing “human stories”.  Straddling the worlds of journalism and marketing, she has developed social media strategies that have earned her and her company the title of the travel industry’s “Most Effective Brand on Social Media” by Skift and American Express.  When she’s not traveling the world in the name of journalism, she enjoys street photography, flying drones, and sampling nachos from every bar and restaurant around town.

David Krueger will discuss the topic of his recent book, in his talk entitled “Vikings Myths, Pseudoarchaeology, and the “True” Birthplace of America”.

Why do people believe things that scholarship has disproven? Is myth more powerful than science? I’m going to tell you the story of how a charismatic Norwegian immigrant was able to persuade the masses that the nation began in 1362, with the deaths of Christian Vikings at the hands of skraelings in what was one day to become Minnesota.

David M. Krueger is an independent scholar of religion, history, and American culture with a PhD from Temple University and a ThM from Princeton Theological Seminary. He is the author of the new book Myths of the Rune Stone: Viking Martyrs and the Birthplace of America published by the University of Minnesota Press. He’s a farm kid at heart, loves ’80s hardcore punk, and is a dedicated offspring wrangler a.k.a. parent.

And, recent Geek Awards Winner Kelly Phillips will share some Weird Al stories in her talk “Everything You Know is Wrong: Growing Up Online with “Weird Al” Yankovic”.

See Weird Al through the eyes of an impassioned teenage girl who could only truly express and legitimize her fanhood in the form of an early 2000’s website. The former webmaster will read from her comic series “Weird Me” which documents her diehard fan years, and the audience will be quizzed with the kind of Weird Al trivia that only a questionably obsessive adolescent could know.

Kelly Phillips is a cartoonist living in West Philly. She is the creator of the comic series Weird Me: the true story of her teenage years as the moderately successful webmaster of a “Weird Al” Yankovic fan site. Her work has appeared in various publications, including Philadelphia City Paper, Quarter Moon, and Secret Prison. She is also the co-editor and publisher of the award-winning all-girl comic anthology Dirty Diamonds, which recently debuted its sixth book around the theme of Beauty, featuring work from over 50 international contributors.

And what else? Music by local singer-songwriter Brian Gray!

When: Wednesday, November 4

What time: Doors open at 4pm. Show starts at 7:30pm

How much: $5 cover gets you admission plus happy hour specials all night

Where: Frankford Hall, 1210 Frankford Ave., Philadelphia, PA 19125

Be there and be square!

Nerd Nite Philly

Nerd Nite No. 53: Celebrating Archives Month Philly!

Hey Nerds!

We’ve planned October’s Nerd Nite with the fine folks that organize another nerdy celebration: Archives Month Philly. What is that, you ask? Archives Month Philly is a chance to learn more about the rich history of Philadelphia, to toast the important work archives are doing, and to have a good time with interesting people. There are all kinds of archives-themed events going on in October to bring greater awareness to the collections in Philadelphia, but, um, obviously Nerd Nite’s will be the best.

So what do we have planned?

Lisa Berry Drago will present “You’ve Got Some Gall: Early Modern Inks and Pigments”

So, you’re a monk in the fourteenth century, and you want to copy a few pages of your favorite hymnal. No problem! First, you catch a goat. Then you skin a goat. Then you find some gall nuts on an oak tree, and some good red wine… okay, you get the idea. Writing and book-making were highly specialized arts requiring patience and expertise. This Nerd Nite, you’ll learn about the process of making manuscripts, and even get to try your hand at writing with real iron-gall ink and feather quills.

About Lisa: Elisabeth Berry Drago is a PhD candidate in art history at the University of Delaware, specializing in the 17th-century Netherlands. Her dissertation centers on the painter Thomas Wijck (1616–1677), whose pictures of alchemists in the laboratory offer new perspectives on early modern science and artistry. She received her MA in art history from Temple University in 2010 and holds a BA in fine arts from SUNY, Fredonia. In her free time she enjoys volunteering with the Fleisher Art Memorial and the Free Library of Philadelphia, teaching youth workshops in painting and drawing, comics, and picture-book illustration.

Tara O’Brien will discuss the history of cursive writing. Maybe we can get her take on the importance of teaching penmanship in Philly public schools?

And Matt Herbison will talk about “She-Doctors and Shameless Non-Blushers: Women Physicians in the US”

Philly has always been a big medical school town, including the Female Medical College of PA, the first med school for women in the world, founded in 1850 by Quakers (naturally).  Women working outside their accepted sphere of home and family and getting elbows-deep into unwomanly medical situations was far from universally accepted – in fact, over 160 years later, the gender imbalance for doctors is still significant.  To do up Archives Month the way it deserves, we’ll get our own hands dirty with this turbulent history and uncover juicy original documents that reveal the struggles these women faced when they deigned to enter the men’s world of science and medicine.

About Matt: Matt is an archivist at the Drexel Med School, working with researchers and students to dig into the history of women in medicine and the history of homeopathy in the US.  His hobbies are snacks and transit.  He is unwilling to converse about a broad range of topics.

And what else? Music by local singer-songwriter Lainey Quinn!


When: Wednesday, October 7

What time: Doors open at 4pm. Show starts at 7:30pm

How much: $5 cover gets you admission plus happy hour specials all night

Where: Frankford Hall, 1210 Frankford Ave., Philadelphia, PA 19125

Be there and be square!

Nerd Nite Philly

Nerd Nite No. 52: Pickling! Clinical Trials! Sabermetrics!

Greetings Nerds! Are you ready for back-to-school time? Yea neither are we. But, this just means we must muster through with some good beers, friendly nerds, and some old-fashioned learning.

What’s up for Nerd Nite No. 52? Well…

Speakers include:

Amanda Feifer from Phickle talking the science and art of pickling

Dr. Ralph Riviello, “The Status of Status: Emergency Seizure Research”

When you are having a seizure how can you give consent to join a research study? Which medicine works best to stop seizures when the first line medicines have failed? Find out about the FDA rules for emergency research and a new seizure study starting this fall in many Philadelphia hospitals.


Josh Godick, “Sabermetrics: The statistical analysis of baseball”

If you’re a casual fan of baseball (or even if you aren’t!), you likely know that there are a lot of numbers in the game. From batting average to ERA, the language of baseball is all about the numbers. Sabermetrics attempts to make that language more precise by applying statistical analysis and the scientific method. Professional teams (even the Phillies) are hiring economists, mathematicians, statisticians, and programmers to evaluate players on the field. Come learn about some of the “rock stars” in sabermetrics, what OPS and defense-independent-pitching mean, and how teams are using this information to get better.

Plus Music by Nardo Lilly!


When: Wednesday, September 2

What time: Doors open at 4pm. Show starts at 7:30pm

How much: $5 cover gets you admission plus happy hour specials all night

Where: Frankford Hall, 1210 Frankford Ave., Philadelphia, PA 19125

Be there and be square!

Nerd Nite Philly

Nerd Nite No. 51: Street Art! Mulberry Paper! Star Wars Maps! Plus music by Emily Mineo

Hey gang! Thanks for all of you that came out for our 5 Year Party! WE had a great time, and hopefully you did too.

Now, a look to the future! And by future, we mean August Nerd Nite. We have a great group of speakers– many of whom have come to Nerd Nite on a regular basis– and we’re happy to hand them the mic for the first time.

Lindsay Bates,  “Bombing, Tagging, Writing: Why Graffiti and Street Art are More than Vandalism”

A first look upon a well-contrived piece of graffiti or street art may inspire feelings of surprise, delight, and amusement, but the connection between graffiti and cultural heritage might be more difficult to perceive. Conventionally, graffiti was synonymous with vandalism, associated with a subculture that needed to be extinguished immediately. However, with the works of such artists as Basquiat, Keith Haring, Banksy, Steve Powers, and the like, graffiti began to be recognized as something more than crime – something with far more value, something that could reach beyond the walls of a gallery. Indeed, this subculture has since proliferated exponentially, and with its popularity a closer connection to heritage becomes more apparent. Though it may be a more radical and alternative way of creating heritage, its increasing recognition suggests that such cultural values are clearly demonstrated.

Bio: Lindsay Bates holds a BS in Architecture from Catholic University, and a MS in Historic Preservation from the University of Pennsylvania.  She has been a graffiti and street art enthusiast since visiting Barcelona in 2005, and is especially passionate about how art can be a catalyst for change in our communities.


Nicole Donnelly, “Papermaking with a Philadelphia Invasive”

Nicole is an artist & papermaker, and for the last few years, she has been harvesting Philadelphia’s paper mulberry tree (broussonetia papyrifera) from the abandoned piers in the Delaware River. This plant probably looks familiar to you, and that’s because it’s a non-native, aggressive / invasive plant, and it grows all over the city, especially along the highways and rivers, and it can actually thrive in very poor soil (like so many of our invasive plants, a.k.a. weeds). However, this plant has been used for thousands of years to make paper, and is the traditional fiber used for paper in China, Japan & Korea (what is commonly, and mistakenly, referred to as ‘rice paper’, and in the art store is called ‘mulberry paper’). This kind of papermaking is a SUSTAINABLE practice (because the plant is perennial and regenerates the branches that are cut each season).

Bio: Nicole Donnelly is a papermaker, visual artist, and independent teacher based in Philadelphia, PA. She fell in love with handmade paper and its artistic possibilities while studying with Timothy Barrett at the University of Iowa (2008­-09), who literally wrote the book on Japanese hand papermaking. Donnelly is a co-­organizer of the Hand Papermaking Community Documentation project; the founder of paperTHINKtank, a papermaking studio in Philadelphia; a board member of The Soapbox Independent Publishing Center in West Philly; and the President of the International Association of Hand Papermakers and Paper Artists (IAPMA), 2015­-17. Her artwork is focused on the environmentally sustainable possibilities and beauty of handmade paper.


Henry Bernberg, “Mapping the Galaxy Far, Far Away: Using Raster Channelization Techniques to Build a Hyperspace Network for the Star Wars Galaxy”

Ever wondered how the Imperial Fleet gets around the Galaxy Far, Far Away while avoiding all those black holes and supernovas? Or how the Millennium Falcon could make it from Hoth to Bespin without a working hyperdrive? Learn about how the galaxy was mapped, who mapped it, and how advanced spatial analysis techniques can be applied to filling in the gaps between planetary clusters and the hyperspace lanes that connect them.

Bio: Henry is a sci-fi and mapping nerd living in Philly and specializes in geographic information systems analysis. He holds degrees in urban spatial analytics, historic preservation, architectural studies, and anthropology; has worked on archival and mapping projects projects at The Penn Museum, Azavea, and the Kansas Geological Survey; and worked on archaeological digs in Belize and Turkey.


Music by local artist Emily Mineo!


When: Wednesday, August5

What time: Doors open at 4pm. Show starts at 7:30pm

How much: $5 cover gets you admission plus happy hour specials all night

Where: Frankford Hall, 1210 Frankford Ave., Philadelphia, PA 19125

Be there and be square!

Nerd Nite Philly