Posts Tagged ‘history’

Nerd Nite No. 34: Gamer Romance, Sirius in the Sky, and Victorian Love & Death

Hey Friends, are you ready for a fantastic Nerd Nite? We know we’ve been missing all of you plus the fine beers at Frankford Hall during our hiatus. So we’re back and better than ever. The ever important logistical details:

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

doors at 7pm, show starts at 7:30pm

Frankford Hall at Frankford and Girard

$5 cover gets you a night of nerdy edutainment, plus food and drink specials.

The talks at hand are as follows:


“Love, Pixels, & Exploring Romance in Video Games” by Eric Smith

If someone were to ask you what the Greatest Love Story of All Time was, and what it was that made said story so great, what would be your answer? Chances are, you might not bring up Shadow of the Colossus or Final Fantasy VII. Which is ridiculous, because come on. In this talk, we’ll explore the oft forgotten romantic genre… of video games.

Bio: Eric Smith is the co-founder of Geekadelphia and the Philly Geek Awards, and the social media manager at Quirk Books. He’s the author of The Geek’s Guide to Dating, and his debut YA novel, Inked, is due out this Fall with Bloomsbury Spark. He’s written for The Huffington Post, Boing Boing, BuzzFeed, BookRiot, The Bygone Bureau, Geekosystem, and more. He enjoys bad movies, good books, and old fashioned cocktails. Hi Nena! <3


“When the Stars Align – The Convergence of Art & Science” by John Caperton

The Print Center’s Demetrius Oliver exhibition, Canicular, is conceived in direct response to the curator’s request for the artist to think as expansively as possible about what constitutes a print (printed work being the core of The Print Center’s mission), and reflects the artist’s longtime desire to create an installation requiring a radical shift in the typical functions of an organization and its gallery spaces. In this case, the artist essentially converted the gallery spaces into an observatory which will only be open for one hour each night (Tuesday-Saturday 7:00pm-8:00pm, weather permitting) to coincide with the rising of Sirius in the night sky. Canicular is a new video installation that will consist of a projected, live-feed from a high-power telescope focused on Sirius (the brightest star in the night sky). The video, a live-feed from a telescope mounted on the roof of the Franklin Institute, will be projected in a round structure, built within one of The Print Center’s galleries to resemble a small observatory.

Bio: John Caperton, Jensen Bryan Curator of The Print Center, curated a solo exhibition by New York City artist Demetrius Oliver entitled Canicular on view through March 22 at The Print Center. Oliver is known for creating elegant, improvisatory, site-specific installations using photography, sculpture and video to record the act of sidereal observation itself. His work draws heavily on a variety of disparate intellectual interests related to interpreting phenomena, including American transcendentalism, music of the spheres, and the history of cosmology, weaving them into spectacular, cohesive works of self-exploration and expression.


“True Love Never Dies: Victorians, Burials and the State of Amour” by Alexis Jeffcoat

The woman who left behind her heart, the ashes that were pulverized to make room for two souls; the pomp and circumstance of arctic explorer’s burial with the sad state of his lover in a pauper’s grave. These are love stories. And hate stories, too. Lust, loathing, passion, devotion; all of it follows us to the grave. Be it all-consuming, romantic or even scandalous; love does not end with death and no one was surer of that than our Victorian predecessors. Sit back, grab a drink, and snuggle up: we’re about to gossip like its 1872. The dresses were long, the love was torrid and the burials? Dramatic.

Bio: Alexis received her undergraduate degree in Psychology and European History from Temple University and her Masters in Arts & Humanities from Arcadia University. She manages marketing and programming for the Friends of Laurel Hill Cemetery, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the promotion and preservation of Laurel Hill Cemetery as a historic site. As a fan of history, Alexis enjoys sharing the stories of the cemetery’s varied “residents” and no, she has not yet seen a ghost.


Plus Joey Sweeney with some sweet acoustic sounds.


See you fine Nerds there!


Nerd Nite No. 25, May 15, 2013

Yo Nerds!

Fast on the heels of the Philadelphia Science Festival, we bring you an eclectic mix of nerdosity.  Be prepared to hear about the following hot topics: 1) earwax (for realz), 2) an ancient and defunct Philly landmark, and 3) Mr. T.

Sadly, this Nerd Nite is the last one for Nerd Nite boss Matt Young.  Lucky us though, because he’s agreed to play guitar and sing some songs –  he’s a boss on guitar too.  Please come out and wish him well before he moves down south!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

doors at 7:00, show at 7:30 sharp
Frankford Hall at Frankford and Girard
$5 cover gets you nerdiness and food and drink specials

We pity the fool that doesn’t attend this Nerd Nite.

“Stink, Stank, Stunk . . . The Science of Human Earwax and Body Odor” by Kate PriggeEarwax isn’t something that most people think about on a daily basis; in fact most people do their best to get rid of it. Did you know that earwax exists in two genetically determined types: wet (sticky, yellow-colored), and dry (flaky, white)? Interestingly, earwax actually plays an important role in protecting your inner ear canal from physical damage and infection. Although earwax and body odor generally get a bad rap, both are necessary to your overall well-being. In this talk you’ll learn about the origin of human body odor and the role your genes play in earwax and body odor production.

Bio: Kate is a postdoctoral researcher at the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia. She recently obtained her Ph.D. in Chemistry from Johns Hopkins University in 2012. Her current research focuses on human body odors. Kate applies organic-analytical chemistry techniques along with molecular genetics and sensory evaluation methodologies to examine human odor production.

“An Indian Pole on the Edge of Town.” by Harry KyriakodisThe “Indian Pole” was an ancient Philly landmark, once located at 4th and Vine, that no longer exists. Learn about this 85 foot high pole that was capped by a 9 foot tall Native American figure, holding a bow and quiver with one arm outstretched. More importantly, what happened to this crazy (though once revered) thing? Maybe you can help shed some light on this mystery, which the speaker has been investigating–in vain–for years.

Bio: A historian and writer about Philadelphia, Harry Kyriakodis has collected what is likely the largest private collection of books about the City of Brotherly Love—more than 2500 titles, new and old. Harry is the author of Philadelphia’s Lost Waterfront andNorthern Liberties: The Story of a Philadelphia River Ward, both published by The History Press. In addition, he gives walking tours and presentations on unique yet unappreciated parts of the city.

“Mr. T: Three Decades of Fool-Pitying Merchandise” by Ben Leach

If you grew up in the 1980s, Mr. T was a ubiquitous presence who preached wholesome values to kids while making a career out of punching and throwing people. All these years later, Mr. T has remained relevant in popular culture thanks in large part to serving as a spokesman for a wide variety of companies. Why do companies still seek out an action star who hit his career peak before the 1980s were even halfway over? It’s thanks in large part to Mr. T’s role as an unassuming merchandising mogul. In this presentation, you will be taken through Mr. T’s career as told entirely through merchandise, artifacts, readings, and clips related to the “man with the gold” from the 1980s until the present day from all over the world. From his own cereal and motivational tapes to some interesting choices in roles in the 1990s to selling out to shill your product, the influence of Mr. T on your life is practically inescapable.

Bio: Ben Leach is a New Jersey-based science and medical writer. However, he is also a collector of the eclectic and unusual, especially if it’s something that relates to his childhood from the 1980s and 1990s. He has been a published author on collectibles since he was 19, with work appearing in Lee’s Toy Review, Toyfare, and Currently, he operates a website dedicated to antiques and collectibles with his family called The Collector Gene ( and is launching another website, Retro Play Time (, later this year.

And music by Matt Young!

Be there and be square.

Nerd Nite No. 23, April 3, 2013


Spring is nearly here!  We are going to get you guys revved up with some talk about seeds!  And toilets?!  Yes!  And secret assassin societies!  And some great tunes!  Hooray spring!


Wednesday, April 3, 2013

doors at 6:30, show at 7:30
Frankford Hall at Frankford and Girard
$5 cover

wherein you will hear the following:

“Seeds, Seed Exchanges and Solifuges” by Aimee Hill

What do solifuges and free, fancy and available “heirloom/organic” seeds that grow well in Philly have in common? Wait, what’s a solifuge? What’s a seed? As inhabitants of a post-industrial city, what do we have to do with maintaining and developing an ever-changing, resilient and delicious and living bank of edible plants? (mmm, edible plant bank) Learn the answers to all these questions and more…Got a problem? Seeds can fix that.

Bio: Aimee helps maintain the Philly Seed Exchange and is a Farmer and Teacher with a fascination for all things regarding bacterial domination of the world. She has recently moved from Philly to NJ (embarrassing, I know) for farm reasons, but returns to Philly often for seeds, gardens, and the City itself.

“Hold that flush! Towards sustainable equity when doing our business” by Christiaan (yes two aas) Morssink

A lighthearted yet demanding discourse on the wickedness of using tapwater for toilets, the absolute abhorrent global inequities in terms of access to facilities and the need for nerds worldwide to apply their nerdiness towards solutions that are sustainable, improve health and quality of life, while underscoring the dignity of each and all. In other words, bs-ing about excrement.

Bio: Christiaan is a public health policy professional, exe dir of the United Nations Association of Greater Philadelphia, president of the Project for Nuclear Awareness, founding member of the Philadelphia Global Water Initiative as well as the Global Philadelphia Association. His interests are social determinants of health, and the amelioration of the lives of the poor while they buckle under the onslaught of the world’s feral capitalism. His interest in water is due to his Dutch origin and the realization that all breweries everywhere need clean water.

“Assassins, Creeds, and Crusaders (for reals)” by Paul Cobb

Is a secret society of sexy time-traveling murderers-for-hire too good to be true? Sadly, yes. But the reality is pretty nifty anyway. Thanks to various popular media, in particular the wildly successful video-game series ASSASSIN’S CREED, many people (or at least males between the age of 12 and 25) have heard of the medieval Order of Assassins. In this talk, I will take you behind all these fictions to the real, historical sect that inspired them, a medieval Muslim community that beat all the odds of history and is flourishing–quite peacefully–today.

Bio: Paul M. Cobb is Professor of Islamic History in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations at the University of Pennsylvania. He prefers bourbon. His new book, THE RACE FOR PARADISE: AN ISLAMIC HISTORY OF THE CRUSADES is coming out wicked soon.
Featuring music by Gretchen Lohse.Gretchen Lohse is a native Philadelphia singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist. She comes from a family with deep music roots and was classically trained on violin, which is evident on her recordings. As the front woman of Philadelphia psychedelic folk rock band Yellow Humphrey, she dreams up rich, strange musical tapestries- part memoir and part tall tale- that are heavily influenced by folklore and silent films.

Nerd Nite No. 22, March 6, 2013

Dear Nerds,

This month we are bringing you a smorgasbord of Nerdery starting with cheese, moving onto pain (sorry!) and then finishing up with hip hop.  With jazz in between.  Details:

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

doors at 6:30, show at 7:30
Frankford Hall at Frankford and Girard
$5 cover

What’s up:

“Wild Rinds: Confronting Surface Molds and Other Apocalyptic Visions” by Tenaya Darlington, a.k.a. Madame FromageEvery cheese lover has looked at a furry Brie and wondered: should I really eat that? In this quick romp through surface molds, Fishtown-based cheese blogger Madame Fromage explains how to judge a cheese by its rind (yes, they’re like book covers). You’ll also learn a few professional terms that cheesemongers use, in case you ever want to work with “brainy” rinds.

Bio: Tenaya Darlington is the digital dairy courtesan Madame Fromage (; @MmeFromage). She writes for Grid, Table Matters, Culture Magazine, and has served as cheese correspondent for The New York Times’Thanksgiving hotline. Her new book, Di Bruno Bros. House of Cheese: A Guide to Wedges, Recipes, and Pairings, debuts in May.

“What Your Doctor Never Knew About Pain: How Your Fascia Holds You Together or Knocks You Down” by Stephanie Lee Jackson

This talk unravels the mysteries of fascia, the one vital organ that goes virtually unmentioned in medical school. You’ll learn how to fall off a ladder with grace and aplomb, and why the exact causes of back pain go undiscovered in 85% of cases. You’ll also get some tips on how to deal with ‘mystery pain’ that thwarts your ambitions and leaves you sulking on the couch.

Bio: Stephanie Lee Jackson founded Practical Bodywork in Philadelphia after moving here from Brooklyn, NY in 2010. She was a ballet dancer for twelve years and a fine artist for twenty, moving from her birthplace of Fort Worth, Texas to San Francisco, Mexico, France and New York City. She became briefly notorious in the last decade as the art blogger and provocateur, Pretty Lady, before the birth of her daughter Olivia inspired her to become a responsible citizen.

“’You Know How Many I Own?’ Black masculinity in Watch the Throne and in the Shifting Landscape of Hip Hop” by Anthony Pratcher

The career-long efforts of Jay-Z and Kanye West to challenge common conceptions of black masculinity in commercial culture climax with their 2011 joint-album Watch the Throne. In their album, their exploration of physical and ideological spaces deemed non-normative for black men within commercially popular hip-hop articulate a revised aesthetic for racial authenticity. This re-articulation has privileged younger artists—like Drake, Kid Cudi, and J. Cole—with the freedom to explore and express identity in ways which were previously taboo in commercially popular hip-hop. However, despite some changes, continuities abound—most glaringly concerning the objectification of women—and capitalist accumulation remains central to their definition of manhood. So how much have things changed? How much have they stayed the same? In this talk, history student Anthony Pratcher II utilizes the lyrical content ofWatch the Throne to provide a foundation for further exploration into the relationship between authenticity, black masculinity, and capitalist misogyny in contemporary hip-hop.

Bio: Anthony Pratcher II is a third-year Ph. D. student from Arizona in the department of History at the University of Pennsylvania. He also enjoys basketball, reading, and playing guitar. He has spent the past twenty-four years engaging in a case study on black masculinity in contemporary American society.

And featuring Christopher Maute playing jazz.Bio: I’ve been fortunate enough to work at the Monell Center for the past 14 years studying the psychology of the sense of smell while also pursuing an active musical career around the Philadalphia area and teaching psychology courses in the Music Education department at the University of the Arts.  I’ll be entertaining everybody with my solo 6-string bass stylings via jazz standards, Beatles medleys, and some funky jams!



Nerd Nite No. 19, October 10, 2012


What could be nerdier than hackers, donkeys and 3D printing all in one night?  Only you holding a beer and listening to talks about these things.  Just kidding.  (Ok, not.)

The details:

Wednesday, October 10, 2012
doors at 6:30, show at 7:30
Frankford Hall
$5 cover

For your edification and amusement, we present:

“Join the Hackerspace Revolution.” by Georgia Guthrie 

News flash: the hacker uniform is no longer limited to snarky black t-shirts, shorts, and mid-calf socks. Anyone can be a hacker today, and at The Hacktory we think everyone should be a hacker. In this presentation, we’ll talk about our definition of “hacking” (no, it doesn’t include stealing credit card numbers), the roots of the hackerspace movement, what we hack at The Hacktory, and why you might want to get involved. We will have a brief demo of a project we’re currently working on with Carbon Dance Theatre and the Immersive Kinematics lab at UPenn, and details about the most amazing Halloween party ever that we’re hosting this October.

Bio: Georgia Guthrie is the Director of The Hacktory, Philly’s first hackerspace and a Designer at the Action Mill. For the past three years she has worked to expand people’s notion of hacking by creating new partnerships that explore the intersection of art and technology with the likes of Design Philadelphia, the Fleisher Art Memorial, the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, NextFab Studio, Breadboard, Public Workshop, and others. This year, under her direction, The Hacktory was awarded a Knight Arts Challenge grant to create a tech-arts apprenticeship program, and she was named Hacker of the Year by Geekadelphia.

“The Kunga: Solving the Riddle of this Royal Steed” by Jill Weber

Ancient authors wrote about the Kunga – a prized animal that pulled the chariots of kings and gods – in the 3rd millenium BC.  But, was this donkey x wild half-ass hybrid real, or just propaganda for the State? Here, I recount my pusuit of this animal across the Syrian wilderness and through the maze of academic intrigue.

Bio:  Jill Weber received her PhD in anthropology from the University of Pennsylvania in 2006.  This has allowed her to continue her travels to Syria, Turkey and Armenia – making many other stops and drinking lots of wine along the way.  She opened Jet Wine Bar in Philadelphia in November of 2010, and continues to drink lots of wine!

“Modern Fabrication Techniques: Laser Cutters, Milling Machines + 3D Printers” by Adolphe Alexander

In this age of computing labor intensive processes of fabrication are being handed over to machines. Compared to traditional machining, computer-aided manufacturing increases productivity, precision and safety of the human-operator. This presentation will explore the current capabilities and the future potential of various automated manufacturing processes.

Bio: Adolphe Alexander is a researcher, designer and engineer who specializes in fabrication of electronic and mechanical devices. He has a decade of experience developing test-equipment for civilian, military and commercial research facilities including CERN, JPL and Seagate. His current set of interests focus on radio-frequency amplification, aquaponics and geological illumination.

And featuring music by The Missing Keys
Drawing on an eclectic collection of influences, The Missing Keys have combined elements of Rock, Blues, Jazz and Psychedelia(!) into a sound that stands tall on even the most eclectic shows.