Posts Tagged ‘Philadelphia history’

Nerd Nite No. 50: Nerd Nite Teams Up with the APS!

Hey Nerds! We’re at a bit of a milestone here in Philly– the 50th edition of nerd-based entertainment in the city of brotherly love! How awesome is that? We’re celebrating in two ways: first, on July 1 we’ll be presenting a series of talks in conjunction with the American Philosophical Society and, second, on July 9 we’ll be celebrating 5 YEARS in Philly with a party. We hope to see you at both!

So what’s up for July 1?


Bernard Brown, “Spermataphores, Orgies, and Chin Grinding”

Philly herper Bernard Brown will explore the hot cold-blooded sex lives of our local salamanders, including the spring ‘breeding aggregations’ of spotted salamanders, newt leg locks, and the seductive dance of the diminutive redback salamander.

About Bernard: Bernard Brown has been herping Philadelphia for over 10 years. He has written about natural history topics for Grid Magazine, is the Philadelphia County Coordinator for the Pennsylvania Amphibian and Reptile Survey (PARS), and co-hosts the Urban Wildlife podcast.


Jane Boyd, “Bears in the Backyard, Plants in the Attic: Collecting at the American Philosophical Society”

Before Philadelphia was chock-full of museums and libraries, there was a rectangular redbrick building next to Independence Hall where all the cool stuff went. During the late 1700s and early 1800s, people all over the country sent strange and interesting things to the “ingenious and curious men” at the American Philosophical Society. Find out about Thomas Jefferson’s live grizzly bears, Lewis and Clark’s pressed plant specimens, Charles Willson Peale’s mastodon skeleton, and other remarkable items that filled Philosophical Hall.

About Jane: Dr. Jane E. Boyd gets around town as an independent curator and museum consultant specializing in interdisciplinary exhibitions and projects, on topics ranging from natural history to Civil War medicine to chemistry sets. She has worked for the APS Museum and Library, the Academy of Natural Sciences, the Chemical Heritage Foundation, the Mütter Museum, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and the Wagner Free Institute of Science. More on her website at


Steve Alt, “So You Think You Know Plants…”

…But you probably don’t, at least not about their origins. While certain founders were hard at work in the business of creating a country, other colonists were exploring the natural history of the New World. With thousands of new species to investigate and a substantial market in the import and export of exotic plants, there was a lot of green to be made in the greenhouse. This talk will explore the world of agriculture and horticulture in the 18th century.

About Steve: Steve Alt started farming in Plainsboro, NJ when he was just a wee lad. When the malls came to cover the strawberry and potato fields of NJ, Steve moved to botanical gardens and eventually trained in horticulture at the Morris Arboretum. He has a BA in history from the University of Pennsylvania, serves as a museum guide at the American Philosophical Society Museum, and has been in the landscaping and horticulture business in Chestnut Hill for 16 years.


What else can you expect? Lauren Duguid is going to show us all that you can play some pretty sweet music using a saw!


When: Wednesday, July 1

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. 41: Come for the knowledge, stay for the beer and awesome Philly nerds

Ready for Nerd Nite Number 41 on Wednesday, September 3?  The Nerd Nite Philly team is pleased to present you with…

Naomi Hampson will present “From Underwear to Gutenberg: The Rise of Movable Type Printing”

Why did it take until the second half of the 15th century for moveable type printing to be developed? A number of technological, sociological, and fashion changes all converged to make moveable type printing not only possible, but necessary. This talk will trace those changes and explain how underwear ultimately led to the printing revolution.

About Naomi: Naomi Hampson recently graduated from the Drexel University Department of Materials Science and Engineering, where she studied human bone. In completely unrelated research, she studies the history of European printing. She is currently trying to recreate a medieval printing ink, and has happily and safely learned from her failures, which included a fireball. In her spare time, she is involved with the Society for Creative Anachronisms, which lets her develop these interests within a hands on medieval research framework. While still looking for a job in her actual field of study, she is opening a coffee shop in Philadelphia, which will be called Philly Grinds.


Trevor McElroy will discuss “”Boundaries, names, and expansion; a history of the map of Philadelphia”

About Trevor: Trevor McElroy is a Philly tour guide and “free lance historian”. He gives all types of tours in and around Philly, and has been a guide at Bartram’s Garden for a several years. He is also an Association of Phila. Tour Guides (APT) certified guide and board member. Trevor also has the fine distinction of being a Nerd Nite Philly alumnus who has proudly represented Philadelphia at Nerd Nite Global Fest in NYC.


Chris Cummins will share his thoughts about “The Greatest Pop Culture Board Games Ever Made”

Throughout the years there have been countless board games based on everything from Kojak to Bigfoot. They are wondrous! In this talk, Nerd Nite Philly co-boss/pop culture historian Chris Cummins will examine the coolest classic board games around, and offer up his skewed views on why these pastimes will never go out of style.

About Chris: Chris Cummins is a Philadelphia-based writer who regularly contributes to Geekadelphia, Den of Geek US, Topless Robot and his own site, Hibernation Sickness. He’ll be hosting the upcoming Sci-Fi Explosion and Doctor Who Trivia/Costume Contest next month as part of New York Super Week. You can find him on Twitter @bionicbigfoot.


Our musical guest will by local singer Victoria Watts!

The specifics:

Wednesday September 3

Show starts at 7:30pm

Frankford Hall, 1210 Frankford Avenue

*Seating is first come first serve. Standing room after the tables fill*

$5 cover gets you admission and happy hour specials all evening

Be there!
The Nerd Nite Team Philly

Nerd Nite No. 26, June 12, 2013

Greetings nerds!

Be prepared for another informative Nerd Nite next Wednesday, June 12, a night promising to be better than your typical summer school– happy hour priced beer and big German pretzels are involved!

The details:

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

doors at 7:00, show at 7:30 sharp

Frankford Hall at Frankford and Girard

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

Importantly, our line up of distinguished speakers and their prepared talks:

Bibotorium: Dreamboats for Nightmares by Camp Little Hope

Camp Little Hope directs a project called Bibotorium in an abandoned swimming pool as part of the Hidden City Philadelphia Festival. Bibotorium is an educational saloon and public think-tank for imagining the future of water in Philadelphia. Through conversation and complimentary beverage service, Camp Little Hope designs and builds boats to illustrate future water environments.

Bio: Camp Little Hope is an international research collective that works in proprioceptive museum installations, free algorithmic restaurants, sustainable impossibilities, alternative institutional forms, speculative sciences, and matching jumpsuits.

Analytical Improv: Patterns and Intuition by Matt Akana

Professional nerd Matt Akana explains an analytical approach to improv comedy that involves pattern recognition and developing a sense of play.  He explains how to push through the initial obstacles to truly enjoy being in the moment, with no safety net, in front of others.  He will demonstrate how to fail with momentum!

Bio: Matthew Akana is a San Francisco-born, Philadelphia-residing improv comedy performer, game designer, and molecular biologist.  During the day he does high throughput pharmaceutical assay development and by night he performs live with ZaoGao at the Philly Improv Theater and with the N Crowd.

The Weird World of Archie Comics by Chris Cummins

Throughout the 1970s, strange things were afoot in the seemingly peaceful town of Riverdale. In an effort to make their books more competitive with their edgier rivals at DC and Marvel, Archie Comics started focusing on telling grittier tales in some of their titles that involved such story elements as murderous crooks, high school scandals and even Satanic teddy bears. As you can probably guess, they were amazing. Around the same time, Archie artist Al Hartley convinced his bosses to allow him to create religious versions of Archie books to be sold at Christian bookstores. These oddities are a head-scratching bunch that come complete with Betty Cooper trying to convert her heathen pals and a cameo appearance by Jesus as a surfer dude. Subsequent decades have seen such head-scratching developments in the Archieverse as Jughead travelling through time with one of Archie’s female descendents from the 29th century, as well as a monthly title that gave the staff of Riverdale High super powers. This talk will present a look at the oddest moments from Archie’s storied history, offering up a compelling glimpse at how easily the middle of the road can swerve into Weirdsville.

Bio: Chris Cummins is a Philadelphia-based writer who regularly contributes to Geekadelphia and Topless Robot. He also runs the blogs Hibernation Sickness, What’s Dave Kendall Wearing? and Songs of 1992, and co-hosts a monthly quizzo night at The Dive. When not writing about pop culture, he can usually be found obsessing over everything from Star Wars figures to forgotten shoegaze bands. You can follow him on Twitter at @bionicbigfoot.

Music by Los Festingos!

A Festingo: One whom expands the musical universe through creative, humorous, and often outrageous feats of harmonious excellence.


Be there and be square!

Nerd Nite Philly Crew

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. 24, April 24, 2013 – The Philadelphia Science Festival!


We are thrilled to be a part of the Philadelphia Science Festival again!  This year, it’s time to put your Sherlock Holmes hat on, grab a pipe, or rather, a pint, and join us in the big outdoor beer garden at Frankford Hall for a treatise on forensics.  We’ll be hearing about how to solve crimes when the trail goes cold, how forensic toxicologists detect designer drugs, and how forensic anthropologists can find out what really happened at crime scenes from history.  Plus, we’ll have Prohibition-era jazz to turn Frankford Hall into a speakeasy.  It’s Nerd Nite: CSI.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

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

Tickets can be purchased in advance here, but we will also be selling them at the door.


Let the crime-solving commence:

“The Vidocq Society: warm people solving cold cases.” by William Fleisher

Bio: William L. Fleisher is the Director of Keystone Intelligence Network, Inc., a Philadelphia private investigation firm and the co-founder and first Commissioner of the Vidocq Society, an organization of forensic experts that assists law enforcement and victims’ families in solving unsolved homicides.  He retired from the U.S. Customs Service in 1996 as Deputy Special Agent in Charge of the Philadelphia office.  Mr. Fleisher is a former special agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and rose to the rank of corporal with the Philadelphia Police Department.  He is an internationally recognized expert in the field of lie detection and behavior analysis.  Mr. Fleisher is the recipient of the Customs Service Distinguished Service Medal and Award for his efforts in developing interviewing techniques for customs inspectors.  Mr. Fleisher is a father and grandfather and resides in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, with his wife Michelle.


“Forensic Toxicology – A “higher” level of thinking . . .” by Jill Yeakel

Forensic Toxicology involves the investigation of drugs and poisons in biological matrices. The evolution of forensic toxicology as it relates to human performance has rapidly changed in recent years as a wide variety of chemical analogs advertised as legal highs comparable to marijuana have become available in smoke shops and over the internet. These chemical analogs are commonly referred to as synthetic cannabinoids and their danger and prevalence across the country is apparent as seen in the increase in poison control center calls since 2009. This presentation will discuss the effects of the synthetic cannabinoids and the challenges their detection in blood and urine pose to forensic toxicologists.


Bio: Jill Yeakel achieved her Bachelor of Science in Biology and Chemistry from Lock Haven University. She then attended Arcadia University where she earned a Master of Science in Forensic Science. She is currently the program director at the Center for Forensic Science and Education where she organizes and operates the G. John DiGregorio Summer Science Program along with being the Course Director for the Research Methods in Forensic Science, Pattern Evidence Analysis, Forensic Toxicology II and  Forensic Science Symposium courses for the Arcadia University’s Master of Forensic Science Program and completes research in herbal incense products and designer drugs.


“Hemlock, Cholera and Marijuana:  Getting it all Wrong in Forensic Anthropology.” by Janet Monge

Case studies of prehistoric, historic and modern errors in the reconstruction of events surrounding death of 11 people.  From the ancient Middle East to the suburbs of Philadelphia, history has painted a very different picture of the very real events of human violence against other humans.  Forensic anthropologists get it right (and wrong sometimes) telling the stories from the very real bones left behind.


Bio: Janet Monge has done fieldwork in many locations in Europe, Kenya and Australia. Her primary interest is in the development of methodologies to preserve and broadcast datasets to the physical anthropology community using Computed Tomography, traditional radiology, and human dental micro-anatomy as well as in the distribution of the highest quality castings of human fossils to Universities and Museums all over the world.  She teaches courses in Forensic Anthropology and has been engaged in many forensic case studies involving skeletal, burned, mutilated and mummified human remains.


And, featuring jazz from Philly’s own The Cornbread Five.