Nerd Nite 9: Down Home will happen on Wed. Sept. 12 at Pachamama’s in the Blue Room. This event, co-sponsored by Lawrence Public Library and KU Libraries, is part of Read Across Lawrence, so it is focused on Daniel Woodrell’s novel Winter’s Bone.

Capacity is 60ish. Presentations at 8PM with doors opening sometime between 7 and 7:30 after the presenters have a chance to practice.

Facebook event is here, if you are so inclined.

We’ll also review the results of last month’s nerd survey and some exciting announcements about the future of Nerd Nite-Lawrence.


Behaving Bad: The Dirty South (mostly) in Literature, or Grit Lit by Susan Brown and Sean Barker

Susan Brown (Lawrence Public Library) and Sean Barker (KU Libraries) will share their evangelical fervor for “grit lit”—a variant of (typically) Southern literature that focuses on the lives of often marginalized figures in rural areas. These works are usually exceedingly raw depictions of life that can also be deliberately humorous. Authors discussed will include Daniel Woodrell (author of Read Across Lawrence 2012 selection Winter’s Bone), Tom Franklin, Larry Brown, Ron Rash, Harry Crews, Charles Portis, Donald Ray Pollock, Dorothy Allison, and genre progenitors like William Faulkner, Cormac McCarthy, and Flannery O’Connor. Tangential topics may include, but are not limited to, bourbon drinking, squirrel hunting, snake handling, and deep-seated family feuds.

Susan Brown took her first library job for beer money.  As Marketing Director at Lawrence Public Library, a decent portion of her paycheck still goes that way.  Living in Lawrence as a graduate of Virginia Tech and UNC, she understands the proper order of things – you’ll find a large Hokie Bird decal on her minivan, a smaller Jayhawk, and not a Tarheel in sight.  As a librarian, she has been shushed more than she has ever shushed and if you see her around LPL, she’ll always stop and chat – her favorite topics include southern writers, crime fiction, venison recipes, and the proper way to prepare a mint julep.

Sean Barker is a serious man who earned a B.A. in English and an M.A. in Art History at the University of Kansas. He learned to read for pleasure after leaving a doctoral program, though he still feels compelled to read the classics. Independent music and film are other obsessions. He works at KU Libraries as the dean’s assistant.

The chemistry and biology of meth by Bryan Smith

An overview of methamphetamine from the perspective of someone who works on making new legal drugs for a living.  We’ll discuss how meth is made, why meth labs are so dangerous, how meth works in the brain, why it’s so addictive and how it causes short term and long term side effects.

Bryan’s first foray into science involved a chemistry set he received at age seven. He has lived to 34, despite the temptation to consume whatever potions he concocted. Bryan earned a PhD in biochemistry at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and now works on discovering new cancer drugs at a local pharmaceutical company. He enjoys Breaking Bad marathons, spending time with his wife and three children, and living in Lawrence even though the traffic is terrible.

Picking and Plucking: A short history (and demonstration) of the fiddle and the banjo by James Brown

James Brown will provide a suitably twangy and squeaky musical backdrop on his banjo and fiddle.  He will talk a bit about the history of both instruments, and then demonstrate some of the various possibilities of playing mountain melodies in standard and non-standard tunings.  He’ll provide the pickin’, the grinnin’ is up to you.

James Brown holds dual-nerd status in both medieval German literature and mountain music.  His German nerdiness resulted in his current position in KU’s German Department. His passion for mountain music started at summer camp in the Appalachian mountains, where he fell in love with the banjo. James comes from a long line of country people who engaged in farming, cabinet making, and other mountain enterprises.  He himself apprenticed for five years after college as a violin maker and restorer.  If you insist on making a hilarious joke about his name, be prepared to buy him a beer afterwards.