want to be the (co)boss?

Nerd Nite – Lawrence is on the hunt for a new co-boss.

the co-boss will recruit speakers, help speakers craft their presentations, and organize the monthly events along with others.

you must be
– committed to educating and entertaining the public consistent with the Nerd Nite global mission (http://nerdnite.com)
– eager to do the detailed planning work that make the nites work smoothly (sometimes smoothly!) and
– be comfortable presenting in front of crowds of adoring, local nerds

email travis at nerdnite.com if you’re interested!

Nerd Nite 21: Nerds to Know (And Who You Likely Don’t)



At this month’s Nerd Nite we will take a look at some famous nerds in the art and literature world that it is very likely many people have never heard of.

Wednesday, October 9.

Pachamama’s Alton Ballroom

Doors at 7 pm, presentations at 8 pm

NEW THIS MONTH: $1 cover.


Rob Schulte: “This Family Is Cursed: a look into the familial plays of Sam Shepard.”

Once Sam Shepard evolved past his experimental plays, he dove directly into the home of the American f

amily. Using the idea of the downfall of the American Dream for the better part of 20 years, this is arguably the most intricate part of his career. Rob Schulte is a
graduate of KU with a degree in Theatre Arts. Shepard’s work clicked with Schulte once he was cast in the role as “The Old Man” in Fool For Love, and since then he has directed The God of Hell and The Tooth Of Crime (both Shepard plays) at non-traditional venues. Currently Schulte is working on directing Curse Of The Starving Class… if there’s a venue that will have him.


Meredith Moore: “William Morris: the unwitting forefather of hobbits, socialists and modern hipsters, not excluding Meredith”

Meredith Moore is a Kansas native, owner of the Wonder Fair Gallery in downtown Lawrence, KS, and is not affiliated with any book clubs. Other cabalistic nerd subcultures to which Meredith has belonged include Graduate School and the Secret Order of the Black Diamond. Most recently, Meredith has gleefully abandoned her formal Art History studies at KU in order to pursue

and promote alternative approaches to socially-minded arts organizing.


Jon Kaleugher: “The Zenith of Lounging: the story of Ray and Charles Eames”

“Ray is my wife, not my brother.” Charles once said.
They never delegated understanding in their decades of continuous work.
He was an architect who never got his license and she was a painter who never lost her eye.
The rest is history.

Nerd Nite 20: The Nerdy Dirty Thirties


After taking August off, we’re back in September, and this month, we’re part of Read Across Lawrence! The presentations will relate to the Dust Bowl (aka The Dirty Thirties), the subject of this year’s Read Across Lawrence book, Timothy Egan’s The Worst Hard Time.

NN20-flyerWe will be selling our special Nerd Nite pint glasses. Buy a glass and use it for any beer or cocktails from the bar!

Also, we’re going to have a raffle! because, RAFFLES! details soon!

Wednesday, Sept 11
Doors at 7PM, Presentations at 8PM
The Alton Ballroom at Pachamama’s (8th and New Hampshire)


From one-ways to listers: The agricultural equipment that helped usher in the Dust Bowl by Beth Beavers

Considering her fascination with early American history (her dog’s name is Thomas Jefferson) and stern criticism of everything ever, it really shouldn’t have come as a surprise when Beth started her career fresh out of journalism school as a magazine editor who deals with history. The big surprise was that a girl from the suburbs fully embraced rural America by jumping head first into her position at Farm Collector and Gas Engine Magazine, magazines for collectors of antique farm equipment. (A segment of the population she wasn’t aware existed.) Three years later, she can happily jabber on about everything from 3-point hitches, the difference between swathers and combines, and farm practices of yesteryear that kept the world fed.

You Need a Continent Against Your Feet:’ The Dust Bowl and Eroded America by Kate Meyer

In the second half of the 1930s, the eroded landscape emerged as a subject that artists, writers, and scientists utilized to convey their anxieties about the current problems and uncertain future of America during the Depression. The loss of soil and the exodus of Dust Bowl migrants described in imagery and rhetoric from the period reveal the extent to which America was rooted in its imperiled Heartland. Kate will explore these themes, drawing upon her cred as an art historian and Kansas native, and promises to divulge just what the Dust Bowl has to do with Gone with the Wind and The Wizard of Oz.

The Politics of Hard Times: American Populism and its Kansas Roots by Luke Wuhlford

Throughout American history, severe economic downturns have drawn out a strain of political thought that merely simmers below the surface during periods of prosperity. Indeed, populist movements have enjoyed their greatest success in American politics during the hardest of economic times. Although populism is an amorphous label that can be affixed to movements on both the right and left side of the political spectrum, the term populism is defined generally as a political movement that champions the common person against an elite and unfairly privileged ruling class. Despite its current conservative bent, Kansas can fairly be viewed as the cradle for some of the most progressive populist reform movements in American history. This presentation will provide a brief history of Kansas’ contribution to these movements, spanning from the Kansas Populists of the 1890’s to recent populist reform movements.

Luke Wohlford was born and raised in Kansas and he has lived in Lawrence for much of the last 12 years. He received his undergraduate degree in political science and his law degree from KU. Luke practices law in Topeka, and he spends his free time following KU sports, going to concerts, and consuming movies, literature and politics.

To RSVP on Facebook, click here.

Nerd Nite 19: Summer Shorts

it’s the heat of summer and we could all use a little break. So, on July 10, we’re trying something a little different. We’re ditching our normal format. Instead, we’ll have fifteen two minute presentations. Topics will range from famous authors to famous generals to famous librarians to some non-famous things too. This should be fun.

and, wear your shorts!

July 10. Alton Ballroom at Pachamama’s (8th and NH).
Doors at 7:00, Presentations at 8:00





Nerd Nite 18: garbage, boobs and hot sauce

Nerd Nite 18 will be messy, spicy and leave you needing a napkin.

Wednesday, June 12 at the Alton Ballroom (8th and NH)

Doors at 7, Presentations at 8.

RSVP on Facebook


Garbage 101: Everything you never knew about your own stinking garbage by Shelly McNerney

discussing the archaeology of garbage

Shelly’s flirted with the idea of being a nerd for years- whether working as a house painter (just an excuse to listen to NPR all day), teaching high school English (really just a blatant way to get paid for finding tricky symbolism in classic novels), or biding her time in various degree programs (she just likes hanging out in coffee shops).  It wasn’t until she began working as a high school librarian three years ago that she finally found a job that truly appreciates her big, beautiful, nerdy brain.  Regarding hers presentation, Shelly acknowledges that she isn’t a “classically” trained garbologist, but she’ll be making up for this deficiency with her abilities to read and take careful notes (and she may even bust out notecards!  Look for them!)

Oggles and Goggles: Viewing KU Boobs Through Feminism’s Many Lenses by Rachel Smalter Hall

On February 25, 2012, a mysterious twitter photo surfaced tagged #kuboobs. More than a year later, the KU Boobs trend has swept colleges and universities nationwide in an astonishing trend that has been labelled both anti- and pro-feminist. From the Huffington Post to Feministing.com to Italy’s La Stampa, journalists are asking: is KU Boobs a tacit endorsement of rape culture? Or is it an empowering expression of 21st century Choice Feminism? Join one third wave feminist as she seeks to make sense of what KU Boobs means for feminism and why strong, smart, powerful women are broadcasting PG-13 selfies of their breasts in support of college basketball.

Rachel Smalter Hall is a public librarian and web developer whose feminist consciousness was first awakened as a tween when she snuck into her older sister’s secret stash of Cosmo magazines. These days she is a full grown third wave feminist, thanks in part to the small liberal arts college in St. Paul, MN, that fostered her feminist ideals under the guise of Hitchcock studies and gender theory. After living in Iowa, Minnesota, Vermont, and Rome, Rachel now lives in Lawrence Fucking Kansas where she’s a web content developer at nearby Johnson County Library and a regular contributor at BookRiot.com. When she’s not fulfilling her duties as a librarian, she can be found drinking PBR and spewing drunken edicts about third wave feminism with her co-ed book club. (She blames her curious affiliation with KU Boobs on local culture junket The Larryville Chronicles. It’s all Chip’s fault.)

Tabasco is for wimps. Welcome to the world of extreme hot sauce by Kevin Freese

Tabasco is a nice and cute, but this popular sauce is nothing compared to the hottest and nastiest sauces out there. This presentation will highlight those extreme sauces, how they came to be and how hot they can really be.

Kevin gave one of the most popular Nerd Nite presentations ever, clear back at Nerd Nite 2, on Scotch Whisky. He is a banker by day, and a hot sauce and scotch connoisseur by night, and also day.

Nerd Nite 16: Cults, Clubs & Secret Signals

This month we are going off the grid to clue you in to secret stuff happening all around you.
Wednesday, April 10. Doors at 7PM. Presentations at 8PM.
Alton Ballroom, Pachamama’s (8th and New Hampshire)

RSVP here on Facebook


“Deprogramming America: Bob Dole and the Anti-Cult Movement of the 1970s” by Audrey Coleman

Although you could argue that politics is similarly dogmatic, Bob Dole – former presidential candidate, Senate Republican Leader, war veteran, and native Kansan – isn’t typically associated with cult activity. Yet in the 1970s, the Senator found it necessary to address the “cult phenomenon” at the highest levels of government. We’ll explore his activities – and those of infamous cults of the day – using archival collections found in the Dole Archives and Spencer Research Library.

Audrey Coleman, the Senior Archivist at the Dole Institute of Politics, loves Kansas and Kansans (and other places and people too – but they have to try harder). A newly-minted mom of two, this represents one of her first attempts to think on an adult level for an extended period of time.

“No comprende! It’s a riddle: The mysterious sounds of numbers stations” by Courtney Shipley

For over 40 years shortwave radio listeners have been reporting ghostly, unclaimed radio stations.Unacknowledged by any official agency, these strangely melodious number sequences have been delivering coded messages via radio wave for anyone to hear.

Courtney is a native Lawrencian who holds a degree in Slavic Languages and Literatures from the University of Kansas. She and her handsome husband have recently adopted two charming children from Russia. Although she’s seen more movies than human health should reasonably withstand, and in spite of her LEGENDARY collection of Garbage Pail Kids, this charter member of the celebrated PBR Bookclub will not consider herself a respectable nerd until she has presented at Lawrence Nerd Nite.

“The Not-So-Secret Society of the Hash House Harriers” by Chad ‘PoFo’ O’Bryhim

Hashing! It’s the underground society that mixes athleticism and sociability with hedonism and hard work. Since its humble hungover 1938 beginnings, worldwide growth and word-of-mouth gossip has made it the world’s largest running club. In that time, its use of symbols, language and song have given hashing a dynamic coded culture all its own. Come have a drink and learn why they prefer their trails shitty, their dresses red and their bush shiggy.

PoFo lacks any reputable certification to qualify himself as an expert on this topic or any other. He has, however, hashed across the continent, successfully founded new hash kennels, and generally talked his way out of bigger pickles. His enthusiasm and detailed passion for all things nerdy, secret, and debaucherous are qualifications enough.


Nerd Nite 15: Historical Dirt

we’ll look at the Lawrence region’s history of de/colonization, the centuries long myth of Prester John that propelled the spice trade and the Crusades, and how the dirt and rocks beneath our feet have influenced history.

TUESDAY, March 12, 2013.
Doors at 7, Presentations at 8.
At Pachamama’s Alton Ballroom (8th and NH)

RSVP on Facebook


Lies, Damned Lies, and Primary Sources: The Lost History of Prester John by Matt Kirkland

For centuries, medieval Europeans believed rumors of a fantastical Christian kingdom in the Far East, ruled by an immortal priest-king named Prester John. The West sent him letters, envoys, and explorers – and even got letters in return.  So where did this wild story come from? And why did everybody believe it? And why have we forgotten about him today?  Matt Kirkland will explore the strange pseudo-history of Prester John.

Matt Kirkland just moved back to Lawrence after exiles in Hong Kong and San Diego. He designs for the web at Brand New Box, a web development firm downtown. He spends free time drinking whisky and playing outside. While not even an amateur historian, he definitely reads more than is good for him.

In the Heart of Indian Country: Lawrence and Its De/colonization (Part One)
by Julia Good Fox (Pawnee), Writer and American Indian Studies Instructor

Before the arrival of the abolitionists, the area now known as Lawrence was in the territory of different Tribes—including at one point, the Pawnee Nation. Our town was established during the time of colonialism, and nearly 160 years later, Lawrence continues to mirror the intricate relationship between Indian Country and the United States. Yet our town also offers its own unique documentation of this political and cultural connection. Using the 1884 founding of the Haskell Indian Institute as our starting point, let’s begin to explore the collective history of Tribal and non-Tribal Peoples through our architecture, sports, and art.

Domineering Boulders: What Geology and the Natural World Have to Say About Our Civilization and Our Culture by Josh Feldman

Humanity has been intimately bound to the rocks around them since before the first homo sapien was a glimmer in a young chimps eye. We will explore how local geology has impacted ancient civilizations, from their technology to their architecture to their trade and politics, and then we’ll look at how these same themes continue to run through our lives today. Let’s travel through our past, from the Parthenon to the Pantheon to the Pentagon, and try to understand the Earth around us.

Josh Feldman is a volcanologist that dates rocks, but he knows shamefully little about Spock and hasn’t been to a movie with a limestone in ages. He manages the Isotope Geochemistry Laboratories at KU, which is basically an excuse to dress in a lab coat and pour acids into different shaped containers and shoot things with lasers. While he’s always wanted to be a lab-coat wearing scientist, he picked geology because he loves hiking and camping. When there’s too much snow to hike and camp he likes to cook for his friends.


Nerd Nite 14: Love will Keep us Together

love will keep us together, or love will tear us apart, again. either way, we’ll talk about it – how love of music advanced the gay rights movement, how “reparative therapy” attempts to change who people love, and how love for an idea causes it to spread.

co-sponsored by the Lied Center.

Doors at 7, earlier than ever before! Presentations at 8! at the ballroom at Pachamama’s (8th and New Hampshire)

RSVP on Facebook


How Gay Men’s Choruses Helped Shape the Gay Rights Movement (1978-Today) by Bill Bowersock, Show Producer for the it gets better production

Let’s take a walk through history. It all started around the time Harvey Milk, the first openly gay person to be elected to public office, was assassinated in San Francisco (1978). Since that time, gay men’s choruses around the world have played an instrumental role in the gay rights movement. From political and religious issues to AIDS and bullying, gay men’s choruses have been a hub for social change. Who knew?

Bill has been a singing member of the Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles since 1993. For most of the last 18 years he has been their concert producer. A performer from the age of eight, Bill sang with the nationally known group The Establishment. He has produced film and worked as a composer in both film and television. As a songwriter, he has earned two Top-40 hits, a gold single and a platinum album. Bill is from Kansas City, a graduate of KU and is currently a realtor in Los Angeles.

Reparative Therapy: A Nerdy Perspective on a Hot Social Issue by Ruth Ann Atchley, Ph.D.

Reparative therapy, also known as conversion therapy, is an often controversial treatment that aims to change sexual orientation from homosexual to heterosexual. Dr. Atchley will explore a brief history of this type of therapy. She will also review the American Psychological Association’s (APA) recommendations about this therapy and how the APA uses science to decide what therapies are more or less effective.

Dr. Atchley is the department chair and associate professor in the KU Department of Psychology. She completed her Ph.D. at the University of California, Riverside in 1997. Her research is in cognitive and clinical psychology and she is currently engaged in both psychophysiological and behavioral research.

Galileo’s Finger and the Diffusion of Innovations by Liesel Reinhart, Writer and Director

Want to find out how, why and at what rate new ideas and technology spread through cultures? How about visiting some of the world’s most interesting “early adopters?” Seriously, what is up with Alfred Wegener and that crazy idea of continental drift? Why on earth did Galileo’s followers cut off his fingers and keep them in a jar?

Liesel the co‐artistic director of LA‐based Speak Theater Arts and chair of the Department of Communication Studies at Mt. San Antonio College. Liesel is the co‐writer of the nationally touring work N*GGER WETB*CK CH*NK and collaborated with the Speak Theater Arts team to create and direct ArmeniaMania and Woke Up In America. She is also a long-time member the board of the Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles. Liesel’s academic pursuits address a range of subjects, including group performance, oral interpretation, gender and ethnicity, and learning assessments in higher education.


Nerd Nite 13: Brains and Bytes

(no, this is not zombie related)

Wed. Jan. 16, Alton Ballroom at Pachamama’s (8th and NH)

Doors at 7:30, Presentations at 8:00.

RSVP on Facebook

we’ll dive into the relationship between brains, tech and the world around us – how big data is being used to create new art, how driving is adapting to modern technology, and how being smart is way different than it used to be.


Meta Nerdery: Being Smart about Being Smart by Erin Bennett and Chris Niileksela

Intelligence is commonly discussed in everyday life, but rarely well-defined. People have pondered differences in intellectual abilities and searched for ways to measure and explain these differences for centuries. The study of intelligence has become an enormous and multi-layered topic. In this presentation, we want to talk about what intelligence is and isn’t, discuss the historical underpinnings of intelligence theory, and provide information on theoretical advances and current research. With this information, you too can be a meta-nerd.

Erin Bennett is currently on her third tour in Lawrence after stints in Madison, Los Angeles, and most recently, Seattle. Erin completed both her undergraduate and graduate degrees at KU, fostering a fervent love of KU basketball.  She currently works as a school psychologist and special education facilitator in the Auburn-Washburn school district. In her non-psychologist life, she enjoys travel, eating and drinking, generally having fun, and hanging out with her husband, Brad, and her very intelligent cat, Otis.

Chris Niileksela left his former life as a semi-professional trombone player to join the real world in 2006, and after the colossal project commonly referred to as a dissertation, he graduated with a PhD in School Psychology from the University of Kansas in May of 2012. He currently works for the University of Kansas and Topeka Public Schools, trying his best to make a small impact on the education of young people in Kansas.

Google you can drive my car: The Future of the Automobile by Amy Mihalevich

Remember when a reliable car used to be one that started every morning? Well it still is…but what we expect from our vehicles is rapidly changing. Today, cars include sensors and cameras, our cars sync with our phones and on-board computers ask us “Where would you like to go?” We are moving toward the culture of the iPad and not the T-Bird. Amy will explore how technology is changing the face of the automobile from what we drive today to what someday might drive us.

Amy Mihalevich got her degree in Industrial Design from the University of Kansas. That is where she learned to apply a human-centered approach to solving design problems. Today she works with automotive industry partners as a User Experience Designer at Garmin International. It still blows her mind that she works works with cars because she doesn’t know the first thing about them…or even like them that much. But what she does like is making them safer and making other people enjoy them more. When not thinking about cars she is probably decorating, destroying, or repairing something with her boyfriend in their fixer-upper house or taking a nap with her Great Dane.

Framing Information: The Fine Art of Big Data by Becky Harpstrite

Like so many others, Becky first discovered her love for art while watching Bob Ross on PBS channel 8 in the country outside of Andover, Kansas.  After many attempts to paint like Bob, she decided to become a graphic designer.  She has a bona fide degree from the Art Institute of Colorado, and also studied Art History at The University of Kansas.  When she’s not designing, Becky enjoys cultivating an appreciation for the finer things in life, and documenting the daily habits of squirrels with her BDF (best dog friend), Jack.


Nerd Nite 12: AlumNite

On December 12, 2012, the 12th Nerd Nite-Lawrence will occur. (not at 12:00).

Doors at 7:30, Presentations at 8:00.

Facebook e-vitation here.

The evening will feature three of our past speakers as selected by YOU (well, maybe not all of you internet, but lots of you Nerd Nite-Lawrence fans).


The Sound of Thunder Over Headphones: Ray Bradbury and the Radio by Justin Runge
With Ray Bradbury’s passing earlier this year, the United States lost one of its populist sages and daydreamers, an author able to find nightmares inside our nostalgia and terrific wonder inside the future. His work lent itself perfectly to the radio drama of the mid-century — a massive, electric entertainment that could cause entire communities of listeners to hallucinate the same new, vivid images in the dark. Though Bradbury’s stories and novels live on, his contributions to radio lie barely touched in the quiet archives of the Internet. We’ll dust off these transmissions, and learn more about the medium of radio, the magic it could create in the right hands, and a man of outsized imagination whose fantasies travelled our airwaves like the malevolent winds, mechanical music, and misguided rocketmen of his tales.

Justin Runge is a writer and editor living in Lawrence, Kansas. He first encountered Ray Bradbury as a ten-year old, listening to an audio adaptation of “The Sound of Thunder” on a portable cassette player in the secluded stacks of a public library in Kearney, Nebraska. His favorite Bradbury short story is “There Will Come Soft Rains,” he has fond memories of the Hanna-Barbera version of “The Halloween Tree,” and he doesn’t think Truffaut’s Fahrenheit 451 is half-bad. Justin presented A Century of Film or: We’ve Spent One Hundred Years Collectively Sitting in Front of Screens Getting Stupider (And Smarter, and Stranger, and Inspired) at Nerd Nite 3.

Spit-Shining the Rust Belt: Transforming a Region from Smokestacks to Tech Startups by Steph Kozak

The Rust Belt is a term used to describe a region of the United States that was hit hard by deindustrialization.  Cities became riddled with depressed downtowns and high unemployment rates.  As manufacturing plants and steel mills began closing in the latter half of the 20th Century, cities in this region scrambled to try and reinvent themselves.  Today, these cities are finding new ways to attract businesses by playing off their hard-knock image and taking advantage of low property rates and an abundant labor force.  This presentation will explore the creative ways in which the Rust Belt is making an economic comeback.

Stephanie is originally from Youngstown, Ohio, an area that fits the mold of a typical Rust Belt city.  Her time there greatly influenced her love for pierogi, trashy neighborhood bars, and the grit and grime of the inner city.  She is currently a PhD student in the Geography Department at KU where she studies urban geography. Stephanie presented Caffeine, Public Showers, and Howling Wolf T-Shirts: Exploring America’s Truck Stops at Nerd Nite 2.

The origins of life: A quick biochemical history by Bryan Smith

My grandfather used to take me to the zoo to see my cousins…in the ape house.  Little did I know at the time how closely we were related, and how we can even claim the strangest insects, fungi, bacteria, and Jersey Shore cast members as our long lost relatives – though we might shy away from them at the family reunion.  All life is interconnected through a few relatively simple molecules.  Indeed, before life started, the chemical building blocks of life were naturally formed on Earth (and elsewhere in the universe).  How might we have arisen from the primordial soup?  It’s either an incredibly bleak view of life, or a grand one.

Bryan grew up in Nebraska near a small town of 100 people.  He attended the University of Nebraska-Lincoln as an undergraduate, then earned a PhD in biochemistry at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  He now works on writing in the third person and on developing new cancer drugs at a pharmaceutical company in Kansas. He loves the Midwest and is thankful to be here.  He enjoys spending time with his wife and three children, driving a man van, and living in Lawrence even though the traffic is still terrible. Bryan presented The chemistry and biology of meth at Nerd Nite 9.