Sunday, March 18, 2012

New Interview: Astrokitty's Joel Talks About Wednesday's Super Nerd Night / St. Patty's Photo Blog

The next Super Nerd Night (not to be confused with "Nerd Nite") is coming your way this Wednesday at the Bottleneck, and Joel Pfannenstiel from Astrokitty Comics has some funny things to say about what happens there and why you need to witness it. Enjoy the interview, and make sure to check out the FB event page here for full details on the nerdery (video games, board games, drawing contests) plus the entertainment line-up, which includes The She Bangs, Not a Planet , and a performance from Foxy by Proxy burlesque revue.

Richard: According to the FB event page, the last Super Nerd Night set some attendance records for you. Why do you think there’s such a resurgence of nerd culture right now, not only with events like yours but also with the more academic (but still drunken) Nerd Nites springing up across the world?

Joel: Nerd Nites are completely different. From what I understand, they're like hipster TEDtalks, which is awesome, but COMPLETELY different than what we have going on. I mean, you're a lot more likely to get an erection at SUPER NERD NIGHT than you are at NERD NITE. Also, we started this shit here in Lawrence and then Cali done take OUR brand and spread it, skeet-like, all over the face of the Western seaboard, thanks in large part to former-Lawrencian, Amy Lukima. We moved to the Bottleneck when we learned the Borg had assimilated the Jackpot, and couldn't be happier with our decision! It's bigger! It's better! It has more lights! It's right around the corner from Astrokitty! As far as "nerd culture" goes, I know what you mean and it does exist, to an extent, but it's pretty much just an orgy of pop culture appreciation with a side of not discarding the entertainment of our youths (or finding it, after having decided it's cool to do so once again). Nerd is a useful term, but also hard to pin down. Is it as useful as "hipster"? Sorta...but also as worthless. It means something but doesn't really encapsulate what it's supposed to, because we're not all the same, exactly. Oh man, I got fucking philosophical again, didn't I? Stop me if I do that again. BTW, I love the Nerd Nite folks. I kid because I love.

Richard: Sadly, we’ve yet to experience a Super Nerd Night ourselves. Can you convince our readers in a few sentences why this is something that can’t be missed?

Joel: Hm. Probably not in a few sentences. It's one of those transitory, but profoundly resonant the first time you beat Contra or having just read Preacher Vol. 2. That said, it's video-games, art, card/board-games, bands, alcohol consumption, and occasionally half-naked girls...all in a bar setting.

Richard: Speaking of half-naked girls, Foxy by Proxy burlesque participated in the last event and is back for this one. Aren’t you afraid that the nerds will be scared off by the pretty women?

Joel: Well, no. I mean, the kissing booth didn't work out the way they might have expected it to, but that's pretty confrontational and also underlines the needing to pay for it thing, which most nerds would like to avoid even if it's a harsh reality in some cases. I think everyone, women and men alike...from fratty choad to nearly asexual to see ladies strut their stuff and shake their thangs. It will be a nice respite from the aural assault of the She-Bangs and Not A Planet (though theirs will both be the good kind of assault, the kind you ask for). It's like a one-act-play that gives you tinglies while you think about getting back to that game of Munchkin you've got going or the stage on Golgo 13 you have paused. These ladies are doing an awesome job representing the sexy AND the entertaining right here in Larry-fucking-Kansas. They're also amazing representatives for SNN. They walk around and get people excited to be doing things and definitely increase our lady-to-dude ratio.

Chip: Let's talk more about ladies. Is Super Nerd Night a good event for single male nerds to meet women, or does it consist mainly of super-introspective women who won’t look up from their Magic decks and are encased in dragon suits or some shit?

Joel: Not sure what a dragon suit is...but I don't play poker much. I saw quite a few ladies at our last SNN, but I didn't ask any of them out. I'm married, so that's frowned upon. Several of them seemed to be wandering around solo or in packs of ladies. I'd say it's a great place to meet like-minded people who dig games and alcohol and music and art and geeky pursuits in general. If you end up horizontal with some of those people, well...there's a bonus. It's like finding that hidden 1-up. My experience with ALL Magic players, though, male or that little can break their focus aside from the announcements of free door prizes. Luckily, we'll have plenty of those at SNN.

Richard: Do you have any favorite Super Nerd Night moments that stand out from past events?

Joel: Some of our Drink & Draw pieces we've had turned in...are truly hideous and spectacular. Memorable, for sure. Also, got hit on when I was dressed up like fat, time-lost Harry Potter one time. Well, the fat was real, but the rest was an illusion. Beyond that, there is the glory of playing the original NES Pro-Wrestling on a huge TV and having people get into it and talk smack. Plus, of course, all the bartenders at the Jackpot were always very awesome. The event started humble, as a way to play Magic in a bar, and has now mutated into this hydra of entertainment that I'm always trying to staple new heads onto. I'm glad we've moved to a new venue because it allows us to do so much more, but I'll miss our scrappy beginnings and those I started the whole thing with. Hell, I didn't even come up with the name, originally...but talk about branding! It says it all!

Richard: What are your goals for future Super Nerd Nights, or do most nerds believe that the zombie apocalypse will eliminate the need for all such planning?

Joel: We're all prepared for the apocalypse of zombies, vampires, mutants, or aliens. That's how nerds roll...when not rolling a D20. BUT, if you want to know what we have up our sleeves? Well, it's a bi-monthly thing now, so it makes it much easier to plan AND we have a planning committee/group so we can delegate and get shit done for REAL, son! We want to make each one special and stand out, and with these two under our belts (after this March one blows up), we'll have a better idea of what works and what doesn't. We know the Bottleneck is expecting to get two more projectors, so I anticipate we'll use those. We're working with the bartenders to do specialty geek-drinks, so that will evolve. We're trying to work with as many local businesses that seem to fit into our vibe as that will likely expand/shift (right now it's Hastings, FoxyByProxy, Liberty Hall, D20 Girls, GameNut & Astrokitty). This March edition will feature a big-screen Wii set-up, using our current projector, but we'd like to get the big-screen gaming tourney ready for May. Speaking of May, it will be our first theme edition of SNN. It's going to be all things METAL, so expect all the games to be fantasy and horror themed and the music, well...metal as fuck. Plus, a few other AWESOME surprises up our sleeves. Very excited about all of the coming iterations of SNN! All the proceeds from the door, btw, go to a select charity this year...AboutSF. Look them up online! It's a very nerd-centric cause!

Chip: What exactly is a “geek-drink” special? Is it really just a PBR that’s been renamed a “space beer” for the evening?

Joel: Well, it's evolving. We'd like it do be something fact be a slew of somethings awesome, but we will be working more closely with the Bottleneck to establish what sorts of drinks they can make and what the price point will be. I'd love to have a drink called the Re-TARDIS or something. It's a goal. This time around, it might just be a rum & coke called Luke Cage.

Richard: I'm hoping for a Pan-Galactic Gargle Blaster, at the very least.

Chip: I'll assume that's a nerdy reference to something.


We started our St. Patty's day with a gypsy, washboard-jamboree with Dumptruck Butterlips at the Granada.

This dude was on the scene:

Then we looked at a dyed-green horse in the parade, because it ain't St. Patty's until some animals have been dipped in food coloring!

And of course the Sandbar took top prize once again with their pirate antics.

Then we caught some tuba and accordion jams from Olassa opening up the Replay afternoon party: Our favorite: "I like the way the wind blows." Did we miss the one about the airline stewardess? If so, we blame Courtneybelle and the @nuthousepunks gang, who kept us inside drinking during the first few songs of the set.

The unexpected stars of the night were The Recessionists, a new band which turned out to be a funked-up take on classic girl-groups, complete with "shoobi-doobie" choruses, bad-ass horns, and covers of songs like Erma Franklin's "I Don't Want No Mama's Boy" that were capable of making even the most apathetic scenesters bounce around a little. Go see this band as soon as they play again.

Overheard conversation:

Scenester 1: "I like this band, and yet they're exactly the kind of band that could play at my mother's high-school graduation."

Scenester 2: "No. They are better than that."

The second scenester was right.

And here's a better photo of Recessionists via @karenmatheis in which you can see their awesome socks!

And the F Holes closed the evening session with "a good time down at the bar" (Chip: "That's a reference to one of their songs!"). We love how the band howls "BURY ME SHALLOW" on the chorus of "Bury Me Shallow."

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