It was a dark and stormy night, full of lightning, but the nerds assembled anyway to learn about Monty Python, the iconography of book cover and film posters, and air guitar.
--Our friend and "esteemed PBR Book Club member" Abby Olcese kicked things off with a look at the controversy surrounding Monty Python's Life of Brian, stretching from pre-production issues with financial backers to massive protests and a legendary BBC showdown with Church leaders. Though some of the material was familiar to Python nerds from various documentaries (or Easter's Film Church), we still learned new things. Did you realize that the Catholic church, to this day, has their own rating system and that Life of Brian is rated "C" for condemned (meaning it's a sin to watch it!). Also rated "C" (for some reason) is Caddyshack.
Favorite moment: Abby wisely ended with the film's "personal legacy," sharing an adorable photo of her Python-themed 14th birthday party and crediting the film for inspiring all of the Abby-nerdery we know and love today.
Q & A: An audience member insisted that Abby click on the YouTube video of "Ministry of Silly Walks," which (of course) absolutely slayed every nerd in attendance for the next two and a half minutes. We laughed until we snorted PBR out of our noses.
--Next up was local comic book writer and filmmaker Jai Nitz, who quickly and easily broke the record for the most over-the-top usage of curse words yet to be found in any NN presentation (not that we're complaining: we love that fucking shit!). "I like audience participation and swearing," Jai noted as he kicked off a fast-paced and very funny tour through the famous and not-so-famous iconography of book covers and movie posters, proving just how much information such imagery can convey (ah, as academic ourselves, we do love some good-old fashioned close "textual" analysis!).
A few tossed-off comments that cracked us up (paraphrased):
"Michael Bay has never even seen a movie from the 70's."
"If you've ever gotten baked and watched 2001, you might want to give Adventure Time a try."
"That's a picture of F. Scott Fitzgerald in drag, for no reason."
Nitz's Dream Thief #1 hits shelves next week and it's going to be a "life-changer" for Nitz, he insists. Feel free to judge it by its cover (and get full info here via Dark Horse):
--As a lightning storm raged outside, Air Guitar champion Eric "Mean" Melin took the stage for a personal history of his meteoric rise from a tennis-racket wielding toddler rocking out to "Rhinestone Cowboy" (with a KISS logo on a Lite Brite screen in the background) to his current status as 2011 Kansas City Air Guitar championship winner. Along the way, Melin charted the history of air guitar competitions, which debuted in Finland in 1996, and showcased other memorable air-guitar performers such as local hero Peter "Stiff" Dickens, "the Andy Kaufman of Air Guitar," and the unforgettable "Thunder Gland" (seriously, if you click on this video you will NEVER forget it):
Melin also dipped into the philosophy of air guitar legend Zac "The Magnet" Monro, who believes that air guitar is the "last true art form" owing to the beauty of its abstraction and "invisibility." And who are we to argue, especially after seeing an entire room of nerds erupt to play invisibly along with Melin in the evening's climax.
Nerdiest Q & A question: "What kind of gear do you use?"
Happy birthday to co-boss Travis!
Nerd Nite's first "Dry T-shirt" contest was an undeniable success. The winner: a glow-in-the-dark jellyfish shirt, though it seems to us that truly nerdier choices would have been the hilarious shirt about the sexiness of math or Abby's shirt that lists spoilers from numerous movies.
Coming in June: Bananasuit's long-awaited presentation on the KU Boobs phenomenon as refracted through various feminist lenses.
Coming in July: a series of 2-minute "just the facts" presentations. This might be a good chance for Chip to shine, since he's well-known for his short performances (in the bedroom and beyond).
And here are the three presenters (Eric, Jai, Abby) in a great photo courtesy of Karen at Larryville Artists: go here for Karen's full gallery from last night.