It was a broiling hot summer day in LFK but large numbers of sunshine-hating nerds managed to dash through the heat and into the cool darkness of Pachamama's ballroom to learn about hot sauce, boobs, and the methodology of "garbage studies."
A brief rundown:
First presentation: Kevin Freese's "Tabasco is for wimps. Welcome to the world of extreme hot sauce"
This was round two for Kevin at Nerd Nite. In an early NN presentation, he regaled us with a history of Scotch (and some free samples). Sadly, but probably wisely, there were no free samples of "Professor Phartpounders Colon Cleaner" hot sauce circulating during this evening. Kevin's well-organized presentation led us quickly and clearly through the various heat levels of sauces (measured in SHU: Scoville Heat Units), taking us from the relatively mild (cayenne) to the terrifying (Scorpion Butch T pepper). Then we examined the history of the sauces themselves, from Tabasco's emergence around 1860 up to the wacky world of today's internet sauce-sites whose users often find themselves hospitalized.
Favorite line: "Frank's hot sauce is close to being the ketchup of the hot sauce world."
Observation: Hot sauce creators all look completely insane in their photographs.
Scorpion Butch T pepper:
Second presentation: Rachel Smalter Hall's "Oggles and Goggles: Viewing KU Boobs Through Feminism’s Many Lenses"
Rachel began her rise to prominence as a "KU Boobs" scholar right here on the LC with this piece, which ultimately found its way onto the Huffington Post and was afterward debated on numerous sites such as Feministing (Chip: "Does feministing refer to a sexual act?") and earned her the Italian designation of the "voce delle femminista del Kansas." Rachel's presentation was not quite the full-on controversial feminist embrace of the "Boobment" that many expected, but instead smartly considered the phenomenon through a variety of third-wave feminist talking points (such as "slut shaming" and "rape culture") in an effort to figure out whether putting pictures of your KU-loving boobs online can be read as a feminist act. Rachel left us at the end in the realm of "choice feminism" (along with a picture of her own KU Boobs), concluding that "smart, self-actualizing women" have every right to engage in this silly phenomenon if they damn well want to.
Favorite line (Rachel pointing to a KU boobs pic): "THESE KU Boobs are in the audience right now." [every nerd looks around, trying to find the boobs).
Observation: We had the sense that the Q&A was about to get really contentious if it had been allowed to continue much longer.
Here's a KU Boob pic that shows a little more than just boobs. Continue your debates.
Third presentation: Shelly McNerney's "Garbage 101: Everything you never knew about your own stinking garbage"
Shelly had the unenviable task of following up the boob-talk, and a surprising amount of nerds had left the room before she began her presentation (Chip: "My best guess is that they all had boners after the previous presentation, and were embarrassed. Nerds are shy."). Their loss, however, as Shelly's engaging presentation took us into the world of "garbage studies," focusing on intrepid "garbologists" who understand our culture through analyzing its waste. In a nice moment, Shelly exposed the ignorance of much of the nerds in attendance by having us guess the percentage of foam, fast food, and disposable diapers that make up our garbage. Guesses were all wildly inflated. It's paper that makes up 40% of trash, silly nerds.
Favorite line: "Garbologists found that beer consumption is not related to the lunar cycle. It's more related to payday."
Observation: As most things do, this presentation reminded us of our favorite novel, Don DeLillo's White Noise, which we believe is the greatest statement on American consumption and decay and features a classic description of trash-compacted garbage. An excerpt:
"The compressed bulk sat there like an ironic modern sculpture, massive, squat, mocking. I jabbed at it with the butt end of a rake and then spread the material over the concrete floor. I picked through it item by item, mass by shapeless mass, wondering why I felt guilty, a violator of privacy, uncovering intimate and perhaps shameful secrets...Is garbage so private? Does it glow at the core with personal heat, with sign's of one's deepest nature, clues to secret yearnings, humiliating flaws? What habits, fetishes, addictions, inclinations? What solitary acts, behavioral ruts?" [followed by classic DeLillo list of various items in garbage].
If any garbologists have not read this novel, they should probably have their garbology licenses revoked.
Final verdict: We give this very hot Nerd Nite a 1 million SHU rating.
Coming soon: a "summer shorts" edition of NN featuring two-minute presentations (yes, just two minutes). Our pal Punnilingus has something funny lined up for this one so don't miss out. And then a month's break in August as the nerds all go on a wacky and nerdy field trip to the first-ever Nerd Nite Global Festival in Brooklyn in August.