It's a great time to be a nerd. We know people say that a lot, but consider it: Scientists are making incredible strides in space exploration, a new Star Wars trailer made everyone collectively lose it, and we live in a world where a human being can make a living calming other people's cats. Gone are the days when geeky passions had to be hidden and enjoyed in secrecy.
Phoenix is cashing in on this trend and providing its live-in nerd and dorks with many, many different events to partake in this month. Here are 10 of the best.
"Beyond Robots: The Case for Human Exploration of Mars"
If you happened to see Matt Damon in The Martian and thought, "Hey, that'd be pretty cool," then you'll probably want to attend ASU's School of Earth and Space Exploration's next lecture. On Tuesday, November 3, Chris McKay, a research scientist with NASA Ames Research Center at Moffett Federal Airfield in Northern California's Silicon Valley will present on the possibility of fostering human life on the red planet. He is a leading authority on planetary life and has participated in numerous studies that examine the logical and ethical sides of what it would mean and what it would take to put human beings on Mars and keep them there. The free 2015 Eugene Shoemaker Memorial Lecture will take place in Marston Theater in the School of Earth and Space Exploration on ASU's Tempe campus and begins at 7 p.m. Visit ASU Beyond's website for more information and to RSVP.
Art Lovers Book Club
The elaborate and ornate nature of Renaissance art comes from a time of great wealth and power; and at the center of that world were a small number families who dominated the political world. The Medici family controlled Florence in the early 15th century and controlled nearly all aspects of life, from arts to politics to religion. The family's tumultuous history is the subject of this month's book club at the Phoenix Art Museum, which is centered on The House of Medici: Its Rise and Fall by Christopher Hibbert. There are three opportunities, which are free to attend, to discuss the book at the museum: Wednesday, November 4, at both 11 a.m. and at 5:30 p.m.; and again on Friday, November 6, at 2 p.m. Each meeting will be held in the Lemon Art Research Library. Space is extremely limited though, and you must RSVP, so email firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve your spot as soon as possible. Visit the art museum's website for more information.
Get Lit: Talk Writing in the Reading Room
Get nerdy at one of the coolest bars in Phoenix this month on Thursday, November 5. Get Lit is an opportunity for those who love writing to meet with likeminded logophiles and discuss "literary craft, culture, and the writing life" while sipping on a cocktail or two on the first Thursday of every month. The meetings are held in the reading room at the Valley Bar downtown, and this month's will be led by local writer John Harvell. Shop talk starts at 7 p.m. and is free to attend. Check the Valley Bar's calendar for more information.
Star Wars: The Music
For those of you who literally lost it due to the release of a certain trailer, this one's for you. On Friday, November 6, the Phoenix Symphony will perform the most iconic songs from the Star Wars series, including the "Main Theme" and "Imperial March" by John Williams. The performance begins at 2 p.m. and will be held in the Orpheum Theatre downtown. Tickets range in price from $11 to $20 and can be purchased at the Phoenix Symphony's website.
History Underground: Obscure Anecdotes of Phoenix Events
Arizona's most notorious killer has a story that could come straight out of a Lifetime crime thriller. Scorned by a local playboy, a woman was accused of killing two other women and dismembering one after a game of bridge. Sensationalist press coverage and asylum escapes ensued. For the full story, you'll need to consult Marshall Shore. Once a month, Shore meets in the Reading Room at the Valley Bar and shares his pervasive knowledge of local lore and legend with an audience. He begins each discussion with the legend of Arizona's own Winnie Ruth Judd, whose story is featured in the rotating art installation above the bar in the Rose Room. After telling the chilling tale, Shore will share other tales of Arizona trivia and history. The event costs $5 to attend and is open to the public. Shore will begin at 7 p.m. For more information, visit the Valley Bar's website.
Dateline Mars Planetarium Presentation
It's been a big couple of year for Mars and space enthusiasts alike. Curiosity, NASA's robotic rover, has been rolling around the planet since August 2012 and periodically sends images of the planet back to Earth. Curiosity also frequently tests chemical composition and, after recent events, will attempt to carefully examine the areas where water may flow. The images and tests the robot sends back are being mixed with computer animations to create a feature-length film about Curiosity's trip to Mars put together by the Dorrance Planetarium that will show at the Arizona Science Center on Tuesday, November 10. Showings are at 12:30 p.m. and at 2 p.m. The screening costs $8 plus museum entrance. For more information, visit the Science Center's website.
Evil Dead the Musical
In 2003, a group of Canadian geniuses at Queen's University came up with a horrifying and hilarious idea: Turn the hilarious and graphic Evil Dead into a musical. With blessings from Bruce Campbell and the film's director, the students took to the stage and nothing was ever the same. The Mesa Arts Center will host a series of Evil Dead performances November 10 through November 15, and will include the "splatter zone" section, where the true fans — with strong stomachs — can experience the blood and gore inherent in choral zombie killings. Tickets cost $38 for regular seats and $50 to sit in the splatter zone. For showtimes and more details on the performance, visit the Mesa Arts Center's website.
PBS Nerd Walk 5
The Public Broadcasting Service has fostered geeks and nerds for generations. Whatever your passion may be — food, history, superheroes, or recreational painting — PBS has likely offered some form of programming to suit your interests. Saturday, November 14, is your opportunity to give back a little bit and thank the network for its years of service. Still need convincing? Participation in the Nerd Walk means watching Sherlock with a herd of fellow fans and catching the Downton Abbey premiere a month earlier than everyone else. The time is still be worked out, but meetup will be at the ASU Homecoming Block Party in Tempe. Registration is free, but a early sign-ups will receive a free PBS t-shirt. Visit azpbs.org/nerd for more information and to register.
Catify to Satisfy
Is your cat copping an attitude with you? Probably, because that's what cats do. But, don't worry, you're not alone in the fight to make you cat behave better. Animal Planet's Jackson Galaxy of My Cat from Hell teamed up with Phoenix's own Kate Benjamin, an expert in cat design, to compile a book of advice that will help you create a calm and comfortable environment for your feline friends. Galaxy and Benjamin will be at the Crescent Ballroom at 7 p.m. on Thursday, November 19, to walk you through parts of the book and help you make a breakthrough with your moody pet. For more information, or to purchase your ticket, visit the Crescent Ballroom's website. Tickets range between $26 and $28.
Startup Weekend at Gangplank
From Friday, November 20, to Sunday, November 22, local change makers and entrepreneurs will meet at Gangplank in Chandler to share ideas, brainstorm, mentor each other and put their ideas into action. Startup Weekend, which was started in Seattle, is now hosting events in more than 200 cities. The organization will meet at Gangplank at 6:30 p.m. that Friday and will then spend 54 hours pitching, creating, and presenting. It's fast-paced, but gives you the opportunity to throw yourself into your work totally guilt-free. Prices range between $25 and $50, depending on what kind of work you plan on submitting. For more information, and to sign up, visit chandler.startupweekend.org.
Keep Phoenix New Times Free... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Phoenix with no paywalls.