Archive for December, 2006

Columbia University soap opera

Apparently, a bunch of Columbia students are currently producing a soap opera featuring, um, Columbia students for Columbia TV. I just watched the first two parts of the pilot episode on YouTube, and it’s fantastically trashy. There’s an impossibly suave male undergraduate lead, part 2 involves a completely gratuitous lesbian kissing scene, and you get all sorts of views of the Columbia campus and learn about the dirty underbelly of Columbia student life.

See the pilot episode here, and join me in watching out for further episodes! :)

[via Gawker, who, unsurprisingly, didn’t like it]


Extreme singing

This email just came in from the Big Apple Chorus manager. Should I do this? :)

Edit: I just signed up for it. And damn the torpedoes!


We have a request from Japanese TV to provide a live performance from the tree at South Street for broadcast back to Japan on Friday, December 15th. We will need from 12 to 20 BACMEN to fulfill this request.

Here’s the catch – they want us at the tree from 5 AM to 7AM!!! The good part is that we are negotiating for a performance fee in the range of $150 – $200 per man, cash! This fee will be paid directly to the performers (NOT to the BAC!).

As a preliminary step, I’m asking anyone who is willing to make themselves available at this ungodly hour to respond directly to me via email. I have not yet promised Japanese TV that we will do this, and have given them several conditions that must be met before we commit. In the meanwhile, it would be helpful to know if we COULD commit to this. So please get back to me ASAP if you are available, and could use the extra cash. This should be something that our NYC based singers could latch on to. Please email me today with your positive response.


PS – Signing up for this event does NOT get you off the hook if you are signed up from Friday night’s performance at the Seaport! :-)

Quick Change Artists

How the heck do they do this? Wow!

Human parasites

I am now a happy subscriber to Nonsense NYC, a mailing list which distributes information about “independent art, weird events, strange happenings, unique parties, and senseless culture in New York City”. The most interesting event on Nonsense this week was Nerd Nite, last night, and so of course I had to go see it — together with my fellow urban explorers Rosy and Patrick, who are possibly the only people I know here who are even more into exploring weird parts of New York than me. (Witness their recent excursion to Queens to investigate Bolivian and Russian restaurants which are frequented only by Bolivians and Russians, respectively, and Korean supermarkets.)

Nerd Nite is an institution that originated in Boston a few years ago, but has now been adopted here as well. Once a month, a bunch of people meet in a bar in the East Village, and two people give 20-30 minute talks on weird scientific topics. It’s free except for the drinks. It has been described as “Discovery Channel with beer”, but the Discovery Channel doesn’t have pictures like these:

(I mean it! The picture on the other end of the link is really really icky!)
(Well, you have been warned.)

As you probably guessed, the topic of the first talk was “human parasites”, i.e. parasites that are not human but live off humans; the speaker was a young resident doctor at Columbia Medical School. The picture you see was actually used in the talk; it displays a happy event, in which a bunch of paralysed roundworms have been expelled from a human body after taking anti-worm medication. The talk covered all sorts of other parasites too: Malaria was rather harmless (“I can’t talk about Malaria without mentioning my brother Phil”), but the amoebas were rather grisly (they occur all over the world, and enter through your nose into your brain when you go swimming in warm water; signs for detecting an amoeba infection include “95% chance of death within a week”). And you can be glad I spared you the picture of the rectal prolapse. (But I invite you to search for it yourself on Google Images.) There was a quiz in the end, and the winner got a bag of worm-shaped gummy bears. Yay.

The second talk was interesting too, but much less entertaining: It concerned the management of stormwater in an area like New York City, whose ground is way more impervious than, say, a forest floor. New York’s rainwater is collected in the same underground sewers as the sewage from residential buildings, and because the water drains into the ground much faster than in a forest and NYC’s twelve water preparation plants can’t handle the volume of sewage after really heavy rainstorms, some of it is directed, uncleaned, right into the rivers. Neat. The talk also discussed various approaches to dealing with the situation, including planting stuff on all rooftops.

I may have mentioned recently that I adore New York for having free events like this. I wonder whether it would be realistic to run a Nerd Nite in Saarbruecken. (But then, I also wonder whether I should offer to give a talk about our talking Lego robots at the Nerd Nite here.)

But wonders never cease. It turns out that Daniel, one of the people in the barbershop chorus, is a young architect who works for a high-end architecture firm in New York that designs houses for Robert Redford and such people. He is also a journalist, who has interviewed Lenny Kravitz, who invited him to a private concert with an audience of fifty or so. And he met this French guy at a club at some point who is now giving him access to the “hidden” clubs, where a beer costs $55 but he gets them for free because he knows someone who knows the manager. Or some such. I am so not a clubgoer, but I think it would be awesome to go and see one of these events just once. If they even let me in; I’m not sure I have anything that I could wear at such a place. But apparently Daniel got to meet Paris Hilton at one of these things, so it would certainly be worth it.


December 2006
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