Wednesday, 9/21
Doors at 7:30, show at 8
Rickshaw Stop, 155 Fell Street @Van Ness
All ages

Facebook event

Beer! The city! Tiny, intricate spaceships that get blown up! Name something cool and we gotcher nerds who’ll learn you all about it. September brings back-to-school back-to-stage and back-to-the-bar, as we meet, mingle, and nod our heads to the beat of obscure records–oh, and also hear from experts on practical special effects, the history of your favorite frothy beverage, and the urban land- and mindscape. Be there and be square!


“Practical Special Effects: Livin’ Large in Miniature” by Fon Davis

Fon may appear to be a grown man who plays with toys–and he is–but he has also built models and props for movies for over 20 years, from The Nightmare Before Christmas to the Star Wars series. While computer-generated effects have snagged all the headlines in recent years, practical effects are often the best approach for some visual effects challenges, especially if you want something to blow up, burn, or shatter. Nothing looks more realistic than actual explosions, fires, and crashes! Yeah, in this industry, it’s best if you don’t get too attached to your work. Here’s a behind-the-scenes look at practical effects in movies and the role they will play in the future.

Davis is a visual effects veteran with over 20 years of experience, having worked on such films as the Star Wars prequels. He had nothing to do with Jar-Jar, so please don’t blame him. Fon runs his own shop, Fonco Creative, is the creator of MORAV and has just released a DVD on professional model-making called Introduction to Professional Model Making with Fon Davis.


“Worth Its Weight in Gold: A History of Beer” by Yug Varma

While most of us imbibe beer in all its forms frequently and freely, few of us stop to consider the sheer weight of history that has molded beer into its present form. Beer, in turn, has molded history as well, from its ancient origins in times shrouded in mystery, through war and peace, celebrated and persecuted in equal measure: Its story is as riveting as it is long. Beer also figures prominently in many events in American history, such as shaping the migration of early American settlers, and from the War of Independence to witchcraft. Yug takes us through a woefully short but delightfully twisting journey through the history of the world’s favorite alcoholic beverage.

Varma is a postdoc in the Fischbach lab at UCSF, where he studies the human microbiome and the consequences of its interactions with the human body. An avid cook, homebrewer and cocktail enthusiast, he loves to salsa and travel. When he’s not stuffing his face, he will speak to you with a fake accent and inundate you with a torrent of trivia.


“Urbanism: 1,000 Years of Error, Accident, and Serendipity” by Benjamin Grant

From Jerusalem to Black Rock City, urbanism has always had a central place in the human imagination. Cities are real physical and organic phenomena, with pressing problems like traffic, disease, and conflict. But cities are also the arena for our aspirations, fears, and hare-brained schemes, appearing continually in art, film, and literature. Utopian visions often come with vivid urban plans, as if we can’t imagine reforming ourselves without reforming built space. Real cities are shaped by the messy collision of these practical and imaginative impulses, and become living artifacts of our culture and consciousness. Urban designer, curator, and writer Benjamin Grant will examine some of the most interesting, illuminating, and preposterous episodes in the history of urban form, asking, among other things: Straight or curvy? Were things better back then? Where are our personal hovercrafts? Skyscrapers: the disease or the cure?

Grant is SPUR‘s Urban Design and Public Realm Program Manager, and an urban form nerd. He has curated numerous exhibitions both at the SPUR Urban Center and with city/space, a nonprofit he co-founded in 2001. He has taught courses in urban design and the history of urban form at San Jose State University and the San Francisco Art Institute and has worked on a wide variety of planning and urban design projects for public and private clients, including an ongoing master plan for San Francisco’s Ocean Beach.


Plus: DJ Alpha Bravo selects vinyl cuts to illuminate our presenters’ themes. Alpha Bravo is VP of left-field pop label, Radio Khartoum, and was one of the forces behind legendary SF pop-club nights, Anisette and Schokolade.