Academic Event Life(style)

Ionic, isn’t it? @timeshighered

What a brilliant idea …:

Academics from physicists to experts on Scandinavian culture are crafting stand-up comedy routines based on their work. But this is no joke. Matthew Reisz finds that a crowd’s laughter is not the only payoff

Here’s an idea of the content:

The nominal theme, tying in with a major exhibition, Power of Making, is “craft”, though the audience could not possibly have guessed it. Performers explore Tory drinking rituals and the “extreme decollete fashions” of the 17th century; pubic hair loss during the menopause; the importance of anti-Catholic fart humour in the early development of printing; the difficulties of translating Danish jokes into English; and the history of racist comedy (the speaker warns the audience in advance that “because this is a national institution, I’m not allowed to tell you the punchlines”).

A PhD student offers a glimpse of his lonely life: “Today is Tuesday, the day after University Challenge, when I get a chance to spend some quality time with Jeremy Paxman.” There is also a song about dinosaurs in Westminster and a polka-dotted cabaret duo, not to mention the occasional groan-worthy one-liner (“Anyone seen Ralph Fiennes in The Tempest? It’s going down a storm”).

And here’s the rationale:

As head of public engagement at UCL, Cross created his academic comedy nights in response to a specific challenge: to find a way of engaging with people in “the great demographic gap” between the ages of 20 and 40. “Universities have been very good at schools outreach and at getting academics on to Radio 4,” he explains, “but we haven’t been so good at reaching the market in between.” Many museums and cultural institutions face a similar problem.

So how could they get “an audience to turn up and listen to members of the university sharing their research, teaching and knowledge in a meaningful, interactive way, face to face and not through a facilitator”? Cross and his team talked to people who ran theatre, music and comedy nights. “We wanted something with content that would attract an audience beyond those already working and studying in universities. The thing we came up with was stand-up comedy – because of the rise of intelligent comedy, because researchers can learn to perform to a good standard relatively quickly, and because you can make anything funny.”

Read the full story and check out ‘Bright Club‘ on Facebook


A truly postmodern moment?

Advertised on the maker’s site as:

““Lemme tell ya, these ain’t no ordinary finches we’re talkin’ about. These here are the Angry Birds, the ones that’s gonna kick you in the ‘nads. And they’re the ones on your side. They must be from Galapadapados, or sumptin’.” – Col. Angus, Bird Expert.

The survival of the Angry Birds is at stake. Dish out revenge on the green pigs who stole the Birds’ eggs. Use the unique destructive powers of the Angry Birds to lay waste to the pigs’ fortified castles.

Angry Birds features hours of gameplay, challenging physics-based castle demolition, and lots of replay value. Each of the 120 levels requires logic, skill, and brute force to crush the enemy.

Protect wildlife or play Angry Birds!”

I’m not a great online game-player, but I enjoy a bit of Angry Birds (fills in a few stops on the Tube), so I had seen enough of it to really enjoy the following video, where cartoon is produced back in “real”-life:

Don’t T-Mobile produce some great ads?


Clothes-Swap Party

Yesterday, I went to a clothes swap party, and despite expecting to come away with nothing (well, since my chest infection, I’ve put on a lot of weight 🙁 but it’s steadied now – just waiting to go the other way), but I came away with the following:

It was a really enjoyable evening – no one was quite sure what to do at the beginning, but Lynne had organised it all very well. Racks for bottom half/top half, shoes & bags on the floor, accessories on the table, and as everyone came in, everything got placed on the rails. People were busier chatting/grabbing a snack to begin with, but then one person found a skirt, and suddenly everyone was diving in. Lots of comments that it was lovely to “go shopping” with “the girls” (most at the party were young mums), and the atmosphere was lovely, encouraging about lots of things – and “this doesn’t fit me, why don’t you try it”.  Once the frenzy was over, everyone sat down with some delicious olives, sticky toffee pudding & chocolate fountain (although a certain amount of, “just tried lots of clothes on, should I eat more?! oh well, why not..”). Lynne has been left with quite a big pile of clothes to take to the charity shops – there was still lots of nice things left – they just didn’t fit anyone there (there was probably about 20 of us?!)…

Read Christian Aid’s review of a Clothes Swap party.


Talking Carl

Initially, during an ‘app swap’ session at an educational tech conference (#pelc10), I couldn’t see the point of this app, but decided that it was only 59p, and my colleague seemed almost unable to use it for laughing.

What Can You Do With It?

Strictly speaking, there’s not a lot to this app.

  • Carl will repeat everything you say (and any music you play if loud enough) with a high-pitched voice.
  • Tickle him, he will laugh out loud.
  • Poke him and he will shout and yell.
  • Pinch him to hear him  growling.
  • Leave him alone, he’ll chatter back at you

What Do I Think?

Aside from the fact that it gives the biggest belch ever when opening (beware!), this app has had me in stitches several times over the past week (and it’s been a pretty tough week). The website describes it as ‘ideal for children of any age’, and I’ve never denied that I never want to fully grow up! Simple things please simple minds is what we always used to say, but really, life doesn’t have to be all serious!! I’m not going to say that this app does’t have a purpose/point, it does, and let’s enjoy it!

App Homepage: Talking Carl
Price: 59p

Academic Life(style)

Identifying the (Post)Graduate Student


  • you can identify universities by their internet domains.
  • you are constantly looking for a thesis in novels.
  • you have difficulty reading anything that doesn’t have footnotes.
  • you understand jokes about Foucault.
  • the concept of free time scares you.
  • you consider caffeine to be a major food group.
  • you’ve ever brought books with you on vacation and actually studied.
  • Saturday nights spent studying no longer seem weird.
  • the professor doesn’t show up to class and you discuss the readings anyway.
  • you’ve ever traveled across two state lines specifically to go to a library.
  • you appreciate the fact that you get to choose *which* twenty hours out of the day you have to work.
  • you still feel guilty about giving students low grades (you’ll getover it).
  • you can read course books and cook at the same time.
  • you schedule events for academic vacations so your friends can come.
  • you hope it snows during spring break so you can get more studying in.
  • you’ve ever worn out a library card.
  • you find taking notes in a park relaxing.
  • you find yourself citing sources in conversation.
  • you’ve ever sent a personal letter with footnotes.
  • you can analyze the significance of appliances you cannot operate.
  • your carrel is better decorated than your apartment.
  • you have ever, as a folklore project, attempted to track the progress of your own joke across the internet.
  • you are startled to meet people who neither need nor want to Read.
  • you have ever brought a scholarly article to a bar.
  • you rate coffee shops by the availability of outlets for your laptop.
  • everything reminds you of something in your discipline.
  • you have ever discussed academic matters at a sporting event.
  • you have ever spent more than $50 on photocopying while researching a single paper.
  • there is a microfilm reader in the library that you consider “yours.”
  • you actually have a preference between microfilm and microfiche.
  • you can tell the time of day by looking at the traffic flow at the library.
  • you look forward to summers because you’re more productive without the distraction of classes.
  • you regard ibuprofen as a vitamin.
  • you consider all papers to be works in progress.
  • professors don’t really care when you turn in work anymore.
  • you find the bibliographies of books more interesting than the actual text.
  • you have given up trying to keep your books organized and are now just trying to keep them all in the same general area.
  • you have accepted guilt as an inherent feature of relaxation.
  • you reflexively start analyzing those Greek letters before you realize that it’s a sorority sweatshirt, not an equation.
  • you find yourself explaining to children that you are in “20th grade.”
  • you start referring to stories like “Snow White, et al.”
  • you frequently wonder how long you can live on pasta withoutgetting scurvy.
  • you look forward to taking some time off to do laundry.
  • you have more photocopy cards than credit cards.
  • you wonder whether APA style allows you to cite talking to yourself as “personal communication”.

Yes – this might be Americanised, but do you realisise JUST how true some of this is! (My postgraduate project)