The Encyclopedia Show Somerville

The show opened with the Michael J. Epstein Memorial Library. Co-Hosts Aimee Rose Ranger and Kevin Spak joined the band on stage for an enthusiastic harmonica accompaniment.

It’s probably not all that often you get to use the words “Polio” and “poetry” in the same sentence.  Depending on who you are, it’s probably equally as infrequent that you get to go to a variety show.

I’ll be honest, live theatre isn’t really my “thing,” for that matter neither is poetry.  But, for whatever reason variety shows have always been a point of curiosity for me, and when I heard about The Encyclopedia Show it just sounded cool.  If that didn’t get me through the door of the Davis Square Theatre on February 10th, then the promise of a creative exploration of “Obsolete Diesases,” definitely did.

Heading into Davis Square for the February installment of The Encyclopedia Show Somerville, I really had no idea what to expect.  Most of what I knew about it came from what I read on it’s Facebook page and website, but it was still a little hard to gauge what I was in for. Continue reading

© Julia Swanson

Thank You, It’s A New Day!

Now that all the New Years celebrations are over and Four Letter Word’s sophomore year has finally come to a close.  I wanted to take a few minutes to say Thank You and share a short summary of last year.

So how did it go!?

In my opinion it went pretty well. Compared to 2012, I produced roughly the same number of posts and had a 4x the number of views.

As always Nerd Nite continued to be a source of inspiration with it’s offbeat and engaging lectures which, last year, covered everything from mosquitos to design.  In fact, some of my most popular posts in 2013 featured Nerd Nite talks such as,”Honest Sex Ed for Grown Ups,” “Gender and Nerd Culture: A Year in Review,” and one of my personal favourites “Start your own Poovolution.

But, that was just the tip of the iceberg and while Nerd Nite continued to be a source of friendship and an a wealth of ideas, one of my goals for 2013 was to branch out and try new things.

So, that is exactly what I did starting in March.  I began by writing about a growing interest in Korean dramas and streaming media in the United States.  Then in April I covered The Boston Film Project’s 10 Year Retrospective which I followed up with some coverage of the actual 48 hour film making marathon in May with “Can you Make a short Movie in 48 Hours!?

As summer rolled around it was too much to ask that I sit inside typing, so I decided to try some Nerd Nite inspired cartooning with “A Stick Figure Adventure in 10 Frames: How to create a blog Post.”  It was hard not to get caught up in the, “Post #Sharknado” Aftermath,” later in the summer. But, I still managed to make it to Boston’s South End a few times for both Martini’s and Masterpieces and the SoWa Art Market.  I even made it to Comic Con Boston, in August and stopped by one of my favourite galleries for, “Sightings: A Cryptozoology Themed Art Show,” in September.

So, what’s next!? Continue reading

Low tide. Nantasket Beach.  Hull, Ma

Mid-Winter Blahs

Now that we’re finally at the end of January and ringing in the Chinese New Year, I’m SO over winter.   Sure the snow is festive and pretty but past the holidays it does tend to drag on.  Walking around with two ton boots on, swaddled in layers and wrapped up like a burrito, or even worse stuck in doors! It’s easy to forget that summer ever happened… much less that it will happen again.  So it’s no wonder that we start to suffer from an occasional case of the mid winter Blahs, or even worse a touch of cabin fever.  While everyone is broadcasting their preferred ways to remedy this with suggestions like, take a brisk walk outside and make sure you get enough vitamins and sleep etc… With a more than a month left of winter (remember last year we had a snow storm in March) sometimes it just seems like its all for naught.  So, I’ve been thinking about the summer a lot lately and although I have been strategically omitting the parts about heatwaves it’s hard not to reminisce fondly about feeling the hot summer sun on your face as you stroll along a sandy beach.   While summer is still so cruelly far away that doesn’t mean we can’t look at pictures of Nantasket Beach to remind us of what the warmer weather will bring.


Empanada is the new Cupcake

There are few foods in this world as perfect as the Empanada.

Also known in some parts as a ‘hand pie,’ there are lots of different types of empanadas around the world.  They can be sweet or savory, baked or fried, filled with anything and made with different types of dough.   Although I have yet to eat my way around the world and try them all (one day…), I have certainly had my share.  If you’re still not sure what i’m talking about think of it like a Samosa, Calzone or an edible version of a Hot Pocket.

One of my all time favourites is the Chilean style Empanada de Pino.  Unfortunately in Boston it’s hard enough (almost impossible) to find a decent taco much less a specific type of empanada.   No matter, a few years ago I decided to try and make them for myself.  Although probably not perfect they were definitely pretty good.   While I could wax nostalgic about the food induced euphoria I experienced when I ate the lightly spiced ground beef sweetened with raisins, and topped off with an egg and olive for the first time in decades, I won’t, because this isn’t about those empanadas.  (Suffice it to say they are brought back every six months or so by popular demand.)

Since I had already “successfully” made a few types of empanadas that had gone over well, I wasn’t surprised that I was asked to make empanadas for a New Years Day party.   Since the party was Spanish themed with a focus on Tapas it was requested that I make Empanadillas de Atún, or Little Tuna Empanadas.

I found several recipes online that looked delicious but were too South American as opposed to Spanish, which is what I was looking for.  In the end I found what looked like it was going to be a great recipe for “Tuna and Green Olive Empanadas” in Food and Wine Magazine.

IMG_3714 Continue reading

Alberta Chu spoke at Nerd Nite this past September. Photography ©Geoff Hargadon, 2013

Interview with Alberta Chu of AskLabs

Innovative, engaging, entrepreneurial…. cool… these are the words that ran through my head as I settled down at a table in Flour in the South End with Alberta Chu, on a wet thursday afternoon.   Alberta Chu is the Producer, Writer and founder of Asklabs, a documentary film company based out of Boston’s South End that produces science programs and films.  The tea was hot and the conversation was scintillating as Chu, who presented at Nerd Nite last September, talked me through some of the finer points of  everything from #SciArt to education to social media. (edited for length… sort of)

JS: People have this idea that you can either be a scientist or an artist and I feel like that’s kind of frustrating because there is a disconnect when you start isolating things like that.
AC: Yea, well today people really have to specialize in things.  Like, if you’re an artist you’re over here with the artists.  Even if you’re a scientist there are all these different fields, everything is a specific subset within a field. There is a disconnect, but I think there is a bridge of intersection. Like, there are some scientists and some artists who kind of don’t see the boundaries.  It’s really all about creativity and innovation, and there is a place in human nature that is you want to try something new and explore something new and discover something or explore something, and that’s really where the intersection is.  Like scientists artists are, a lot of times, using the same process to make something or figure out how to make something or to investigate something but in a more philosophical way, and they kind of can feed off of each other.

JS: So would you say there are a lot of similarities between the creative and scientific process.
AC: Yea, a lot of the best scientists are really creative, they are creative like an architect.  They are kind of creative within their field and they have to think out of the box.

JS: When we talk about this intersection I feel like we are talking about a lot of different things and lately i’m coming across the term “SciArt” a lot.  Can you talk a little bit about exactly what “SciArt” is? Continue reading


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