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Home / Articles / Arts / The Short List /  Two ...
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Monday, Mar 17, 2014

Two Scientists Walk Into a Bar, New West Electronic Arts & Music Organization and Karla Mi Lugo

Our top three picks of San Diego events this week

IMG_2169 Steve Snyder (right) fields a question at Blind Lady Ale House.
- Photo by David Rolland

1. Hey—hic!—I have a question

It wasn't your typical bar conversation: What eventually happens to helium balloons after they're released into the sky? What's string theory all about? How does a vinyl record produce sound? Does the universe have a center of mass?

Or maybe it was typical: Hey, what's the best strain of marijuana?

These were some of the brain challengers put to three scientists last Wednesday night at Blind Lady Ale House in Normal Heights, where the smarties from the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center were holding a trial run of its new Two Scientists Walk Into a Bar event, which will go down for-reals from 5 to 10 p.m. Thursday, March 20 (to coincide with the San Diego Festival of Science and Engineering), at 25 bars and brewpubs around San Diego County.

At Blind Lady, the Fleet folks put up a sign—"We are scientists. Ask us anything!!"—near the bar and just stood there, waiting for someone to engage them in conversation. Soon, an effervescent woman approached and told the scientists that she saw a ball of light late at night in the sky—20 years ago. She wanted to know: What was it?

Steven Snyder, a physicist and Fleet center executive director, didn't know, of course, yet still offered up some possibilities. But the precise answer isn't the point; the idea is interaction and informal conversation about science.

"The point, really, is just to connect scientists and their community together," Snyder says later. "We have scientists all over San Diego; it's a major part of who actually San Diego is, but we don't normally think about it. So, we're just trying to play matchmaker."

To be sure, the scientists are ready for wacky, drunken questions, so let them fly. But what about the guy who won't go away, who dominates a scientist's time for, like, 45 minutes or more? 

"Well, that's why there are two scientists," Snyder laughs. "They can tag-team."

Find the list of locations and exact times at each at

2. Sensory load

Music and arts festivals rarely provide much in the way of surprises. But the New West Electronic Arts & Music Organization (NWEAMO)—shepherded by SDSU music professor Jozefius Vaatierz Rattus—offers a more engaging feast for the senses, intertwining audio and visual performances. This year's festival features multi-sensory presentations from the likes of Swarmius, Peripateticus and Delighted Decay, all under the theme of "Play and Playfulness." NWEAMO takes place at 8 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, March 22 and 23, at the First Unitarian Church in Hillcrest (4190 Front St.) and at the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center in Balboa Park (1875 El Prado), where performers will take advantage of the Fleet's 76-foot IMAX dome theater. Tickets are $20 per day, $10 for students. 

3. Lady day

At only 24, Karla Mi Lugo is a woman of many talents. A street performer who got her start in San Francisco, she can juggle while balancing on a basketball, draw your portrait on a balloon, play accordion dirges that'll break your heart and do a killer Billie Holiday impersonation. The latter is what brings her to the Victory Theatre (2558 Imperial Ave. in Logan Heights) at 9:30 p.m. Thursday, March 20, where, accompanied by members of gypsy-jazz band Trio Gadjo, she'll bring Holiday to life. Tickets are $15—or, for $30, show up at 8 p.m., when Technomania Circus, the folks who run the theater, will host a pre-show musical jam and art exhibition and offer a special tour of the theater's 100-year-old projector room.

Does your event deserve to be in our top three? Email Kinsee Morlan.