The 2013 Worm Show

Curtis and Morris
Curtis Loer and Morris Maduro at the Worm (Variety) Show, June 29, 2013.

Click here to watch on YouTube.

The video reached 1000 hits on 7/4/13 after only a few days,
1500 after 10 days, 2000 hits after seven weeks (8/10/2013),
3000 hits by end of July, 2014, and over 4000 hits by July, 2015.


Fourth video submission:
Video 4
Infinity is long

Thanks to Ahna Skop for providing the links.

On the YouTube page for the Worm Show, click 'show more' to see direct links to various parts. Further credits for the 2013 show can be found here.

The next show is already being planned. The 2015 meeting will be the 10th anniversary of the first worm show and the 20th International C. elegans Meeting, so we want this next show to be even better than the others, if such a thing is possible! Our prior solicitation for contributions still applies! Here are the guidelines. All our submissions to 2013 were videos, so we expect to see that as the primary form of contribution for 2015 too.

Here are the usual "behind the scenes" comments.

- The show is a few minutes longer than the 2011 show, making this the longest show so far at 1 hour 3 minutes. Knowing we might run long, and after having received many videos, we had to cut some things. We eliminated some Powerpoint-driven segments that were only partially ready, and edited the videos to make them as short as possible. Submitted videos were not cut for time, though we did enhance sound here and there, and for one video readjusted the audio to be synchronized better with the video.

- The 2011 YouTube video took a month to reach 1000 views, while the 2013 one took less than a week. Presumably, this resulted from increased distribution of the URL via social media (e.g. GSA Twitter feed), and perhaps also through the many people who appeared in the show.

- In 2005 and 2013, the house lights (shining on the audience) were off. For 2007, 2009 and 2011, they were on. So the audience shots are quite dark for this show, except when a bright slide was showing on the screen.

- We used at least a piece of video from every person we interviewed at the meeting. If we had had more time, we would have subtitled each shot with the name/lab of the person. However, many are wearing name tags that can be read anyways. For the poster sessions, we sought people who were alone at their posters, mostly so we would not intrude on scientific interactions.

- A lot of video was shot and edited at this meeting, perhaps similar in overall work to 2011 although less video ended up used for 2011. In 2011 we shot many people singing the 'This Worm Is Your Worm" song and the clips had to be synchronized to the accompaniment music, so we got something like 3x coverage of every verse.

- This is the first show where MM stood on CL's left. There was only one practical reason for this: When MM played the guitar, the neck needed to point away from CL.

- 1:51 - SCOTUS is the Supreme Court of the United States.

- 2:43 - John DeModena was the first to point out to MM that 2600 x 1 does not equal 26000. Oops! We could even argue that if the show makes some people enjoy their work more, that it could actually help productivity. Oh well.

- 3:27 - The fake drug 'mycoxafloppin' comes from an old joke about generic names for Viagra. 'Crammitol' is a fake drug name used by comedian Jerry Seinfeld in an old stand-up routine.

- 4:57 - The fake e-journal from 'Malawi' is a nod to another company with a similar name. No offense is intended to either the country of Malawi or the other web journal.

- 5:59 - Comic Sans font is really not a good font to use for anything scientific. See here.

- 7:09 - The 'James Bond' opening was our first that did not use some kind of Star Wars (or 2001: A Space Odyssey) theme. It was thought that as Bond films have been around for a half-century, this opening would be accessible to just about everyone in attendance. CL and MM are holding micropipettors in their hands. The walking was recorded at a park in Riverside, California. The graphics are imitated from the opening to the movie Goldfinger (1964). However, we had to use two bullet chambers rather than one. And instead of the red 'blood' that flows down the screen in a typical Bond film opening, we chose to put green to represent GFP (if that wasn't already obvious). The worm graphics (found by Googling 'C. elegans') and text were meant to be in the style of some of the Bond opening themes. MM and CL apologize for failing to properly credit some people who were part of the various historical contributions. Given the time constraints we just could not verify everything. We did not mean to slight anyone. The weird images at ~8:00 don't quite look like C. elegans. Not sure what they would be otherwise.

- 7:38 - We thought people would cheer peoples' names (pointed out by CL at 9:21). In the event that it didn't happen, we thought for sure there would be cheers with the Nobel Prize list, which there were.

- The original theme to the 1964 movie Goldfinger was sung by Shirley Bassey -- find it on YouTube if you have never heard it. MM wrote new 'wormy' lyrics and shortened the song by one verse. MM recorded the vocal for the new version in one take.

- 10:20/10:32 - The lineups at the registration were somewhat long.

- 11:20 - David Fay told the 'Lady Gaga' joke at his talk in the 2011 meeting. To be true to the antiparallel nature of DNA pairing, one has to say Lady TCTC as opposed to Lady CTCT, to keep the same polarity.

- 11:30 - There will be a total solar eclipse visible from parts of the U.S. on August 21, 2017. MM is an eclipse buff. David Fay is in Laramie, Wyoming, which is south of the eclipse center line, so one would have to drive northward a bit to see the total phase.

- 12:30 - The joke about '10 types of people' is an old one circulating on the Internet. Yes, we occasionally shamelessly take other peoples' jokes.

- 13:30 - 'Primer' in the sense used here should really be pronounced 'prih-mer' and not like an oligonucleotide. The 'True Facts' series is being parodied (original here).

- 16:50 - The lab website of Dennis Kim hosts the "backwards" video. It was not made specifically for the Worm Show, but is hilarious! They must have had a bit of a mess to clean up from some of those scenes. We were impressed with the very smooth, long tracking shots near the end (or is that the beginning?). We did not find this video; it was suggested to us by Joshua Meisel in the lab. He also sent us the link to their "behind the scenes video" here.

- 19:45 - The montage of embryo images in the upper-left corner of the interview with Einhard Schierenberg was superimposed onto the video (obvious during the zoom a short while later), because the whiteboard in MM's office had some distracting doodles on it (visible in the 'Lab' parody video later in the show).

- 19:45 - The segment with Einhard serves the second of the two missions of the Worm Show -- Community. The other, of course, is Comedy. We're not sure if we will be able to acknowledge everyone who retires in future shows, though.

- 22:11 - MM got an LED array that mounts on top of the camcorder, however he forgot to bring the adapter that makes it fit. So, he had to hold it separately like a flashlight, which is the reason the light source looks a bit shaky. At least, by holding it even higher above the camera, it would greatly reduce the chance of a reflection of the light source appearing in eyeglassess, or red-eye.

- 22:29 - There was another meeting attendee with the last name 'Grant'.

- 22:40 - Many attendees from overseas were tired from the time difference.

- 23:24 - Of course Don Moerman is involved with the 'one million mutation' project.

- 23:38 - We have no idea if the Hindi words are correct, but Jagan wouldn't do that to us, would he? We arranged an inside joke with Itai Yanai later, however (see below).

- 23:40 - The response (or rather, lack of response) from Shohei Mitani to CL saying 'Worm Show' was just priceless. Then, like some other unexpected moments when we talked to people, he gives this very sincere 'You're welcome' when Curtis thanks him for the mutations that his laboratory has made available to the Worm Community. A great unscripted moment.

- 25:35 - MM was not sure if Dpy really won. Maybe another favorite phenotype did.

- 26:24 - "Pump you up" is a reference to a recurring Saturday Night Live sketch in the late 80s/early 90s featuring Dana Carvey and Kevin Nealon as Hans and Franz, playing Arnold Schwarzenegger-like bodybuilding enthusiasts.

- 26:56 - Transposon tagging was an older approach for increasing the range of genetically mappable polymorphisms. 'Tagging' is also a term for graffiti, hence the joke... get it?

- 27:38 - Somewhat older graph meme.

- 27:48 - Nanobrewery is obviously a take on microbrewery.

- 28:27 - Shameless use of a joke from a Mad magazine parody of ads from Harbor Freight. Also inspired the laser-guided worm pick found at the very end of the show.

- 31:25 - MM is (now) a big Maroon 5 fan. He saw them at a benefit concert in January of 2013. The original idea was to make a 'Worm Tracks' ad like in previous Worm Shows, but there are so many recognizable Maroon 5 songs that MM stuck to that. Those songs are sung so high, it was a challenge to sing them! MM also took a different turn of using amateur concert video, in part because their shaky nature would help obscure the fact that the words were different. For the last song, a parody of "Moves Like Brenner," the first line "if it starts with 'e' then I own you" refers to the allele designation used in Cambridge (CB strains, 'e' alleles). Hence, a lot (if not all) of Brenner's original mutants start with 'e'. If you are not familiar with Maroon 5, the other parodied songs are "One More Night," "Payphone," and "This Love."

- MM originally wanted to include songs by the group Fun, and even recorded a bit of "Some Nights," but just didn't get it done because of the extensive layering of harmonies that would have been required. MM already did the Queen parody for 2011, so in a way the need to do a capella layered vocal harmonies seemed a bit too familiar. The lyrics were going to be "Some nights I stay up, working the confocal..." and that theme ended up in the Maroon 5 parody.

- 32:49 - JoKE is obviously a parody of JoVE, the Journal of Visualized Experiments. It's not clear (to MM at least) if the reading of text to the side of the camera (e.g. 33:05) was intentional, but it contributes to the comedy. I notice now that the lab coats are tied together at the back like hospital gowns. This is also seen in the 'C. elegans Down Under' video from the same lab. At 35:04, it is hilarious to put plates with their lids, stacked deep, into a UV crosslinker. (MM loves the absurd.)

- 36:31 - This is the First Worm Show to feature an original composition ("Armchair Biologist"). We had a second song that was at an earlier stage of preparation but with all the submissions, people will have to wait until 2015. We don't mean anything about bioinformaticians or computer programmers, so if that is you, please do not be offended. Most of us have been 'Armchair Biologists' at one time or another just because of the kind of work we do. While MM is self-taught at the guitar, he didn't just learn the chords that morning. CL improvised great harmonies. The guitar chord designations are shown above the words to the song. The chord sequence in this song is fairly standard. MM forgot to tune the guitar before the show started, so the last time it was tuned was a couple weeks beforehand when making the video with students for "The Lab."

- 39:03 - No offense was meant to people at UNLV (University of Nevada-Las Vegas).

- 39:20 - Opie is Ron Howard's character name from the Andy Griffith Show which aired in the 1960s.

- 39:38 -" Muller's Ratchet Set" should have gotten more laughs. Maybe not enough people know that a set of socket wrenches is called a Ratchet Set. Maybe not enough people know about Muller's Ratchet. MM does a lot of his own car repair/maintenance so he has a few ratchet sets.

- 39:41 - UCC is a codon for serine, referring to a joke about tryptophan in 2011.

- 39:44 - Men At Work, "Down Under." MM played the chords one whole step lower just to avoid playing a Bm chord.

- 40:29 - Even if it is cold in Belgium, one wonders why the lab is not heated.

- 40:40 - MM did his version of the 'movie preview voice' (similar to the late Don LaFontaine, imitated by comedian Pablo Francisco).

- 41:46 - The original sound faded to silence as Ellen was walking to the building. MM added sound from a YouTube video taken in the woods somewhere. More likely than not, the type of birdsong heard is not correct for Australia!


- 42:00 and following: I consulted with Sean Coakley and here are the various Aussie phrases: Hey Ellen, the name's Sean. Hang on a sec. I've got Buckley's chance of getting this done before smoko. Why don't we just shoot through and grab a bikkie with the others. I need a drink anyway. I'm as dry as an Emu's crotch. Are you having trouble with the lingo? I'm pretty ocker. The others are way easier to get the jist of. You'll be all right. G'day, Rosie. This is Ellen, Ellen this is Rosie. She's a top Sheila. She'll look after you. See you guys later. ... How's your morning? Oh mate, flat out like a lizard drinking, you? Yeah, bonza. Not sure Annika's is going well though. She came in mad as a cut snake earlier. Going off like a bucket of prawns in the sun. Fair dinkum. Too right. What's got her goat? Oh, she did some ablations yesterday, and all her animals are cactus. Shit. I've had a gutful, these animals are cactus. ... G'day, Ellen. I was just having a toot on the didg'. Just got back from havin' a surf. Gonna fire up the barbie and chuck some shrimp on for the lab meeting we're about to have this morning. So d'you want a beer? ... Cheers big ears!

- 43:46 - The book that Rosina gives to Ellen is Lonely Planet's "Australian Language and Culture" guide published in 2007. There is a newer version available since 4/2013.

- 44:07 - "RNA-oy" is (most likely) a nod to our bit from the 2011 show, "RNAi around the world."

- 45:30 - Itai Yanai says "flies are the best" in Hebrew. One of the few really 'inside' jokes.

- 46:30 - If it isn't obvious, Bill Mohler had a big sign there that said "nothing for sale". After he says 'absolutely nothing' MM says 'say it again' as if from the song "War" by Edwin Starr.

- 46:55 - Marty Chalfie did a funny interview for Comedy Central. His response to CL's question about mCherry was a reference to that.

- 47:20 - Cheryl Van Buskirk's song is quite original as it refers to her lab's work. Very cool. The song is a parody of Allen Stone's "Sleep."

- 49:27 - Memes. The "memes" we used are: Bill Lumbergh; First World Problems; Overly Attached Girlfriend; Good Guy Greg; Success Kid; Boromir; Condescending Willy Wonka; Walter Sobchak; Scheming Raccoon; Futurama Fry; Sudden Clarity Clarence. You can make your own with a meme generator. We accidentally skipped one meme for Bad Luck Brian, right after Bill Lumbergh, apparently because MM advanced the slides on the keyboard while CL did so on the wireless clicker he had, almost simultaneously. Here is the skipped slide:
Bad Luck Brian

THE SECOND "OFFICE" PARODY (spoiler alert):

- All dialogue was recorded with a single shotgun microphone located above the 'actors'. This is far superior to what a camera microphone can capture, especially in a loud location like a laboratory.

- You can see the video without audience track here.

- All video was recorded with one or two Canon HF G10 camcorders. These have a shorter focal length at their widest, are very portable, and produce a very high quality image. In the 2011 parody footage from two different model camcorders and one DSLR were combined, resulting in a bit of inconsistency across scenes.

- 52:28 - The Lab (a parody of the American "The Office" TV series), is patterned after a similar parody in the 2011 show. For that show the 'cold open' was preceded by an NBC bumper, but it was not used in 2013 to save time. "The Office" ran from 2005 to 2013 on NBC.

- 52:28 - The opening and ending monologues show good continuity because they were recorded back-to-back. (The coffee mug and the computer screen changed slightly.) This suggests that the entire movie was a 'dream'. After most of the rest of the scenes were assembled, it became necessary to hint at this and also to plant the 'Les Misérables' idea.

- 53:34 - The sound effects are from the original Star Trek TV series.

- 53:55 - That is MM's daughter Rena singing (but mouthing in the video).

- 54:40 - Most PIs have had the experience of trying to explain to students why their work is relevant.

- 54:46 - MM has had the experience of an undergraduate (though not Francisco as shown here) taking out their phone in his office while he was talking directly to them.

- 55:32 - The Macklemore song ("Thrift Shop") is the basis for this parody. At first the song is diegetic (i.e. experienced by MM in the scene) but transitions to a music video. The idea for this shortened parody started with "I'm gonna pop some tags" becoming "I'm gonna pop some 'nads" (a reference to gonads, the usual target organ for DNA injection).

- 55:47 - This tracking shot and the one at 56:00 were achieved by having Hailey sit on a lab chair with wheels and moving the chair.

- 55:55 - 20 mg of a plasmid is about 1000x more than would ever be needed for transformation by injection. But, 'mgs' worked better than 'micrograms'.

- 56:26 - The plate is labeled ttTi5605, the Mos insertion site on LG II that many use for MosSCI, in which case the strain usually carries unc-119(-) in the background.

- 56:31 - The car shown is MM's car but it is a 2001 Subaru Forester, so it is not 15 years old. However, the 1998 model looked very similar, so it could be 15 years old. Obviously '15' was chosen because it fit the rhythm of the song better than '12'.

- 57:53 and other places - Most computer screens are showing Wormbase, or the page for unc-119.

- 58:04 - The song about DNA is completely bogus. MM has not used music in his classes (so far). The setting for the short video was a review session at which students who wanted to be in the video were asked to stay for a few minutes. A transition mutation would occur with a G-T mismatch, as the next round of replication would place an A opposite the T, giving a GC to AT transition.

- 58:29 - The 'SNPs' song is a parody of 'Stars' from Les Misérables. It really was just for fans of the musical. The DNA modeling was taken from a textbook video found on YouTube and inserted (as with the star field) via chroma key. Both this and the 'Castle on a Cloud' parody were originally going to be part of a movie ad for "Les SNPerables." In the video MM has a beard grown over several days, meant to be similar to Russell Crowe's in the movie musical from 2012.

- 59:10 - By the time we started shooting scenes for this video, Saige was going to be leaving to Boston within a few days. We inserted this scene so she could be in the movie. She appears nowhere else except the opening theme. At least, the scene serves the idea that the SNP mapping is not working, motivating the conflict that comes later.

- 59:45 - We shot this scene a couple times, but in the first take everyone had more food (ice cream and cake) on their plates, so none of the earlier footage could be used because it created an obvious continuity error. We were actually celebrating Hailey's birthday.

- 1:00:00 - Farhad's scene with Morris was actually the first thing shot and was going to be a self-standing video of 'scenes from the lab' or something like that. However, we decided it would be possible to shoot more scenes to establish the back story that makes this scene more logical. Of course, the scene is a line-for-line parody of a scene from the original Star Wars (1977). It might have been more appropriate to set the scene in a lab meeting. Indeed, Farhad's lines were spoken by two different people originally, and those two people had somewhat opposing viewpoints. Each of Farhad and Morris spoke all their lines in a row by reading them: Farhad held a piece of paper over his face with MM's lines, and MM did the same. This just saved time. After this scene it made sense to have a lightsaber duel. Farhad had experience with rotoscoping lightsaber effects using Adobe Premiere so he painstakingly did the effects frame by frame. He also directed many parts of the Macklemore parody.

- 1:00:51 - MM added a bass rumble during the 'force choke' as in the original Star Wars.

- 1:00:48 - Strain 'THX1138' is a reference to George Lucas' film of the same name. It is often referenced in popular culture. As both two- and three-letter lab strain designations are permitted, THX1138 could be a strain. However, no one has yet chosen THX for their lab (as of July 4, 2013).

- 1:01:08 - The original Imperial March is heard here, but the music from The Phantom Menace worked better a bit later (1:01:22).

- 1:01:10 - The long tracking shot from MM to Farhad is really two shots edited together. Only MM and Farhad were available that day, so each had to video the other with a similar moving camera. Two other handheld shots were the 'widen out while going closer to the subject' shots when the lightsabers are turned on. The rest of the scene used cameras on tripods. Many scenes, including the final duel, used two identical model cameras to obtain two viewpoints. This saved considerable time as repositioning one camera and shooting the same scene again was not necessary.

- 1:01:26 - In the context of the Star Wars references, it makes no sense that Farhad would have Jedi skills like using a lightsaber. Earlier his character was calling the force a 'sad devotion to [an] ancient approach'. Rather, he should have taken out a blaster. As well in The Empire Strikes Back (1980) it was Luke Skywalker whose hand got severed by Darth Vader, while MM is more like Darth Vader based on the previous scenes. But hey, the whole thing's a dream sequence anyways. The video shows MM's actual hand, which was just cropped out of the shot and overlaid the same shot without his arm/hand. The lightsaber duel used wooden dowels similar to broom handles in diameter. You can see the bottom of MM's below his hand.

- 1:02:03 - The video of Erik Jorgensen was sent to MM the day before the worm show. Because of its vertical aspect it was convenient to position the video beside the credits.

- We got a mention at blog.wormwatchlab here. They liked the 'Office' parody the best.

- You can read more about the meeting on Storify. There is a picture of MM interviewing Dainia Edwards from ExoLabs:

MM + Dainia Edwards

- Get back to work now.

Other YouTube videos:
Worm Show 2005
- 2007 - 2009 - 2011

More information on the other shows:
2005 Worm Show
/ 2007 Worm Show
/ 2009 Worm Show / 2011 Worm Show

last updated 8-12-2013

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