Star Wars: The Musical

The Walls are Closing In   It’s all my fault that now I hear their death – their screams of pain within their final breath.     No, we are alive. And thanks to you, we’ll get out. A whole song about such a literal event?  Songs in musicals, even if they are showpiece numbers attached closely to what is happening on stage, have to be about the hopes and…

Language Log: The prehistory of emoticons

Language Log offers a thorough discussion of the real story of the emoticon. Before seeing the Google Books page image, I had thought that Bierce’s suggested punctuation looked like this: \___/. That’s how it appears in a footnote to Andrew Graham’s online essay, “Forked Tongue: The Language of Serpent in the Enlarged Devil’s Dictionary of Ambrose Bierce,” as well as the Wikipedia entry on emoticons. It’s interesting to discover that…

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Dan Rather's lawsuit is an act of ego

The LA Times pulls no punches in this column on the aftermath of Dan Rather’s pathetic defense of a slipshod story alleging Bush weaseled his way out of his military duties. Now, if you once had thought of yourself as situated at the heart of the journalistic universe for nearly half a century, and suddenly found yourself 75 and toiling for an obscure cable operation that seemed to generate more…

Airport Security

Emily Short reviews a game that tries to make a point: While I sympathize with the message of the game, it didn’t really work for me, for two reasons. First, the game is irritating to play. It’s impossible to undo mistakes (if you accidentally confiscate someone’s pants instead of his shoes, for instance, as I did repeatedly) and the list of banned items is posted at the opposite corner of…

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CMU professor gives his last lesson on life

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, via Miki Louch. When he was a boy, Dr. Pausch said, he had a concrete set of dreams: He wanted to experience the weightlessness of zero gravity; he wanted to play football in the NFL; he wanted to write an article for the World Book Encyclopedia (“You can tell the nerds early on,” he joked); he wanted to be Captain Kirk from “Star Trek”; and he wanted…

Dan Rather Files Lawsuit Against CBS

Words fail me. The LA Times is among many sources reporting that… Longtime CBS anchor Dan Rather filed a $70-million lawsuit today against his former employer, alleging that executives at the broadcast network broke the terms of his contract by marginalizing him in his final days at CBS News and forcing him to retire early.

Carnegie Mellon celebrates 25th anniversary of 'smiley face'

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Fahlman posted the emoticon in a message to an online electronic bulletin board at 11:44 a.m. on Sept. 19, 1982, during a discussion about the limits of online humor and how to denote comments meant to be taken lightly. “I propose the following character sequence for joke markers: :-),” wrote Fahlman. “Read it sideways.” Several years earlier, in 1979, the “tongue-in-cheek” icon -) failed to make a similar…

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The Last Starfighter Musical at the New York Musical Theatre Festival

The New York Musical Theater Festival has some tidbits about an upcoming showing of a musical based on The Last Starfighter. Too bad I’m not really within day-trip distance of New York… this one would tempt me. My nine-year-old son would probably enjoy it, but the trip would be hard on my five-year-old daughter. Oh well… looks like the show has gotten good reviews. (Jason Scott raved geeky raves when…

Textfyre's Cornelson On An IF Resurgence

David Cornelson, interviewed in Gamasutra about his plans for marketing text-adventure games to young readers: One of the reasons IF is so fascinating is that you have this junction of programming, game design, and writing. It’s great to toy around with all three of those aspects and try to merge them into something beautiful. The reality is that most of us have one, possibly two of those capabilities at a…