I’m enjoying “William Shakespeare’s Star Wars” more than I expected

I didn’t expect a pseudo-Elizabethan rendering of Star Wars to be great literature, but the R2 soliloquies add an unexpectedly amusing new narrative layer. So far, I can say the “Chorus” character is overused, too frequently walking onstage and delivering lines of exposition that ought instead be woven into the expanded dialogue between the characters. An Elizabethan drama was a medium for the spoken word, and having a narrator walk…


Star Trek: The Menagerie

Just finished watching a two-part episode of classic Star Trek. I know all the old episodes backwards and forwards, since as a kid I made audiocassette tapes of the after-school reruns, and listened to them over and over. (The writers were never confident that the special effects would be any good, so a character always says, “Captain, the enemy vessel is approaching,” narrating whatever is supposed to be happening. With…

Family catch and eat octopus with six tentacles during Greek vacation

I keep a silly personal blog devoted to a six-legged toy that both my kids have outgrown but which still amuses me. I sometimes use that blog, and that toy, in classroom activities, and occasionally students develop an affection for what I called a “hectopus” (combining “hexagon” with “octopus,” though I concede “hexapus” would have been a better choice). Anyway, one of my former students sent me this story about…


How Will Historians of the Future Run MS Word 97? How Can We Save It for Them?

Just as early filmmakers couldn’t have predicted the level of ongoing interest in their work more than 100 years later, who can say what future generations will find important to know and preserve about the early history of software? While the notion that someone might go diving into some long outmoded version of Word might seem improbable, knowledge of the human past turns up in all kinds of unexpected places.…

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The Chicago Tribune Has Made the Best Internet Mistake of the Day

Every second is a deadline, every instant is a potential publication. Mistakes like this happen, and a healthy organization focuses on how to fix the system to avoid the problem, rather than on whom to blame. It looks as though they’ve fixed it, but for a glorious 16 minutes this was the Chicago Tribune homepage. It is self-evidently wonderful, but let’s still talk about just how wonderful it is. via…


Victorian Literature for Accounting Majors

If I can get the English majors in my news writing class interested in the statistics unit, I’ll be very happy indeed. “When I first realized that I had signed up to be in what is essentially an English class with only accounting majors, I expected the conversation and discussion of the books we read to be lacking in depth and analysis,” said Elizabeth Applin, a senior. “I did not…

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13: The Musical Promo

Here are some clips from a heartfelt, belty ballad that my daughter and her good friend will be singing this weekend in “13: The Musical.” They’ll each be playing the part of Patrice (the protagonist’s love interest) on different nights. The song is “The Lamest Place in the World.” We spent a fun afternoon filming around town.  

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How My Mom Killed Facebook

Lest you think this is just a complicated revenge scheme against my mom (which, let’s be clear, it is), it’s this exact phenomenon that keeps driving Facebook’s user engagement numbers down. Far more than the fears about future employment, more than the creepy coworker who “likes” all your bikini pictures, it is the fear of awkward conversations with our relatives that keeps us from posting to Facebook. This fear is…