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Cause and Effect (#StarTrek #TNG Rewatch, Season 5, Episode 18) time loop. Ka-boom. The Enterprise is trapped in a

Rewatching ST:TNG A smart, character-driven story that follows the crew of the Enterprise-D through a short time loop (about a year before Bill Murray did something similar in “Groundhog Day”). After a chaotic teaser that ends with the Enterprise-D blowing to smithereens, we get a routine Captain’s Log, a relaxed poker game where Crusher impressively calls Riker’s bluff, a dizzy LaForge visiting sickbay, a humming Crusher hearing odd voices at…

Appreciating the production values and so-stupid-it-might-be-brilliant comedy in Avatar: The Last Airbender

The daughter is showing my wife and me “Avatar: The Last Airbender.” It’s not easy to find a time when we can all sit down together, but we’re managing to watch one a week. (Today we watched two. Not exactly binge-watching, I know.) I’m not particularly a fan of the weird blend of American comics and Japanimation, but I do like the charming hand-drawn feel. I find myself getting a…

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That time three-year-old me spotted a Mary Cassatt painting at the Art Institute of Chicago

My mother had a framed print of Mary Cassatt’s “The Child’s Bath” in our home. When I was about three, she took the family to a Cassatt exhibition at the Art Institute of Chicago. As she pushed my stroller through the museum, I suddenly perked up and started shouting, “Mary Cassatt! Mary Cassatt!” I had spotted the original picture hanging on the wall. I probably thought Mary Cassatt was the…

Reuben Klamer, designer of Trek’s “phaser rifle” and Milton-Bradley’s “The Game Of Life” dead at 99

Although more modern-looking rifles appeared as props in ST:The Next Generation and later iterations, the iconic phaser rifle only appeared in the second pilot, the first to feature William Shatner and the character James Kirk. Reuben Klamer, the inventor of Milton Bradley’s The Game of Life board game and the designer of a Starfleet phaser rifle for the original Star Trek TV series, died at his home in La Jolla,…

Dennis G. Jerz | Associate Professor of English -- New Media Journalism, Seton Hill University | jerz.setonhill.edu Logo

In September, 2001 I was blogging about…

With a grant from UWEC, I was able to invite foundational computer game designer Scott Adams to a seminar on Storytelling in Computer Games. I used tiny analog tape recorder at the speaker’s podium, and later worked with my student Matt Hoy to post a hyperlinked transcript to go along with the audio. (This was really cutting edge stuff 20 years ago, and I’m glad the site still works. This…

Star Trek Graphic Design: Six journalists and surprising discoveries about their agency logos and costumes

After an intense 2 weeks prepping for fall classes, I’m all set. So when I woke up this morning I lazed in bed, and my thoughts wandered to the scene in Star Trek: Generations where a pack of reporters interview Kirk on the bridge. I started wondering whether the logos from that scene were one-off designs, or part of the greater Trek continuity. Ex Astris Scientia did not disappoint. At…

Dennis G. Jerz | Associate Professor of English -- New Media Journalism, Seton Hill University | jerz.setonhill.edu Logo

In August, 2001 I was blogging about…

Broken Links and Poor Information Architecture (and of course the link to that article had broken, and the site taken over by low-value clickbait… but the Internet Archive preserved the original article) Helvetica Bold Oblique Sweeps Fontys (satire from the Onion, from an alternate timeline where typefaces get the respect they deserve) Boys and handwriting (from “equal-but-different” feminist Christina Hoff Summers) Velma from Scooby-Doo (a year or so before the…

Sights, Sounds, and Smells of Elizabethan Theater

Somewhere during my education I picked upon the meme that “Shakespeare’s contemporaries referred to ‘hearing’ a play, not ‘seeing’ a play,” and I regularly trot it out to emphasize how growing up in an auditory culture meant that the average Elizabethan probably got a lot more out of casually attending a Shakespeare play than the average student gets from studying an annotated script. Practically speaking, I encourage students to listen…

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Blender 3D Flyover of Fantasy Steampunk Spacecraft

When my kids were small, at bedtime we had interactive “blimpship stories,” set in a steampunk world. I would set up the latest plot developments, each child would pick a character they wanted to focus on, and I would play the DM as we role-played for 15-30 minutes. These stories grew amazingly complex and developed story arcs that lasted for years. For a while, the kids were pulling apart their…

Steampunk flag for the United States of Britannia (from the alternate history my kids and I made up during bedtime stories)

In the steampunk world my kids and I made up for bedtime stories (from about 2007-2013), Benjamin Franklin’s discovery of ether technology was the bargaining chip that forced King George to grant the 13 colonies full membership in the new kingdom of United States of Britannia. I’m working on a Blender3D model of the flagship where most of our interactive stories took place, and I realized I needed to design…