August Wilson House officially opens in Pittsburgh’s Hill District

The August Wilson House officially opened over the weekend in a tearful and emotional ceremony, bringing over 500 residents, celebrities, officials, and local Black leaders to Pittsburgh’s Hill District. The Bedford Avenue childhood home of Hill District native August Wilson, one of the greatest playwrights in history, was unveiled as a new community arts center, with a goal of connecting Black artists across the city. “I want to thank the community because he is yours and you are his,” said award-winning actor Denzel Washington, who returned to Pittsburgh for the event after taking part in a community ground blessing of…

The Wedding Present

I’m approaching day 900 in my Duolingo adventure in German. (I have no practical reason for this study. It was a routine I could keep up during the COVID-19 lockdown.) Latin is seductive—the consummate logic of its syntactical cases, the mercurial dance of the ablative absolute. It retains muscle in its ruins (Cicero) and tragic beauty in its posthumous throes (Virgil). The subtleties of the Greek middle voice, neither active nor passive, roam through The Iliad and The Odyssey. And Hebrew, an ancient yet living language newly revivified, has the elastic trinity of its three-letter root, which, when prefixes and suffixes are attached,…

State officials: Bushy Run staff must consult with Native groups before staging reenactments

When my kids were younger, trips to Busy Run (and other local historical sites) were often a big part of starting a new year of home-schooling. If historic Bushy Run Battlefield Park intends to host future reenactments or programs portraying Native Americans, park management first will have to consult with appropriate Native groups. That’s the policy of the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, which oversees the Penn Township park. The commission says it also must approve of any such activities in writing. Questions about Bushy Run’s reenactments arose when a man who lives in another state and is of Native…

Tales from the Antiquities Theft Task Force

A shot of Kim Kardashian leaning against an Egyptian coffin at the 2018 Met Gala by Landon Nordeman exposes his subject in a flash of light—though perhaps not the subject anyone expected. Out of the thousands upon thousands who saw the shot, one happened to be more interested in the gold coffin than Kim’s (heavenly) body in gold Versace. He had looted the coffin seven years earlier but was never paid for his spoils. And it was now sitting in the Met. Angry and in possession of receipts, he fired off an anonymous email to the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office to tip…

White antiracist hero: “A hired killer fired a bullet right at Cassius’ chest… just as Cassius was unsheathing his bowie knife, which took the hit and saved his life.”

What a story!   Sharing stories like this (that is, white abolitionists who stood up against whites deeply invested in the racist status quo), is probably something that makes racists annoyed.   Like the various assassination attempts Cassius Marcellus Clay survived, or the time a tour group of 60 proud supporters of the status quo casually toured themselves through the barricaded, armored doors of his abolitionist newspaper and percussively redecorated the interior (and in the process reconfiguring his printing press into a special, non-functioning mode).   The stories of white abolitionists are of course only one part of history; but…

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Whispers of the Past-Herb Morrison and the Hindenburg

In this short documentary, I voice Herb Morrison, the radio reporter famous for narrating the 1937 crash of the Hindenberg — 85 years ago this month. It was an honor to learn more about this man (born in nearby Scottdale, Pa.) and to interpret his words. Local history can be so fascinating! Herb Morrison, native of Scottdale, PA, witnessed the first air disaster in US history in 1937. While that is part of his life story, that’s not all Morrison did in his life. The story recounts his life and features his memories of the disaster.  

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

In May, 2002, I was blogging about… typefaces in period movies; poets Paul Dirac and Stewart Conn; web usability; fired for making a satirical game

In May, 2002, I was blogging about Rating historical movies on how accurately they represent period typefaces The average UK reader spends 17 minutes a day reading a newspaper, compared to 11 minutes reading a novel. Paul Dirac, honorary poet laureate of modern physics. Student web project on poet Stewart Conn’s “Luncheon of the Boating Party” Fired for making a game (a government meat popsicle creates a satirical game that his superiors never bothered to play) Creator of Nancy Drew dies at 96 Why won’t we read the manual? Put a search box on your home page, not just a…

Nellie Bly statue to be unveiled at Pittsburgh airport Thursday

In 1889, Bly became famous for an-around-the-world journey she completed in a world-record 72 days, 11 minutes, and 14 seconds after her departure on a steamship from New York. The journey was inspired by Jules Verne’s widely read novel “Around the World in 80 Days.” Bly chronicled her travels in a series of articles for the New York World newspaper and ended up writing a book of her own, “Around the World in Seventy-Two Days,” published in 1890. She was born as Elizabeth Jane Cochran near present-day Burrell Township in Armstrong County in 1864. Source: Nellie Bly statue to be…

Windows 3.1 Turns 30: Here’s How It Made Windows Essential

After watching all the episodes of the 80s/90s Star Trek: TNG, with the beautifully designed fictional LCARS computer interfaces, it’s amazing to look at what actual computer interfaces looked like in the early 90s. (OK, the Macs of that era looked prettier.) 30 years ago—on April 6, 1992—Microsoft released Windows 3.1, which brought the company to a new level of success, kept the PC platform competitive with Macs, and set the stage for Windows PC domination. Here’s what was special about it. –Benj Edwards, How-To Geek

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

In April, 2002, I was blogging about an autistic person’s guide to asking a girl on a date; The Inform 6 Beginner’s Guide; broken links;

In April, 2002, I was blogging about Instructions for “Asking a Girl on a Date” (autistics.org) The Inform Beginner’s Guide (I edited this book on programming text adventure games in Inform 6) Broken Links: Just How Rapidly do Science Education Hyperlinks Go Extinct? (yes, the link was broken but I linked to the backup on the Internet Archive) Faking It: Sex, Lies and Women’s Magazines “Prenatal memory and learning” (language acquisition begins before birth) “Did I Miss Anything?” (poet’s creative response to a “question frequently asked by students after missing a class”) A Salon article mocking the New York Times…

It’s “Alexander’s Ragtime Band” 111th birthday

Interesting introduction to the history of musical annotation and copyright. The journey to that sheet music copyright began with Greek and Roman grammarians; they had developed signs to guide declamation (high voice, low voice and falling voice). Musicians adapted those signs to “[indicate] the contour of a melody.” This provided “a memory aid to singers who knew words and melody by heart.” In the mid-1000s, medieval music scholar and teacher Guido of Arezzo decided there needed to be a better way to teach novices. Consequently, he “revolutionized the music education methods of his time.” His innovations made it possible to read music, for a signer to perform a chant that he had…

Ernest Shackleton’s ship Endurance, lost since 1915, is found off Antarctica

An expedition that set out in search of the lost ship of polar explorer Ernest Shackleton has found it — 106 years after the vessel sank off Antarctica. The wooden ship Endurance has been located remarkably intact about 10,000 feet underwater in the Weddell Sea. The find is “a milestone in polar history,” said Mensun Bound, a maritime archaeologist and the director of exploration on the expedition, called Endurance22. “This is by far the finest wooden shipwreck I have ever seen. It is upright, well proud of the seabed, intact and in a brilliant state of preservation. You can even see ‘Endurance’…

Jerry Lewis’s Costars Speak Out: “He Grabbed Me. He Began to Fondle Me. I Was Dumbstruck”

As a kid I watched Jerry Lewis movies when they turned up on the local independent TV channels, and typically when I was home from school on  Labor Day, I would watch at least part of his muscular dystrophy telethons. I’m saddened to read allegations about yet another established male professional using his position of power to manipulate a younger female artist by demanding sexual favors. Demanding? Requesting? Suggesting? Semantics. The huge power differential makes anything resembling “consent” very problematic. Leading lady Karen Sharpe reports that after she resisted a crude sexual overture from Lewis, she found herself punished with…

The overlooked masterpieces of 1922

In literature the response to the challenges and opportunities of the early 20th Century was Modernism – the rejection of traditional linear storytelling and the use of more challenging styles to reflect the new world – and its annus mirabilis is usually seen as 1922. It was an apt time for breakthroughs: the same year saw, among other world-defining events, the appointment of Joseph Stalin as General Secretary of the Communist Party in Russia, the first treatment of diabetes using insulin, and the creation of the BBC. In literary terms, this was the year stamped at one end by James Joyce’s novel Ulysses…

Why Marlon Brando’s Streetcar Co-Stars Couldn’t Stand Him

Williams’ last play, The Glass Menagerie, had been a hit, but Streetcar was still a risk. A name star would make the show a surer thing. Besides, wasn’t this kid too young for the part? Kazan persisted. Selznick agreed to cast Brando, but only if they could get him to audition for Williams at the playwright’s house in Provincetown. Brando told Kazan he had no money to make the trip. Kazan gave the young actor bus fare and told Williams to expect him. Brando was always irresponsible, but his irresponsibility reached spectacular heights when he was ambivalent and conflicted, as he was about…

I just had some fun spotting a possible source of the word “dongle” (the plug-in security device)

The word “dongle” has long existed as a representation of the sound of a bell, and it seems in the very early 80s it acquired the meaning of “a plug-in computer security device,” but in a 1970s magazine devoted to recreational model building, “dingle” and “dongle” were terms denoting components that needed to be connected. When someone needed a word for “a small plug-in device that would make software run,” perhaps they were thinking of this existing usage. Found this 1970 "American Modeler" magazine article, that gives "dingle" and "dongle" as placeholders for components to be connected, but I can't…

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In February, 2002, I was blogging about…

In February, 2002, I was  logging about Robert E. McElwaine was a conspiracy theorist who had a habit of spamming multiple newsgroups with his political, religious, and social ideas. He used an account at the University of Wisconsin Eau Claire, and was very active until around the time I started teaching at that school. Animator Chuck Jones, who brought to life Bugs Bunny and the Road Runner, dies at 89. (No, he was neither squashed by a falling safe nor run over by an Acme Indestructo Steel Ball.) Palindromatic dates:”The year 2002. The 20th day of the 2nd month, 2002.…