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Time’s Arrow, Part 2 (#StarTrek #TNG Rewatch, Season 2, Episode 1) Data (fate preordained) scrums with skeptical Twain, that’s a-Part-2

Rewatching ST:TNG Some time has passed since Part 1, as Picard and the away team members, presenting themselves as a theatre troupe, are behind in their rent at a boarding house in 19thC San Francisco. (We already know [s5e16 “Ethics“] that LaForge’s visor lets him see through at least some playing cards, and Troi’s access to emotions and sometimes specific thoughts would presumably help her tell when players are bluffing, so presumably they could acquire plenty of money — but this script doesn’t go there.) Looking smashing in period costumes (Picard is a lamp lighter, Riker a cop, Crusher a…

WAOB MisSpelled (final episode airs)

The final episode of the fantasy/comedy audio miniseries “MisSpelled” drops today. A full voice cast, sound effects, original music, and a great story. I only wish I had met more of the cast in person!  We were churning out these recordings in groups right before the pandemic. As the lockdown eased up, I returned to the studio to record my lines separately. So I often didn’t know what some of the characters would sound like, nor exactly how they were delivering the lines I was reacting to. I often tried three or four different ways of delivering a line, trusting…

Loki’s Loop Escape Room

Great  concept for a virtual escape room devoted to debunking fake information online. For years a supplement called “Euphorigen” has been used by the very wealthy to boost brain activity and productivity. Now the Government wants to make the benefits of Euphorigen available to everyone by introducing it into the public water supply. The company that makes Euphorigen claims to have completed successful trials, and an announcement of the deal is expected shortly. But your investigator friend has suspicions, and has heard that a prominent scientist has recorded a statement on whether or not the company’s claims are to be…

Thornton Wilder’s Optimistic Catastrophe: “The Skin of Our Teeth”

From a review of a 2017 production in Brooklyn. “The Skin of Our Teeth” first opened in New Haven, at the Shubert Theatre, in 1942. It was directed by Elia Kazan, and starred Tallulah Bankhead, Fredric March, Florence Eldridge, and a very young Montgomery Clift; Variety wrote that the play “bewilders, bemuses, and befuddles, as it amuses.” When it moved to Broadway, to the Plymouth Theatre, it was met with mainly favorable reviews. Brooks Atkinson, in the Times, called it “one of the friskiest and liveliest plays written in a long time,” and Alexander Woollcott said it “was the nearest…

I’m really enjoying seeing how my students are responding to Hamlet.

As part of a class assignment, one student took some friends to see the Pittsburgh Shakespeare in the Park all-female production of Hamlet. One of her friends is from Vietnam, and my student was very proud that she could answer his questions about what was going on. Many students, even the English majors, confess that in high school they never tried to read Shakespeare’s language, but instead depended totally on modern-language paraphrases. That means that from year to year, they never got any better at understanding Shakespeare’s original language. Early in the term, I usually walk students through the first…

Trying to Tame Huck Finn

Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is one of the most frequently banned books in America. I regularly teach it in my American Lit class. I never use “the n-word” in lectures, and I remind my (mostly white) students of the power of the word, but the version of the text I assign doesn’t edit that word out. I also have students listen to an audio interpretation of Pap’s tirade, in order to draw attention to how the author uses humor to mock the most openly racist character in the book. I think they recognize the stereotyping at the beginning of the…

I’m not a big fan of Disney’s corporate greed.

I’m not a huge fan of Disney, largely because as a grad student in the 1990s, I chose the 1920-1950 time period for my dissertation based on my expectation that the literary works I studied from that time period would fall out of copyright one by one during my career. I planned to mine my dissertation, using what I learned about the literary works in that time period to create free, annotated hypertext editions of those works. I’d schedule them so that they’d appear online as the copyright dates passed, and I could reap the intellectual rewards while wearing my…

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 is not the same Scott Adams who created the carton Dilbert, by the way.) 10 Myths about Copyright Explained Online Health Websites Frequently Inaccurate And of course, something I posted…

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 Warner Brothers movie was released) The collapse of the Industry Standard (lifestyle magazine that breathlessly tracked the dot-com gold rush) A (then) new edition of Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, restoring…

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 to an audio adaptation while they read, but I also point out that our task in the classroom is to study Shakespeare’s words and the historical context in which he…

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

In June, 2001 it seems I only blogged three times…

I’m not sure what else I was doing during the month of June 2001, but I only blogged three times. All three links were dead, like tears in rain. As is my habit with all items I feature in my “I was blogging about…” series, I’ve replaced the broken links with archived content from the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine. Author “used up all the hardship” from her youth in her first novel (Satire from The Onion) Sci-Tech Web Awards 2001 (Scientific American picks what it things are the best websites) Violent video games encourage violent behavior (Contemporary Pediatrics)  

1993: Curses (Aaron A. Reed’s “50 Years of Text Games”)

The latest in Aaron A. Reed’s monumental project” 50 Years of Text Games” focuses on Graham Nelson’s programming language Inform, and in particular his game “Curses.” “You have to get a coin from the temple of zeus to buy the ekmek,” explained one responder. “To do that you need to use the rod of luck. To use the rod of luck you have to change the nature of the universe.” Gradually more and more people decided to give this new game a shot, downloading it via FTP and running it on their InfoTaskForce interpreters just to see what all the…

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

In May, 2001 I was blogging about lanuguage, design and Cliffs Notes

In May 2001, I was blogging about Business and the English language (a humorous rant against business jargon) — Clint Witchalls, Spectator Some features you may need on your computer (like “Extend Deadline” and “Read Bosses’ Minds” The Creator of Cliffs Notes has Died (though I know you won’t read his whole obituary) “Telling the Truth about Damned Lies and Statistics“ The Gist Generation –Jeff Barbian Bad Design Can Be Costly –Jef Raskin, Forbes  

Breaking up with your favorite racist childhood classic books

A good article analyzes the strong cultural reactions to voluntary changes made by the companies that manage the “Potato Head” toy line and the books of Dr. Seuss. Cries of “censorship” and “cancel culture” rallied passionate citizens who defended their nostalgic memories of childhood and sought targets for their rage. I just read an article on new allegations against Peter Yarrow. I knew that he was convicted of sexually assaulting a 14yo, though I didn’t remember he was pardoned by Jimmy Carter. When I teach Shakespeare I emphasize that yes, he was a product of his times, but that his…