Scarecrow, Tin Man, Dorothy, and the Cowardly Lion approach Emerald City in this still from The Wizard of Oz

The Hidden Subversive Messages of [MGM’s Screen Adaptation of] The Wizard of Oz

When I tried teaching The Wizard of Oz in a literature class, I was a little frustrated with myself that I couldn’t bring the class discussion much farther than “how this book is different from the movie” and lists of one-to-one symbolism (“the yellow brick road represents the gold standard,” or  ‘the scarecrow represents agriculture, the tin man represents industry, and the cowardly lion represents the military”).  Part of my…

The grandmaster diet: How to lose weight while barely moving

Fascinating article about how the extreme stress of chess tournaments affects the bodies of grandmasters. At 5-foot-6, Caruana has a lean frame, his legs angular and toned. He also has a packed schedule for the day: a 5-mile run, an hour of tennis, half an hour of basketball and at least an hour of swimming. As he’s jogging, it’s easy to mistake him for a soccer player. But he is…

Elementary, Dear Data (TNG Rewatch: Season 2, Episode 3)

Rewatching Star Trek: The Next Generation after a 20-year break. LaForge works on his model ship in main engineering (?) and invites Data to enjoy a Sherlock Holmes holodeck adventure. Sounds fun, but a slow start, with low stakes. We can forgive the director for spending a lot of time showing the characters reacting to the richly detailed Victorian set. It was probably not cheap to build. I have to…

The history of Tetris randomizers

A pleasantly detailed analysis of how the various editions of Tetris chose what piece was next. In 1985, Alexey Pajitnov and Vadim Gerasimov released Tetris to the public. This fun and highly addictive game challenged players to fit pieces together that were dealt in a random order. Since then, over 150 licensed versions of Tetris games have been released. Varying in game modes, rules, and implementations, they all play slightly—or very—differently. In…