When I was an active and devoted Boy Scout, I was asked a question about the Scout Law that I couldn’t adequately answer at the time. This is the answer that occurred to me years later, and I’m only now writing it down.
As much as I enjoy the Wheel of Time adaptation on Amazon, there was one small (?) change to the starting circumstances of one of the characters that did not sit right with me. Whereas many of the changes in the show streamline the storytelling and humanize the characters, this one undermined one of the character’s most distinct character traits.
“Show, don’t tell,” goes the old adage. Thankfully, that truism is losing power. One of the early episodes of The Wheel of Time does an excellent job demonstrating how those two modes do not have to be mutually exclusive. (This will contain some light spoilers, but only for the first episode.)
A brief rundown of the hardware, software, and other accoutrements I use to facilitate teaching college-level courses from home, though this setup could be used in many lines of work.
My college will soon resume face-to-face instruction. I’m 50% vaccinated. How do I feel about either of those things? I don’t know. But the point is that even though teaching from home has been a big part of my life in the last year, I’m soon to be returning to the classroom. However, like a lot of colleges (community colleges in particular), I think my school will be keeping more elements than expected from this year of online only. At least, I hope they will. I’ll miss parts of online teaching–particularly, the ability to offer niche courses that actually make enrollment, since they’re accessible to every tech-equipped student in the HCCS area, as opposed to only those students with regular transit to my specific campus. Furthermore, despite the increase in vaccinations, the pandemic is not over, so I do not think the online-only classroom will be disappearing any time soon. To that end, I just wanted to share the system I’ve kludged together to work from home.
A fun, brief speculation about Back to the Future, pt II.
A couple of my more abiding interests are anachronisms (the subject of my dissertation) and time travel (a lifelong fascination). These two things have combined recently in an academic article I’m working on which combines the too and brings in a little alternate-history fiction for good measure. In this article (which, happily, is nearly finished) one text I get a lot of mileage out of using is Back to the Future, part II (henceforth, BF2). Now, I don’t share my time-travel thoughts on here as often as I thought I would when I set up this blog–I had originally intended to make an entry for every story in Jeff and Ann Vandermeer’s wonderful anthology The Time Traveler’s Almanac. The reason is this: since time-travel literature is an academic interest, most of the time I end up wanting to put my time-travel thoughts into an academic publication. But sometimes the thought is silly enough, or too insubstantial for such a publication, that I feel free to share it here, instead. This is one of those thoughts.
Since May is Mental Health Awareness Month, here’s part of my own story.
Star Trek: The Next Generation first aired the same year I started school, and continued through about sixth or seventh grade. I was aware of TNG before the original series. And no, I didn’t think to ask why it was called “The Next Generation.” I was five.
In a gripping detective story filled with well-earned reversals and revelations, the biggest surprise is a twist that doesn’t come.
Full disclosure: Mat Johnson, author of Incognegro and Incognegro: Renaissance is a friend of mine. Not to say we are on each other’s Christmas lists, but we were former colleagues and he’s just generally genial. I have also been mistaken for him by three separate individuals, which I think has more to say about the strangeness of the universe than about either of us, because neither of us look remotely similar to each other. But that’s a story for another time. He was on the Creative Writing faculty of the University of Houston when I was there, and though I was not a Creative Writing student, I did have him for a single course: a speculative-fiction-themed section of Writers on Literature. (In seven years of graduate study at two universities, and four years of undergrad at a third [first?], this was actually the only science-fiction-focused course I ever took.) This revelation is, in all probability, completely irrelevant.
I’m presently working on a blog post about Johnson and Pleece’s Incognegro: Renaissance. Some of my comments are quite enthusiastic. The day after I started working on that, I tweeted about The City in the Middle of the Night, the Charlie Jane Anders novel I’m currently reading. I said Anders “could have written Les Miserables as a haiku without losing any of the emotion or weight.” Of course it’s a bit of enthusiastic puffery, but between that and my rather unrestrained opinions in Renaissance, it got me thinking about enthusiasm in the academy.
Here I am, late to the party as usual. There’s that line in Stephen Sondheim’s Company, “Does anybody still wear a hat?” Each time that show is done, it is customized and modernized–and rightly so! But it’s a wonder Sondheim hasn’t signed off on the lyrical update, “Does anybody still write a blog?”