Showing posts with label Popular Culture. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Popular Culture. Show all posts

Review: Difficult Men: Behind the Scenes of a Creative Revolution: From The Sopranos and The Wire to Mad Men and Breaking Bad

Difficult Men: Behind the Scenes of a Creative Revolution: From The Sopranos and The Wire to Mad Men and Breaking Bad Difficult Men: Behind the Scenes of a Creative Revolution: From The Sopranos and The Wire to Mad Men and Breaking Bad by Brett Martin
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Martin explores the history of dramatic television in the last two decades, defining it as the third golden age of television. The title refers to the defining feature of this third golden age in that both onscreen in the form of lead characters and off-stage in the form of the rise of the "show-runner" writer is universally male. In tracing the history of many of the most famous and genre-defining shows, Martin shows how the leading characters (Tony Soprano, Vick Mackey, Don Draper, Walter White and others) are men in constant desire of power in a variety of forms and willing to do harm to achieve it. They are contrasted with often more complicated but still flawed creators and writers who are also trying to leave their own mark on the world. Taken together, the book holds up a fascinating mirror to the American culture and in particular, males. It's a nice slice of Americana, gender studies (though not necessarily too overt), and cultural history.

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CFP: 4th Call: Teaching Popular Culture

The final reminder, I swear!  The deadline is approaching so be sure to get in your questions and submissions soon!

I am the Chair for the Teaching Popular Culture area for the Northeast Popular Culture Association (NEPCA).  As someone who teaches a course, specifically on popular culture, I am always interested in seeing and hearing what others are doing.  

I also tend to look at the Teaching Popular Culture area as a bit different than the other areas which are research focused.  I see this area more along the lines of providing some professional development, feedback, and reflection around how we employ popular culture in the classroom.  I feel like this is an often under-attended element of popular culture studies: how we meaningfully engage with it with our students.  

Therefore, I'm quite interested in hearing from people and encourage anyone who may teach a popular culture focused course or use popular culture in interesting and useful ways to put in a proposal.  Here are a few of the formats that I'm interested in seeing and/or participating in.  If you have questions or thoughts around these, please don't hesitate to contact me:  lance.eaton@gmail.com.  

Round-Table of Popular Culture and Teaching

Those who teach a popular-culture-focused course (specifically about popular culture or thematically structured around popular culture) can discuss some of the challenges, benefits, and experiences in teaching such a course.  I imagine this format entailing a list of questions that the participants can go through followed up with questions by attendees.  I would also think we could capture the comments and produce some kind of interesting resource for the NEPCA website.  


Panel on Teaching

If you and other faculty teach a similar topic, area of popular culture, or have different strategies and approaches that you want to illustrate, a proposed full panel about teaching on popular culture is of great interest.  

Panel on Teaching Popular Culture Online

I'll throw my hat into the ring with this one.  I'm really interested in working with and presenting with other faculty who have or regularly teach popular culture (or focus in some ways on popular culture) in an online environment.  I think there is a lot to discuss and explore with regards to this topic and would encourage anyone else in this vein to reach out to me.  

Individual Presentations on Strategies, Approaches, Resources

Honestly, if you've got something related to teaching and popular culture, please submit a proposal.  Every year that I've done this, we get some really fantastic presentations on a range of great topics relating to teaching and popular culture.  If you're stuck on the fence or need someone to brainstorm and flesh out your proposal a bit more, feel free to reach out to me and we'll see what we can come up with.  


First Call NEPCA 2017


Blog post in a word cloud in the form of an appleThe Northeast Popular/American Culture Association (NEPCA) announces its first call for paper proposals for its annual conference. The 2017 conference will be held on the campus of the University of Massachusetts Amherst the weekend of October 27-28, 2017.    

NEPCA is soliciting proposals dealing with all aspects of popular culture and American culture, broadly construed. NEPCA welcomes both individual papers and complete panels. We also encourage works in progress, and informal presentations. The only restrictions on presentations are that:

The proposal should be rooted in research. We do not automatically exclude original poetry, composed works of fiction, or musical/dance/storytelling performance, but such works must be connected to greater theoretical and research frameworks.
NEPCA generally avoids proposals whose intent is overtly commercial.
Proposals should appeal to a broad audience.


NEPCA conferences welcome graduate students, junior faculty, independent researchers, and senior faculty as equals. NEPCA prides itself on offering intimate and nurturing sessions in which new ideas and works-in-progress can be aired, as well as completed projects. NEPCA is dedicated to expanding intellectual horizons, open engagement, and constructive criticism. 

Papers are generally 15-20 minutes in length. NEPCA discourages (but does not forbid) verbatim reading of papers and strongly encourages creative delivery of papers. 

This fall it will also feature shorter presentations in pecha kucha style in which presenters show a total of 20 slides–one every 20 seconds (total presentation time: less than 7 minutes). The idea behind pecha kucha is for scholars to present material quickly so that discussion and new ideas can ensue. It is an ideal form for research in progress! 

The deadline for applications is June 1, 2017. The Program Chair for 2017 is Professor Marty Norden of the UMass Communications Department but, for tracking and logistical purposes, proposals must be submitted to an online Google Form that can be found on NEPCA's Website: https://nepca.blog/2017-conference/ This pages also includes a link to area chairs who can assist in any questions you have about your proposal. 



Did you enjoy this read? Let me know your thoughts down below or feel free to browse around and check out some of my other posts!. You might also want to keep up to date with my blog by signing up for them via email.

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

CFP: 3rd Call: Teaching Popular Culture

More CFPs are coming and I'm getting quite excited!  Here's another reminder for those looking to submit something!

I am the Chair for the Teaching Popular Culture area for the Northeast Popular Culture Association (NEPCA).  As someone who teaches a course, specifically on popular culture, I am always interested in seeing and hearing what others are doing.  

I also tend to look at the Teaching Popular Culture area as a bit different than the other areas which are research focused.  I see this area more along the lines of providing some professional development, feedback, and reflection around how we employ popular culture in the classroom.  I feel like this is an often under-attended element of popular culture studies: how we meaningfully engage with it with our students.  

Therefore, I'm quite interested in hearing from people and encourage anyone who may teach a popular culture focused course or use popular culture in interesting and useful ways to put in a proposal.  Here are a few of the formats that I'm interested in seeing and/or participating in.  If you have questions or thoughts around these, please don't hesitate to contact me:  lance.eaton@gmail.com.  

Round-Table of Popular Culture and Teaching

Those who teach a popular-culture-focused course (specifically about popular culture or thematically structured around popular culture) can discuss some of the challenges, benefits, and experiences in teaching such a course.  I imagine this format entailing a list of questions that the participants can go through followed up with questions by attendees.  I would also think we could capture the comments and produce some kind of interesting resource for the NEPCA website.  


Panel on Teaching

If you and other faculty teach a similar topic, area of popular culture, or have different strategies and approaches that you want to illustrate, a proposed full panel about teaching on popular culture is of great interest.  

Panel on Teaching Popular Culture Online

I'll throw my hat into the ring with this one.  I'm really interested in working with and presenting with other faculty who have or regularly teach popular culture (or focus in some ways on popular culture) in an online environment.  I think there is a lot to discuss and explore with regards to this topic and would encourage anyone else in this vein to reach out to me.  

Individual Presentations on Strategies, Approaches, Resources

Honestly, if you've got something related to teaching and popular culture, please submit a proposal.  Every year that I've done this, we get some really fantastic presentations on a range of great topics relating to teaching and popular culture.  If you're stuck on the fence or need someone to brainstorm and flesh out your proposal a bit more, feel free to reach out to me and we'll see what we can come up with.  


First Call NEPCA 2017


Blog post in a word cloud in the form of an appleThe Northeast Popular/American Culture Association (NEPCA) announces its first call for paper proposals for its annual conference. The 2017 conference will be held on the campus of the University of Massachusetts Amherst the weekend of October 27-28, 2017.    

NEPCA is soliciting proposals dealing with all aspects of popular culture and American culture, broadly construed. NEPCA welcomes both individual papers and complete panels. We also encourage works in progress, and informal presentations. The only restrictions on presentations are that:

The proposal should be rooted in research. We do not automatically exclude original poetry, composed works of fiction, or musical/dance/storytelling performance, but such works must be connected to greater theoretical and research frameworks.
NEPCA generally avoids proposals whose intent is overtly commercial.
Proposals should appeal to a broad audience.


NEPCA conferences welcome graduate students, junior faculty, independent researchers, and senior faculty as equals. NEPCA prides itself on offering intimate and nurturing sessions in which new ideas and works-in-progress can be aired, as well as completed projects. NEPCA is dedicated to expanding intellectual horizons, open engagement, and constructive criticism. 

Papers are generally 15-20 minutes in length. NEPCA discourages (but does not forbid) verbatim reading of papers and strongly encourages creative delivery of papers. 

This fall it will also feature shorter presentations in pecha kucha style in which presenters show a total of 20 slides–one every 20 seconds (total presentation time: less than 7 minutes). The idea behind pecha kucha is for scholars to present material quickly so that discussion and new ideas can ensue. It is an ideal form for research in progress! 

The deadline for applications is June 1, 2017. The Program Chair for 2017 is Professor Marty Norden of the UMass Communications Department but, for tracking and logistical purposes, proposals must be submitted to an online Google Form that can be found on NEPCA's Website: https://nepca.blog/2017-conference/ This pages also includes a link to area chairs who can assist in any questions you have about your proposal. 



Did you enjoy this read? Let me know your thoughts down below or feel free to browse around and check out some of my other posts!. You might also want to keep up to date with my blog by signing up for them via email. 

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Review: Of Dice and Men: The Story of Dungeons & Dragons and the People Who Play It

Of Dice and Men: The Story of Dungeons & Dragons and the People Who Play It Of Dice and Men: The Story of Dungeons & Dragons and the People Who Play It by David M. Ewalt
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I was always fascinated with but never got the chance to explore playing Dungeons and Dragons and other role-playing games. I did fall in love with role-playing games on video game systems and the fantasy genre for books, films, and comics so there was always a hope and interest in getting the chance to play, but the possibility never availed itself. So reading Ewalt's book on the topic was informative and inspiring for the most part. His history of the game from its birth to the current state of role-playing games coupled with his own personal journey towards, away, and back again to role-playing game made for a great story. He does slip, a bit problematically I think, into representing that game as borderline addicting, a cliche that is long overdue and annoying when it comes to games and gaming in general. But if you can disregard that element, the book has some great explanations and considerations about the power and engagement that role playing games.

View all my reviews



Did you enjoy this read? Let me know your thoughts down below or feel free to browse around and check out some of my other posts!. You might also want to keep up to date with my blog by signing up for them via email. 

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

CFP: 2nd Call: Teaching Popular Culture

So the submissions are starting to trickle in so I thought I would take the opportunity to remind people about this CFP!  I am the Chair for the Teaching Popular Culture area for the Northeast Popular Culture Association (NEPCA).  As someone who teaches a course, specifically on popular culture, I am always interested in seeing and hearing what others are doing.  

I also tend to look at the Teaching Popular Culture area as a bit different than the other areas which are research focused.  I see this area more along the lines of providing some professional development, feedback, and reflection around how we employ popular culture in the classroom.  I feel like this is an often under-attended element of popular culture studies: how we meaningfully engage with it with our students.  

Therefore, I'm quite interested in hearing from people and encourage anyone who may teach a popular culture focused course or use popular culture in interesting and useful ways to put in a proposal.  Here are a few of the formats that I'm interested in seeing and/or participating in.  If you have questions or thoughts around these, please don't hesitate to contact me:  lance.eaton@gmail.com.  

Round-Table of Popular Culture and Teaching

Those who teach a popular-culture-focused course (specifically about popular culture or thematically structured around popular culture) can discuss some of the challenges, benefits, and experiences in teaching such a course.  I imagine this format entailing a list of questions that the participants can go through followed up with questions by attendees.  I would also think we could capture the comments and produce some kind of interesting resource for the NEPCA website.  


Panel on Teaching

If you and other faculty teach a similar topic, area of popular culture, or have different strategies and approaches that you want to illustrate, a proposed full panel about teaching on popular culture is of great interest.  

Panel on Teaching Popular Culture Online

I'll throw my hat into the ring with this one.  I'm really interested in working with and presenting with other faculty who have or regularly teach popular culture (or focus in some ways on popular culture) in an online environment.  I think there is a lot to discuss and explore with regards to this topic and would encourage anyone else in this vein to reach out to me.  

Individual Presentations on Strategies, Approaches, Resources

Honestly, if you've got something related to teaching and popular culture, please submit a proposal.  Every year that I've done this, we get some really fantastic presentations on a range of great topics relating to teaching and popular culture.  If you're stuck on the fence or need someone to brainstorm and flesh out your proposal a bit more, feel free to reach out to me and we'll see what we can come up with.  

First Call NEPCA 2017


Blog post in a word cloud in the form of an appleThe Northeast Popular/American Culture Association (NEPCA) announces its first call for paper proposals for its annual conference. The 2017 conference will be held on the campus of the University of Massachusetts Amherst the weekend of October 27-28, 2017.    

NEPCA is soliciting proposals dealing with all aspects of popular culture and American culture, broadly construed. NEPCA welcomes both individual papers and complete panels. We also encourage works in progress, and informal presentations. The only restrictions on presentations are that:

The proposal should be rooted in research. We do not automatically exclude original poetry, composed works of fiction, or musical/dance/storytelling performance, but such works must be connected to greater theoretical and research frameworks.
NEPCA generally avoids proposals whose intent is overtly commercial.
Proposals should appeal to a broad audience.


NEPCA conferences welcome graduate students, junior faculty, independent researchers, and senior faculty as equals. NEPCA prides itself on offering intimate and nurturing sessions in which new ideas and works-in-progress can be aired, as well as completed projects. NEPCA is dedicated to expanding intellectual horizons, open engagement, and constructive criticism. 

Papers are generally 15-20 minutes in length. NEPCA discourages (but does not forbid) verbatim reading of papers and strongly encourages creative delivery of papers. 

This fall it will also feature shorter presentations in pecha kucha style in which presenters show a total of 20 slides–one every 20 seconds (total presentation time: less than 7 minutes). The idea behind pecha kucha is for scholars to present material quickly so that discussion and new ideas can ensue. It is an ideal form for research in progress! 

The deadline for applications is June 1, 2017. The Program Chair for 2017 is Professor Marty Norden of the UMass Communications Department but, for tracking and logistical purposes, proposals must be submitted to an online Google Form that can be found on NEPCA's Website: https://nepca.blog/2017-conference/ This pages also includes a link to area chairs who can assist in any questions you have about your proposal. 




Did you enjoy this read? Let me know your thoughts down below or feel free to browse around and check out some of my other posts!. You might also want to keep up to date with my blog by signing up for them via email. 

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Reality & Continuity, Or Why 9/11 Reveals Some Insights About Live-Action Superheroes

The following is an except of a blog post, I wrote for Jeremy Flagg's blog in celebration of his upcoming superhero novel, Nighthawks.


Word cloud of this post in the form of a person reading a book.
Superheroes aren’t real. (Gasp, I think one may have just died because I said that). They aren’t, but the rise of realism in comic storytelling that emerged in the second half of the 20th century, means that readers demand realistic elements to the storytelling. Even though our capes are walking deus-ex-machinas, we prefer the veneer that all things are genuine struggles for them. But surprisingly, superheroes do have limits. They are not perfect. Because for all that the superheores can do in their fictional realms, they cannot leap from the page and be a part of this world. However, they can appear increasingly life-like through good and sustained storytelling.


A good measure to think about superheroes is to consider how they operate in response to the world around us? How do they deal with real tragedies such as 9/11 and other tragic events wherein they are specifically designed to protect us from? Herein, I will explore how both DC and Marvel have grappled with that idea and the implications it has had for their cinematic and television universes.


I turn to Peter Coogan and his seminal book on the superhero as a genre (https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/222322.Superhero) to highlight the power of the genre over others and how it may operate or deal with the real world.


“Real events from the past are worked in…Likely it will become more prominent as creators are freed from the burden of timeless continuity and are able to present stories that deal with the passage of time in more flexible ways….The superhero has a unique signifying function. It can be used to express ideas that other genres cannot portray as well. Superheroes embody a vision of the use of power unique to America.


Superheroes enforce their own visions of right and wrong on others, and they possess overwhelming power, especially in relation to ordinary crooks. They can project power without danger to themselves, and they can effortlessly solve problems that ordinary authorities cannot handle. This vision of power fits quite well with the position America finds itself in after the Cold War. America is the only superpower in the world, something like Superman in the days before other superheroes and supervillains.”

For the rest, visit Jeremy's blog and check out some of his other great content!



Did you enjoy this read? Let me know your thoughts down below or feel free to browse around and check out some of my other posts!. You might also want to keep up to date with my blog by signing up for them via email. 

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

CFP: 1st Call: Teaching Popular Culture

So as some of you know, I am the Chair for the Teaching Popular Culture area for the Northeast Popular Culture Association (NEPCA).  As someone who teaches a course, specifically on popular culture, I am always interested in seeing and hearing what others are doing.  

I also tend to look at the Teaching Popular Culture area as a bit different than the other areas which are research focused.  I see this area more along the lines of providing some professional development, feedback, and reflection around how we employ popular culture in the classroom.  I feel like this is an often under-attended element of popular culture studies: how we meaningfully engage with it with our students.  

Therefore, I'm quite interested in hearing from people and encourage anyone who may teach a popular culture focused course or use popular culture in interesting and useful ways to put in a proposal.  Here are a few of the formats that I'm interested in seeing and/or participating in.  If you have questions or thoughts around these, please don't hesitate to contact me:  lance.eaton@gmail.com.  

Round-Table of Popular Culture and Teaching

Those who teach a popular-culture-focused course (specifically about popular culture or thematically structured around popular culture) can discuss some of the challenges, benefits, and experiences in teaching such a course.  I imagine this format entailing a list of questions that the participants can go through followed up with questions by attendees.  I would also think we could capture the comments and produce some kind of interesting resource for the NEPCA website.  


Panel on Teaching

If you and other faculty teach a similar topic, area of popular culture, or have different strategies and approaches that you want to illustrate, a proposed full panel about teaching on popular culture is of great interest.  

Panel on Teaching Popular Culture Online

I'll throw my hat into the ring with this one.  I'm really interested in working with and presenting with other faculty who have or regularly teach popular culture (or focus in some ways on popular culture) in an online environment.  I think there is a lot to discuss and explore with regards to this topic and would encourage anyone else in this vein to reach out to me.  

Individual Presentations on Strategies, Approaches, Resources

Honestly, if you've got something related to teaching and popular culture, please submit a proposal.  Every year that I've done this, we get some really fantastic presentations on a range of great topics relating to teaching and popular culture.  If you're stuck on the fence or need someone to brainstorm and flesh out your proposal a bit more, feel free to reach out to me and we'll see what we can come up with.  


First Call NEPCA 2017


Blog post in a word cloud in the form of an appleThe Northeast Popular/American Culture Association (NEPCA) announces its first call for paper proposals for its annual conference. The 2017 conference will be held on the campus of the University of Massachusetts Amherst the weekend of October 27-28, 2017.    

NEPCA is soliciting proposals dealing with all aspects of popular culture and American culture, broadly construed. NEPCA welcomes both individual papers and complete panels. We also encourage works in progress, and informal presentations. The only restrictions on presentations are that:

The proposal should be rooted in research. We do not automatically exclude original poetry, composed works of fiction, or musical/dance/storytelling performance, but such works must be connected to greater theoretical and research frameworks.
NEPCA generally avoids proposals whose intent is overtly commercial.
Proposals should appeal to a broad audience.


NEPCA conferences welcome graduate students, junior faculty, independent researchers, and senior faculty as equals. NEPCA prides itself on offering intimate and nurturing sessions in which new ideas and works-in-progress can be aired, as well as completed projects. NEPCA is dedicated to expanding intellectual horizons, open engagement, and constructive criticism. 

Papers are generally 15-20 minutes in length. NEPCA discourages (but does not forbid) verbatim reading of papers and strongly encourages creative delivery of papers. 

This fall it will also feature shorter presentations in pecha kucha style in which presenters show a total of 20 slides–one every 20 seconds (total presentation time: less than 7 minutes). The idea behind pecha kucha is for scholars to present material quickly so that discussion and new ideas can ensue. It is an ideal form for research in progress! 

The deadline for applications is June 1, 2017. The Program Chair for 2017 is Professor Marty Norden of the UMass Communications Department but, for tracking and logistical purposes, proposals must be submitted to an online Google Form that can be found on NEPCA's Website: https://nepca.blog/2017-conference/ This pages also includes a link to area chairs who can assist in any questions you have about your proposal. 



Did you enjoy this read? Let me know your thoughts down below or feel free to browse around and check out some of my other posts!. You might also want to keep up to date with my blog by signing up for them via email. 

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

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Review: With Amusement for All: A History of American Popular Culture Since 1830

With Amusement for All: A History of American Popular Culture Since 1830 With Amusement for All: A History of American Popular Culture Since 1830 by LeRoy Ashby
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Ashby's mammoth text (700 pages long; 33+ hours of listening on audiobook) was a fascinating and excellent discussing of popular culture that was great in terms of timing as I listening to it just as I was revising my online Popular Culture in the US course (You can see the course preview here or the course playlist here). Ashby covers a whole lot of content, arenas of popular culture, and events within popular culture. But equally important, he ties it together well as he drifts in each chapter from sports to reading to radio to television to other arenas. In reading it, you get a much fuller sense of mesh of intersections within popular culture while also a framework for understanding how it connects to the culture at large and history. Now, I just need to find a way to integrate the book within my own course.

View all my reviews


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By Any Other Nerd Blog by Lance Eaton is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Review: Everyday Bias: Identifying and Navigating Unconscious Judgments in Our Daily Lives

Everyday Bias: Identifying and Navigating Unconscious Judgments in Our Daily Lives Everyday Bias: Identifying and Navigating Unconscious Judgments in Our Daily Lives by Howard J. Ross
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I feel like this is a book I need to read at least once a year because as much as I agree, understand, and deeply appreciate its message, I also know it's horribly easy to ignore. The message is that we--all of us--you, me, the author, and everyone--are innately biased in ways that are not clear to us. Unfortunately, many of these biases are arbitrary and many of them may incline us to think and act in ways that are against our actual beliefs. Ross traces the many different ways in which we are blind to our biases and the various ways we succumb to our biases. He also illustrates ways of overcoming some of our biases some of the time but makes clear it's probably impossible (and probably for the best) to overcome all of our biases all of the time. Rather, the goal is to reduce it in places and situations where it undermines our sense of fairness and equality. Ross comes from this with a nonjudgmental tone and works hard to help the reader understand that the bias itself is not an indicator of guilt or blame, but rather something that exists beyond our rational minds.

View all my reviews

Catching A Classic At the Cabot

I enjoy films and have had the opportunity to use it in several courses and even teach an adapting fiction into film class over the years.  I've also been a fan of movies and enjoy the experience deeply.  However, I most recently had one of the most magical experiences of watching a film.  

I certainly enjoy watching new films up on the big screen as opposed to at home but I don't got too often because the price is often not worth it and very few movies warrant it.  However, I find myself more and more wanting to watch older films on the big screen.  I get particularly excited when I discover that a local theater is playing a classic movie on their big screen because the opportunity to sit in a darkened theater and experience a film as it was originally conceived to be presented puts me in touch with a past that I will never really know.  

This is particularly true for older black and white film, before an age of television when the films could only be shown on the big screen.  There are interesting differences in the black and white films of the early 20th century as opposed to the modern film and it's always a lot of fun to watch and connect with that history of film.

Film poster for 1925 film, Varieté
Thus, when The Cabot, a local historical theater in Beverly, Massachusetts offered up the 1925 film, Varieté, I was excited to watch a silent black and white film on the big screen.  I knew nothing about the film.  I only knew I had a free Friday night and the show would be a good activity.  

However, this was no mere showing of the film.  The soundtrack for the film was to be provided by the Berklee Silent Film Orchestra (BSFO).  Yes, there is a silent film orchestra and they are absolutely fabulous!  The orchestra stems from a film-score course at Berklee wherein students find a silent film and over the course of the semester create a film score for it.  They do not listen to the original score but rather work hard to come up with a score that embodies what they see happen throughout the film and they did an amazing job, coming up with 90 minutes of music and sounds that perfectly captured the film's mood, actions, and themes.  

The film itself is a fascinating film in terms of its cinematography and aesthetics.  It follows the antics of an acrobat who leaves his wife for a newly acquired (literally) love, only to lose her to another acrobat and thus feels compelled to murder the other acrobat.  The plot is problematic to say the least as the violence towards and possession of women is problematic (e.g. he has no issue leaving his wife and child for a woman he essentially owns but has fault with her leaving him; she is raped by the second acrobat but somehow this encourages her to fall for him) feels beyond antiquated but outright barbaric.  Looking beyond that (as hard as it may be), the cinematography is quite impressive for a 90-year-old film.  The use of camera angle, the capturing of the acrobatics, and some of the inventive shots and pans were fascinating.  Equally, this film as much as Nosferatu and many other classic silent films captures the power of the silent film in the sense of how much it could convey with only a handful of title cards.

But the BSFO made the movie absolutely magical.  Its power was in its almost entire absence.  As I sat in my seat in the mezzanine seat (more on that later) and could not see them, it was often hard to remember that I was actually listening to live music in an old theater.  Their music for all ninety minutes of the film blended seamlessly with the film and added such a strong ambiance that throughout they felt as part of the natural landscape (soundscape?) of the film.  The only times I was drawn to their existence was when the audience would break out into applause at their work (not entirely sure when this happened but it might have been at the switching of conductors or clear pauses in their performance).  
A picture of the Cabot theater from the upper mezzanine level.
A picture of the Cabot theater from the upper mezzanine level.

Besides the amazing music, something else made the cinematic experience so transcendent and magical.  I opted to buy tickets in the upper mezzanine at The Cabot.  I've been to many events here but never when the mezzanine has been opened.  I opted for the mezzanine because I thought it would be cool but also, the upper mezzanine (think: partial nosebleed) was also cheaper (not by much).  But these were the perfect seats.  I still saw the film perfectly but I also felt enveloped in the theater in such a way as I rarely experienced before.  I love the new theaters with their comfortable, spacious and reclining seats.  But sitting in the mezzanine section with few others lost in a beautifully restored and visually-well constructed film with amazing live music--it was something I won't soon forget and wholly had not experienced until this point. 

The next time The Cabot does this, I will most definitely be there.  I hope to see you there too!



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Review: The Revolution Was Televised: The Cops, Crooks, Slingers and Slayers Who Changed TV Drama Forever

The Revolution Was Televised: The Cops, Crooks, Slingers and Slayers Who Changed TV Drama Forever The Revolution Was Televised: The Cops, Crooks, Slingers and Slayers Who Changed TV Drama Forever by Alan Sepinwall
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Sepinwall's book reminded me to some degree of Steven Johnson's Everything Bad for You Is Good in that he creates a strong and coherent argument about the amazing complexity of modern television--one that destroys the idea that the television is an idiotbox. In his exploration, Sepinwall shows the depth and power of storytelling provided by some of the best shows of the last 15 years including Oz, Sopranos, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Mad Men, and The Shield.

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By Any Other Nerd Blog by Lance Eaton is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Review: Doctor Who: A History

Doctor Who: A History Doctor Who: A History by Alan Kistler
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I did not get into Doctor Who while growing up and even with the series reboot in the early 2000s, I largely avoided it. However, a friend got me to try Torchwood and I really enjoyed that towards the end. So I started to flirt with Doctor Who and was slowly making my way through the show. David Tennant was growing on me but I still wasn't sold on the show--it was something to have on in the background while playing games and such. Then, I listened to Alan Kistler's book and that changed pretty quick. Kistler provides a keen history of Doctor Who from inception to it's forthcoming new doctor (the 12th) and strikes a great balance between the background of the show such as the actors, the writers, the politics of it all and explaining the ongoing character development of the doctor from season to season and from doctor to doctor. It's a complete joyride for fans and for those who are interested in fully understanding Doctor Who without having to watch (or re-watch) all the older episodes (though I will likely do that at some point). It's clearly a work of passion and one that readers will definitely enjoy if you're looking to know more about Doctor Who.

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By Any Other Nerd Blog by Lance Eaton is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

CFP: Teaching Popular Culture

The Northeast Popular/American Culture Association is seeking papers on popular and American culture, broadly construed, for its annual fall conference to be held on Friday, October 21 and Saturday, October 22, 2016 in Keene, New Hampshire from October 21-22.  NEPCA prides itself on holding conferences that emphasize sharing ideas in a non-competitive and supportive environment.  We welcome proposals from graduate students, junior faculty, and senior scholars.  NEPCA conferences offer intimate and nurturing sessions in which new ideas and works-in-progress can be aired, as well as completed projects.

CFP:  TEACHING POPULAR CULTURE



The Making of Harry Potter 29-05-2012

In particular, I am the chair of the Teaching  Popular Culture area and I'm really interested in hearing about and seeing the different ways instructors use popular culture in their courses--be it their core curriculum or even courses on popular culture.  If you have some ideas about a panel as a whole or individual papers that you would like to present on regarding this area, please be sure to submit.  A larger goal of this area is to create a place to foster ideas and approaches to teaching popular culture, regardless of the discipline.


Some particular ideas you might consider with regards to a paper in this area may include sharing unique approaches to:
  • Teaching courses focused specifically on “popular culture”
  • Teaching courses on an area within popular culture (e.g. courses that focus on the content and cultural aspects–not necessarily the “how-to” aspects of comics, video games, horror, Harry Potter, baseball, The Beatles, etc).
  • Teaching mainstream courses using popular culture (e.g. baseball statistics for explaining, statistics, Buffy the Vampire Slayer for explaining political theory, Star Trek for exploring biology).
This particular area is focused more on sharing successful and interesting teaching practices for other scholars and educators to learn or borrow from.

Presentations should be 15-20 minutes in length and lively in nature! The deadline for the submission of a 200-word abstract is May 1, 2016. Individual and full panel proposals are considered. Submission information is available at the Northeast Popular Culture Association conference page. 

NEPCA Fall Conference information, including the paper proposal form, can be found here.  Please submit the form, including a brief CV and abstract, located on the site.  Both proposals for individual papers and complete panels will be considered.  Please direct any questions to either 20165 Program Chair Karen Honeycutt (khoneycutt@keene.edu) and/or to the appropriate Area Chair.  For a complete list of Area Chairs, please visit the NEPCA website.   The deadline for proposals is June 15, 2016.

If you have specific questions about submitting to the Teaching Popular Culture area, please let me know!


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By Any Other Nerd Blog by Lance Eaton is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.