Bye, Twitter

Welp, looks like the apartheid emerald heir is going to buy Twitter. I’ve barely been on it in the past few years and ever since I stopped tweeting positive things about the “games for education” movement, I’ve lost a lot of followers on my personal account. Quitting it for good will be easy for me.

But, what’s next? Mastodon? Going back to blogging all the time here — on a site no one visits? Diving into the (also dying) Zuckverse with more aplomb? Segmenting ourselves off into small Mastodon instances, private Discords/Slacks? Making IRC a thing again? Ooh, reviving USENET maybe?

I don’t know what the future holds, but I’m fairly eager to find out. I have been so bored with social media for so long, and yet I miss the glory days of the proto-social media of two decades ago. I want a Friendster-like site back. I want to blog again, and have a usable RSS reader (RIP Google Reader, many years on). Musk buying Twitter is a net bad in every possible way, but personally I hope it’s finally the push that gets me to give up Twitter for good.

I’m old, and as such, I yearn for those powerful internet experiences of my youth. My internet experiences from 1985-2005 were qualitatively different from the experiences after that, and while it’s certainly naïve to say it quite like this: I wish we could get back to simpler times.

You Must Remember This…

Hey, I still have a blog! Time flies, and it’s been a year since I last posted here. As the semester winds down, perhaps I’ll have more time to write something/anything for this blog. For now, I think I’ll try to revive the old-style blogging practice I had twenty years ago — just some small notes on things I’ve been watching, playing, listening to, or reading.

I’ll start with something I’ve been listening to. Lately, I’ve been walking in from the parking garage to my office on Grounds, to get a little more exercise and because I’m still avoiding crowded public spaces like busses. I’ve taken to listening to podcasts again after a long time of ignoring them, and have been catching up on many years’ worth of Karina Longworth’s You Must Remember This podcast.

You Must Remember This is a lot of fun — it’s a loose and sometimes trashy history of “Hollywood’s first century,” and her approach has been eclectic and fun. The current series is about sex in 1960s-1990s cinema, I’ve listened to some of her series on Polly Platt, and some of her series on Dean Martin/Sammy Davis, Jr. In the past week, I listened to all of the episodes about Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff from back in 2017, and liked it quite a bit.

Horror History: Watch Vintage Doc Chronicling Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff  Rivalry - Bloody Disgusting

A few irritating elements aside — beyond Longworth’s stilted and overly-precious delivery (which I’m getting used to), we get some celebrity impressions (Taran Killam, Patton Oswalt, Longworth’s husband Rian Johnson) — I found this a fascinating and compelling listen. It covers everything from Lugosi’s early career in Hungarian silent cinema to his love affair with Clara Bow (!? I had no idea); covering Karloff’s early support and organization for the Screen Actor’s Guild through his final works (my favorites) from the 1960s, including The Raven, Black Sabbath, and Targets. It’s a sympathetic portrayal of both of these actors throughout, and was enlightening — the scope of this series covered the 1920s-early 1970s, and as such, Longworth give us a nice summary of some major industrial trends (the rise of Universal Horror, RKO horror, but also the genesis of production companies like American International Pictures).

So, if you haven’t listened to this podcast before, give it a shot. If you’re an old-time listener of her podcast, let me know which other series you like! Alternately, let me know what other Hollywood history podcasts are out there that I should listen to!

It’s Been A While…

Okay, I guess I forgot to blog for half a year. Again.

It’s amazing how much teaching three courses a term plus taking care of two small children during a never-ending lockdown eats into your time to write very long blog posts about the things you’re into. So, I’ll keep this one short, just as a way to kick off what will hopefully be a much less verbose and much sloppier regular blogging practice.

Since I last posted, I have:

• Become enamored with Netrunner yet again, and then fell out of love with it yet again. It’s still a beautiful game, but one that I’m finding myself uncomfortable playing with the current community, so I think my days with it are finally largely over. I still have a paper or two on it I might get out in the next year or so, but otherwise, I think I’m moving on to other interests…

• Continued participating in a weekly “goth club” with strangers over the Shudder Discord, watching countless old and new gothic horror movies, ranging from — The Long Hair of Death to The Voice from the Stone to The Whip and the Body to Tales of Terror to Viy. If you would have told me a year ago that I’d have watched dozens of 1960s, predominantly Italian, horror movies, I’d be pleasantly surprised and proud of myself.

• Started rethinking my teaching accordingly — I’m offering a new version of my comics course in the fall, this time focusing on “Monsters.” Trying something different with it this time — looking at horror and “monsters” as a through-line that has permeated comics history from its earliest days to, well, just this year. I’ve also decided to break off any superheroic content from that course and put it into its own, industry-focused “Superhero Media” course, which I’m also going to teach in the fall. I’m having a lot of fun thinking about these classes and how they’ll evolve — the Superhero class in particular will be my first time teaching something film-adjacent, as well as something that focuses heavily on media industries. Should be fun, I hope!

• I’ve found myself wholly uninterested in teaching about games in the ways I have in the past, and am ramping down my existing games-centric courses, with a few exceptions. While I’m finding I don’t have as much interest in teaching about commercial digital games as I once did, I’ve been having an absolute blast teaching my Interactive Storytelling course this year, and having students creatively engage with these media and stories they’re interested in telling with them. I’ve upped the RPG and “story game” content in that class, and I think to good effect — I’m now flirting with the idea of teaching a course entirely on the rise of non-digital games as a focus for media studies (using the Analog Game Studies journal and Paul Booth’s new Board Games as Media book as central readings). I’m rethinking my games instruction in the next academic year, and hope to have a few new, more exciting courses on the slate.

So, y’know, the usual. Lots about games and media in my life, much of it crossing over into my teaching. I’m fully vaccinated now and have been venturing out into the wilds of town a little more with the kids, but other than that, I’m content to stay in my little hole full of comics, books, Blu-Rays, and board games for a while longer.

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