Read “The elusive star of Vergina” on Medium

Last June, I had the opportunity to visit Vergina, a small village in Northern Greece that is home to the tomb of Philip II, Alexander the Great’s father. It was a tremendous experience, full of the power and splendor of ancient Macedonia. In terms of the difficulty in navigating Greece’s public transit options, however, it amounted to a modern odyssey. The perfect exp

To read my travelogue of my visit to Vergina, full of awe, frustration, and some witty observations, check it out on Medium:

“The elusive star of Vergina: To visit the tomb of Alexander the Great’s father, a modern odyssey”

More summer travel memoirs forthcoming on Medium. If you’re looking for a hint—next up will be along the lines of “Coming into the country with ‘Coming into the Country’.”

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Photo of fields of Vergina by Harrison Blackman.

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Two ‘Solo’–themed posts now on Medium

In honor of the theatrical release of Solo: A Star Wars Story, I’ve posted two relevant blog posts on Medium.

The first is “Other ‘Star Wars’ stories yet to be told,” a humor article detailing speculative treatments of other potential Star Wars spinoff films.

The second is my review of Solo: A Star Wars Story: “With ‘Solo,’ Star Wars rediscovers its offbeat sense of humor.” In this post, I explain how Solo follows a Star Wars tradition of placing tropes from the cultural zeitgeist through the warped mirror of the Star Wars universe.

As always, thanks for reading!

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Featured photo by Mohdammed Ali on Unsplash.

Earth science history exhibition featured at Princeton Research Day on May 10, 2018

On May 10, 2018, I had the pleasure of presenting a poster entitled “Rocks all the way down: The earthshaking history of Princeton mineralogy” at the 3rd annual Princeton Research Day event.

Charting the history of Princeton mineral and earth science from the early American republic to today, “Rocks all the way down” showcases how mineralogy both formed the foundation and ongoing continuity of earth science at Princeton. And given Princeton’s place in several scientific revolutions over the course of the 19th and 20th centuries, it is a fundamentally important story that explains how and why we came to better understand the natural world.

The effort is part of a project funded by the Princeton University Department of Geosciences, to be eventually published in article form.

At “PRD,” it was wonderful to connect with so many members of the Princeton community in discussing the University’s rich history in the earth sciences.

You can view the poster below; featured photo is courtesy of Georgette Chalker.

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Read “‘Taos 2010’ dreams revisited” in The Taos News

In 1989, The Taos News asked residents to predict what Taos would be like 20 years into the future. Nearly three decades later, I asked them how it all turned out—and what they now hope for in the years to come. What emerges is a startling portrait of a community’s transformation over the years, and a new vision of what may be on the way.

Read my feature story in The Taos News, an all-too-brief sketch of a unique community in the Southwest.

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Image courtesy of the Palace of the Governors Photo Archives.

 

“Narrative Architecture” creative writing workshop held at Princeton University Writing Program

Within certain storytelling genres (such as fiction & screenwriting), there lurks an essential element that is often difficult to pin down. That element is narrative architecture, the structure of the story that — like the steel frame of a building — works to justify a plotline, and most critically, a character’s decision-making within that context. A self-supporting narrative architecture is a positive feedback loop that is capable of resisting an earthquake of scrutiny; a flimsy narrative architecture will collapse like a house of straw in a tornado.

On March 29, 2018, I gave a 90-minute professional development workshop on “Narrative Architecture” to Writing Center fellows at Princeton University. By using examples as varied as Portlandia, Vertigo, and Macbeth, we analyzed the plot and character dynamics intrinsic to narrative architecture, progressing from a single scene to a sequence of scenes. These examples  helped us answer the following critical questions:

What events must happen for a character to make a critical decision? How can you arrange these events to make that character’s decision justified?

With a deeper understanding of narrative architecture, we practiced analyzing a student fiction story and brainstorming how a Writing Center tutor might be able to give productive suggestions to a student attempting to write an engaging, efficient, and airtight story.

The main ideas of this workshop are currently being adapted to an essay format for future publication. Many thanks to the Princeton Writing Program for inviting me to give the workshop, and to the enthusiastic fellows who participated.

 

“The Last Jedi’s snark problem” now available in audio for Medium members

Last week, my Medium post, “The Last Jedi’s snark problem” was featured as a “Staff pick” on the Medium homepage, after which it garnered a lot of traffic on the publishing site.

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Screenshot January 8, 2018, Medium.com

In a further honor, Medium editors subsequently selected the essay to be read out loud and recorded for an audio version, featuring the voice of professional actor. Should you have the time or interest, it’s quite the listen!

If you are a Medium paying member, you can listen to the audio version on the article page. Unfortunately, unless you sign up for a Medium subscription, you won’t be able to listen to it. But never fear — you can always still read the article the old-fashioned way!

You can read more of my Medium posts as they are regularly published at https://medium.com/@harrisonblackman, but www.harrisonblackman.com is still the central place for news and updates on my writing.

Thanks for reading!

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(Featured photo by Michael on Unsplash.)

View story at Medium.com