“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

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Read “Popes, killers, mysteries and histories: my favorite TV shows of 2017” on Medium

The year 2017 was a roller coaster—but at the very least, many great TV shows came out. On Medium, you can read a listicle of my five favorites from 2017—featuring popes, killers, and the delayed reprise of Dale Cooper!

Photo by Sven Scheuermeier on Unsplash.

Read “The Last Jedi’s snark problem” on Medium

This December, Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi opened to rave reviews from critics and abysmal reactions to fans. This week, I take my own step into the critical pond—writing about The Last Jedi and the widespread cinematic movement of sarcasm that spawned it. Read my critical essay, “The Last Jedi’s snark problem: The sarcastic storytelling attitude of 2017’s most divisive movie” here. Thanks for reading!!

Photo credit: Michael on Unsplash.

 

 

Read “The Museum of the Bible is an intellectual travesty” on Medium

The Museum of the Bible is Washington, D.C.’s newest museum. Behind the glittering exterior, however, is the troubling and controversial narrative that the museum promotes.

To save you the trouble, I visited the Museum of the Bible for myself. You can vicariously experience my somewhat alarming visit by reading my new opinion essay on Medium. In it, I take you through the full museum experience, highlighting the problematic assumptions and strange editorial choices at every turn. Thanks for reading!

Public domain image courtesy Pixabay. All rights reserved.

Read “Bridging Art + Education” and “Risking Life and Limb” in The Taos News

Every year, The Taos News publishes a series of special issues about Northern New Mexico’s history, art, and culture named ‘Tradiciones.’ The final issue honors people who have been nominated as “Unsung Heroes” of the community, including a “Citizen of the Year.”

I had the privilege of interviewing and profiling two of these “Unsung Heroes” this past summer, Claire Coté and Juan Abeyta. In very different ways, these two citizens of Taos County have contributed a great deal of their time and vision to their respective communities.

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Claire Coté at Wild Rivers. (Photo by Katharine Egli, design by Karin Eberhardt. Courtesy The Taos News.)

In “Bridging Art + Education: Questa’s Claire Coté inspires ‘awe’,” read about Claire Coté, an environmental arts advocate and educator based in Questa, New Mexico. While Coté is involved in an impressive array of community projects, her chief initiative has been the annual NeoRio event, which brings artists and participants to the dramatic landscape of the area known as ‘Wild Rivers,’ which is within Río Grande del Norte National Monument. There, in view of the Río Grande Gorge, the participants enjoy a community arts education experience unlike any other. Read the article here.

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Juan Abeyta in front of his station’s fire truck. (Photo by Katherine Egli, Courtesy The Taos News).

In “Risking Life and Limb: Volunteer firefighter and logger Juan Abeyta,” learn about Juan Abeyta, who has fought fires for 44 years in his native Peñasco, New Mexico. Aside from lobbying the county to build a fire station (which, after construction, was named after him), Abeyta has also enjoyed a long, dangerous career in logging. These days, he guides first responders down the the treacherous and byzantine roads in Carson National Forest, whenever he gets the call. Read the article here.

These two profiles are also available online through the ISSUU PDF viewer. (For Coté, refer to pages 30-33; for Abeyta, refer to pages 34-38). Special thanks to Katherine Egli, Karin Eberhardt, Scott Gerdes and Staci Matlock for publishing these stories and your help throughout the process. (Post featured image a photograph by Katharine Egli, courtesy The Taos News.)

Read “Princeton’s Lost Museum: Arnold Guyot’s E.M. Museum” in the Princeton Historical Review

Within the Princeton University community, it is relatively well-known that Nassau Hall, the university’s flagship building, was once the site of a Revolutionary War battle and served as the capitol building of the United States. It is far less recognized as the former home of one of the first natural science museums in America, much less the second museum in the world to ever display a dinosaur skeleton.

In the middle of the 19th century, the Swiss-American geographer Arnold Guyot—one of the discoverers of the last Ice Age—began a lengthy and influential tenure as a director of the geology and geography departments at the then-named College of New Jersey (renamed Princeton in 1896).

At Princeton, he also became the first curator of the E. M. Museum of Geology and Archaeology, which was housed in Nassau Hall. Before the E.M. Museum, most natural science museums in the United States were eclectic collections of curios without any organization, much less an overarching method or worldview. Guyot, however, designed his museum so that it could demonstrate to a visitor ‘the history of the world at a glance’—in a manner similar to the presentation of his image-centric textbook, Physical Geography, published in 1873

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An illustration of naturalist Alexander von Humboldt from the first pages of Arnold Guyot’s popular 1873 textbook, Physical Geography. (Courtesy Google Books & Princeton University Library)

This museum housed a surprising array of artifacts—from Japanese swords to classical statues, from precious minerals to portraits of the Founding Fathers. And yet, the exhibits maintained a clear organization, one that emphasized a Manifest Destiny-view of the universe.

To learn more about this curious institution, read my history article, “Princeton’s Lost Museum: Arnold Guyot’s E.M. Museum and the Great Juncture of American Natural History Museums in the Late 19th Century” in the Fall 2017 issue of the Princeton Historical Review, available in PDF format. Follow this link and find the article on pages 22-50.

The featured photo of this post is from the Mudd Manuscript Library, and whose citation follows: Pach Brothers, E.M. Museum of Geology and Archaeology, Photograph, ca. 1886, Box MP42, Item 1256, Princeton University Library. Department of Rare Books and Special Collections. Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library.

Read “Southwestern fantasy: John Gaw Meem, Frank Lloyd Wright and Pueblo Revival architecture” in The Taos News

New Mexico is known for its Pueblo Revival architecture—rounded walls, Adobe finishes, and vigas (logs used as beams). The colorful town plazas built in this style evoke the Spanish colonial epoch and the heritage of Pueblo Native American architecture; they attract tourists and capture the imagination of those who witness them.

Yet the Pueblo Revival architectural style is a relatively recent invention, one that gained popularity in the early decades of the 20th century. It was also a design movement that was in many ways the work of one man: an architect named John Gaw Meem, who designed much of Santa Fe and the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque during his long career. It’s a story that also features famous architects such as Frank Lloyd Wright and Rudolf Schindler, and it’s an article published in the Raices (Roots) issue of The Taos News’ annual Tradiciones publication, which celebrates the culture and history of the Taos area.

Read the article (“Southwestern fantasy: John Gaw Meem, Frank Lloyd Wright and the emergence of Pueblo Revival architecture in New Mexico”) on page 14 of the ISSUU version of the publication, embedded in the webpage below or available online at this link. Many thanks to Special Sections Editor Scott Gerdes, designer Karin Eberhardt, and photographer Katherine Egli that helped see this article to print.