My Curriculum Vitae is uploaded to LinkedIn: <https://www.linkedin.com/in/merchantdavid>.
What is in your iPod?
I have a very wide range of tastes across many genres and cultures.
What do you read?
Most anything. About books, I agree with Mr. Sagan:
I also agree with George R.R. Martin’s Tyrion Lannister, from A Song of Fire and Ice:
“A mind needs books as a sword needs a whetstone, if it is to keep its edge.”
My favorite fiction genres are medieval (especially the Old English Period, like Beowulf, The Canterbury Tales, and Marie de France’s Lais), Shakespeare (especially Macbeth), science fiction, and steampunk. I will read almost anything, fiction or non-fiction, related to Mars (the planet, not the candy bar).
I also like reading novelizations of or stories inspired by my favorite video games. For example, the novelizations of the Biohazard and Resident Evil games (and movies) are rather good as is the Biohazard Marhawa Desire manga series by Naoki Serizawa.
My favorite non-fiction genres are astronomy/physics, medieval history, theology (world), video game design, and writing.
What shows and movies do you watch?
I am a cinephile with a wide range of tastes, from documentaries to fantasy to fiction, including foreign films.
As for sports, it needs to be a local team (LA Tech Bulldogs) or Olympic sports (gymnastics, skating, diving) for me to be interested, though I have watched a NASCAR race from time to time.
What about the theatre?
I am a fan of live theater. Ruston Community Theater (RCT), www.rctruston.org/, puts on excellent plays each year at the Dixie Theater (located downtown Ruston).
Louisiana Tech’s theater department, www.latechuniversitytheatre.com/, also puts on excellent plays each year. Check out both schedules and make it a point to see a live play this year.
Both have open auditions—no experience necessary. I have acted on stage several times, mostly for RCT.
- My first experience was helping with a staged reading of “Dr. Will” at Louisiana Tech, 2006. I read the role of Rev. Rick.
- In 2007, I played Vinnie in RCT’s production of The Odd Couple.
- In 2008, I played the evil Dr. Pinch in RCT’s The Conjunction of Comedia & Errata, a science-fiction version adaptation of Shakespeare’s A Comedy of Errors.
- In 2017, I was Anthony in the puppet play “Anthony an Cleopatra,” a shortened, comedic version written by Dr. Celia Lewis for the 2017 LA Tech Shakespeare Birthday Festival.
- In 2017, I had several small roles in RCT’s musical production of A Christmas Carol. One day I would like to play Scrooge on the stage (maybe another retirement activity). I know some think I already play Scrooge when it comes to grading :-).
What video games do you play?
I have been playing since the days of Pong. I was addicted to Pac-Man when I first went to college (back in the before-time). I tend to like RPGs, especially dungeon crawlers.
Old favorites: NeverWinter Nights, Might & Magic, and Ultima (the original series, not the MMORPG). I loved Dragon Age: Origins. Other games I am fond of playing are American McGee’s Alice, Mass Effect, Pillars of Eternity, the Sacred series, and Skyrim. As much as I am a fan of Resident Evil, the later games have been pretty much “meh”; I really wanted to like those games. Lately, I have developed an interest in modding; with the help of some student workers, I am working on creating some mods that have an educational component.
Where have you traveled?
I am an Army brat and ex-U.S. Navy sailor. Born in America, almost eight of my first nine years were spent growing up in Germany.
At the time I joined the Navy, they had the slogan “Join the Navy and see the world”—I forgot that 70 percent of the world is covered by water. I saw a lot of water, cruising the Gulf of Mexico, the Atlantic Ocean (including above the arctic circle), Norwegian fjords, and, most often, the Mediterranean Sea.
OK, we did pull into port many times, and out to sea I saw whales playing in our ship’s wake, dolphins escorting us into port, giant sea turtles swimming alongside, giant icebergs cruising by, as well as some ethereal times when out at in the middle of the ocean a dense, insulating, almost otherworldly fog would envelop the ship.
I have had several extended stays in Japan. Other countries I have visited (not just passed through): England, France, Greece, Israel, Italy, Mexico, and Spain.
In the U.S., I have lived in California, Florida (including being stationed at Key West one summer), Idaho, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia, and have visited most of the rest. I have spent the longest time in Louisiana, so it is my home state by default.
While I envy people who grew up in one area most or all of their lives, travel does help you learn more about your own country, the world, and yourself.
Vegetable gardening, solving acrostics, astronomy, writing, and drawing. I am relearning the flute and trying to learn the Theremin as it fits in with my love of classic Sci-Fi movies—but mercy, that is one difficult instrument to learn.
Many of my interests are reflected in my Pinterest boards <https://www.pinterest.com/davidmmerchant/>.
I also usually give a talk regarding Shakespearean influences on and references in science fiction at the annual LA Tech Shakespeare Birthday Festival held in the Shakespeare Garden (GTMH courtyard). My talks have so far covered Shakespeare influences in Star Trek, The Forbidden Planet, Dr. Who, the Lord of the Rings, and Japanese theatre and film, as well as the influence of Shakespeare on Charles Dickens.
The Shakespeare Birthday Celebration is an all-day event with sword fights, Shakespearean insults, puppet plays, poetry readings, and a variety of short talks covering the wide range of influence Shakespeare has on every storytelling media. Held every April, if you are in the area, it is worth checking out.
I also do a bit of cosplay, whether going to a Ren Faire as a monk, coming to class on Halloween as a Steampunk field scientist, or appearing as a Starfleet officer or a samurai to match the topic for my Shakespeare Birthday Festival talk. I also sometimes dress up as Charles Dickens and give a public reading of A Christmas Carol in mid-December, before the Christmas break. I am a life-long fan of A Christmas Carol and teach the story whenever I teach English 102.