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, science fiction, and steampunk. I will read most 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 are 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?
A wide range, including foreign films, anime, fantasy, horror, science fiction, and science and history documentaries.
With science fiction, I even watch the bad stuff (Plan 9, for example), which is one reason why I am a fan of Mystery Science Theater 3000. Though Santa Claus Conquers the Martians was a watching-once-was-two-times-too-much kind of movie. So terrible. My favorite science fiction are too many to list. I would be hard-pressed to decide what would be my top 5 or 10 as there are so many strong contenders.
My favorite fantasy films include Conan the Barbarian (the Arnold ones), The Hobbit, and The Lord of the Rings. For comedy, I just love the humor in Monty Python and The Holy Grail, The Princess Bride, and The Producers (the musical version).
I am a long-time vampire movie and TV show (Buffy!) aficionado. I have also fallen victim to deadites and zombies; I have watched the Resident Evil movies, for instance, more often than I care to admit, as well as The Evil Dead with Bruce Campbell.
Other movies and shows: my wife has got me into mystery and detective shows like Columbo, Father Brown, New Tricks, Miss Fisher, Miss Marple, Poirot, and Sherlock. I watch almost any adaptation of Shakespeare’s Macbeth, Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, and the story of Joan of Arc. 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.
I am also 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. When I retire, I plan to keep busy by pursuing a MA in theater and maybe, just maybe, a MS in physics—one big regret in my life is not completing a degree in physics. I may be in my walker when I get it, but dang it, I want it.
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 and am a big fan of Mass Effect.
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, 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; consequently, I have lived in or several parts of the world.
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.
Born in America, almost eight of my first nine years were spent growing up in Germany. I have had a 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 (I barely spent any time in Michigan).
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, as well as about 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. Also, I am trying to learn Japanese.
I also usually give a talk regarding Shakespearean influences on and references in science fiction at the annual LA Tech Shakespeare Birthday Celebration held in the Shakespeare Garden (GTMH courtyard). My talks have so far covered Shakespeare influences in Star Trek, The Forbidden Planet, Dr. Who, and the Lord of the Rings and one time, for a change of pace, Charles Dickens and Shakespeare.
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 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.
This year (2017) I have a few small roles in Ruston Community Theatre’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 :-).