Alan Alda Came to My Town

Talk about all things M*A*S*H -- the novel, the film, the television series, even the play. Not to mention the spin-offs, merchandise, cast, crew and anything else you can think of to talk about.
Post Reply
User avatar
Big Daddy O'Reilly
Colonel
Posts: 537
Joined: Mon May 23, 2011 10:57 am
Location: The Swamp
Contact:

Alan Alda Came to My Town

Post by Big Daddy O'Reilly » Tue Nov 01, 2016 7:45 pm

The University of Tennessee has recently started hosting a series of lectures in the field of communicating science - last year, the guest speaker was Bill Nye the Science Guy, but this year's guest was none other than Alan Alda.

The lecture was open to the public, and free, so I attended.

It was a rather interesting and engaging lecture too, which was pretty much what he was talking about: how to make scientific explanations engaging for people in a way that doesn't dumb down what they're talking about, but adding an emotive level to it so that people can comprehend what's being told to them. He explained this is why he's been holding so many improv workshops in recent years - not to help people hone comedic skills, or to be quick on their feet, but be able to think outside the box when explaining something to somebody. He also shared a few anecdotes from his book as well.

And sorry folks, he didn't speak of M*A*S*H hardly at all, but that's not why he was there.

I wasn't sure if maybe there would be a meet-and-greet at some point before or after the lecture, but I brought my M*A*S*H plague, as well as my copy of NEVER HAVE YOUR DOG STUFFED for him to sign, but there wasn't an opportunity for that. There was, however, a Q&A session after the lecture that he ran out of time for, that I wish now I participated in, because I thought of something to ask him while others waited in line.

It was an interesting and unique experience to say the least. The house was packed.

User avatar
RJ
General of the Army
Posts: 415
Joined: Sat May 14, 2011 7:26 pm
Contact:

Re: Alan Alda Came to My Town

Post by RJ » Fri Nov 11, 2016 8:52 pm

That's really neat. Glad you got to hear him talk. From everything I've read, he's incredibly passionate about science.

User avatar
Big Daddy O'Reilly
Colonel
Posts: 537
Joined: Mon May 23, 2011 10:57 am
Location: The Swamp
Contact:

Re: Alan Alda Came to My Town

Post by Big Daddy O'Reilly » Mon Dec 12, 2016 2:50 pm

Very much so, and I can see why he's working on sort of "training" scientists and educators in a way of making their explanations of something more engaging, so that people are more able to really absorb and comprehend what they're talking about.

Interestingly, he did two exercizes, one of which was from the special HBO did about his improv workshops. The first one involved a woman he selected from the assembly to tap the tune of a well-known song on a table to see if anyone in the audience could recognize it: she did, and of the many people who believed they recognized it, only one person was actually correct - most others thought it was the National Anthem, but the one person correctly identified it as the Happy Birthday Song. That was an interesting exercize, because when you think about it, just tapping the tune without any actual music or melody, the two do sound practically the same, but it was still an interesting exercize just the same. The second exercize he used from his HBO special was he brought a guy up on stage, gave him an empty glass, and asked him to bring it across the stage to him, which he did. After that, Alan filled the glass up to the rim, and asked him to bring the glass to him again, but this time, he couldn't spill a single drop, or everybody in his village would die. You can imagine which of the two trips got the audience more interested: try as he may, the guy did spill a little water, and the audience actually gasped at this, which Alan took note of to point out that it engaged people with what it was he was doing.

This was basically what his lecture was about, communicating science with people in a way that would be engaging without being so overly technical about it, because when you understand something that somebody else may not understand, you have to consider how to share this information with them in a way they can better understand.

Post Reply