Editor’s Note: A Little Levity
December 6, 2010 |  by Catherine Pierre

Just for fun, I asked Margaret Guroff, A&S ’89 (MA), if she could remake one scene from the movie Star Wars, what would it be? “I guess it’d be the hologram of Princess Leia,” she told me. “Not sure why though.” Me, I’d take any scene with Chewbacca.

This wasn’t an entirely random exchange. Meg penned this issue’s “The Force Is with Her,” about fellow Writing Sems graduate Annelise Pruitt, A&S ’04, who won an Emmy this summer for her design of the website Star Wars Uncut. The site splices together 15-second user-generated clips into a single slightly insane version of the original. It won the Emmy for outstanding achievements in interactive media.

As soon as we heard about the award, and the website, we knew we had to write a story. Johns Hopkins people—and so, in turn, Johns Hopkins Magazine—regularly tackle the world’s most daunting and serious problems. See, as an example, senior writer Michael Anft’s cover story, “Outbreak Agents,” about medical and public health researchers who are on the scene at natural and other disasters to track and manage disease. Or freelancer Jay Pridmore’s account of the war in Afghanistan and the faculty at the Nitze School of Advanced International Studies’ Bolgona Center who are trying to track, manage, and understand the ethnic conflicts that erupt into international war (“A New Kind of War,” page 50). How fun to shine a little light on some of the quirkier successes the university’s alumni are enjoying. Meg, who edits and publishes the website Power Moby-Dick, an online annotation of Herman Melville’s novel, seemed the right person for the job.

Of course, a little levity finds its way into the most serious of pursuits. The Epidemic Intelligence Service officers at the center of Mike’s story have a brown shoe with a worn-out sole for a logo to emphasize the shoe leather–expending aspects of their work. During the Korean War, when many joined the Service to avoid being sent to the front line, they jokingly referred to themselves as the “Yellow Berets.” My guess is that if what you do for a living is run to disaster instead of away from it, you’d better have a sense of humor.

And then there’s associate editor Dale Keiger’s story, “D.I.Y. Opera,” about several Peabody graduates who, when the local grand opera company failed, up and started their own companies. What they lack in funding and stage-management experience, they make up for with talent, drive, cleverness, and the occasional irreverent take on the classics.

So seriously, enjoy the issue. Have a laugh. And if you’re so inclined, grab your lightsaber and pretend you’re Luke Skywalker.