WILMINGTON, Del. — A voting machine company’s defamation case against Fox News over its airing of false allegations about the 2020 presidential election will go to trial after a Delaware judge on Friday allowed a jury to decide whether the conservative network aired the claims with actual malice, the standard for proving libel.
Superior Court Judge Eric Davis ruled that neither Fox nor Dominion Voting Systems had presented a convincing argument to prevail on whether Fox acted with malice without the case going to a jury. But he also ruled that the statements Dominion had challenged constitute defamation “per se” under New York law. That means Dominion did not have to prove damages to establish liability by Fox.
“The evidence developed in this civil proceeding demonstrates that (it) is CRYSTAL clear that none of the statements relating to Dominion about the 2020 election are true,” Davis wrote in his summary judgment ruling.
The decision paves the way for a trial start in mid-April.
Dominion is suing the network for $1.6 billion, claiming Fox defamed it by repeatedly airing false claims about the company’s machines and its accompanying software. Court records and testimony revealed that many Fox hosts and executives didn’t believe the claims but continued to air them.
Fox has said it was simply covering very newsworthy allegations. The coverage fed an ecosystem of misinformation surrounding former President Donald Trump’s loss in 2020 that has persisted ever since.
In the actual TikTok video, Meri elaborates on this whole pause, pivot, and protect thing.
“First, when things are going crazy, just pause for a second. You don’t need to make any decisions,” Meri explains.
“When you are feeling a little more clear, then you make the pivot that you need to make to get you where you want to go.
“And most importantly, protect yourself. Protect your heart. Protect your brain. Protect your surroundings.
“If you wouldn’t let somebody into your home, don’t let them into your head.”
Meri, of course, got married to Kody way back in 1994… only for Kody to file for divorce in 2010 so that he could legally marry Robyn Brown.
Over the past few years, Meri and Kody have stopped being romantic in every way, shape or form.
Meri openly maintained hope that the two might reconcile — until, that is, Kody admitted on Sister Wives Season 17 that he didn’t consider himself married any longer to Meri.
“After more than a decade of working on our relationship in our own unique ways, we have made the decision to permanently terminate our marriage relationship,” the spiritual spouses said on January 10.
“During this process, we are committed to kindness and respect toward each other and to all members of our family,” concluded the exes on that date.
“We are also committed to the continued healing of any and all relationships with the family so that we can move forward with forgiveness, grace, and love.”
Plant owners know just how difficult it can be to figure out what they need, especially when leaves start browning or wilting. But it turns out that plants may have been telling you all along. A new study found that when plants are stressed, they emit specific sounds that identify what’s wrong.
Previous studies had shown that plants vibrate when under stress, but for years, scientists have debated whether those vibrations become sound waves. By studying tomato and tobacco plants in an acoustic chamber inside a greenhouse, researchers at Tel Aviv University discovered that it’s true – plants cry out for help through airborne ultrasonic sounds.
“We found that plants usually emit sounds when they are under stress and that each plant and each type of stress is associated with a specific identifiable sound,” researchers said in a news release from the university. “While imperceptible to the human ear, the sounds emitted by plants can probably be heard by various animals, such as bats, mice, and insects.”
Human adults can only hear frequencies up to 16 kilohertz, researchers said, but ultrasonic microphones placed about 10 centimeters from each plant used in the study detected sounds at frequencies between 20 and 250 kilohertz. Those recordings were analyzed by special AI algorithms that could differentiate between plants and the types of sounds they were emitting.
And the more stressed plants were, the more they screamed.
“Unstressed plants emitted less than one sound per hour, on average,” researcher Lilach Hadany said, “while the stressed plants – both dehydrated and injured – emitted dozens of sounds every hour.”
They also found that after a certain peak of dehydration, the sounds would simply stop. Their findings were published in the journal Cell on Thursday.
“Our findings suggest that the world around us is full of plant sounds, and that these sounds contain information – for example about water scarcity or injury,” Hadany said. “We assume that in nature the sounds emitted by plants are detected by creatures nearby, such as bats, rodents, various insects, and possibly also other plants – that can hear the high frequencies and derive relevant information.”
But it’s not just small animals and insects that can use this information, but humans too, Hadany said. All they need is the “right tools – such as sensors that tell growers when plants need watering.”
This could prove particularly beneficial in the agriculture industry, as researchers noted in their publication that “more precise irrigation can save up to 50% of the water expenditure and increase the yield.” This ability could only get more important as climate change continues to increase the intensity and frequency of droughts and the world continues to grapple with food security issues.
“Apparently, an idyllic field of flowers can be a rather noisy place,” Hadany said. “It’s just that we can’t hear the sounds.”
Now playing its first-ever Broadway revival at the Music Box Theatre, Bob Fosse’s Dancin’, a rethought version of the eponymous choreographer’s original 1978 Tony-winning Dancin’ (which he also created and directed), is an electrifying celebration of the art form and the legendary artist who revolutionized it, in such iconic stage musicals as Pal Joey, The Pajama Game, Damn Yankees, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, Sweet Charity, Pippin, and Chicago, and on the screen in Sweet Charity, Cabaret, and All That Jazz.
Newly reimagined and directed by original Tony-nominated cast member Wayne Cilento for our current times (with inclusive and genderful casting) and presented by special arrangement with Fosse’s (and Gwen Verdon’s) daughter Nicole, the show is not your traditional story-driven musical. It’s a dance revue, with a collection of vignettes shining a spotlight on Fosse’s original choreography in a variety of styles (reproduced by Christine Colby Jacques, with additional choreographic reproduction by Corinne McFadden Herrera) and on the phenomenal talents who deliver them, all individually (and deservedly!) recognized with featured performances and their names in neon lights for the final curtain calls (not just listed in the program as members of the company, as is often the case with dancers). They are: Ioana Alfonso, Yeman Brown, Peter John Chursin, Dylis Croman, Tony d’Alelio, Jōvan Dansberry, Karli Dinardo, Aydin Eyikan, Pedro Garza, Jacob Guzman, Manuel Herrera, Afra Hines, Gabriel Hyman, Kolton Krouse, Mattie Love, Krystal Mackie, Yani Marin, Nando Morland, Khori Michelle Petinaud, Ida Saki, Ron Todorowski, and Neka Zang.
Despite its self-described “plotless” format, there are spoken-word introductions to the show and its segments (with text consultation and additional material by Kirsten Childs) and voiceovers (sound by Peter Hylenski), including audio clips of Fosse himself, to set the stage for the dance numbers and the musicals they’re from – some of his most famous hits and some lesser-known and rarely seen works. There are also songs and enacted scenes performed by the amazing cast of triple threats, along with some added content, of excerpts from Fosse’s later (and last) Broadway musical Big Deal of 1986, and the return of the lengthy (and dated) “Big City Mime” – a brazenly sexual dance medley (evoking the Times Square area before the rampant XXX movie theaters, peep shows, porn shops, massage parlors, and street walkers were shut down in the 1990s, during the Giuliani administration), which was cut from the original production in its pre-Broadway run in Boston. So even without a straight-through narrative, there are storytelling elements within many of the pieces (with musical staging by Cilento).
But as in the title, it’s dancing to Fosse’s singular choreography that’s the main focus and draw, featuring everything from ballet and a romantic pas de deux to modern dance and tap to his own unmistakable signature elements (which he called the “Fosse amoeba”) of sideways shuffling, turned-in knees and feet, shimmying, shoulder-rolling, hip-thrusting, finger-snapping, and jazz hands, performed with white gloves, hats, and cigarette in mouth. Accompanied by a powerful fourteen-piece orchestra (with music direction by Justin Hornback; musical supervision and new dance arrangements by Jim Abbott; orchestrations, vocal arrangements, incidental music arrangements, and additional music arrangements by Hornback, Darryl Archibald, and Gary Seligson, and new music arrangements by David Dabbon), the twenty-two extraordinary dancers never cease to amaze with their strength and agility, control and flexibility, soaring jumps and high kicks, smooth moves and angular lines, consummate balance and flawless synchronicity, in addition to their vocals, character embodiments, and even bits of body percussion. Each and every one is breathtaking and each brings unsurpassed energy and discipline to the stage.
An arresting artistic design adds to the excitement of the show. A full array of costumes by Reid Bartelme and Harriet Jung, with hair and wigs by Ashley Wise and make-up by Suki Tsujimoto, are suited to the different styles of dance, the specific situations and periods of the vignettes, and the identities of the figures. There are dazzling active colorful video projections on the upstage wall (video design by Finn Ross) that inform and enhance each section and its mood, as does David Grill’s dramatic lighting. And Robert Brill’s scenic design, consisting of a cityscape of metal scaffolding, moves onto the stage for multi-level scenes and off to the sides to allow the open space to be filled with dance.
Some of the segments didn’t work as well for me as others. “Big City Mime” was overly long, though certainly indicative of Fosse’s brassy sexual content; “The Female Star Spot,” which questioned the less-than-feminist lyrics of Dolly Parton’s “Here You Come Again,” wasn’t as funny as intended; and “America” was a downer of patriotic anthems that haven’t held up over our troubled history. The most exhilarating numbers were the ones that closed Act I and opened Act II and featured the entire exuberant company and the pure joy of dancing – “Dancin’ Man” and “Benny’s Number” (performing to Benny Goodman’s 1937 swing-era blockbuster “Sing, Sing, Sing”). Dancin’ doesn’t get any better than that.
Since I never saw the original 1978 production of Dancin’, I can’t compare it to the present revival, but I can say that Bob Fosse’s Dancin’ is an impressive tribute to one of the greatest and most innovative choreographers in the history of Broadway and the superb company of dancers delivers his work with mastery, embodies everything he loved about the art, revisits it for lifelong fans, and introduces it to a new generation.
Running Time: Approximately two hours and 15 minutes, including an intermission.
Bob Fosse’s Dancin’ plays through Sunday, September 17, 2023, at the Music Box Theatre, 239 West 45th Street, NYC. For tickets (priced at $104-318, including fees), go online. Masks are no longer required but are recommended.
In the early 1970s, Gary Gygax lost his job at an insurance company in Chicago. Living with his family in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, he started working as a cobbler as a replacement gig. But money was tight, and his children had to put cardboard in the bottoms of their shoes instead of buying new pairs.
Little did Gygax know that his luck would soon change. Dungeons & Dragons (D&D), the fantasy role-playing game he co-created with Dave Arneson, became a national phenomenon. In the tabletop simulation, players craft their own characters and backstories, becoming anyone from a barbarian to a sorcerer. Working collaboratively over multiple sessions, they explore a fantasy world designed by the game’s all-knowing narrator, the dungeon master, who masterminds the various puzzles and battles the adventurers must face.
Ben Riggs, author of Slaying the Dragon: A Secret History of Dungeons & Dragons, says the game initially proved popular among players like Gygax, who felt they hadn’t yet found a place for themselves in society. He adds, “You have to start there, with very intelligent people, but people who also feel like they’re not part of the fabric [of America] and maybe aren’t going anywhere.”
The game has also moved beyond the tabletop to other mediums, including television, books and movies. The latest adaptation, a film titledDungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves, arrives in theaters on March 31. Starring Chris Pine, Michelle Rodriguez and Regé-Jean Page of “Bridgerton” fame, Honor Among Thieves is set in a fantasy D&D world. It follows a band of thieves who attempt to recover their loot from an ex-member of their crew, who betrayed them and used magic to seize control of the kingdom.
In honor of the game’s turn on the silver screen, as well as its upcoming 50th anniversary in 2024, here are 14 fun facts about the history of D&D and the people who made it.
1. Gygax was a war game fan first.
Before Gygax started developing D&D, playing tabletop war games—strategy games that realistically simulate armed conflicts—was his main hobby. He would often disappear on the weekends to play games that reenacted historical battles. Gygax also tried his hand at designing war games, publishing the medieval-themed Chainmail in 1971. But he enjoyed limited success. “There was no great money to be found in designing a [miniature] combat game in the early 1970s in America,” Riggs says.
2. D&D started as an afterthought to Chainmail, an earlier game created by Gygax.
At the end of the rules for Chainmail, Gygax included around a dozen pages of supplementary rules that went beyond the normal historical fare outlined in war games. “There’s a brief appendix where he’s like, ‘Oh, and also if you wanted to do fantasy battles, here’s dragons. Here’s some rules for wizards,’” Riggs says.
A love of Robert E. Howard’s Conan the Barbarianbooks inspired Gygax to attempt to capture a kind of “swashbuckling action” in his war game, wrote Wired’s David Kushner in a 2000 profile. But Gygax didn’t give the Chainmail fantasy supplement much more thought, particularly after history buffs rejected its “magical aspects … as folly at best, heresy at worst,” Kushner added.
3. Using Gygax’s fantasy rules, Arneson created the first D&D prototype, Blackmoor.
After meeting Gygax at a convention in 1969, Arneson, a war game fan based in Minnesota, took Chainmail’s fantasy rules and ran with them. Instead of strategizing their way through military battles, players in his game explored the imaginary dungeon of a castle called Blackmoor. Over the course of multiple sessions, gamers role-playing as fantastical characters delved deeper into the dungeon’s traps and twists.
Gygax learned about Arneson’s Chainmail spinoff through the war gaming community’s amateur press and newsletters. Soon after, in 1971, Arneson and a friend made the five-hour drive to Lake Geneva to play Blackmoor with Gygax. Impressed, Gygax asked Arneson to share the rules he’d devised. “Arneson sends him between 18 and 24 tightly packed pages of rules,” Riggs says. Gygax then suggested the two co-write a new game building on both of their ideas.
4. Gygax’s children were among the game’s first test audiences.
Gygax spent the next few months expanding the information shared by Arneson into a D&D prototype. As he prepared the game for publication, Gygax tested it on his children. “You’ll hear a lot of different versions of ‘This was the first game of Dungeons & Dragons ever,’” Riggs says. According to Gygax’s son Ernie, however, the initial run-through “took place after school on a weekday, and it was two boys and one girl exploring a scorpion nest” and fighting a band of reptilian humanoids known as kobolds.
5. The first publishing run of D&D was assembled in Gygax’s basement.
When the manuscript of the game rules was finished, Gygax began shopping it around to gaming companies—but none wanted to buy it. At the time, says Riggs, these companies made most of their money selling miniature gaming pieces that allowed players to track the movements of their ships and battalions on maps. The rules themselves sold at a relatively low price.
D&D is traditionally played with a set of dice, a pencil and paper. Given its emphasis on imaginative role-play over material accessories, the game had limited options for making money by selling miniatures. Many companies didn’t see D&D as a profitable venture. Others failed to see its appeal at all. “One company turned [Gygax and Arneson] down because they said no one would ever want to make their own dungeon,” Riggs says.
TSR published an initial run of 1,000 copies of D&D, putting the game’s components together by hand in Gygax’s basement. The game went on sale via mail order in January 1974. Though this first printing took the better part of a year to sell out, sales quickly gained momentum. The third printing, published in 1975, sold out in just a few months. “You started to see this exponential growth in Dungeons & Dragons,” Riggs says.
6. Gygax and Arneson’s relationship was rocky.
Despite D&D’s success, Arneson and Gygax’s bond soon crumbled, and a long-lasting feud replaced their once-innovative partnership. Per the Minnesota Historical Society, Arneson wasn’t initially involved in TSR, as Gygax viewed him as “a designer, not a businessman.” Arneson briefly served as TSR’s creative director but was pushed out of the company in 1976. The following year, TSR debuted a new version of the game titled Advanced Dungeons & Dragons; citing differences in gameplay, Gygax refused to offer Arneson royalties for the second edition. Cut out of the financial windfall, Arneson took TSR to court in 1979.
Riggs says Arneson was in some ways an unreliable partner. He didn’t contribute to game manuscripts as much as was expected of him, and he could be a difficult co-worker. But “he was still the co-creator of D&D, so he should have been receiving tons of royalties,” Riggs adds.
TSR as a whole assumed an anti-Arneson stance after his departure, Riggs says. Relations were so bitter that a company newsletter celebrating the construction of a new office building joked about burying Arneson alive beneath the foundation so he could achieve his wish of becoming a part of TSR’s operations.
Though the lawsuit was settled out of court in 1981, Arneson and Gygax never fully reconciled. Gygax became the face of D&D, while Arneson failed to receive the same level of recognition. “He really had to watch D&D from the sidelines,” Riggs says. After the lawsuit, Arneson continued designing games, though none achieved the success of D&D. He died at age 61 in 2009, one year after Gygax died at age 69.
7. Initially, Gygax and TSR enjoyed huge financial success.
After its publication of D&D and similar games, TSR experienced “meteoric growth,” Riggs says. The operation went from game assembly on top of plywood and sawhorse tables to offices with hundreds of employees. TSR expanded out of Lake Geneva to the United Kingdom and the East Coast of the United States. Business was booming to the point that the company rented a house on the Isle of Man.
D&D made Gygax into a millionaire. According to Riggs, he started “raising horses on the side.” By the early 1980s, he’d separated from his wife and moved out west. “At the zenith of his success,” wrote Ed Power for the Telegraphin 2017, “this devout Jehovah’s Witness lived a life of boozy, womanizing excess in a mansion in Hollywood.”
8. In its heyday, D&D sparked a moral panic.
In the late 1970s and early 1980s, D&D entered the national spotlight under unexpected circumstances. Critics—many of them religious fundamentalists—argued the game was corrupting America’s youth by promoting devil worship, witchcraft and violence. (Season four of Netflix’s “Stranger Things” notably references this moral panic.)
The controversy kicked off with the disappearance of 16-year-old James Dallas Egbert III in August 1979. A student at Michigan State University with a history of depression and a penchant for role-playing games, Egbert left behind a suicide note before vanishing. The detective tasked with investigating the case theorized that Egbert had entered the school’s steam tunnels as part of a D&D game. Though Egbert disputed this explanation when he resurfaced a month later, his subsequent suicide in August 1980, as well as the detective’s continued claims of a connection, cemented the link in some observers’ eyes. The game was also blamed for a Virginia high school student’s 1982 suicide and the 1984 murder of a Missouri teenager by two D&D-playing peers.
Repeatedly debunked by researchers, the supposed link between D&D and violence earned the game a bad reputation in the eyes of some—but as Clyde Haberman noted for the New York Timesin 2016, it also boosted D&D’s popularity, “with the numbers of players leaping from the thousands into the millions.”
9. TSR found itself in real trouble in the 1980s.
The early 1980s proved to be the golden years of D&D. But its parent company, TSR, soon found itself floundering. Facing stagnating sales, TSR started laying off employees in waves. “In one round of layoffs, they started on the west side of the building and worked their way across the building, firing people,” Riggs says. In another set of layoffs, the head of the role-playing game design department, at wit’s end after huge reductions had already taken place, gathered his team together and asked someone to volunteer to be fired. By 1983, TSR had split into four separate subcompanies, among them TSR, Inc. and TSR Entertainment, Inc.
10. Financial woes led Gygax to hire the woman who would eventually push him out of his own company.
In 1984, Gygax hired Lorraine Williams, whose family owned the copyright to the Buck Rogers comic character, to help steer TSR, Inc. back to profitability. The two had a falling out, but Williams liked the company and its staff, so she secretly bought out Gygax’s partners. In a dramatic board meeting on October 22, 1985, TSR’s board voted Gygax out as president and CEO and replaced him with Williams. (She, in turn, led TSR until 1997, when it was acquired by Wizards of the Coast, the company behind Magic: The Gathering.)
“Gygax goes into this meeting thinking, ‘I’m in control of the company. This is great,’” Riggs says. “By the end of the meeting, he is not in control of the company, not in control of Dungeons & Dragons, and he never will be again for as long as he lives.”
11. Efforts to profit from D&D’s popularity spawned products like a successful series of novels.
When it came to D&D, a major question for TSR was how to make money off of players after they bought the game’s rulebook. Under Williams’ leadership, the company began producing novels based on the game. “By the early 1990s, the fiction department at TSR was grossing about the same amount of money as the role-playing game department at TSR,” Riggs says.
Creating a successful role-playing game requires designers, editors, illustrators, cartographers and other contributors. A novel, on the other hand, can be completed by a smaller team of a writer, an editor and an illustrator. As Riggs explains, “When the company was doing poorly, there were rumors that one day, everyone was going to come in, and they were going to be told, ‘We don’t make games anymore. We only make novels. You’re all writers. Now go, go, go.’”
12. The most recent version of the game is the fifth edition, published in 2014. A new edition is on the way.
D&D has evolved over the decades, with each of the five main editions released between 1977 and 2014 adding new mechanics to the game—sometimes to the disapproval of fervent fans. (The 1974 D&D game is generally viewed separately from the numbered editions, which begin with the 1977 release of Advanced Dungeons & Dragons.)
For almost a decade, players have used the fifth edition of D&D, which is designed to simplify and streamline gameplay, making the experience more creative and less bogged down by charts and details. This version looks markedly different from the 1974 original, which offered four playable species (humans, dwarves, elves and hobbits) and three classes of characters (fighting-man, magic-user and cleric). In the fifth edition, players can choose characters from nine species, such as dragonborn and half-orc, and a dozen character classes, from bard to warlock.
In time for the game’s 50th anniversary next year, Wizards of the Coast plans to release a new edition of rules called One D&D.The revampis currently undergoing playtesting.
13. Honor Among Thieves isn’t the first time D&D has appeared onscreen.
One of the earliest onscreen adaptations of D&D was an animated series that aired on CBS from 1983 to 1985. The show followed six children who try to find their way back home after being transported to a fantasy world. But it was canceled abruptly and ends on a cliffhanger.
In recent years, D&D has experienced a surge in popularity. The game’s latest edition is more accessible than previous versions, making it easier for newcomers to understand the rules, Riggs says. D&D has also gained more visibility in pop culture, in part thanks to shows like “The Big Bang Theory” and “Stranger Things,” which feature characters playing the game.(Wizards of the Coast even sells a role-playing game inspired by “Stranger Things.”)
While the internet and video games are heavy contenders for consumers’ attention, they have also made it easier than ever to learn about D&D. (The D&D franchise boasts its fair share of video games, too.) Still, much of the game’s appeal stems from the sense of community it provides. During the Covid-19 pandemic, old and new fans alike started playing the game virtually, connecting with friends and family from afar.
“It’s not a game. It’s a social experience,” D&D player Nathan Walters told BBC News in 2021. “There is no winning or losing. It’s like you’re sitting down with a few people and you’re collectively writing a novel, all at once in real time.”
Riggs, for his part, says D&D is “one of the few mediums of the 21st century that brings people together instead of pulling them apart. Twitter pulls you apart. Social media rips people up. … This is one of the only things pulling people together that gives you faith in your fellow human beings, and it allows you to enjoy their company in an organized way.”