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Category Archives: Def. Ref.

Definitive Reference (this is a reference to my last blog type, where I only posted referential information, and cool links to check out).

Decided to change it up for this one. Instead of film news and movie news, and the like. I decided to post a roundup of great videos I watched on the internet this month. It may slow loading time a bit, but it should be fairly enjoyable. Thanks for waiting ūüėČ

New video for Giorgio Tuma “And three parasol stars”. out on Elefant Records Video by Emanuele Kabu

A Humanoid robotic body developed by Kaist called ‘Hubo Humanoid’ has installed an animatronic head of Albert Einstein from a well known engineer David Hanson of Hanson Robotics. Those who fear the uncanny valley beware.

VIDEOGIOCO animation and concept by Donato Sansone

Trailer for the new documentary from the director of Helvetica.

Let’s Paint,Exercise,& Blend Drinks TV!

Chemical Brother’s Star Guitar music video by Michele Gondry

Trailer for a documentary about John Hughes

Trailer for a French cowboy film called Lucky Luke–they love cowboys over there. (the flash video player isn’t working for some reason, none-the-less, the link is visitable).
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There’s quite a bit more where that came from, but I imagine this already slowed the sites loading time way down. Enjoy.

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I’m a week late, but here’s some news I enjoyed (selected from my del.icio.us feed, as usual), which is film related:

School starts back on Monday¬† here at IU, and my time for cinema will be pressed even further. Here, however, is some news I’ve gathered over the last month. This is what I thought was worth checking out.

And speaking of public broadcasting, I’ll be working jib for the telethon that’s going on probably near forever, or until you all pay small increments of money so that I can keep my job and you get commercial free television. Donate?

I’m about 5 days late, but this is something new I’d like to try out. It’s a round-up of some of my favorite things I’ve found in the last month. Here’s the experiment:

  • Pink Film – During the 50s film sexuality was just as repressed in Japan as in America. Their resulting product, the Pink Films, dominated cinema from the 60s through the 80s. It’s a fascinating blend of horror, softcore porn, and good old fashioned weird Japanese stuff. You can read more about it at Bright Lights Film Journal, check out a couple examples from a film festival, and/or you can download torrents for a couple example films.
  • Rogue Learning Torrents – I’m surprised to find, on occasion, torrents that actually provide a large amount of educational material in one place. Unfortunately, all the good communities are invite only, and thus it’s nice to find free ones from time to time. I recently found this torrent, which is essentially a class worth of film on the Japanese New Wave. I’ll let you know how it is.
  • Trailers and Upcoming Films and Reviews – Just wanted to note that District 9 is getting great reviews. The trailer for Fantastic Mr. Fox, aka. Wes Anderson’s favorite children’s story, came out. The trailer for Kubrik inspired In The Loop, was also just released. The Coen Brothers latest, “A Serious Man,” is reptative and promising. At Comic Con last month James Cameron showed up, and everyone forgot that he made Titanic to swoon over Avatar; meanwhile, Hayao Miyazaki made his interviewer friend from pixar gush in an embarassing but cute way–and all to push for Ponyo press. Moon didn’t see the rave reviews I was hoping for, but I still want to see it. And IFC releases another contrived top ## list, in this case 50, and regarding film trailers throughout history.
  • Marvel has decided to explore anime with its heros. I think it suits them well, and that is tight. MadHouse, the animation studio responsible for the previously linked videos, are responsible for several Manga I enjoyed; namely, Trigun, and…er…Beyblade.
  • Kodachrome died.
  • And, were you curious about the end titles of Wall-E. The interview with their mastermind features this quote at it’s preface: ‚ÄúAs time evolved so did the means of artistically replicating reality, from cave drawings‚Ķto engraving, to painting, to photography, and to its (thus far) most convincing form, cinema. In the task of duplicating reality cinema has surpassed all other forms of representation.‚ÄĚ ‚Äď From ‚ÄúAndr√© Bazin Revisited‚ÄĚ ‚Äď Donato Totaro

That’ll do it. I’m trying to keep it film related, and this is certainly not everything I saw, perhaps in the future I’ll expand it. Anyway, hope you enjoy.

I’ve been on a sort of hiatus for awhile. I haven’t had time to finish up describing my travels. I don’t know exactly how to capture the rest of East Africa, but the previous post gives a the general feelings of the trip. For further insight into the trip it might be best to check out my Flickr album, and my Facebook album, for a more complete picture. At this point I don’t think I have the patience to recount the entire trip. I do think that it’s, possibly, the best trip I’ve ever taken–certainly one of the most insightful and rewarding, if not always pleasurable and luxurious.

As I mentioned in the previous post, I also visited Germany. Pictures of this trip can also be found on Flickr and Facebook, and I encourage you to take a look at them if you’re interested. As I’ve began to do lately, the pictures are followed by longer descriptions than usual making it have more of a photo essay feel. Anyway, I think they capture some of my favorite parts of the trip.

So, my travels are complete. I captured them to the best of my ability, and I hope they are useful and enjoyable. Now, I’m back in Bloomington, and I’m looking forward to making new and interesting posts.

“There’s now a buzz on the Kentish cheese scene.”

So I had just got done having a conversation and working for a British woman in Whitstable, and I’m walking around the seaside town on a beautiful day, when suddenly a cheese shop catches my eye—The Cheese Box. So Matt (my partner in crime) and I go in, and the clerk asks if we want to try some of “Kelly’s Goat.” Duh, we do. Somehow I find myself buying some, without even trying anything else (one taste = sell), and he hands me a pamphlet and tells me to check them out on youtube (he also asked if I was “much of a cheese head,” I can’t say I am. But I want to be, now!). Well, I couldn’t find them on youtube, but I did find them on KentTV. Wow, what an amazing cheese. Honestly, one of the best cheeses I’ve ever had. It tastes like nothing else, it’s sort of cheddery, farmy, but sort of has a blue cheese tangyness with a creamy texture while still remaining solid—It’s all local too, produce and sold in Kent. Plus it’s of the goat variety, which is easier on the digestive system. I only wish I had discovered it sooner.

Today warrants a special post—I visited Britain’s oldest brewery. However, It’s been awhile sense I updated what I’ve been up to in general. Well, I just finished another film titled ‘Conatus‘. I’ll post that in a separate post, soon probably. I’ve been mostly procrastinating working on a paper, and hanging out with my friend Matt who’s staying with me over the break. I’ve also been preparing to go to Africa, which has been a fairly painless process. I’m still quite looking forward to going home, and it’s not too far off now. I’ve been killing Mad Men season 2, which I highly recommend, as well. Lot’s of filling time, though. It’d be super lonely without Matt around (missing Monica hardcore). One of the time fillers, mentioned earlier, is the transitions to the blog. I started going through all the old posts and categorizing them correctly, and tagging them correctly. I’m only on November 2007 right now. In the end the blog will be much easier to navigate historically and categorically for all, and probably, hopefully, increase traffic. At this point my most popular post is still the one where Andrew birds musical instruments are mentioned. [Side Note: I actually changed the tags of this post. It used to be all clumped together, incorrectly distinguishing the words as tags. I will have discovered that separating words can hurt a posts meta-reference value on the internet by changing this if the post stops getting so many hits. Anyway, I find it interesting.] So, now on to Faversham‘s famous brewery.

Shepherd’s Neame has been around sense 1698. The banners around the brewery haven’t been updated since 1998, where the 6 in “Established in 1698” is also a 9, symbolising their 300 year anniversary in 1998—thus making them 311 years old. Beer, however, is probably at least 8,000 years old. Faversham is a pretty standard town, we didn’t see anything too special. However, in the Kent area there are 375 local pubs or bars that they stock as subsidiaries. Though, there are 890 pubs in general that have their beer on tap in England. They have four seasonal beers (naturally), and some other ales they produce year round, not to mention being Britain’s major producer of more common beers like Asahi, Oranjeboom, Sam Adams Boston Lager, Etc. They also have an attached micro-brewery which produces cool special ales for one-off events and occasions (for instance, they have a special beer every year around Christmas).

The tour was pretty interesting and rewarding. I recently got two new batteries for my camera, but neglected to charge any of them, and so (much to my dismay) ran out of batteries just after the first 15 minutes of the tour. So there aren’t any pictures, and I’ve been slacking in this department lately, in general. Regardless, I can assure you that I learned a lot, and it was a pretty dang cool experience—one I hope to have again (note: there was some seriously obsessed guys on the tour that looked and sounded like they should have been from the movie Sideways. Calm down guys, seriously). I think probably the most memorable part of the tour was when we tasted three of the four ingredients they use for their beers. We tasted several different types of malted barley (different roasts and flavors), some hops (which were really gross, but now I will never forget what it means when something is “hop-y”, and of course their wonderful “liquor” (A.K.A what brewers call the water they use for their beer. In our case it was just water with natural minerals from a really really old well). They also have these massive storage containers that are used to “lager” some of the beer (which requires a second “storing/”lagering” process of fermentation, and results in beers called, duh, “lagers”). In these containers are approximately 1.25 million pints of beer; which the tour guide used for in this punch-line, “that’s a fact, not a challenge.” And, of course, there was a great tasting session at the end. My favorite was “Early Bird,” but I tried a few others as well. Bishop’s Finger is the name of one of the beers, by the way. As are Spitfire (named after world war two planes, and the advertising of which was both controversial, and highly successful—This coupled with the beer actually being really good eventually caused the intended limited run to span into the present). I’ll close with two quotes I found on the tour:

“Give my people plenty of beer, good beer and cheap beer, and you will have no revolution among them.” -Queen Victoria

“Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.” -Benjamin Franklin

Japanese is no Navajo or even Basque, but it’s still pretty damn hard. There are plenty of “harder” languages, but this one has been particularly difficult for me. I feel like I’m still at intermediate, and have been for the last 3 years. I’ll be going to third year college level Japanese next semester at IU, and I have to say, I’m a bit worried. I’m out of practice. With that bad news (for my personal academic life), there comes good news. The internet has improved, and offers a lot of help for students like me now—a lot of which, I wish I had when I was first starting. Here is a collection of my findings in three sections:

  1. Personal experience and foresight. “I wish I knew what I knew Now…When I was younger.”
    • Alright. Flat out, and this is sort of paradoxical. Don’t have any goals or expectations, er…well. This is hard to explain, but basically, Japanese will take you ages, you’ll get sick of it, don’t give up because you expected something to happen that didn’t. If you ask me this is sort of a metaphor for a lot of things, but particularly for lifelong learning processes like secondary languages.
    • Here’s a testimonial. This is pretty good information just to brace yourself for the learning process. Don’t be too disillusioned. I particularly like number 17, in that regard, because it exemplifies that, though not everyday and every moment, the experience should be fun.
    • Getting into the culture is the understatement of the year. But, if you ask me, it’s not too hard to find a way to fall in love with Japan. Watch¬† movies, read books, check out blogs, photographers, artists, history, politics, whatever. There are plenty of tools that can help which brings me to:
  2. The Internet
    • I really don’t think you can learn Japanese through just one method. Just listening to a Podcast, or just watching anime, or just reading books, will not do it. Podcasts, however, can fill in the gap between semesters if you want to keep your ear tuned in (and like me, don’t have proper connections with native speakers). I find that podcasts aren’t that rewarding, I find reading and writing a lot more rewarding (while talking out loud). Regardless, here’s a compliation of web resources I use:
    • JapanesePod 101. You’ll notice that they really want you to sign up, and to charge you. It didn’t used to be this way with this resource. That said, you can still get them easily on iTunes without login information (I’m pretty sure). They are pretty funny, incredibly quirky, and at entertaining at the very least. I’ve tried a couple other ones, but this one’s pretty much the best.
    • I would highly suggest installing the English to Japanese keyboard input converter on your personal computer. It makes things a lot easier. Once you’ve installed this, and turned on the Japanese input methods, you can type romaji and it will automatically convert it the the proper hiragana. Then, when you’ve typed hiragana that make up a kanji character you can press space and a small list of kanji possibilities show up to choose from to replace the hiragana. It’s crucial. I use this off and on to ‘journal’, which basically means to try creative ways to use my resources and new knowledge.
    • Alright, so now what to read on the internet? Well, anything, blogs, whatever. There hasn’t been precident for this sort of thing before. There weren’t everyday blogs to read by random Japanese people 10 years ago like there are today. I think it’s valuable and quite rewarding. There’s newspapers, too, of course, which are fantastic resources.
    • But, whoa, that’s way overwhelming, right? Right. So, here’s what you do. First: Get Firefox. Trust me. It’s the best. Got it? Good.
      • Now get this extension: Rikaichan, once you’ve installed it, make sure you’ve got the dictionaries installed too (same page). If you are unsure of what any character means, just turn this on via right-clicking in the window, and then whenever you hover over a character, or set of characters, it will reveal the reading and possible definitions of the word.
      • If you need even less help than that, you can also install this: Furigana Injector. When installed it will place the reading above the kanji when displayed on any webpage. It’ll help a lot, and you’ll speed through articles a little quicker hopefully.
    • Then, there’s always helpful “learning” websites. I don’t usually trust these things. Ideally, I could just be in school, or have a proper book. But, right now I’m depending on these. All my books are at home, with my notes, and I don’t want to buy anything to take back when I have to come home from England, so the Internet is my only resource. This one is nice for grammar patterns, and simple sentences and lessons. I’ve never used this one, but it’s the first thing that showed up on Google when I typed in “Japanese Grammar.” You get the idea.
    • Other online dictionaries. Sometimes I use WWWJDIC, or I’ll cheat and look up english words to convert here.
  3. Classes, Books and Other Resources
    • It’s not uncommon that you don’t have the internet. But you still want to study Japanese. So, get books. I’m not really sure what the best. But I can tell you what I’ve used in class are the Genki textbooks. I found them really great for the classroom setting. Other than that, I don’t know.
    • Once, in class, my teacher recommended some software. I can’t remember exactly which one it was, but the idea still remains: you can get a dictionary for your computer to use offline for free. Try here.

Anyway, it’s fun to try and figure out ways to learn for yourself too. Finding a way to make it a fun habit is very rewarding. But, if you get a chance, take a class, it’ll probably be easier that way.

At this time I will share with you the quintessential 15 X-Files episodes that you must see, and which are my favorites (in order of season within which they appear). Note: none of these episodes are part of the overarching conspiracy storyline (which is summed up by Chris Carter in¬†this illegal copy of the hidden track from the x-files album). Though I do like the overarching storyline, I don’t think they constitute what makes the show a classic. Some of the episodes are¬†available¬†on¬†this website, though they may be taken down at this point. So without further adieu:

  1. Squeeze and¬†Tooms (2 part series): These two episodes track a genetically mutated man who can eat livers, use some kind of bodily substance to build a cocoon, and extend his life by 30 years at a time. It’s super creepy, and when I was a kid, I found it quite (pleasantly, upon reflection) disturbing. Note: the man can squeeze through things like an octopus; in other words, be afraid of your toilet. There are plenty of other good moments in season 1, but I think (besides the Jersey Devil one, where the sexual tension is at high, and the Pilot where Skully gets naked for Mulder) it’s my favorite.
  2. War of the Coprophages (Also Season 3): This is underrated in my opinion. I love it, for the reason that I love almost any specific episode, because of the sexual tension. Basically, Mulder investigates something and Skully decides not to come, but when Mulder finds an attractive girl who likes cockroaches more than humans, Skully gets jealous. It’s pretty brilliant. I won’t spoil the ending, but it does involve an eccentric and secluded old cranky mechanical engineer turned bug-bot inventor.
  3. Jose Chung‚Äôs From Outer Space (Season 3): An instant classic. It’s unbelievably meta. It’s a story about a man investigating a UFO abduction for a book and trying to clarify and¬†confirm¬†the story. In the process we even get to hear the story from the aliens perspective (sorta), AND there are: a second alien race that lives at the center of the earth and has massive orgies, the always fun Men in Black, and Mulder eats an entire pie at a diner. It’s so crucial.¬†If you only watch one, I’d suggest this one.
  4. Home (Season 4): If you haven’t heard about this episode, then you probably haven’t heard much about the X-Files. It always comes up. The show was aired only twice on fox, once when in its normal slot, and another time during a special Halloween showing where it was given a TV-MA rating (and no doubt Fox lost a lot of money on advertising). It’s about an imbred family, and rivals the original “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” in familial horror (subsequently, there is a lot of classic American imagery which media studies students could draw all kinds of references to: Edward Hoppers American landscapes, the work of David Lynch, and I’d argue even Hitchcockian American conceptions). I won’t spoil it, but if you want to be freaking creeped, check it.
  5. Musings of a Cigarette Smoking Man (Season 4): I sure wish they kept his name as “cancer man,” it sounds way more bad-ass. Anyway, this is another one I think is pretty underrated. It’s told as a story from the perspective of two of the three Lone Gunmen (hackers and engineers who distribute a subversive magazine about conspiracies as a hobby), which already gets it high up on my list of favorites (The Lone Gunmen are something of a cult phenomenon, they had their¬†own show at one point, and there’s even ablog named after them ;). It reveals a lot of awesome back story that involved the background mythology of the television show; like for instance, the Cancer Man is responsible for several nationally recognized assassinations of major American public figures.
  6. The Usual Suspects (Season 5): I really only included this because it explains Mulder’s association with the Lone Gunman. Like I said, these episodes have a cult¬†following, so they’re worth seeing for the quirky eccentric trio.
  7. The Post-Modern Prometheus (Season 5): In all black in white, this is a TV replica of David Lynch’s Elephant Man (which I recently watch and enjoyed very much). In fact, until today when I looked it up on the internet, I was convinced it was co-directed by him (it wasn’t to my research, and makes much more sense because it’s too funny to be D.L.). Also, it takes place in Bloomington, Indiana—home of Indiana University (holler). It also has a great song by Cher in it, and a cameo by Jerry Springer.
  8. Pusher and Kitsunegari (Season 3 and Season 5): I included these two episodes because they are some of the cooler psychological-thriller, real FBI, type episodes. Just really enjoyable stuff, quite suspenseful.
  9. Bad Blood (Season 5): This another one of my favorites. It’s a comedy one, and features Luke Wilson. The story is told from several perspectives (similar to Jose Chung’s), which is where a lot of the comedy comes from. Hands down, another brilliant one. If you don’t want to be scared, and just want to have fun, then watch this one and Jose Chung’s first (though there are a couple other funny ones, too). This is Gillian Anderson’s favorite, too, in case you were wondering.
  10. Dreamland (Season 6, two part series): Another funny, and quite genius, set of episodes. In these, Mulder switches bodies with a middle-aged man having a mid-life crisis. Another comedic one, maybe not the best, but truly entertaining. Honestly, I sense ideologies of American Beauty, though clearly not meant to be as dramatic and Hollywood.
  11. Arcadia (Season 6): Another funny one (you can see where my favorites lie). The comedy is quite absurd. Mulder and Skully must pretend to be suburban newlyweds in a planned community. Need I say more? My favorite line: “Woman! Get back in the kitchen and make me a samwich!” Too bad about Skully’s lab equipment, and Mulder get’s in trouble for playing basketball at night. Wonderful.
  12. The Unnatural (Season 6): This was the hardest one for me to choose because I was debating about two other episodes in the season that I also enjoy (the Christmas episode “How the Ghosts Stole Christmas,” and “Monday,” which would have been self-indulgent because its about time travel). But, this one is crucial. It marks DD’s (David Duchovny’s) director and writer debut. It’s funny, and also has a warm feeling to it. It’s a real nice story about some aliens who just want to play baseball, and there’s a little bit of old-fashioned¬†cinematic time travel (for me) in there, too.
  13. Field Trip (Season 6): Ever wonder about the mysterious power of mushrooms? Well, Mulder and Skully found out just what they can do. They end up hallucinating, I’ll say that much.
  14. X-Cops (season 7): I almost didn’t include this one, because I haven’t seen it in a ridiculously long time. However, a friend (Liz) told me it was good, and I love the creative use of the reality-TV aesthetic. It’s like cops, only, it’s actually X-Files (a little ahead of it’s time, in terms of critique of the reality TV style,¬†if ask me.
  15. Je Souhaite (Season 7): Mulder finds a genie in a carpet and gets three wishes. Believe it! Well, he wishes for world peace. But in the end, the episode has a tight philosophical punch. A great one to end the list with. The title is French for “I Wish.” (Edit: Liz specified, this one is WAY cheesey, you should be warned)

So, that’s the fruit of years of television research. I’ve got two more posts in the works, and a lot of time to work on them, so expect them soon.

I want to believe.

I had to read this for my History of British Cinema class:

When you come back to England from any foreign country, you have immediately the sensation of breathing a different air. Even in the first few minutes dozens of small things conspire to give you this feeling. The beer is bitterer, the coins are heavier, the grass is greener, the advertisements are more blatant. The crowds in the big towns, with their mild knobby faces, their bad teeth and gentle manners, are different from a European crowd. Then the vastness of England swallows you up, and you lose for a while your feeling that the whole nation has a single identifiable character. Are there really such things as nations? Are we not forty-six million individuals, all different? And the diversity of it, the chaos! The clatter of clogs in the Lancashire mill towns, the to-and-fro of the lorries on the Great North Road, the queues outside the Labour Exchanges, the rattle of pin-tables in the Soho pubs, the old maids hiking to Holy Communion through the mists of the autumn morning ‚Äď all these are not only fragments, but characteristic fragments, of the English scene. How can one make a pattern out of this muddle?

George Orwell. Such, Such Were the Joys — “England Your England”. 1941.

It gets better, too. You can read the full text here.