Archive for October, 2010

Graduate Record Examination (GRE)

Today, October 28, 2010 I took the GRE (Graduate Record Examination) at a test site in Tokyo. Previously, I took the exam for entrance to my Master’s program at the University of Oregon. In preparation for applying to PhD schools I opted to take the exam again. The immediate score I received was 1070 (590 Verbal Reasoning 480 Quantitative Reasoning). Anyone familiar with the format knows that it takes around four hours and is composed of three sections and four parts. Writing Assessment (Perspective & Critique), Verbal Reasoning, and Quantitative Reasoning. My major weakness is mathematics or the quantitative reasoning section. As a student in the humanities it has been sometime since mathematics played any part in my academic circle.

Neither score I received will set the world on fire as each section ranges from 200-800 points. While I scored higher on my verbal reasoning score it does not place me in the top percentile of people who take the GRE. This score is only a part of my application and I have excelled in the majority of other academic areas, but I still feel a bit cold about my results.

My work ethic for the test was very strong and I even had the help of my sweetheart back in Oregon, but that was betrayed by the limited time I provided myself for preparation. Fearing the deadline for admissions this year I hastily decided to take the exam at the end of October, having only registered on the sixth of that month. This left merely three weeks to prepare. While I had taken the test before and was familiar with it, I had forgotten many of the trips and more detailed elements of this test. On top of which many of the math concepts I learned in high school had completely escaped me.

Part of me is happy to have achieved a relatively strong verbal score, but I know I need more time in both areas to succeed. Talking with my girlfriend, who is not a native English speaker, she spent nearly a year preparing herself for the exam. Her score was around 1200, getting a perfect 800 in the math section and a 400 in the verbal section. While I cannot compare myself to her score I can understand that with a longer prep period I know I could achieve much more than I did today.

I have a lot more work to do, but today felt a little sad knowing that even though I worked hard, I needed to give myself much more time to prepare for this portion of the application process. Even though the future is uncertain, I will do my best in all the other areas of my application and keep working hard.

Until next time, cheers!


Eros + Massacre

Today I am heading to the National Film Center of Japan, a ten minute walk from Tokyo Station, to see the Yoshida Kiju(Yoshishige) masterpiece Eros + Massacre. The film will start at 12:30 which will be followed with a talk by the director. I am very excited as I have never met or seen a talk by director Yoshida. My advisor, Daisuke Miyao, translated his book Ozu Yasujiro no han-eiga (Ozu Yasujiro’s anti-film) which tackled a lot of issues Yoshida had with Ozu’s work. The film being screened today is considered by some as a nail in the coffin of the loosely defined Japanese New Wave, of which I am writing about currently. I am very excited and will include an update when I return. Cheers!
This is a link to the schedule for today’s screening:
The screening was a real treat. The film center did a restoration on the film, showcasing a brand new print. At the end of the screening and talk one of the film center employees mentioned that they are still looking for an original print (full 226 mins.) that may exist in Paris. It has not been found yet, but their belief is that it is out there. Yoshida Kiju (Yoshishige)’s talk was very enjoyable. He joked if anyone could understand the ‘dream’ (i.e. craziness) of what they had just seen. He went on to describe in detail his vision for the film of presenting a dream on the screen. I believe he has touched on this idea before, but it was no less interesting hearing it from the man himself. He was quite soft spoken and slight in stature, but his words were direct and very passionate. One of my favorite moments was his description of parting with Shochiku following his six film where they edited the final scene. In essence he told them to screw off and for him was the break of being a person who made films versus filmmaker. Also, as a surprise treat his wife, actress Okada Mariko, made a brief trip to the stage describing the difficulty of the shoot and how they had to wait to receive word if they could even screen the film in Japan. Afterwards I lined up like so many others to receive an autograph. Okada was very kind and I thank her politely for the autograph. Also, after Yoshida signed my program he looked up, flashed a smile and shook my hand. Over coming a bit of nerves I even slipped out that I enjoyed seeing the new print of the film. He smiled again and thanked me. After that I was down the stairs and heading home in the pouring rain. All in all it was a great experience and a new memory to share here and with future classrooms when I screen Yoshida’s films.

Wakao Ayako Film Retrospective

This month at the Jinbocho Theater, close to Meiji University, a retrospective of films starring Wakao Ayako is taking place. It is titled, “Mitsumeteitai! Wakao Ayako” (Gotta see it! Wakao Ayako). Twenty films will be screened three or four times throughout the month and many are hard to find or unavailable for home viewing. The films range from her early days as an idol-star in the fifties to her place as a more serious leading actress in the sixties. Tickets are 1200 yen or 1000 yen for students. This is a rare opportunity to see one of the great film stars of Japan at various points in her career.

Film Retrospective Poster

This is a link to the retrospective page:

This is a downloadable pdf of the schedule:

Since I am so close to the theater I plan on going to most of the screenings. Anyone in the area who plans on attending I would enjoy meeting up with. Until next time, Cheers!