Archive for the ‘Life’ Category

Winter plans

In less than a month my first term as a PhD will be over and I will be back in Oregon. This term has been eye-opening for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is figuring out my goals and aspirations for the future. It is a bit broad, but in the humanities I’m paid to dream big.

Really entering into film studies has opened me up to the amount of films I would like to see in the future. There are countless classics and many films from Europe I need to see, but that will take a lifetime. In the coming months I also want to frequent the theater more. With finals and the last week of classes I will feel guilty pulling myself away, but in the coming weeks I want to park myself in a dark theater auditorium as frequent as possible.

Some of the big films on that list include (in not particular order)

The Descendants



The Muppets

Tinker, Sailor, Soldier, Spy

The Artist

Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

Tin Tin





My Week With Marilyn

(Oh and I have a real interest in finishing my Woody Allen filmography)

While it will be hard to see each film, the pursuit is half the fun. It is nice to know there is always something more out there. Something to strive for, something to keep the senses tingling and the interest up.

Until next time, cheers!

Categories: Life

The Thesis

Well it is the start of week seven and two weeks until I turn my thesis draft into the advisors. I am a signficant way through the project, but I have quite a bit of writing left to go. The struggle has been the middle section, which is a giant literature review of available materials. While I had the larger framework for that section written down, it has taken time to piece it all together and provide an analysis for each piece. In turn each of those pieces has to relate to my overall argument.

This paper is not really a paradigm shift in the field as much as the next step in the chain of academic study going on about my topic, centering around Japanese New Wave Cinema. If it were nearly ten years earlier I might have a more groundbreaking topic, but as is often the case after discovering my topic and doing a significant amount of research, forming questions and a framework for the paper; I found a professor who has made his career looking at nearly the same time period and people. As he has been doing this for much longer, is much more established and has been a part of the circle who meets the right people and displays extraordinary skill in the field his book will be published. When that book is published in a year or so it will be foolish to attempt an entire dissertation which merely provides a different take on the same people and concepts.

This isn’t a very significant problem at the moment. As a formulate my question for the dissertation work, however, I must be mindful of the developments of the field and paper presented at conferences which indicate new research being done. This seems like a rather duh comment, but with the importance of staking your own claim in the academic sphere it will be important to explore material that is not as charted as others.

Anyway, two more weeks to go and I am going to have to push. I look forward to working through the rest of this material and having it ready to present to my advisors.

Until next time, Cheers!

Categories: Film Studies, Life

As petty as ever

It has been just under two weeks since I returned from Japan and narrowly avoided the earthquake and tsunami which struck nearly 48 hrs later. In that time I have attended an academic conference in New Orleans, unpacked my things, met with friends, re-packed my things and moved back to my home university for a final term of thesis writing, teaching and graduating.

Even with all the struggles my friends in Japan have been facing and the interesting experiences that have come since returning home I find I am as petty as ever. While I do my best to be a compassionate friend and kind individual the slightest hiccup has the potential to send me reeling into a temper tantrum worthy of the best preschooler out there.

The latest came as a result of a package sent through amazon to an address other than my permanent one. The issue being that while the address to my friend was correct I should never have put my name on it. Big mistake! The reason being that this address uses a central office to receive any package larger than the mail slot for the apartment (basically letter sized). In addition this offices uses a wonderful system of notifying residents only when name and address match up perfectly. I do understand the logic of this system except that even in the case of a primary resident who receives a package with a name other than that listed at the apartment office (like a nick-name, shortened version of their name, or any other discrepancy) the package is immediately returned to sender with no notification or double-check with the current resident. When I think that a simple phone call or email would have alleviated this entire problem it just sent me into a tailspin. At the end of the day all of my materials will be recovered and re-shipped. It just means a delay of about a month to handle it all.

While I would like to blame others (as I have done for the past hour) the frustration is mostly with myself. I am frustrated I did not foresee the problems with mailing a package to an address in which I am not the listed primary resident. I am frustrated by my reaction to the situation. Most of all I am frustrated that this is a problem which actually bothers me enough to fester about and need to blog on to receive some measure of perspective or closure. Plenty of other issues out there, need to just move on down the road. I do feel better now, just wish it did not have to be this much of a process. Here’s to less pettiness in 2011!

Until next time, Cheers!


Strange things afoot less than twenty-four hours of posting this blog. Through some bizarre chain of events in the postal system, after the package was returned to sender it was apparently re-routed through the post office back to be delivered. Imagine the shock and aw as the package sat inside the apartment box. The only problem now is to properly return one of the items I purchased yesterday as a result of all this mix-up business. Either way, strangest postal experienced ever.


Once again it is 1:45 am and I am staring at the screen. I have stared at it for so long that I thought it inventive to change my wall paper to an image of the HAL 9000. Now I have the friendly red stare of an outdated sci-fi pop reference to keep me company. Hopefully I will not get locked out of the apartment.

Also, helping pass the time is the mindless house keeping of converting and labeling movie files. Over the past few weeks I have easily added seventy titles to my research pile. The quest of getting materials never ends, but steadily I am amassing a collection that is quite enviable to any aspiring film scholar. Especially in the age of torrent all the time instant access, Japanese films have for whatever reason stayed relatively out of reach. That is to say the majority of films not made within the last fifteen years or those not directed by Kurosawa, Ozu, Mizoguchi.

I know this will change over time and in a few years the majority of work I have done will probably become irrelevant, but for the time being I am contented with my hard drive and the files I have amassed. Now the much more important part of watching and dissecting them. Just want for this show to continue.

Until, next time Cheers!

Categories: Life

soro soro

In the next few weeks I will be wrapping up my second time studying abroad in Japan. Both times I was in Tokyo and connected with a prestigious university. Both times I learned a lot about myself and believe I have grown in many ways. At the same time I am a bit melancholy about leaving. There is this greater feeling that I did not accomplish all I set out to do. It is not necessarily a bad thing, just a realization that no one can accomplish every goal or idea they set out for themselves. Also, not living as a tourist here it is easy to get into the daily swing of life and not seek out a new opportunity everyday. Now with my return so close I am conflicted with enjoying myself while at the same time focusing on the larger responsibilities I have.

Like I just said I was unable to do everything I set out to, but this year has provided a wealth of memories and experience that will hopefully propel me to the next stage of my studies and life. I find in these little pockets of time just before a big move or change I tend to reflect on my choices and make an assessment of where I have been going vs. where I want to be going. For the most part I am on track, but there are a few adjustments that must be made. Especially over the coming months. I look forward to writing more and seeing what the next few months will bring.

Until next time, Cheers!

Categories: Japan, Life

Real Folk Drink Chu-hai

One of the earliest experiences I can remember from the start of my study abroad at Waseda University was bonding with friends over a delicious road-brew can of Chu-hai! Like many who travel to Tokyo will discover, Japan has it’s own variety of the B&J’s, Mike’s Hard Lemonade, fruity alcoholic beverages. The general term chu-hai is applied a variety of brands. The term chu-hai is shortened from the longer Shochu-Highball (焼酎ハイボール). Shochu is an alcohol distilled from corn, grain or potatoes that usually has a pretty high alcohol level. (Usually around 25%)

The drink itself is a carbonated beverage mixed with shochu and a fruit flavor. The flavors change from season to season, with Lemon and Grapefruit seeming to be a constant throughout the year. Keeping your eyes open though, it is easy to find grape, watermelon, apple, plum, peach, grape and (drum roll please) Strawberry!!

After almost a year of waiting the Strawberry Chu-hai has arrived and I have made it a personal goal to drink every variation I could get my hands on. So far there are three varieties I can review.

1. Asahi kajitsu no shunkan (果実の瞬間:苺)

As it says on the can it is a winter variety and has 0.2% Fruit Juice and a 4% Alcohol level, which is pretty standard. I remember enjoying the melon and grape flavors of this brand during the summer.

It is sweet with a slightly rough alcohol aftertaste which I am not completely in love with. Carbonation of the beverage provides a nice bit of fizz which tickles the tongue. A burst of strawberry flavor hits at first, but subsides in favor of previously stated.

Rating: 3/5





2.  Rifure Taimu (リフレタイム:チューハイイチゴ)

This one is the best of the bunch and usually sold at your local Family Mart convenience store. It is also 4% alcohol, but boasts a whopping 1% fruit juice combo. It is also the least expensive by at least 30 yen. Unlike the others the alcohol aftertaste is at a minimum and there is a burst of strawberry flavor. Like a friggin’ Starburst candy. The flavor is smooth, but not overpowering and easily my favorite.

Rating: 5/5






3. Calpis Sour (カルピスサワーミルク仕立てのもろやか苺)

Similar to the rifure and the Asahi before it this chu-hai has a 4% alcohol level and a 1% fruit juice infusion. The major difference from this one and the other two is the added mix of milk with the strawberry. Calpis in general is like a sweet milky substance which really isn’t my favorite. However, when it comes to strawberry I am willing to give it a try. This one combines a bit of sweetness with a lot of sour. Not really my style, but I imagine people who love sour skittles and the like will be in heaven with this one. Really did not like the milk action though. Just something didn’t mix right. Usually I am a big fan of smoothies and whatnot, but this was just lacking big time. The final insult was also a bit of a rough alcohol aftertaste, which just sucked. Again, not my taste, but it could appeal to the sour milk loving variety. I do enjoy the taglines though. “We use Strawberry, Milk, and the refreshing Vodka” (I will have THE Vodka) “Refreshing Taste, Enjoy It’s Crisp” (whatever the heck that means)

Rating: 2/5


Categories: Japan, Life

Entrance exam

Today arriving at Meiji I was greeted with the sight of thousands of young high school students taking their entrance exam for the university.

In all the years I have read about studied or known that this existed it is the first time I have seen it up close. it was quite a sight. Apparently it will be going on for the next few weeks so I plan on taking a few pictures as it is quite a production.

Categories: Japan, Life Tags: ,