Saturday, April 26, 2008

daft punks

hello fellows.

i would like to share with you all the video i made with the other 4th grade teachers at my school. it was for a teacher talent show that we put on for the kids, and the theme was "youtube." one of the ideas was an american express commercial (i.e. pencils: 25 cents, books: $7.95, no students all summer: priceless), but i convinced them to let me fulfill a dream of mine to beat-up people on camera, like the beastie boys sabotage video.

mind you, it's not nearly as cool--i was short on actors (see if you can find how many different people i play), resources, cinematographers, and time. it's nearly impossible to keep teachers at the school past 4:00. i hope you enjoy. dedicated with love and joy in my heart:

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Gems from the Pens of Students (Part 5)

The civil war was fought to unify the nation so it could fulfill its mission. It was irrepressible and represented a conflict that had to be repressed even by war.

A unison of all ideas should unite together.

The success of the Mongols in their conquest of Russia is primarily [due] to the type of character they had, and also the characteristics or traits that made up their character.

Most people have relatives who lived during World War II.

Everything had to start at one point sometime.

Everything sooner or later is history.

The Golden Bull was the father of the Golden Calf.

He [Semmelweis] is significant in the fact that he was the first to realize that diseases could be given to others if doctors were not sterile.

The bicycle was created the later the car. These two conveniences made travel quicker and time shorter. The distance between point A and point B was drastically decreased.

The high age of marriage resulted in a lower birth rate, avoiding the Methusela cycle.

Since they could not speak, they were thought to be dumb.

Many of the pupils could only watch in awe as they saw Victor climb trees and urinate on the ground. Eager to relieve himself of the burden which he did not want to deal with . . .

Anti-Semitism is the idea of feeling cheated.

Often girls wore tight girdles to thin their waists and to increase fainting.

The size of the Finnish army was overwhelmingly smaller.

Monday, April 21, 2008

The Skeleton Dance


Here's another one for y'all. This was the kids' final project for their stop motion class, each group was in charge of making one or two scenes to be combined into the finished piece.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Laser Grapes of Space Wrath

Hey dudes,

What's going on? Usually I'm too busy playing videogames and hunting to get on the internet and write stuff. But dangit, it's about time. Now's my only chance to be better than Mikey at something. At least until he starts posting.

Here's a little something I've been working on with my students. It's called Laser Grapes of Space Wrath and you can watch it at:

We just finished it in time for the High School Film Festival. That's right, Timpview is going down! I don't care who else might beat us, as long as some dipwad from Timpview doesn't.


Gems from the Pens of Students (Part 4)

Part 4 in an ongoing series of splendid sentences from undergraduate history papers and exams.

Oedipus Complex, a play by Aeschyles, has lasted throughout the centuries and is a present favorite of mine.

Q: List the seven sacraments of the Catholic church and define their meanings.
A: No. 7 Holy Uterus. I don't know what it means, but it has something to do with the virgin birth.

The French Revolution was caused by the nobles. They wouldn't pay their bills, no bills. That's why they were called nobles.

Eventually, if they danced long enough rain would come. What they didn't realize is that God has control of those forces and anything they didn't wouldn't make the rain come any sooner.

Just because A+B=C, does not mean that A+B=C.

However, the Hapsburg family scored more land when Maxmilian scored with Mary of Burgundy.

I'm sorry, but I didn't like your questions so much, so I decided to write on the ones that were more interesting and meaningful to me. [The student answered questions from the study list that were not on the exam.]

The Mongols had much power because of their strongness.

It seemed Bismarck built a house of cards that could come tumbling down at any minuet.

World War I came when it did. It could have been postponed but it had to come sometime.

The workers that emerged from this industrialization that eventually came to Russia had no class.

Because Austria was on the frontier of Europe, its history begins very late.

World War I and World War II both began in Eastern Europe because of the way the countries were there.

Fiances were the major reason why France not England or other powers, was the scene for a revolution.

The painting and sculpture of this time took on human form. Painting in the nude was popular and landscapes were used frequently for background.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

If I made films, they'd have a samurai

I recently finished up a 'films of Akira Kurosawa' class at the BYZOO and you know what? He's just as great a director as I'd always heard he was. Week after week I thoroughly had my mind blown, and I thought all of you blog readers would enjoy a few, if not all, of his films.

I've been thinking about this for awhile, and I've finally come up with my personal top five Kurosawian films. Hope you have a chance to see them, or if you've seen them, let me know what you think.

Here they are in reverse order:

5. Rashomon.

Rashomon surprises you. After a fairly laborious beginning it moves swiftly through a fairly twisty plot. The same story of a murder is recounted four times from different points of view (including one story from the murdered guy through a medium.) The story points out how difficult it is to truly know 'the truth' of anything when people's self interest is involved. Just when you think that things can't get anymore pessimistic, and that there truly isn't any order or justice in the world something truly amazing happens in the story that returns everything to its balance, and restores the audiences faith in humanity. One of the best endings of a film I can remember, and it's just over 80 minutes it doesn't take too much time to watch.

4. Seven Samurai

Most would argue that this is Kurosawa's best film, and it's hard to argue. A small village of farmers hire the seven samurai to protect their village from the thieves who ravage their farms every year.

The dude with the sword over his shoulder is Toshiro Mifune, and if he looks familiar he's the same guy in the picture above (he'll probably be pictured below too). Mifune stared in a whopping 16 films for Kurosawa, and with his charisma and talent it's easy to see why, not to mention he looks about 15 feet tall in some of these movies.

But Seven Samurai is the real deal. The most exciting artsy fartsy film you'll ever see. It has all the tricks (great editing, fancy cinematography, great dialogue) and even though it's a little over a week long (I'm only sightly exaggerating here, it clocks in at 207 minutes I think) it never gets boring. If you watch it in segments you have something to watch all week.

How can this possibly be #4? Believe it or not, there are three films I liked even more.

3. Yojimbo

Yojimbo's a samurai western. And it's a blast. A drifting samurai wanders into a town where two rival gangs are at war, so he decides it would be fun to turn them against each other and watch them both burn. You learn later that he's actually a 'good guy' but being good and doing the right thing gets him into trouble, a theme that is repeated in many Kurosawa films. Our heroes do what's right, but pay dearly for it. Mifune is at his scratchiest in this film, and his characters easily the badist mamma jamma Japan ever saw (I think he slays about 11 guys in .04 seconds at one point.)

And the jazz score is a scream whenever Mifune does something cool you get a DA-DA-DA in the score.

2. Throne of Blood

This is easily my favorite version of Macbeth and is Kurosawa at his most visually stunning (at least in my opinion.) Again, Mifune is the lead and is surprising not itching and picking his teeth every two minutes.

It's Macbeth told through visual rather than lyrical poetry. And all the recognizable scenes from the play are there, Banquo's ghost, the out damn spot scene, the witches, etc.) Really satisfying to see such a great adaptation, and it zips by at 111 minutes.

1. Ikiru

The Citizen Kane of the east. Ikiru is both completely edifying and heartbreaking at the same time.

Takashi Shimura portrays Kanji Watanabe, a government official who hasn't missed a day of work in 30 years. When he learns he has stomach cancer he embarks him on a soul searching journey to find meaning and matter in his life. He learns that pleasures and social company can only do so much, and that real satisfaction comes through losing yourself in the service of others.

Probably Kirosawa's most compassionate film, Ikiru leaves you pondering for days after. For anyone who thinks that film can bring about transcendence from everyday life into something meaningful and beautiful this is defiantly a film you need to see.

Honorable Mention: Drunken Angel, Stray Dog, High And Low, Kagemusha, Ran, Dreams.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Some Good Books

Grad school is great but it sort of sucks up most of your free time and some times it makes your brain hurt or your ears bleed. I haven't had the bleeding ear thing, but know people who know people who've had it. Anyways, one thing grad school allows you to do is read lots of stuff and I like reading so that's a good thing. In light of all this reading I thought I'd pass along a few books that I've read over the last little bit. I'd love to get some good recommendations from the rest of the Provonian crew cause I'm always looking for some good reads.

Last Child in the Woods, Richard Louv

This is a real interesting treatment of the relationship between kids and the outdoors. The author draws on a lot of current research that suggests that kids are spending less time in the outdoors and that they're suffering physically, emotionally and mentally because of it. All you parents out there should check this out. Contact with nature is being linked to increased self-confidence, improved performance among kids with ADD and ADHD, and a host of other benefits. Louv does a good job presenting current research info but the book's a little light on practical suggestions about how to fix the problem. I guess that's up to us.

The Culprit and the Cure, Stephen Aldana

Now I know health/exercise books aren't always the greatest page turners but this is a worthwhile book to read. The author, a prof at BYU, has condensed all the "health" research into this very accessible book. He deals with the current state of health in the US and then talks about what can be done to fix the problems. It's pretty shocking stuff at times, such as almost all chronic disease (e.g., cancer, heart disease, diabetes, etc.) is due to diet and lifestyle. Since we're all becoming fossils this is important stuff to think about, luckily the solutions are pretty straight forward. Exercise 30 min. a day and eat 5 fruits and vegetables for starters. Anways, check it out and if you do what he suggests you're guaranteed to get ripped, chiseled, buff and if you're bald your hair will grow back and you'll be able to fly (at least I think I remember reading that...or maybe it was dream).

Team of Rivals, Doris Kearns Goodwin

I love good biographies and this is a great one. It's actually multiple biographies rolled into one. It focuses on both Lincoln and the men who served in his cabinet. What's amazing is that Lincoln chose men who were the best qualified to serve the nation regardless of whether or not they agreed with or even liked him. Most of the men were or had been at odds with Lincoln at some point and a number of them had treated Lincoln in ways that most people would never have forgiven. Luckily, Lincoln was able to put aside his personal ego and focus on how to best meet the needs of the country. Even more impressive is that each of these men, some of whom initially considered Lincoln little more than a country fool, came to respect and admire him.

So, there you have it, three books I wanted to pass along to y'all. Let me know what you think and let's hear what everyone else is reading.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Gems from the Pens of Students (Part 3)

Enjoy part 3 of this ongoing series. Stay tuned for the next installment!

Compared to the poor, the rich were well off.

In some places over 75% of kids would die before infancy.

Although the elderly now live longer, very few of them die healthy.

The Romans had basically two family structure: 1) nuclear family; 2) joint agnostic family.

Q: Leonard Arrington mentions five biases in Mormon History. List and discuss them.
A: I don't remember them except that most of them were words not commonly used around me or by me.

Orphanages also taught skills but especially to children with no parents.

The Western and Central European areas more commonly known as Eastern Europe were uncommon for the times.

At the last minute the crusade was called off, but the peasentry refused to dismember.

Industrialization accounted for the rise in the sexual revolution. Cities grew. Dept. stores sprang up and women were placed as salespeople. They were dressed accordingly and flaunted.

In Peter's heroic effort to educate the backward nation, he made one himalayan blonder.

Sculpture: This art also took on a new light because figures were now three-dimensional.

Sex is a norm but Plato didn't believe in it. Socrates believed it moderately.

Botticelli: Painter, painted a lady in a shell.

Durer: a woodcutter.

Michaelangelo: a painter who liked to dabble with nudes.

Magellan: a Spanish explorer who circumsized the world.

Nietzsche: a German general who shortened his name to Nazi and started World War II.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Gems from the Pens of Students (Part 2)

Get ready for more of the accumulated wisdom of several decades' worth of BYU undergraduate history students. I think three major themes in these selections are redundancy, or repetition, and unintended meanings.

There are many reasons why the lives of infants was short in Europe. The most well-known reason may be that babies just died very quickly.

The lives of infants from conception to early death were short.

The day of the marriage brought the wedding.

As the urbanization increased, so did the cities.

England was the foremost colonial power in terms of colonies.

Doctors would not freely give out information about contraceptives because they wanted to do the natural thing and have more children.

Clocks came to be an ally for the manager in forcing the people to work on time and to get assignments done when tolled.

Many nuns, monks and clergy never married.

Most brothels were considered acceptable because they contained venereal disease.

A widow was like a horse with no reigns.

To be buried in sacred ground was a matter of grave importance.

Earlier in history birth was a necessary occurrence.

Legal law were developed.

A minor majority of peasants fell away during this time period.

Mendel: Through his experimenting with crossing mice and peas he made discoveries about genetics.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

30 Rock Therapy

I made a link to this on an earlier post, but now I've figured out how to embed it there will be no extra work to find it.

I find '30 Rock' to be much more entertaining than it has any right to be. That darn Tina Fey's a funny one. Even on the bad shows there is usually one really funny moment or joke. Hope you like this clip as much as I did.