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Monday, February 13, 2012 11:04 AM
(Last updated on Monday, February 13, 2012 12:19 PM)
Recyclotron
 by Fëanor

Fëanor pours the entire internet into the Recyclotron, and only the best links come out the other end for you to enjoy.

Tagged (?): 3D (Not), Animated GIFs (Not), Art (Not), Avengers (Not), Books (Not), Celebrities (Not), Clothing (Not), Comedy (Not), Craft (Not), Harry Potter (Not), History (Not), Holiday (Not), Indiana Jones (Not), LEGO (Not), Links (Not), Mario (Not), Monty Python (Not), Movies (Not), Music (Not), News (Not), Photography (Not), Recyclotron (Not), Tolkien (Not), Toys (Not), Transformers (Not), Vampires (Not), Video (Not), Video games (Not)
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Tuesday, April 19, 2011 02:47 PM
Recyclotron
 by Fëanor

Fëanor pours the entire internet into the Recyclotron, and only the best links come out the other end for you to enjoy.

Tagged (?): Ancient Egypt (Not), Animals (Not), Art (Not), Batman (Not), Celebrities (Not), Comedy (Not), Food (Not), Game of Thrones (Not), Harry Potter (Not), History (Not), Kaiju (Not), Links (Not), Mario (Not), Mortal Kombat (Not), Movies (Not), Music (Not), News (Not), Recyclotron (Not), Star Trek (Not), TV (Not), Video (Not), Video games (Not)
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Wednesday, March 9, 2011 12:15 PM
Recyclotron
 by Fëanor

Fëanor pours the entire internet into the Recyclotron, and only the best links come out the other end for you to enjoy.

Tagged (?): Aliens (Not), Art (Not), Battlestar Galactica (Not), Blade Runner (Not), Celebrities (Not), Clothing (Not), Comedy (Not), Comic books (Not), Craft (Not), Food (Not), History (Not), Indiana Jones (Not), Links (Not), Lovecraft (Not), Mashups (Not), Michael Chabon (Not), Movies (Not), Muppets (Not), News (Not), Photography (Not), Products (Not), Recyclotron (Not), Shirts (Not), Star Wars (Not), Toys (Not), TV (Not), Twitter (Not), Video games (Not), Zelda (Not)
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Thursday, December 9, 2010 01:27 PM
Recyclotron
 by Fëanor

Fëanor pours the entire internet into the Recyclotron, and only the best links come out the other end for you to enjoy.

Tagged (?): Aliens (Not), Animals (Not), Art (Not), Batman (Not), Celebrities (Not), Comic books (Not), Craft (Not), Fringe (Not), History (Not), Links (Not), Mario (Not), Movies (Not), News (Not), Photography (Not), Pirates (Not), Recyclotron (Not), Robin Hood (Not), Star Wars (Not), Tolkien (Not), Toys (Not), Tron (Not), Tron Legacy (Not), TV (Not), Video games (Not), X-Men (Not)
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Monday, September 20, 2010 10:52 AM
Recyclotron
 by Fëanor

Fëanor pours the entire internet into the Recyclotron, and only the best links come out the other end for you to enjoy.

Tagged (?): Animals (Not), Art (Not), Cartoons (Not), Cats (Not), Celebrities (Not), Comedy (Not), Comic books (Not), Craft (Not), Frank Quitely (Not), Fringe (Not), Grant Morrison (Not), Halloween (Not), History (Not), LEGO (Not), Links (Not), Movies (Not), Neil Gaiman (Not), News (Not), Photography (Not), Recyclotron (Not), Science (Not), Star Trek (Not), Star Wars (Not), Street Fighter (Not), Toys (Not), TV (Not), Video (Not), Video games (Not)
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Tuesday, August 10, 2010 10:29 AM
(Last updated on Friday, August 13, 2010 01:54 PM)
Book Report - The Epic of Gilgamesh
 by Fëanor

Somehow I made it through my entire college career as an English major without ever reading The Epic of Gilgamesh in its entirety. When I found poppy's copy of the 1989 edition of Maureen Gallery Kovacs' translation on the bookshelf the other day, I decided to correct this error. I was surprised to discover how fragmentary our knowledge is of the original source material. In fact, the tablets that the epic was written on are literally fragmentary, so that various sections of the story have to be recreated from other versions of the story, and other sections are just lost entirely. Even the portions that we do have can be a mystery at times; thanks to the obscurity of the ancient language and the alien cultural context of the story, the translation often devolves into guesswork, with certain phrases and terms remaining almost completely opaque (for instance, the mysterious "stone things" on the boat that Gilgamesh destroys near the end of the tale). But out of this mess a rather compelling and universal story ultimately arises, about a man named Gilgamesh who becomes best friends with his enemy, the wild man named Enkidu. Gilgamesh and Enkidu go on various adventures together, but finally Enkidu dies. (Oops, spoiler!) Gilgamesh grieves terribly at his friend's death, not the least because it has made him aware of his own mortality. He goes on a long journey seeking the secret to evading death, only to discover it doesn't exist.

Interestingly, the man Gilgamesh visits seeking the secret to immortality is essentially the prototype for Noah. He was warned by one of the Gods that a flood was coming to wipe the Earth clean of humanity, and that he should build a boat and put himself and his family aboard, along with any livestock he could find. The boat is taken up by the waters and eventually runs aground on the side of a mountain. He releases various birds to discover if there is any other land nearby. The sense I got from the introduction and notes is that a lot of the story of Gilgamesh is made up of earlier stories, and that the story of Gilgamesh was itself then retold and reused in various ways. That's storytelling for you.

I was a little disappointed that there wasn't more to the relationship between Gilgamesh and Enkidu. I'd read so much about it, and yet in the story itself, it basically just says, "then they became friends," and that's it. A lot of the story is surprisingly abrupt like that.

The opening of the poem is oddly schizophrenic. It starts by stressing how awesome and amazing Gilgamesh was, only to then move immediately into a story about how he was oppressing his own people in some vague way and that the Gods had to send Enkidu - essentially a wild, beast-like version of Gilgamesh himself - to straighten him out. It's never really clear what's so great about Gilgamesh, actually, as he spends the entire poem either failing to do things, whining about things he has to do, or succeeding in doing things that end up biting him in the ass later. But it's Gilgamesh's failures and his mortality that give the story its humanity and make it accessible (to the extent that it is).

I can't say The Epic of Gilgamesh is a fun beach read or anything, but it is interesting in the way it highlights the places where great gulfs separate us from ancient peoples, and the places where we are not even a footstep apart.
Tagged (?): Book Report (Not), Books (Not), History (Not), Language (Not), Poetry (Not)
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Friday, March 12, 2010 10:00 AM
(Last updated on Friday, March 12, 2010 10:11 AM)
Recyclotron
 by Fëanor

Fëanor pours the entire internet into the Recyclotron, and only the best links come out the other end for you to enjoy.



Thumbs Up? (13)
Tagged (?): Aliens (Not), Art (Not), Captain America (Not), Cartoons (Not), Celebrities (Not), Craft (Not), Hayao Miyazaki (Not), History (Not), LEGO (Not), Links (Not), Metroid (Not), Movies (Not), News (Not), Pixar (Not), Predator (Not), Quentin Tarantino (Not), Recyclotron (Not), Robin Hood (Not), Toys (Not), Tron (Not), Tron Legacy (Not), Video (Not), Video games (Not)
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Friday, February 26, 2010 01:00 PM
Book Report - A Hundred Years of Japanese Film
 by Fëanor

Donald Richie is considered the preeminent Western scholar on Japanese film. He's written a number of books on the subject, as well as on Japan in general. This book, published in 2001, is his most recent survey of the history of Japanese cinema, and takes us from the very beginnings of the medium right up through the works of Takashi Miike and Takeshi Kitano (or Miike Takashi and Kitano Takeshi, as he puts it; I never know the best way to write Japanese names). Richie tries to avoid cramming the history of Japanese film into some artificial structure, like a "rise and fall" storyline, and simply tells us the major events, focusing on the most important films by the most important directors, but also speaking in general terms about various genres and influences. What's most interesting is how he's always careful to set the history of Japanese film in a general cultural context. He points out that Japanese cinema - indeed, Japanese art in general - is far more presentational than it is representational. He means by this that the world seen in a Japanese film is more likely to be a stylized one, separate from the "real" world, and not meant to be particularly realistic. Western films, on the other hand, are generally far more representational than presentational. Japanese film held onto traditional theater conventions far longer than Western film, even keeping live narrators called benshi well into the arrival of sound technology. Richie also sees a repeated pattern in Japanese history of artists, and art media in general, experimenting with new things, then incorporating them into the tradition, and then finally returning to older traditions.

I was struck again and again while reading this book by how different a time, place, and mindset Japanese film evolved out of as opposed to American film. All the same film vocabulary is there - the closeup, the long shot, the pan - but it's used in different ways, to mean different things. There are genres I've never heard of with their own sets of conventions I didn't know about. It made me realize how much subtle cultural and historical subtext I'm probably missing when I watch a Japanese film, and how much of that same type of subtext I'm picking up and taking for granted when I watch an American film. Of course I was aware of Japanese culture being different from American culture, but this book underlined for me how different it really is.

That being said, Japanese and Western film and culture are not entirely different, and in fact Western film and culture influenced Japanese film and culture a great deal. But it's interesting how Japanese cinema took those things in and made them its own.

Reading this book is kind of like reading a novel with about a thousand characters. Because I'm not familiar with that many Japanese filmmakers, and I was reading a lot of these peoples' names for the first time, I found it pretty hard sometimes to remember who was who, and to get a strong feeling for a specific artist's oeuvre. I was a little surprised, too, that the Japanese filmmakers I am familiar with didn't always get much coverage from Richie. Of course he mentions Kurosawa's work and his influence on Japanese film a number of times, but more recent filmmakers and genres get pretty short shrift. Miyazaki and anime get only a few quick mentions at the end, and Richie dismisses Miike almost entirely, pegging him (unfairly, in my opinion) as a director who's just churning out garbage to appeal to a young audience obsessed with violence and style over substance. There's no question that Miike puts out some garbage, but I think overall his work is a little more complex than Richie allows for.

Ultimately I found the book fascinating, informative, and thought-provoking. I'd be curious to try to track down some of these films now and see them for myself - I feel like I should give Ozu another try, for instance, although I still feel pretty sure he's not for me - and indeed in the back of the book Richie provides a list of the films that are available on DVD and home video. It's sad and kind of shocking that so much of early Japanese film has been lost, and so many of the movies Richie mentions have an "n.s." next to them, meaning "not surviving." But there's still a lot to see. Even the films I've already seen I'd be interested to see again - to try to watch them with new eyes, informed by Richie's analysis.
Tagged (?): Book Report (Not), Books (Not), History (Not), Movies (Not)
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Tuesday, February 23, 2010 10:12 AM
Recyclotron
 by Fëanor

Fëanor pours the entire internet into the Recyclotron, and only the best links come out the other end for you to enjoy.

Tagged (?): 3D (Not), Art (Not), Business (Not), Cartoons (Not), Celebrities (Not), Comic books (Not), Craft (Not), Curling (Not), Facebook (Not), Food (Not), Gadgets (Not), Green Lantern (Not), Hacking (Not), Hayao Miyazaki (Not), History (Not), LEGO (Not), Links (Not), Movies (Not), Music (Not), News (Not), Philadelphia Film Festival (Not), Photography (Not), Pirates (Not), Recyclotron (Not), Science (Not), Sherlock Holmes (Not), Sports (Not), Star Trek (Not), Star Wars (Not), Technology (Not), Tolkien (Not), Toys (Not), TV (Not), Video games (Not), Wii (Not)
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Friday, February 19, 2010 01:04 PM
Recyclotron
 by Fëanor

Fëanor pours the entire internet into the Recyclotron, and only the best links come out the other end for you to enjoy.



Tagged (?): Aliens (Not), Art (Not), Books (Not), Celebrities (Not), Comedy (Not), Comic books (Not), Hayao Miyazaki (Not), History (Not), Hulk (Not), Links (Not), Movies (Not), News (Not), Photography (Not), Predator (Not), Recyclotron (Not), Science (Not), Space (Not), Star Trek (Not), Star Wars (Not), Warren Ellis (Not), Web comics (Not)
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Welcome to the blog of Jim Genzano, writer, web developer, husband, father, and enjoyer of things like the internet, movies, music, games, and books. For a more detailed run-down of who I am and what goes on here, read this.

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