Cartoons

Tangled, Part 1

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I didn’t get around to watching Disney’s Tangled until a few days ago. Though I missed it in theaters, it came up in a Facebook discussion about Pixar’s upcoming Brave. Reminded of it, I got my hands on it and watched it.

Watching the movie, I found myself conflicted. The parts I liked I really liked. The parts I didn’t like, I really didn’t like. There was very little in between. At the end of the movie I simply felt disappointed. So much was done well, but the parts that were done poorly left me with no desire to watch the movie again. Frustration prompted me to write a long consideration of its pros and cons. So long, in fact, that I’m breaking it up into multiple posts. (Hopefully the others will be shorter than this one.)

That said, I would like to point out up front that I do think the movie is worth watching.

The Tale

Traditionally

Traditionally, the story of Rapunzel starts with a pregnant, common-born woman having cravings for her neighbor’s vegetables. When the neighbor catches her husband sneaking into her garden to steal some for a third time, the neighbor demands the unborn child as payment. Since this neighbor is supposedly a witch, the couple complies out of fear.

The girl grows up to be beautiful and eventually the witch locks her in a tower. There she stays until a prince hears her singing and starts to court her when the witch isn’t around. When the witch finds out, she cuts off Rapunzel’s long hair, which is the only way into the tower, and casts her out. When next the prince comes by, the witch blinds him. Though there are several variations on the ending, typically Rapunzel and the prince eventually get lucky and find each other again.

Tangled sets itself up with a modified origin story, adding a magic element to Rapunzel herself and setting up for a very different tale. I won’t summarize the whole movie (though there are spoilers ahead). However, I do need to tell you about the five-minute back story with which the movie begins.

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Japan

Japan & America: Linguistic Differences, Cultural Differences, and Being a Foreigner in Japan

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Japan and America

I just finished reading a book called Japan & America, by Bernice Z. Goldstein and Kyoko Tamura. It examines certain differences between Japanese and American linguistics in the interest of using those differences as a base for analysis of cultural differences. Their specific interest is in who is talking, how that person talks to the listener, and how they talk about a third party, when mentioned. In their own words:

We assume that any language is a pattern through which a speaker learns how to conceive of himself in relation to others and learns to think of others in relation to himself and still others. Most particularly throughout the course of this book, we suggest that Americans and Japanese see these relationships of speaker to listener and to third parties in very different ways, and we believe that the differences between American English and Japanese melt into differences between culture and personality in our two societies. Fundamentally our problem concerns the question of who is related to whom and how. This question is pertinent to the study of any language, but our focus is “who is related to whom and how” as it applies to differences between American and Japan, first from the vantage point of language differences and later as it applies to differences in culture and personality.

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Alaska

RainTree Quilting

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While I was in Juneau for Kyle’s wedding, I visited two quilt shops. I wanted to visit at least one, so Ash pulled up the GPS app on his iPhone. The first one on the list was RainTree Quilting.

RainTree Quilting

RainTree Quilting is located off of Mendenhall Loop Road. A few trees separate it from the street, but the store itself has enough front windows to give the place a light, airy feel. They have a show room and a class room, with completed quilts hanging in each. The fabric selection reminds me of what Quilt Tree carries here in Anchorage, in terms of color values and the types of patterns they carry, though there were fewer oriental fabrics.

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Games

FrontierVille

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Zynga, the controversial developer of a cluster of successful Facebook game applications including FarmVille and Mafia Wars, recently rolled out their newest moneymaker: FrontierVille. They’re billing it as “Oregon Trail meets Little House on the Prairie meets FarmVille.” While I think that’s a bit of an exaggeration, FrontierVille is definitely a step up from Zynga’s other offerings.

You start out with a covered wagon, three chickens, a sheep, and some coins. A few introductory quests introduce you to the game mechanics and give you a bit of direction. They’re worth completing for the rewards, and completing a quest can unlock another. As you go through the quests, you’re encouraged to take certain steps to gradually turn your plot into a town. The population eventually grows to three, since your spouse follows you out and a child comes along shortly after that.

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Reviews

5 Songs With Great Covers

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Many song covers are nothing special. However, some musicians take a song and make it their own, producing a work of art that’s at least as good as the original.

I’d like to take a moment to honor some particularly good covers, in no particular order. They’re listed by original song instead of by cover because a couple of these have been beautifully covered multiple times.

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Games

Prince of Persia Movie Review

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I’m pleased to say that I’m pleased by the movie Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time. One thing it has going for it is that I can recommend it to just about anyone. As movies in general go, it’s pretty good; the acting is good, the pacing is good, the action is good. The soundtrack felt a little generic, but it suited the film just fine. The story is solid, coherent, and whole — which, again, is more than can be said for most movies based on video games. In short, it’s worth watching.

What I Wanted Going In

I played Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time right about when it came out. About 79% of the way through the game (or so my save data assured me), I lost the contents of my hard drive. I must confess that I left off finishing the game in despair. As any gamer knows, losing your save data unfairly is a great way to make you feel like doing anything but playing that game. It’s been seven years now, and I still haven’t picked it up again.

I’ve forgotten much about the game’s story. That will be rectified soon, since I’m reinstalling the game as I write this. However, that meant I went into the movie recalling certain elements and the feel of the game. While watching the movie, some things about the game came back to me. Most of the things I found myself remembering were different from the movie, but the changes made were good ones.

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Reviews

Smart.fm Rocks, With Two Exceptions

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April 18, 2019 edit: Now rebranded as iKnow, the service is no longer completely free.

In a nutshell: Smart.fm is a free, web-based flash card service. If you crack the nutshell open to get a look at the details of how it works, though, it’s far better than that. Here, let the official Smart.fm video introduction explain what I mean.

Note: The video was taken down after the rebrand. They don’t seem to have a video anymore, but the company has a features page.

Screen Shot 2013-08-04 at 2.29.23 PM

Smart.fm is not the only software based on spaced repetition. It does, however, have a few advantages over the other ones I’ve tried.

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Reviews

Jumping for Glee

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Several months ago, I started seeing Glee-related entries on My Life is Average. Then praise for Glee gradually started to appear before me in other places on the internet, as well. I got curious and started watching the first episode. After about 15 minutes, I decided the show wasn’t worth my time; I’ve become rather cynical about United States TV these days, and the show was looking like nothing special.

Skip ahead a few chapters to a few weeks ago. During rehearsals and between performances and in the green room during performances, many of the cast members were buzzing about Glee. On Facebook, they and some other friends of mine were buzzing about Glee. Finally I got to the point where I realized I needed to try again, to really give that first episode a chance. And I’m really glad I did, ’cause Glee puts glee in my heart.

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Miscellany

Bibliorape, or The Adaptation of Books to Film

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When I watch a movie based on a book I like, I try to be fair. There are things books can do which movies are simply incapable of and vice-versa. So I try to evaluate movie adaptations with consideration for the strengths and weakness of film as a storytelling medium.

Since books can contain a lot more plot than you can successfully convey in a 1.5-2 hour movie and no one is willing to put intermissions in films these days, the plots of book to film adaptations must be boiled down. If the plot is fairly straightforward, this works. For a more epic story which takes multiple books to build to its finale, though, it can be a death sentence.

Take Harry Potter, for instance. They’re making the seventh book into two movies because they have to fill in a lot of blanks they created by cutting pertinent information out of the second through fifth books.

That said, in the past 24 hours I’ve watched Twilight: New Moon and Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief. Neither were good adaptations.

Spoilers below for books and movies.

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Reviews

Review: Hidarime Tantei EYE

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I am currently watching Hidarime Tantei EYE. A pilot aired in October 2009, and the 8 episode follow-up series finished airing a few weeks ago.

Stolen synopsis:

Tanaka Ainosuke, a third-year junior high school student with a strong sense of justice, underwent a cornea transplant of the left eye. However, after that, he received news that his older brother, Yumehito, the donor of that cornea, had died in an accident. Furthermore, Ainosuke was shocked by the images in his left eye which he had never seen before. Deducing that these images were connected to his brother’s death, Ainosuke began to search for the truth surrounding the death of his beloved brother and only immediate family. But as the investigation progressed, Ainosuke discovered that Yumehito’s death had been fake and that he is actually the leader of an evil organization. This sets the stage for a clash of fate between the two brothers. Ainosuke, the young sleuth armed with a special left eye and Yumehito, the genius criminal who has carried out many criminal plots.

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