Friday, March 27, 2009

"Film Festival: The City as Bane, Nature as Balm "

I found this article on the NYTimes site and thought some people would enjoy it:

A brief excerpt from the article:

"It would be too much to conclude from all this that there is a back-to-the-land movement in international cinema. But in recent years a back-to-the-landscape-film tendency has been evident at festivals from Cannes to Sundance, especially among younger filmmakers. A fascination with the natural world — which seems at once fragile and enduring, forbiddingly strange and intimately known — is an obvious response to, and escape from, our hypercivilized, technology-saturated, globalized habitations"

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Tragic Ambivalence

In class on Wednesday we were talking about tragic ambivalence, or the simultaneous attraction and repulsion that we feel when watching other people's tragedies. I wanted to share my thoughts in class on this "perverse attraction" we supposedly feel, but I didn't get a chance to. So here goes!

My theory on this is that people are attracted to watching the sorrows of others because unconciously, we like to be reminded of just how lucky we are. However, I think this is only applicable when we are viewing the tragedies of people unrelated to ourselves. For example, if your own father was fired from his job, you would certainly not be attracted to this crisis. However, if a friend's father was fired, you would feel bad but grateful at the same time because it didn't happen to you.

I enjoy watching heavy, dramatic movies because they always give me a new insight on life and make me appreciate things that I used to overlook. I wouldn't ever wish for tragic things to happen to others, but in a sense they do have a positive consequence because they open others' eyes. Like people always say, the good things in life wouldn't be so good if there weren't the bad things in life (something like that).

What do you guys think?

Monday, March 9, 2009

Roosevelt was a hypocrite?

Today in class we discussed President Theodore Roosevelt and his actions which lead to him being called the first 'environmentalist president'. I found this claim to be a bit ridiculous. Roosevelt, while his domestic policies and actions towards environmental conservation in the United States may have been noble, certainly had no qualms breaking his morals while abroad. He used to take hunting trips to Africa and spend days killing elephants, lions and other big game. He would bring the skin, head and tusks home, and just leave the valuable meat! This is not the behavior of a pure environmentalist. Perhaps he only believed in environmentalism and conservation in the context of the United States? Does anyone else have thoughts on this? Can anyone see parallels with Roosevelt's behavior and that of anyone in the current or past administrations?

Hydraulic Mining in Pale Rider

Hi everyone,
we mentioned hydraulic mining in class this morning, and such mining provides the backdrop for Clint Eastwood's 1985 film, Pale Rider.

The film has received a fair amount of attention from scholars who are interested in environmental themes in film, see for example the linked online essay by Joseph K. Heumann and Robin Murray. These authors also have a new book titled Ecology and Popular Film: Cinema on the Edge.

The scene discussed by Heumann and Murray is available on YouTube, below.

getting close to term paper time . . . .

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Tantillo makes the news

Check out this article from the NY Times on a boy in PA who was an avid hunter, and later killed his father's pregnant girlfriend. Look at who is quoted!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Romanticism and Primitivism on TV

This is a bit off topic from the last few posts but I thought it was too good not to share.
I am a fan of Morgan Spurlock's documentaries. You may remember him as the guy who ate nothing but McDonalds for a month and made the award-winning movie about it. He continued to make documentaries after Super Size Me, and even came out with a TV show called 30 Days. In the show, he, or average Americans, embark on a radical lifestyle change for 30 days. Some past examples have been an affluent couple living on minimum wage, a very conservative, ex-marine, deeply religious man living in San Francisco's Castro district and a southern Baptist living as a Muslim, all for 30 days. Through these experiences, the participants gain new insights into previously unexplored worlds and sometimes it changes how they perceive themselves and others.

I recently watched an episode which I thought related to the idea of romanticism and primitivism, as well as Natural Resources as a major. A couple from the Bronx living in an eco-village for a month. They are living totally off the grid, have to compost everything, make their own food, heat their own water and basically live off the land. I thought it was a very, very interesting 45 minute episode and, unfortunately, probably reflects a lot of the average Americans attitudes about their environment and energy consumption. It is very well worth your time to see and I think it could provide for some interesting discussion. Here is the link:

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Hudson River School

The New York Historical Society is selling reproductions of the some Hudson River School paintings. It was advertised on the back of today's New York Time's Art Section. They start at $1,500 if anyone is interested...

Michigan family brings Bambi into their home

Hopefully this is a fairly permanent link to the ABC news broadcast:

"A Michigan couple cares for a doe named Baby after she wanders into their house."

Railroad stock cars

the Stillwell Oyster Car, 1897

Once again Wikipedia shows why it is a helpful "first stop" on the road to doing research. The entry for railroad stock cars is again very helpful, and illustrated, too!

Did you know that there were specialized oyster cars? Me neither.

Never too early . . . .

the Montana state fish car, circa 1910

Monday, March 2, 2009

Sanborn maps

The Wikipedia article for Sanborn maps is fairly good, and it includes the following color pictures of two sites: one a Victorian-era amusement park in Utah, and the second a block of buildings (now demolished) in New Orleans.

(click to enlarge)

(click to enlarge)

You can access these maps through the Cornell Library Gateway and simply log on with your net id to work with them.