Thursday, April 23, 2009

Roland Saint-Laurent’s Helpful Hints and Tips for Cramming

When it comes to learning, I am one lazy SOB. In fact, right this minute, I should be focusing on similarities between Romance dialects and how Advanced Tongue Root may play a role in the heightening of mid vowels to high. But instead of doing that, I’m sitting here in the library, stubbornly refusing to do my work. In order to give myself some excuse for being unproductive, I’m going to share with you, my faithful reader, my advice for cramming a ton of info in your head for exams and whatnot. I started using this technique two years ago and the results were pretty damn impressive.

1: Write your notes by hand. NO TYPING.

This may not be entirely necessary, but it sure as hell worked for me. I found that when I had to write a ton of notes from my textbook by hand, I was forced to slow down, due to my hand cramping up all the time. The side effect was that by slowing down, more of the information seeped into my head, without me even noticing it until I went back to my notes. Now, I don’t do this all the time, and sometimes I cheat and just type some of it up, but the stuff I wrote by hand stuck with me longer than the stuff I just typed up.

2: Read the summary first.

This one will be familiar to anyone who’s ever tried learning about learning. When you read the summary, you get a nice outline of what the chapter is going to be about, and the key points are right there for you to watch out for when you go back to read the chapter. This really only works if your textbook has a GOOD summary and not some crappy three-sentence one that I’ve come across lately.

3. Read the chapters aloud.

This one’s a real pain to actually finish, but damn does it work. I tried this with my painfully dull Nonverbal Communication text, and the information stuck better than when I just read it silently. Again, this probably has to do with slowing down to digest everything, but it gets results and I think everyone should do it, especially with those ridiculously dense texts that you start getting saddled with as a grad student.

4. Record your notes and prepare to go insane.

I don’t remember where I heard about this trick, but it is by far the best of the lot. You’re going to need a ton of patience to do it, but if you’re anything like me, the results will definitely be worth the trouble. Get every single one of your notes and put them in a decent order. If you don’t have enough notes, grab your text and write down more. If you are lucky enough to have a study guide, go to town and write down everything mentioned on it. Fire up your computer and load any sound recording program that you have. Grab your microphone and record yourself reading every single note you have. Don’t just stop at the notes: read the chapter summaries, definitions to any terms that you’re having trouble with, anything that you know you’re going to need to know. Don’t leave anything out. Once you have it all recorded, either burn it to a CD or upload it into your MP3 player. Now listen to it until your ears bleed. Listen in the car, listen while going out for a walk, listen while doing random crap around your room. Even if you have it playing as “background music,” occasionally you will hear bits of info and start remembering them. Yes, you will get sick of hearing yourself, but that’s what you want. At some point your brain is just going to get fed up and let everything ooze in. I remember things better when I hear them, and when I hear something over and over and over again, it’s much easier to recall.

Another thing you’ll notice when you’ve been listening to your notes…if you go back and actually read the chapter again, you’re going to fly through it because you already know everything. You’ll be hearing yourself talk about it in your head, and whatever you forgot to jot down will be easily added to this knowledge, like an ornament.

Here’s my attempt to explain why this works: You’re bombarding yourself with information in three different ways. You’re reading the text, you’re writing the notes, and you’re listening to the information that you wrote down. Nothing takes the place of having a professor there to explain it to you, but if you’re working on this alone, this is a great way to stimulate the senses.

Those are my handy-dandy tips for cramming. Feel free to add your own, if you care to.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Aww, Leftovers Again?

As brilliant as Disney was in their early years, they were always known for recycling. Whether it be older fairy tales, jokes, plastic cells, what have you, they always reused what they could. Here's a great video that I found on The Daily Dish which demonstrates how Disney reused scenes from their older films for newer ones. The main culprit appear to be Robin Hood, which was one of their most uninspired outings. I wonder just how much of this is going on in their films that people haven't caught onto yet?

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Fun With Writing Prompts

"Your friend tells you he can pick up any girl at the bar, no matter what he says. You bet him $100 he can't. Create the world's worst pick up line and send your friend off into the crowd. What happens?"
--- Taken from Writer's Digest.

Periwinkle and Enrique were at a bar together, joking about the various women that they've been with. The subject came about due to an uncomfortable rash that Periwinkle had for the past two weeks, and these two rapscallions were trying to figure out the source. Enrique was particularly interested, mainly due to the fact that he took a great deal of pride in having his way with women after Periwinkle, and was nervous that a rash was right around the corner for him.

Enrique lifted his glass of Chianti and suggested that the bar was "dead," and that these two Lotharios may be better serviced at another bar. Periwinkle countered with the following:

"Tsk tsk! I thought you would have more nerve than that! Speak for yourself, fellow, for I, Periwinkle, can ravish any fine maiden from New York to Anaheim!"

Enrique slid his hand into his pocket and eyed Periwinkle. "Care to make it interesting?"

He pulled out a wad of rolled hundred dollar bills, and peeled off a $100 note. "I will lay down this hundred note, and say that you cannot have your way with the woman of my choosing."

Periwinkle grinned. "My fellow, your mind seems to have gone the way of your nerve! I will take this wager, and not only will I ravish this maiden, but I will supply the evidence of the fact afterward."

Enrique scanned the bar. Near the corner was a heavily-bosomed woman with pink lipstick, wavy hair, and long legs. Her complexion was that of a fine Colombian coffee, lightened with the sweetest of creams. Dear reader, a look from this maiden would leave not a single dry seat in the room. Lesser men nearby trembled with fear when she looked at them. They purchased her drink after drink, in hopes of receiving a smile. Even the hint of a smile would send tingles from a man's scalp to his nether regions. This was the challenge for Periwinkle.

"Ha!" laughed Periwinkle. "A simple matter. None can resist my charm. Observe, dear brother."

Periwinkle approached this maiden with a strut which brought shame to the other men. He pulled a stool from nearby and sat it directly in front of her. She patted her hair gingerly, wanting to keep it fine for what was coming. She was accustomed to crushing men, and wanted to look good while doing it.

Periwinkle spoke:

"You know, I couldn't help but notice your breasts from across the room. My father, bless his soul, was a cantaloupe grower, and throughout my life I have yearned to suckle a teat which would cause those memories to cascade down my vision, sending waves of euphoria all over my body. Maiden, those breasts of yours are reminiscent of those cantaloupes, and it would be a true honor for me to suckle them."

The woman stared at him, her mouth open slightly. Such words to her have never been spoken. She stood up, and laid her hand upon his arm.

"Let us retire to my van. I have it stationed nearby, and I cannot wait a moment longer. I do not want your name, dear sir, nor any further preliminaries. Let us away!"

Enrique was astounded. He held his glass aloft and said quietly, "Godspeed, young man. You truly are a man to be admired above all others."

Twenty minutes later Periwinkle ran back into the bar with deep scratches covering his face. "That fucking bitch robbed me!"

Enrique dropped his glass. "What the...what the hell happened?"

"She fucking pulled a knife on me and brought me to that ATM down at the 7/11. She made me pull out $300 bucks and then took my wallet! I don't even have my fucking car keys anymore because they fell out of my pocket in her van!"

"Christ, man. Should we call the cops?"

"No...this is embarrassing and I just want to go home. My mom's sick and she doesn't like me being out late."

"Well, damn bro. I'm sorry you didn't get to nail her."

Periwinkle brought his middle and index finger up to Enrique's nose.

"Who says I didn't?"

Sunday, April 5, 2009


I found this on The Daily Dish. I make lame sound effects all the time, and I hope when I pump out a baby it's as giggly as this one.

Friday, April 3, 2009

One Post About Two Cohens

In my last post, I completely forgot about Sacha Baron Cohen's film Bruno, which will make this the third film based on a character from The Ali G show. The preview looks goddamn hilarious, and can be found here:

Also, I've been mentally preparing myself for next week's Leonard Cohen concert by listening to every single album of his over and over. This may sound ordinary, except that I've never been a Cohen fan and bought the tickets because my girlfriend LOVES him. Prior to this barrage of Cohen, I'd only heard a few of his songs and thought they were pretty good. The only album I had of his was the much-hated Spector collaboration Death of a Ladies' Man, which I liked mainly because I'm a Spector fan, though the songs were pretty good. Anyhow, I basically put all of his albums on one MP3 CD and have played it continuously for three weeks now. I can't say that I love his music, but I have found many songs that I have enjoyed immensely. Plus, concerts are infinitely more enjoyable when you know the songs that are played, so by making myself familiar with his work, I'll enjoy it much more than I would have otherwise.

I have done this experiment before, where I listen to (or attempt to listen to) every single studio album a musician has pumped out. I tried it with Frank Zappa but stopped when I hit his late 70s stuff because it got extremely obnoxious and unbearable. Aside from that, I want to do this with more musicians. I think this is a great way to absorb an artist as a whole, and I have a ton of respect for Cohen after hearing how his music has changed over the years. When listened to chronologically, the I'm Your Man album is a VERY jarring experience. I think that this works best with artists that you feel indifferent about, that way the constant barrage of music will force an opinion out of you. Next up on my plate is Bruce Springsteen, someone who I think is pretty good, but don't really have anything else to say about him.

Of course, I'd love to spend a month listening to the music of an "artist" that I fucking hate, just to see if my bias holds water. I've entertained the idea of doing a Britney Spears or Jessica Simpson marathon, but I don't know if I have the courage for that yet. Maybe another musician widely considered to be crap would also work equally well. Not anything "ironic" bad or "bad but with artistic merit," I'm talking about total fucking CRAP. I'm still debating on it though.

By the way, anyone wondering how to get all of these albums legally, here's your answer: Your local public library. Libraries are the original peer-to-peer file sharing networks, and the Orange County and Los Angeles County public library systems will let you check out CDs and DVDs for free. There may be a small 25 cent request fee, but that's peanuts. Libraries are a fucking AMAZING asset, and now that the economy's in the shitter, more people are figuring that out. Use them, folks. That's what they're there for.

Anyhow, any music suggestions for total bombardment?

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Movies I'm Actually (Somewhat) Excited About

Last year was a surprisingly good one for films, at least for films that I like. Two films came out (Wall E and The Dark Knight) which I consider among the best of their specific genres, some great comedies (Pineapple Express and Tropic Thunder), a great "man drama" (The Wrestler) and two political films that I really enjoyed (Frost/Nixon and W). So will this year live up to last least for me? Not that you give a shit, but here are some films that I'm looking forward to this year:

Whatever Works

I've never seen a Woody Allen film in the theater, but I've been a fan of his for several years now. After having the one-two punch of seeing both Match Point and Crimes and Misdemeanors last year, I'm really anxious to see his new film. Its plot involves "a botched suicide attempt turned messy love triangle," which is enough to sell me on it. Plus it has the biggest asshole currently working in comedy, Larry David, as a main character in it. That alone makes me want to see it, along with the inevitable excursion to either Canters or Greenblatt's afterward for sandwiches and conversation.


I didn't need to see the preview to know that this was gonna be worth watching. After all, it's Pixar, and they have never put out crap. Only the average Cars "steered" me wrong (GET IT???), but even that film was miles above anything the Disney studio's put out since their second golden age which ended with The Lion King. I finally saw the preview for this film before The Watchmen of all films, and was laughing my ass off. Before, I just wanted to see it because it's Pixar. Now, I want to see it because it looks fucking hilarious. God bless Pixar. Walt would be proud of them, and ashamed that the studio that bears his name can't fucking touch them when it comes to plot, animation, and entertainment.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Even though Warner Bros. did an extremely dick-headed move by bumping this movie up half a year after its scheduled release date just because they "needed a summer blockbuster" and no other reason, I'm still gonna go see it because the series has gotten much better since that shithead Chris Columbus left and let talented directors take over. Sorry Chris. As far as I'm concerned, Gremlins was the only masterpiece you ever did. Also, the series has gotten progressively darker, and even though I already know what's going to happen, I can't wait to see how it translates to the big screen. Still, it's fucking unnerving that the "kids" are adults now. They looked so doughey and short in that first film, and now they're all lanky with deep voices.

Where the Wild Things Are

Ridiculously hipster, since it's written by Dave Eggers and directed by Spike Jonze, but the very fact that they have actual puppet costumes is enough to sell me. Plus, Jonze has done some amazing films, and the preview looks great. I've read this book during my story times, and the kids love it, so I have that extra connection to the story. The only bitch is having to wait for it.

Star Trek

Ugh...I KNOW this film is going to suck balls, but I want to see it because last year I started watching Star Trek The Original Series for the first time, and I liked the idea of these planet-hopping schmucks going on adventures. The show was fun, and I want to see this film against my better judgment. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that it doesn't turn out to be crap.

X-Men Origins: Wolverine

I was unimpressed by the first X-Men film, but I've heard good things about the second one (and because of the rule of 3, the third one allegedly blows). Plus, I'm a sucker for superhero movies. Another reason why I'm interested in this film is because it has an "indie" director (Gavin Hood) at the helm. For some reason, I trust "indie" directors to do the right thing with superhero films, but I might actually wait and read some reviews before seeing this one.

The Wolf Man

I'm extremely torn with this one. On one hand, I LOVE werewolf legends and think that the mythology behind werewolves is damn interesting, plus the film stars Benicio Del Toro, who actually looks like a fucking werewolf and probably needed very little makeup for those transformation scenes. On the other hand, it's directed by Joe Johnston, who directed Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, Jumanji, Jurassic Park III, and The Pagemaster. While The first two of those films I mentioned weren't terrible, they weren't great either. I don't expect this film to have that "arty" touch that I like in horror films, so if I see this in the theater, it will be with lowered expectations.

Inglourious Basterds

It's Quentin Tarantino. Grindhouse was fucking amazing, as was Kill Bill and pretty much everything else that he's shit out...with the exception of Four Rooms, which he should lose a finger for. Anyhow, yes...another WWII film, with an abundance of violence and Nazi-killing excitement. Unless he really fucked up and accidentally made a piece of shit, I'm pretty sure I'll be leaving the theater satisfied with this one.

The Lovely Bones
I love Peter Jackson. Everything he's ever done is great, from Bad Taste to King Kong. I don't know what this film is about, but some people are comparing it to Heavenly Creatures, which everyone needs to go out and rent immediately. This man is overflowing with talent, and I'm glad that he's finally going to have something new for me to watch this year.

That's all I can think of. I'll add others as I find them.