Category Archives: Reviews

We Ω “Green Porno” – by Melissa

Isabella Rossallini directs, writes, and stars in Green Porno, a series of one to three minute biologically accurate short films about the reproductive lives of creatures. The writing is theatrical, the filming beautiful, and Rossallini hilarious. Season One follows bugs and Season Two focuses on sea creatures with creative scoring, dramatic lighting and simple but riveting set and costume designs. Green Porno takes itself and its art seriously with Rossallini’s tantalizing control responsible for both the comedy and dramatic tension. Continue reading


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On The Black Hill – by Emmett

Sitting now in the empty staff room of my high school, I have just finished Bruce Chatwin’s On The Black Hill. I picked it up in a used foreign-language book store in Kyoto several weeks ago and have since then been consuming it reguarly with the same kind of avid attention one might give to a good cup of tea. I was able to soar through the final seventy-or-so pages that remained and I can say that On the Black Hill is one of the best works of fiction I have read in some time.

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Cafe Proverbs, Kyoto – by Emmett


It is not often that you come across a complete idea. Many ideas begin with great intentions, yet fall short of fully blossoming into tangible results, of filling that space which they set before them. So it is with restaurants, where many concepts strive to come to a single complete idea, and also where many fall apart. Melissa put it best: “Restaurants usually do one of two things. They either make great food from mediocre ingredients or they make mediocre food from great ingredients.” Finding that balance, that perfect arc of taste, texture, and presentation, requires so many elements to be precisely and seemingly effortlessly set into place that nothing remains but the singular experience of the diner and the dish. Continue reading

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Filed under Art, Food, For the Love of Japan, Japan, Reviews

10 Mile Walk – by Melissa

In Kentucky we used to walk a mile to Kroger’s grocery store to buy Soy Delicious peanut butter chocolate swirl ice cream.  We would bring our own spoons and eat out of the pint on the way home. We didn’t keep soda in the house so that I could take thesis writing breaks and walk to the corner store.   Earlier on than that, a few friends and I walked to a creek 15 miles outside of town. We packed olives and bread and apples and forgot to apply sunscreen to the backs of our necks.  Our long hikes on the trails of Mammoth Cave National Park and through Daniel Boone Forest changed what we considered “walkable.”  Continue reading


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Capucine – by Melissa

Once upon a time… from Capucha on Vimeo.

We’ve only known her for one day and we might already Ω her. Capucine is a four year old little girl who lives in France with her family.  She is a riveting storyteller and skilled actress. Her mother has been posting videos of her on for over three years.  Now, that which was probably an effort to keep Miss Capucine in touch with friends and relatives has made her a global sweetheart. Our friend Bonny sent me a link to this video—THANK YOU—it made my day. Continue reading


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Mochi – by Melissa

A few years back, my roommates, some friends and I were sitting around the dinner table making lists.  The lists were of our top ten favorite smells, tastes, sounds, textures and the like.  I filled mine out carefully, each decision sifted from a wide variety of synaesthetic moments in my life. In my sixth month of living in Japan, I now feel so strongly about one of these items that I could forgo the other nine and fill the entire textures list with one word: mochi.

Mochi is rice pounded into a paste and then shaped into or wrapped around whatever its maker wishes.  It is the Plaster of  Paris of Japanese food and it is divine; it feels like baby cheeks. Along with the apparent magic of mochi, it factors beautifully in Japanese culture, becoming not only a triumphant symbol of Japanese cuisine but also the industriousness of rabbits.

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Filed under animals, Food, For the Love of Japan, Inspiration!, Reviews

Finishing Love in the Time of Cholera – by Melissa

Seventeen hours of driving can carve quite a chunk out of  a read-aloud project, but with our move to Japan and starting new jobs, it took six months to wade through the jungle of Marquez’s magical but viney prose. We finished it last night. We’d had about 40 pages to go for weeks. Emmett and I started the book in July on a road trip from San Antonio to Nashville, on our way to our wedding reception in Emmett’s hometown.

Last night I read to Emmett as he cooked dinner. When we paused to eat, he noted how fitting it was that we’ve taken so long to finish the book because the story expands over at least 6 decades and deals so heavily in time and endurance.

We finished reading later in bed and let out the deep sighs of perfect endings.  I was tempted to say that I liked this book better than One Hundred Years of Solitude.  But the two are not nearly the same. One Hundred Years is a history, a family story.  Cholera is about the lifespan and love of just two people, from the near beginning to the near end of their lives.  The topics are handled so differently, I decided to abandon thoughts of which might be better.  In Cholera, Marquez tells a gritty and uncomfortable love story whose characters shift from protagonist to antagonist and back again. The novel, like its title,  juxtaposes two contrary ideas, euphoric love and gruesome illness. We are unable to distinguish the two in the thick of the story, but in time, we slowly come to our senses.

This is always my experience with magical realism.  It starts out in exaggeration, becomes fat bellied with sparkles and lunacy, and then sobers up to pull off a careful and hard won peace.  Magical realism is a genre that goes hand in hand with Latin American folklore and myth.  Marquez’s narrators tell stories earnestly, but the details are otherworldly.  The acceptance of magical events as extraordinary but not impossible helps us recognize the more magical gifts of our own reality, a good lesson in gratitude and present-mindedness.  One of the most mysteriously described scenes in One Hundred Years is the precious first chapter wherein gypsies come into port bearing enormous diamonds of bitterly cold heat whose name is not written until the last word: ice.

As for Cholera, it does not read as much like a legend in which fantastical events are accepted as truths, but rather treads carefully on the softer-glowing edges and mysteriously won battles of love.

*Note from TigerSpider: Read the book, skip the movie. Dispite featuring the glorious Javier Bardem, we do not Ω the movie.  Not one bit.


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