2020 Spring All-Online Pokachan Parody Prize

Hi Folks,

It is my pleasure to announce the launch of the inaugural Pokachan Parody Prize, inspired by the sheer improbability of professors suddenly become effective digital content creators over a full semester, with bugger all forewarning, and by some past memes and creative endeavours using subtitles or over-dubs. I will offer one or more rewards to the most creative and amusing efforts to ‘take the piss out of ‘ me and my digital content. I am quite amenable to being insulted. It is the least I can do for this weird semester.. In pondering possible prizes I first thought of  a goat but that might be difficult to procure and deliver. Anyway, here are a few past precedents for reworking content.

A very popular meme ten years ago involved subtitling a scene from the film Downfall, dramatising the last days of WWII in Hitler’s bunker, when he rants in anger upon realising defeat is inevitable. The gags only work, of course, if one doesn’t understand German! There were countless versions. Here is the first one I ever saw, the gags depending rather on some knowledge of surfing and its discourse.

 

 

Just recently the Federal Court in Australia found in favour of an employee who had been sacked by the firm BP for making a Hitler Parody video about HR managers at the firm who were frustrated with pay negotiations. The firm’s over-sensitive managers not only couldn’t take a joke but didn’t realise it was a meme and wrongly thought they were being described as nazis. The legal battle dragged on for years but management, and the first judge that upheld the dismissal initially, looked very stupid in the end.

American comedian Woody Allen’s first feature film, involving dubbing a new wacky track over an obscure Japanese gangster film he bought the rights too.

 

Australian comedians Rampaging Roy Slaven & H.G Nelson (‘Roy & H.G) did a series of live over-dubs of sporting events where they invited listeners to watch a sports broadcast, turn down the volume and listen instead to their commentary via a radio channel. They also did a series of overdubs during the 2000 Sydney Olympics and then for some subsequent olympics. Two early, sometimes surreal examples, and one of their shows from the Sochi Olympics in 2014.

 

Typical IOC, trying to lock down all rights, even when parody is covered under fair use! You can click through and view it on youtube directly..

 

If interested, an excellent recent documentary on the creative dynamic between ‘Roy & H.G’ that have kept them working together for 35 years.

Spring 2020 opening video from me..

Crazy COVID Online Education Bonanza!!

Have you ever been told by an annoying person that “if life gives you lemons, make lemonade..” I have, too many times. I love lemons. I love lemonade. I make it a lot, despite lemons being ridiculously expensive in Tokyo. I hate cliches though. I also hate ‘spin’, trite statements that make light of serious matters when people can’t be bothered to find more appropriate, more empathetic words. I haven’t found the right words yet in relation to the sudden profound dislocation, tragedy, uncertainty and day-to-day inconvenience that COVID-19 has suddenly brought upon the world. I’m not against trying to find the positive in any disaster, as this is. Indeed, I am determined to do so as an educator, researcher, and in my personal life. I think though that we should start with some hard truths. Here we go..

You need a degree, preferably from a university with a strong brand, and in the process you hope to get a decent education,  useful in the longterm and enjoyable at the time. Waseda University needs your student fees this semester. We are overwhelmingly dependent on fees, the government provides little and endowments in Japan are insignificant sources of funding. My colleagues and friends in Australian universities, where I was educated and previously worked, are doing it very tough now as many fee-paying international students have been unable to enter Australia to start studies. In some prestigious institutions international students provide half of all fee revenues.  If it wasn’t for our mutual need for the Waseda ‘show to go on’, we might all be better retreating to the couch for a few months and binge watching Netflix, Prime, Hulu and the like.

So here we are with a sudden shift to an entirely online semester. It is a compromise. We would much rather be meeting on campus, getting to know you and seeing you experience fully university life. One of my current research topics actually is on the role of the university campus and architecture in a virtual age. COVID-19 has thrown us into a surreal immersive experiment. We must make the most of the circumstances as faculty members, to give you the best possible educational experience despite the limitations of going online. Universities, like many companies, have been declaring that they are connected, digitally enabled, global etc etc. Waseda has already undertaken some e-learning initiatives but these have been small in scale so far. It is now suddenly up to each faculty member to make the best of the situation. It is a steep learning curve. As an undergraduate student I took a major in television journalism, and did work as a stills photographer in my student days. A long time ago. All that means today, in a very different technological context, is that I know, somewhat, what I don’t know. In the coming weeks I will be trying my hand at becoming a ‘digital content creator’, hoping to keep you engaged as much as possible with the course material. I will try to make it interesting but can’t promise. I certainly can’t compete with the world of entertainment in your reach with a 5000 yen Amazon Firestick. Amazon doesn’t deliver degrees yet however. Perhaps just a matter of time.

COVID-19 has impacted us all, and our loved ones, in various sudden, sometimes severe and depressing ways. Nonetheless, without being trite, I hope that we can turn the inconvenience it has brought to our semester to some small advantage; to do some innovative and enjoyable things. In the words of renowned economic historian Douglas North, our ‘adaptive efficiency’ – our capacity to make the most of changed circumstances – is key to our individual and collective prosperity. I hope that my efforts to adapt this semester to full online delivery will not be too disappointing to you.

best regards,

Christopher

ps.. I’ll close with a famous image of a much younger Queen Elizabeth II inspecting the guard during ‘Trooping the Colour’. The show must go on, with dignity and without melodrama..

trooping the colour

Trance study mix by Delta Notch

Hi Folks,

Delta Notch is a DJ who has done some legendary trance music streaming events, recorded on Youtube, that are well suited to studying. Unfortunately copy right issues have led to take downs of his 8 hour and 12 study trance sessions but there is still his original one hour session available. Generally research shows that music does get in the way of effective study but some trance music can be very helpful. Delta Notch has done various other things that can be still found on online.

And if you need a quick five minute trance fix here is a track that features towards the end of Delta Notch7s 12 hour mix (unfortunately currently taken down for copyright reasons), by talented Italian trio Agents of Time (this track is titled Dream Vision).

 

discipline & empathy

I fear this old skit from the English comedy group Monty Python reflects my approach to enforcing disciplined study at Waseda..

coming to class

I understand that you might need to be late to class. Just don’t come as if this soundtrack is meant for you!:

 

Or tempt me to play this track in response to your arrival, from a minute in..

 

And don’t believe what you read about how difficult it is to do well in this class! Milestones surveyed students BEFORE they got their grades and credit for the class..

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Hands up..

Spring 2019

Hi Folks,

Welcome to your first, or another, semester at SILS. The last Heisei SILS semester, and the first Reiwa.. I can’t promise you it will be ‘epic’ – which is a wildly over-used adjective of late – but hopefully it will go smoothly and be interesting for all of us.

This semester I am teaching Introduction to Business, the intermediate class Designing Corporate Communications, an intermediate seminar on negotiation, and the 2nd of my advanced seminar series (zemi) on the creative industries.

You can find pages for the introductory class and the intermediate seminar on this website: just look at the tabs above. For the lecture classes I will be uploading pdf versions of the weekly class presentation slides as the semester progresses.

This semester my consultation hours are period period 3 on Tuesdays and period 2 on Wednesdays, at my office on the 14th floor of Building 11, room 1432. You can also contact me to arrange to meet at some other time if unavailable in either of those periods.

cheers,

Christopher

following the rules..

The mayor of Vilnius resorts to extreme measures to encourage people to stop parking their cars illegally..