Dear Readers,

As you may have noticed my output has dropped of late. The beginning of the year has been busy in terms of work and coursework for my library degree. I have many post ideas, but very little time to actually write them. Because of this I have decided to officially declare a hiatus for the time being and suspend all regular updates. I do still hope to post from time to time, and I have a huge multi-post series in the planning stages…but who knows when I might be able to write it. Thank you all for reading, and I hope to get back to regular posts in the near future.


30 Seconds a Week – Week 4

I recently got an anamorphic lens attachment for my iPhone and have been experimenting with it. I took a number of videos playing with lens flares and pointing it at the rising sun. This is the best one of the bunch, though there is much room for improvement. I am not sure what happened to the sound in this video, though a microphone attachment will soon be added to my regular kit. I am also searching for new subjects to shoot, but my time to seek out interesting things to film is limited.

Fighting for the Future: Archival Work in the Post-Truth Era

By Michael W. Harris

On Saturday as I sat in a local coffee shop working on coursework for library school, I was also constantly updating my Facebook feed and checking in on my friends around the country who were marching in protest of the comments, policies, and intents of the incoming US Presidential administration. These friends were joined by even more people around the world (including Antarctica) in what is now clearly the single largest day of protest ever seen in global history. It was millions of voices crying out with a single intent: we will not be silenced.

I sat there and wished that I could have been with them. I ultimately turned down a friend’s offer to accompany them to Denver for many reasons: schoolwork, a creeping cold, a general aversion to congregating in groups larger than 5-7. But I do think I might look back with some regret. However, in between being inspired by my many friends protesting in Denver, Kansas City, St. Louis, and even D.C., I was also reading a speech given by archivist F. Gerald Ham from 1974 that has reminded me of why archival work is so important, especially right now, and it energized me once again for my newly chosen profession. Continue reading “Fighting for the Future: Archival Work in the Post-Truth Era”

Veni Creator Spiritus: Musical Quotations in The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya

By Michael W. Harris

One of the items I acquired over Christmas 2016 was the recent Funimation box set of The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, a 2006/2009 anime based on a series of popular Japanese light novels. I had heard many recommendations for this series, and the basic idea of it sounded both weird and fascinating: a high school girl who is an unknowing all-powerful being who might accidentally wipe out existence if she gets bored. The trailer for Funimation’s release of the series gives a decent overview:

This clip also gives a hint at a fascinating scene that occurs in episode six (of the chronological ordering…yes there are various viewing orders and it is somewhat confusing so just read this) when Haruhi has created a “closed space” dimension and sucked our poor, snarky protagonist Kyon into it with her. During a climactic moment when Kyon realizes what he needs to do to escape with Haruhi the closing minutes of the first movement of Mahler’s Symphony #8 kicks in. The sequence lasts for almost 4 ½ minutes and features a seemingly unbroken stretch of the movement. Continue reading “Veni Creator Spiritus: Musical Quotations in The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya”

30 Seconds a Week – Week 2

This has been a strange weather week in Boulder, CO. The temperature has jumped around from well below freezing to being in the 50s. As such, all of the snow (and streams) melted then froze, then melted, followed by a dusting of new snow. Sometimes this cycle is accompanied by the Chinook winds, which at times can stop you in your tracks if you try and walk directly into them. Or as is the case in this video, prevent me from holding a steady shot.

30 Seconds a Week – Week 1

Sometimes you get the urge to do something that expands your skill set or otherwise stretches yourself in a new direction. I guess now is as good a time as any for me to start to exercise my long dormant creative side.

Back in the day I used to do more creative writing—short stories, poetry, etc.—but most of that fell by the wayside as got deeper into graduate school and began doing more analysis rather than creating. Recently, though, I have felt the urge to express myself creatively yet I lack the time and focus to dive back into creative writing. But during a conversation with a friend an idea hit me. It was simple, easy, and most importantly not all that difficult time wise. I have an iPhone, which has a great quality camera, and I live in a place that is both stunning visually, but also interesting in many ways. And then the title of the project came: 30 Seconds a Week. Continue reading “30 Seconds a Week – Week 1”

It Was the Worst of Years, It Was the Best of Years: 2016 In Review

By Michael W. Harris

Let’s face it, 2016 has been a dumpster fire of a year. Though I’m not sure that that is an adequate description. It’s more like a giant yard waste bag full of dog shit, set on your front porch and lit on fire which subsequently burns down the entire neighborhood. All the while the fire department looks on and does nothing because they have been bought off or distracted by a spray tan wannabe comic book villain with bad hair. Oh, and that fire kills every beloved pet of every single person living in the neighborhood.

Yeah, I think that begins to get across how truly craptastic 2016 has been.

And yet, as truly awful as the year has been on a macrocosmic level, and it has been truly wretched, I have to admit that for me, at least, it has been a pretty great year. Allow me to get personal for a few minutes. Continue reading “It Was the Worst of Years, It Was the Best of Years: 2016 In Review”

Borrowing Beyond the Stars: James Horner’s Music for Star Trek II and III

By Michael W. Harris

N.B.—This is a lightly edited form of my remarks delivered at the 2016 Society of Cinema and Media Studies conference held in Atlanta and the 2016 Music and the Moving Image conference held at New York University. Hence why this is nearly twice the length of my normal post.

James Horner has been a divisive figure in the film music community, fandom and scholarship alike, for many years. The cause of this division stems from Horner’s predilection for not only lifting material from other composers—Sergei Prokofiev and Dimitri Shostakovich to name but two—but also from routinely recycling material from his own scores. But the legal debate over copyright and plagiarism is best left to the Hollywood lawyers, but understanding the debate surrounding Horner is important. Continue reading “Borrowing Beyond the Stars: James Horner’s Music for Star Trek II and III”

There and Back Again: A New Viewing Order for The Lord of the Rings and Hobbit Films

How do you solve a problem like viewing order?
How do you solve a problem like viewing order?

By Michael W. Harris

Well, I finally did it. I watched all six Hobbit and Lord of the Rings films back to back to back to back to back to back, and all in their Extended Editions (the only way to watch the films, as will be assumed throughout this post). That’s almost 21 hours of movie, to say nothing of breaks for cooking food, taking periodic walks, let alone sleep and other necessities. But throughout my viewing, the question lingered: what is the right viewing order of these six films? A film series I hereby dub the Tolkien Hexalogy, for lack of a better term.

Back when the final Hobbit film was released, an article on Medium.com was published that gave a number of possible viewing orders outside of the obvious options of story chronology option (Hobbit followed by Lord of the Rings), which is the how I watched them over two days this past week, or the release order (Rings followed by Hobbit). But none of the orders in the Medium article really resonated with me, and I mused if there was a viewing order that solved some of the viewing issues with the Hobbit films (somewhat bloated storyline, spoilers and foreshadowing for Lord of the Rings that might not make sense without seeing those films, etc.) the way that the rightfully famous Machete Order makes the Star Wars prequels watchable.

So what I will present in this post is my Machete inspired Tolkien Hexalogy viewing order, but just as Rod Hilton starts off his Machete Order post with some disclaimers, I feel like I must first tackle the elephant in the room… Continue reading “There and Back Again: A New Viewing Order for The Lord of the Rings and Hobbit Films”