WHAT’S NEW IN THE WEEK 3/3 – 3/10 2014

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Well, to keep myself on this blog (like many other failed attempts), I’ll be pulling a leaf out of my usual Night at the Opera summary of the week’s pop culture news… except without the banter of my co-hosts. Hopefully, this will keep me a constant on this page finally, among all my other projects…

So, to begin with, the biggest point of contention is another nail in the Studio Ghibli coffin, which would be the retirement of the producer Toshio Suzuki. Being a co-founding member of the studio alongside the acclaimed prize-fighter of the studio, Hayao Miyazaki (who notoriously retired earlier before the release of The Wind Rises, the studio’s latest production — then reportedly took back the claim) and Isao Takahata, the director of the heart-wrenching classic Grave of the Fireflies, Suzuki played a hugely integral part in the business and legacy of Ghibli just as much as Miyazaki did.

However, it seems all is not entirely lost as Suzuki has instead taken up the title of “General Manager”, a title with power which, at this point remains quite vague but suggests he might still play a part in the studio, however small. Regardless, it is very clear that the studio is cleaning ship for a new era but Miyazaki’s bar is a high one to look up to, especially in the view of what’s to come for anime, let alone Japanese cinema.

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Moving on, as unfamiliar as I am with the work itself, the movie it was adapted into and the director in general, it is worth noting that Scott Kalvert had been announced dead on Friday. I’d expect people to at least be as familiar with his adaptation of Jim Carroll’s autobiographical work “The Basketball Diaries” as I vaguely am, a memoir and retrospect of heroin usage before a promising basketball career. In addition to that, we’ve at least seen the music video of “Good Vibrations” a million times, as well as whatever silly 90’s jiggy with it dance theme was going on, which Kalvert more likely than not had a hand in. Having painted a generation with his music video work, it should be worth respect to note his passing.

On Sunday, we were blessed with two subtextually philosophical moments in television: We got wonder and positivity in the premier of Neil DeGrasse Tyson’s continuation of Carl Sagan’s legacy in Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey (a spiritual sequel to Cosmos: A Personal Voyage) and we got the darkness and pain coming full circle at the season finale of True Detective (with a surprisingly poignant and hopeful ending I would’ve never seen coming with all the existential pessimism of the rest of the season). Except for the people who were trying to watch True Detective on HBOGo, in which case they had to deal with the demand for the show causing a crash. Seems both hilarious and appropriate given its anticipation. In any case, based on the performances on the show, Matthew McConaughey will probably be an actor to win both an Oscar and an Emmy in the same season, which he very much deserves. As for Cosmos, I’m just excited to see such a public appeal for space exploration to be made once again and an active catalyst for interest in physics and astronomy to be delivered by one of (begrudgingly admitted by me) the biggest names in television today, Seth MacFarlane, and the rock star of scientists today, Neil DeGrasse Tyson himself, a hero who I totally will name drop happily as having seen spoken about a year ago (alongside Bill Nye, Richard Dawkins, Ira Flatow, Laurence Krauss – who works at my school so of course he’d be there, Tracy Day, Brian Greene and Neal Stephenson. Yeah, I’m fucking name-dropping science.)

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When the media is used to appeal for war, hate and paranoia, why in the world shouldn’t it be used to say “we can do fucking better and go farther” like Sagan insisted in his original series? This gonn be gud, I tell ya.

And that’s basically all the pop culture news I noted last week, though don’t be shy to comment below on any particular recent moments you’d want me to comment on until next time.

Peace out.

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