What’s your favorite Christmas movie?

This is a question one group of students was talking about in class the other day. One said, “Die Hard, of course!” Another said, “The Nightmare BeforeChristmas” A third said she didn’t know any Christmas movies. My favorite Christmas story is “A Christmas Carol” and there are many movie versions.

Here’s a graded (leveled) text from Tween Tribune about why Charles Dickens wrote the story.

“Dickens may not have gotten rich off of the publication of A Christmas Carol, but he did make the world a little richer.”

I couldn’t agree more.

There’s a new movie out this year called The Man Who Invented Christmas, which is about this origin of the story and looks like a lot of fun (unfortunately, no date on when or if it’s coming to theaters in Japan).

Of the many movie versions, I like the one with Albert Finney the best, though the one with Patrick Stewart is good, too, and I always enjoy

There are also other versions, like “Scrooged” with Bill Murray, and the seasonal favorite “It’s a Wonderful Life” is also based on the story.

So have you seen any of these? Have you read the Dickens story? I used to teach at a JHS/HS that would put on this play at Christmas time (it was either that or Les Mis).


Delicious food in unexpected places

The university festival is coming soon for many students, so we’ve all got food on our minds. This video is about a street food vendor in Singapore who makes amazing braised chicken. It’s so good, he even received a Michelin star. And though he could’ve raised his prices after that, he decided not to, in appreciation of his customers. The video is in Chinese, with English subtitles.

It reminds me (as so many things do) of the movie “Tampopo” and the scene where the homeless man makes delicious オムライス for a neighborhood kid, after breaking into a kitchen after hours. There are no subtitles, but there’s very little dialogue. Students, can you make your own English subtitles for this movie clip?

Here’s a video explaining in English how to cook traditional “omu-rice” from a site called Japanese Cooking 101. It’s very standard, and the omelette is more like a crepe, for those of you who don’t like the runny (半熟) style that’s the other most common way to make it.

Kingfishers and owls and penguins. Oh my!

Train geeks and birdwatchers will like this story. It’s about how the newer shinkansen are modeled after kingfisher birds’ beaks because the guy who helped design them was a birdwatcher and noticed that nature’s designs can be pretty perfect. He also got hints from owls and penguins. The video goes on to explain biomimicry and how we can learn a lot from biology and nature.

Watch with the CC subtitles turned on to help you improve listening skills and learn some language. Like this phrase: “to make a splash” — which can be literal (a bird makes a splash when it dives into the water) or an idiom (to become noticed/gain a lot of attention because of something you’ve done).

My students will probably not get the title reference. It’s from this scene of the classic movie “The Wizard of Oz”: