A study about kissing

This article from Sapiens (“Is romantic kissing a human universal?) explains that kissing (romantic kisssing rather than the kind of kiss a parent gives a child) is surprisingly uncommon around the world. You’d never know it if you went by most movies (see, for example, “Most iconic movie kisses of all time” from InStyle, or tons of YouTube movie clip collections titled “Best movie kisses of all time”).

Iconic movie kiss #6: from “The Lady and the Tramp” (Japanese title: 「わんわん物語」

A few excerpts from the Sapiens article:

“In Melanesia, the Trobriand Islanders regarded kissing as ‘a rather silly and insipid form of amusement’

“even chimpanzees and bonbobos kiss”

“In fact … less than half of the (168) cultures we sampled engage in the romantic kiss.”

“Societies with distinct social classes are usually kissers; societies with fewer or no social classes, like hunter-gatherer communities, are usually not.”

And there are two theories about how romantic kissing originated. Try skimming the the article to find them.


Kings of physical comedy

Charlie Chaplin is quite famous in Japan and I suppose most of my students know who he is, even if they haven’t seen many of his movies. But Buster Keaton, Chaplin’s contemporary and often considered his rival (for the same fanbase, anyway) is not as well known. Watch this (with Keaton’s own voiceover) to get a glimpse of his great talents:

If you want to learn a little more, here’s a short article from The Guardian: “Why Buster Keaton remains the king of comedy”

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.