The Pop Culture Historian Answers! (Part 1)

We got our first round of questions! As always, you are encouraged to ask questions by commenting on this or Ask the Pop Culture Historian!, writing on our Facebook timeline, or tweeting us at @PopCultureHisty.

You mention being an engineering student many times in your blog. Engineering is a very left brain dominant field, while films and film reviewing falls on the artistic/right brain domain. Do you think that although you are very much left brained, that you have a large aspect of yourself that’s very artistic and that you use this blog to express that side, which you can’t really express as an engineering student?

The short answer is yes.

The longer answer is that there is very likely at least a part of me that is actually a closeted humanities major. I have taken some pure humanities (as opposed to social sciences) classes in doing my East Asia Studies minor as an undergrad. At the end of the semester, I found I had done something in those classes I rarely do: getting grades above the median. It’s one of the rare instances I was actually glad Cornell prints median grades on transcripts. In fact, I landed an A in a Japanese history class when the median grade was a B+, and the class was mostly made up of history and Asian studies majors.

The classes I took that semester were Japan from War to Prosperity and Introduction to China. I really enjoyed those classes. It was the first time since my freshman year that I had to do things along the lines of reading (in the case of Japan from War to Prosperity, on the order of 300 pages a week) and writing a response paper to my reading. I could chalk it up to the fact that I distinctly remember feeling having to do that kind of work was a very welcome change of pace from the pile of problem sets (with occasional lab report) I was used to being assigned in my engineering classes. I also do like thinking that the reason I did as well as I did was because I marched into Cornell liberal arts classes with the work ethic of a Cornell engineering student, but that’s besides the point.

To answer your question: Yes, I did find that engineering classes are not very conducive to expressing oneself. Sure, I learned a lot. The thing with most engineering problems is that there is a right answer. At first, I took comfort in that. However, as my time as a student went on, I felt like other parts of me stagnated in their development.

Is there a better hero than James Bond?

My personal opinion is that it depends on what era of Bond you’re talking about. Is there a better hero than Daniel Craig as Bond? No. Is there a better hero than Roger Moore as Bond. Yes, Daniel Craig as Bond.

What music do you dig most?

I tend to listen to Japanese pop the most. Within Japanese pop, I personally tend to go with easy-listening female vocalists, along the lines of Bonnie Pink or Utada Hikaru.

However, if you were to take a look at my Pandora station, you’ll see a lot of film scores. More specifically, a lot of Ennio Morricone and Hans Zimmer comes on the station. At one time, I had the soundtrack of Doctor Zhivago on my iPod. I will admit that I judge many movies based on the quality of their soundtracks.