Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Master Notebook and the State of My Obsession

One of my favorite programs is Circus Ponies Notebook. It's a note taking program which allows you to store text, pdfs, images, links, video, etc. You can also do outlines and to do lists, and it has a powerful search engine and clipping service. There are also sticky notes and flags you can affix to a page and you can change the look of the pages to lined, grid, etc. It's called Notebook because the interface looks like a three ring binder with tabs, dividers, and the like. That's all I'll say about its features. If you want to know more, check out the link there to its official website.

People use Notebook for many different things. Students use it, of course. Apparently, trial lawyers use it to create their trial notebooks. I used to dump things in it here and there and made random notes. Now I use it as a record of my various interests and obsessions. I call it my Master Notebook.

I get interested in certain subjects and tend to go all out with them as you might have noticed. Before I started using Notebook regularly I'd get interested in a subject matter, learn all about it, then move on. I almost never saved the information I learned and certainly didn't write about it unless I did a blog post. Yet I loved all the things I was learning and decided it was time to start creating records of my interests.

I'll start with my great interest in South Korean Cinema. Korean films are now my favorite film genre and my favorite actor is Korean. I've seen over 30 films so far and own a total of 17. I've started logging all the Korean films I've seen. I also have a page of Films Seen But Not Worth Logging. There are about six films on this list. It took me several hours one day to make the list of all the films but it was worth it.

A screenshot of the South Korean Cinema Table of Contents.

I have a four star rating system and will be putting the films in rating order. I prefer to use the Cornell Notes page style which Notebook allows you to choose as an option. The left side of the page includes director, year released, actors, the rating system, any short factual notes, and a summary of the story. It also notes whether I own it and when I saw it if I have that information. The right side is a photo from the film. The bottom is my review.

I'll also write any appropriate commentaries related to the subject matter. There's almost always a commentary entitled "How I Arrived at this Place and the State of My Obsession." This commentary discusses how I got interested in the particular subject matter and my personal history with it.

Eventually, I'll add an commentary about Song Kang-ho, my favorite actor and Park Chan-wook, my favorite Korean director. I'm certain I'll add additional articles about other directors, definitely Bong Joon-ho is at the top of that list. "The State of My Obsession" section is a kind of ongoing journal of notes with particular emphasis on the high level of interest I have in the subject matter.

I'll be going back to my first two film surveys of Akira Kurosawa films and Weimar Cinema and adding them to the Notebook. I'm planning to write a commentary about Kurosawa and three of the major actors he worked with (Toshiro Mifune, Takashi Shimura, and Tatsuya Nakadai). I'm also going to do a commentary entitled Fritz Lang and the Maverick Filmmaker for my Weimar Cinema survey. My only regret is that I didn't start this Notebook sooner. It would have so lovely to have notes and a log of these surveys as I went along.

Of course, I'm logging all the films for my Luis Bunuel survey as I go along with any commentaries that occur to me.

A screenshot of my Un Chien Andalou page using the Cornell Page style.

When I was attending the SF IndieFest I made sure to take good notes of the 16 films I saw. I didn't use the Cornell Note format for those notes. At the end I turned the part of the notes into blog post I did here.

The Master Notebook houses my current, all-consuming obsession with Fullmetal Alchemist or FMA. FMA is a manga by Hiromu Arakawa. I found FMA because I became interested in anime TV series and wanted to check some out. After doing some searches I decided to start with FMA because it was consistently ranked in the top five on almost every top 10 list of TV anime series I found. The idea was I'd add the entire series to my Netflix queue and watch the first two discs. By the time I got to the second disc and episode 7, I was completely hooked. The amount of media associated with this manga is impressive. In addition to the TV series with 51 episodes, there's a remake TV series of 61 episodes. There are movies and OVAs, not to mention the manga I haven't read yet. There are currently 24 volumes of the manga.

A screenshot of my summary of episodes from FMA Season One of the 2003 Series. Sure, Wikipedia and other websites have summaries but I prefer to do my own (this screenshot contains spoilers!)

One of my favorite pages from the Notebook is the "How I Arrived at this Place and the State of My Obsession" page for FMA. I love, love this page. The way I take my notes makes me sound like some starstruck teenager. It's badass.

Dates are very important in my notebook. I'm trying to record as accurately as possible when I see and do things. And pictures! They really add to the pleasure of flipping through the pages.

I usually open my Master Notebook first thing when I wake up my computer even before I check my email. I tend to leave it open all day long. I tell myself it's so I can just dump things into as I go along but the real reason is I like to stop for a few minutes here and there to flip through it or edit a page. I get so much pleasure looking through it.

I don't plan to share much of this information with anybody. All of this effort is for me and merely an extension of what I already do anyway. The only difference is I have a place to make notes and a format to put it in. As many of you know, I don't watch television and I spend a lot of time on the web looking up and learning new things. This Notebook provides me with focus and a depository for all that.

I love this thing. I just want to give it a big hug.

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