By Chris Barton, Co-Editor
It’s your 7th hour sitting in the same chair, staring at your computer screen. One case study ago, you sat down, dreading the night ahead. 4 cups of coffee ago, you finished the writeup (hopefully in some approximation of proper English), sent it off, and opened up the study guide for tomorrow’s midterm. Three frenzied phone calls ago, you finally figured out what the hell a “bandura” is, but you still don’t know what it has to do with finance. Two emails ago you realized that you forgot about the presentation you have in the morning. One minute ago your left eye started twitching uncontrollably, and 30 seconds ago a tiny, possibly hallucinated, brontosaurus hopped up on your desk and started munching on your notes.
Fear not, you’ll get through this. You might have quite a night ahead of you, but it’s nothing that you can’t handle, as long as you keep your brain in prime operating condition. And I’m here to show you my absolute favorite brain recharger, a beautiful thing that can keep your noggin in tip-top condition through these long grad school nights, and the best way to get the most out of every last second of procrastination.
During foundations, Keaton Allen told us a parable: Because television is bad, Adam Richman of Man vs Food was once tasked with eating an ungodly number of pancakes. Valiantly, he battled through the stack of fried dough until it seemed that at last the batter had bested him – until he called in reinforcements. Bacon. Between each bite of pancake, he ate some bacon, and was able to finish the fiendish food. The moral is that you can only do so much of the same thing (like eat pancakes, or study), but if you mix it up with something different and exciting (like eating bacon, or procrastinating) then you can actually eat more pancakes than you could have otherwise. I am a firm believer in the power of bacon, of finding something new and exciting to sprinkle into your workflow.
The most flavorful, rewarding, and rejuvenating bacon I have ever consumed is to be found in the magical land of shortoftheweek.com. This beautiful little site is a veritable wonderland of visual miracles, a cornucopia of cognitive treats, and a smorgasbord of human feeling and emotion – all delivered in bite-sized servings. Shortoftheweek.com is a curated library of short films, categorized, reviewed and made available to anyone who needs a brief escape from reality.
I’ve written before on the rejuvenating effects of narrative, about how stepping outside of our own story for a bit can give us perspective on the issues in front of us, whether it be a major life decision, an impending deadline, or a small, possibly hallucinated dinosaur. SoTW takes it one step further: they supply not just narrative, but art, philosophy, catharsis, shock, hope, and so much more. If the cure for studying malaise is the stimulation of the neglected parts of our brain, then shortoftheweek.com is the pharmacy. Whatever your ailment, they have the cure.
SoTW boasts thousands of shorts in genres ranging from action to horror to musical to film noir; they cover topics as diverse as conquest, greed, revenge, sexuality, the mind, other worlds, and ‘nothing;’ and they showcase live-action filming, computer animation, stop-motion, even puppets. Literally anything you’re in the mood for can be found on the site, plus many things you didn’t know you needed. And with a constant stream of new shorts pouring into the site, it is an unending wellspring of stimulation.
I’d tell you of some of my favorite shorts, but that would be to rob you of the joy of discovering your favorites. Visit the site, explore the catacombs of this library of film, get inspired, horrified, entertained – whatever fits the bill – and then save shortoftheweek.com to your bookmarks. And next time you find your brain turning to mush, flip to SoTW and give it some well-deserved bacon. There’s probably even something your new friend the brontosaurus would like.