Saturday, June 20, 2015

Summer Goals Update

It turns out I can't balance work, volunteering, three weekly blog posts, a healthy lifestyle, and fiction writing. Go figure. I'm human, and my track record for balancing multiple things isn't great. I suspected this day would come, once I started my job. So I'm going to remove the column status for Summer Viewing and Summer Reading. When I have time, energy, and the material to write such posts, I'll do so. When I don't, I won't even bother with a Swamped post.

Anyway, here's an update on my reading, viewing, writing, etc. goals:

Summer Viewing: I still haven't continued Free! Eternal Summer. I plan to... but that's work to watch. I have to think in order to appreciate it, since appreciating it doesn't come naturally. I'm fairly caught up with all current sports anime—just a couple weeks behind on Daiya no Ace—and with Ore Monogatari. I'm also re-watching Hunter x Hunter (2011). Innocent Gon makes me smile, but when I think of what he goes through later... it's bittersweet.

Summer Reading: I'm still working on The Professor and the Madman. There were several pages, maybe a chapter, dedicated to the history of dictionaries. Yeah, it's pretty fun. No, that wasn't sarcastic.

Blogging: See first paragraph. But my column at Beneath the Tangles is going strong.

Fiction: I was supposed to start revising my screenplay at the beginning of this week. I haven't touched it. I have, however, started brainstorming new story ideas... barely. Yeah, this is one reason I'm letting go of some blogging.

Work: I scoop a lot of ice cream, make a lot of milkshakes... my right wrist was starting to make me nervous with twinges, but I've been careful, and I think it will be fine.

Volunteering: I'm over halfway done with the 120 hours I needed this summer!

Fixing sleep pattern: hahahahahaha... I keep saying it will happen, but nope. And I accepted a coffee from my coworker earlier this evening... whoops. At this rate, next semester's 9:00 am classes are going to be really, really hard for me. I know I have over two months to change, but still...

So yeah. That's what I've been up to. I knew my goals were a bit too lofty, but it was worth a shot. I'll probably drop in for Summer Reading and Viewing posts from time to time—just not weekly anymore. 

Thanks for reading! I hope your summers are going well. I know for some of you, it's probably just started. 

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Summer Viewing: Ore Monogatari (eps 7-10)

Ore Monogatari, aka My Love Story!!,  is a sweet, romantic shoujo anime with a twist: the guy, not the girl, is the main character, and he's not the normal bishounen charmer.

After the fifth episode, I wrote a post on Beneath the Tangles about sacrificial love's huge role in this show. That's one big reason I enjoy it. But since then, I've come to enjoy the relationships in Ore Monogatari, both platonic and romantic, in a broader way.

I actually started this post last week, then decided I was too busy to finish it. So I have four episodes to cover, and I'll get through them quickly say something quick about 'em, I guess (I'm finishing this late Friday night/early Saturday morning, after a ten-hour shift, so I apologize for the distinct lack of care). Here are some highlights and opinions:

First, episode 7: The judo team asks Takeo to fill in for an injured member. They need help against their rival. Takeo, of course, agrees. He spends the month leading up to the match training... which means he doesn't get to spend time with his girlfriend, Yamato. She's very understanding and supportive. It's sweet.
Takeo and Yamato: "Look, it's you!" "And you!"
Suna: "How are you guys seeing this?" (ep 7)

Yamato gets more chances to talk alone with Takeo's best friend, Suna. She points out groups of stars that she thinks looks like Takeo. Then, when they're all together again after Takeo wins his match, he says the stars look like Yamato.

Some transition stuff must have happened in episode 8. I only have one screenshot from that one. I do know that Suna is quietly struggling at this point, and Takeo realizes it, but doesn't know what's going on.

Then there's episode 9... I really like this one. Suna confesses that his father is about to have heart surgery, and the rest of his family is out of the country. Takeo wants to be there, of course, but the surgery is on Yamato's birthday. With Suna's help, he's planned out the perfect day, and Suna insists he spend the day with Yamato, as planned.

At first, Takeo does take Yamato out. But he can't stay away. He has to support his best friend. So he tells Yamato what's going on and rushes to the hospital to be with Suna.

Takeo supports Suna outside the operating room (ep 9).
I love how these guys support each other.

The most recent episode wasn't as touching for me. It was sweet, but that's it. By now, I'm used to Ore Monogtari's combination of typical shoujo and defiance against the genre. As always, I appreciate Takeo's love for Yamato, and his determination to keep her as safe as he can after they get lost in the woods. It's just not really anything new.

Okay. That's it for the week. I switched to typing with one hand because my entire right arm is sore from a long day serving ice cream and making shakes. I think I'm going to continue re-watching Hunter x Hunter as I get ready for bed. Hopefully I manage to turn it off before I fall asleep this time...

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Summer Reading: The Professor and the Madman (ch. 1-2)

I've been volunteering in a thrift store's book section. Amazingly, I've only bought two three books (the number changed after I started this post) and brought home several free ones. One of them is The Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary by Simon Winchester. Can you guess which part of the title caught my attention? Here's a hint: I'm an English major.

I think Winchester has spent too much time reading the Oxford English Dictionary (referred to as the OED from here on out), because he uses a lot of unfamiliar words. Seriously. I've been reading on the college level since long before college, and I do as much of the assigned reading as possible. My vocabulary isn't shabby. But Winchester throws in words like "louche" and "garroting" like everyone should know them.

louche: disreputable or sordid in a rakishly appealing way

garroting: present participle of "garrote," meaning to kill someone by strangulation, typically with a wire, cord, or iron collar

I've only read two chapters so far. The first begins with an excerpt of the OED's entry for "murder." It covers the incident that landed Dr. WC Minor in an asylum for the criminally insane. The second chapter has two epigraphs, excerpted from the entries for polymath ("A person of much or varied learning; one acquainted with various subjects of study") and philology ("Love of learning and literature; the study of literature, in a wide sense, including grammar, literary criticism and interpretation, the relation of literature and written records to history, etc.; literary or classical scholarship; polite learning"). This chapter focuses on Professor James Murray's life before his work as the lead editor of the OED. Murray didn't have much of a formal education, but he loved learning... to call him a "polymath" who learned for the sake of "philology" is an understatement. He was a nerd. The book doesn't say "nerd," of course. But in today's lingo, that's the best way to describe him. He knew Latin, of course. But he varied from fluent to familiar with all the Romance languages, as well as Dutch, Flemish, German, Danish. And he was quite capable in the realm of Anglo-Saxon and Moeso-Gothic as well. All that before he got higher education. If he lived 100 years later, I bet he'd be a Tolkien fan, fluent in Elvish and all derivatives, including the tongue of Mordor.

The second chapter also paused to recount the "protagonist" definition controversy. The OED said there could be multiple protagonists. In 1926, Fowler's Modern English Usage declared that "protagonist" could only be singular, and any instance of plural was absurd. The OED settled the matter over fifty years later, confirming that protagonist can, in fact, be pluralized. That's a relief, because The Professor and the Madman has two protagonists, as the title indicates.

I'm sensing that this author is a bit of a nerd, too. I'm a little out of my depth. It's like saying, "I'm a Naruto fan!" then meeting someone who knows a dozen jutsu hand signs and all the characters' names. Except with the English language.

This isn't as enjoyable as, say, a fantasy novel. But I still like it, and I'll keep puttering through it over the next week or two.

P.S.: I referenced the OED in two of last year's posts. I wrote about the origins of the words "geek" and "nerd." Thought it would be appropriate to link to those here, especially since they came from the homework assignment that introduced me to the OED.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Swamped: Summer Viewing Edition

Family came over today (err... yesterday). I was going to scrap together a late Summer Viewing post about Ore Monogatari, but I'm tired, I have a long day coming up, and I just want to watch Hunter x Hunter until I go to sleep. So that's what I'm going to do.

I get nostalgic re-watching early Hunter x Hunter episodes. Gon was so lighthearted back then... this kid is dear to me.

By the way, I was pushed to re-watch HxH tonight partially thanks to the latest Top 5 + Guest post on Beneath the Tangles. This month, we listed our five favorite popular anime series... and Hunter x Hunter was at the top of my list. Stop by BtT to see what other anime made our lists... it's certainly a longer post than you're getting from me tonight.

Have a good weekend!

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Summer Reading: Pause for Script-reading, Writing, and Work

I've mentioned that my summer reading list includes my classmates' plays and screenplays. As of today, I've finally finished... one. I was introduced to these characters in class, so I'm glad I finally found out what happened to them. And the screenwriter/classmate did not to take the cruelest course, so I only got a little teary (if you're reading this, friend, thank you for having mercy). She put the main character through some rough stuff.

My friends and I have decided that our creative writing education teaches us to kill and cause emotional trauma. We can be kind of mean to each other. There's another screenplay waiting in my inbox that I know will make me pout, because we already read a death scene in class.

I think I can read one more script tonight, or at least get a good start...

My other excuses for not reading an actual book this week:

  • I started my summer job last Thursday. I still have my volunteering, too.
  • I've spent time writing. I'm brainstorming my next big writing project. I have to hurry. I only have a couple weeks of freedom in which to solidify a new idea. Then, I start revising the draft I finished last week. I need to prioritize that, so I can make serious progress before school resumes.
  • Monday's blog post took several hours... okay, so it always takes a fair amount of time. But this one was different. Instead of writing about a single anime, I addressed why critical thinking is vital for anime fans. It took longer than I expected.
Oh, but I did crack open a book about the Oxford English Dictionary's first editor and one of the key contributing writers. Apparently, this key writer did his work from an insane asylum. So that's interesting. Also, the epigraph to the first chapter was the OED entry for "murder" (or at least part of the entry—some of those entries are really, really long). This is going to be a fun read.

For those of you who aren't English majors: the OED is an extremely comprehensive dictionary that takes up several volumes (thankfully, there's an online version that I have access to during the school year). Definitions include the words' origins, how they've evolved, and more. If I remember right, the entry for "if" spanned more than a page.

Yes, I'm a nerd. But you knew that already.

Thank you for taking the time to read my rambles. My posts on this blog are increasingly low priority. Sorry about that. I might read the OED book and more Harry Potter by next week. Or I might choose to focus on these scripts. Either way, I'll check in.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Summer Viewing: Last Weekend's Sports Anime

I might need to change my approach to these Summer Viewing posts. I'm only following three anime with any level of consistency:

Kuroko's Basketball 3 (Saturday)
Baby Steps 2 (Sunday)
Daiya no Ace 2 (Monday)

By the time Friday comes around, the excitement from those three shows has worn off. I need a refresher on each episode. And I can't switch my posting day, because I already have my column at Beneath the Tangles every Monday.

I could try catching up on Ore Monogatari or watch Free! Eternal Summer. But the first airs mid-week, an inconvenient time to watch anything I want to think about. And the second is a chore. I hope to approach it with a more open mind this time, so I can complain less and appreciate more. But that takes brainwork, and my brain is busy.

For now, I'll just sort through my screenshots and try to remember what I was so excited about this past weekend...

There will be spoilers. Consider yourself warned.

Kuroko's Basketball 3

At the end of ep 19 (59), Murasakibara said there was no way Seirin could win. I disagreed with him, of course. Sure, Kuroko was benched. But I still believe in him, Kagami, and the rest of the team. Now, in episode 20, Kuroko ends up back on the court.

Meanwhile, the supposed Kuroko 2.0 (Mayuzumi?) loses his affectiveness and is downgraded to just another body on the court. Akashi still manages to use him, but at this point, it's extremely obvious that Akashi views him as a mere tool.

Baby Steps 2

I have no screenshots from this one. I really, really like this show, but the visuals don't impress me. Still, even without screenshots' aid, I remember that Ei-chan played extremely well against his opponent. It's fun to watch him improve. He's methodical to a point that's unusual for a sports anime protagonist; usually guys like him are secondary characters, or at least share the spotlight with a more exuberant main character.

Daiya no Ace 2 (Ace of the Diamond)

Team Seido prevailed. Sawamura contributed. But best of all? The Coach showed his strength, and the guy who plans to replace him is getting nervous. If Coach leads this team to the championships and decides not to leave them at season's end, the replacement might not happen. A lot of people, both fictional and non-fictional, are hoping for that. The wannabe replacement, who's criticized Coach's team-oriented approach to high school baseball, begins to understand why we're still so loyal.


This post is a little later than I prefer, but oh well. I was enjoying my time with my family. In less than twelve hours, the next Kurobas will be up! I probably won't get a chance to watch it until tomorrow night, at the earliest. I have a full day planned. Summer vacation isn't as relaxing as it was in high school, so I can't watch much more anime than I do during the school year. I do, however, plan to follow another show when the summer season starts: Working!!! (that is, season three of Working!!). I can't wait. There weren't any fun comedies of my type this season, and I feel a bit deprived.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Summer Reading: The Wise Man's Fear

Last week, I said I should avoid reading until I finished my screenplay. But when I can borrow library eBooks without leaving my couch, the temptation can be overwhelming. So I did things backward: I borrowed Patrick Rothfuss's The Wise Man's Fear, finished all 1000 pages by Sunday night, and then finished my screenplay. 

The Wise Man's Fear is the second book in the Kingkiller Chronicle and the sequel to The Name of the Wind. In this one, Kvothe finally travels far beyond the University, which means we learn more about the world Rothfuss has created. This includes...

... Adem mercenaries and their country
... Fairies, and not the cute kind (finally! we knew they were part of the story, because Bast is in the inn, but we didn't know at what point Kvothe started to believe in them)
... other cultures and languages

I should probably warn you that Kvothe didn't just learn the language, politics, and favored fighting styles of the cultures he visited; he also learned their views on sex... first hand. I sort of skimmed through those parts. I wouldn't say they were extremely explicit, but I wouldn't recommend it to my more sensitive teenage self, either. 

I personally think the book wouldn't be hurt if those scenes were shaved down to something more PG. But the discussions about sex on a cultural level were interesting—Kvothe came from a more conservative culture than some that he visited. Meanwhile, here in the real word, conservative and liberal subcultures are at odds about sex, reproduction, and surrounding issues. The Wise Man's Fear may be an epic fantasy, but it's definitely a product of its time. 

Since I fall on the more conservative side of the spectrum (for a more complex reason than "because the Bible says sex outside of marriage is a no-go," though God's Word would be reason enough), I could get too annoyed about Kvothe's... adventures and miss out on the story. Instead, I enjoy the insight into a decidedly non-Christian perspective. Don't misunderstand: I know that the characters' actions and words do not always represent the author's beliefs. The characters themselves disagree with each other. But I've stopped by Rothfuss's blog, and as much as I enjoy his writing, I won't be putting his posts on my church's overhead projector.

It's almost midnight PST, so I'd better wrap this up: I still love the Kingkiller Chronicles, and I look forward to the third book. There is a shorter, related book about one of the Kvothe's friends, and I'll probably pick that up this summer. But other than that, I'll just wait patiently for Day Three of Kvothe's storytelling.