Archive for November, 2011

The return of stupid

Saturday, November 26th, 2011

I purchased a relatively inexpensive Game and Watch clone after roughly a year of abstinence, and the reason is that my pangs for vintage video games have returned once more. I found the purchase of the Super Micro (with the help of Angelus and Crusader) to be sensible, because it represented something truly novel in the world of handheld gaming and Othello never really gets boring, especially if one loves to think abstractedly. The profligate part of my mind is currently calling for me to purchase the Romtec Colorvision. It’s a system that I’ve been attracted to for quite some time already. Over the past year I have been able to save a considerable amount, enough for me to be able to purchase it. If I did, however, it would bite in to roughly half of my entire savings, because the system is also quite rare (though not as rare as the Super Micro, I believe).

Sometimes I wonder why I'm so brainless at times.

What prevents me from purchasing it is the fact that it’s just another LCD game, and I have quite a few of those. It’s quite similar to the Donkey Kong, Kingman, and Mario’s Cement Factory tabletops in that gameplay is extremely repetitive: in the Colorvision’s permutation, the mission is to get certain items from the tips of the screen, and then use those to beat the evil witch on the top while avoiding attacking bats. It’s practically the storyline of Kingman being rehashed: while I was able to spend about thirty minutes at a time to play that LCD game, that was an extreme circumstance and I would usually be bored out of my mind by then. I know how those types of LCD games play, and I also know how stupid it would be of me to spend for something as expensive as that. There are renditions of those classic games in Flash; there are also emulators around to sate me. It’s just the irrational side of my brain beckoning me to waste money on something I do not need.

There are other things that I desire that would be more useful to me: I could probably spend a bit of my savings on Haruki Murakami’s 1Q84, or on Christmas gifts. I just can’t see myself spending more than a hundred British pounds for a game like that, even though I want to. I guess that’s why the rational part of my head made a compromise with the avaricious and mindless part: I instead paid for a Game and Watch that was less than a tenth of the cost of the Colorvision. I hope that could tide me over. Because as much as the shirts I’ve bought over the previous months were also a strain, I knew I was going to use them until they fit me no more; and although the Super Micro was more expensive than the Colorvision, I could rest assured that its gameplay would never be repetitive, because such are board games that stimulate the mind. I have none of that security with the Colorvision.

I may entertain the thought once more, perhaps after graduating from medical school, I guess. It really just doesn’t make sense to buy it right now. I should try for that chess book instead. Please, don’t let this stupidity persist.

Chess and regrets

Monday, November 14th, 2011

School wasn’t supposed to start last week: it was, after all, time for our University Sportsfest, and to allow students to focus purely on the friendly competition classes were suspended. The information was disseminated to our dean, however, a day before classes started. It was thus unavoidable that we had to have classes: doctors follow a rigid schedule, and to have an absence of classes during the week was going to make that a certainty.

I have been a fixture in the university chess competitions for the past three years. Aside from the fact that I was champion for my first two years in medicine, I just love playing chess. This year, however, I was beaten by a freshman: he ended up representing the first board in our round-robin competitions, and I didn’t mind that. I played second board last year as well, even when there were no other players on our team except me and my friend Kenneth.

It was honestly exhilarating. The previous two years I competed were merely excursions, especially because it wasn’t even a competition: I couldn’t even compete, because I was going solo in a team competition. Although I had good results, it didn’t translate to the record. The same happened last year: we were glad to have gleaned even just one point from it, because that one point was hard-earned. Of course, we lost horribly.

This year was different. The freshmen are a talented crew, and their representatives in chess are very good players. We were in the running for second place up to the very last battle, which unfortunately ended up in a draw because I lost. We needed a win I couldn’t give our team, and for that I was disappointed in myself. Finishing fourth place is no joke, however, and it was the best competition I have had for the past three years. Even though I had three losses, I had one of the best wins I ever had in my life, and that’s something no one could ever take away from me. Still, it would have been nice to be second or third and have a banner I could parade and be proud of. But at +6 -3 =1, there’s really nothing to be ashamed of.

Yes, I do recognize I fell a little short. When it was over I lost a bit of sleep just turning the game over and over again in my mind, hoping that I could have seen the mate coming, or hoping I could have moved better. There are just some things I could never change, and that’s one of them.

I actually think I still haven’t got over it, despite how perky I’m feeling nowadays. School’s already in its second week, and I still really haven’t even read any one page of my books. I don’t know why there’s this feeling of lethargy, but I think I just want to get medical school over with. I don’t even know if I’d pass that exam I just took, although I will try my best to make up for it the following week.

I haven’t watched anime over the weekend. I should change that.

Ano Hana’s end: flirting with bathos?

Monday, November 7th, 2011

I’ve been more productive as regards my blogging lately because we had a short, two-week break from class. In that span of time, I read four books, watched some Korean drama series, and watched Steins;Gate, in addition to some episodes of American serials. I think I have been quite productive. I am behind my anime, however, that I still hadn’t finished Ano Hana until today. I realized that I truly preferred [C] to the drama in Ano Hana despite the fact that Ano Hana is the better anime in terms of its technical aspects and tightly-wound story. That’s probably because I’ve been accustomed and conditioned to the plots found in Korean dramas, and the best among them (like My Girlfriend is a Nine-Tailed Fox) more seamlessly integrate the supernatural to mundane problems such as love and romance. I’m not saying that Ano Hana is terrible or bad: I’m just saying that I find [C] to be a more original series despite Ano Hana’s excellence.

Forgive me for thinking this scene funny.

I think what made me jaded with regard to Ano Hana’s last episodes were the fact that the most well-rated Korean dramas were just a lot more evocative, and these were what I was watching for the past few weeks that when I saw the last episode, I was laughing instead of being in tears when they confided in one another that they had their own selfish reasons for wishing that Menma would go to heaven. In addition to the emotional dramas I’ve seen, I was also finishing up on Saturnalia, which is a collection of excerpts from classic perverse masterpieces. Perhaps that was the reason why I wasn’t affected as I should have been: after reading excerpts featuring the coprolalia of Sade and the perversions of Li Yu, Swinburne and von Sacher-Masoch, romance probably tends to be funny instead of affective.

But in all honesty, the ending just didn’t affect me as much as I wanted. Despite being disappointed with the ending of [C], it attempted to make sense out of its limited time and budget, and did it valiantly despite a multitude of flaws. Ano Hana’s ending wasn’t really flawed: it was just beyond the melodrama that I expected, although I still wouldn’t classify it as bathetic. I’m glad Menma was finally able to go to heaven, don’t get me wrong, but the ending was indeed a wake-up call: I recall that Honey and Clover‘s ending had Takemoto confess to Hagu after he had found himself through touring Japan in a bicycle. I didn’t think that was melodramatic: in fact, the way he confessed to her seemed so natural to me. It was what he simply wanted to say after realizing that he liked her, after all. This was in stark contrast with the saturnalia of tears and crying in the final episode of Ano Hana: I thought that it was a bit overdone.

The series was still a decent show, however, but I stand corrected in even comparing it to Honey and Clover. What did you guys think of Ano Hana?

Stephen Hero and the pitfalls of heartless brilliance

Thursday, November 3rd, 2011

After seven pages of drafts from my notebook, I decided to scratch all those and just write. After all, this isn’t a literary publication or a research paper: it’s just a place to share my insights and reflections on different objects or people in my life.

James Joyce has been an intermittent topic in this blog. I was introduced to him during my first year of university, in my literature class. We were then tasked to read and analyze ‘The Boarding House.’ Truth be told, I wasn’t too impressed with the story: it was only later when I found out that he had authored two of the top five novels in the 20th century as ranked by critics and editors. It was during this time that my madness for Joyce began: what else could it be called, really? In today’s world, would any young adult willingly dare to read his later works without being a little mad himself?

I have no regrets whatsoever, because reading ALL of his major works gives me the privilege to lambast his works without any hypocrisy. I did read them, after all, so I’m free to hate on them. This is not to say that I think Joyce was talentless as a writer: in fact, I think he remains to be brilliant. Many critics regard Dubliners to be one of the greatest short story collections ever written, and I’m wont to agree with them: ‘The Dead’ alone can make up for the rest of the collection, but the other stories are no pushovers. ‘Araby’ is a great coming-of-age tale, and ‘The Boarding House’ wasn’t too shabby.

Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man was also quite good. It wasn’t exactly my cup of tea, but it belongs to the category of books I have read more than once, so I have much respect for it. My respect for Joyce has increased after I finished re-reading Stephen Hero: before Portrait came to be, it had Stephen Hero as its predecessor. Instead of the stream-of-consciousness writing that Joyce started to apply in Portrait, Stephen Hero was written linearly, and more formally. Despite being an apocrypha, it does still remain part of his major prose works; in actuality, I prefer it to the rest. While SH is more languid than the leaner Portrait, it explicates upon the philosophy that encompassed Joyce’s life. Because Dublin could not accept him, he had to follow silence, exile, and unbelief. Instead of focusing on the characters, SH focused on the progression of ideas within the plot, and I liked that.

I liked that because it posited questions more directly, and a lot of these were quite thought-provoking. Why, indeed, would Christ be tempted to be the ruler in a kingdom of idiots? I’m just saddened at how his later works turned out, because I frankly believe Joyce could have been universally celebrated. Had he instead focused on writing intriguing and potent stories without relying on gimmickry and the invention of a new language only he could understand, he would be more respected. As it stands most contemporary critics mock his Finnegans Wake: yes, I think it’s utter shit, too.

I think works in general, after all, are only brilliant when they possess some heart in them. Tatami Galaxy was a kaleidoscope of ideas, but it was all about finding oneself despite being thrown into an unwelcoming world; Steins;Gate was, beyond all the science and physics, ultimately a series about filial piety and love. Had S;G been all about physics, I doubt it would have maintained the attention of its viewers until its final episode. It was more about sacrifice for the ones you love and care for.

What would the use of coalescing the languages of the world be if no one understood what you were writing? What would be the use of being so brilliant and yet ultimately soulless? Soullessness, after all, was Joyce’s fatal flaw. His stories had heart prior to Finnegans Wake, although they had become lesser and lesser as he got older. This is an example series should follow: it’s all right to be technically mediocre. Maison Ikkoku was indeed that. It’s a lot more important to tell a story that appeals to the soul of people: the rest will ultimately follow.