Archive for the ‘Smorgasbord’ Category

Cunning Single Lady: the modern-day Persuasion

Monday, October 13th, 2014

Elizabeth had succeeded at sixteen to all that was possible of her mother’s rights and consequence; and being very handsome, and very like himself, her influence had always been great, and they had gone on together most happily. His other two children were of very inferior value. Mary had acquired a little artificial importance by becoming Mrs Charles Musgrove; but Anne, with an elegance of mind and sweetness of character, which must have placed her high with any people of real understanding, was nobody with either father or sister; her word had no weight, her convenience was always to give way — she was only Anne. -Persuasion, Jane Austen

This is my drama of the year (so far).

This is my drama of the year (so far).

I watched Cunning Single Lady with the shallowest of reasons: I have been a fan of Lee Min Jung ever since I watched Big, simply because she is a beautiful lady. I have followed her series since (I also watched All About My Romance) last year. I like her because alongside Kim Tae-hee, Min Jung seems to have the least amount of plastic surgery done on her face. I doubt if any of them had their face done, however. (more…)

Top 10 Books Read for 2013

Thursday, January 2nd, 2014

To me, this has been a pivotal year for me as regards literature. It’s probably the first year that I’ve read more than 100 significant works of prose, and it’s a great feeling that I finished reading 140 at the end of the year.

I’m writing this note as a reminder to myself of what I deemed the best books I have read over the course of this year, as well as a sort of instructive write-up of sorts to those who may be interested in reading books that I (among others) highly esteem. Here goes.

10. Persuasion – Jane Austen

I don’t like to read romances for the most part. It’s not that I’m a cynic regarding love; it’s just that I don’t like escaping from my failures in love into fantasies. That’s probably the reason why I read classics for the most part. Rather than being entertained, I like reading for the sake of edification. I like to combine observation with reflection, and I like learning, and that’s why I read.

Persuasion is Jane Austen at her most mature, though. Anne Elliot is no longer youthful: she toes the line of spinsterhood, and yet she still waited for the only person she loved. It was, of course, her fault that she was persuaded against her heart, but I totally understand: in the final analysis, love is not the only thing that keeps us alive. There are so many factors and intricacies involved in living that romance is merely an aspect. Anne, being a pragmatic person, simply silences herself while paying the dues for her repudiation of Wentworth.

She is intelligent, forbearing, and patient. She watches her tongue. I like her, because I’m reminded of myself by her.

Aside from that, though, it’s really Wentworth’s letter that sealed the deal. It’s probably among the sweetest, most loving words I’ve read from the entirety of literature: ‘I am half-agony, half-hope. I have loved none but you.’

9. The Art of Clear Thinking – Rudolf Flesch

This was a zeitgeist, a history book, and a tome that taught one how to be more organized with thought. It had some fun tests in it, and was a joy to read.

8. How You Can Be a Better Student – Rudolf Flesch

This was a book that gauged one’s intelligence in most mental aspects. Not only that, it also helped one boost his vocabulary, and write better. I made friends with this book, but it was also very helpful to me in the aspect of more efficient studying.

7. Gone with the Wind – Margaret Mitchell

I read this novel over the course of two days.

I’d say this wasn’t even a romance novel, because Scarlett wasn’t really effusive with love. Despite her demeanor, though, to see her struggle through the Civil War from destruction to rebuilding and then to failure once more was really breathtaking. I lost sleep over this novel because it was just that exciting to read.

The ending was also very apt. Scarlett deserved every bit of what Rhett did to her. I can’t remember most of the details, but the panoramic breadth and the color of the novel is more than enough for its price of admission.

6. Some Do Not and No More Parades – Ford Madox Ford

I’m glad I first watched the mini-series. It made understanding the first two novels of Parade’s End a lot easier.

I really like this novel because its protagonist, Christopher Tietjens, is essentially ‘the last gentleman.’ Even though he was cuckolded by his wife, cheated by her lover, and left hanging by his friend, he persisted to being upright and proper even as his world fell around him. Although he finally capitulated with his love for Miss Wannop after his wife took everything that could be taken from him, he still remained a true gentleman, and the Last Tory.

The two novels are both complex and beautiful, and beautifully represent the decline and fall of conservative values as modernism loomed. Great work.

5. The Bridge over the River Kwai – Pierre Boulle

In a certain battle, the Japanese defeated the British and brutally treated them as prisoners-of-war. However, as the Japanese require a bridge across Burma to transport supplies, they needed the help of the POWs to build the bridge. Despite abuses, Col. Nicholson staunchly opposes being made to work as if they were privates, and refers to the Hague Convention for their rights in war. Eventually, the Japanese leader capitulates, and a bridge of wood was made with speed and efficiency.

The bridge, however, has to be destroyed, and eventually allegiances are questioned. Should pride be placed above duty? Should honor be placed above work? These are questions that the book posits and offers no answers to. All there remains is a pithy, well-written tragedy.

4. The Mansion – William Faulkner

‘But you can me’

When Faulkner writes a love story, it becomes a classic.

Liberal Arts and The Mansion have a similar age-difference in their love stories. But unlike Liberal Arts, however, The Mansion features vicarious love. Because Gavin Stevens, the protagonist, could not love the mother as she wouldn’t allow it, he takes care of the beautiful, energetic child instead and tries to lead her toward the right way. Her name is Linda Snopes: her father is one of the most devious representatives of the Snopes family, the American representation of Faulkner for uncompromising avarice. Stevens tries to give her books, direct her to become a more educated, more knowledgeable lady, and she slowly gets to appreciate all that he had done and was doing for her. But he could not love her the way she needed to be loved, and he could not give what she wished for.

This is a love story and a thriller at the same time, and is the final novel of the Snopes trilogy. It’s proof that a ‘lesser’ Faulkner work is probably most other writers’ masterpieces.

3. The Idiot – Fyodor Dostoevsky

‘If Jesus Christ were placed in the 19th century, would he have the same fate?’, Dostoevsky asks.

He answers with a resounding yes. The Idiot features a sweet, angelic prince in Myshkin who comes into fortune after some coincidences. Two women fall in love with him: the first is someone totally virtuous, and the second is ‘a fallen woman.’ The fallen woman cannot accept love from him, so she ruins herself; the virtuous lady could not understand that his love for the fallen woman is different from his interest in her, so she runs away.

Ultimately, he retreats into his own shell, still full of goodness, but never returning to the world.

The novel is a great reflection of the evil that man possesses, and the goodness that man can no longer have. Revelatory and prophetic, The Idiot is one of Dostoevsky’s greatest novels, and arguably one of the greatest novels ever.

2. The Violent Bear it Away – Flannery O’Connor

Before I graduated from my clerkship, I strongly reacted when one of the consultants told me that she did not know who Flannery O’Connor was. In our graduation party, the novel was used to identify me. I unhesitatingly grouped this novel into one of my all-time favorites – and it remains to be so.

Nearly a year removed from reading the novel the very first time, I’m still thoroughly impressed. O’Connor tackled the question of faith through her grotesques, and although I may have misunderstood some of its parts (it’s a highly complex novel), just reading about the reality that one never really can run away from God was a great catharsis of sorts for me. No matter how much Francis Tarwater tries to run from God, he is nevertheless still drawn toward him. Indeed, only those violent with the love of God can carry the Church away from its demons. It’s a dark, difficult work, but it’s made me reassess my faith and actions towards God.

1. The Glass Bead Game – Hermann Hesse

I thought nothing could beat The Violent Bear It Away. I was so sure.

Then I read The Glass Bead Game. I don’t think both works could be compared to one another, but I saw myself in the struggles of Joseph Knecht. To become the Master of the Game, he had to sacrifice everything else except knowledge: he was intelligent, diligent, and responsible, and that was the reason why he had reached the highest possible post in Castalia. Even then, however, it wasn’t enough. Or rather, it wasn’t right.

Eventually Joseph realized that hiding in the high tower of one’s intelligence was no better than those people who hid in caves just to escape the light. Both were equally wrong, and equally contemptible. Knowledge and wisdom in a human being remains to be nevertheless steeped in the real world. One cannot live without being in society, and one cannot escape society. In the end, he still wanted out of their cabal of intelligence because he argued that life isn’t lived inside a glass bead.

I realized that he was right. I pursued intelligence and knowledge so much that I had ignored and was insensitive to the needs of other people. Before, people were mere stepping stones to the build-up of my intelligence. Feelings were insignificant. While I had changed for the better even before the book, The Glass Bead Game elucidated what should be done: wisdom is useless in solitude.

I agree, and that’s why The Glass Bead Game is my best book of 2013.

Happy New Year, everyone!

A self-inflicted non-conundrum

Wednesday, February 27th, 2013

It’s not that I don’t have money: I do, but I don’t want to overspend, even if it is for an occasion. A few days ago had been my birthday, and I bought a few items online: I bought a vintage Pilot ballpen, an Ico pen that looks a lot like a Parker Jotter and wearing my favorite color, and Sigismund Krzhizhanovsky’s ‘7 Stories.’ The three probably cost me about 2,000 pesos, although I didn’t have any regrets since they would probably be among the last items I would purchase here in Iloilo. After all, God willing, I’d be going to General Santos City later this April to start my post-graduate internship.

There was another novel that had seeped into my mind, however, and it was Flannery O’Connor’s [The] Violent Bear It Away. I’ve read a good amount of O’Connor’s short stories and am impressed with her work. I think, however, that it was just the purplish cover of a previous edition that invited me to purchase it. (Of course the novel has literary merit: Flannery O’Connor is considered to be one of the best Gothic writers of our time, and a good number of critics consider The Violent Bear It Away to be her best work.)

To make a long, tedious story short, I bought the novel at nearly 1,000 pesos, and that was my gift to myself. While I may get these books by the last week of March at the earliest, I want to read the books that I’ve bought and a birthday, I believe, is a cause good enough for the purchases I’ve made. I’m up to 3,000 pesos spent, now, but I still have 800 more in surplus, if ever anything else comes to mind. I’m pretty sure that I’m good with those four items, however. I hope none of them get lost in the mail. 🙂

Recommendations of good, recent anime, please?

Sunday, October 28th, 2012

I’m sorry, I haven’t watched any anime for the past three months. That will change quite soon, but I spend the only free time I have on one Korean drama, primarily because I’m so attracted to the leading lady. It’s pathetic, I know. Recently I’ve taken a bit of time writing up short stories during lulls of our duties, and I recently finished one. I know I’m a travesty right now because I call my site anime|otaku and don’t even update on anime, but give me time. It’s not that I don’t want to watch anime, it’s that I just don’t have the time to be able to marathon or pour myself into a series, as much as I want to.

No wonder why I’m in the Friend Zone. 😛

Are there any recent series that I may like? I’m curious because I have plans finishing Hyouka, and then I have ABSOLUTELY no idea about what series to watch. I finally finished downloading all of Sakamichi no Apollon, but the great anime this year is a blank slate to me. If there are good, potent romances, please let me know. The only recent anime I’ve downloaded is Robotics;Notes, because I read on the Steins;Gate page that it was an offshoot. That was that.

If you guys could help me with your recommendations, please do so. Within three weeks I’ll probably update more frequently. 🙂

This is my latest short story, by the way. If you guys have some time to waste, I hope you can read and review this short story here. I’m sure there are problems with it, but hey, it’s just for fun. 🙂

A few thoughts on rubbing alcohol

Sunday, March 13th, 2011

I have never stopped writing; it’s just that I’m not really following many anime this season and the two that I follow don’t really need any writing about at that. I mean, other than some comments on a unique character such as Charlotte, there isn’t much to talk about. I mainly watch anime for entertainment during this time, although I’ll look into Madoka, since people I have a high opinion of seem to recommend it to me. I already have the first episode. 🙂

I still have some issues with esoteric beauty products and eBay, but I’m slowly weaning myself (hopefully never to be sucked back into stupidity). Here’s a recent write-up regarding my idiosyncratic nature. I hope I will become more creative in the future rather than just feature a permutation of myself, but here goes.

On Alcohol

「As her arrived from San Miguel he crossed the street to the nearby pharmacy and looked into the items sold. As it was a pharmacy that catered to the lower socioeconomic classes it was filled with generic drugs and local medicinal products. He saw a brand of alcohol he had never seen before: its brand name was Gentle Care alcohol. He bought one bottle and a local version of the well-known Vicks’ Vaporub.

He walked to the jeepney stop beside the Jaro cathedral and waited for a jeepney to his apartment. He chose a jeep that was nearly full as although he had to deal with being packed like a sardine it was certain to go faster since it did not have any more passengers to pick up. Like any businessman jeepney drivers seek to maximize their income: going fast with a full jeep is the optimal way to do it. After he paid for the fare he opened the alcohol and used some of it on his hands. He smiled when he discovered it was fragrant. He also opened the medicinal rub and thought it smelled like petroleum jelly more than menthol. It wasn’t malodorous, but it wasn’t fragrant. He would have thrown it but the economist in him prevented him from doing so: after all, he did spend some money on it. Like with many juvenile purchases, he simply sought to use it up as quickly as he could.

Upon entering his bedroom he was met with 80s video games underneath and on top of his double-decker bed as there was no one using the upper tier. He used up part of the alcohol he bought once again.

His alcohol dwindled as the days passed, and this was sped up with his friends asking for some. He sought to replenish his supply with the same brand despite knowing that it was probably going to be the last bottle of that brand he was going to see in his life, and so he decided to use up the last drops of his second bottle with a bang: he decided to have an alcohol bath, and he did. He then turned the alcohol bottle into a piggy-bank as remembrance for having used that brand.」

And in case you guys were wondering whether this is a true story or a cool story,

Sometimes I hate myself.

I was so bored with studying I kept on thinking about how I used up my rubbing alcohol and wrote that last week. I should watch more anime. Don’t worry, my next post would be less of a reflective catharsis than a proper write-up.

The top 10 anime of 2010: the cream of the crop

Sunday, January 23rd, 2011

I didn’t really go much into detail with regard to the later entries of the top 10 not because they were bad anime, but because they were merely decent to above-average entries that every year would probably have. On the other hand, however, I feel that these five anime were really in a league of their own for this year, especially the top three. One made something already exquisite even more beautiful; another resurrected a franchise in the dregs of its own stupidity; and one was the landmark event: it was just far and away the best anime of 2010. I must forewarn you that the individual entries of these great anime are relatively lengthy, but I felt I had to give more respect to these gems of 2010. (more…)

On House vs. Blackjack (mostly about the former)

Sunday, August 22nd, 2010

I just finished marathoning the final four episodes of House, and the trigger for that was this short advertisement crossing House and Blackjack’s paths as medical doctors. The advertisement was amusing, but I wanted to see a real anime with these two seminal characters. The advertisement is below:

I really like House not because I’m also (with providence and luck) going to be a doctor someday, (there are a lot of glaring medical errors in house, although I don’t even recognize most of them), but because Hugh Laurie is a great actor to watch. While the first and second seasons have been the most consistent and believable medically speaking, the recently ended sixth season I feel is my favorite. I like it not because of the medicine, but because of House’s gradual development as a person. I like it because of the soap opera, but I like House a lot more than series like Grey’s Anatomy because it at least places focus on the medical aspect on things, and not just entirely on the emotional aspect, like the latter.

House still isn’t your lovable guy, but in this season one can see that he really tries to be a better person. His snarkiness remains, as well as his blunt and offensive demeanor, but in his equivocation and his fakes one can see that he is actually trying to do right by the people he cares about, no matter how serpentine his actions look. Although the season didn’t deal with Chase and Cameron’s break-up well, the final episodes of the season more than made up for the middling episodes. The change was most clear in the penultimate and ultimate episodes of the season, where House helped his friends in the plodding and only way he knew how. He convinced Wilson to put his foot down at times; he forced Taub to choose just one option, and he faced his demons with the final episode.

I was glad about that lone twinkle in the sky of darkness that pervaded him especially during the final episodes. Wilson was sincerely trying to live his own life, leaving House dangling; Alvie, his roommate during institutionalization, was now able to cross the states as there was now proof he was a US citizen. Cuddy was going to be married – and he was still alone. That vicissitudinous reversal at the end of the season, and his unwillingness to give up on himself even when it seemed too late, I think, was an apt way to end the season. It offers hope for House and for his growth as a person, which is the primary reason I still watch House nowadays. The medicine may be wanting, but the engaging escape certainly isn’t.

Like the IGN reviewer, I recommend the sixth season of House for those who have watched the other seasons primarily because of the final episode. It just lays the foundation of the show’s conclusion. I also recommend watching Blackjack, as it’s a good and entertaining show.

Site promotions: in preparation for my anniversary

Sunday, June 6th, 2010

Tomorrow, I am once again going to resume schooling. Having said that, my consistency with post production will dwindle, but I assure my readers that I will still write on the next episodes of The Tatami Galaxy with its analyses on my mind. I have been looking for series to watch, and this series has been such a welcome arrival. I have a strong feeling that the final three episodes of the series will be the redemption that we have been hoping for our tragic Watashi; I also have quite a feeling that it’s going to be great: Masaaki Yuasa has never disappointed me before.

In a month’s time I will be celebrating my four-year anniversary writing here on anime|otaku. I am nearing 6,500 comments, so I am going to allow the 6,500th commentator to give me any topic related to anime to write about. Of course, I will have a right to decline, especially if I feel that the write-up is going to be too time-consuming (forgive me, I am a student of medicine, after all) or simply stupid in the first place. I will also write on certain special topics provided by my two benefactors, Crusader and Angelus; these will come at a later date.

So keep the comments coming! I truly treasure your insights on a series such as The Tatami Galaxy, and there is such a plethora of interpretations and imagery that the anime offers that I can see no dearth of analyses for it. I will return to editorial writing in due time (or as temporary intermissions), but for now I find it fit to spend a significant amount of my writing time purely on the interpretations that The Tatami Galaxy offers.

Thank you for the insightful comments, as well.

Alternatives to a plague of wish-fulfillment

Saturday, January 9th, 2010

Ever since I obtained the Casio Loopy console I became privy to the reality of the possibility of getting the different video game consoles of yesteryear as long as I had the money. It was an epiphany that triggered a shopping spree that was neither merely petty obsession or impulse, but a maelstrom of both.

This is a cool game.

This is a cool game.

I absolutely refuse to call it an obsession, because obsessions are not sequestered in reality or rationality. They transcend both; in fact, they are irrational peregrinations into certain pleasures that can neither be controlled or placated. On the contrary, while I do purchase certain dubitable items off eBay (vintage video games, and vintage video game consoles), I do not purchase those items that are out of my reach, or unforgivably expensive for my status as a post-graduate student. I purchase items I know I can pay for and save for in addition to my desiring for them.

In the same vein, I refuse to call it an addiction anymore. Research into the psychology of addiction has made me realize that the fact I recognize and control my whims removes it from that definition. Despite my profligate nature with regard to the items that I have purchased, I have reined in a lot of my more stupid desires. Looking into myself, I can probably describe my current state (regarding eBay) as some sort of a chimera: the ability to be able to obtain the things that I wanted as a child dovetailed with my desires of youth does not bode really well. Understood from another lens, I know and recognize that what I spend is not money well-spent, but it is money that I spent and those things are things I own. It is a powerful feeling, one that has been welcome for nearly a year but is welcome no longer. I need to proceed to things that are more relevant and useful to me, or, if I can’t, at least on to things that are a lot cheaper.

The past few weeks, I have attempted to shift, once more, my passion for the video games of the past into the soap of the past. Soap is cheaper, after all, and it has served well as a new year’s resolution. However, when my mother called me, and I saw my Paypal account I realized I spent 30 dollars on soap. Just on soap. While it’s not an addiction, I realized that it was still a pretty stupid resolution and it does not really address the problem of me spending on useless stuff.

I’m looking for alternatives. I think I’ve watched a lot more anime the past month than the whole year combined, and it has helped a little, but not much. I want something unique that I can be passionate about without it harming my wallet in the long run. I know it ultimately boils down to self-discipline and a cathartic self-realization, but things are much easier said than done. I’m glad that I already made the progress of shifting the compulsion to something less harmful; now, however, I want to shift it to something productive.

Any suggestions? (Thanks for reading. :))

Obsessions

Sunday, July 19th, 2009

I knew that the transition to medical school was going to be anything but smooth, and I was correct. I had a lot of misgivings before the start of classes and a lot of imagined problems with my soon-to-be classmates. Somehow, however, I was able to persist and flourish: perhaps this is the reason that they call man to be the superior being, as his capacity to adapt is nearly limitless. (more…)