Anime Winter 2017 & Some Blog Resolutions

The winter anime season is practically upon us, and I’ve yet to wrap up IzettaTrickster, and Flip Flappers.  But, these shows ought to be finished and reviewed with the other fall anime choices of mine on or before January 7th, which appears to be the new season’s official start.  And, I’ll have to reveal my favorite anime of last year!

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Many upcoming shows caught my eye:

  1. ACCA: 13-ku Kansatsu-ka
  2. Chain Chronicle
  3. Chaos; Child
  4. KonoSuba 2
  5. Little Witch Academia
  6. Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid
  7. Onihei
  8. Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu 2
  9. Spiritpact

kono

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Lovely Blog Award from LynLynSays

Almost a year ago, LynLynSays honored me with a Lovely Blog Award, for which I am very grateful.  (It’s about time I write this post!)  LynLyn has a very entertaining and cogent style of writing, and I can’t encourage you enough to read her posts.

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Here are the rules:

  • You must thank person who nominated you and include a link to their blog
  • You must list the rules and display the award
  • You must add 7 facts about yourself
  • You must nominate 15 other bloggers

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Thoughts on Volume Seven of Spice and Wolf

The seventh volume of the Spice and Wolf novels offers a break from the main story.  This annoyed me because of how little happened in volume six: the worst volume thus far.  Volume seven features the usual bad religion, especially in the novella which forms the first part of the book.  (You can tell already what most of my comments shall be about.)  This novella and one of the short stories were as bland as the prior volume.  Only “The Red of the Apple, The Blue of the Sky” showed Isuna Hasekura at his best.  The second short story was interesting in how it took Holo’s perspective, revealing how terribly insecure and anxious Holo is behind her quick-witted and capable facade.

SW Side Colors

The novella takes place before Holo settles down as the goddess of the harvest and concerns two children, Aryes and Klass, who are forced to flee their lord’s estate and find a new life for themselves in a far off town.  On the way, they run into Holo, who makes herself extremely useful and extremely annoying by turns.  (Holo appears unable to help teasing any man or boy in her company.)  The story ends with a thrilling chase, which would have been better without the twist.

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A Second Creative Blogger Award!

Creative Blogger

I have the good fortune to have a backlog of chain blogger awards.  For this one, I thank Fiddletwix of the blog The Anime Madhouse.  Here are the rules:

1 – Thank the person who nominated you and include a link to their blog.

2 – Share 5 facts about yourself.

3 – Nominate 15-20 bloggers and add their links.

4 – Notify the bloggers you nominated.

5 – Keep the rules in your post to make it easy for everyone to know what to do!

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Here are the five facts about myself.  I hope that at least three of them are things my dear readers haven’t heard before.

1) My paternal grandfather could speak eleven languages fluently.  His career of being a plumber and master electrician proves that he learned these languages simply as a hobby; though, I have no doubt that they proved useful in his hometown of New York City.

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May Quick Takes

A combination of factors leads me to write this Quick Takes article: 1) it’s been a long time since I’ve written anything here; 2) I’m rather ill; and 3) because I am rather ill, my ability to focus has gone down the tubes.  Some of these points deserve their own article.  At any rate, let me begin.

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Arslan Senki reminded me of the curious fact that non-believers often try to paint God like Allah.  What brings up the comparison?  The high priest of the Lusitanian religion decides to torture the captured Lord Shapur to death and remarks how unbelievers deserve this.  Then, Lord Shapur gamely defies the high priest by saying that he hopes to see him burning in hell with his evil god.  I am forcibly reminded of a scene from Muhammad’s life, where he kills all the pagan Arabs he captures after a battle–the last pleading for his life for the sake of his only daughter–and then burns the bodies of the slain.  Muhammad then remarks that the smoke of burning heretics is pleasing to Allah.

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The Literature and History Blog Up and Running

I’ve had the chance to write a few posts for my new blog: Aquila et Infans.  This is Latin for “The Eagle and Child,” which you Inkling fans out there will recognize as the name of the pub where that group had their meetings.  I intend this blog to concentrate on literary and historical articles so that I can concentrate purely on anime and religion here.  I hope that those of my dear readers who are book lovers will find this a great site to follow.

www.aquilaetinfans.wordpress.com

Smoking-Pipes

Feeding Frenzy at the Book Sale

Hello, dear readers!  I’m sorry that I haven’t been posting as regularly as I used to on this website.  So, I promise a few more serious articles in the future.  At the moment, there’s a book sale going on at the Eastern Branch Public Library in Shrewsbury, New Jersey.  They shall be running this book sale until the end of this week.  After reading what I deemed a sufficient amount of Plato and a book on the Hellenistic Age, I went down to browse the books here.  On the way in, a sign saying “one dollar per bag” intrigued me.  When I asked the cashier to explain precisely what this meant, she replied that all the books I could fill in a rather large bag would cost one dollar.  In a most abrupt manner, I snatched a bag and began perusing the books.  It began with a volume of Wordsworth’s poetry and ended like this:

IMG_0562Well, three of those books I got for other people.  My sister dreams of going to Switzerland and has an interest in designs of all sorts.  Therefore, that book on how to design gardens and the one on Switzerland were for her.  Then, the picture book on Bl. Pope John Paul II was given to my grandmother.  The rest intrigued me in one way or another, and one day I intend to read them.

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The books on Tokyo, Japan, and Ireland I got for myself, thinking that one could at least walk about the streets of Akihabara, admire the cherry trees of Kyoto, and be seated in a classic Dublin pub vicariously–even if yours truly finds it doubtful that such a trip can be made any time soon.  Though, a good friend of mine also dreams of going to Japan, and it might be possible to pool together enough money in a few years.

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Some of these other books demonstrate my eclectic tastes.  I’ve always wanted to read Theodore Dreiser, if only to see why his books have been added to the list of perennials.  So, you can see Sister Carrie in the second picture.  I also love histories of war.  People show their true colors when placed in such stressful circumstances.  As Joshua Chamberlain said: “War makes good men great and bad men worse.”  So, I have a history of an American Civil War battle, WWII in the Pacific Theater, the Roman Civil War toward the end of the Republican period, and Theodore Roosevelt’s account of his actions in the Spanish-American War.  Also, I couldn’t resist adding Walter Lord’s account of the sinking of the Titanic to my collection, A Night to Remember.  I’ve also read his history of Midway.

The rest of the items on the table reflect my tastes in literature.  I’ve always loved Dryden’s wit and want to read more of him.  I picked up the Dorothy Sayers work because I want to give her another chance.  I found her writing style a bit pretentious and overly judgmental in the first work of hers I read.  If I don’t like it, I’m sure I can find someone else who will.

So, has anyone else gone on a book shopping spree lately?

1st Anniversary Post!

Well, I cannot let an occasion like this pass by without comment.  Seeing an odd symbol on the notification icon, I began to wonder if I had done something wrong or angered a fellow blogger in some manner.  But, it turned out to be a trophy sign indicating that I have been blogging for one year on wordpress.  This is also the 100th post, my birthday, the Feast of St. Vincent Ferrer, and the birthday of Thomas Hobbes so there seems to be many things to celebrate.

St. Vincent Ferrer

St. Vincent Ferrer

Thomas Hobbes

Thomas Hobbes

I would like to thank all my dear readers who trudge through my many lackluster posts which clutter this blog waiting patiently for a few gems to drop from my pen and continue to follow me even though three weeks or more often pass between posts.  Without your support, I could never have maintained this blog.  So, I’d like to briefly describe what you might see here in the future–i.e. in addition to what you read a month earlier.

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Reviews of tea, beer, and other fine drinks have not been attempted since November 13, 2013.  I’d like to bring that back.  As a matter of fact, I’ll be heading to the 821 Cafe in Richmond, which I’m told has a wide variety of great craft beer.  I’ll be sure to keep some tasting notes in mind.  As for tea, my present penury makes reviewing top notch tea an ideal for the distant future when the summer will allow me to earn a steady stream of income.  However, you might see reviews of some cheap stuff and there are still three great teas for review in my collection.

Social / Drinking Party

Otherwise, here’s a list of some more tentative posts:

1.  On The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame

2. On St. Leo the Great’s Sermons and St. Jerome’s Sermons on the Psalms

3. On Olympus has Fallen

4. On Shakespeare’s The Tempest

5. A Review probably making fun of a little known fantasy anime called Y’s

6.  On Cicero’s and/or Demosthenes’ Philippics

Well, including my other list, that’s more than enough to keep me busy, don’t you think?  I’ll try to punch one of them out before being thrown back in the college grind.

Still Alive and a Little on the Inferno

Well, it has really been a long time since I’ve posted here.  One of my biggest problems being that I tried to write about The Inferno several times and failed.  Writing about The Inferno carries three problems for me: 1) I don’t really understand some passages; 2) certain references are too abstruse for me–especially in the iPhone edition I was using; and 3) I don’t get any particular enjoyment out of reading about hell.  For me, the strong point about The Inferno is the wonderful relationship between Virgil and the narrator–whom most refer to as Dante himself.  It’s wonderful to see how Virgil protects Dante through so many perils, and how Virgil stands up to demons, knowing that nothing can obstruct the will of God that Dante be permitted to examine hell.  I suppose the work might also be a way to meditate on how the vices present in one’s soul may lead one to hell and how to correct them.  On a final note, William Wordsworth translated the work in a beautifully poetic fashion.  I have no desire to write more than that, but I will give the work a second chance to grow on me later on.

dante's inferno image

In any case, I hope to enjoy The Purgatorio more. A professor I had, Bradley Birzer, told me that this work was the best part of The Divine Comedy, while The Paradiso was the weakest.  I hope that circlecitadel won’t be too disappointed.

The Forgotten Socrates

I just finished the Memorabilia by Xenophon.  Xenophon is more known for his work Anabasis, which concerns Xenophon’s taking a Greek army of mercenaries, known as The Ten Thousand, who try to aid Cyrus the younger in taking the throne from his brother, Artaxerxes II.  This ended in disaster, and Xenophon along with two other elected leaders must march this band of mercenaries 400 miles through enemy territory before they can find passage back to Greece.  (This provided the idea for the 1979 movie The Warriors.)

A bust of Xenophon.  Isn't that a very honest looking face?

A bust of Xenophon. Isn’t that a very honest looking face?

What people tend to forget about Xenophon is that he provides our second major perspective on Socrates in the Memorabilia.  The main reason for people neglecting Xenophon lies in both Plato providing more material on this figure and that Plato’s Socrates is often more brilliant.  For example, Xenophon’s aristocratic station influences his Socrates’ topics of conversation to focus on things like politics, military campaigns, and hunting.  Also, Socrates’ Xenophon tends to be more moralistic–some people have called him Victorian.  But, the directness of Xenophon’s Socrates comes as a welcome change from the heavy use of Socratic irony we see in Plato; though, I did notice several instances in Xenophon’s work where Socrates seems to make several jumps in logic.  (This can happen to the best thinkers–with the exception of St. Anselm of Canterbury.)  One almost roots for his interlocutor to turn the tables on Socrates or put up some resistance rather than the usual, “yes,” “truly,” “it seems so,” etc.

socrates

Bust of Socrates

At any rate, Xenophon’s main point, much like Plato in his Apology and other early works, was to defend Socrates against his detractors.  Against the charge that he was impious, Xenophon showed how devout Socrates was and how much faith he had in divination.  Against the charge that he corrupted the youth, Xenophon shows us a person who was profoundly interested in improving the moral character of his associates.  In regard to the latter charge, Xenophon also defends Socrates’ association with Alcibiades, who notoriously betrayed Athens during the Peloponnesian War.  Plato passes over this association, but Xenophon defends Socrates by saying that Alcibiades never listened to Socrates’ instructions and was more interested in the political power he might gain through mingling with Socrates’ friends.

Plato on left.  Aristotle on right.

Plato on left. Aristotle on right.

One of the most interesting relationships described in the work is between Socrates and Euthymius.  Euthymius interests himself in gaining wisdom, so he visits Socrates and plays close attention to the conversations.  However, he never says a word, which irks Socrates.  One day, Socrates takes it upon himself to show Euthymius the error of not engaging in debate and twists Euthymius’s brain with some of the best sophism the world has ever witnessed.  The end result is, after all the books which Euthymius has read and all the people he’s listened to, Euthymius admits that he knows nothing.  This is perhaps the only example in Xenophon of Socrates playing a sophist.  But after this humiliation, Euthymius actually continues to visit Socrates–this time participating in the debates.  This is a happier result than we ever see when Plato’s Socrates destroys someone in an argument!

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I highly recommend everyone to read the Memorabilia.  The work contains some great moral philosophy, several humorous moments, and is well worth comparing to Plato’s works.

Happy All Saints Day & National Blog Posting Month

Happy All Saint’s Day!  I hope that all you Catholics went to church today.  The Feast of All Souls is celebrated tomorrow, so I encourage everyone to remember their departed friends and relatives or the holy souls in purgatory generally on that day.  Even if you believe your loved ones are in heaven by now, prayers for the dead are never wasted: if one prays for a soul already in heaven, the Church on earth benefits.  This is also a simple way to perform a work of mercy.

Anyway, I’ve been very neglectful in posting for the past while, but I recently got a message about it being National Blog Posting Month; so I’m going to turn over a new leaf.  Each and every day will have some sort of post for the entire month–no matter how short of an article.  There have been a few ideas for posts churning in my brain, though I have not found the time.  Here are some examples:

1.  The relationship of Kiba and Cheza as symbolic of the bond between Jesus and Mary

2.  A review of No. 6

3.  A post about St. Leo the Great before his feast day on November 10th

4.  A review of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, which I’m reading for the first time

5.  A review or more thoughts on Weighted and Wanting by George MacDonald

6.  A review of Humanity Has Declined (two episodes to go)

7.  Impressions of Fairy Tail, Dusk Maiden of Amnesia, and Samurai Deeper Kyo manga

8.  Some information about Baltimore

9.  A Report of the Eucharist Congress held by the Diocese of Trenton at the Garden State Arts Center (where you may learn interesting facts about the blogger in addition to the Congress)

10.  Reviews of certain teas and beers

So, this ought to be an interesting month on this blog, provided that I can write the five substantial papers also due this month.

The Timeliness of Books and the Insidiousness of Vanity

My TR Quote App came up with a great passage today.  Here it is along with some thoughts of mine about it:

“A book must be interesting to the particular reader at that particular time.  But there are tens of thousands of interesting books, and some of them are sealed to some men and some are sealed to others, and some stir the soul at some given point of a man’s life and yet convey no message at another time.  The reader, the booklover, must meet his own needs without paying too much attention to what his neighbors say those needs should be.  He must not hypocritically pretend to like what he does not like.  Yet, at the same time he must avoid that most unpleasant of all the indications of puffed-up vanity which consists in treating mere individual, and perhaps unfortunate, idiosyncrasy as a matter of pride.”  – from Teddy Roosevelt’s autobiography

This quote brings up a couple of points on which I’d like to remark: 1) The importance of timing in a book’s effectiveness and 2) how easily people become infected with various forms of vanity.  Concerning the first point, a novel called Oblomov by Ivan Goncharov comes to mind.  Among the classics, this work rates so low that I cannot in good conscience recommend it; but, it aided me a great deal in changing my attitude toward friendship and socializing with others, which rather approximated that of Squall from Final Fantasy VIII, Allanon of The Sword of Shanara, Raskolnikov of Crime and Punishment, or–to use a current reference from pop culture–Twilight Sparkle in the first episode of My Little Pony.  (And my readership suddenly plummets. 🙂  Let me just say that this is an amusing little show, and I’ve only watched four or five episodes.)

Squall’s the guy looking at his shoes in the lower left.

Ivan Goncharov’s only successful work spawned the term Oblomovism, which is defined as indolent apathy or benign self-neglect.  (Apparently, the Russian form of this word is still often used in that country.)  Oblomov, the main character of this story is said to have answered the question “To be or not to be?” by saying “No!”   This story contains a sagging middle and may be summed up as follows:

A young nobleman with a large inheritance spends his days collecting dust on his bed and only gets up to eat.  He also passes the time by complaining to his only valet–often about certain pests, to which his valet responds “Did I invent them?”  One day, a friend from his university days comes to see him.  Seeing his horrid state of indolence, he cajoles him to reenter society and read books, which Oblomov dutifully accomplishes until his friend leaves him for a time in order to do business.  Oblomov relapses into his indolence and cements this state by marrying a homely German woman who cooks good food.  His friend and his friend’s fiancee find Oblomov thus and lament that there is no longer any hope for him.  Oblomov vegetates in obscurity to his last days.

This rather lame sounding work moved me to tears!  Finishing this work the day before I left for college, I resolved not to end my days in a similar manner, and went on to form many friendships at college, being much more active than I would have been otherwise.  Unfortunately, I slipped back into a form of Oblomovism in my last two years of college which continued until May last year.  But, fear not, dear readers, my life has turned much more interesting since then and promises to become even more so in ten days.  And ironically, if my next steps in education turn out successful, I will not have to worry about slipping back into Oblomovism until retirement.

So, even though this work stands as one of the most influential in my life, I do not want to read it now and will not recommend it to anyone–unless you’re an Oblomov.

On to the second point: how easily people may be moved to vanity, especially concerning their tastes.  Concerning this kind of vanity, your writer happens to be rather guilty.  I can only console myself by remembering how G. K. Chesterton remarked that most men are made of petty vanities and, fortunately, most are harmless.  To use myself as an example again, I tend to prefer subs to dubs, but I pride myself at being willing to watch a good dub.  So, I consider myself a discriminating individual who doesn’t blindly prefer one or the other.  I particularly enjoy it when someone who refused to listen to my advice is forced to change the audio track after listening to what is usually an awful dub–though, there are times when the dub is really better.  In any event, this vanity leads to me being annoyed with the other viewer or viewers, silently grumbling against them, and maintaining an unchristian attitude of superiority.  But, I must confess that I don’t see an easy way out of this vanity besides refusing to watch foreign films with other people.  Any ideas?

And the inability of escaping from many forms of vanity without drastic change stands as one of the worst things about them.  If one considers this quotation from the Imitation of Christ: “Vanity of vanities and all is vanity, except to love God and serve Him alone,” this indicates that only lifestyles which are entirely focused on serving God can be entirely free of vanity.  Such lifestyles are characterized by poverty, self-sacrifice, charity, and self-effacement.  Any striving to gain one’s own comfort or to rejoice in one’s achievements or talents opens the door to vanity.  While the excellence of such a life is apparent to all, only a few achieve it perfectly, and these require special graces from God.  So, I suppose the most we weaklings can do is to recognize our vanity and not think too much of ourselves.

So, what books have come at opportune moments to change your life for the better?  Any vanities you want to share? 🙂

Ever Read a Jules Verne Novel?

Reading The Mysterious Island marks the third work of Jules Verne which I’ve completed.  It concerns five Union prisoners who escape from Richmond in 1864 by using the confusion of a passing hurricane to steal a balloon.  You likely can already see a problem developing, right?  Going up in a balloon during a hurricane!  This action, while freeing them from the Confederates, at the same time leads to them flying all to way to an uninhabited and uncharted island in the South Pacific!  At least the confines of their prison have been enlarged from a POW camp to an island.  This is a true Robinsonade (named after the incomparable novel written by Daniel Defoe): these five prisoners, of varying backgrounds, must survive off the land and build a civilization from scratch.  Various obstacles ranging from jaguar attacks to orangutangs capturing their dwelling place to pirates all try to impede them from this goal.  Overall, this was a very entertaining work: only the overabundant digressions into scientific topics detract from it–interesting to be sure, but it does almost feel like a text book at times.

Here’s a picture of the island where our five heroes find themselves.

The other two works comprising my experience of Jules Verne are Around the World in Eighty Days and the little known Adventures of Captain Hatteras, which concerns an English expedition to the North Pole.  (The latter is particularly memorable for me because of the footnotes pointing out phallic jokes; however, I would never have caught these jokes if not for the footnotes in the Oxford edition!  Which almost makes me think the translator was making them up, no matter how good his arguments.  Whenever you see a footnote which makes you say “Why’s that there?”, you might just have read a phallic joke.)  Though Verne’s ability to create tales brimming with scientific information is what makes him most famous, his real strong suit is his ability to create unique, likeable characters.  As a matter of fact, I seem to have enjoyed the novels more which delved less into science, ranking Around the World in Eighty Days first, Adventures of Captain Hatteras second, and The Mysterious Island last. The Mysterious Island does have one great bonus to reading it: we learn how a famous character of Jules Verne ends his days–I refuse to say who!