ABC Awards Nomination!

abc-awardWell, I find myself quite humbled and honored by Naru’s nomination of me for the ABC Award.  Please check out her blog, which is written with such humor and good style that you might find yourself sucked in for an hour or two.  And thanks to all my dear readers who keep me motivated to write!

Since some of you might have read my Liebster Award post and my Medieval Interrogation. I promise to try to make this, my 200th post, contain new information about me.  Some of which is a bit silly, but hopefully humorous.  Without further ado, let me paste the rules:

1. Download the award logo and add it to your acceptance post.
2. Nominate a few fellow bloggers and share the award.
3. Since the award is ABC, take each letter of the alphabet and use it to tell something about yourself.

Here goes:

A: Arcueid Brunestud.  My ideal woman.  I’m fairly certain an Arcueid doesn’t exist in real life, but one can dream–and no, it has nothing to do with her being a vampire. >.<

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B: Baltimore.  This city holds a place in my heart for two reasons: 1) the first ancestor of mine to come to America settled in this city in 1775 and 2) this city holds the seminary where I went and where my classmates still are.

C: Cats.  I love cats.  Since I moved out of my parents’ house, I haven’t gotten a chance to own one; but, I love visiting to see these two characters:

Dexter

Dexter

Cindy

Cindy

D: Despondent.  The virtue which I most want is none other than cheerfulness.  But, as a writer, it is no wonder that I should have to carry the cross of the blues.  However, for now, I’m doing pretty good at saying “Jigoku e ochiro!” to depression.

E: Escaflowne.  The techniques displayed in the mecha fights in Escaflowne seem to come right out of medieval fencing manuals.  As a lover of swords and medieval combat, these fights always carry me into the sublime.

F: Fathers of the Church.  Catholic spiritual writers don’t write like they used to.  The early Church Fathers have the most interesting vision of religion followed by the mystics of the Middle Ages.

carlo-braccesco-four-doctors-of-the-church

G: Games.  I love Chess, Go, and Shogi above all; but, board games of all sorts delight me–as long as they’re not ridiculously complicated.

H: Historian.  I love history, as is likely apparent from my similes and references.  There is nothing like warfare in particular to show forth the best qualities of people, and the people who are remembered most fondly in history are also those people who are most original.  So, I find the study of history a continual delight.

I: Imprimis.  This is the name of the newsletter of my Alma Mater: Hillsdale College.  Going here was perhaps the best experience in my life.  All my best friends studied here with me.  You might also call the college a cathedral to Western Heritage.  It’s hard to believe that it will have been five years since I’ve graduated come this May!  How time flies!

J: Jimmy Stewart.  He happens to be my favorite actor.  It is rare to find such modesty in Hollywood!

This image is from Winchester '73.  I might also mention that I love old movies and Westerns.

This image is from Winchester ’73. I might also mention that I love old movies and Westerns.

K: Kind.  I am a very kind person, though my timidity often prevents me from opening up to others.  Just imagine Robert E. Lee or George Washington.

L: Liberty.  One of the dearest concepts to the human heart.  By writing, I hope to fire people for the desire of true liberty: liberty under the law and under God.  Additionally, I want to squash the notion that liberty equals license and freedom from pain.  True liberty involves struggle each and every day.

M: Mustache.  During college, I discovered that a handlebar mustache rather suited me.  Now, a much simpler one adorns my face but I still consider going back to the handlebar.  My real hope is one day to grow a fine looking beard.

Jeb Stuart: Owner of the most perfect beard ever to grace a man's face.

Jeb Stuart: Owner of the most perfect beard ever to grace a man’s face.

N: New Jersey.  The state of my birth, from which I have just succeeded from escaping again.  May I remain here in Virginia!

O: Oblomov.  The eponymous hero of this work by Ivan Goncharov does nothing but sleep and eat all day and refuses to visit other people.  As such, he dies in miserable obscurity even though he had the chance to escape isolation.  Nothing worked so well in convincing me to break out of my shell; though, its literary merits are indeed questionable.

P: Plaid.  Though I may not have a drop of Irish or Scottish blood in my veins, I love plaid.  From pajamas to flannel shirts, I try to stock my wardrobe with as much of it as possible.

Q: Quizzical.  This word refers to my personality.  I eschew being easily defined.  At best, this mysterious quality makes me interesting.  At worst, people label me an odd fish.  Someone’s best attempt at definition was to say that I “was a creature who subsists on tea.”

By typing in "creature who subsists on tea" on google search, I found a great way to play a prank on someone.

By typing in “creature who subsists on tea” on google search, I found a great way to play a prank on someone.

R: Reflective.  I am a retiring and meditative sort of person.

S: Seafood.  I prefer fish over meat.  This makes it very easy to be Catholic during Lent, but I sometimes wonder whether I should avoid fish too on Friday in order to make it more penitential.

T: Tolkien.  Dumas might be my favorite author, but within my genre of choice, Tolkien is the writer whom I most wish to emulate.  Terry Brooks is my second favorite writer in the Fantasy genre.  Despite certain accusations against Brooks, he is one of the least derivative modern fantasy authors–until he returns to Shannara in the Voyage of the Jerle Shannara.  Yet, in those books, he is mostly culpable for copying too much from his prior works rather than the works of others.

U: Utawarerumono.  Best harem anime ever made.  One might validly place Tenchi Muyo in this place, but I’d disagree.  It doesn’t have Towa or Karura.

Look up awesome in the dictionary, and you'll see a picture of Karura.

Look up awesome in the dictionary, and you’ll see a picture of Karura.

V: Venus.  My favorite planet.  (Can you tell that I’m running out of ideas?)  How can one not love a planet whose temperature reaches 462ºC and can melt our strongest probes in half an hour?

W: Wizards.  From Allanon to Gandalf to Walker Boh, wizards tend to be my favorite characters in fantasy novels.  I suppose because they are so learned–something which I hope to be.

X: Xenophile.  Looking through the two pages of X words under the dictionary, I only found one which related to me.  A xenophile is one who is attracted to foreign peoples, manners, or cultures.  All my dear readers know that, but might I also add that I find foreign women attractive?

Y: Yukon.  One day, I want to visit the frozen vasts of Alaska, though I would settle for the Yukon territory.  You might say that Jules Verne and Jack London fired my imagination enough as a kid to want to see the frigid north.  I also want to take down a moose: I hear they taste like fillet mignon.  And, if I can see wolves in the wild, that would be icing on the cake.  (I won’t shoot the wolves!  Don’t worry!)

Wolves are too cute looking to shoot. :)

Wolves are too cute looking to shoot. 🙂

Z: Zinfandel.  My favorite table wine for three reasons: 1) It’s very American, 2) few other wines are as jammy and full, and 3) even the best ones are inexpensive comparatively.  Want a great Cabernet Sauvignon?  Spend $200.  Want an awesome, top class Zinfandel?  Spend $45.  Of course, the $9 – $15 dollar range in Zinfandel is better than the same range in any other grape.

Well, I hope that you enjoyed that!  Now, for me to nominate some people:

Dusty Thanes

Beneath the Tangles

Rayout

Feidor S. LaView

Black Strawberry

Cacao, Put Down the Shovel!

Caraniel’s Ramblings

Anime Commentary on the March

Pacificparatrooper

MIB’s Instant Headache

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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? 🙂