The Imperial Senate Can Into Silly Love Song

It is inevitable, I suppose, that it has come to this. What is it like to blog for the first time in more than a year, after so much has changed? I think it proper that rather than expounding on something profound, or discussing the insights I have gained during this time, I instead should appeal to the lowest common denominator, and procure a piece of simplistic, cheesy, romantic, musical poetry.

I suppose it would be mildly more entertaining if I pretended it was an anime theme song. Also, pat on the back to anyone who can guess the reference or origin of this. Hint: מֹשֶׁה

 

My love is yours
I gave my love to you
My sweet and gentle love
To you

And when the morning sun
Shines on your smiling face
Then I know I’ve seen a smile
Worth living for

I’ll take your hand
And go to Scarborough Fair
And go to Scarborough Fair
With you

Though I am just a man
When you are by my side
With our hearts as one
I know I can be strong

Though I am just a man
When you are by my side
With our hearts as one
I know we can be strong

To walk to Scarborough Fair.
If I must fight
I’ll fight to walk to Scarborough Fair
Until I die,
My heart is yours

 

Vector graphics yay

Mildly unrelated.

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I Love The Catcher in the Rye for the Same Reason You Hate It

Oh, u so romantic, so hipster.

Pic related. Also, I just realized, the guy kind of reminds me of a hipster.

The Catcher in the Rye. My fifth god of fiction, most blessed, most confounding.

In all the (admittedly few) years I have lived, only five pieces of fiction impressed me enough that I considered them as my personal gods of fiction. These works inspired me, changed the way I saw the world, altered the direction I took my life in (even if a little bit). Perhaps Holden himself from The Catcher in the Rye put it best: “What really knocks me out is a book that, when you’re all done reading it, you wish the author that wrote it was a terrific friend of yours and you could call him up on the phone whenever you felt like it. That doesn’t happen much, though.” And it happened only five times so far for me in my life. Unfortunately, I have ridiculously high standards for storytelling – not out of arrogance, I hope, but rather because I am just so easily bored.

The first god was Grave of the Fireflies, which taught me tragedy. The second was The Romance of the Three Kingdoms, which taught me epicness. The third was The Lord of The Rings, which taught me imagination and limitless creativity. The fourth was Azumanga Daioh, a rare breed of anime that taught me about the whimsical and optimistic, yet also the wistful and sentimental to be found in youth and life.

And then there is the fifth god, my last god of fiction: The Catcher in the Rye. And possibly the greatest.

A lot of people don’t like The Catcher in the Rye. Even more hate the book, including many of my teachers and friends. I remember how I was talking with an English teacher of mine one day, and somewhere in the conversation I said that The Catcher in the Rye was my most favorite book. She seemed to freeze for a moment, blink for a few seconds, and look at me, a little perplexed, before admitting she didn’t really like it. I guess she was thinking this in her head, like all the book’s detractors: how could you enjoy a book that was about nothing but Holden Caulfield’s angsty, teenage whining?

And I think to myself: How could I not enjoy that?

The Catcher in the Rye was probably the last book I earnestly read from cover to cover. All of the other classics and “great pieces of literature” I read in high school couldn’t resonate with me the way The Catcher in the Rye did. Great Gatsby? Yeah, I waded through that one, but it felt like an extremely weak prototype of Catcher. Huck Finn? Well, I appreciated what Mark Twain was trying to accomplish, but it felt too dated for me (though I think Twain would sympathize). Lord of the Flies? Seriously, that was some boring @$# %&!* about some psychopathic kids adults who looked like kids. Their Eyes were Watching God? I used sparknotes. I didn’t even give it the honor of at least using cliffnotes (which is infinitely better than sparknotes). To be honest, barely any story I have come across in the past five years – high school English class or not – could resonate with me even 50% the way The Catcher in the Rye did (until now, maybe).

BOOOOOOOOO, BORING.

Don’t get me started on this one. If you really want to hear about it… I hate it.

When I see my writing, hear myself speak, listen to my thoughts as they ramble on and on – I hear a bit of Holden, too, even though I always forget, almost as if he is like a mirror into my being. And you know, every time, when I think to myself, “Do I think this is a good work of fiction?” I always almost subconsciously compare it to my fifth god of fiction. Not my first, nor my second, third, or even, I have to admit, my fourth. It is from The Catcher in the Rye where I set my standards for fiction, somehow.

I know some people enjoy reading or watching something that provokes the deepest depths of their deep, philosophical minds. Others enjoy reading or watching mindless entertainment, wrought with clichés and/or wish-fulfillment. Yet others want an intricate plot full of twists and turns, action and reaction, the great thrillers of human limits, physical and psychological. And still others want Disney a heroic, idealized triumph of goodness’ strength and might over evil (whatever “goodness” and “evil” are defined as). That’s all fine. But for me, the epitome of a good story is the immersive ambiance and the machinations of characters and their interactions; in short, two words: atmosphere and characterization. Particularly the latter.

And the tale of Holden Caulfield, The Catcher in the Rye, fulfilled precisely those requirements. Good atmosphere; even better, godly characterization.

There was no lofty philosophical modernist/post-modernist/whateverist rantings, no winding examinations of the deranged aspects of the human psyche, no ridiculous and depressing melodrama, no childishly optimistic Disney-like vindications of the human spirit, no goddamn love triangles that drag on for centuries. No, it was none of this. It was, for me, an extraordinarily written narrative about very, very ordinary circumstances and its very, very ordinary character (relatively speaking). The brilliance of the book, to me, is that it just tells me something as it sees it from its own (admittedly cynical, rambling) viewpoint. You’re not supposed to find the main character likeable; you’re not supposed to be enraptured by an exciting, explosive plot; you’re not supposed to cheer him on as he magically goes through some magical “character arc” or “changes to become a better/worse person” (I don’t understand why some people believe a “good” story blatantly needs this). You only see Holden and his, quite possibly, angst-filled, even whine-filled state of mind. That’s it. The Catcher in the Rye did for me what I thought usually impossible: portray an adolescent as an adolescent, portray a person being a person and not a character. In other words, it did one hell of a job characterizing one random adolescent dude. Isn’t it amazing that both the people who love and hate The Catcher in the Rye feel what they feel precisely because Holden Caulfield feels like such a real, living person, that he can extract real, living responses (loving or hateful), responses I don’t see everyday for most fictional characters? Responses to give to a normal person and not a character? Now that’s a brilliantly-written character. And a great story, too. Because it respects me by not expecting or wanting me to overthink too much. It wants me to digest it, slowly, over time, as it subtly changes me. It gives me all I can take, nothing more, nothing less, and asks for nothing.

French Fries, I choose you

French fries were my first solid food. French fries = my childhood

Anyhow, perhaps Mark Twain’s words from his Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (which has interestingly enough been compared to The Catcher in the Rye) sums up my ramblings: “Persons attempting to find a motive in this narrative will be prosecuted; persons attempting to find a moral in it will be banished; persons attempting to find a plot in it will be shot. BY ORDER OF THE AUTHOR. -Notice”

I found storytelling beauty in The Catcher in the Rye precisely through the fact that it quite blatantly, and intentionally, wasn’t meant to be beautifully written literature. There was highborn “motive” or a grandiose “moral” or even much of a “plot.” Perhaps I can use Holden’s rhetoric of phoniness here (even though I don’t necessarily agree with it): The Catcher in the Rye is anything but a phony. It is authentic. It might be unpleasant, even frustrating and annoying, but it is authentic. (That’s not to say motives, morals, and plots are automatically phony and can’t be authentic.)

For when I think of my gods of fiction, and the effect they had on me, The Catcher in the Rye jumps to my mind first. The others – sure, they were just as influential on me, maybe even more – but they just cannot compare, somehow. Even Azumanga Daioh, which I consider the happy, mirthful antithesis of The Catcher in the Rye – even that, which I see as a natural compliment to The Catcher in the Rye… even that still plaes in comparison.

It’s funny I’ve finally accepted all this and understood it fully, five years later. And all this came to me, now, at last, because I think I might have found a worthy heir to The Catcher in the Rye. At least for me.

It’s an anime, of all things (for better or worse), but if that’s how it’s supposed to be, so be it. For as I watched it, flitting through episode after episode, scene after scene, amazement after amazement, layer after layer, depth after depth, wonder after wonder, I was, very slowly, irrevocably reminded, for the first time in five years, of Holden Caulfield and The Catcher in the Rye. Reminded, for the first time in five years, of the dialogue; the fullness of personality; the struggle, both silly yet serious. Reminded, for the first time in five years, of the bittersweetness of those years, the age of troubles, the days when the things that fueled the economy of the empire, the world no less, dwindled and society collapsed.

HVMMVS

Pic unrelated. Hummus is awesome.

I still remember the day I first got the book. After reading the first few chapters, I asked an upperclassman friend of mine who had read the book the previous year, “What’s the point of this?”

He loved The Catcher in the Rye, so naturally, he replied, “There’s no point. That’s the point.”

After that, I found myself enjoying the book more and more. I found its point in its not having a point. I came to love it too. And I finished the entire book in a day (or two days… I don’t remember).

A triumph of no triumph, a victory of no victory, a glory of no glory. It taught me a favorite sentiment of mine: the pointless, meaningless struggle to do something you know is futile, to face death (in this case the death of childhood) with a smile. It spoke to me in the language of literature that I enjoyed, the language which was, while arguably vulgar and aimless, also, at the same time, intimate and familiar, tranquil (in an odd way) and simple (but not simplistic). It spoke to me, angst or no angst, whining or no whining. Even now, when I am older, and no longer trapped in my own little adolescent bubble (I think), it still speaks to me (albeit in a slightly different way). Somehow. I’ve heard from some people that The Catcher in the Rye is like a mirror: it doesn’t show you about Holden and his worldview so much as it secretly reveals to you about yourself and your worldview at the moment you read it.

And so, now, there it sits, above the others, a god of fiction, lofty and vain, yet humble in its own way, too. And there it sits, and there it will sit, unchanging. It won’t change, ever. The only thing that will change is me.

And Holden; well, Holden will always be a friend. Sure, he might not be the best person – and maybe he really is a bad, whiny, angsty, self-centered little twit as some argue (although they always seem to forget that this is a young guy whose freaking little brother just died (I’d be depressed and angsty too if I had an awesome kid brother who died)), but he will always be a friend and inspiration (in a weird way), unchanging. As he himself puts it, “I’m not too sure old Phoebe knew what the hell I was talking about. I mean she’s only a little child and all. But she was listening, at least. If somebody at least listens, it’s not too bad.”

Thank you, Holden. Thank you, J.D. Salinger. Thank you, The Catcher in the Rye. Thank you, my fifth god of fiction. Thank you for listening. These five years wouldn’t have been the same without you.

NAPOLEON, DA DA DA DA DA DA DA DA DA DA DA DA

Pic (un)related.

P.S. On a brighter note, I decided to buy a copy of the book on Amazon for one penny the other day. I’m such a goddamn phony. I really am. Or just a goddamn cheap Asian. Wait… is there a difference?

Skyrim vs. Anime – An Objective Comparison

Pic unrelated.

Despite being products of two drastically different psychoses, Skyrim and Anime (that is, Animeland, the magical land of magical schoolgirls, explosions, and skittles) are remarkably similar. Both are extremely inhospitable lands that contain some of the most dangerous environments ever known to man. They also may qualify as drugs.

That being said, in respect for the glorious Chairman Mao’s sponsorship of the ideals of “respect for diverse cultures and peoples,” it is pertinent that we compare and contrast these two generally unusual, occasionally creepy, and even fantastically insane realms.

1. Literary Achievements
Animeland: It seems the inhabitants, in a few cases, have a reoccurring penchant to live their lives like some mind screwing, post-modernist, insane incomprehensibility akin to that of Alice in Wonderland or 20th century Russian literature.
Skyrim: Scripture made by a living god that secretly shows, using Biblical style prose and poetry, that the world of Tamriel is actually that of a video game. Oh, and the Lusty Argonian Maid.
Winner: Skyrim.

2. Progressive Roles of Women in the Military
Animeland: Military women are sex objects
Skyrim: Military women are sex objects
Winner: Skyrim. At least they (probably) are wearing their panties or the pseudo-medieval equivalent.

3. Landscape
Animeland: Varies.
Skyrim: Varies.
Winner: Draw. Just kidding, Skyrim.

4. Safety and Security
Animeland: Statistics reveal Animeland to be an extremely dangerous to traverse, physically and mentally
Skyrim: Somewhat dangerous to traverse, despite the arrival of time-eating dragons
Winner: Draw. Bureaucratic regulations mandate that there needs to be at least one draw to ensure fairness.

5. Language
Animeland: High-pitched Japanese seems to be the default dialect among women. Its linguistic relationship with more standard dialects of Japanese is otherwise hard to discern.
Skyrim: Shouting at the sky can change weather or summon dragons.
Winner: Skyrim.

That's not the Dragon Language, it's ancient Mesopotamian cuneiform.

6. Musical Traditions
Animeland: Occasionally there exist decent ballads, but otherwise it’s the same thing.
Skyrim: Songs have the power to make universes explode.
Winner: Skyrim. Is there any comparison?

7. Courtship Customs
Animeland: This is better left unmentioned.
Skyrim: Marriage simply requires an inconsequential, petty trinket.
Winner: Animeland. Skyrim, unfortunately, encourages risky choices as it provides a small timeslot between engagement and marriage, and thus prevents serious contemplation on how one will now ruin one’s life forever.

8. Infant Mortality Rate
Animeland: Monstrously Low. For unexplained reasons the infant mortality rate for females is ridiculously low, hence why there are so many schoolgirls running around.
Skyrim: Absurdly High. There’s probably about 10 kids total running around the entire region.
Winner: Animeland.

9. Military Capabilities
Animeland: Giant mecha.
Skyrim: Manly shouts that rip through the fabric of time and space.
Winner: Skyrim

10. Byzantines
Animeland: …
Skyrim: Imperials are Romans. Romans are Byzantines.
Winner: Skyrim. No explaination needed.

Winner:

Skyrim 7-2

Sorry, anime fans, as much as I like a couple things here and there… but I saw this coming.

Pic also unrelated. Did you know this vaguely resembles Indic and Southeast Asian bas reliefs?

This Thanksgiving, I’m Thankful for being neither a Dirty Capitalist/Communist nor an Eunuch

Thanksgiving, like Christmas, Halloween, and Valentine’s Day, is an arbitrary day given special meaning for the purposes of brainwashing propaganda and/or mass consumerism. For instance, why does one have to eat turkey on the 4th Thursday of every November (since none of us really know whether the pilgrims ate turkey at the first Thanksgiving)?

However, thankfully, most of us don’t really care anyways. I don’t care, because:

  1. it’s a holiday, so instead of doing work, there’s more time to be spent on sleeping, playing computer games, writing, and procrastinating
  2. I like eating cranberries. I like cranberries.
  3. I can arrogantly scoff at another mass propagandizing of history through mutual celebrations – bread and circuses, bread and circuses, bread and circuses
  4. it’s fun – despite the propaganda – getting to spend time with family and friends and something sappy sappy
  5. I actually like tofurkey, unlike most non-vegetarians, vegetarians, and vegans. Also, you just have to know which type of tofurkey to get, since there are several brands.

That being said, I figured I would compile a list of 25 random things I am currently thankful for. It would be a proper ritual and offering to my glorious ancestors whose lineage stretches back to the most noble and erudite scholar-gentry of Vietnam and China. Unfortunately I don’t know about any of my ancestors beyond my great-grandparents, so they’d probably be pissed as hell.

Anyhow, below in no particular, are 25 random things I am currently thankful for.

  1. I am thankful that I know how to use chopsticks. Otherwise, I would bring great dishonor to the nations of Vietnam, China, Japan, North Korea, and South Korea.
  2. I am thankful for music without lyrics, as it seriously assists my imagination.
  3. I am thankful that the Liberal Arts still exist so that slacker, lazy, disgraceful, parasitic-to-society, science-and-math-hating Asians like me still have opportunities to shame our ancestors.
  4. I am thankful for anti-American propaganda, which provides an interesting – and sometimes even more far-fetched – counterbalance to American propaganda.
  5. I am thankful that I can watch anime for the economics.
  6. I am thankful for my brain, as well as the other useful organs such as… of my body.
  7. I am thankful that Japan didn’t take over the world, contrary to what everybody in America thought in the 1980s.
  8. I am thankful for the most honorable US Congress, which continues to insist that tomato sauce on crappy, cheese-and-grease-and-oil-messy school pizzas counts as a serving of vegetable.
  9. I am thankful that I only had to buy a lunch entrée from the cafeteria once during High School (thereafter I had a throbbing throat and stomachache for several days).
  10. I am thankful for my mom and grandma, who often made me nutritious (albeit blander) lunches while I was in Elementary, Middle, and High School, so that I wouldn’t have to eat crappy school lunches.
  11. I am thankful that double-headed eagles exist.
  12. I am thankful for my friends, at least those who understand the complexities of running a Senate.
  13. I am thankful that I know that Europe isn’t the only place where civilization and history happened.
  14. I am thankful for French fries. The non-overly-greasy, delicious kind.
  15. I am thankful that I am not in the trenches of World War I nor will I ever be.
  16. I am thankful for my gods of fiction, namely, The Catcher in the Rye, Azumanga Daioh, The Lord of the Rings, Romance of the Three Kingdoms, and Grave of the Fireflies for inspiring me in my younger years.
  17. I am thankful that I don’t cry anymore when I watch sappy movies or TV series (well… except with once during Clannad… twice… thrice… no, that was it, three times… well, no, one time it was my nose that cried)
  18. I am thankful for being able to pronounce velar nasals at the beginning of words, unlike the average non-Vietnamese.
  19. I am thankful that I love rain.
  20. I am thankful for being tall, but not too tall.
  21. I am thankful that I tower over most girls.
  22. I am thankful for my family, since they are reasonably intelligent, relatively sane, and respectfully good people.
  23. I am thankful that I have food, shelter, water, clothing, and other clichéd necessities. For now.
  24. I am thankful for knowing how to read. Literacy is good. For instance, I could not have written all of this without knowing how to read. It increases my erudite machismo pride.
  25. I am thankful that I can feel anger. Feeling anger helps notify me that I am feeling upset, or frustrated, or disgusted. I am not an android, by the way.

Finally, and completely independently of the 25 thankful-nesses above (since I am OCD), I want to thank the Senate. You guys and your atrociously inefficient, massive, bloated, broken, useless, corrupt, disorderly, fraudulent, cumbersome bureaucracy absolutely rock.

Also, I suppose I should be thankful that you, dear reader, have reached this far in my rant. So, this Thanksgiving, be thankful for a whole bunch of random things, honestly. Also, be thankful that that that turkey unwittingly (unwillingly?) sacrificed its life for you.

Because the Byzantines did. They sacrificed their lives for freedom, democracy, liberty, and 21st century notions of civil and political rights. Turkey seized Constantinople from the Byzantines, and it wasn’t a nice thing to do.

Pic unrelated