elwen: (reading)
After watching the No. 6 anime, I've started both the manga and the gensaku novels. I usually don't like to start another version of a title too soon after I've finished one, because the story is still too familiar. But with vagaries of bringing stuff to read on the train to work, I ended up starting the novels, and then I had to read the manga to figure out if I want to grab the third volume today while I have a coupon from Kinokuniya.

Since the No. 6 anime was probably so abridged anyway, I don't think there's as big a problem from reading another, fuller account now.

Anyway, my conclusion on the manga is that I have to keep collecting it because Nezumi is just so hawt. Also because Kino-sensei does these really cute mini facial expressions when it's otherwise unclear who a speech bubble belongs to. If I had to point to one frame that says it all, it's when Nezumi sees Shion with the syringe and asks, "What are you going to do after that?!" And Shion, back to the camera, says "Stitch it," but you've got the little starry-eyed face in the speech bubble.

In the end, though, gensaku-worship aside, I think I will like the novels the best. I think there's something about that medium that suits this series best. The little reflective moments you can't capture in an anime or manga. For example, I liked how the novel really explored Karan's being bored in Chronos and then being much more lively after they moved, which gets disposed of in one frame in the manga and not addressed at all (that I noticed) in the anime. Also, you just can't get inside Shion's head (or body) in the manga or anime. Like his... response to Nezumi being on top of him (with a spoon to his throat). I think it was something like "he went numb and his whole body was tingling"? That kind of seals the deal, way early in the series, doesn't it? How can Safu's "I want your sperm" even compete with that?

On the other hand, the novels seem really prone to random digression. Which provide nice little glimpses of the world but sometimes could be handled a bit better. For example, the park scene went something like this:

The garbage-collecting robot has discovered what appears to be a corpse in the park!

Shion leaps onto his bike and pedals for his life.

...ah yes, bikes. Bikes had experienced a sort of boom in No. 6 recently, so that the ratio of bikes to people was now about two to one. And other self-powered forms of transportation. You could say there was a sort of revival.

Where was I? Oh yeah, bikes. So normally there'd be a speed-limiter preventing people from racing through the park. But fortunately Shion's bike was modded.

Wait, you want talk about where he was riding
to?

[I may have filled in a lot because it's now been a month or two since I read the passage, but that really is the gist of it.]

Not sure how I'm going to deal with this series going forward. Whether I'll take a break after catching up in the manga or jump back to the novels. Maybe the novels, since Shion-Nezumi interaction is like crack. \o/

No. 6.

Sep. 22nd, 2011 11:31 pm
elwen: (fandom: . . . what?!)
I finally finished the No. 6 anime. I'm probably the only fangirl who is both dedicated enough to follow [livejournal.com profile] no6city and law-abiding lazy enough to not watch subs and not subscribe to Crunchyroll and thus watch it on a one-week time lag.

And I even managed not to get spoiled this past week. Aren't you proud of me?

I don't really have anything to add to the reactions at the discussion post over there. But I would like to point out something I said a month and a half ago:

I'm disappointed that it's only slated to run 11 episodes. Kind of indicative of how they're treating it: one of those dark, BL-ish stories where they'll play fast and loose with the plot and then end it on a dissatisfying note.

Did I call it or what?

I still want to read the novels, but it sounds like they might not be much better. It's okay, I will learn to love No. 6 as both a series that is awesome and has moments that turn me into jelly, and a series whose ridiculousness you just have to mock -- with the help of a snarky fan community. Sound familiar?

I am a little worried about my special order for the novels at the moment. So I ended up not going to Kinokuniya in SF, but I went to the SJ store and was going to pick up volume 8 that I found there, but I decided I didn't really like the format much, and they were so much more expensive, so I decided to go for the bunko. I have no idea how far along those are, but I figure by the time I finish volume 6, there will probably be more waiting for me. I placed a special order for all 6 right before Labor Day, so I should be getting the postcard any day now. But I'm worried that somehow they screwed up my address, and the books are sitting there behind the counter, and they'll send them back to Japan before I find out about it. :( I might call them tomorrow to check, except I hate calling them because their English is generally fine but they have trouble when you spell things out. Maybe they'll be able to find it if I just give them the order numbers.

On a related note, I discovered a best practice for special ordering that I might as well share here: giving them a list of ISBNs is the best way to tell them what you want. No confusion, no lengthy back and forth about titles and authors. They just type the numbers in and confirm.

Versus what I used to do: "Hi, I'd like to special order a volume of a manga called 'Elixir.' Um, but the kanji is 'kenja no ishi.' It's by Akino Matsuri. Her given name is read 'matsuri' but she actually uses the kanji for 'Mari.'"

I'm babbling, and it's past my bedtime, so I'll go away now. I've noticed I tend to become glib after finishing a series and overdosing on fandom. Or maybe just overdosing on fandom.
elwen: (squee!)
I've become kind of infatuated with No. 6 since I mentioned it earlier. This week's episode wasn't even that great (well, Eve was pretty amazing) but just seeing Nezumi and Sion together makes me happy. I found out that the novels are over at 9 -- just finished in June -- so the animators have the whole of the story to work with. Don't know if they're going to try to capture the whole thing in 11 episodes, or just pick a good stopping point within the canon. Or maybe neither.

Anyhow, I'm going to be in SF next week anyway, so I think I'm going to stop by Kinokuniya and start collecting the novels. Kino's inventory is kind of crazy for No. 6. Volume 1 is available only in their New York store. Volume 2 is unavailable except from Japan. Volume 3 is available only in the SF store. Volume 4 is available only in the San Jose store. So... it's going to be a while before I can really sit down and read it, but that's okay. I won't have solid time for reading Japanese novels until next month anyways.

Plus I should really finish Ginban Kaleidoscope first...

On the Prince of Tennis front, I guess I spoke too soon about Tezuka not killing dinosaurs. The surfing was a little less overdramatic, but only a little. Of course, I can't complain because Tezuka was super-cool. <3 I think I am a fan now. But with 7 OVA episodes and at most one match left, what am I going to get out of it? (They couldn't possibly make him sit out the finals, right? Right? But who is he going to play? Sanada? Boooring. I assume they will save Yukimura for Ryoma, plus Ryoma already beat Sanada. But I'm sure they'll find some way to make it suspenseful and exciting anyway.)

But with all the Tezuka awesomeness lately, it makes me that much more annoyed with the TV series ending. Bah.
elwen: (reading)
I was going to call this "vicious cycle", but I thought about it, and it wasn't really vicious as in tending to a bad result. So, I thought, "virtuous cycle?" But if in Japanese they call us fujoshi, "fu" meaning rot and depravity, I suppose it's not really virtuous either. :P So, I guess it's just a cycle of me running around as a fujoshi.

With the thrust of the cycle being that I want to go to Yaoi-Con.

The problem is, it kind of sucks to go to a con all by yourself, and I know absolutely no one who would be even the least bit interested in coming with. In the end, too, I think I probably won't go because, really, what would I get out of it.

Anyway, to go back to the beginning:

It all started when I was browsing the AniDB calendar and saw they were making a new BL anime called Koisuru Boukun. There haven't really been any good BL anime lately, not since Junjou Romantica. (I don't even want to talk about Uraboku.) I had come across the Koisuru Boukun page a few times, but this time I decided to investigate. I found the gensaku manga . . .

. . . and couldn't pull myself away until I had read all five and a half volumes or so that are out. I want to fangirl talk about the series some more, but I think that needs its own separate post.

So then, I thought, well maybe I would like the mangaka's other series. And in Googling her name, I realized she was going to be a guest at Yaoi-Con this year!

So then, I started perusing Yaoi-Con's guest list. And I have to say, they get so much better guests than FanimeCon. I guess it's not that surprising, since Yaoi-Con is the one and only, while Fanime is just another generic anime convention. But seriously, Yamane Ayano, Takanaga Hinako (the Koisuru Boukun mangaka), and . . . Kiuchi Hidenobu.

Okay, how in the world did they get a male seiyuu to guest at Yaoi-Con. I have to admire his courage. I mean, every girl in the audience is fantasizing about his characters being with other male characters. And even if he distances himself from his characters, it would still be his voice that's supplying the sound effects. >_>

[Actually, if I went, it would no longer be "every girl," because I see some of his roles that I like (Oshitari from PoT, Ryuuren from Saiunkoku, and, OMG, Hei from Darker than Black) but none that I would slash. He did play someone in Cluster Edge, which is one of those series that has zero insinuations but just happens to have a lot of pretty boys so girls take it and run. I guess PoT could be like that, too. But I speculated in a post once about potential pairings in Darker than Black, and just none of them appealed. I mean, Hei is a hot, sexy guy and deserves someone, but no one suits. The second season didn't help much in that area, either. What, is he going loli and hooking up with Suoh? *shudder*]

Anyways, so also in the guest list, I found Lynn Flewelling. Who apparently writes a fantasy series called Nightrunner. And I thought, "hey, I just finished a Pern marathon, which came after a Tortall marathon, and I am out of familiar series to marathon, so why not try something new?" And I read a couple of reviews at WeRead, including one that said Flewelling really did her homework on spycraft.

Two of my favorite genres, spy fiction and fantasy. Can it even be? Forget the slash part!

So now there are at least three big-name Yaoi-Con guests that have something on me. (With the potential fourth, Yamane Ayano . . . I don't know. It's been a long time since I read any Finder, much less Crimson Spell.)

But, what would I really get out of seeing or even meeting these people? That's why I think in the end I probably won't go. I will obsess for a while about how all these people I know are guests -- a stark contrast to Fanime -- but then I'll get over it. I'll keep consuming their media, but I'm not a star-chaser. It would be cool, maybe, to get an autograph or a sketch, but even with cons I tend not to make enough effort to get anything from the signing sessions. So that's that.

But it is crazy the amount of new stuff I have been dragged into, starting with this one little screenshot on AniDB.

I'm three chapters into the first Nightrunner book, now, and five chapters into the Koisuru Boukun prequel. ^^;;
elwen: (reading)
But this time, fictional figure skating.

So I decided to back up a little and reread the scene right before where I left off in Ginban Kaleidoscope before the real Olympics took over my life, and OMG. You know how I was talking about how Lia was going to [spoiler] and how she wasn't awesome enough to do it? Well, apparently she is just that awesome. And how!

You should just let me spoil you, because otherwise no one will read this. :( )

On a separate note, Lia is like those people I hate who are in line after you for DDR, then they do the same song you just did just to prove how much you sucked at it. XO
elwen: (Default)
I don't know if I'll have anything to say about the Exhibition Gala tonight -- it's enough to savor it -- so this might be my last figure skating post for the Olympics.

Picking up where I left off... another Firebird program. At that point, I really hoped one of the ladies did it, too, just to round things off, but if anyone did, NBC didn't air it. =/

Khokhlova/Novitsky's Firebird was alright. As I said, they had better costumes than Evan, though as I watched the program I didn't really like how it made Novitsky fade into the background -- a lot of times my eyes just slid over him like he wasn't there at all. I know that's how they work as a pair -- she's the star and the stronger skater and all -- but still. As for the music itself, I like how there was a bit of a rock section at the end. Really started sounding like video game music, particularly Black Mages.

Nothing more to say on ice dance, really. My eye isn't good enough to catch what should be distinguishing these skaters. I thought Davis/White were comparable to Virtue/Moir, but the scores disagree.

Oh yeah, and every time the announcers said "Tessa Virtue", I thought that was just her last name, like some classical composer or something. ^^;;

On to ladies' singles. I think going forward I will be rooting for Mirai Nagasu. Not sure what it is about her -- maybe I was just so excited when I realized she was skating to Pirates of the Caribbean for her short program. (But then she did the second Carmen for her free program. Shoulda done Firebird...) I really wanted to kill the announcers for their inability to pronounce "Mirai", though. They say it like "Mariah" without the "ah". *mutter* Also, they were saying nice things about her at the end of the free skate and quoted something she said at a previous competition, something like, "I don't care about scores, I just want everyone to know I'm the future." And they didn't get the pun, of course. Silly American commentators.

Miki Ando did a non-vocal Requiem for her short. (I didn't realize they aren't allowed to have vocals. When did that start? Are all the vocal programs I'm remembering from the exhibition? Like Todd Eldredge's "Go the Distance". So heartbreaking.) It was really weird because I'm rehearsing Requiem right now for some conducting student's senior recital. I couldn't help hearing all the words in my head. I forgive her for skipping Kyrie, which is one of the coolest movements, but really fast, which makes it hard enough to sing, much less skate to. And really, most of the Requiem movements are super-cool. If I didn't know the piece, I probably wouldn't think the transition from Requiem to Dies Irae was jarring at all.

Speaking of Miki Ando, since I seem not to really be going in chronological order anymore, I really liked her Cleopatra costume for the free program, too. Not very impressed with her as a skater -- it's like Plushenko's "I do jumps, and nothing else" minus all of his charisma and... other stuff -- but I might be too influenced by the commentators.

Kim Yuna. I'm not sure what to say here. I wanted her to win, if only because I was scared what her country would do to her if she didn't. And she seems like a likable person and skater. I thought it was funny how she's known as "Queen Yuna" -- I started comparing the real Olympics with Ginban Kaleidoscope, so you have to put her up against the invincible Empress Lia. At least she has more charm and audience-connection. Lia is just pure ice and technical skill. But more on Ginban comparisons later.

What I want to know is, how did she get the NBC people to put her last name first? They don't do it for any of the other Asian athletes. And the medal ceremony announcer, who has the most atrocious pronunciation I have ever heard, didn't do it.

The free skate was exciting because everyone seemed so happy and pleased with their performance when they finished. (Maybe a little less with Mao Asada, who did screw up pretty badly.) If there were twice as many medals -- two of each color -- I thought that would do everything justice. Then Mao would also have gold. And Mirai would have a medal. And Joannie Rochette would have a silver, which I'm sure everyone wants to give her anyway. (At the end of her short program... wow. Would make anyone cry.) But who am I kidding. If there were two golds, we wouldn't have the problem in the men's results, either.

So that was Olympics figure skating! I hope they'll have fun tonight at the gala, and put aside any bitterness and disappointment. (I think they're pretty good at that, when they're with each other and not face-to-face with the media...)

More generally, I started thinking about this last time -- or maybe 8 years ago -- but it kind of struck me again the gap [or perhaps I should say "difference"] between the men's and ladies' events. How with the men we're complaining that they won't do quads, while most of the women can't do triple axels. I wonder if it's entirely just a physical strength difference, or if it's because we also expect the women to be flexible enough to do those contortions in the spiral sequences and spins.

Which leads me to the first comparison with Ginban Kaleidoscope. Spoilers for volumes 7-8, but who of you are ever going to read those? )

Well, as you can tell from my spoiler cut being for volumes 7 and 8, and not 9, I haven't finished the series yet. I guess it will be my way of extending the Olympics excitement. Whether Tazusa will beat Lia is a harder question than any of the ones the real Olympics posed. (Except maybe whether Lysacek would beat Plushenko.)
elwen: (Default)
So, I am no where near finished reading Ginban Kaleidoscope. There is yet a small chance I will finish it before the womens' singles, but who am I kidding? Especially since I haven't even been trying -- too busy reading Tamora Pierce's Trickster's Queen. (I like how in her notes at the end she thanks J.K. Rowling for demonstrating that kids will read long books, so she doesn't need quartets anymore.)

Anyways. I haven't followed figure skating since, well, the last winter Olympics. And apparently I fell off the face of the earth around that time, LJ-wise, so I don't even remember what happened then. Was that when the two Russian boys faced off? Or was that 8 years ago? All I remember is that I wanted to post about how one of the medal contenders -- some Canadian guy, I think -- was also a ChemE. I had that article open in my browser for months and never got around to posting it. And now I can't even remember the name of the Russian guy I liked better. (No one forgets Evgeni Plushenko's name, however. That freak. :P)

So I Googled myself some previews of the mens singles, and I have to say, I am excited now. So excited I started writing this post before even finishing reading the articles.

I love pretty boys on ice. Only, they seem less pretty than they used to.

But honestly, I don't really remember any of these people. (Except Plushenko.) When I stare at some of their pictures and think really hard, I seem to remember disliking some of them, like Johnny Weir and Evan Lysacek. (Sorry, I have no national spirit.) But still, I think it will be fun.

Now, what I have to know is, is Johnny Weir doing "Poker Face" at the Olympics? Because if not, I need to go find a video of this.
elwen: (gay viking holiday)
I was reading an article in Time about the Twilight franchise and the movies, and they had this picture from New Moon of the vampire ruling class or whatever. And all I could think was, "Kaname!" And one of them looked like Kaname, too, seriously. The other two looked like Dracula and a younger Lucius Malfoy with the same hair style, respectively.

Can't wait until New Moon is available on Netflix and I can make fun of it. :P

[During dress rehearsal for choir, these two girls were saying how they had lined up to watch Twilight on opening night so they could heckle. I still can't decide whether they are closet fangirls or were telling the truth.]

If I didn't have so many books to read on a deadline (Ginban Kaleidoscope before the Olympics, Journey to the West before they're due), I would kind of want to read the series.
elwen: (lol)
[Recent lack of updating is entirely attributable to Disgaea 3 addiction. Hopefully will get over it soon . . . like when I unlock all of the character classes.]

I've been slowly making my way through By Hook or by Crook, by David Crystal. It's basically a free-association ramble about the English language. There are lots of great parts, but overall it's still a slow read for some reason.

But this part I had to share: he's talking about a wordplayer who demands a challenge. At first the guy just has to make up a sentence with every word beginning with 'H'. By the end, he has to retell Hamlet in the same format. So he starts like this:

HAMLET
Act I Scene 1

Hamlet headquarters
Hamlet henchmen have had horrific haunting. Hark! Ho!
Heck! Hair-raising hackles happen. Heebie-jeebies. Horrible.
Horatio hazards - hallucinations? Had hallucinogens? Hangovers? Headaches?
Henchmen howl: Haven't had hashish.
Have.
Haven't!
Humbug!
Horrendous haunter hovers hither, holding helmeted head high.
Heavens! Historic Hamlet!
Horatio harangues haunter. Hold! Hold!
Horizon has half-light. Haunter hears hen hooting. Hurries hence.
Hold! Here? Here? Hopeless.
Have Hamlet here hereafter. Hopefully he'll handle haunter happily.


It took me a few reads, but I couldn't stop giggling.

Now I want to go around shouting, "Heavens! Historic Hamlet!" XD

I wish the rest of it was available somewhere, but Google didn't turn up anything.
elwen: (reading)
I finished reading Doppelganger (a.k.a. "Witch"), by Marie Brennan. I've been in a mood for some good swords and sorcery lately, I think -- probably explains my rewatching Fellowship of the Ring the past two days and finally getting around to Netflixing Beowulf. (The latter movie is not recommended. Trippy! Bad CG! And not even in 3D!) But it's different when you already know the story, y'know?

Doppelganger wasn't the greatest writing in the world, but the plot is engaging -- even when you've accidentally spoiled yourself by reading the summary for the sequel. I couldn't put it down. [I figured I'd read about a hundred pages a day and finish it in four days, but I finished it in more like two.] And, most importantly for me, I loved the characters.

I guess I'm a teenage girl at heart, because I can't resist the protagonists of novels written for them. You know, the headstrong, stubborn girls who capture the admiration and loyalty of all the boys. Characters like Tamora Pierce's. It's not Mary Sue, but it's just as compelling of an archetype.

Oh, and I have a crush on Eclipse, which I knew would happen pretty much the moment his role was introduced. Similarly-skilled brother-figure with whom the protagonist can operate seamlessly? Sign me up.

One complaint about Brennan's writing: she doesn't do physical descriptions, apparently. I never picked up much about Miryo and Mirage's appearance except that they had red hair. I tried looking later, and I found nothing about Eclipse. I think the first physical description in the book, more than a chapter in, is about an antagonistic side character, and is limited to the color of her eyes, because of their poetic effect.

...in essence, Brennan writes the way I think -- in words, without much visualization. It's probably how I'd write, too, if I didn't force myself to try to give people faces. [To the extent that I write at all, of course.]

So it's unfair of me to criticize her, since I didn't even really notice that Eclipse had no appearance until my crush solidified. The other thing that helps is that I just finished FF4, so I basically picture Eclipse as looking like Edge in the FMV. Since the Hunters in Brennan's world are basically ninjas. She can call them bounty hunters all she wants, but they dress in all black and sneak around.

Her bio says she's an anthropology grad student, and it showed in the way she structured witch society: super-systematic, to the point of being unrealistic. [Again, much like I set up magic systems in my earlier worlds like Telarin and Icanthra.] She also used Japanese-inspired names, which was incredibly distracting for me. Maybe just because it made some of the names, like Tari-nakana, feel really clunky.

Anyway, those were my random babblings about the book. It was enjoyable, and kind of just what I needed. [And then I watched Aeon Flux just now, and the way Aeon ran around and fought people was just like Mirage and the fight scenes in the book, haha. Minus guns, of course.] Now my dilemma is whether to go borrow the sequel and read it before I leave for Japan. Considering I already have located the nearest branch with a copy, and have the page with its hours open in Firefox, you might guess how that is going to come out. ^_^;;

Story about the library, with lots of boring background. )

Oh yeah, so the way I discovered this book is that it was recommended to me at some point by PaperBack Swap. Somehow I found it intriguing enough to follow up on. And I'm glad I did.

Monkey.

Jul. 22nd, 2009 11:05 pm
elwen: (reading)
So I'm a little more than 2/3 of the way through Monkey, the abridged translation of Journey to the West by Arthur Waley. [And by "abridged", I don't mean condensed and summarized, but rather than he left out pretty much the entire second half of the story and picked and chose which chapters to translate. Which is not a bad way to do things. It's how most of the versions I was exposed to in childhood did it, focusing on specific stories like the Red Boy and the Demon Bull King (very rough translations).]

There are a few annoying aspects of the book, though.

First of all, holy crap run-on paragraphs. The good ones take up half a page, and I've seen some that run two. Maybe this is some 1940's paper-saving technique, but can you say painful? Entire conversations happen within one paragraph, which sometimes makes it confusing as to who is speaking, but more often just makes your eyes bleed.

Here's a shorter example that I wasn't too lazy to transcribe:

'So then,' said Tripitaka, 'yo have come to ask that my disciple should drive out the false magician?' 'Indeed, indeed,' he said [sic] 'My disciple,' said Tripitaka, 'in other ways is not all that he should be. But subduing monsters and evil spirits just suits his powers. I fear however that the circumstances make it hard for him to deal with this evil power.' 'Why so?' asked the king. 'Because,' said Tripitaka, 'the magician has used his magic powers to change himself into the image of you. All of the officers of your court have gone over to him, and all your ladies have accepted him. My disciple could no doubt deal with them; but he would hesitate to do violence to them. For should he do so would not he and I be held guilty of conspiring to destroy your kingdom? And what would this be but to paint the tiger and carve the swan?'


It's even more fun when you have more than two speakers.

The second annoying thing is the absolute lack of Chinese in this book. Which is to say, "We will literally translate, character-by-character, each Chinese name we come across." I've only slowly been coming to realize how insidious this is. A few days ago, it finally struck me that whenever he says Monkey's religious name is Aware-of-Vacuity, he means "Wukong" (悟空). And just last night I realized that all of the kingdom names are being translated piecemeal, to ridiculous effect. So first they saved "Crow-Cock", and now they're in "Cart-Slow", which apparently has nothing to do with the fact that Buddhist priests are being forced to slowly haul a cart up a steep cliff.

In fact, the only intact Chinese names I can think of so far are T'ang, the name of the Chinese dynasty, and Hsüan Tsang, the priest who is now exclusively referred to by his traveling name of Tripitaka. Incidentally, all of the awkward, Indian-derived (?) Buddhist names are kept, often with indecipherable diacritical marks. (I wonder how these were written in the original?) Oh, and Kuan-yin and Hui-yen get to keep their names, too, I guess.

Again, coddling of 1940's fear of foreign cultures and foreign languages? Who knows?

Those are my two big complaints, I guess. You can assess my last gut reaction for yourselves:

Pigsy and Sandy? Really?

As to the substance of the book itself, it was getting kind of boring until they finally finished recruiting disciples, but the individual adventures are pretty interesting. But Hsüan Tsang is a total wuss. I think I knew this before, when I was little and watched the Chinese drama and didn't understand much more than that all the monsters were trying to eat him because his flesh would make them immortal. But in the book, he does more than play damsel-in-distress or stand around uselessly. He cries. For pathetic reasons like his horse got eaten and now he'll have to walk to India, or Monkey and Pigsy can't lure Sandy back out of the water to tell them how to cross the river. And it's not like "shed a tear" or anything. It's "his tears began to fall like rain" or "he burst into tears". WTF?

I guess I should realize that the story is really not about him, it's about Wukong. So it doesn't really matter that he's a wuss because he's not the one we're following to India.
elwen: (reading)
Lately I've been thinking again of reading Journey to the West. Since I'm long past the point where I could even understand an elementary-level abridgment in Chinese, my options are to read it in English or in Japanese. I have a three-volume set in Japanese, I think translated to about middle school level, but looking at the beginning of the supposedly "most faithful" version in English, it appears that it leaves out quite a bit, too. But I'm not really sure I want to read an unabridged translation. As much as I go for things as close to the original as possible most of the time, it sounds (from reviews) and seems (from excerpts) quite tedious.

One review complained about the copious amounts of poetry. He added:
You can't just automatically skip over all the poems, as you might do with Tolkien, either.

*facepalm*

Okay, so I couldn't make it through the epics in Lays of Beleriand either, but I read and adore all of the poetry in LotR. But those have the advantage of being in the lyrical original.

Well, I think I might start with one of the abridged versions and then move up. 9_9

Books meme!

May. 9th, 2009 11:05 pm
elwen: (reading)
Stolen from [livejournal.com profile] thierrys:
1. Take five (random!) books off your bookshelf.
2. Book #1 -- first sentence
3. Book #2 -- last sentence on page fifty
4. Book #3 -- second sentence on page one hundred
5. Book #4 -- next to the last sentence on page one hundred fifty
6. Book #5 -- final sentence of the book
7. Make the five sentences into a paragraph:


A beginning is the time for taking the most delicate care that the balances are correct. To add to their indignity, the enchantment also caused them to compulsively finger their bottom lips. I had taken three steps on the dusty lane when the pain struck. So I asked my grandfather this question: "Grandfather, why do they say, 'The big talkers are coming little by little and step by step,' and what do they say when they talk?" The eyes and the faces all turned themselves toward me, and guiding myself by them, as by a magical thread, I stepped into the room.

Book 1: Dune, by Frank Herbert
Book 2: A Keeper of Words, by Anna-Marie Ferguson
Book 3: The Rise of Endymion, by Dan Simmons
Book 4: The Sixth Grandfather, by John G. Neihardt
Book 5: The Bell Jar, by Sylvia Plath

Books!

Feb. 20th, 2009 11:13 pm
elwen: (reading)
This is the second part of my post from last week, in which I spent so much time explaining why I had been busy that I never got to the point: I was too busy to read. Especially since a lot of that busy-ness during the school week involves reading for class. "Efficient non-fiction reading" only goes so far, after all, and even if I have free time after all that other reading, it makes me want less to be mired in text -- even interesting text -- than otherwise.

So these are some books I've been wanting for a while, which I've finally managed to pick up lately, that I sadly haven't had much time or inclination to read since getting them. (At least I've started on the first set, finally.) The recurring theme is that I desperately wanted to read these, and they are not in any library I have access to, and the first set weren't even available new anymore. I'm a big fan of libraries, and not a big fan of buying books given my overcrowded living space, but with these books I just had to give in. Which makes it more of a shame that now they're just lying around the house untouched.


  • Max Danger: The Adventures of an Expat in Tokyo and More Max Danger: The Continuing Adventures of an Expat in Tokyo, by Robert J. Collins

    I've had these on my "to read" list for ages after they were recommended in some long-lost post in [livejournal.com profile] japanese. As you might guess from the titles, the books are series of short stories about Max Danger, an expat working at the Tokyo branch of an American company in the 1980's. Lots of hilarious misunderstandings and sheer incomprehensible events ensue. Normally, I might find some of the humor painful -- especially plays on L/R pronunciation or pronunciation in general -- but the writing is brilliant enough to make it work. The introduction had me instantly hooked. Sadly, Amazon's "Look Inside" excerpts the first few short stories and not the intro, and I couldn't find all of it online, but here is an excerpt of one of the best parts, found in, of all places, an international management textbook.

    The bite-sized stories are helping me get through the book, too. I have a tendency to start reading a book before bed and still be up hours later, but Max Danger makes itself easy to put down because each story is only a few pages, and it's just nice to stop and digest the humor rather than race through. I'm sure I'll be rereading these long into the future, anyway.

  • Making Sense of Japanese: What the Textbooks Don't Tell You, by Jay Rubin

    I think I just stumbled across this book on Amazon one day -- I have a bunch of random Kodansha books (on particles, gramamr, words-not-in-the-dictionary, etc.) on my wishlist, so I get a lot of these through random recommendations. I read the excerpt, and it blew my mind. Seriously, after those few minutes, I grokked Japanese ten times more.

    [Here is the Amazon page, so you can try it for yourself. Be warned that I shared it with my sister, who was less enthusiastic about it.]

    So after that flash of enlightenment -- which I didn't even get to finish reading because the excerpt cut off -- I figured the rest of the book must be just as brilliant, and had to have it. Eh... my LexisNexis points were languishing anyway.

  • Fujoshi Kanojo and Fujoshi Kanojo: Part 2, by Pentabu

    I've written about these books before. Basically, they're the compilation of a blog by the boyfriend of a yaoi fangirl. He recounts straight-faced conversations she has with their uninitiated friends about random aspects of anime fandom, late-night conversations in which she shows more interest in anime couples than in their own relationship, and generally the trials and travails of living with a shameless fangirl. His long-suffering tone and mental tsukkomi are so genuine and so much fun to read. You can find samples here at Baka-Tsuki.

    After posting last time, I did place a phone order with Kinokuniya for the books. At ¥1000 each, they came out to $31US. Oh how the exchange rate kills me. (Actually, I don't think it's that much different from their usual markup. The books were just inherently kind of pricey.) They books are really nice, though, and they preserve the different font sizes Pentabu uses (which Baka-Tsuki does not) and includes his little illustrations (albeit in black and white). What really bummed me out, though, is that it appears not all of the blog posts were compiled -- for example, the one about Ouran which I translated off the website for Baka-Tsuki does not seem to be anywhere. I'd like to think that between the posts still up on the website and the books themselves, all of the posts are preserved for posterity, but I think that's a little optimistic... I mean, it's not like I'd know when something was missing, but it will bother me to think that there could be.



...I think those are all of the books I've acquired. So in hindsight, I guess another theme was the Japan-focus. That's really because most other books I can find in a library and so they just live on my "to read" list. And I've added a lot, if you look on weRead. Some notables:

  • Beyond (Straight and Gay) Marriage: Valuing All Families under the Law, by Nancy Polikoff: The book I mentioned last week that I wanted to read after attending the symposium on gender, parenting, and the law. I gather it's about different kinds of family structures, such as extended biological family units and loose communes of several couples with children, that are basically ignored by the law, and what they do to survive under current legal structures.

  • The Opportunity Maker, by Ari Kaplan: Book about networking by a guy who gave a really interesting and engaging talk at the law school a few weeks ago. I am generally pretty skeptical about networking books -- I can try to read them, but I don't really get anything out of them, like my half-finished copy of Dig Your Well Before You're Thirsty -- but if it's like the tips he gave during his talk, there may be hope.

  • Emotional Intelligence and Social Intelligence, by Daniel Goleman: Recommended by the teachers of my mediation training, about how empathy and such are more important to navigating society than is intelligence per se.


And since I'm at it, here are some things I've been itching to reread lately:

  • Angel Diary: They're manhwa, not books, but I ordered the latest volumes along with Making Sense of Japanese, then I started reading and realized that I totally didn't remember what had happened anymore. So now I need to start over. Hopefully I'll be caught up right around when the last volume comes out in June...

  • Incarnations of Immortality: I'm sorry, I just like Piers Anthony, as sexist and dirty as he can be. I think I was at a rather impressionable stage in life when I read this series, and a lot of its content got incorporated into my . . . um, delusions, shall we say. One of my goals in rereading is to find out if they were actually good, or if I was just crazy. Well, and I think I will still like For Love of Evil a lot, plus I think that is what Angel Diary reminds me of regarding a particular plot twist that I am predicting.

  • Tortall: Y'know, I finally finished rereading the Song of the Lionness quartet a while back, and was gearing up to reread Immortals, but now I feel like I don't remember Lionness enough anymore and kind of want to reread them again. At least they're relatively quick reads...? Maybe I just want to savor George Cooper's awesomeness some more. Better that than the creepy loli vibes I can't help but get from Immortals. (I don't know. I was actually happy about the couple at first, I think, but then I started having misgivings for some reason.)

  • Pern: I got through all of the first trilogy, and then the first two of the Harperhall trilogy, and for some reason I haven't gotten up the initiative to start Dragondrums. I think I got too attached to Mennolly, and I don't want to shift focus to Piemur, even though I like him, too. Anyhow, I do want to get through all of the Ninth Pass books, but I have this sense that I'm not going to like what happens in Masterharper (which I think I read before but for the life of me don't remember at all) and afterwards.


Whew! That's... a lot more on my plate than I thought. Though manageable, I think, if I do fewer kanji flashcards before bed and devote more of that time to reading. It's just that, like I said, it's harder to control my bedtime going that route.
elwen: (reading)
I've had to redefine my concept of "reading" this semester. I'd started reading a fair amount of non-fiction lately, and I've been finding it a real slog. Even though I chose to read the first few books (The World Without Us, The Future of the Internet--And How to Stop It, and The World in Six Songs: How the Musical Brain Created Human Nature -- all highly recommended, BTW) because they were on topics interesting to me, and I absorbed a lot of interesting information from them, and am generally glad I read them... they were still really hard to get through.

Then I started this semester. One of my classes is Law and Society in Japan, and I guess it's more of a sociology/humanities class than a law class. And the prof talked about how there's a lot of reading, but it's like undergrad reading, where there's a ton of it, and no one really expects you to get through all of it and absorb all the details, but you at least skim, and read the headings and conclusions and whatnot.

Well. I never really took those kinds of classes in undergrad, since I went to Tech. But one class, that I audited, was kind of like that (the totally awesome class on the history of Vikings). But still, I managed that class more by not reading than by "reading" intelligently.

So I tried to take what the prof said, about skimming and only reading the "important" parts, to heart. It helped that the second reading assignment consisted of an entire book that we had to read over the weekend. I also had to finish another book that weekend, because it was due the next Tuesday. So I started skipping anecdotes that seemed pointless. And it helped a lot.

Some part of me still feels guilty about it, like I'm not really "reading" the book if I don't plod obediently through the entire text, the way I read fiction. (And, I think, the way you have to read fiction, when you're trying to enjoy the story and actually are reading for pleasure.) But I guess I am slowly coming to terms with the idea that non-fiction is different, and that, unlike well-organized scientific papers and legal briefs, non-fiction is just wandering and disorganized and full of stories that are much longer than their morals deserve. With all three of the books I listed above, my major criticism after reading them has been: too disorganized. They were all more or less mindblowing in some of their theses, but I think they could have been so much more so if they'd just organized things in a better way. In a more I'm-trying-to-persuade-a-judge-to-rule-in-my-favor-by-getting-his-clerk-to-like-and-understand-my-brief way, perhaps. (Sadly, my comments hold for The Future of the Internet, which is written by a lawyer, or at least a legal academic.)

Anyway, I will have lots more practice this semester with this new concept that I will call "efficient non-fiction reading". All of my classes but one are reading-intensive -- not the wisest combination for my final semester, perhaps -- and the reading material is different in each, too. I get: historical and sociological research papers (Law and Society in Japan), scientific research papers and textbook excerpts (Fundamentals of Neuroscience for Non-Bioscientists), and business books and social science research papers (Negotiation), in addition to the usual legal fare of cases, statutes, and treatises. I think it took me almost all of my two summers of doing legal work to learn how to read unedited cases efficiently, but those are kind of unique.

[I was planning on talking about my classes and their reading-intensive-ness in a separate entry, but that's alright. I'll talk more about them in other contexts -- like their fluffiness or seriousness -- some other time.]
elwen: (squee!)
So I've discovered this new series and I desperate need to get the books. I should wait until I get my Kinokuniya postcard from last time's special orders, but I really want to run there right now so they can start shipping them from Japan as soon as possible. Maybe I'll call them and ask if they take special orders by phone. ._.

Anyway, the series is called "Fujoshi Kanojo" and was originally a blog. I'm assuming they just compiled the blog posts without major edits into the two books. (I guess that's how Densha Otoko came about, too, but I don't know anything about that series.) There's also a manga now, but I can't imagine how it could capture the same spirit.

From what I can gather, "fujoshi" basically means yaoi fangirl. And "kanojo" means girlfriend. So it's a blog by a guy whose girlfriend is a major otaku and in particular a yaoi fangirl. Though so far I haven't read any posts that show off the yaoi side, really. And she reads Shinjou Mayu, which is about as un-yaoi as you can get.*

I guess that summary has probably scared off more of you than it has interested, but I encourage you to give it a try. There are a few posts translated here. The way the guy writes, the story is just so cute!

Most of the posts have been taken down from his blog, but you can at least check out some of the illustrations he did. They're cute, too. (His pen name is "pentabu" from the Japanese pronunciation of "pen tablet", which is what he used to draw the pictures.)

* Actually, if you pretend Shinjou Mayu's girls are guys, you pretty much get yaoi, and if you pretend the ukes in most yaoi series are girls, you end up with Shinjou Mayu. Hahaha. I guess I should say "most yaoi series that I would read", as there is a wide range of yaoi sub-genres out there, I'm sure. (Shinjou Mayu plotlines, not so much.) Certainly Finder and Junjou Romantica could both be Shinjou Mayu series with a gender-swap, and those are my current BL mainstays. So I guess it's unsurprising that fujoshi would also like Shinjou Mayu.
elwen: (reading)
So I've been reading Phillip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy lately, and I finished the second book, The Subtle Knife, a few days ago. And the end of it ran through my head like this: Cut for indirect spoilers. )
elwen: (Default)
[This is kind of a booklog, written as dated. I figured it'd be easier to read if I kept it all together in one post.]

5/7/08

I've been reading The World Without Us, by Alan Weisman. I read about the book in Newsweek a while ago and was intrigued by the premise: basically, what would happen to the planet if humans were to suddenly vanish, leaving behind all their edifices and environmental modifications? Cut for length. )
elwen: (reading)
I just finished reading Speaker for the Dead, which I basically haven't been able to put down since around 3am last night. (I did manage to drag myself away for a few hours of sleep around 7am, and played a bit of FF6 this afternoon, so it wasn't completely continuous. I mean, I'm a slow reader, but not that slow.)

I don't really have much to say at the moment -- it'll take a little while for it all to sink in. But I can say, "Wow." And, "Why did I wait so long to read the Ender sequels?"

Maybe one reason is that, to the extent I can generalize from reading two of his books, Orson Scott Card's novels include such a painful blend of tragedy. I guess they pretty much are tragedies, in a way, though Ender's Game much more so than Speaker for the Dead. But like Ender's Game, the story still feels so unsettled -- over, but not really ended. It continues in Xenocide, I suppose, but I'm not sure how eager I am to start on that right away.

And so much for going through the Dragon's Den (the new bonus dungeon in Final Fantasy VI Advance) this long weekend. I took a quick look at a map, and I think it's probably better that I focus on work for the next two days. (Normally I'd feel guilty about looking at a dungeon map, but the Dragon's Den is so huge I don't get much out of staring at it anyway.)

D:

Oct. 20th, 2007 01:38 am
elwen: (fandom: . . . what?!)
I don't care about Dumbledore being gay, but how could JKR say that Neville married Hannah?! What about Luna?? :(

[Links stolen from flist: here and here. There are probably stories about it everywhere by now.]

Well, actually... )

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