November 5th, 2011

Veronica - Que?

NaNoJouMo: What I've been watching recently

Well, technically November 4th is over, since it's after midnight. But I'm still counting this as my 500+ words for 11/4. I needed to spend what would have been my writing time this evening cleaning up my desk a bit. Now I feel much better knowing that, while I still have a lot of little odds and ends to work on, at least it's organized.

I don't feel like writing about real life today (it wasn't that eventful, anyway), so I'm going to instead turn to the various media I've been reading/watching. Late post is late, so bullet points again:

  • Glee – I enjoyed seeing more of Mike Chang on the “Asian F” episode, and I'm also a fan of Tamlyn Tomita, so I was glad to see her as Mike's mom. The new episode this week was kind of “meh”. The new character could be interesting, but I wasn't especially impressed with him so far.

  • Revenge – I mainly just tuned into this because it has Emily VanCamp, whom I liked when she was on Everwood a few years ago. It's not the sort of thing I normally go far, but I admit I'm kind of hooked on it nonetheless. I vacillate between finding it has interesting commentary on human nature and suspecting it's just an overblown soap opera. I may or may not stick with it for the long haul. It bothers me that the brainy Mark Zuckerberg/Bill Gates-type character seems like the most sympathetic and likeable character on the show to me, and yet all the other characters treat him like he's Obnoxiousness Personified—including the beautiful-but-troubled protagonist and the earthy-but-charming guy from the wrong side of the tracks who has a crush on her. It's almost as if the writers assume that everyone in their audience will automatically consider him annoying because he's a geek, regardless of how he actually behaves on the show. They're breaking the rule of “show; don't tell” (even though that's less easy to do in TV/film than in books). Anyway, it's a minor annoyance so far, but it suggests to me that I, a person who tends to find geeks endearing rather than annoying, am probably not the right audience for this show. And if that's true, it's kind of a shame, because the show has a pretty decent hook, and much of the setup is similar to the brilliant and very geek-friendly Veronica Mars. Alas, I fear the show will not manage to reach that level of brilliance.

  • Guilty Crown – This show appears poised to be the next “IT” anime, with its post-apocalyptic action plot, a sexy and ethereal schoolgirl with mysterious powers, and creators who have well-known credits like Death Note (which I loved) and Code Geass (which I just couldn't get into). I like it well enough, but so far it just feels like a re-hash of other anime; I haven't yet found anything to LOVE about it. We'll see.

  • I'm also still watching Doctor Who, although as all you Who fans know, it's on hiatus for the time being. I've decided to go back and watch some Classic Who in the meantime, based on the suggestions in a recent post at doctorwho. I'm currently halfway through “City of Death”, a tale of the Fourth Doctor and Romana in Paris that was written by a writing team that included Douglas Adams. I will be the first to admit that some of Classic Who is a bit boring, but this one is an absolute GEM—wonderful antics from Tom Baker, great chemistry between him and the actress who plays Romana, and a clever script all around. I highly recommend it to any NuWho fan who wants to check out some of the Classic series.

I'll stop there for now, as I need to get some sleep. I meant to talk about books I'm reading, too, but I will have to save it for another post.

Shuurei in wind

NaNoJouMo: Republic, Lost (and other current reading)

All right, now I'm ready to write about the books I'm currently reading. I have a tendency to jump around between several different books at the same time instead of reading just one, so all of the below are books that I'm still in progress on reading:

  • The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky - I like the narrative voice in this story. I think Chobsky does a good job of capturing the essence of a certain type of introvert—an INFP, if I were to classify him by the Meyers-Briggs standard. (This is also, incidentally, my own personality type. I think it's fair to say I identify with the narrator quite a bit.) I'll be interested to see how the film adaptation, starring Emma Watson as Sam, the narrator's love interest/crush, turns out. My only complaint is that it does tend to fall into the tendency of a lot of slice-of-life stories about adolescence of being hyper-focused on sexuality and drugs. Yes, those things are parts of adolescence, but there is so much more. My favorite moments are when the book focuses on the other things, like the narrator's feelings about his extended family, especially his deceased aunt, or the extra books that his favorite teacher assigns him to read and write essays on. The parts that are about sex and drugs are kinda boring in comparison to the rest. I wish the ratio was a little more balanced. I may be biased because my own adolescent experiences—and even the experiences of many of my close friends, at least as far as I knew—were less characterized by those things than what you usually see portrayed in media.

  • Republic, Lost by Lawrence Lessig - If you have me freinded on Facebook, you've probably seen me post at least one link on the topic of corruption/corporate money in politics and/or at least one link to a presentation by Larry Lessig, either on this topic or on copyright law. Anyway, this book is Lessig's latest, and it is about how Congress has been corrupted by a dependency on campaign funders, rather than remaining dependent “on the people alone”, as the founders intended. It is an excellent book. I agree whole-heartedly that this problem is the “root” of the majority of bad policy that the US Congress has produced in the last several decades, including the decisions that led to the current financial crisis. I used to think campaign finance reform was just another issue, probably a good idea, but not any more important than any other issue. I now believe it is absolutely essential in order to restore the republic of the USA back to what it was meant to be—a republic dependent on the people, and not the funders. I urge every US voter to learn as much as they can about this issue. This is a good place to start: Also, I've linked several versions of Lessig's presentations on Facebook, but the one below is of his talk at Seattle's Town Hall, which I went to see a couple of weeks ago (and where I also got my book signed). I felt like it was a good remix of his best material. I know it's long, but Lessig is a very entertaining speaker, and this is an EXTERMELY IMPORTANT MESSAGE. So please take the time to watch it:

  • Lady in Waiting by Debby Jones & Jackie Kendall - This is a Christian book that addresses the struggles of single Christian women. It is a bit dated, and some of the advice feels a little stale to a 30-something woman who has read lots of similar books in the past. But overall, I've enjoyed reading it and felt encouraged by its message of living for God and serving him now rather than waiting for some fairy tale happy ending, as if life only starts once you're married.

  • Christian Universalism: God's Good News for All People by Eric Stetson - This is the third book on the topic of Christian universalism that I've read now. The first, The Inescapable Love of God by Thomas Talbot was the most convincing, IMO. This one uses a lot of similar arguments, and seems to be a bit more confrontational against those who hold a more traditional view of God's judgement. I like Talbot's book for being more gentle toward opposing viewpoints. Anyway, I'm not 100% sure what I think about Christian universalism. I lean toward thinking that Biblical teaching on what happens to human beings after death is sufficiently ambiguous that no one ought to be too dogmatic about it; I think the Christian universalist view (which is NOT the same as pluralistic universalism, BTW) is a reasonable one, and I think it does a better job of reconciling seemingly conflicting Bible verses on salvation and the sovereignty of God than traditional views such as Calvinism and Armenianism. I don't think we can deny that people will face God's judgement after death, but what exactly that judgement entails is open to interpretation.

  • A History of Japan: From Stone Age to Superpower by Kenneth G. Henshall – This is a book I picked up at the library recently because I wanted to read a general history of Japan. I haven't read very much of it yet, though, so I don't yet have much to say about it.

*yawn* For some reason I'm really tired tonight, even though I had a pretty easy day and took a nap this afternoon. I'm glad to be going to bed a little bit earlier than usual tonight. (And yes, 11-ish is pretty early for me!)