Saturday, January 19, 2019

Animal Farm (read for fun)

I first heard of this book in school, but I can't remember if it was elementary, middle or high school. I've had it for a while and never read it until recently.

The introduction of the version I have speaks of how Orwell wrote in against Totalitarianism and in protest of the Stalin/USSR/etc. fanboyism in England at the time. Yet, it was co-opted to be against communism. I can see that here. Personally, I see it as more against cults of personality regardless of what ideology/economic system, etc. they happen to preach. I also see it as a warning of how noble intentions can be corrupted by the greedy and ego-centric.

My only gripe has nothing to do with any kind of political theory. It actually has to do with the functionality of the animals. Early on in the story, there is mention of their difficulty using farming tools because they lack human hands. Yet they had no difficulty building a wall or a windmill. Then there's the pigs standing upright. As a metaphor for them becoming human (Full Circle Revolution) it is fantastic. But why would they do it at all? It's not like their fore hooves will be good for anything, and the other humans were already taking them seriously (this is putting aside how the animals can communicate verbally with humans).

Is Benjamin supposed to be immortal or something? ("None of you have ever seen a dead donkey").

Trickster Eric Novels gives "Animal Farm" a B+

Click here for my previous book review (for fun): Spice and Wolf volume 7 - Side Colors


Brian Wilkerson is a independent novelist, freelance book reviewer, and writing advice blogger. He studied at the University of Minnesota and came away with bachelor degrees in English Literature and History (Classical Mediterranean Period concentration).

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Spice and Wolf volume 7 - Side Colors (read for fun)

I bought this one because I like the series. This one in particular, Side Colors, is an interquel of sorts. It has three stories. One takes place between Volume 1 and 2, another takes place between 2 and 3 and the other (I think) predates the main narrative. I will look over all three and then assign a grade.

The first story is the main story. It is the longest by far. It is basically Holo playing Trickster Mentor/Cool Big Sis to a pair of orphan children.

It is from the perspective of one of the children, Klass. He and his companion, Aryes, are traveling to the ocean so they can fish for a living. The meat of the narrative is Holo teasing and teaching them (but especially Klass). It is an interesting change of pace in more ways than one.
Unlike Lawrence, Klass is never presented as Holo's equal. It is more like a boy who believes himself more mature than he is traveling with his big sister who is only too willing to prove otherwise. The fact that he's also traveling with his girl-crush increases the embarrassment potential all the more.
Secondly, this entire story takes place in the wilderness. They walk through grasslands on a cart road and then a forest. There is no town and so the cast is very small and the economic factor is likewise diminished.
It is not a complete story but rather a complete "arc" from such a story.


The second story has already been adapted to the anime. It the part where Lawrence has money changed so he can buy Holo's "town girl" clothes. It is short and fun. The real prize is the third story.


This one, I think, has also been adapted to anime. It is the victory dinner with Nora the shepherdess and Holo falling ill. This is a gem because it is from Holo's perspective. It was a fascinating look into her mind. For instance, she is deliberately Tsundere. This is for fun but also out of fear.


Trickster Eric Novels gives "Spice and Wolf volume 7 - Side Colors" an A+


Click here for my next book review (for fun): Animal Farm

Click here for my previous book review (for fun): The Tao of Jeet Kune Do


Brian Wilkerson is a independent novelist, freelance book reviewer, and writing advice blogger. He studied at the University of Minnesota and came away with bachelor degrees in English Literature and History (Classical Mediterranean Period concentration).

Monday, January 7, 2019

The Tao of Jeet Kune Do (read for fun)

I can't remember where I got this book. It's been a while. If I had to guess, I'd say that I bought it myself.

The introduction to the book, written by Linda Lee and the editor, says that the book contains little new information. It is mostly how Bruce himself liked to train and fight. I agree with them. Indeed, the first section on Zen and how it relates to the mindset of a Martial Artist echoes a book I read recently, "The Sword and the Mind". Both of them speak of how a martial artist should possess an empty mind so they can react quickly, and stress the importance of mental flexibility (i.e. not being fixed or rigid in methods).

 

Sometimes it appears like an instruction manual with explicit advice and lines like "the student should X" or "the instructor should Y". Other times it appears more like personal notes, such as the terms he doesn't define, the pictures without captions or explanation, and lines in parenthesis like "investigate Z for M purpose". I don't know how "crispy" relates to a martial art movement. I think it means something like a "snappy" motion.

 

I read Bruce expressing frustration at classical styles. They are seen as rigid, limiting and counter-productive because they inhibit innovation and individuality. "Organized despair" is how he refers to the forms/kata/etc. that these classical styles have. I can relate to that. There are times when I feel like they are more about looking good than being good. This book strikes me as a search for practical knowledge and methods. "Classical" is a pejorative.

Interestingly, he speaks positively of boxing. The practical sections, that of the specific "tools" and such, include images of boxing-like figures and refers to it often.

The techniques of Jeet Kune Do, based on this explicit technique section, involves a lot of feinting, deception and countering. Little attention is paid to kicking, at least relative to the fist techniques. While it may seem as though this is the same sort of limiting he criticized earlier, he says that what he includes here are simply templates; basic archetypes to use as needed. If they don't work, then forget them and trying something else.

I wouldn't recommend this book to a beginner. It strikes me as something for the intermediate and beyond to use to advance their craft. A beginning practitioner should develop self-discipline and a body of knowledge first. I base this recommendation on my self. Personally, I would NOT have been able to use as this book as a beginner. It would have been in one ear and out the other. Either that, or I would skip the methodology and go straight for the techniques, and thus miss the point entirely.

Trickster Eric Novels gives "The Tao of Jeet Kune Do" an A+

Click here for my next book review (for fun): Spice and Wolf volume 7

Click here for my previous book review (a request): Jack's Wagers



Brian Wilkerson is a independent novelist, freelance book reviewer, and writing advice blogger. He studied at the University of Minnesota and came away with bachelor degrees in English Literature and History (Classical Mediterranean Period concentration).