Archive | November 2020

Restaurant to Another World: Book Review

Never before have I read a book that made me so hungry! Restaurant to Another World, book 1, by Junpei Inuzuka, is a light read focused on gastronomic goodness. Every Saturday, Western Cuisine Nekoya restaurant in Japan connects to another world, a world full of magicians, elves, warriors, and the like.

Restaurant is charming in its approach: It is from the perspective of the people in the magical world who come to the place to eat their favorite dishes. Although there is some awkward phrasing with the English translation, it mostly works as we are seeing things from the perspective of fantasy people and creatures who struggle to describe the delicious alien dishes. It’s fun seeing our food–and it’s a variety of dishes, not just Japanese dishes–from that viewpoint.

I enjoyed the book, but it was more a series of vignettes rather than a cohesive story. Any and every fantasy creature populates this other world, from Lord of the Rings characters, to tiny people, and there is a complete lack of forward momentum or overarching story arc. Character and food descriptions are okay, but I’m a reader that likes plots, and often complicated ones at that. Perhaps in the subsequent volumes there’s more going on plot wise, but at this time I’m not going to spend the money to find out. The bland names for the countries in the fantasy world disappointed me also: Ocean World, Mountain World, Desert World.

It also seemed unrealistic that not a one of these fantasy creatures and people tried to get out of the restaurant into our world. We get a basic background of what’s going on with the character, they find a door to the restaurant and either order their favorite dish or try it for the first time. Sometimes they get takeout. That’s it, that’s how each chapter plays out.

The idea for Restaurant is creative, and I can see this could be something that teachers could use in the classroom for creative writing. Explain the concept to the students and then they have to think of their own fantasy creature or person and write a short story of what’s going on in their lives, how they come across this restaurant, and the describe the dish they ordered and ate. Describing the food alone would be a great writing exercise. This would totally be something I would have used back in my teaching English as a second or foreign language days.

Updates

Well, Nanowrimo was a bit of a bust for me, but then November, even this November is always very busy at work, so it’s difficult to find the time and brain space for writing. I did get over 10,000 words, so that’s something. Kevin and Becky Colossus are getting into serious trouble and the actors in the Etherland are realizing they are not alone there.

Readingwise, I’ve started The Last of the Mohicans and will also be starting another Regency romance. My stack of possible reads for winter is piling up, and I’m aiming at reading the entire Narnia series, finally getting to The Wings of a Falcon by Cynthia Voigt, and other books which I’ll detail in a future blog post.

Giving Thanks

Happy Thanksgiving, America! Even with all our troubles, we still have so much to be thankful for. The truth will out! God wins!

And we know that in ALL things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. … For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor ANY powers, neither high nor depth, nor anything else in ALL creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 8: 28; 38-39

Flower of Evil: Love Is a Verb

It’s a made-for-a-Lifetime-movie plot: Police detective Cha Ji Won (Moon Chae Won from The Good Doctor) is married to a serial killer but doesn’t know it. When she finds out, she loses all faith in men, reaching for her girl power and… No, no, no, that’s not it. That’s not it at all, because this is a Korean drama called Flower of Evil, also starring Li Joon Gi (Lawless Lawyer, Two Weeks) as said serial killer, who is the actual main character. The story is largely his and all about him learning what love truly is.

That being said, this is a half-review, as I haven’t finished the series yet. Flower of Evil is suspenseful and action packed, as many of Li’s dramas are. Moon’s character is no slouch, either, and her detective keeps up with the boys well while still maintaining her femininity. The music is intense and really helps carry the story and often reminds me of the Lord of the Rings soundtrack on occasion. Spoilers ahead.

For years, Baek Hee Sung (Li) has lived as someone else. His real name is Oh Hyun Soo, the son of a long-dead serial killer, who is wanted for murdering one person and possibly assisting his father in killing his victims. We know from the beginning that Hee Sung and Hyun Soo are the same person, and because Hee Sung seems like a great husband and father, we hope that this murder and killing stuff is all a mistake.

The writers dance the tightrope well in this story, giving a little hope here, and taking it away there. Baek Hee Sung also has Antisocial Personality Disorder. Basically, he doesn’t have feelings like normal people and manipulates people without thinking. To bring hope and humor into the story, we get to see Hee Sung persistently learning how to mirror human emotions from YouTube videos. It’s sweet, yet kind of scary at the same time. We also learn that he hallucinates, seeing his dead father staring at him with blacked out eyes and carrying a dog chain and collar, something he used on his victims.

I was sure this wasn’t going to end up in the Lifetime arena when reporter Kim Moo Jin (Seo Hyun Woo, The Good Wife) comes on the scene. Their tense first encounter turns into a pretty cool bromance that carries much of the first quarter of the show, especially after it becomes obvious that whatever psychological problems Hee Sung has, it’s nothing compared to others who would perhaps consider themselves “better” people. This is pushed to the forefront throughout the show as we start to learn more and more about what happened in Hee Sung’s village in the past.

Flower of Evil isn’t all action and mystery solving, it is also a relationship drama, plumbing the depths and weirdnesses of family relationships. Cha Ji Won and Baek Hee Sung might end up being one of my favorite Kdrama couples ever. Their trust and loyalty in each other is challenged again and again, yet both rise to the occasion, the perfect match for each other. It is Cha who tells him and gets him to understand by her actions, that love isn’t a mere emotion, a feeling, but something you do. DC Talk said it best back in the say: Love Is a Verb. It’s an interesting question: Can you love someone without really feeling that you do? The answer is: of course. But it’s just not how we often think about love.

As much as I’m able to guess about this show, though, it keeps throwing me for a loop. I don’t know how it’s going to end. I suspect happily, but in episode 11, it’s revealed we are dealing not with one messed up family, but two, and the second family might actually turn out to be worse. The show eerily echoes Hundred Million Stars from the Sky starring Seo In Guk and also produced by SH Studio. At least one of the same sets is used on this show, as are the themes of trust, loyalty, and family relationships. The 4th wall is nudged a bit by the introduction of Do Hae Soo (Jang Hee Jin, Babel), Hee Sung/Hyun Soo’s sister, who’s trying to live quietly as a makeup artist for gory movies. How much her serial killer father really affected her or her brother, for that matter, is still to be revealed. Hee Sung doesn’t remember anything from before he was ten, but Hae Soo, being older, surely has some answers.

Can you really live with a person and not know they are killing people? Another interesting question. I was thinking about that driving home today: how many times we surely see something strange but never think to pull the thread. Well, who wants to imagine the worst about their fellow man, much less someone they live with or a family member? Sometimes people don’t know, sometimes they choose not to, and sometimes they suspect or know without realizing that they know. It’s only much later that we often realize we did indeed know all along, but it was as if we were seeing things through a veil. If only monsters revealed themselves outright, how much easier it would be to fight them. There’s that action again. Love is a verb. Good fights and defeats evil, that’s what makes it good.

Well, I’m off to watch another riveting episode. After the last big twist, I’m really not sure what’s going to happen next, and I’m inwardly kicking myself for not figuring it out earlier. This messed up other family started as seemingly shoe-horned in, yet they are not, they are totally not. And they all think that what they are doing is fine, because of course they do. All I can say is that Hee Sung better hold onto Cha Ji Won for dear life. She is his anchor and he hers.

Book Review: The Meaning of Everything

Books are a joy to read multiple times, because if they’re good, one gleans more information and enjoyment every time. This is my second time reading Simon Winchester’s The Meaning of Everything: The Story of the Oxford English Dictionary, and I quite enjoyed it. It is the tale of how the Oxford English Dictionary or OED came to be, and what an enormous undertaking it was.

This book actually started with a different book that Winchester wrote called The Surgeon of Crowthorne, later to be retitled, about the contribution of a murderer and madman to the OED. The Meaning of Everything describes the full scope of the project.

I have to say the beginning chapter describing the difficulties and strangenesses of the English language compared to others, although interesting is far less so than the stories of the men that follow. Philology, or the study of language and languages, can be nearly as tedious as advanced math, if not more so. There’s also a bit about the history of dictionaries in general. The famous Samuel Johnson wrote his Dictionary of the English Language in 1755, and it was the book of reference for the next hundred years. Others who tried their hand at dictionaries were The Brothers Grimm, Jakob and Wilhelm, who had a lot of people reading for their work. Webster’s Dictionary from America was a great success also, and not too long after that The Philological Society in England started talking about making their own dictionary of the English language.

Dean Trench gave the initial paper and presentation on the subject in 1857 entitled “On Some Deficiencies in our English Dictionaries.” The main deficiency was simply that no dictionary was comprehensive enough. The scope of the Oxford English Dictionary was to be huge, recording not only the various definitions of all words in and taken in to the English language over time, but also the origins of those words. This book was to be the authority on the language. Neither Trench or any other member of the Philological Society foresaw that the project would take 70 years to complete, and the enlisting of hundreds of readers to help them.

Readers for a dictionary are necessary. These are people who read specific books, articles, etc., to find unique or definitive uses of words. That they had so many volunteers really shows how smart and well-read people were at that time. They would send their findings on carefully sized slips of paper that were stored in massive cases of pigeon holes.

The first two editors or project heads for the dictionary did not last long. The first, Chenevix Trench, burnt out quickly, and the second, the diligent but sickly Herbert Coleridge died in a year. The third one, Frederick Furnivall, lasted much longer, but was not fit for the job. He was an eccentric who ended up irritating a lot of people and was overly interested in young women. Thankfully, Furnivall himself realized he was no good at it and recruited one James Murray to take over.

James Murray was amazing–all these men were–having dropped out of school at fourteen, as his family was too poor, yet teaching himself numerous languages and having a vociferous appetite for knowledge of all kinds. He was a bank clerk and later a teacher, beloved by his students because it seemed like he knew everything about everything.

Rival to Murray was Benjamin Jowett of Balliol College in Oxford. He at first tried to hijack the project from Murray, causing Murray to threaten to leave, but another great man, a peacemaker named Henry Hucks Gibbs (later to be a Lord) whose family made money in the guano industry intervened. Eventually Jowett became one of Murray’s greatest supporters.

Some interesting readers, contributors, editors and subeditors of the dictionary were: J.R.R. Tolkien of The Lord of the Rings fame, Fitzedward Hall, an American who taught Sanskrit in England and later became a hermit who found good work working on the OED, and William Chester Minor, another American who was schizophrenic and a murderer placed in an asylum in England. Reading for the OED was his therapy, and notable enough that Winchester first wrote about about him before proceeding to this story.

It’s quite a tale, and The Meaning of Everything is littered appropriately with a plethora of words to look up in the dictionary. Winchester describes the difficulties the editors had with certain letters of the alphabet, especially finding word origins and the like. The end result was a body of 12 volumes that would never really be done as languages are continually in flux. The men who worked on this project were shockingly good at languages, as were the numerous readers that sent in their slips. I have only met a few people in my life who have learned ten or more languages and it boggles my mind, as I seem to only pick up a few words here and there. It’s quite a super power, that one. One of the editors, Henry Bradley, taught himself Russian in only fourteen days.

This story of the beloved OED is fascinating and I think would make a great movie or documentary. The OED today is mostly online with a variety of print editions available. If you are interested in reading obscure or new books for the dictionary, you can go to public.oed.com/contribute-to-the-oed and see the requirement for submitting digitals slips of words. Another aspect the dictionary is currently working on is the confirmation of all of Samuel Johnson’s examples he used in his dictionary, tracking down what work they came from. On the website it sounds like OED editors are assigned to this task and there’s not a lot left to find, but if you are an avid reader of, say, Francis Bacon, and come across the quote, “the chymists have a liquor called water of depart,” be sure to contact them and let them know where you found it.

Loss of Freedom

Just a quick item here. It seems as if WordPress is now in the business of censoring political speech, and is starting to ask Conservatives of “wrong think” to move elsewhere. As my readership is small, it may be some time before they ask me to leave or cancel my account, but if that does happen, I will simply be found at gab.com under Pixie Beldona. (Sorry, haven’t posted much on there at this time). With such, frankly, fascist, censorship going on, it may be soon that all webhosting sites will deplatform anyone not of a leftist and/or globalist mindset, and I don’t have enough money to buy and run my own server. I’d much rather focus on writing. For now Gab is good and for free speech, and hopefully will stay that way. I urge you again, please, please pray for our country. We have the boot of tyranny preparing to slam down on us, should we not rise against it.

Is This the Biggest Sting Operation Ever?

Reading and watching all the news about Dominion and election fraud, I have to wonder, if all that is really true, did we as Americans just participate in the biggest sting operation ever?

The fraud is so over the top. The criminals overplayed their hand because at the last minute they had to made up sooooo much difference between the two candidates. Way more people voted for President Trump than they anticipated. Probably, they started to believe their own lying polls.

With the prime feature–it’s not a glitch–of electronic voting/counting machines to change votes from one candidate to another, how in the world did Donald J. Trump win in 2016? No wonder Democrats had massive meltdowns. At the time someone, at some site online, I don’t remember where, had said that all the good guys did was make sure that key swing counties could not cheat. Now, I am thinking, maybe that is what actually happened and the criminals were too rattled or too stupid to realize it.

Who could stop cheating in that fashion, so specifically? It would have to be someone in government who planned it out, and they planned it out that way because they wanted the cheating to continue. I think November 3rd, 2020 was the biggest sting operation in history. The good guys wanted these people to get caught and eventually prosecuted. But they had to wait until now, until President Trump had drained as much of the Swamp as he could, until more honest judges could be put in place, until more and more of the regular people woke up to the lies around them and didn’t want to participate anymore.

Politics has its own history and story and that’s why I follow it, because I am all about having A Life of Story. How I wish more people would understand just how much it matters who our leaders are at every level. It matters if they are people of integrity. What they do affects our everyday lives, something we were given a very good lesson on this year with the COVID crisis. Real or fake, whatever your opinion on it, it revealed just how power hungry many of our leaders are, how eager they are to suppress our freedoms and to even steal food from our children’s mouths by not allowing us to make a living.

Sometime this weekend I will have a review of The Meaning of Everything, but let me leave you with a key quote from lexicographer James Murray:

I think it was God’s will. In times of faith, I am sure of it. I look back & see that every step of my life has been as it were imposed upon me–not a thing of choice; and that the whole training of my life with its multifarious & irregular incursions into nearly every science & many arts, seems to have had the express purpose of fitting me to do this Dictionary… So I work on with a firm belief (at most times) that I am doing what God has fitted me for, & so made my duty; & a hope that He will strengthen me to see the end of it … But I am only an instrument, only the means that He has provided, & there is no credit due to me, except that of trying to do my duty; Deo soli gloria.

Letter from James Murray to the politician Lord Bryce, 15 December 1903, p.134, The Meaning of Everything by Simon Winchester.

The Truth Will Out

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good. His love endures forever.

Psalm 136:1

For the sake of ten righteous people, God would not destroy Sodom and Gomorrah. Sadly, those cities did not possess even that.

Give thanks to the God of gods. His love endures forever.

Psalm 136:2

In the hopes that Judah would turn from their evil ways and repent, God sent the prophet Jeremiah and other prophets to tell of the coming destruction. He gave Judah 40 years to repent. They did not.

Give thanks to the Lord of lords. His love endures. forever. To him who alone does great wonders, His love endures forever. Who by his understanding made the heavens, His love endures forever. Who spread out the earth upon the waters, His love endures forever. Who made the great lights–His love endures forever. The sun to govern the day, His love endures forever. The moon and stars to govern the night; His love endures forever.

Psalm 136:3-9

For love of sinful human beings who deserved nothing from their Creator they so spit upon and despised, God sent his one and only Son, sacrificing himself in order that they would be saved. Sadly, many have and will reject that sacrifice.

To him who struck down the firstborn of Egypt His love endures forever. And brought Israel out from among them His love endures forever. With a mighty hand and outstretched arm; His love endures forever.

Psalm 136: 10-12

The Living God of the universe is a God of love and of justice. He is patient with sinners to the point of it being ridiculous; but then, love can appear crazy sometimes, as it’s something out of this world. The world witnessed God’s absolute commitment to love and justice and his own holiness in the person of Jesus Christ. The world fell into sin and payment had to be made. No human could ever make up for that sin and because he loved us, God intervened, himself living up to the holy standards we could not. Himself being placed on the cross as punishment for the sins of all of mankind. Justice was satisfied, but it didn’t end there, for God also proved love does conquer all by Jesus’ resurrection from the dead, bringing life everlasting to all who believe in him.

To him who divided the Red Sea asunder His love endures forever. And brought Israel through the midst of it, His love endures forever. But swept Pharaoh and his army into the Red Sea; His love endures forever.

Psalm 136: 13-15

If you don’t think a reckoning is coming for the election fraud on gleeful display this week, you underestimate God’s commitment to justice. God will not be mocked, and he is all about law and order, so much so, that he did not go against his holy nature when those he loved sinned. Instead he gave his one and only Son to become human and live a holy life in the sinners’ place, and then die and pay for their sins, an atonement once for all. One man died for the rest, an innocent man at that. If God did not spare his own, innocent and holy self, why would he spare those openly defying him and the law, order, and justice that are a complete part of himself? Repentance is necessary; faith is necessary, as it bestows righteousness on the believer.

To him who led his people through the desert, His love endures forever. Who struck down great kings, His love endures forever. And killed mighty kings–His love endures forever. Sihon king of the Amorites His love endures forever. And Og king of Bashan–His love endures forever. And gave their land as an inheritance. His love endures forever. An inheritance to his servant Israel; His love endures forever.

Psalm 136:16-21

God is our Savior, our ultimate knight against the dragon. He fights on when in our weakness we fail and despair. He never gives up hope on repentance, faith, and salvation. He is always open to prayers, and many, many times in human history has in his lovingkindness interfered on behalf of good due to those prayers. If you love God, holiness, righteousness, law and order, truth and justice, God is asking us to get down on our knees this week and pray in repentance for deliverance, and he hears us.

It is no accident that President Trump held up the Bible in front of the church that day. It is no accident that he is also a fighter and is for truth, justice, law, and order. God is holding him up as an object lesson for us. God is calling us to repent and believe. Calling us to throw away despair and fight on. He is calling us to live in joy and freedom against the evil that clearly worships lies, chaos, and wretchedness. He is calling us to not be lukewarm or apathetic in the face of this blatant fraud taking place in America right now. Those who have the power to do something: This is your chance! God is on your side and he will bless your efforts.

It is God who choses the rulers of this world and for his purposes. He put Trump in place for just a time as this. It’s insanely ridiculous when one thinks about it, how feeble a candidate Biden is, unable to even think, unable to even stop himself from saying he was planning to win by fraud. God is giving us a huge neon sign right now, and it’s been burning for at least four years. This is our chance. Do we have ten righteous people? Do we love law and order or would we rather live under lies and tyranny? God will bless us if we pray to him, if we do the right thing and hold to the truth.

To the One who remembered us in our low estate His love endures forever. And freed us from our enemies, His love endures forever. And who gives food to every creature. His love endures forever. Give thanks to the God of heaven. His love endures forever.

Psalm 136:23-26

This isn’t over, not by a long shot. This is just the beginning of a very fierce battle for America’s heart and soul. Americans, please pray for your country and that our leaders will hold to the truth. Our friends, please pray for us that we put on the armor of God, as Q, prophetic in nature, has so often reminded us to do. Pray we walk the walk and not just talk the talk of wanting true justice, God’s justice, in this country. Pray that those who think winning by cheating will lead to a good end, will become sober of mind, and realize that all sin without repentance leads to death. Pray that America’s leaders that still have a conscience would do what they can to prosecute and punish those responsible for trying to steal an election. They are stealing against their fellow Americans and human beings. They are stealing not just a physical vote, but our very futures. God’s reckoning will come for that certainly in the next world, but here and now, God’s giving us an opportunity to have a reckoning on earth as well. The truth will out! God’s love endures forever! He is merciful and loving, patient and kind, and rejoices when we repent and turn to him. Thank the Lord for this opportunity! He is good and His love endures forever!

One more thing: It’s Redemption Season! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XV_uXnL2DVM