This week’s prompts was “All about the visuals” whether it be comic books, graphic novels, picture books, etc etc. After way too much thought and much too long of a list, I settled on my top 10 favorite manga. Please note: not the top 10 best manga I’ve ever read, simply MY FAVORITES. Tl;dr don’t fight with me about the quality, I like what I like the end.
Fullmetal Alchemist by Hiromu Arakawa: “Fencing, fighting, torture, revenge, giants, monsters, chases, escapes, true love, miracles!” Besides being a phenomenal story and brilliantly crafted, I want to hug it to pieces. Filed under: Science And Municipally-Approved Books, Found Family
Fruits Basket by Natsuki Takaya: It’s like a love story except there’s twelve of them and friendship conquers all also they turn into animals????? Filed under: Formative Literature, Squad Goals
Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle by CLAMP: Time-travel space-travel adventure of my heart tbh Filed under: Too Many Clones, Too Many Feels
Ouran High School Host Club by Bisco Hatori: It’s like a love story except there’s six of them and they think she’s a boy at first but then she’s not but they would die for each other and also they like to wear costumes and role play???? Filed under: It’s PG I Swear, Funniest Stories
Rurouni Kenshin by Nobuhiro Watsuki: This one is really rewarding to reread – there is a lot going on and a lot of threads that are set up early and carry through. Filed under: I’m Upset About A Lot of Dead Historical Rebels, Found Family
Death Note by Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata: It’s like a love story except- oh wait no it’s not a love story, it’s a death story, Light, please stop, what, wait what are you doing no oh no that’s a lot of blood. Filed under: Hugs for All, Things I Shouldn’t Love As Much As I Do
D.N. Angel by Yukiri: Fair warning, I’m pretty sure this series is on indefinite hiatus. But it’s still one of my favorite stories about teens. Filed under: Disguises Galore, Thieves With Hearts of Gold
Tactics by Sakura Kinoshita: This is another one on indefinite hiatus. TokyoPop’s demise ruined my manga upbringing, basically. Everything I know about Japanese folklore I learned from this series. Filed under: Oh No I Love Everyone So Much, Why Am I Crying Again
Tokyo Babylon by CLAMP: This one is set up as an episodic romcom and then suddenly Plot Twist and it turns into a murderous rampage leading up to the apocalypse and I love it with all the tiny black monsters of my tarred soul. Filed under: Why Am I Crying Again, Perfection
Ghost Hunt by Shiro Inada: Sometimes I forget how much I love ghost stories, and then I read something like Ghost Hunt and experience pure joy while clever characters investigate hauntings and try not to get murdered. Filed under: Be Safe, That Guy is Probably Dead the Whole Time
This post is several days late and I’m sorta sorry and sorta not because I was too busy celebrating my birthday. However, I’ll try to be more prompt in future.
This week we read chapters 17-19. We met a few new characters, chiefly Blanche Ingram and Richard Mason, and learned that there really is no limit to Rochester’s tendency to play around with the emotions of people around him.
Thornfield is turned upside down and inside out when Rochester’s dependents learn that he is bringing PEOPLE home to visit. The house gets a makeover and is filled with a bunch of new faces, from the lords and ladies to their servants, including “abigails” which apparently was popularized as a term for maid by a play called The Scornful Lady. It also might be a reference to Abigail in the Bible, who is very hospitable to her husband’s visitor, David (not in a dirty way, but then she does end up married to him so whatever).
I love the juxtaposition between how the fancy ladies from the Leas appear, and how they behave towards others. Adele especially considers the ladies (and gentlemen) as a sort of in-house show, and when Jane first sees them they are described beautifully: “with dress that gleamed lustrous through the dusk” and “they then descended the staircase almost as noiselessly as a bright mist rolls down a hill” (chapter 17). However, their treatment of others, especially Jane and Adele, is less than attractive. Blanche Ingram calls governesses such as Jane “incubi,” and her mother notes that in Jane’s features “I see all the faults of her class” (chapter 17). Some of them, like the young Eshtons, are shallow; some are haughty like Lady Lynn and Lady Ingram; some like Blanche are just witty enough to be malicious.
Blanche Ingram is hilarious in her efforts to seduce Rochester, or make him like her. She is obviously attempting to flatter Rochester’s vanity when she talks about how awesome James Hepburn of Bothwell is, even though he was A KIDNAPPER. Acknowledging her own beauty, she acknowledges Rochester’s ugliness when she says, “I am resolved my husband shall not be a rival, but a foil to me” (chapter 17). Like, she’s not even subtle in her attempts and it’s absolutely precious. If Rochester falls for her, he has serious problems. Not that I’m worried about that like Jane is.
Jane is getting really obsessed with Rochester at this point: “I looked, and had an acute pleasure in looking; a precious, yet poignant pleasure; pure gold, with a steely point of agony: a pleasure like what the thirst-perishing man might feel who knows the well to which he has crept is poisoned, yet stoops and drinks divine draughts nevertheless” (chapter 17). Audience, meet Jane, who lost every last bit of her chill. Or has she? Again, talking about Rochester’s physical features: “they were more than beautiful to me, they were full of an interest, an influence that quite mastered me.” Even though she knows her love is hopeless, she admits “and yet, while I breathe and think I must love him” (chapter 17). She is a little self-aware, as she realizes “I was forgetting all his faults, for which I had once kept a sharp look-out” (chapter 18).
The charades are really fun. Did they let Blanche pick all of the topics? “Bride,” Eliezer’s hunt for a bride, and “Bridewell”? She HAS NO CHILL. Even less chill than Jane, and we’ve already established that Jane’s inner chill is completely decimated.
Richard Mason’s appearance is startling, both to us and to Rochester. Like where did this yokel come from and why did he happen to come at the same time as all of these other folks? CONVENIENT, RICHARD, VERY. I like Jane’s dismissal of him, even though he’s like a hot young stud: “His features were regular, but too relaxed: his eye was large and well cut, but the life looking out of it was a tame, vacant life–at least so I thought” (chapter 18). And compared to Rochester, Mason is completely boring. As Jane says: “I think….the contrast could not be much greater between a sleek gander and a fierce falcon: between a meek sheep and the rough-coated keen-eyed dog, its guardian” (chapter 18). Granted, Jane is incredibly biased.
I feel so bad for Adele in this section. She’s just a kid that wants to be a grown-up, a “cool kid,” and look like the pretty ladies, but she is often shunted aside and people like Blanche treat her with contempt. To be fair to Blanche, even Rochester treats Adele contemptuously at times, but that seems to be because he is specifically reminded of Adele’s mother. ANYWAY Adele seems like a nice kid and she deserves better.
Speaking of Rochester being kind of a butt, I really disapprove of his gipsy disguise. I mean, there’s a lot of good reasons why he shouldn’t dress up like a poor, outcast minority but also he shouldn’t use it to trick Jane. Rochester goes to a lot of trouble in his attempt to manipulate Jane into confessing feelings for him, and it’s gross.
However, he does give a tremendous description of Jane’s current state: “You are cold, because you are alone; no contact strikes the fire from you that is in you. You are sick: because the best of feelings, the highest and sweetest given to man, keeps far away from you. You are silly, because, suffer as you may, you will not beckon it to approach; nor will you stir one step to meet it where it waits you” (chapter 19). I think it’s pretty apt; DISCUSS? Do you agree or disagree? To me it seems like Jane does separate herself from other people, both because she has been used to people disregarding her, and because she doesn’t trust anyone.
We also hear Jane’s life goal in this conversation with the “gipsy”: “The utmost I hope is, to save money enough out of my earnings to set up a school some day in a little house rented by myself” (chapter 19). It’s interesting that she uses “hope” as, something she has a fair expectation of, rather than something she wants but can’t have (like Rochester).
Rochester acts more like himself in this scene, both when he is the gipsy and when he is not. He shows that he is very aware of Blanche’s regard for him and that it is based on money: “I would advise her black-avised suitor to look out: if another comes, with a longer or clearer rent-roll; he’s dished” (chapter 19). And he treats Jane like he has always treated her: half kind, half critical, and likes teasing and judging her in an attempt to draw her out of her reserve. Spoilers, Jane: he’s getting real thirsty.
Rochester’s society self versus his “real” (?) self with Jane is such a ridiculous contrast. He needs to get it together. Please don’t hate me if I link this scene, I can’t stop thinking about it in regards to Rochester. What a clueless child.
Some questions I have:
Do you think Blanche considers Jane a threat to her own relationship with Rochester? Or does she not consider Jane a threat so much as beneath her contempt?
What do you think of Rochester’s choice to disguise himself? Justified? Immoral? Why or why not?
I’m rereading the Percy Jackson books by Rick Riordan this year because it’s been a while. These include the original series, Percy Jackson and the Olympians, and the sequel series, The Heroes of Olympus. They’re aimed at middle grade and young adult readers and feature the half-god children of Greek and/or Roman gods, on quests to save the world or whatever.
Occasionally I will be posting on Myth Monday concerning related Percy Jackson shenanigans. My intention is to do a sort of “Who’s Who,” but Riordan packs SO many mythological characters and references into his books that I may have to pick and choose what to focus on. For book 1, The Lightning Thief, I’m going to focus on characters that show up on the page and are not just referenced, and especially the “monsters.” For this post I’ll give a brief overview of who the monster is in classical mythology, some observations on what Riordan does with them, and any additional jokes commentary I feel led to make.
Obviously, SPOILER WARNING for The Lightning Thief. Skip to the end of this post for references used (aside from any links).
The Furies: are really, really scary ladies that punish guilty people that have avoided justice. Often the victims curse the guilty party, thus summoning the Furies. Other times, Hades would send the Furies himself. Besides tearing the guilty parties apart, the Furies enjoy using panic and overwhelming remorse. In The Lightning Thief, the Furies show up several times and appear to be grouchy, stern old ladies at first until they let their monstrous, birds-from-hell forms show. Hades uses them to chase after Percy, because Hades suspects Percy of committing a crime.
The Fates: are not to be confused with the Greek Grey Sisters or the Norse Norns, which are other threesome teams of terrifying ladies with scary amounts of power. The Fates are also called the Moirai, and are responsible for essentially weaving history and destiny together as it happens. They’re often portrayed as very ugly old knitters. When a person’s life is over, they snip the thread representing the person’ life right out of their tapestry. In The Lightning Thief, they appear only briefly as old ladies knitting socks (rather than the traditional tapestry). Riordan employs the “less is more” technique by not having the characters even speak to the Fates, but their presence still terrifies them.
The Minotaur: is the stepson of King Minos of Crete. It’s this whole awkward story where Minos’ wife gets cursed by a god because of reasons so she falls in love with a bull and SOMEHOW gets pregnant by it, thus producing the Minotaur. Don’t ask too many questions. Minos then uses the Minotaur to eat up all of his enemies. Riordan is sort of lazy with the Minotaur in The Lightning Thief: it’s just another mindless monster he throws at Percy and Co. to slow them down from reaching safety.
Hellhounds: See Cerberus, also, below. Hellhounds are, if you can believe it, really scary dogs from the underworld.. Cerberus is the most famous one. In The Lightning Thief, we see a hellhound that is summoned to Camp Halfblood (although not one of Hades’, as it turns out), as well as Cerberus later in the underworld.
Medusa: is a really scary lady with snakes instead of hair. She was a priestess of Athena, but then she either canoodled with Poseidon in Athena’s temple (which is a no-no) or she got too proud of her own beauty and tried to compete with Athena (also a no-no). In any case, Athena turned her into a monster and cursed her so that anyone who looked at her would turn to stone. She wears a burka in The Lightning Thief, which is a really problematic authorial choice but at least it covers her until she chooses to petrify someone (it’s like…a metaphor). I like her vocal powers of persuasion and the way she tries to turn Percy (son of Poseidon) against Annabeth (daughter of Athena).
Echidna: is the mother of a bunch of monsters in Greek mythology, including the Sphinx, the Nemean Lion, and possibly the chimera, a goat/dragon/lion hybrid (because that sounded like a good idea). In The Lightning Thief, Echidna is disguised as a random lady so that she can corner Percy in the Gateway Arch, along with her “Chihuahua” son, which turns into the chimera. Don’t trust tiny dogs.
The Lotus-Eaters: are some island inhabitants that Odysseus and his men come across in The Odyssey (and also feature in a weird Tennyson poem). Odysseus’ men are really happy to find a hospitable island with plenty of food to eat and booze to drink, but soon they are enchanted to forget where they came from and where they’re going. Odysseus has a hard time dragging them away. Rick Riordan turns the island into the Lotus Casino which is filled with games, sports, and food to entertain Percy and his friends, along with an endless supply of “LotusCash” to help them enjoy themselves. Percy and his friends are be-spelled for a while just like Odysseus’ men, before they are able to wake themselves up long enough to get away.
Procrustes the Stretcher: I don’t think there is ever a time when you would want to be friends with a guy called “The Stretcher.” Theseus ran into this guy, who captured and/or lured travelers into his house and then strapped them to a bed and if they were too short to fit it, stretched them, and if they were too tall, chopped off any extra bits. Percy and his friends in The Lightning Thief come across “Crusty’s Waterbed Palace” where Procrustes tries to do the same thing with them. In both stories, the hero manages to turn the tables (or beds) on Crusty. Gross.
Cerberus: is a three-headed hellhound who guards the Underworld. He is usually terrifying in the myths, and one of Hercules’ 12 Crazy Labors is to steal Cerberus and bring him out of the Underworld. In The Lightning Thief, Cerberus is reveleaed to be a big old softie who just needs some playtime. Percy’s friend Annabeth bonds with him, setting him up to return in future books if needed. PS this company exists.
Chiron: is a centaur who taught pretty much every dude-hero in Greek mythology, including Hercules, Perseus, Jason, and every other fighter in the Trojan War. Ridiculous. In The Lightning Thief, he’s the main teacher at Camp Halfblood and is responsible for training the Greek demigods on how to stay alive. Here is a realistic portrait of him passed down through the ages.
Charon: is the ferryman of the Underworld. You have to pay this guy to get across the Styx and Acheron rivers and into the Underworld proper, so hopefully you got buried with some money. I like the “waiting room” in The Lightning Thief where those without ferry fare have to wait. Because I’m terrible and it makes more sense than just hanging out on a riverbank. Also I like how Riordan decided to put both Charon and Chiron in his first Percy Jackson book. THANKS, NOT CONFUSING AT ALL.
The Nereid: is one of the fifty Nereids or sea nymphs, who are daughters of Nereus and Doris. They are the nice happy beautiful side of the multi-faceted ocean personality. In The Lightning Thief, Percy’s dad Poseidon, god of the sea, sends a Nereid to help Percy at times, since he can’t help his son personally. It’s kinda weird how Percy keeps thinking the Nereid is his mom, though.
Satyrs: are nature-spirits that look sorta human but have horns and goat-feet. They can get pretty drunk and sketchy. Percy’s best friend Grover turns out to be a satyr, and he often gets very upset by humanity’s mistreatment of nature and pollution of the Earth.
Thanks for reading! I’ll cover the gods and goddesses in a future post.
Bulfinch, Thomas. Bulfinch’s Greek and Roman Mythology: The Age of Fable. Dover Thrift, 2000. Print.
Riordan, Rick. The Lightning Thief. Disney Hyperion, 2005. Print.
Scripture Sunday is a weekly quote-post to highlight Bible passages I’ve read recently that I found particularly interesting. I’m not a qualified expert in any way, so I will keep my thoughts to my highly-subjective impressions. My translation is the New International Version.
From my reading this week:
When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, “What if Joseph holds a grudge against us and pays us back for all the wrongs we did to him?” So they sent word to Joseph, saying, “Your father left these instructions before he died: ‘This is what you are to say to Joseph: I ask you to forgive your brothers the sins and the wrongs they committed in treating you so badly.’ Now please forgive the sins of the servants of the God of your father.” When their message came to him, Joseph wept.
His brothers then came and threw themselves down before him. “We are your slaves,” they said.
But Joseph said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. So then, don’t be afraid. I will provide for you and your children.” And he reassured them and spoke kindly to them.
Why I chose it:
I’m always amazed when I read Joseph’s story. It’s easy to hold a grudge against someone, even if their offense was tiny, like a rude comment or something. And yet Joseph is able to forgive his brothers for throwing him into a well and then selling him into slavery. He learns that God always has a plan, and that plan saves lives and is for the good of those who trust Him. I need to be patient and remember that it’s not what humans intend that matters, but what God intends, and He always uses bad events or bad motives to produce good results eventually.
I’ve tracked down some interesting blog posts and articles about subjects mentioned in recent-ish chapters of Jane Eyre. I won’t be discussing chapters 17-19 until this weekend, but WOW do I love all of the drama going on, especially with the influx of new characters.
Through Jane’s situation at Thornfield Hall, and especially via her interactions (or lack of) Rochester’s visiting friends, we get a good idea of what life was like for a Victorian governess. If you’d like a nice overview of the kind of job women like Jane had, read The Figure of the Governess by Kathryn Hughes:
Life was full of social and emotional tensions for the governess since she didn’t quite fit anywhere. She was a surrogate mother who had no children of her own, a family member who was sometimes mistaken for a servant. Was she socially equal or inferior to her employers? If the family had only recently stepped up the social scale, perhaps she’d consider herself superior. She was rarely invited to sit down to dinner with her employers, even if they were kind. The servants disliked the governess because they were expected to be deferential towards her, despite the fact that she had to go out to work, just like them.
Kathryn Hughes apparently has written a whole book on the subject of governesses.
Here’s a letter from Charlotte Bronte in which she talks about governesses and how important it is for women to be financially independent. I couldn’t find the full text online aside from the scans of the original letter.
Meanwhile, Jane and Rochester still haven’t shut up about Physiognomy, so I found another article about it, including some interesting visuals from Victorian phrenologists/physiologists, showing how they analyzed faces to learn about the person’s personality.
Together these pseudosciences should not be viewed as fanciful, benign, or just misguided scientific endeavors of the 18th and 19th century, but rather portentous and troublesome practices, leading to or even perpetuating prejudices and long-standing biases. People could be easily categorized, labeled, and judged, not on merit or deed, but by their mere physical appearance. As a result, phrenology and physiognomy caught the interest of certain individuals with strong ideological convictions who wish to use these pseudosciences as justification for social, racial, religious, or political change.
Last but not least, the mysterious Mr. Mason (who shows up in this week’s reading), is from Spanish Town, Jamaica. I found you some awesome old maps of that area, for no good reason at all except OLD MAPS, Y’ALL.
This week’s prompt is a FREEBIE, so I am going to bless you all with my top 10 Star Wars books (canon, Legends, comics, whatever).
Survivor’s Quest by Timothy Zahn (Legends): As you may know, I adore Timothy Zahn’s stories (Star Wars and other), so I’m not sure how to pick a favorite but it is probably this one. Luke Skywalker and Mara Jade go on a treasure hunt/quest/fact-finding mission to find a crashed Old Republic ship, in case it has Jedi artifacts on board. It turns into a very suspenseful mystery and of course they run into a shadowy military organization with sketchy motives and there’s fencing and fighting and torture and revenge and true love. Or whatever. Filed under: The OTP, New Stormtrooper Friends, Abandon Ship
Shattered Empire by Greg Rucka (Canon): This is a miniseries comic about Poe’s parents and takes place during and after the Battle of Endor. Greg Rucka is another fave, the art is great, and the characters are wonderful. Filed under: Luke Cameos, Marry Me Shara Bey?
Knights of the Old Republic: Commencement by John Jackson Miller (Legends): This is the first volume of the Knights of the Old Republic comic run. It went a little downhill after the first couple of volumes but this opening story is one of my favorite Star Wars stories. Filed under: Dream Team, Framed, Save The Dream
X-Wing: Rogue Squadron by Michael A. Stackpole (Legends): Okay, I need to accept that this entire post is just me gushing about how much I love Star Wars. I LOVE THIS SERIES OF BOOKS but especially Stackpole’s volumes, starting with this one. He introduces a bunch of excellent characters like Corran Horn and Mirax Terrik, along with turning minor but awesome characters from the movies into great protagonists. Filed under: SPACE PILOTS, Wedge Antilles Is The Real MVP
Star Wars: Year By Year A Visual History by Ryder Windham (nonfiction): This is a “coffee table” history/trivia book about the people behind the Star Wars movies and franchise. It’s really nerdy and interesting, and starts with George Lucas’s career and continues into the present. Star Wars events are laid out chronologically alongside “real world” events. Filed under: Did You Know, Fascinating!
Republic Commando: Hard Contact by Karen Traviss (Legends): This is set during the Clone Wars and is a fast-paced military story about a squad of clone commandos and their baby Jedi general. Filed under: I Love Everyone In This Bar, Found Family
Luke Skywalker and the Shadows of Mindor by Matthew Stover (Legends): I don’t understand why we don’t have more Luke books or movies like this. This is the perfect Luke book, the rest of you can go home. Filed under: Star Wars Journalism, Space Adventures
Darth Bane: Path of Destruction by Drew Karpshyn (Legends): I don’t like dark books very much, and I don’t like books about bad guys very much, but I really love this book about a decent guy who goes bad and it’s all pretty dark, so, I don’t know what to tell you. Filed under: Sith Lords Are Our Specialty, The Rule of Two
Ahsoka by E.K. Johnston (Canon): I love Ahsoka and I love E.K. Johnston and this is a wonderful, small-scale story about one of the best Jedi ever. Filed under: Found Family, Rebels, I Love Everyone In This Bar But Mostly Ahsoka
William Shakespeare’s Star Wars: The Empire Striketh Back by Ian Doescher: I expected the Shakespeare Star Wars books to be gimmicky and shallow but the author put a lot of work into them and it shows. These books made me approach Star Wars in a whole new way, even though I’ve grown up on them and know them inside out. Filed under: Clever Words, Amazing Illustrations
I’m still reading through Myths From Mesopotamia (edited and translated by Stephanie Dalley). If we’re (un)lucky I’ll focus some future posts on Gilgamesh, but honestly so much has been written about Gilgamesh, and there’s so much I could say about Gilgamesh, that I don’t know where to start.
Anyway, today on Myth Monday we’re going to go to the underworld with Ishtar, the Mesopotamian goddess of fertility, love, war, sex, etc etc etc. I guess she’s a big deal. Buckle in, because this story is wild.
“The Descent of Ishtar to the Underworld” is a short Babylonian/Assyrian myth, but there’s a Sumerian version too. For reasons that are not clear in the myth (but of course hotly contested among scholars), Ishtar decides she’s really got to go down to the underworld. Maybe she’s just sight-seeing. Maybe she’s trying to rescue someone. Maybe she’s got the hots for the queen of the underworld. In any case, she goes down there and bullies the gatekeeper into letting her come in: if he doesn’t open the door, she will huff and puff and blow his door down (that’s probably a metaphor). She also threatens to animate the dead and turn them into zombies and send them out into the land of the living. I’m not sure if she’s qualified to be lady of the zombies, but the gatekeeper is scared enough that he asks the queen of the underworld, Ereshkigal, to let Ishtar in.
Ereshkigal agrees, but is not in the best of moods (I probably wouldn’t be either if a sex-goddess threatened to break my doors down and turn my dead minions into zombies).
Ishtar has to give up her worldly possessions one by one as she progresses through the seven doors of the underworld, and at last meets up with Ereshkigal.
Meanwhile, in the land of the living, nobody wants to have sex anymore because their sex goddess is gone. The gods are pretty unhappy with the inactive love lives of the entire land, so they send “Good-looks the playboy” (according to my translation) to, ahem, ask Ereshkigal very nicely to return Ishtar. Ereshkigal curses Good-looks, I presume because she’s not impressed with his good looks, but returns Ishtar anyway. However, the queen takes as ransom Dumuzi, Ishtar’s lover. Ishtar doesn’t seem upset about this (she probably has like 9,000 lovers after all) but Dumuzi’s sister Belili* is extremely upset.
* I’m really confused about who Belili is and how she figures into all of this. In some versions she is Dumuzi’s sister and his lover. Yikes.
I can’t help comparing this myth to the Greek underworld and Persephone. When Persephone is kidnapped by Hades (or seduced, depending on the version), no plants will grow in the land of the living while she is in the underworld. In both of these myths, the absence of the goddess results in the stagnation or lack of reproduction, whether plants or mammals. Both goddesses represent life in some way, and are needed to keep life alive (so to speak).
Coming up on Myth Mondays: another Mesopotamian myth featuring Ereshkigal, Percy Jackson, and more!