Monthly Archives: February 2009

Translation: “Aishiteru” from Zoku Natsume Yujincho

(Ending themesong for Zoku Natsume Yujincho)
Singable translation: Maureen S. O’Brien, 2/19/09

Hey, a little, little more,
A little, little more
I wish you’d listen just a bit more.

Hey, a little, little more,
A little, little more,
Can’t I think of myself a bit?

Oh, the instant it was in my grasp
It seemed like it would never last
Like it would fade away — say something, please!

The moment you were here
The moment you were here
My world forever oh, so had changed
The landscape monotone
Turned vivid — should’ve known
My palette had been rearranged.

As we walked holding hands,
As we walked holding hands,
We had to part before I could understand
I wonder if we’d make a match, you and I
And you know, that’s what I had to ask the sky.

Zoku Natsume Yujincho is the second season of Natsume Yujincho — episodes 14 and onward. (Sometimes a second season is treated as a whole different series. You get names like Shin Whatever or Whatevershow 2. This is the same thing, I guess.) You can watch it free and legally at Crunchyroll.

Yet another versification, due to my lack of time and plentiful tiredness. I got the literal translation here at Gendou. Here’s the song over at YouTube.


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Okay, so the central Ohio anime convention, Ohayocon, is now held at Columbus’ convention center and at the attached hotel, the Hyatt Regency. However, it’s not big enough to actually take over the place for the weekend. So the genius folks in charge of booking the place decided that what they really needed was to book a few more events in there for the weekend. Fine, fine. That can work. There was an entire Hindu wedding at the same time as Marcon, and the worst thing that happened was a lot of envious costumers drooling and taking pictures of Indian ladies’ saris from a discreet distance.

But in the case of Ohayocon this year, we have a situation where physical separation of the conventions was not achieved. Nobody ever likes this. It’s fine if everybody is staying in the same hotel, but you want all your events to be on the same floor or in the same general area, and so do they. Preferably, you want each group to have its own access to the outside. This did not happen. Everybody had to traipse through everybody else’s convention areas to get to their own, creating a good deal of disruption and confusion.

And to make matters worse, the other events were a cheerleading convention and a Christian youth group convention. I mean, not necessarily antagonistic if physically separated… but apparently the Witchblade cosplayers kept walking into the youth group talks, and that’s just not going to end well; and kids from the other conventions kept sneaking into the anime convention events, which is more than a bit worrisome for the con committee (concom).

But the concept is pretty funny. Especially since I wasn’t there, and it wasn’t my problem. 🙂


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Attn: Pam Cooking Spray Ad Agency

What kind of creepy ad agency doesn’t know the difference between a muffin and a cupcake? Did your parents never let you into the kitchen, or what? If you bake batter into a muffin pan, that’s not called a “cupcake” unless it’s made from cake batter and is in a little paper cup.

What you show on your commercial is called a “muffin”. The idea of frosting muffins is disgusting, and there’s no way it can’t be messy. The idea of cooking cake batter like a muffin and then pretending it’s still a cupcake and frosting it…. messy. Yucky. Geez, just cook them in sphere shapes, put sticks in ’em, dip them in frosting, and serve them as lollipops, why don’t you. It’d be cleaner.

I suppose you are trying to claim that cupcakes baked in Pam won’t burn their sides and bottoms or get dry. I seriously doubt this. I’m sure the non-stick properties do work, or mostly.

But why would anyone even try this out with cupcake batter? That’s what pretty paper cups are for, or parchment cups for the truly dedicated. And frankly, I like my muffins in cups, too. It keeps them moist, clean, and free of crumbs. (Unless you’ve got one of those really solid, oily cornbread muffins, like the ones at Cracker Barrel. They wouldn’t dare fall apart on you before you bite in.)

(What doesn’t go in cups? So nice, so neat, so good a container for crumbs. You know, I should bake something so I can use my cute little cupcake cups!)

Anyway, you try to gross us out by portraying the poor mother as unable to get her “cupcakes” out of the muffin pan. (Because she didn’t put them in cups, duh.) She never uses, say, a spatula or any other household hint; you just show her shaking the pan like a madwoman and then tearing at the “cupcakes” with her hands. This would be funny, if the commercial was for cupcake cups. (How kind of you to make that commercial for them!)

You then have the woman awake from her horrid nightmare to happiness, because she used Pam. What every viewer is actually thinking is, “Why the heck didn’t she use cupcake cups? What was she thinking? Ew.”
Then they’re thinking is, “Ew. She’s frosting all those muffin/cupcakes in her hands, instead of holding onto the paper, and then she’s serving them to these poor kids in the middle of winter. Hope the chick doesn’t have a cold. Maybe that’s why she’s having a dream sequence — fever.”

You add to the stupidity of your alleged cupcakes by having her frost them, and then pile said nasty frosted muffins on a plate before a bunch of children. At a party. Not only does this invite crumbs to be flung everywhere and frosting to smear all over when the piled muffins inevitably tumble off the stack and the plate; it cries out for a food fight.

On the bright side, it’s good to see that your ad agency is determined to create new entries for Lileks’ Gallery of Regrettable Food. Someone has to. And I’m sure cupcake cup sales will go up.


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Bad Day

So of course I made it worse by doing something bad myself.

Sigh. Well, tomorrow’s another day, and Saturday’s when my parish holds Confession.

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Natsume Yujincho

Once again, I start watching a show long after everybody else. 🙂

Natsume Yujincho (Natsume’s Book of Friends) is a good anime. It’s one of those peaceful summer slice of life shows, designed to help the stressed out Japanese viewer relax in a happy blend of traditional Japanese values, traditional Japanese life, summer sights and noises, and traditional Japanese monsters and magic, perhaps with some traditional Japanese religion thrown in. I like this kind of show very much; Someday’s Dreamers and Aria are favorites of mine of a similar mood.

Natsume Takashi is the last living member of the Natsume family. He’s been shuffled around from extended relative to ever more extended relative and family friend ever since his parents died, and nobody can put up with his odd ways for long. He can’t put up with them, either. He can see spirits and monsters that others can’t, though he tries desperately to ignore them. But one summer, he finds himself placed with a better extended relative, in the very same village where his grandmother, Natsume Reiko, grew up.

Suddenly he finds himself being pursued by spirits who want their names back. He learns that his grandmother not only could see monsters just like he can, but that she bound their names into a book he inherited. This made them her servants; but she counted them as her only friends. She also left behind a lot of unfinished business with the monsters when she left the village, never to return.

Unwillingly, the boy feels sorry for the monsters and obligated to help them. And once he starts working to help other people, even monsters, he begins to change himself.

You can watch Natsume Yujincho legally and for free at Crunchyroll.

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Translation – “Natsu Yuzora” (Ending Song #1 for Natsume Yujincho)

Natsu Yuzora (Summer Evening Sky/Summer Twilight)
by Kosuke Atari
(ending song #1 for Natsume Yujincho)

Colors rise high in the western sky
Cut in two by sunlight piercing through, and
Now the shower ends that fell all afternoon —
Everywhere, smell summer in the air.

Old memories, their light came flooding through me
I tried to see in my mind’s eye clearly
Slowly my friends’ voices came — back to me.

The summer twilight sky, and the scent rose by —
So alive to me, even after all this time.
After all this while, my heart still can smile
When I think of that summer long ago.

Another versification, this one based on the literal translation at Gendou’s Anime Music. “Natsu Yuuzora” is a very peaceful song. It sorta sounds like James Taylor, I think.

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Translation: “Issei no Sei” (theme song for Natsume Yujincho)

Issei no Koe
(opening song for Natsume Yujincho)
by Shuhei Kita
Translation: Maureen S. O’Brien, 2/15/09

Once again, you make that face and
Bite your lip in that same place and
Hide your weakness. Do you think you’re hiding it?

Back behind your eyes, I see there
All the pain you hide from me there
That’s really where your heart ought to be.

Laughing and crying,
Lone and lonely
Burdened with hurting, but why?
I’d like to help you — let me help you —

But if you can’t do it, right now, we’ll get through it
Okay, one step at a time.
Folks like us, with no wings, are wrong to think
That we’ll never be able to get up and fly.
With all of my power, I’ll call in that hour
So don’t you get lost, meantime.
I’ll carry your heart up to ride the wind
And upon the wind, let us ride —
Our voices one!

This is another one that’s more a versification than a translation, as I’m working almost entirely off the one that seems to be on all the lyrics sites.

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Mostly Well

I felt pretty good yesterday, and I feel pretty healthy today. I think I might have one or two more days of suboptimalness, but for all practical purposes I’m well.

Yesterday I was listening to some talks I downloaded from It’s a traditionalist Catholic group with some very interesting audio, drawn mostly from these traditionalist/academician confabs that they have in various places. (Like, say, Italy. With people like, say, Dr. Alice von Hildebrand.) They also reprint some old audiotapes as mp3s, like Fulton Sheen.

The downside is that, although the mp3s drawn from tape have been processed fairly well for sound quality, they haven’t gone through the talks to eliminate long pauses and so on. Also, there seem to be a lot of cases where there was only one tape recorder going, so you lose the part where the tape turned off and got flipped while the speaker kept on talking. Nor do they warn you about such things or give you file lengths in all cases. So it’s a bit of a grab bag.

My favorite mp3 so far was a talk given in the 80’s at the ancient Marian shrine of Ladyewell at Fernyhaugh, in Lancashire near Preston. A cute little English priest acts as guide while people go from the well to the recusant-built house nearby which served as a rectory and chapel. Unfortunately we miss most of the parts about the locally connected martyrs, but it’s fascinating, nonetheless. If you go on YouTube, you can supplement this “sound tour” with video. (The place has apparently been improved/augmented a bit, but beautifully. The idea of turning a ravine into gardens for walking and prayer is carried out in a really stunning way.)

My second favorite was a three part talk on Homer (and why the Fathers liked him). They made a very good case for regarding the Iliad as a sort of psychomachia. I really want to reread the Iliad now to see if this plays out. (And because I just want to reread the Iliad.) There was also some talk about the Odyssey, but I didn’t get to hear the end of that. My local library has an audiobook version of the Odyssey available for temporary listening, so there’s a stroke of luck.

I know I’ve mentioned this before, but George Guidall’s reading of the unabridged Iliad is something everybody should listen to. For those of us who don’t speak Greek, an audiobook in English read by a good voice actor from a good translation of the poem is the closest we can get. This is oral literature, meant to be heard, recited, or read out loud. Even if you’ve read these poems before, it’s a whole different experience to hear them read to you.

(There’s also an unabridged reading by Ian McKellen of a different good translation, so it’s probably also quite good.)

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Webcomics are terrible timesuckers for me. I get obsessive. I read the entire back archives in as few sittings as possible. (To my embarrassment, that’s exactly what I was doing on 9/11 when the news got to our row of cubes at work, and that’s why it took me a couple minutes to meander over and figure out what the heck plane and building my one workmate was talking about. Not exactly a story for the grandchildren, even though I was finished with my work at that particular moment.) And then I can’t stop checking back, even though that’s why RSS was invented.

So I don’t exactly go looking for new webcomics to follow.

However, I have a couple of new-to-me ones that you might like.

Foxfier recommended Catena Manor, and I found it very charming. It’s a comic set in a shared house full of cat housemates, in a world of furry/Disney/Warneresque anthropomorphic animals. Everybody in the house is some kind of post-college sf fan and/or gamer, of course. (Know thy audience.) But the creator uses this setup for comedic hijinks, not as an excuse for huge amounts of sex and nudity. If you get to the point when they attend a musical together, be prepared to roll on the floor.

No Rest for the Wicked has been around for a very long time, and I’ve heard references to it from time to time but never visited. It’s striking stuff, visually and conceptually. It takes place in a world of fairy tales, and unfortunately for the characters, the unexpurgated violent kind. But the comic as a whole is a comedy, albeit with some serious content. If you’ve ever wondered how the kind of princess who can’t sleep on peas would fare on a hard wilderness quest (even if she were plucky, and she is), this is the webcomic for you.


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Most Fun Walking Incentive Ever!

Apparently, years and years ago, folks did a walking challenge in honor of the coming premiere of The Return of the King. They now have the walking distances for pretty much every journey in The Lord of the Rings.

I find this very appropriate, because Tolkien (like Lewis and many Oxford men and women) was a great lover of long walks and hikes.

But mostly, it’s just… such a fun plan. 🙂

Hmm. I wonder if you could do this with something like… I don’t know… Xenophon’s Anabasis. Or Jane Austen.


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Love Pulps

For my romance-reading friends, Joy and Enbrethiliel, here are some covers of love pulps!
(Arrow through to find more covers for these magazines.) It’s interesting to watch the meaning of “romances” change from any old kind of adventure story to specifically adventure/love stories to just plain love stories. The change happened pretty quickly, for a word so old.

Affinity Love Stories

All-Story Love Tales. (All-Story was a magazine line and a description.) Here’s a couple more All-Story Love, and another with a very charming cover.

Complete Love. (Also a magazine line and a description. No serial stories, they mean.)

Cowboy Romances.

Cupid’s Diary
. More cute, wholesome covers here.

Dream World Love and Romance.

Exciting Love. Exciting was also a magazine line.

Four Star Love.

Gay Love. As in fun and merry.

Glamorous Love Stories.

Golden Love and Golden West Romances.

Ideal Love.

Leading Love. “Leading” was a magazine line.

Life’s Romances. No idea. Nice cover, though.

Love Adventures

Love Book.

Love Fiction Magazine.

Love Novels
, Love Novelettes, and Love Short Stories, too.

Love Story Illustrated Magazine and Love Story Magazine. (Are you starting to get the feeling that this Phyllis Gordon Demarest was popular and prolific? Here’s a nifty cover.

Magic Love.

Modern Love Stories. Another descriptive product line name.

New Love
. Another magazine line. They were claiming no reprints.

North-West Romances: Stories of the Wilderness Frontier.
. Best. Cover. Ever.

Popular Love. Another magazine line. (And enough with the masks, already!)

Ranch Romances. The great survivor, lasting until the late sixties/early seventies.

Rangeland Love
. Also Rangeland Love Stories, Rangeland Romances, and Rangeland Sweethearts.

Real Western Romances

Rodeo Romances.


And so on, and on, and on….

Sorta love pulps:

I Confess: This sort of “True Confessions” magazine survives to this day. Needless to say, said “True Confessions” were almost always fiction written by established writers under pen names. This cover is prettier, although I think the guy looks kinda weird. Similarly, here’s Modern Romances: Every Story True.

Intimate Confessions was apparently a “spicy” True Confessions mag. Most spicy pulps didn’t get very explicit, but they still manage to be totally nasty and unwholesome. Some people think they’re funny, but I didn’t.


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In Which the Banshee Demonstrates Cold Medicine in Action.

The scene: The main Girl Genius fan community on Livejournal, Agatha’s Minions.

The cause: A new installment of the Girl Genius webcomic, in which a delirious character murmurs the words, “Imagine that everything is made of pigs.” This creates discussion of the consequences of such a thing.

I posted (anonymously, since I have no Livejournal account):

If everything were made out of pigs, nothing would be kosher.

“Fiat porcus” just doesn’t have the right ring to it, either.

Yup, I can see where Sparks have trouble not becoming heretics. The devout ones who get worried about this probably ask their family chaplain to follow them around and write up Theological Impact Statements.

I was told for the first time in my life that I had won the Internets, which pleased me. (I’ll let you guys keep using them, of course.) But the fact remains:

I do not think of things like this without the aid of medicine, or while I am well. It’s a bit frightening, since it seemed such a normal joke idea when I typed it….

It is also possible that I am spending way too much time surfing blogs about Catholicism. 🙂


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The Midwife Who Defied Mengele

I’d never heard this incredible story from the women’s side of Auschwitz before. Truly a story of courage. Via Mark Shea.

(Unfortunately, you also learn stuff about Auschwitz that’s worse than I’d ever heard before. Seriously, very sad stuff, since babies are involved.)


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Survived Work Again Today

Last night, I slept like a log. Not as propped up of a log as I should have been, but good enough that I didn’t get too much gunk going down the pipes. My sore throat came back with a vengeance, thanks to the gunk that did drop in, but it was a different sore throat. (The croaky stiff kind, not the stabbing painful kind.)

I thought I had woken up at 7 when I really woke up at 8. Fortunately, I figured that out before I had to be at work at 8:30. 🙂

I’ve been drinking grapefruit juice the last couple days. I have to cut it with a lot of water, but at least I can taste it. The brand I’ve been drinking has a cap that actually is shaped like a little orange section (or ruby red grapefruit, in this case). I don’t know why I find that so charming, but it just is. 🙂

Tonight for dinner, I had one of those steamed bags of vegetables with a pack of tuna stirred in. It tasted pretty good on my plate, although I think that if I’d added rice, the flavors would have balanced better.

I got a lot done at work, mostly by listening to audiobooks while I worked. It’s usually audiobooks or podcasts, with the odd helping of music or the local classical station. I don’t know why I don’t listen to as much music anymore. It’s not that I don’t like music. Possibly I bought too many angsty albums when I was an angsty young person, or possibly I just am too easily depressed when I can’t refrain from analyzing some love song which doesn’t bear too much examination. Possibly it’s because I get into music more, and hence can’t focus on both work and music. Shrug.

Anyway, I ended up listening to this urban fantasy I bought off Audible for cheap last month. Urban Shaman by C.E. Murphy is pretty good so far. I had a lot of trouble with the first 45 minutes or so, which was entertaining and fast-paced but read way too slow by the reader, IMHO. I can’t stand suspense getting stretched out, so that annoyed me. Then there was a description of a church building which made no sense in terms of current denominational trends, and which I’m expecting will later be explained by fantasy world events. (But all the same!) Then, there was a bit of Celtic mythology historical info that I figured was false (no, Gaulish Celtic gods are not Irish Celtic gods, and although it’s likely there’s some relation we don’t know enough about it — certainly no reputable anthropologist would make declarations like the character did!), so that annoyed me. But apparently the annoying bits stopped after about an hour in, and they haven’t returned. (One new annoying bit, but it’s not a mistake so much as an authorial choice I don’t like.)

But here’s the thing. At one point, for no particular reason, the heroine is feeling troubled and decides that, although not Catholic, she’d like to go to Confession. The priest ends up sharing his depressed mood and his reasons for it with her, which ends up being an interesting way of exposition of story current events. But sheesh, is this what people expect to happen in Seattle? And why didn’t the priest stop her and get to the Confession bit? Especially since her words indicated that she might be going into danger?

And why doesn’t anybody in a book ever decide to seek out…. Well, okay, we Catholics know why everybody shows up at the Catholic church. 🙂 But seriously, why don’t we ever have somebody in a book figure that, since they’re having, say, giant snake problems, they should consult the people at the local snake handling denomination? That would be awesome, you’ve got to admit. Very pedal to the metal. But no, it’s always “local tradition of the foreign country”, “random local neo-pagans”, or the Catholic Church. I guess that’s the Rolodex for writers. 🙂

I have to say that my favorite part of the book is that the author “hangs a lantern” on nearly every bizarre thing she wants to do. If she wants her Cherokee character to start seeing Coyote a lot, said Cherokee character first will complain about how Coyote isn’t part of Cherokee belief. (Of course, it would have been cooler to spend more time on Cherokee stuff and let Coyote sit and spin, or at least have Raven get a look in since the book is set in the Pacific Northwest. But I’m okay with mix and match myths, as long as everyone involved knows that’s what it is.)

However, the reincarnation thing is going to get annoying. It pretty much always is annoying in stories (at least Western ones), and it’s twice as annoying when the writer is pretending first to treat various mythos equally. As soon as you say that everybody is reincarnated lots and lots, and have in-story proofs of this, you’re definitively saying that in your story universe, Christianity and Judaism are wrong and a total waste of time, to boot. So the author lost a lot of my interest right there. At the moment it’s only a minor piece of worldbuilding, but I think it’s going to get important to the story; so that’s twice as annoying.

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that I stopped listening to the book soon afterwards and didn’t resume for the rest of the workday. I probably will resume listening tomorrow, but only for the comic relief.

I do have to sing the praises of Adult Robitussin DM Max. It has twice as much guaifenesin as the regular kind, and thus actually does the job of degunking very well. Of course, I have to supplement that with some kind of decongestant (and yesterday, with some pain reliever, though not so often today). But I’m okay with that.

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