I love his more ordinary works like “Norwegian Wood” and “Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage,” but I also enjoy his more out of this world novels, like “1Q84” and “Kafka on the Shore.”
“The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle,” with its abundance of surreal and supernatural elements, belongs firmly in this second category.
Toru Okada, the story’s protagonist, is recognizable as one of Murakami’s everyman leads—an unremarkable, ordinary man who is totally lost in life. When Okada’s wife leaves and refuses to speak with him, he is jolted out of his once uneventful existence.
Okada’s attempts at understanding why his wife left him and his eventual attempt at getting her back lead to his meeting a bizarre bunch of people, each of them too enigmatic to summarize in this review. He also ends up going on bizarre adventures, from the bottom of his neighbor’s well to the netherworld that lies beyond ordinary Tokyo.
Much of this novel does not make sense, but that’s part of the Murakami reading experience. Veteran Murakami readers know to expect a story where the journey is more important than the destination, where there are more loose ends at the end than the beginning.
That’s what I love the most about “The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle” and Murakami’s other works. Reading them transports me to a dream world of observation and introspection, and this transfer from reality to a fictional world is crucial to me, as a fiction reader.
Murakami once again explores the familiar themes of loneliness, alienation, and search for identity. It’s nice to read about characters to whose experiences and feelings I can relate to. Life, more often than not, is nonsensical and unexpected. Murakami captures this bizarre nature beautifully in “The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle.”
Listening to Korean pop music is one of my guilty pleasures. My early favorites include Girl’s Generation and f(x). Then, I became a huge fan of Davichi, Akdong Musician, and IU. Over the years, I’ve developed a taste for certain types of K-pop music, so I now focus more on individual songs I like rather than specific artists.
I’ve also fallen in love with Korean indie music.
This is probably a side effect of my frequent reading and writing at coffee shops like Starbucks and Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf. Speaking of which, a CBTL branch recently opened a block a way from where I live—and that’s the most amazing thing ever!
Listening to K-indie songs also relax me and lift my spirits at the end of a long day. Here are some of my favorites. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!
Vanilla Acoustic – Cookie, Coffee
Urban Zakapa – Cafe Latte
Raspberry Field – Have You Seen?
Lucille Toki – Rainy Day
Milk Tea – Mr. Chocolate, Ms. Orange
Clover – One Wave
Coffee Boy – That’s Nothing
I can imagine all of these songs playing on my dream coffee shop playlist. How about you?
Featured image caption: K-indie group Vanilla Accoustic
I’ll admit, I failed to reach my reading goals in 2015 and 2016. I do love reading fantasy though, and the intention to read more is there. Now, here I am making a reading commitment once more.
This 2017, I’m going to be realistic and aim to read 12 fantasy reads. I’m a slow reader who enjoys pausing in between passages I find magical and meaningful. I also have other time consuming hobbies including playing board games and video games.
I have stacks of fantasy books on my to-read list including The Kingkiller Chronicles by Patrick Rothfuss. Enjoy my first Flights of Fantasy read for 2017, Rothfuss’s “The Name of the Wind.”
Who is Kvothe and how did he become the most notorious wizard of all time? Is he a hero or a villain? Dead or alive? Everyone knows the stories, but nobody knows the truth. Nobody but Kvothe, now hiding in the small town of Newarre, while trying to live inconspicuously as a bed and breakfast owner named Kote.
He seems content with his new peaceful life, but trouble is brewing all around him. Demon attacks are growing rampant. The war—which he may have directly caused—continues to ravage the land. How long can this exceptional swordsman, wizard, and musician remain anonymous? Not much longer if his companion Bast has his way.
Bast is Kvothe’s assistant. He is also a demon, a prince of the Fae who is hell bent on restoring his master to his former heroic self.
Fortunately, Kvothe stumbles upon and saves Chronicler, a famous traveling scribe, from a couple of demon spiderlings. Chronicler has traveled far and wide in search of Kvothe, so he could record and publish the wizard’s life story.
“The best lies about me are the ones I told.” – Kvothe
As the scribe records Kvothe’s story, Bast works behind the scenes to rekindle the fire that once made Kvothe so great.
The Name of the Wind is the first book in The Kingkiller Chronicles by Patrick Rothfuss. It follows a twofold narrative structure, featuring a third-person narrator narrating the present, and Kvothe talking about his past.
This fantasy novel is many things. It’s a school story set in The University where Kvothe and his companions study magic. It’s a love story between Kvothe and Denna, an irresistibly attractive woman with wealthy suitors lining up to court her.
The Name of the Wind is a story and poem entwined. Kvothe, exceptionally skilled in music and theater, is a former member of the traveling troupe Edema Ruh. Music plays a major role throughout the story. It also helps Kvothe, mired in poverty, earn some badly needed money.
“Music is a proud, temperamental mistress. Give her the time and attention she deserves, and she is yours. Slight her and there will come a day when you call and she will not answer. So I began sleeping less to give her the time she needed.” – Kvothe
The entire troupe—including his parents—were killed by The Chandrian, a group of seven being commonly regarded as mythical characters steeped in folklore and superstition. Kvothe has been struggling to survive on his own ever since. He’s also been seeking revenge against the Chandrian.
Learning more about his parent’s killers and a means to destroy them is the main reason he enrolls in the University.
“Someone’s parents have been singing entirely the wrong sort of songs.” – Haliax, leader of the Chandrian
I loved reading The Name of the Wind. I find the novel well written. It’s a pleasure to read Patrick Rothfuss’s lyrical prose. Sections of poetry and music that I would normally find distracting, even boring, were beautifully interwoven with the main narrative.
The tension between Kvothe’s being skilled in music and wizardry versus his being poor and unlucky, keeps the story constantly fresh. The way he is forced to face the realities of life is visceral and down to earth.
“My parents danced together, her head on his chest. Both had their eyes closed. They seemed so perfectly content. If you can find someone like that, someone who you can hold and close your eyes to the world with, then you’re lucky. Even if it only lasts for a minute or a day. The image of them gently swaying to the music is how I picture love in my mind even after all these years.” – Kvothe
The first novel is essentially a very long prologue. It leaves many questions unanswered: How did Kvothe get expelled from the University? Did he get his revenge on the Chandrian? How did he end up a fake small town bed and breakfast owner? Who is Bast, really?
If you have Googled a board game—any board game—for research purposes and whatnot, you have likely visited the Board Game Geek website. BGG is the number one resource for all things board games on the Internet today. From gamer-made rules summaries, to advice on card sleeve brands and sizes, to foam core insert schematics, they have got you covered.
Yearly, BGG holds a Secret Santa event, where thousands of board gamers from around the world exchange gifts. Board game gifts, of course!
Mechanics are simple:
Register for the event
Choose countries you are willing to ship gifts to
Receive a target board gamer from one of the countries you have chosen
Ship your target one or more board games from his or her wishlist (here is a sample BGG wishlist)
The total cost of the game/s you send (including shipping) must be at least USD 50.
It was the tail end of a Friday board game night at Bubble Bee Tea Tea House. We were packing up our last board game (I can’t remember its name, but it was a Japanese-themed game of bluffing and assassination), when we began talking about television series.
Dan Harmon was mentioned, followed by Community, a television show he created and produced. The show had an amazing ‘Advanced Dungeons and Dragons’ episode that everyone in the group had watched and loved. Everyone except me.
I felt so left out, that I immediately Googled the show upon getting home that night. Fast forward a month or so later: and I’m now enjoying Season 2 of Community. It’s one of the funniest television series I’ve ever watched. Thank you, board game friends!
Community is an American sitcom about a group of students and teachers enrolled in Greendale Community College. The show is inspired by Harmon’s own experiences as a community college student. It frequently parodies move and TV tropes and clichés, by making use of meta-humor ad pop culture references.
Central characters include Jeff Winger (Joel McHale), a sarcastic, manipulative, and self-confident former lawyer booted from his law firm for having a fake bachelor’s degree; Britta Perry (Gillian Jacobs), a high school dropout and self-proclaimed anarchist, atheist, and activist who often comes across as hypocritical and pretentious.
There’s also Abed Nadir (Danny Pudi), a socially-awkward film student with uncanny knowledge of movies and TV series; and Annie Edison (Alison Brie), a compulsively overachieving former Adderall addict who was unpopular in high school, but is actually seen as extremely attractive and intelligent.
And that’s not even half the band of misfits in Community‘s ensemble cast of characters.
I love Community! Watching the show makes me wish I studied in community college back in the day. I think Jeff Winger and his group are the best. I like how they are all odd and awkward in their own ways because these quirks are what make them so amazing.
Among the characters, I connect with Annie the most. Like her, I am an overachiever. In my case, it’s because I didn’t apply myself back in my elementary and high school years, leading to poor grades and summer school.
Back in college, I’d join so many organizations, participate in one extracurricular activity after the next, run for class president and student council, and volunteer to be group leader whenever I got the chance—while studying my ass off in the pursuit of academic excellence.
I never did get those A’s. But B’s are definitely much better than F’s!
I obsess over things I am passionate about to the point of being-off putting especially to non-geeks/nerds and people who don’t know me well. And I can be passionate about a lot of things, often simultaneously.
It’s this connection I—and many others—have with the show that allowed it to run for six seasons despite its low viewership. News is Netflix is producing a Community feature film, which will allow Dan Harmon to give his beloved TV series an epic end.
I loved season 1 of Community and I’m loving season 2 even more. The show’s meta-humor and endless stream of pop culture references is a joy to watch, and I’m looking forward to more.
I have not watched Fargo, the 1996 Academy Award-winning film, but I had some inkling into its narrative and theme. My interest in dark-crime murder-mystery shows interested me enough to give the television series a try.
Fargo the TV series premiered on FX in April 2014. Season one starred Billy Bob Thornton as Lorne Malvo, a gun-for-hire to is forced to visit the hospital in Bemidji Minnesota after hurting himself in a car accident. There, he meets insurance salesman Lester Nygaard, played by Martin Freeman, who was injured during an encounter with a childhood bully.
Malvo manipulates Nygaard into commissioning Malvo to murder this bully. So begins a series of murders in the small town of Bemidji.
Hot on the case are young police officers Molly Solverson (Allison Tolman) and Gus Grimly (Colin Hanks). As Solverson and Grimly pursue their separate investigations into the murders, the more Malvo and Nygaard are implicated in them.
I love season one of Fargo so much, it’s among the top five TV shows I watched in 2016. The show was really intense. The odds were stacked so high against Solverson and Grimly it seemed there was no way they could beat Malvo and Nygaard. It often felt like the conflict between Malvo and Nygaard took center stage, and the cops were just flies for the swatting.
There’s also the story of supermarket king Starvos Milos, who hires Malvo to track down who’s blackmailing him. Then, there’s Chaz Nygaard, Lester’s brother. And also Mr. Numbers and Mr. Wrench, whom I thought could take Malvo down.
There are so many pieces moving in this crime-drama. That all the characters were essential to the story and all the stories were told in just ten episodes shows how Fargo season one is a narrative masterpiece. It also helped that all the actors were marvelous.
The first season of Fargo is an intelligent TV show filled rich in story and dark-humor. I am overwhelmingly looking forward to watching season two.