Domain of Literature: Song

Credits to Kathleen Tyler Conklin on Flickr.  Link to her work down below.
Credits to Kathleen Tyler Conklin on Flickr. Link to her work down below.

Literature, by its loosest definition, is any written work, which surprisingly includes songs.  If you’d told me this a few years ago, I would be surprised to hear that songs are worth anything at all, as I went through a very critical phase of detesting pop music, which consists of all song except for dubstep, and was stubbornly fixed on only listening to instrumental classical music.  However, my appreciation of song has grown as a result of listening to songs that are not pop and acknowledging that some pop songs are really catchy.

Sometimes songs are an integral part of a work, like a musical.  Other times, it is but a small component of a work, like in The Great Gatsby. Continue reading


Something There

Credits to Spreng Ben on Flickr.

If I received a penny for every time someone has asked me to fetch “something”, I would have a small fortune.  Something can be anything, and that’s the some of the literary gold in The Great Gatsby.  At the end of Chapter 6, there’s a flashback to Gatsby’s past, detailing an intimate rendezvous five years ago.  Young Gatsby takes a moonlight stroll with Daisy Fay, and in the emotionally charged night, kisses Daisy.  Nick says that he is “. . . reminded of something-an elusive rhythm, a fragment of lost words, that I had heard somewhere a long time ago.” Continue reading

Question Everything

credits to Ian Burt on Flickr
credits to Ian Burt on Flickr

“You start a question, and it’s like starting a stone. You sit quietly on top of a hill, and away the stone goes, starting others.” -Robert Louis Stevenson, Strange Cases of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

A question is a conversation starter. Questions are what allow a statement to expand. And the beauty of questions is all in the response. If I ask “How are you?”, you can reply with a simple “fine”, or you can reply with how you’re actually doing. “I’m doing pretty well and all, what with having to live through the complexities of the human condition.” Okay, maybe you wouldn’t say that. But there’s a lot of things you could say. You could tell me that your mood is “irritable because I spent all night studying for a test that was postponed until tomorrow” or “ecstatic because I didn’t study at all for the test today and it was postponed until tomorrow.” The best questions are the open ended ones, ones that allow you to ask another question, and another after that.

Asking questions while you’re reading is one of the most effect way to dissect the text.  There’s always something specific or unusual that stands out, like a reoccurring motif or an odd choice of wording.  Heck, you might even drive yourself crazy over the punctuation.  We did an activity in English where we had to generate questions in groups about The Great Gatsby.  I was really surprised at all the things I missed while I was reading.  When I revisited the reading, I noticed some pretty clever incidents of foreshadowing and I was able to trace how the tone of the narrator changed in different situations.  My group even started obsessing over the tiniest details – we decided to sticky-note every mention of trees or leaves in the book, just in case it had any significance.

Another thing about raising questions is it helps determine how much significance you want to assign something.  Let’s face it, you could pose a question about every sentence in The Great Gatsby, and you’d never get all the answers.  But asking questions in the first place is what gives you the opportunity to make discoveries, like the parallelism between two scenes or instances in character development.  Questioning is what makes us more active readers; it allows us to have a relationship with the text, and it’s one of the best ways to connect with the words placed in front of us.

Questionably yours,

the Mad Hatter

List-en Up



Credits to Betsy Weber on Flickr

Isn’t it weird how once we enter a new year the first thing we do is make a to-do list? That’s pretty much what new year’s resolutions are. A list of things that we hope to accomplish in the upcoming year. And if you think about it, our lives are driven by lists. From the to-do lists we make in our heads to the “Best of 2014” lists littering the internet.

Why are lists so important? They force us to categorize – to prioritize. With the idea of a list comes the idea that there is a set order to how things are supposed to be (with numbered lists anyway). A typical to-do list is made in chronological order and order of importance; a list of top-ten movies takes a lot of things into account, from how much they made at the box office to audience ratings.

We did an activity in English class where we had to make three top ten lists about anything we wanted. That’s when I realized how hard it was – choosing a topic was fine, but deciding which items made the cut was more challenging. So, doing what I always do in the face of adversity, I turned to food.


Top Ten Ice Cream Flavors
10. Strawberry

It’s considered one of the “classic” flavors, but it’s not really in the same class as chocolate and vanilla, unless of course, you’re talking about Neapolitan.  If you really want a fruit-based frozen dessert, I would recommend mango sorbet or frozen yogurt.
9. Rainbow Sorbet

Okay, so sorbet isn’t technically ice cream, but I firmly believe that if food can be made rainbow colored, it should be done.  Except meat.  Please do not do that with meat.
8. Cherry Garcia

So I have no memory of every eating Cherry Garcia, but it sounds really classy and refined and also Ben and Jerry’s makes it, so there has to be something good about it.
7. Neapolitan

The perfect ice cream for those who are indecisive.  Or maybe even the best of three worlds.
5. Chocolate

Chocolate is the obvious choice for those with an unsatisfied sweet tooth.  Chocolate will never disappoint you.  Probably.
4. Cookie Dough

Those funny little chunks aren’t real cookie dough, but they still taste so good mixed with that vanilla ice cream.  Come on, it’s like toppings built right in!
3. Vanilla

Everyone loves vanilla.  It’s really good soft-served or slow-churned.  And it’s the basic staple for any ice cream creation.
2. Cookies and Cream

This just tastes so good.  Cookies and ice cream?  Yes, please.  In the perfect ice cream to cookie ration no less.  And much easier that smashing your own Oreos and having to sprinkle them on top.  Although that sounds pretty good too.
1. Mint Chocolate Chip

This one is my completely biased, absolute favorite.  There’s something about the minty taste blended with the taste of semi-dark chocolate chips that I could eat forever.  And the color is so pretty.  Green ice cream, who knew?  Oh yeah, I forgot this one, but shout out to pistachio ice cream.  What even are you?

Another weird thing about lists is that they can be super general or painstakingly specific.  The one category that really gets me is “The Best ____ of All Time” because not only is it impossible to consider all the movies, books, whatever from the beginning of recorded history; saying “all time” kind of implies that you’re talking about the entire expanse of time – past, present, and future.  As in, you’re judging these things to be superior to everything that has previously existed and everything that will ever exist.  That’s a bit of a tall order.  On the other hand, making your list specific narrows your sample size and therefore makes ranking easier and with less deviation.  If you’re judging music from one year or even one month, it’s likely the songs will generally be in similar genres or produced by current musicians.  It’s a lot harder to compare the Beatles to One Direction because you’re not only dealing with two different styles of music, but two completely different intended audiences.

My Personal Favorite Movies of 2014

The Book of Life, Divergent, The Lego Movie, Captain America, The Fault in Our Stars, Maleficent, The Amazing Spider Man 2, How to Train Your Dragon 2, Big Hero 6

10. The Fault in Our Stars

This is more of an honorable mention because John Green is one of my favorite authors and I have read all of his books except The Fault in Our Stars (you know, because of saving it, and also because I have no time in my life right now to shut out the world and cry for days).  Disclaimer: I haven’t seen Mockingjay and The Theory of Everything, though they both look really good and I probably will see these eventually.  They probably would have made the list otherwise.

9. Guardians of the Galaxy

Okay, people are gonna hate me for this, but I didn’t really like Guardians of the Galaxy as much as I thought I would.  There were definitely funny moments, actually, there were constantly funny movements, but I felt I was too distracted by the humor to actually focus on the plot.

8.  Captain America: The Winter Soldier

I saw this earlier in the year and I don’t fully remember it all too clearly.  But Chris Evans and Scarlett Johansson.  Enough said.

7.  The Amazing Spider Man 2

I really liked the villain in this movie, and obviously, I really liked the hero in this movie.  And I also liked all the side characters.  I liked everyone, okay?

6.  The Book of Life

Maria is an absolutely perfect Latina, feminist, freakishly accomplished female protagonist.  The movie takes you from the Land of the Living, the Land of the Remembered, and the Land of the Forgotten, but I don’t think I’ll be forgetting it anytime soon.

5.  Maleficent

I always love when movies do the role-reversal from a different perspective thing.  And who could pull it off any better than Angelina Jolie?

4. Divergent

As the first installment in the Divergent trilogy movie adaptation, I have to say I’m excited.  The characters weren’t exactly how I pictured them and there were parts of the movie that deviated from the book, but I think the movie stayed true to the Divergent spirit.

3.  The Lego Movie

The character development and world-building (pun intended) in The Lego Movie was amazing.  And I have to say that Unicorn Kitty is my favorite.

2. How to Train Your Dragon 2

I’d have to say this is actually tied with Big Hero 6; it’s just that I saw Big Hero 6 more recently, so it’s fresher in my memory.  But I clearly remember how good How to Train Your Dragon 2 was.  It taught me the meaning of compassion and determination, and the animation was absolutely breathtaking.

1. Big Hero 6

How can you not love Big Hero 6?  How can you not cry during Big Hero 6?  It just takes all your emotions and puts them on a spin cycle, not the one meant for your delicates.  Oh well, you can pick up your feels at the end of the movie.

After making just two of these lists, I feel like I’ve really learned more about myself and also the role that lists play in our culture that is so determined to have everything fall into neat little categories.  Lists define our likes and interests.  They help us organize all the little parts of us swirling around in our heads.  And in the end, I think we all just need a place to store the madness so it makes a little bit more sense.

Just a little less mad,

the Mad Hatter


So as March Hare posted about her top-10 lists for 2014, I wanted to post my top-10 list for 2015. Without further ado, here is my number one top-ten list to be completed by December 31, 2015.

Hardcover book gutter and pages

© Horia Varlan on Flickr


1/ A Song of Ice and Fire series by George R.R. Martin (currently on book one ^_^) – a story about characters from different families’ struggle for one single throne.

2/ A Heartbreaking Work of a Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers – a memoir of a student who loses his parents to cancer within a short amount of time and is left alone to take care of his eight-year-old brother.

3/ Lolita by Vladimir Nakobov – “Humbert Humbert – scholar, aesthete and romantic – has fallen completely and utterly in love with Lolita Haze, his landlady’s gum-snapping, silky skinned twelve-year-old daughter. Reluctantly agreeing to marry Mrs Haze just to be close to Lolita, Humbert suffers greatly in the pursuit of romance; but when Lo herself starts looking for attention elsewhere, he will carry her off on a desperate cross-country misadventure, all in the name of Love. Hilarious, flamboyant, heart-breaking and full of ingenious word play, Lolita is an immaculate, unforgettable masterpiece of obsession, delusion and lust.”

4/ The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry – “With a timeless charm [the book] tells the story of a little boy who leaves the safety of his own tiny planet to travel the universe, learning the vagaries of adult behaviour through a series of extraordinary encounters. His personal odyssey culminates in a voyage to Earth and further adventures.”

5/ Life After Life by Kate Atkinson – “On a cold and snowy night in 1910, Ursula Todd is born, the third child of a wealthy English banker and his wife. Sadly, she dies before she can draw her first breath. On that same cold and snowy night, Ursula Todd is born, lets out a lusty wail, and embarks upon a life that will be, to say the least, unusual. For as she grows, she also dies, repeatedly, in any number of ways. Clearly history (and Kate Atkinson) have plans for her: In Ursula rests nothing less than the fate of civilization.”

6/ Ready Player One by Ernest Cline – Set in the year 2044, Wade Watts, who prefers living in the virtual world OASIS, dreams of finding the treasure that OASIS’s creature had hid in the virtual world. When he finds the first puzzle, he is up in a competition against players who would to anything to get the prize.

7/ And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie – “Ten strangers, each with a dark secret, are lured to a mansion on an unhabited island and are killed off one by one.”

8/ Rosemary’s Baby by Ira Levin – “Rosemary and Guy Woodhouse, an ordinary young couple, settle into a New York City apartment, unaware that the elderly neighbors and their bizarre group of friends have taken a disturbing interest in them. But by the time Rosemary discovers the horrifying truth, it may be far too late!”

9/ Evil and the Mask by Fuminori Nakamura – “When Fumihiro Kuki is eleven years old, his elderly, enigmatic father calls him into his study for a meeting. ‘I created you to be a cancer on the world,’ his father tells him. It is a tradition in their wealthy family: a patriarch, when reaching the end of his life, will beget one last child to cause misery in a world that cannot be controlled or saved. From this point on, Fumihiro will be specially educated to learn to create as much destruction and unhappiness in the world around him as a single person can. Between his education in hedonism and his family’s resources, Fumihiro’s life is one without repercussions. Every door is open to him, for he need obey no laws and may live out any fantasy he might have, no matter how many people are hurt in the process. But as his education progresses, Fumihiro begins to question his father’s mandate, and starts to resist.”

10/ The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman – “ After the grisly murder of his entire family, a toddler wanders into a graveyard where the ghosts and other supernatural residents agree to raise him as one of their own.”

*Book synopses in quotes are from

– Duchess

New Years Countdown

This Youtube video was taken by 陳志通.  Just a little fun fact, Taipei 101 is the world’s tallest GREEN building and the world’s 6th tallest building overall.  After this display of about 7,626kg worth of fireworks, Taipei 101 will turn off all its external lights from January 5th to 12th.

In my last blog post, I discuss whether or not technology and all its’ advances are a help or hindrance, or even both to society and urged everyone to evaluate aspects of their lives.  Well, I’m going to look back on my 2014 and make three lists of varying topics of top 10’s that I want to share. Continue reading

March Hare’s Pix

Like I always say, there is no better time the present.  After all, when there’s always a merry, merry tea party happening every moment of the day, why wouldn’t you?  However, I’d like to take a moment to look 2014 in retrospect.

A common question I received last year was, “How can I become a fabulous tea party host like you, Hare?”  Fear not, young grasshoppers, I will indulge you all with a small, crucial trick of the trade: shopping lists.  They let me trap my ever-wandering thoughts into a compact space and really keep everything in order.  Also, I naturally don’t have all the time in the world to buy everything because the laws of nature dictate a never-ending tea party, so I can allow Dormouse or who ever’s handy to get the groceries and whatnot.  I don’t want to bore you with the mundane, minute details of party planning, but let’s not embed in our minds that lists are boring!  They’re not the best part of a party, but let me list some amazing things that I discovered last year!

Manga  (in no particular order, because it’d be cruel to make me rank them)

1.  Piano no Mori – I found and fell in love with this manga last year.  It has a sad quality to it, but it really catches your attention.

2.  La Corda D’Oro – I felt like the story itself wasn’t that great, but the myriad of pleasant pieces featured made it memorable.

3.  Real Clothes – It’s a very slow manga, but very realistic.  It updates regularly, which is definitely awesome because two year waits kill me.

4.  Rose of Versailles – A classic, historical manga that is set in one of the most fascinating stages of European history, the French Revolution.  It’s pretty accurate, aside from some of the characters, who are fictional.  I don’t think I learned much new information, but it was an entertaining read, serious with bits of humor mixed in.

Taken by Chris Goldberg.
Taken by Chris Goldberg.  The manga focuses on the life of Marie Antoinette after she moved to France to marry King Louis XVII.  

5.  A Simple Thinking About Blood Type – I’m not really sure if this qualifies as a manga, but the illustrations are cute.  It goes over the stereotypes in Korea about the different blood types.

6.  Naruto – The ending really got me in the feels.  It is very, very, very long, so it’s a real accomplishment if and when you read through the entire manga.  I would recommend spacing out your chapters though, because you don’t want to binge-read and feel like your soul has been sucked out of you the next day.

7.  Orange – There’s an interesting idea that is the driving force of the entire story and all the actions in the story: time travel.  I guess there’s a decent amount of drama, but not to the point where it’s annoying.  It’s slow to update though, so be prepared for agonizing dry spells.

8.  Kare Kano – It starts off light, but ends deep.  I like to read student life mangas a lot, but I feel like the pyschological aspect of Kare Kano is the most prominent feature.

9.  Zekkyou Gakkyuu – The manga is split up into chapters of individual stories for the most part.  The illustrations are adorable, but some of the stories are really frightening.  I guess that’s something to expect from a horror manga.  It gives me the heebie-jeebies.

10.  Gakuen Alice – This manga also ended last year and unlike the way most mangas end, I feel like this ending was very fitting.  It makes a full-circle ending and though I didn’t really expect it to, I think that it makes so much sense considering the story overall.  Also another manga that starts off with light humor and gets more serious as the volumes go by.

Places I’d Like to Visit

1.  Amsterdam, Netherlands – On top of being a beautiful city, Amsterdam is extremely bike oriented, which appeals to me because I like biking; I find it very calming.  I think it’s the spinning noise a bikes makes.  Anyway, since there are so many people biking, I’m guessing it’d be safer to bike around?  I don’t know, so I want to find out!  Also, I’d want to check out Amsterdam’s way-cool tulip gardens because Amsterdam is basically tulip capital of the world.

2.  Woodburn, Oregon, United States – A tulip festival is held here.  Enough said.

Taken by Donna S, Link to page down below.
Taken by Donna S, Link to page down below.

3.  New York City, New York, United States – I think it’s the suburban part of me that wistfully wishes to get out of “the sticks” (the suburbs aren’t really that rural) and into a sparkling, big city.  Forget about visiting New York city; I want to live there.

4.  Istanbul, Turkey – I think it’d be fun to admire the history of the city, it being the former capital of the Byzantine Empire and all.  The United States is a great place and chocked with loads of historical sites as well, but everything is kind of new on a world scale, approximately 200 years old.

5.  Vatican City – The Pope’s HQ would be fun to check out.

6.  Washington D.C., United States – Preferably spring time though, because white buildings and cherry blossoms go hand in hand like apples and peanut butter.

7.  Denver, United States – I feel like I breathe easier up in the mountains, which is a good thing.  The natural scenery surrounding Denver is a nice contrast to the city.

8.  Vietnam – I didn’t specify a city because I just want to go there and tour the whole country.  I already know how to speak Vietnamese, so it’d be easier to travel.  Plus, the jungles of Vietnam have this whole untouched-by-mankind kind of feel going on.

9.  Grand Canyon, United States – I’ve never been to the Grand Canyon before, surprisingly.  Rock formations are cool.  So speaking of rock formations. . .

10.  Easter Island – I think the statues are a nice addition to the already picturesque island.

Hare’s Goals for Last Year

1.  Read more books – I would say this goal was achieved to some extent.  I wasn’t reading many classics, but I read a lot in general: newspapers, magazines, and lots of manga.

2.  Relax – Kind of accomplished?  I had some days where I did almost nothing spaced between days I was drowning in work.

3.  Study better – I’ve got to say, an efficient schedule goes a long way.  I’ve gotten better, but I’m not at the level I want to be at yet.  A work in progress.

4.  Eat right – Haha I’m pretty guilty of not abiding by this goal.  I think I did well the first 11 months or so, but December was horrible.  I’m mostly trying to cut out the excessive sugar in life like soft drinks, candy and what not, but mostly the soft drinks.

5.  Stop procrastinating – This kind of goes along with goal #3, but I feel like last year, it got so bad that it needed its own space.  Junior year I’m getting my work done much faster, but I still feel like I’m missing things and doing enough sometimes.

6.  Drink more water – I tend to forget a lot, so mission failed (miserably).

Taken by Bart (from Flickr).
Taken by Cayusa.

7.  Be more organized – On a scale from one to ten, I’d say I get a solid 6/10 on organization.  It’s just how everything starts to unravel after I just finished neatening up places that holds me back.  Definitely something I need to do more of this year.

8.  Try new things – I’m always such a chicken, but I think I did take some significant risks last year, from things that I did to things that I said.  Personally, I feel like it’s easier to do things like try new food than to talk to people about topics that make me uncomfortable, so I guess that’s my focus of this goal for this year.

9.   Find something to be excited about – I haven’t found anything yet that really makes me excited about but I’m looking.  I don’t think finding something is going to be easy since its a combination of searching and luck (more on luck, though) but I guess at least I’m trying to be aware of what I do.

10. Be happy – I think I got this nailed down 🙂

Picture Credits:

Holiday Heaviness

tragedyThis quote is by Oscar Wilde.  The picture is by Deviantart user Gothessa.  I edited in the words.  I picked this image and quote for this blog because: are the things we have in the 21st century like cars, televisions, computers, laptops, smartphones, tablets, etc. really all good improvements to society?

So recently, I’ve been reflecting back on life.  Our generation in the 21st century has many blessings, like the internet, computers, smartphones, and all sorts of entertainment.  But wait… Are they really blessings?  Looking back on my life, I find much of it dominated by electronics, whether it be blogging, fandoms, research, learning, communication, school work, school research… woah, like every aspect of my life.  On the other hand, many of my teachers have and are complaining that children are spending too much time on social media and not spending enough time actually learning from textbooks.  After all, textbooks are mostly text.  The internet, well… has a ton of content that appeals visually.  Neurologically, humans register pictures, moving images, and sounds.  Just compare a “boring, dreadful, difficult” textbook with facebook.  Which would society find more interesting?

After that slightly long-winded monologue, I guess what I’m trying to say is, evaluate your life.  The time you spend online, waiting for things to load, stalking people, playing video games, or whatever you do online, and see if you can cut down and divert that time and effort to the people and things that will matter most in your life.  Stop chatting for hours online and meet up with friends and spend time with family in person, if you can.  Two of the biggest reasons, in my current reasoning, being: 1. It is preparation to face people in the “real world.” and 2. You won’t be so distracted while talking to that person.  One-on-one or even group discussions without electronics means that you care enough to divert a block of your own time to spend specifically with them.  Not twenty other chat pop-ups or tabs.  Technology in the 21st century is a blessing, it helps people connect, businesses run on different platforms, things to happen instantaneously, for teachers to correct papers with neat printed fonts, etc., but all this can also be a hindrance, blocking out the things that actually matter in life.

Happy 2015.