Monday, April 23, 2012

A place to call Home

This has been a very eventful, very stressful weekend. I was nearly unable to register for classes because of a miscommunication between my department and the registrar, my mother fell in a sinkhole, most of the property management companies here are not open on weekends, and everything seemed to just fall apart. My mother, an army wife with nearly twenty moves under her belt, said that this was the most difficult time she's ever had trying to find a place to live. We did find a place, however. By the time this is posted it will be Monday, so yesterday afternoon we were driving around on the west end of town. About a mile and a half from my building we discovered an apartment complex and chanced a call. The landlady was shopping and was able to get a call in to a PhD student in Spanish who lives in the complex to see if he'd be okay with a very quick showing. Within an hour we were touring the complex and checking out the room. Thirty minutes later we were filling out a lease agreement and learning that come August we will be living directly across from the PhD student who showed us his apartment. The complex does not allow undergraduate residents, will allow us to have our cat, and gives my partner an extremely good feeling. We have a place. This trip just became so worth it.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Time to live in

I'll be in PhD University Town to find a place to live for the fall this weekend. My mother flew up to help us and so it'll be her and the fiancee's first time visiting where I'll be studying for the PhD.

Here's hoping the weekend goes well.

I promise to get those coin pictures up soon, along with the coins that should be arriving by mail to me this weekend.

Monday, April 16, 2012

What I got at the coin show.

I'll update this with pictures later. This is a quick hit for now.

I got a 1949 Franklin half dollar in fairly good condition. After getting the price marked down for buying it with something else, I paid just over melt value for this one.

I got with it an 1853 silver three cent piece. I've always liked the odd denominations, like half-cents, two cents, three cents, and twenty cents. This is my first time getting one of those odd denominations and I'm very glad that it looks as good as it does.

I got 1980 and 1981 proof sets, finishing off my set of proof sets which include Susan B. Anthony dollars. I love the Susie B. and have just put in an order for one of the 1999 proof coins to round out my proof collection of them.

Lastly, and I think it's probably the neatest purchase of the day, I got a 1988 Royal Mint proof set. From what I've found of sales of the set online I paid a decent price for it. All the online sales I could find were listed in British pounds, around 22-24 pounds, and I paid $24. Not bad.

Now to another day at work. Hopefully I can kick my mind into poetic gear while I'm there.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Surrealism and Coins

Quick post today.

I'm going to a small coin expo today. Hopefully there's someone there to grade coins, because I'm interested in getting my fiancee's Cheerios Dollar and my 1921-D Morgan dollar graded. The Cheerios Dollar is in the original packaging, but I don't know what kind of grade to expect on it. The Morgan looks like it's around AU-55 or so.

Afterwards I'm going to get back to work on writing some surrealist poetry in Spanish for my final project of the semester. I'm using Vicente Aleixandre as my model. That's the idea, anyway. We'll see how it goes.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Super Saiyans, Super Aryans

One of the things I've been doing more and more now that the semester is winding down is pleasure reading. I bought and read the entirety of Kirkman's The Walking Dead last weekend, began reading How Few Remain and Starship Troopers, and recently read what I could find of a manga called The Legend of Koizumi.

The picture accompanying this post, minus the faux-motivational poster touches, is from the manga.

It's one of those uniquely Japanese kinds of stories, like Hetalia: Axis Powers or Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei, in that the premise is rather ridiculous and the execution both revels in and dramatizes the ridiculosity of the situation.

To give enough background to work with, The Legend of Koizumi is a manga in which international disputes are settled by world leaders playing Mahjong. Former Prime Minister of Japan, Junichiro Koizumi, is the hero of the story and he plays against such Mahjong powerhouses as George W. Bush, George H.W. "Papa" Bush, Vladimir Putin, Pope Benedict XVI, and Adolf Hitler.

You might be wondering about the inclusion of Hitler. As it turns out, the Nazis relocated to the Moon after World War II. They established the Fourth Reich and Hitler got to work on improving his Mahjong level. It is during the events of the story that the Fourth Reich determines to invade the Earth, and they set up a Mahjong tournament against the greatest world leaders for this purpose.

The manga had already begun making light references to Dragon Ball Z by this point, including scanners worn over the eye which could determine an individual's Mahjong level, but the third round of the tournament includes a reference that is both a clear and affectionate parody of a major plot element in Dragon Ball Z and also a line of criticism against said element. Hitler, battling against Pope Benedict XVI, transforms into the "Legendary Super Aryan" -- that is, his hair turns gold and stands up on end in a somewhat ridiculous manner.

Compare, if you will, the Super Saiyans Son Goku and Vegeta with the Super Aryans Adolf Hitler and Tristan Goebbels.

There are, of course, obvious similarities between the characters from DBZ and those from The Legend of Koizumi. The hair stands on end, changes to blond, and the transformation grants the commensurate increase in fighting strength.

The Super Aryans are clear enough parodies of the original Super Saiyans. The idea of the Super Aryans is to couple an increase in power with the traits of the Aryan √úbermensch. Putting these traits on the villain allows for the villain to display overwhelming strength gained through persevering against the might of the protagonist, a direct inversion of the formula used in DBZ.

It is very likely that the creators of The Legend of Koizumi wanted to poke fun at the Super Saiyan design. In DBZ, the field of protagonists whittles down to those of Saiyan ancestry, ending each major story arc with a pure-blooded Saiyan responsible for saving the world (or universe). The only time where a protagonist who is not a pure-blooded Saiyan saves the world, it is Gohan, who is half-Saiyan and is only able to do so as a direct result of his father's sacrifice (his father being Son Goku, a pure-blooded Saiyan).

And as the manga and show progress their storylines, the Saiyan protagonists spend more and more time in their Super Saiyan forms. They are more aggressive in this form, more powerful, and importantly, homogenized. No matter their normal eye or hair color, becoming a Super Saiyan means blue-green eyes and blond hair.

That the good guys of the DBZ narrative should be the sort of aggressive, strong, racially pure and homogeneous group that the Nazi party aspired for the people of Germany to be is probably exactly why the concept is mapped back onto the Nazis in The Legend of Koizumi. The idea itself is silly, and the only way to fit the Nazis into the tone of the story is to make them silly by bringing them to equivalence with the Saiyans. I can't rightly say if the Saiyans as they are presented pose a problem with their similarity to certain aspects of Nazi myth and iconography, but I appreciate how The Legend of Koizumi has sparked my mind into thinking about it.

Publishing, Awards, Conferences: The Undergraduate Perspective

I'd like to think that at my current stage in life I'm doing pretty well on the publishing and scholarship front. I haven't published any scholarship yet, but I have presented my translation of an Old English elegy at an undergraduate conference hosted by my university.

I have gotten some creative work published, however. In 2007 I wrote a short essay for a scholarship contest. I didn't win the scholarship, but I did get the essay published. I'm always leery about including that one, though, because I've never been certain how legitimate the company really is.

In 2010 I published three poems in my school's literary journal and one poem in a regional anthology. I also got another essay published (for real published, no potential vanity publishing shenanigans this time) in a journal of undergraduate nonfiction as part of a contest. In a couple of weeks I will be receiving a few copies of this year's edition of my school's literary journal, in which two more of my poems will be appearing.

I'm not doing terribly on the published pieces front, though one of my friends puts my efforts to shame in terms of quality and success in publishing with his poetry. That's why I bounce my ideas off him.

I've also gotten experience on the other side of publishing now. This semester is my second year as Co-Editor for poetry in my school's literary journal. Yes, I'm editor of poetry and I'm getting two poems published. I also completely abstained from voting on the inclusion of my poems and the voting process was blind to authors. I have ethics, which is more than I can say for one of the members of the poetry committee this year.

I also got a job as fiction editor for an online fiction magazine. It's been a real learning experience. I now know how true it is that editors do not have the time to bother with a story they find no interest in after the first paragraph. Indeed, I've gotten to the point where I've stopped feeling bad about it.

As I transition into graduate school, I will have increasing pressure to publish scholarly articles. Hopefully my experiences on both ends of the publishing world will help me navigate that process more easily. Likewise, my minimal conference experience should also be helpful.

Before I finish, I did mention awards in the title of this post and should probably say something about them, too. Receiving an award can feel almost as good as getting published. I don't know how I managed to get selected last semester as my department's Outstanding Graduating Student, but I do know it felt great when I found out.

I don't know if I'll be looking at any awards at the end of this semester. I think I stand a good chance of getting the Outstanding Graduating Student award from the Spanish sub-department this semester, but I'm not counting on it. I'm going to work over an essay I wrote a few years ago and put it out for publication, but again I won't count on success. If either of those do turn out well for me, though, I'll be entering my PhD program on a high note. And that's what I would like to do.

Friday, April 13, 2012

O Canada, with Glow-in-the-Dark Coins...

That right there is the reverse of a new commemorative quarter from the Royal Canadian Mint. The first in a four-coin series, this is the first coin to be minted with glow-in-the-dark technology. In light the coin shows a rendering of Pachyrhinosaurus lakustai. In the dark the dinosaur is viewable as in the image here: a skeleton.

I've been collecting coins for a substantial portion of my life. It's always disappointed me how the United States puts relatively little emphasis on science in its commemorative currency. Explorers are the most commonly celebrated on American coins. The Wright brothers, George Washington Carver, and Thomas Edison, Ben Franklin, and Louis Braille make up almost the entirety of the recognition of scientific achievement in America.

Meanwhile, Canada not only has coins celebrating science like the new quarter. Several issues were made for the 100th anniversary of flight, the Giants of Prehistory series had five $4 coins over four years, each with a different dinosaur, a $5 coin was minted in honor of the first wireless transmission, and the $20 Land, Sea, and Rail Transportation series celebrated innovation in transportation technology. Those only scratch the surface of Canada's celebration of scientific achievement through currency. The $100 banknote in Canada depicts the discovery of insulin.

While a number of Canadian coins commemorate military excursions, the proportion of those coins relative to the total number of Canadian commemorative coins is much smaller than the same proportion among American commemoratives. Over here, we celebrate our military might above all else in our coinage. Canada takes its natural beauty and scientific achievement as the leading inspiration for commemorative coins.

I'm going to have to get these glow-in-the-dark quarters. For the science and the cool factor.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Okay... Is this thing on? An Academic in the making

Hello, nobody. I know nobody is out there right now, but that's okay. I'm going to try to get into this thing for real and actually make posts every few days.

"Why would you do that?" you might ask.

Because at the beginning of this Fall semester I will be a real academic. I am going to begin my PhD program in Literary Studies at an R1 university. So I will be chronicling this transition.

At the moment, I am still an undergraduate, technically. I graduated with BAs in Writing and a degree in Literature at the end of last Fall. I will be graduating again with a BA in Spanish at the end of this semester. After this summer, I'll be taking up the first year of my appointment in my fellowship and getting a start on what I hope to be a great career.

Also happening this Fall? I'm getting married. I've got a lot going on. Hopefully someday there will be somebody reading this, too. With or without you, phantom reader, I'll still be here.

Until next time.