In which I make random observations about random stuff. Randomly.
SILENCE! THIS IS A LIBERRY! Not exactly news, but if you haven’t paid a visit to your local library recently, you should. Cheapskate me dropped by this weekend, looking for an access code to our state’s online library for free e-books, and I was very impressed by the resources available from our county’s library alone, both print and electronic. They’ve wired the whole process of locating and borrowing material across all their member libraries, and yes, there’s an app for that. I gave the system a test run by borrowing an e-copy of Michael Chabon’s The Yiddish Policemen’s Union, which I am enjoying very much. I foresee even more reading in my future.
Bibliophobia: Fear of books. Might explain my novels’ sales figures. Or not.
Extra omnes! Whether Catholic or not, folks curious about the inner workings of the 2013 Papal Conclave that elevated Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio to the Chair of Peter might find Praying in Rome, a concise, accessible account by U.S. Cardinal Timothy Dolan, enlightening. The affable Cardinal Dolan relates his experience of the Conclave, his first, with a light touch and good humor, concluding with his personal perspective on Pope Francis.
When Life Gives You Frozen Concentrate, Make Lemonade: In the midst of the recent polar wave that locked most of the continental U.S. in the deep freeze for a week or so, one enterprising young mother saw an opportunity to create some beauty and bring a little wonder into her child’s life. Brilliant! The rest of us were either huddling under blankets indoors or par-boiling ourselves by tossing pans of hot water into the wind to see if we could make our own snow. Not so brilliant.
Cryophobia: Fear of extreme cold, ice, or frost. Not fear of tears, nor fear of Tears for Fears.
A Samurai in Name Only: Unemployed ronin Akitsu Masanosuke is an ace with the sword, but he has a debilitating social handicap that keeps him from finding and holding steady work. He’s close to starving when a stranger happens by and offers him both a meal and a job. Before he knows it, Akitsu has fallen in with “The Five Leaves,” a band of shady entrepreneurs who specialize in kidnapping the family members of mean rich people and giving the proceeds to…well, they mostly keep the ransom money, but there’s a lot more to them than meets the eye, and everyone, especially their leader, has a story to tell and a secret to hide. Akitsu is caught between his samurai code of honor and keeping faith with this new and very odd family he’s found, but they might be precisely what he needs to straighten out his life. House of Five Leaves is a gentle, absorbing tale with intriguing characters and a beautiful setting in Japan’s feudal age. All 12 episodes of the anime are available for free streaming at Crunchyroll.com. Subtitled.
Scopophobia: Pathological fear of drawing attention to oneself. Akitsu Masanosuke’s problem.