Learning Anime’s Visual Language

As I mentioned in my Wednesday post concerning how grateful I am for Adam & Noah’s influence on me I have begun working my way through the Naruto anime series (this is Noah’s influence).

I haven’t been a huge anime fan in the past though I have watched a few series (for example Noah and I both have enjoyed the Attack on Titan series), I have recently, however, really enjoyed Naruto. One of the things that I have must enjoyed is the different visual language employed in anime.

The spaghetti western stare.

All media employ various visual languages that quickly convey lots of meaning within the context of the media. Certain images and themes help the view to perceive deeper meaning within the genre of media in which they are used. If you are watching a sports movie there is probably going to be a workout montage and you understand that this represents vigorous effort during a passage of time. If you are watching a RomCom you know the subjects are going to breakup and there is going to be some cute action that brings them back together again, you know that this new event will renew and transform their past experience with each other. If you watch a spaghetti western you know there are going to be several long stares before the inevitable gunfight and you understand that this is both opponents struggling with how to respond to the moment. If you are a fan of any of these genres you know what these images and actions are meant to convey, and that understanding improves your experience with the media. Anime comes from an Eastern cultural backdrop and therefore some of visual language is very different than what I am used to experiencing. It took me a little while to get used to and understand why this elements occurred but now I get them a little more.

Here’s an article discussing some of the more common elements of the anime visual language. Some of the ones that stand out to me in Naruto are:

Not Naruto but this is an example of a vein pop.
  • Characters sneezing when someone talks about them in another scene – think of our “were your ears burning”.
  • Veins popping on or near character’s foreheads when they are frustrated or really exerting themselves.
  • Abnormally large sweat or tear drops on or near a character’s head to various emotional elements.
  • Bloody noses to convey excitement (usually sexual excitement – nothing highly inappropriate more like “Hey there is a person I am attracted too” and then a bloody nose appears on the character).
Jiriaya (aka pervy sage) has lots of nose bleeds

Without this understanding certain elements of media can seem very strange, not very enjoyable, and possible absurd. “Why do those big random tear drops keep appearing around the characters?” “Why do those random red hashtag looking things keep on appearing on character’s foreheads?” It can seem strange and meaningless, until you begin to understand them as the emotional shorthand they are meant to be. Then they become quick cues to the inner life of the cartoon character. It has taken me awhile but I cam finally beginning to get them and appreciate them.

Really nothing new here because all our interactions have context within which we understand them. For example, I am presently reading Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s book “Christ the Center” and last night I was struck by this passage (hold with me on this, I know it may be hard):

This is the ultimate deceit and the ultimate power of this Logos. This is what Hegel did in his philosophy. This reaction of the Logos under the attack of the Anti-Logos is no narrow-minded repudiation of the other Logos, as in the Enlightenment, but the great insight into its power of self-negation. Self-negation, however, means self-affirmation. By limiting itself, the Logos reinstates itself in power. Nevertheless, the Logos recognizes the claim of the Anti-Logos. Thus the attempt to attack its ultimate presupposition seems seems to have failed. The Logos has assimilated the Anti-Logos into itself.

But what if the Anti-Logos raises his claim in a completely new form? If he is no longer an idea, but a Word, which challenges the supremacy of the Logos? If he appears at some time and in some place in history as a person? If he declares himself to be a judgement on the human Logos and points to himself: I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life; I am the death of the human Logos; man with his Logos must dies, he falls into my hands; I am the first and the last?

Deitrich Bonhoeffer, Christ the Center, pp. 29-30

When the reader has an understanding of Logos in Greek philosophy and Hegelian dialectic the above two paragraphs are profound (To the point that I got really excited while reading them last night and had a hard time falling asleep while thinking about this section of the book). Without such an understanding those two paragraphs make no sense whatsoever. But within the context Logos appears as a cue to a much longer discussion concerning the center of life and works as shorthand to enable that discussion to fit within these two paragraphs.

Anime’s visual language is doing the same thing for the emotions of its characters and right now I find the different visual cues of anime very interesting.

Self Driving Vehicles are Cool … And They Make me Sad

The new Tesla update with the Smart Summon feature is super cool but it also makes me sad. We are getting closer and closer to truly autonomous driving cars and I believe the roads will be much safer as a result. This videos of people summoning their cars to them are very cool.

Of course, this change will also mean the nature of auto insurance will change. This guy’s tweet using the Summin feature when a fender bender happens hits the nail on the head.

Whose fault is it when an autonomous car has an accident. The auto insurance market is going to change dramatically. I think there is a really good chance that actually driving your own car will be the privilege of the wealthy alone, because no one else will be able afford insurance.

Insurance is a shared pool of risk. It is cheap when the pool of people sharing the risk is large and the risk itself isn’t so great. Fewer people driving their own vehicles will shrink the size of the pool, thus increasing the price, and the risk of a person driven car will be much greater than the risk of a driverless vehicle, thus again increasing the cost. It is a perfect storm to raise auto insurance to astronomical prices or make it where all you can do is “self insure” (i.e. have the funds to pay a $100,000 claim).

I’m excited about self driving vehicles for safety reasons but I’m sadden to think that one day not to far away neither I nor my kids will be able afford to drive the Mustang.

Nice Person Who Isn’t Nice Online

PROLOGUE: Every now and then I want to respond to something but don’t necessarily want anyone I care about to know that I may or may not be responding to them. In such cases I postdate the post so it shows up later. This could be a day or two, or a year after I actually wrote the post. This might be one of those posts. 🙂 If it is one of those posts then it means that if you are one of my friends and you posted a jerky thing on social media this post isn’t about your post today … though it could be about a post you made at another time. 🙂

There are some people that I know and love IRL (In Real Life) that are kind of jerks online. It is really odd. These are people that can say the most positive and caring things when you talk to them in person. They are a pleasure to be around. Yet, for some reason, they are entirely different when they respond on social media. If they are talking with you face to face and can see and read your emotions they great company. They would never say something to tick off, for their own enjoyment, a random stranger they meet in public. They are great company in real life but there is something about the impersonal nature of the internet that brings the jerk out of them. Maybe it does for me too (though I hope not).

John Wooden probably didn’t say this statement – but he said other wonderful thing

I’ve heard John Wooden often cited for saying:

Sports don’t build character; they reveal it.

Though it appears that Wooden is probably not the person who should be credited with originally saying this phrase (HERE’s quoteinvestigator‘s article on the quote) I believe there is a great deal of truth in it. Similarly Henry Ford actually said something similar regarding money.

Henry Ford did make this statement – and worse things.

Money doesn’t change men, it merely unmasks them. If a man is naturally selfish or arrogant or greedy, the money brings that out, that’s all.

It doesn’t take much research to discover that for Henry Ford his money unmasked him as strongly anti-semitic.

I believe the point of the sports quote and Henry Ford’s money quote is that they thought who you really are lies within you and the freedom of sports or money just gives people the freedom to reveal that real nature (i.e. unmasking your character). I’ve heard the same thing attributed to the freedom brought about by the impersonal nature of the internet. You are free to say and do what you want on the internet without experiencing in person the emotional and personal repercussions.

Therefore, some would say that if you are a jerk on the internet it is probably because that is who you really are in real life. The little bit of Calvinism I have in me (I’m a 2 1/2 to 3 pointer depending upon the day – look up the Calvinist TULIP to understand this) and the large influence that Christian thinker Søren Kierkegaard‘s Existentialist thought has had upon me leads me to disagree with this sentiment. I believe instead that it is our choice that reveals who we really are.

The mild-Calvinism I have makes me fairly certain that we all have stuff hidden within us that we find disgusting, disturbing, and in need of redemption. Mike Yaconelli, one of my personal heroes, used to say when he was speaking (usually at the National Youth Workers Convention) that if we knew what really was going on in his heart we wouldn’t be listening to him, but that was ok because if he knew what was really going on in our hearts he wouldn’t be speaking to us. You see I believe we all stand in need of redemption. We all have an “inner-jerk” but that doesn’t mean we have to let him/her out.

Kierkegaard’s Christian Existentialist thought leads me to believe that our choices are hugely important in determining who we are. Jesus proclaims His disciples to be justified and then we have the choice to live into that or not. What we choice to do reflects who we believe we are and who we want to be.

I have a friend, who I love in real life, who realized that he was a bit of a jerk on certain social media and decided that was not who he wanted to be. He addressed it by removing himself from that social media. He decided that he wasn’t the type of person whose enjoyment came from hurting others and he chose to remove himself form the media that he was having trouble with. I believe that choice reflects who he really is, rather than the fact that he has significant trouble interacting on this social media without being a jerk.

We all have statements and feelings inside us that if we publicly express them will often hurt others. Sometimes expressing those thoughts display who we really are, and sometimes not express those thought display who we really are. Our choice is is important. It is how we become who we are (which I believe is determined by Christ).

The Problem with Having Kids That You Would Like Even if They Weren’t Your Kids is …

The problem with having kids that you would like even if they weren’t your kids is that they invariably are involved in fascinating things that seem very interesting when they tell you about them and then you find yourself adding things to your “I want to read that”, “I want to listen to that”, “I want to do that”, and “I want to watch that” lists . I feel like at least once a week my lists get bigger because of a conversation with Noah or Adam. Here are two examples:


Thanks to Noah I am now trying to make it through the Naruto series. The problem with this is that there are around 700 episodes of Naruto. I’m not exaggerating here. There are seriously 700ish episodes. I find the story very interesting so I end up fitting a couple of episodes in to my schedule every day. Thankfully they are short. Still I would have never considered watching this if Noah hadn’t said “Dad, I think you would like this” and then watching a few episodes with him before thinking I should watch from the beginning. Hopefully in the year 2030 I will have finished the series.

Why, you might ask, am I so fascinated with this cartoon (okay technically it is anime)? It is because one of the overriding themes of the series is how the characters’ actions, and often mistakes, are directed by their unrecognized internal struggles. This is something I deal with all the time as a pastor and chaplain. Naruto strives to be respected because of the disdain that he felt in the past and this striving controls him. He usually isn’t director of his own actions, but merely responding to unexpressed emotions. He isn’t alone in this, most of the characters in the series are similar. They are portrayed as incredibly strong and yet they are very often the mere puppets of their own unaddressed emotional needs.


Adam posted the following video in our ongoing family chat.

It is a fascinating TED talk concerning using the natural tendency of art to direct our attention to cause us to focus on other elements and viewpoints. Susan Sontag in her book “On Photography” writes about this same phenomenon within photography (ht Brad W). A painting, or photo, shape how we see a subject and therefore very often shapes how we view history. Titus Kaphar, the artist in the video above, discusses using art to change our focus on a subject. So now, thanks to Adam, I’m trying to learn more about this. I finished reading Angie Thomas’s book “On the Come Up” last night, preached in a majority people of color congregations Saturday, and then watched the above video this morning and all have me thinking.

Thanks guys. You both keep me busy. When you add in all the things I end up reading and observing because of Pam and Clive (I read more than I care to admit about Basset Hounds and I am fairly sure that the only reason I have Instagram is to look at Basset Hound photos) it is a surprise that I ever get anything done.

SIDE NOTE – for a very interesting discussion concerning “the complicated and nuanced history” of plantations in America and the continued influence that history has you should consider to Backstory’s episode “The Long Shadow of the Plantation.” As a result of this podcast episode Pam and I may head to Wallace, Louisiana to explore Whitney Plantation (and then, of course, go to Baton Rouge to visit with friends we love).

One Thing

I feel like I frequently quote Soren Kierkegaard concerning purity of heart, but looking back through my blog posts I don’t seem to write about it as much as I think I quote it during my real life. Kierkegaard’s famous statement/work concerning purity of heart is:

Purity of heart is to will one thing

The opposite of this is what scripture refers to as being “double-minded”. James 4:8 records:

Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.

“Double-mindedness” pulls us in opposite and many directions. Willing one thing pulls us in the direction of the one thing. It directs everything else.

One of the summaries of Kierkegaard’s work that I really like is actually found in the movie “City Slickers“.

When you will one thing it is actually your “bae” (before all else). People may often say that something is their one thing but our choices may not always reflect this. If some thing actually is your “one thing” then every choice, every action, every movement has to directed by that one thing. Everything falls in line underneath your one thing. I believe life works best when we know our one thing and I believe we were created for Jesus to be that one thing for our lives with every thing else falls in line under being His disciple.

Once Again She is Impressive

So today Pamela was quoted in a Wall Street Journal article in regard to the current spelling change of the word Whoa to Woah. In the article Pam comments:

“I am a fan of changes in language, but this doesn’t make sense with any patterns in English that I can think of,” says Pamela Terrell, who teaches speech-language pathology and researches language impairments in children at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. “I would have no way to explain that to someone.”

You can read the article HERE. Just another reminder that Pamela is dang impressive and I married above my pay grade.

Here’s her tweet that is referenced in the article:

Walk Your Way to Savings :)

On one of the many podcasts I listen to I heard a couple talking about how they handled their different approaches to money and I liked what they did. You see money has different emotional meanings to different people. For one person $1,000 in a savings account for emergencies seems like an impossible dream and for another person $10,000 in a savings account feels like tittering on the edge of destruction. Some are spenders, some are savers, and for some it depends upon the item for which they are saving and spending. So this couple decided to use their monetary tendencies to their advantage.

One person in this couple tends be a spender and the other tends to be a saver. So on projects this couple agrees to a budget that they won’t go above and then the spender gets to shop to find all that he or she can find for the project within that budget. Taking it further the saver gets to establish savings techniques to meet the project budget. I really like this. It works for both people.

Pam and I have kind of done this for years. She loves to plan vacations and I appreciate that she has an amazing ability to do great vacations for less money that we had planned. Seriously she is incredible. The trip we took to France in 2018 was much less than I thought she could have done it for. Pam has a gift.

This year we are using this approach for a semi-regular college friends trip. Pam and some friends form college have talked about going to Alaska, where one of our friends lives. We talked about a budget and then I got excited because I have wanted to try out one of the high yield online savings accounts that have been popping up and this offered an opportunity to do so. Pam loves to discover deals on traveling and I love to learn more personal finance stuff. I went with Viobank at 2.52% APY. I’m really like it thus far and I added an incentive for bringing my lunch to work. When I bring my lunch I get to add $2 to the high yield savings account in addition to the planned contributions we’ve discussed. It incentivises me to eat healthier and cheaper.

So that was a long way of getting to what I really wanted to write about. I was recently talking with a friend who is exploring using a high yield savings account and asked if I would recommend the bank I am using. I would. However, I also decided to search Magnify Money for their present list of recommended high yield savings account. It is here (September 2019). That’s when I discovered Fitness Bank on the list.

I so wish I had heard of Fitness Bank when I was considered this best rates for a high yield savings account. Their gimmick is awesome. The more steps you take the higher your interest rate. How cool is that?!?!?!

12,500 steps = 2.75% APY
10,000 steps = 2.50% APY
7,500 = 1.75% APY
5,000 = 1.25% APY
0 = 0.50% APY

Again, how cool is that!?!?!?!?!?

They Have Started on the Garage

Our restoration company has begun to work on the garage from the damage that occurred due to the storm six weeks ago. There was so much damage around here that they have been incredibly busy. I know of circumstances where people’s homes will not be ready for Winter, which is a big deal up here in Wisconsin. Our contractor had a person call them last week just to start the initial estimate for their work. They will be in for a big surprise with how long this is going to take.

Our tree debris was finally removed yesterday. As I talked with the guy doing the removal he talked about how the wood market has collapsed as a result of all the wood on the market. Why would someone buy some wood from you when they can get it for free from someone who had a tree collapse in their yard.

We are still at least a month a way from roofed garage but it is at least cleaner now, looks a little more respectable, and isn’t as big of a hazard to be around anymore. I am so ready for this to be over or at least fixed to the point that I can park our vehicles in a roofed garage.