Thursday, December 29, 2016

Ten Best Books I Read in 2016

So, yes, 2016 has not been an active year for me when it came to blogging, but it is definitely something I am strongly planning to reconsider. My networking roots come from writing and blogging, which began as an offspring from my high school column and Caponomics has been active on Blogger since 2011. Unfortunately, this year, I have only written and released four posts. Much of my time and energy has been shifted toward Literary Gladiators on my YouTube (more specifically Booktube) channel, which has garnered 630 subscribers and is closing in on 30,000 views. Most importantly, though, I have met some outstanding people and made some great friends through Literary Gladiators. I would think that not releasing any new posts would see a decline in viewership on this blog, but to my surprise, I am still picking up at least 1,000 views per month and my discussions about literature and other topics still seem to be attracting readers. I may use this blog to critically discuss different things I read, like I did with my post of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy on this blog. These posts would be subject to spoilers and serve as discussions, but with my four posts from this year picking up at least 100 views each, something of that nature may be worth it.

As for the books themselves, I completed 32 complete books and a few smaller selections. Out of the 32 complete books, I put together a list of my ten favorites. I am doing this on my Booktube channel as well, but it seems like writing down my thoughts has always been a great way to allow my thoughts to flow before I went forward with talking about them. This year, my top four books obtained five stars, while the others were in the four and a half to four star range based on my Goodreads reviews. Without further due, let's get right to the list.

#10- Great French Short Stories by Paul Negri- During the month of February, I spent the entire month reading works of French literature, for it was something I was looking to familiarize myself with and what better away to acquaint myself than with short works of theirs. While there were so many fine authors, the ones that stuck out to me the most included "The Attack on the Mill" by Emile Zola, "Micromegas" by Voltaire, and "Mateo Falcone" by Prosper Merimee. Not only does this collection give French literature a solid ground, but it also allows readers to learn more about Emile Zola, Voltaire, Guy de Maupassant, Gustave Flaubert, and others without reading their larger testaments. I became familiar with Zola's straightforward use of realism and naturalism by reading his story and admired his brutal honesty about the human species so much that I went forward and read The Fortune of the Rougons later in the year as a buddy read with Ely from Ely Jayne. I think that reading shorter collections is a great way to diversify in reading and this less expensive one is quite a gem.

#9- I Am Legend by Richard Matheson- Richard Matheson is brilliant! Along with Ray Bradbury, I feel that Matheson is the most important speculative fiction writer on the note that both of them write stories and novels, but yet they do not conform to any specific genre. One could assume that Bradbury's works have a science fiction leaning, while Matheson leans toward the horror genre. Nevertheless, I Am Legend is an accomplishment in how it shapes vampire fiction. In this novel, Robert Neville is a war veteran and also the only remaining human not affected by a bacilli that wiped out the population and/or turned them into zombie-like vampires, which leads to Matheson's being accredited as a pioneer of zombie fiction. Most people are familiar with the film adaptation where Will Smith stars as Neville, but there are key differences between the two. To sum it up briefly, Robert Neville in the original Matheson novel is a common man that is practicing survival skills because he needs to, while most of the characters around him play a minimal role, which includes the dog. While Neville in the movie has a background as a doctor, Neville in the book researches as a basic method of survival. I really like this original novel, for I feel that any person can stand in the shoes of Neville and imagine themselves in his situation. Richard Matheson IS legend.

#8- To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee- Harper Lee passed away this February, a little less than a year after her only other novel, Go Set a Watchman, was released. I never read To Kill a Mockingbird back in high school, but read it this year in order to prepare for a discussion on Literary Gladiators. I am really glad that I read this, for this novel gave me a great idea of the American South and how very few details have actually changed from its formation to the present day. The story of Jean Louise "Scout" Finch, her brother Jem, and their dad, Atticus, and his efforts to save a black man on trial named Tom Robinson who was accused of raping Mayella Ewell is one that is bound to spark a reaction no matter who you are. I can also say that the biggest piece of excrement I have come across in any work of literature happens to be Mayella's dad, Bob. Bob Ewell is lazy, racist, threatening, and abusive toward children. These are ALL qualities I despise, but in a way this form of hatred is what leads me to care for Scout and the stories of her brother and dad even more. I am definitely one that would argue in favor of keeping this novel on the curriculum, for it does the greatest job in getting under one's skin in talking about history and racism and how it is really not too different in many areas.

#7- The Crucible by Arthur Miller- I originally read The Crucible during my junior year of high school and the project we were assigned for this play was to create a comic about it. I had a fun time using Google images to find the closest things that came to certain details, like Abigail drinking the chicken's blood being a picture of a blond party girl drinking a red alcoholic beverage. While I studied the play, I felt like I wanted to return to read it a bit more closely and as a reader as oppose to a junior in high school that was only looking at it for a grade. While this novel certainly has its quirks, such as inaccurate information that is meant to be historical, I felt that the message can be deemed as relevant to the Salem Witch Trials in the 1690s as it is to when it was written during the Joseph McCarthy era and on top of that be as relevant today. John Proctor, the play's central character, seems like such a decent, live and let live kind of guy that has his flaws, but THAT is why readers can relate to him. Between the church and its religious authority, the court and its lawful authority, and the teenaged girls and their desire to "do God's duty," the antagonizing forces accusing people of witchcraft go after the common sense in society. The eternal idea that everyone feels it is within their ability to play God contradicts the true meaning of God and his will and THIS is what makes this play brilliant.

#6- A Time to Kill by John Grisham- John Grisham is rightfully a successful author for his ability to use his knowledge in law and politics to create top quality works, while engaging in deep research to flesh out the areas where he is not as knowledgeable. A Time to Kill was his very first novel, which follows a black man named Carl Lee Hailey who is on trial for shooting two men while they were on trial for raping his daughter, Tonya. His lawyer, Jake Brigance, is willing to serve as his lawyer against all of the odds. The case takes place in Mississippi, where there is still racial tension and a looming presence of the KKK. Like To Kill a Mockingbird, A Time to Kill explores how things have not gone away for good in 1989. Also like the Harper Lee novel, A Time to Kill makes one think heavily about race and I held a great amount of sympathy for Carl Lee Hailey. Despite the fact that there is no way around the fact Carl Lee killed the men, wouldn't the idea of one's children or loved ones being unjustifiably hurt impair anyone's judgment? After reading this, I learned so much about the court system from someone that clearly knows what they are talking about.

#5- Night by Elie Wiesel- Elie Wiesel's Night is an accomplishment in how it tells a direct story about the Holocaust from someone who survived it. Wiesel does not just tell his story, though, but also those that did not survive. I have read a few accounts about the Holocaust or of stories that took place in Nazi Germany or during World War II, but there was something about this memoir that really proved to be straightforward and simply told things as they are. Wiesel cleared up certain details I was not too aware of, such as the fact that fellow Jews and other "undesirables" in the eyes of Hitler ran the camps. While I was aware of the fact that those found least useful to the Nazis were killed first and those found to be a threat were killed on the spot, the details at hand were still quite powerful and saddening. Wiesel told his story the way he felt it was meant to be told in the way he felt it should be told. The nature of the book felt like being locked in a cold, concrete room, but that is exactly how it is meant to be. Wiesel would go on to carry the burden of those that did not survive and made it his lifelong mission to tell their story. He won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1986 and just passed away in July. Wiesel's Night will remain an important work that chronicles a moment in history that everyone needs to be aware.

#4- Sleepwalkers by Nicole Lanier Montez- I met Nicole Lanier Montez at the Collingswood Book Festival in 2014 while I was with the Garden State Speculative Fiction Writers, promoting our anthology, Speculations from New Jersey. This was a purchase that I made while I was there and I am certainly glad that I made such a selection. Montez's area of interest when it comes to her poetry is societal injustice, where she writes about race, violence, poverty, prostitution, dysfunctional upbringings, and so much more. A poem of hers that clearly stuck out to me was "Xtra Naked," which explores race and how one could really distinguish the difference between skin color. This poetry collection is one that should be sparking discussion the way that poetry in its resurgence is sparking. Just about every poem in here is bound to spark a reaction and I really thought a lot about societal injustice upon reading this. I feel that more people need to become familiar with Montez and how brilliant she truly is when it comes to her artistry with words and her ability to give them powerful meaning.

#3- The Complete Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi- I read the first Persepolis as a buddy read with Michelle from MichEllisLife on Booktube, while I read the second on a own these past few days. In this graphic novel formed from multiple comic strips, we follow Satrapi's life of how she grows up in Iran and attempts to make something of herself in a country where women are seen as inferior and as potential distractions to men if not covered properly. Right from the beginning, Satrapi demonstrates the attitude that as a human being, she has the opportunity to be what ever it is she wishes to be. The fact she set high expectations for herself and did not let gender get into the way is a great accomplishment within itself. The first book chronicles her childhood up until her moving to Austria, while the second book cover her failed stay in Austria, return to Iran, and right into her adulthood. Eventually, we get a foundation as to what direction she wants to take in accomplishing her goals and we just about get the idea as to what is bound to follow. Satrapi's story is so powerful that it has the ability to make you laugh just as it has the opportunity to make you choke up or feel anger. The illustration is very much witty the way that Maus and The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian were. The fact that I learned much more about the Middle East from an Iranian's perspective was also a great accomplishment. Persepolis is another graphic novel that succeeds at catching my interest and provides a sense of eager feelings when it comes to exploring more graphic texts.

#2- A Strangeness in My Mind by Orhan Pamuk- I read A Strangeness in My Mind as another buddy read with Michelle from MichEllisLife on Booktube and she suggested it as it was a nominee for the International Man Booker Prize and I am certainly glad she made such a selection! This work of Turkish literature follows the life and times of Mevlut, who moves with his father to work on the streets as a yogurt and boza seller. As time goes by, so does society, and selling things on the street presents its challenges. At the same time, he falls for a girl at a wedding, but is tricked into marrying her sister. This really sets up the stage for the events to come in Mevlut's life. At the beginning of the book, one can find a family tree, which reveals details as to when certain characters are born, who they marry, their children, and inevitably when they die in the event that they die. While these may be viewed as spoilers, the "what" and "when" are overshadowed in interest by the "why" and "how" and while Orhan Pamuk may be the kind of driver that takes back roads and paths you would have not figured out, I can guarantee that the routes Pamuk took made for an outstanding experience. Most of the events do take place in chronological order, though. What Pamuk really succeeds at is giving us a greater, more clearer understanding of Turkish culture while also making it accessible to a global audience. I found the point of view that was possessed on the topic of 9/11 to be quite thought-provoking, which is exactly what a good novel is supposed to do. Pamuk is a Nobel Prize winning author for a reason and I am definitely inclined to pick up more of what he has to offer.

#1- Demian by Hermann Hesse- Prior to reading Demian this year, I read Siddhartha in 2012 and Narcissus & Goldmund in 2014. Both of these novels were good, but I felt that Demian was outstanding, for it explored the idea of individual thought and the divinity of one's intuition and made for such an enlightening experience. In this novel, Emil Sinclair (who was originally written as the author of this text) is living an intense life as a teenager, with a somewhat compassionate family, a bit of an inferior relationship with his father, but overall something he feels dissatisfied with. At the same time, he is dealing with a psychological bully in Franz Kromer, who manipulates him into taking advantage of a misdeed of his. Then, Sinclair meets Max Demian, who has the ability to stand up to Kromer and takes a liking to Sinclair, serving like a mentor to him in the subject of individual thought and the Transcendental idea of seeking satisfaction with one's intuition. Demian is a short novel of just 145 pages, but I saw myself taking my time with this text and am so happy that I did so, for there is so much that I got out of it as I made my way through it. It is definitely a novel that is philosophy first, plot second kind of work, but I think that this was the great intent of what Hesse was attempting to get at. I feel that instead of The Catcher in the Rye, students should be assigned to read Demian, for both texts revolve about estranged teenagers, but unlike Holden Caulfield and his sense of cynicism, Sinclair is given the opportunity to move in the right direction and approaches the opportunities that come to him with a greater sense of optimism. I feel that readers will benefit from reading Demian and that this novel will provide them with a greater sense of confidence in themselves and at everything life has to offer.

2016 was such a great reading year for me in both the amount that I read and the quality of the text at hand. While the top four on this list received five stars out of five on my Goodreads and numbers five to ten received four and a half stars, it was still a solid reading year that I hope to top off in 2017. I will leave a link down below to my Goodreads page, where you can find complete reviews of everything on my top ten and also everything else that I read from this year.

I hope everyone has a happy, healthy, and safe new year! For now, keep reading!

My Goodreads

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Literary Gladiators- Season 5 Discussions

I have not been active on my blog for the last several months and am currently part of what I can now declare as being a hiatus. I did, however, notice that there is still a great deal of viewership on this channel, especially for the literature based posts. This is leading me to go in-depth to discuss specific arguments found in short stories, poems, novels, plays, and other forms of literature, which in turn sparks ideas for what I may want to discuss on Literary Gladiators.

Speaking of which, we taped the great bulk of our fifth season of Literary Gladiators and it will be premiering on Thursday, September 15th on our channel. This season, aside from myself, returning Gladiators include Charlie Gulizia, Ari S. Gans, Larry Romano, Kim Broomall, Kaila Rotsma, Kelsea Rowan, Morgen Condon, Dan Marseglia, Breanna Little, and Dr. David Bordelon. New members of the Gladiator family include Gina Andrews, Andrew Bartholomew, Austin Greitz, and Lenny Apa. Zach Lawless, Dan Marseglia, and of course, Laney Burke, return to moderate. We do, however, have two more sessions planned for November and December, which means there may be a few more individuals taking part.

Here are the 36 discussions we have filmed for Season 5 (in the order we plan to release them):

NOVEL: The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
CHILDREN'S: Arlene Sardine by Chris Raschka
POEM: "The Vices of the Modern World" by Nicanor Parra
SHORT STORY: "The Boy Who Drew Cats" by Lafcadio Hearn
POEM: "I Am Waiting" by Lawrence Ferlinghetti
POEM: "Xtra Naked" by Nicole Lanier Montez
POEM: "Cut" by Sylvia Plath
SHORT STORY: "The Tell-Tale Heart" by Edgar Allan Poe
MISCELLANEOUS: Halloween, Part 3
NOVEL: The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie
POEM: "Dulce Decorum Est." by Wilfred Owen
SHORT STORY: "The Snows of Kilimanjaro" by Ernest Hemingway
MISCELLANEOUS: Works From Childhood, Part 2
SHORT STORY: "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" by F. Scott Fitzgerald
MISCELLANEOUS: 100th Episode
NOVEL: The Road by Cormac McCarthy
ESSAY: "Nature" by Ralph Waldo Emerson
POEM: "London" by William Blake
NOVEL: The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
SHORT STORY: "Recitatif" by Toni Morrison
SHORT STORY: "The Open Boat" by Stephen Crane
MISCELLANEOUS: Comic Book Episode
NOVEL: Demian by Hermann Hesse
NOVEL: Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
GRAPHIC NOVEL: V for Vendetta by Alan Moore
POEM: "Mary Magdalene at Sunday Mass in Castlebar" by Paul Durcan
SHORT STORY: "Micromegas" by Voltaire
MISCELLANEOUS: The Poetry of Allen Ginsberg
POEM: "The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere" by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
NOVEL: To Kill a Mockingbird (which includes discussion about Go Set a Watchman) by Harper Lee
MISCELLANEOUS: Dystopian Fiction
NOVEL: The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
FAIRY TALE: "The Snow Queen" by Hans Christian Andersen
FAIRY TALE: "Rapunzel" by The Brothers Grimm
MISCELLANEOUS: Poetry About Cheese

In addition to the 36 discussions that have been mentioned and filmed, we have 11 more being planned, five of which will be created to form music week, six of which will be general discussions.

This includes:

Music Week

SONG: "My Anthem" by Christina Grimmie
SONG: "Armor" by Colin Chandelier (aka. Ari S. Gans)
SONG: "In the Year 2525" by Zager & Evans
SONG: The Winner of a Planned Poll
MISCELLANEOUS: Music Survey (with elements of "what's your favorite_____" and "this or that")

General Discussions

MISCELLANEOUS: Christmas, Part 3
PLAY: King Lear by William Shakespeare
WORK: Night by Elie Wiesel
PLAY: The Crucible by Arthur Miller
SHORT STORY: "The Storm" by Kate Chopin
POEM: "Home Burial" by Robert Frost

These 11 discussions will be distributed accordingly based off of when and how they are filmed.

Here are other places you can find the participants on Literary Gladiators:

Literary Gladiators Channel

YT Channels:

Colin Chandelier/oopdoop44 (Ari's Channel)
Zach Lawless


Josh's Goodreads
Kelsea's Goodreads
Kaila's Goodreads
Larry's Goodreads
Kim's Goodreads
Breanna's Goodreads
Lenny's Goodreads

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

All That Matters is Matter in "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" by Douglas Adams

I conducted a smaller review of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy on my Goodreads, which I will leave a link to down below. In this review, I mentioned how much I enjoyed the existential genius that went in to telling this story from the universal perspective, while expressing a bit of disdain for the pacing and sequence of events. Ultimately, though, the positive outweighed the negative and I rated it somewhere in the range of an 8/10 or a 9/10, which is 4-4.5 stars on Goodreads. This post is more of a critical analysis than it is a review: so it is subject to spoilers. If you are interested in reading this and you have either read the book or do not mind be spoiled, I encourage you to stay along. Otherwise, I would encourage you to read the book first. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is known greatly for its universal meaning and the exploration of the meaning of life as we follow the steps of an Earthling (from Britain) named Arthur Dent, saved just before his planet was destroyed in favor of a galactic freeway.

Taking this story into the context of the universal perspective, Earth is seen meaninglessly, which makes any of its inhabitants even more meaningless. So meaningless that as we draw ourselves back further and further, each being becomes a speck among a speck. Earth is described on the very first page of Adams' novel as being, "An utterly insignificant little blue green planet whose ape-descended life forms are so amazingly primitive that they still think digital watches are a pretty neat idea." Humanity is bound to be criticized for multiple reasons, but to say that their ideas remain "primitive" compared to the rest of the world definitely takes into account the meaning that inhabitants of Earth see within themselves and (in some cases) others and watching it become incredibly pointless when placed among the greater scheme of the universe.

As far as the universe is concerned, naturalism can be applied to the idea that there are only two types of things that exist: living matter and dormant matter. Living matter is what ever is alive, while dormant matter is what ever was once alive and is currently non-living. Depending on one's belief, dormant matter has the potential to become living matter. For instance, if an item, like a cardboard box, decays, it will eventually turn to dirt and develop purpose among the land once again. Douglas Adams was a confident atheist, denying any higher being. Whether or not he followed the idea that death was "going out of one car and into another" theory that John Lennon mentioned or that death was just "the lights shutting off" remains in question, but one that believes that death follows Lennon's ideas or just in reincarnation in general would believe in dormant matter having the potential to become living matter. The universe sees both as being the same.

This image of similarity among matter is seen by the two mice, Benjy and Frankie, when they are looking to continue their research on humanity (like mice did on Earth through human experiments for human interests). In order to continue, they need Arthur (since he is a human)'s brain. Of course, this is much to Arthur's dismay, especially since they plan to chop it up and do what ever they need to come up with the results that they need. They are, however, willing to provide Arthur with a mechanical brain, which works the same. Like most humans, the idea of having a mechanical brain is not the same as having a real brain, but when you look at this universally, both the living (Arthur's brain) and dormant (the mechanical brain) matter are viewed equally.

The greatest question at hand in the entire novel is one we ask ourselves: What is the meaning of life? In this novel, the answer is 42. Why 42? Why not something more basic like to do good, to be successful, or to follow your religion faithfully? The answer lies in the question. The reason the answer is so absurd is because the question is just as absurd, given the facts that the ideas regarding matter do not just cover people, places, and things, but also ideas. Like the physical things in life, ideas and things that are found among processing systems on the computers also come from a matter known more commonly as "0s and 1s." These 0s and 1s develop what we see. As you are reading this post, the 0s and 1s are developing the words I am typing and the background to which it is appearing. The question about "42" being the meaning of life is really "Is there really a meaning of life among matter?" One can also ask as to whether or not the meaning of life is the same or if there really is a meaning to life.

Of course, the meaning of life as portrayed in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is only a reflection of what Douglas Adams believes or possibly what he wants his characters to convey, which I believe is one of the same. Whether you agree or disagree with his universal point of view, taking that perspective really does away with humanity and what any and all of them believe. As far as this novel is concerned, Earth is just another one of the universe's creations and in the bigger picture, humanity from Earth has not exceeded itself, but instead created so much confusion. The "end of the world" may prove to be detrimental to the world that is being affected, but from the universal perspective, those inhabiting that world will simply return to being the matter that makes up the universe. The question is whether or not the matter will amount to anything spectacular, whether living or dormant.

Like dystopian novels, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy takes an aspect of absurdist literature and does its best to explain its meaning. For Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass, Lewis Carroll concentrates on what it really is to be normal and questions the practices of society when compared to the abnormal (abnormal to us) practices of Wonderland. In The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams concentrates on the meaning of life according to the perspective of the universe. While he directly says this meaning is "42," I feel that the meaning of life being conveyed is that "all that matters in the universe is matter."

You can find my Goodreads account here:

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Five Years On Blogger & A Recap of the Last Three Months

I am back! I am back where I began in the art of written discussion, which is where I began years ago, throughout high school, and on this blog. I wrote my first post on March 9, 2011, and am still around after five years of posting. I need to ask for your forgiveness, for my posting on Caponomics has fallen behind since I have done so much more with Literary Gladiators on YouTube, reviews on Goodreads, and the need to get back into my fiction writing while also balancing my reading time, work for income, and tasks that involve housekeeping and yard work. I came back to pay a visit and from what I saw, my page view numbers and followers have just about remained along for the ride. I cannot be more thankful for having such a great group of followers. Before I made friends who love books, literature, reading, and writing on Booktube, I made friends with people on Blogger, and I must say that all of you are outstanding! I was fearful was what was going to happen, but I saw that I have 24 followers and 66,502 page views. People are still reading my commentary on different topics and I am getting 1,000 to 2,000 views per month. I need to return the favor by writing more posts and on a more consistent basis. I have put together an uploading schedule for Booktube and I feel that it would immensely help to put together an uploading schedule for Blogger. Booktubers who also blog, such as Katie from Books & Things and Shannon from Shannon Rose Reads, have put together consistent schedules that have helped in the long run. I cannot confirm details just yet, but I will definitely keep everyone in touch.

To celebrate five years, I am going to break from tradition and instead of sharing my ten most popular posts in details, I am just going to recap everything that has been going on, as it relates to what I have posted on Caponomics. This will include my top ten popular posts, but will summarize everything I feel you should know.

My Short Work Reviews Have Surged in the Top Ten- My poem review of Anne Sexton's "The Starry Night" is my most popular post with over 5,000 views. While other noteworthy posts have remained in the top ten, this one is consistently surging and picking up attention. It is quite a surreal feeling when you Google "the starry night by anne sexton summary" and this is the third thing you come across. Emily's Poetry Blog also put together something quite nice. I enjoy and recommend her blog as well. My reviews for "The Lottery Ticket" by Ventura Garcia Calderon and "The Monkey's Paw" by W.W. Jacobs also saw an immense surge, which is spectacular, for it brings attention to works of literature I feel that everyone should check out, especially "The Lottery Ticket," because it currently does not have the attention it deserves. My original surge on this blog came from my review of Ebert Presents At The Movies, where viewership has since become dormant and has dropped to eighth place. My distaste for orange juice pulp is still grabbing the attention of readers, while my post about the Hey Arnold! Jungle Movie has caught the attention of readers. This leads me to this...

The Jungle Movie is Being Released in 2017- Nickelodeon gave the green light to the much awaited Hey Arnold! conclusion following the end of the series, which ended with a two-part special called "The Journal." In this special, Arnold comes across his father's journal and it goes over how his parents left to help the Green-Eyed people, but their plane was never heard from since. This special will provide answers as to everything that happened, but was not disclosed. There will also be mention to Arnold's last name, which creator Craig Bartlett hinted to as "Shortman." This special will definitely lead me back to Nickelodeon for the first time since I have no idea when.

Response to NFL Predictions- My NFL predictions for 2015 were a bit of a mixed bag. I predicted the Super Bowl would be the Seahawks over the Colts and that certainly did not ring true. The Seahawks reached the divisional round before being defeated by the Panthers, while the Colts barely missed the playoffs in a crappy division battle. As for what really happened, I felt the Broncos would make the AFC Championship and lose to the Colts, while the Panthers would regress. Both the Broncos and Panthers have a good chance to continue with their success, while at the same time, dark horses could definitely emerge. As for what is to come, I am quite happy that Hue Jackson is getting an opportunity to coach again, while many of the other coaching selections leave me in question. I also feel that Peyton Manning retired at the right time, turning 40 this year, shaken up to the point where Brock Osweiler started a good chunk of the season, and being able to exit with a Super Bowl victory that was heavily associated with a strong defense. Peyton Manning will leave football as the player I would argue to be the greatest.

Literary Gladiators- Our show has seen a drastic amount of growth. We have been on Booktube for two years and since May, we have been able to release videos at a greater rate. In addition, we have been releasing individual videos that do not follow the structure of the standard episode involving a discussion panel. These videos allow us to go beyond the topics of discussion and talk more about our personal reading expeditions and take part in the Booktube activities. As of this morning, we have 340 subscribers and over 12,000 views. This is ten times the amount of subscribers from last year at this time and six times the amount of views. Our fourth season is currently active, while we are planning a fifth season that will be taped this summer and released in September. We have 52 episodes planned at this time. In addition to many of the regulars, we have new interested individuals that will likely take part, while we are also planning to have interested Booktubers on our panel. Our next episode to be released will be a discussion of "The Starry Night" by Anne Sexton, which will hopefully garner the attention that my blog post has garnered. Our channel can be found here:

What Have I Been Reading- During the months of January and February, I read both a mixed bag (as I did in January) and more themed reading (as I did in February). I read The Little Giant Encyclopedia of One-Liners by Gene Perret and Terry Martin and Andrew's Brain by E.L. Doctorow in January, then went on to read A Happy Death by Albert Camus, The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo, and Great French Short Stories edited by Paul Negri for French February, a reading challenge I set for myself during the particular month. I started She Came to Stay by Simone de Beauvoir and continued Les Miserables by Victor Hugo, but have yet to finish them. I also started and finished Harley Quinn Vol. 1: Hot in the City. I read this during late February and early March. I am currently engaged in a buddy read with Lauren from Lauren and the Books and we are reading A Time to Kill by John Grisham, which I am really enjoying. John Grisham puts everything into what he writes and I get a lot out of what he has to say. I will be doing a lot of reading for the fifth season of Literary Gladiators, which will definitely be something I look forward to. Here is a video where I go into greater detail about what I have been reading:

What is to Come?- Much of my online activity has been shifted to Literary Gladiators, which I am really hoping to grow into something great! We upload videos three days a week and we are looking at uploading between the fourth and fifth season, as well as the structure of how things will work when we begin filming and then uploading the fifth season. Regarding my blog, I plan to continue my traditions of making NFL predictions for 2016 and naming the ten best books I read in 2016. Outside of that, it sounds like reviews for books and shorter works have picked up attention most recently. I definitely plan to take more notes and do more research in order to put together the best posts I am possibly able to on this blog. From there, I am hoping to write more fiction and read as much as I am able. The question will come down to the balance that comes with my changing work schedule. I will definitely keep everyone posted.

I appreciate everyone's support and readership during the last five years and hope to continue entertaining you with witty, but most importantly informative posts that encourage you to pick up a particular work to read or just catch your attention for the time being. I am happy to be back and while I am not sure when I will be posting again and what I will be posting about, it is definitely my intent to provide with blog with the necessary reading material. As I close off my Booktube videos, Keep Reading!