Restaurant Etiquette for The Guest

Lesson One: The Host.

Often restaurants have a host, no surprise there. It may come as a shock to most people who haven’t worked in a restaurant is that the host is actually important in a lot of ways. The host actually does a lot depending on the restaurant. Speaking from experience I arrange the charts (as in we decide who goes where and in what order), cleaning a portion of the bathrooms, resupplying toilet paper and paper towels, directing people to seats, dealing with seating mix-ups, at times bussing tables if servers need help, and of course dealing with people (customers and staff). It’s by no means the hardest job, but it is a busy and stressful one at times.

Like I said, hosts have a system the restaurant makes them follow. We can’t over seat servers (depending on how strong of a server they are), seat them back to back, or skip them if possible. It’s one after the other and start the cycle again, and most hosts try to get everyone an even number of parties. So it is crucial that if you see a host stand, and no one is there, do not seat yourself, just give it a second. Hosts are never too far from the host stand for very long, so even though we may be doing something we’re probably going to be back in a second or two.

If you seat yourself, you throw the system out of balance and the host has to adjust for that, which is more stressful than you may think. You may not get waited on because no one knows you’re there. You may result in someone not getting an equal opportunity at the end of the night by having someone get skipped, or possibly having someone double sat and have more stress from the extra immediate work. It’s best if you just wait to be sat, so you don’t sit in the wrong section and cause all of this to happen. If it is taking too long simply ask one of the waiting staff for assistance.

As I said: system, maintenance, etc. So large parties are a particular problem. Sometimes we need to put tables together, sometimes we have split them up into booths in a system that works; big parties are just a mess. Then you have to organize what the servers are doing. Whether or not one server or two are taking the party, who they are, then adjusting the cycle to this. Big parties are stressful. Huge parties are especially problematic when you can’t make proper traditional accommodations (aka in the normal dining area, which is most of the time). That’s why when you come in, and the host asks you how many there are, it’s important you don’t lie with an outrageously high number. So you may think you’re cute or funny when say you have 30 or 50 people, but you’re not. It scares the shit out of us because that stress and worry of what we’re going to do rushes in. So when you talk to the host, just tell us so we can do our jobs.

Some restaurants are divided into parts. In the restaurant, I work at there is the sports lounge and the dining room (the part I mostly look over). Although each part has its own set of servers and sections. So it’s our job as hosts to ask which part you would like to sit in, but it is also your responsibility as the guest to make up your mind. Too many times have I asked guests where they would like to sit and gotten “I don’t know” or “I don’t care.” The problem with this is it tells us nothing and keeps us from doing our jobs. No asking what the differences are or anything like that, just simply “I don’t care.” I’m happy you guys are so carefree, but hosts have jobs to do, so we need answers.

Lesson Two: Treatment of the staff.

A little information about servers. The minimum amount a server can be paid in the U.S. is $2.13 an hour. Servers need to make at least minimum wage in tips each month in addition to their wage, or the restaurant has to raise its wages to an appropriate amount. The only thing is, because of the nature of tips and taxes; servers get taxed a higher percentage than someone making just minimum wage. Even if they did raise it to minimum wage, we all know at this point you can’t make a living off of minimum wage. So please, tip your servers 10-15%. You may be thinking this is counterproductive, but it isn’t. Even if they do get taxed more; they still receive more income than if you didn’t tip them. If the restaurant had to raise its wages mandatorily then the prices would also have to rise. So please, be a good person and tip.

If you don’t have the money to tip, don’t let us know you didn’t, and especially don’t apologize. You may think it’s better to do so, but it’s like rubbing salt into a wound. The last thing the servers want is for you to not tip and know it’s because they never had a chance of getting tipped in the first place.

Keep in mind, just because we have to serve you, doesn’t make us your servants. You’re not the most important thing in the world when you walk through that door. We have lots of responsibilities. Lose the sense of entitlement.

Lesson 3: You and your kids.

When you sit down at your booth or table, you’re not in a sound studio, everyone can hear your kids yelling, and it’s incredibly annoying.

If your kids leave a huge mess, at least clean up a little bit. There have been times half plates of food and entire baskets of popcorn have been dumped on the floor and parents refused to do anything about it. While yes it is the job of the staff to clean it up, there’s a fine line between some dropped food and entire morsels of food being left on the floor. At that point you’re not just being a guest, you’re also being a complete dick.

Lesson 4: Calling the restaurant.

If you call the restaurant, don’t waste our times by rambling on. Tell us what you want so we can direct you to the right person or take care of you.

Don’t continue to ask us the same question over and over again. If you ask us once and we give you an answer, re-asking the same question rephrased over and over isn’t going to change the answer.

When spelling out your name for a reservation, don’t just spew it out. Take it slow, we are not recorders who can hang on to every bit of information you throw at us.

Prison Education: A New Necessity.

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America’s prison system is one based on antiquated ideas of punishment. The 1990’s saw the President of America becoming tough on crime, but it was carried out in all the wrong ways. America was so caught up in the idea of delivering “justice,” it forgot that it would affect people, then society as a whole. America is now seeing the effects of this brash, hidebound, ill-considered venture. The fallout from these actions does not occur in a vacuum; they affect real people. America’s narrow-minded sense of justice forgot to distinguish evil from criminal. Many men and women will be released each year, most of them will be poor minorities who will likely return to the environments and economic conditions in which they lived before. This only helps the income gaps expand further. An answer may lie in education.

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To some this initiative has already begun, but with a few discrepancies. Very few institutions offer college-accredited associate’s and bachelor’s degrees courses. Most of the few institutions that offer post-secondary education have the courses focus on specific job training and vocational training. Though this is a start, it does not solve the whole picture.

The facts speak for themselves. America is number one in the world in longest average prison sentencing. “More than half of all inmates in the United States serve maximum sentences of less than eight years, and many are released well before their sentences are completed” (Forbes). We have the highest incarceration rate in the world. America contains 25 percent of the world’s total prison population. Felons cannot receive welfare, student loans, public housing, or food stamps. Ex-felons often become alienated from social structures, family structures, and often times have trouble finding work due to their conviction, in an already competitive job market.

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The long prison sentencing creates institutionalism in prisoners, which thoroughly changes their ability to interact in society. For most, after prison, all they know is the prison. Long sentencing combined with the inability to receive benefits, and the social alienation, is why the United States has the highest rate of recidivism in the world. In a study titled Recidivism of Prisoners Released in 30 States in 2005: Patterns from 2005 to 2010; researcher’s tracked 404,638 prisons in 30 states after release in 2005. After three years from release two-thirds (67.8 percent) of the prisoners were rearrested. Rearrests of the ex-prisoners climbed to about three-quarters (76.6 percent) after five years. Out of the prisoners who were arrested more than half (56.7 percent) were arrested near the end of the first year of release. In terms of demographics on specific offenders: property offenders ranked most likely to be rearrested with 82.1 percent of released property offenders being rearrested; drug offenders at 76.1 percent; public order offenders at 73.6 percent; violent offenders at 71.3 percent rearrest. Forty percent of all inmates released in New York State will be re-incarcerated within three years.

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To look for solutions, America could reference Europe’s tactics and attitudes. In European countries like Germany and the Netherlands, the length of prison sentencing is much lower. Ninety percent of Dutch and 75 percent of German sentences are 12 months or less. In addition to shorter sentencing, European systems favor imprisonment as the last possible resort, favoring less aggressive and expensive measures such as fines, probation, community service programs, etc. Incarceration rates in Germany and the Netherlands are almost one-tenth of America’s. These two factors help contribute to significantly lower rates of recidivism. This will offset the cost of keeping prisoners each year. Their main focus is not only to ensure improvement by separation, but also effective reintegration with select programs. “Under German law, the primary goal of prison is ‘to enable prisoners to lead a life of social responsibility free of crime upon release’” (The New York Times). In these prisons, staff are trained in education theory and conflict management, in addition to prison security. Former inmates in Europe do not face the societal consequences like the denial of aid programs, loans, and voting.

One of the issues stemming from long prison sentencing is the culture shock. After many years, prisoners re-enter a society that has undergone drastic changes in culture, social behaviors, and, above all changes, in technology. This change in technological use and unfamiliarity with this technology also stifles chances of finding jobs. Culture shock is also a large contributor to recidivism, as these changes can be overwhelming and intimidating. In other words, for released prisoners it is a whole new world. Cutting down on sentencing reduces this culture shock, as there will be less significant change within this time, allowing prisoners to better readjust, thereby reducing recidivism. This will cut down on the need for reintegration programs and technology training in the future.

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However, this does not fix the whole issue. As mentioned before, most prisoners come from poor backgrounds. A large portion of prisoners do not have a high school diploma or GED. Most prisoners also tend to be minorities, as well. The issues involving prisons are also racial and economic issues, as most minority groups come from poorer backgrounds. Newly released prisoners are also more likely to not possess a high school diploma, significantly hurting their chances on the job market.

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The answer to not only fixing these socio-political issues, as well as rehabilitation issues lies in education. A post-secondary education is undoubtedly a gateway to socio-economic mobility, in addition to having a more educated population. A population who may further along scientific discovery and the arts at an even faster rate. As mentioned before, most prisoners come from poor places and will be released into to those same places where they already face a glass ceiling, felon bias, race bias, and also a job market that is now requiring higher and higher education.  This is where post-secondary education comes in. While they are in prison, prisoners can take college level courses and potentially receive an associate’s or bachelor’s degree. This will offset the cost of holding prisoners in the first place because when they are released they will make up the cost in GDP produced for the economy. There is a higher chance of being hired by companies after release if the ex-prisoner has a degree. These higher chances also help deter recidivism.

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One might suggest the idea that this is simply rewarding prisoners for bad behavior. Some may say people may then purposefully commit crimes to receive a free education. It is, however, not rewarding. It is aiding the acquirement of a better life not just for that individual citizens, but for all the citizens their lives affect, and so on for every prisoner, which will eventually make a better society as a whole. Punishment would not be taken out of the equation. There is still disconnect from society and loved ones, the restrictions on freedoms and lifestyle, and, of course, the cells. Put simply, it is not reward so much as it is transformation.

To answer a question with another question, why is there a country where it is easier to go to prison and receive a degree than simply earn a degree? Most people are not going to go to prison because of the aforementioned punishments, and even if people were purposefully going to prison for this reason statistics still show that to be beneficially, as previously mentioned prisoners make up for it in GDP. It would be more like an investment.

Some may bring up the argument that prisoners should just receive vocational training instead of higher academic education. Firstly, in both cases they are likely to receive work at virtually the same rate. Secondly, that notion is an immediate fix to a long lasting problem of wealth and racial inequality. In the future, there will be even more demand for even higher degrees, so this is progressive action. It is predicted that in the next decade half of all jobs created will require postsecondary education. It is almost futile suggest a more restrictive post-secondary education system when there are no feasible drawbacks to a higher academic education for prisoners. In the same amount of free time, prisoners would be given the opportunity to pursue higher education goals like physics, arts, etc. While in a place where they have a lot of time; killing two birds with one stone in essence. This will also contribute to creating a more educated country as a whole.

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The solution lies absolutely in postsecondary education for prisoners. Near Ithaca, New York, a union between New York State and a philanthropic foundation offers some of the prisoners in four nearby prisons the opportunity to earn a college associate’s degree. A study on released Missouri prisoners reveals that for inmates with a full-time job, re-incarceration rates were nearly cut in half, compared to unemployed former inmates. An average of $25,000 is saved each year per released inmate. In 2010, across the nation, over 650,000 inmates were released from state prisons. An estimated $2.7 billion a year could be saved if re-incarcerations were halved. When given a job, former inmates do not require aid and, therefore, can contribute to society with taxes and purchasing power. The same study concludes that chances increase for an inmate to find full employment if they complete an education while in prison. Recidivism rates were 46 percent lower for inmates in education programs compared to non-participants, according to a 2005 analysis of 15 similar studies. Prison education has also been shown to increase the safety of the corrections officers, as the inmates are occupied with studies.

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I get it, crime is scary and people want something done about it, but that problem is deeper than putting a few systems in place and then giving up hope on people. The aspects of the American public that needs to change most are the attitudes. Too many people are serving too long of sentences for nonviolent crimes. Not all crimes are created equal so we need systems that reflect that in a much more effective and progressive way than what is currently in place. But also the morality and public perception of crime and criminals has to change. The American people have a tendency to lump criminals into one mass. Seeing them all as on the same level; all of them as beings set out to do evil. But anyone who has had a family who is a prisoner can tell you, it’s not the same. Not every criminal is Jeffrey Dahmer. A burglar is not the same as a serial killer. Crimes, attitudes, reasons, and contexts are all different, and, therefore, deserve different individual responses. If it is always an eye for an eye, the whole world will be blind. We cannot treat these people with the magnitude of contempt that we have shown for decades now. Though the general public may agree with was has been said in this paragraph, their attitudes and actions may say something different. We wanted to come down on the side of justice, but we aided in a systematic evil. We were so caught up in condemning those who committed crimes that we damned them and created a system that only helps the problem. We misguidedly followed the principle of justice but forgot that one must also have love and empathy to full restore someone. Our systems in place only help to further divide the difference in income, and only further in the oppression of the lower class and ethnic minorities. Not to mention most prison systems in the united states violate the U.N.’s humanitarian laws because oversight of these systems is done by the prison systems themselves, no third party, judge or jury. The systems we have in place are an abysmal joke to any real world sense, or reasonable idea of public good.

Link to all of my sources: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1WV5QeVIfwaBcokBQGSYFS_OySV3OAlvjh6IPyq_c9uY/pub

You and Your Extensions.

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Imagine if you will, there is you. Then, there is your backpack. Keep in mind these are metaphors. In your backpack are your extensions. Your extensions are your interests, likes, dislikes, hobbies, fashion sense, beliefs, ethics, ideologies, philosophies, etc. Your extensions are the things you carry with you throughout life. They’re a part of you, but they’re not you. They are separate from your identity, and that’s the way it should remain.

We as humans tend to put our identity into our extensions. It’s a simple way of finding identity, and community around those extensions. But when you put your identity to your extensions your attachment to them becomes very rigid.

When we put our identity into our interests we become too emotionally invested in them. We become overly defensive of attacks or critiques about the things we like and often times see that as an attack or critique on us as people. 9548720383_4c1e7ba997

We may even have trouble facing critique and justify the interest with blatant bend-over-backwards logic and reasoning; rather than facing the critique, admitting its flaws, but loving it anyway, and forming complex opinions about the interest. We’ll end up rushing to the defense of something we like, even if the critique is correct.

When we put our identity into our opinions, the bulk of us will try to defend them no matter what; even to aggression at some points. Even when presented with logic, reasoning, and evidence that contradicts our opinions, we will still try to justify and follow them.4359955260_dc8c1b5b77

Opinions are not you, nor should they ever be. Opinions are something you keep in your backpack and change out when you think you’ve found a better one to believe.

When putting our identity into our opinions, philosophies, and ideologies; doing so can limit us in how we view things. When we put our identity in them we can’t think of ways and answers outside of them, we become closed minded of other possible answers even when faced with things that proves our view is not totally correct. We won’t accept other possibilities. People will follow it strictly and create any logic to justify it, and dismiss a lot of other valid possibilities.

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Say for instance we have a room with one optimist, one pragmatist, one humanist, one cynic, and one pessimist, all of whom put their identity into that philosophy. You ask them to express their views on what they believe is inherent human behavior. The rest of them are going to disagree with whichever one is speaking, and they will believe they’re correct no matter what. If you ask them to come up with a singular answer they’ll all agree on, they won’t. Each philosopher will be unwilling to budge when in actuality the answer is deeply complex and encompasses all the aspects of each philosophy in its own regard.

With our beliefs, we’ll just be unwilling to bend.

When we are in a community based around one of our extensions, like say the comic book community, we’ll put our identity in the group as well. If a critique or argument is presented towards the extension, like say heroines in comic books, we’ll defend it in order to keep our identity in it and not feel pressure from the group. Even if we agree with the critique at first, we warp it to try and justify our extension.

When you learn to separate your identity from your extensions, you become less emotionally attached to them. This is a good thing as it opens the door to being more introspective about our extensions. It keeps a distance between our identities and our extensions, which in turn allows us to be more critical about them as well as opening our minds to the extensions of others. Without feeling the need to strictly adhere to our extensions, it allows us to question our extensions. Possibly forming more complex views on our extensions, and possibly forming more complex views on our extensions. As well as being open to others’ extensions.

We can have a type of crisis resulting from the back and forth of views and opinions. When our identities are in our interests, whenever those interests are challenged, like say when they are changing or they are criticized, we can feel an identity crisis because we feel like who we are is slipping away, or our identity is now becoming ambiguous. Raising the question of who we are. So we again try to strictly adhere to our extensions, while aggressively defending them. There’s a sense that their being separated from their identity. A sense of panic that we will be lost and not ourselves if we change one or more of our extensions. If this happens to you, you’re too invested in your extensions and should try to distance yourself. It’s hard because we live in societies that promote identity in relationship to objects, interests, and stances when in reality that’s not what true identity is.

When you behave with such a close attachment to your extensions you are less like a three-dimensional person and more like a fictional character. A character is someone who strictly adheres to set traits no matter what, someone who isn’t dynamic; someone who is predictable, and simple. This character like nature doesn’t work in the complexities of life, which demands us to perform complicated actions and make complicated decisions. As well as not being very beneficial to critical thinking and understanding. It’s like trying to solve advanced calculus using only a multiplication table.

Think of identity as a performance. Your identity is in your actions and thoughts, as those things reflect you. If you’re in some way not satisfied with your performance then it’s time to change how you perform.

It’s hard to find your identity, but putting it in your extensions is not the answer. There’s nothing to fear if you don’t strictly adhere to something. It’s honest and not bound by the need to bend for the sake of simplicity.

Review: Teppu (Manga)

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Quick notice before starting the review: I have never reviewed a manga. Take this review with an extremely critical lens. Also, the manga is not finished as of writing this review, so the views expressed will only reflect on the first 29 chapters. So, Teppu is a martial arts manga that focuses on the lives of female MMA fighters, and, oh boy, is it good.

The writing in Teppu is some of the best I’ve seen in a manga, especially in a martial arts manga. There are few cheesy moments in the writing, but the ones that are there never seem to go above the tone and context of the situation, and never seem out of place. As a matter of fact, the character’s reactions and words, as well as the excitement of the scene, always seems to match what’s going on perfectly. It’s not over the top and finds a way to make a down to earth story and the everyday very interesting. It’s not overly fantastical with its fighting and that its greatest strength.

As mentioned previously, most of the characters are female and, quite frankly, I love this. Many would think this would bring down the quality of a work; not here, not in the slightest. It is refreshing to see female characters take on such great personalities and characters, regularly attributed to male characters. It is nice to see this happen in an industry where female characters regularly borderline on the nymphomaniac, blow-up doll, or pornstar. But it’s more than that. They don’t just mimic male characters and embody bombastic traits, usually attributed to male characters. No, they are their own characters with their own personalities, lives, and jobs that aren’t hinged on male characters. They’re their own persons. There is diversity in the different characters, too. No two female characters are alike in either body or personality. It’s nice to see, especially for two industries that usually just do a copy and paste of female characters. I’ve often criticized most of the media for its portrayal of women, saying female characters are not inherently bound to these tropes and archetypes, and can do the actions of their male counterparts. Female characters are often two-dimensional and too similar to each other, and real women aren’t like this. Apparently, a man by the name Oota Moare came to a similar revelation and made this beautiful gem of a manga. As well as saying that his characters should reflect this reality.

Politics aside for a second, let’s talk about the characters themselves. The characters in Teppu are fantastically three-dimensional. Each character has depth and layers. Each personality is entirely different from the others. They behave differently based on the context and the people they’re interacting with. They all have their own specific views on life, work, entertainment, fighting, leagues, etc. They have their own motivations, goals, and reasons as to why they do exactly the things they do. Their personalities are fully fleshed out. They’re like onions; they each have layers to them. They don’t follow any set patterns of characters from before; they’re not tropes or archetypical in the slightest. They feel like real people.

The character dynamics in this manga are something to praise, as each relationship between each individual characters feels unique and nuanced. You can feel the expression in each relationship, because of the complexity of each character’s history with the other, and their personality. The interactions also vary greatly based on the different every time depending on and greatly encompass the context. They all feel genuine and real.

Now, like it or not, because of the context of what I’m reviewing I have to step back into the world of politics for a second. In the manga they do address issues of inequalities presented to them because they are female; issues of representation, public perception, or how the systems and leagues themselves operate. What’s even more fantastic is how they’re presented and brought up. They feel like a natural part of the situations, it doesn’t feel improper when a character brings up these issues in conversation. It never feels like the manga lectures you about the topic. It feels like a genuine, empathetic, sincere discussion of the issues at hand. As a feminist myself it brings me joy to see issues like these brought up in such an inviting manner.

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The pacing is fantastic. The fight scenes and everyday scenes are really well organized and have great balance. No scene ever feels like it lasts too long. The life scenes allow us to connect and understand the characters, without the scenes dragging on or adding anything unnecessary. The fight scenes take their time and let you observe the spectacle while getting into the depths of characters. Flashbacks also make great use of time by only focusing on the necessary and quickly getting back to the story. If you’ve ever wondered how to properly write dialog in manga format, this is how you do it. Every piece of dialog feels like it perfectly represents the characters.

The action sequences in the manga are just… Jesus, they are so fantastically done. What make them so good and distinguishes them from other manga fighting, is its while well-choreographed, realistic fighting. This may sound boring compared to other manga fighting, but it is anything but that. Most mangas have the characters swing the swords a few times/throw only a few punches, then talk for a little bit, or charge up attacks, yell the name of attacks, or just flat out drag on the length of time to perform an attack, there is none of that in Teppu. It’s just straight punching, kicking and grappling the entire time. While most mangas will break up the five minutes of action it’s given, into so many unnecessary parts, Teppu takes those five minutes and uses them for straight fighting the entire time. The fighting is realistic, and all the moves are based on real fighting, which makes so intensely fascinating to watch. The manga even goes to great lengths to showcase different real world martial arts like Muay Thai, Boxing, Kyokushin Karate, Judo, and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. The list goes on, and I’m sure there will be more to come in the future.

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The choreography of the fights is something to adore. Each panel shows you step by step what’s happening and it’s all fluid and intense. Some panels will make you do a double take to figure out what’s going on in that specific part, but it won’t take long to figure it out, and it never takes away from the overall experience.

Most other mangas and animes will get away with not showing you what’s happening through a combination of motion blur and flashy moves; Teppu lets you see all of it. Every punch, kick, and grapple is plain as day. Every action has its own piece and flows well from panel to panel. Teppu actually lets you watch the fight and get engulfed in it.

The art style is fairly different, even by manga standards. This isn’t a bad thing, it’s actually quite good. If I had to describe the style it would be a combination of old shonen style manga and figure drawing. The level of detail in each aspect of the art is quite amazing, though. Everything from stitching, muscle stands, and ripples in skin portrayed in an extensive amount of detail. The art has a wonderful way of showing the depth in contours and objects.

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The character designs are great, as well. Females in media, especially in drawn or animated fictional works, don’t have the best representation when it comes to body image. It’s usually polarizing, falling into either obese, supermodel or stick skinny. More often than not, though, female characters are copied and pasted with a supermodel’s body. In the case of Teppu, every person’s body is different, especially the female characters. Some girls are short and skinny, short and thicker, there are muscular girls, tall girls, some are bulkier than others, some have straight torsos, others have V torsos, and they’re all different. No two bodies are the same; they all come in the different shapes, sizes, and proportions. No two faces are alike either, which is also really nice to see. Hell, the main character is 182cm tall (5’10”). It’s all really refreshing to see.

Finally, the art when characters move is incredibly intense and pristine. In an interview, the creator himself talked about how much time he puts into the motion streaks, and it really shows. The detail is very fine.

This manga manages to take the complexities of life and present them beautifully in a narrative form. If you haven’t read it yet, I would absolutely recommend that you start right now. There are only 29 issues right now, usually 45 pages an issue. Teppu is one of my favorite mangas to read so far, and the studio is actually having financial trouble, so if this review made you interested go check it out now because these guys are amazing creators that deserve it.

Angela’s Ashes and Real Perseverance.

Perseverance is clearly the most prevalent aspect of Angela’s Ashes. In any of the chapters, you see Frank and his family tackle adversity. What I think differentiates this book from others and led to its success, is its real depiction of perseverance and stride. Angela’s Ashes is a memoir, so it takes a real world look at perseverance and adversity; instead of a glorified depiction of goal achievement. It is worth mentioning that this idea of perseverance is incredibly prevalent in America; as it is promoted to us from birth.

In this context, two types of perseverance exist: real and narrative. It is exactly the ladder one that is dangerous when perpetuated in real life. Narrative perseverance is a hyper exaggerated expression of how fate operates. Fate, as I see it and use in this context, is not a predetermined set of events. Fate is a streamline of cause and effect events that people’s actions make changeable. In America, we have this idea that as long as you put the work in your guaranteed the results you want. I don’t need to express how overly optimistic this is, and commonly false. Like it or not, in the real world hard work is not always rewarded, crime does sometimes pay, and people do cheat and get away with it. This belief in narrative perseverance leads to a rather unsympathetic response by many to those not successful. A lot of people see this as an absence of work ethic on the person’s part. We all heard the phrase “Just do it,” “just make it happen” as though it is that easy to wield fate. In books, no specific genre or type because this applies to almost every book, the world is set around the main character(s) and their actions, their life, and their goals. If it wasn’t the story wouldn’t be very interesting. Ever notice how when the main character(s) does something things just follow suit and things happen on their accord. They will the world around them to their goals and the universe just acknowledges those goals. Even if the goal doesn’t work out, all the events seem tailored to the protagonist’s actions. Characters make the opportunity for them to succeed in and fate obliges.

In real life, this just doesn’t happen. Then there is real perseverance. This may sound scary, but we are not in total control of our lives. Our lives are just as much a result of other people’s actions as they are our own, and they do affect us. We are constantly subjected to the results of these actions and decisions, which does change our lives and affect the decisions we make. Yes, our decisions are a large part of the outcomes in our lives, but it is not the whole. An employer could deny us or fire us as fast as they hired us. Many things that may happen in our lives may not even be our fault. If you’re poor, so many things affect your life and may keep you poor, other than work ethic, most of those factors are likely, not controllable. There are a million little factors that affect your life every day, some small, some large, that determine your life. At any point in the book, Frank would have jumped at the ways to enhance his life, but he couldn’t because most of the factors were out of his control. Frank going back to Ireland, his father drinking the many, getting typhoid, getting more brothers, getting turned away from the Christian brotherhood, the list goes on. Real perseverance is taking an opportunity as it comes to you. Persisting to look for opportunity and going after it. Opportunities, mind you, likely the results of other people’s actions. Essentially everyone in the world makes this huge network of give and take that applies to everyone. Mark Zuckerberg, while incredibly intelligent and having a great work ethic did not make Facebook and his success solely by himself, his success is also the product of millions of little events, decisions, and people all happening to work in his favor. Frank McCourt himself even stated in an interview, that one of the books key points is not about overcoming adversity but dealing with it. We see Frank McCourt take the opportunity as it comes when the debt collector dies, then he steals money from her to afford his goal. He took the opportunity as it came, and when the opportunity came to help everyone else, he did that as well. He never lost sight of going back to America, but it was always a thing for the future, replacing something more immediate.

Real perseverance is what I as the reader and a thinker in my seventeen years of life, take away from this book. There are steps you can take to success, but you don’t control fate, and it is never exactly your call to make. But it is never utterly hopeless, at least for some of us it isn’t.