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Whenever I’m watching the news on TV, I usually find the “health news” to be little more than a time-filler, something to take up a minute or two in between entertainment/celebrity stories and the weather report. But this study, reported in the media about two weeks ago, piqued my interest.

daydreaming was not good for people’s moods: Volunteers were unhappier when their thoughts were elsewhere. Statistical tests showed that mind-wandering earlier in the day correlated with a poorer mood later in the day, but not vice versa, suggesting that unhappiness with their current activity wasn’t prompting people to mentally escape. Instead, their wandering minds were the cause of their gloom. Mental drifting was a downer for subjects during even the dullest activities, like cleaning, the researchers found. “I’m sure there are some situations where mind-wandering can be helpful,” says Killingsworth. But based on these results, those “are probably pretty rare.”

Over the past few weeks, I’d found myself thinking about this kind of thing quite often. I’ve been a chronic daydreamer ever since I was very young, a fact that’s no doubt played a big part in shaping my mind and personality into what it is today. I’m frequently bored and uninterested in my tasks at work, and often find daydreaming to be my only escape from the mundane reality of it all. I’m also taking a difficult college class in my spare time, and often find my study sessions interrupted by spontaneous, seemingly unprovoked daydreams. I’ll be enrolled in a full-time program next year with a significantly heavier course load. Will I be able to concentrate on my studies, or at the end of the day, am I just too much of a daydreamer to take on so many challenging responsibilities?

Also, though I don’t want to go too deep into it right now (or sound like I’m fishing for sympathy), I suffer from depression and have been in counseling for more than a year now. This is something I’ve dealt with for a long time and only recently have I felt the least bit ready to try to understand, much less actually overcome. Is there any connection between my depression and my tendency to let my mind wander at will so often? I’ve been told, and also come to realize on my own, that I need to focus on “living in the moment.” This comes easier to some people than others.

But if you’re going to daydream, you might as well daydream about something you enjoy, right? I don’t get to watch anime every day, but I know I think about it on a daily basis. So much so that I, like many anime fans, eventually decided to start a blog (mostly) about it. I could spend all day trying to pin down just why I’m so drawn to anime or why it “works” so effectively on me. Why do I like anime? There’s probably no simple answer to that question, and even if there were, it would be a subject for another blog entry. It’s enough for now to say that I’ve been positively hooked on it for about five years now, and that I think about it quite often. When I’m at home, when I’m at work, when I’m in the car, or even when I’m falling asleep at night. I doubt that I’m truly “obsessed” with it; I reach my limits when trying to “marathon” a series after a measly four or five episodes, I haven’t touched my half-finished AMV in at least 3 months, and my anime-related updates here have slowed to a mere trickle as of late. But, anime is never very far from my mind, whether it’s thoughts of a recent episode that I watched, a blog entry I just read, or a favorite character. What does this mean for myself, or for anyone else who frequently thinks about anime? And what effect does it have on us?

Within the realm of today’s visual arts (film, television, comics, etc.), anime presents us with some of the most inventive, appealing, and inviting fictional worlds for viewers to immerse themselves within. Is it any wonder that so many of us are so mentally drawn to these same worlds long after we’ve stepped away from the screen? Thinking about anime, whether it’s of the critical kind or just lazy daydreaming, is a routine activity for many of us. But is thinking about fictional worlds and characters, to the extent that most “anime fans” tend to do, really a healthy activity? Does daydreaming about anime really make us happy? Or, when we think about the colorful and  fantastic worlds of our favorite anime, does it just lead us to feel progressively less and less satisfied with the reality we’ve been given?

What is daydreaming? Making plans for the future and thinking about the past, for sure. But in general, thinking about anything at all that isn’t happening at the moment. When we think about anime, we devote our mental energies to recalling and exploring worlds we can never visit, characters we can never meet, and events we can never experience or affect. Well, so it goes with all fiction, you say. Furthermore, “I write fanfiction,” you might counter. “I cosplay and blog and make AMVs. Of course I interact with anime. It’s not a completely passive experience.” It’s not when you’re actually in the habit of creating and sharing those passions. But in between your anime viewing and your other anime-related hobbies, does thinking about anime really differ from daydreaming, or the effects it might ultimately have on one’s mood?

This is hardly anything to get worked up about, just something I’ve been thinking about and wanted to explore.

When you think of autumn traditions, what comes to mind? Maybe costume parties, raking leaves, or (American) football? Maybe you enjoy a glass of strong apple cider? Why not try a few pumpkin beers, too? I’m not even a big beer drinker, but I’ve really enjoyed most of the pumpkin ales that I’ve tried over the past few weeks. These have been around for years and years, I’m sure, and as usual I’m probably one of the last to come around to “discovering” them, but I’ve got to say that they’ve done more to expand my palate than any other new food or drink that I’ve had an opportunity to sample in 2010.

Unfortunately, by the time you read this, most of these limited-time, seasonal brews will probably be very difficult to find. Heck, by the middle of September, it was already impossible to obtain some of the most desirable pumpkin beers, a lesson we’ll just have to heed for next year. Just a few impressions from our trips to Binny’s and beyond:

Hoppin Frog Frog’s Hollow Double Pumpkin Ale
My personal favorite, a spicy and rich brew full of flavor and aroma. Pours on the darker side, probably tastes more like pumpkin pie than any other beer I’ve tried, but not sickly sweet or overwhelming. Comes in a large bottle and on its own will probably satisfy anyone who’s drinking for pleasure and not just to “get drunk.” I really couldn’t drink anything else after I finished this (its 8.4% abv easily tops any other pumpkin brew we were able to find), not can I imagine wanting to down any other beers beforehand either. But to each their own. This one’s a real treat that’s meant to be savored on its own.

Buffalo Bill’s Pumpkin Ale
Pours a light amber color, mild pumpkin taste, a smooth and light pumpkin brew. This one never really stood out for me but is still a pleasant experience to drink. Into late October, this was the only pumpkin beer still available in our area, but rest assured that its relative non-scarcity doesn’t mean that it’s a sub-par beer. We bought the last case we could find and hope it lasts us until Christmas. Definitely worth trying out.

Wild Onion Pumpkin Ale
Ever since I’ve been old enough to drink, I’ve held a misguided disdain for canned beers and done my best to avoid them altogether (Guinness being the sole exception). So when I first saw Wild Onion’s Pumpkin Ale at the store, I quickly turned up my nose at the display of six packs and rolled my eyes at its whimsical can design. Didn’t they know I was now a sophisticated beer drinker? Alas, my snobbish ways nearly made me miss out on a great beer. If you love pumpkin flavor, you won’t be disappointed by Wild Onion, which pours a deep, dark brown and brings a spicy and rich pumpkin pie taste. Quite a find.

Dogfish Head Punkin Ale
We bought a pack of this back in mid-September and drank through it rather quickly, though I held onto the last bottle and kept it in my fridge for about a month. Going back to it after trying all the other brands listed here, I was surprised at how bold and spicy it tasted. Next to Hoppin Frog, no other beer brought the flavors of brown sugar and spices like Dogfish Head. A surprisingly thick pour with a creamy texture and strong taste, Punkin Ale goes down smooth and will leave you looking forward to your next bottle.

Blue Moon Harvest Moon Pumpkin Ale
Harvest Moon is surely the most widely brewed and distributed pumpkin beer that we tried, but that’s no reason to write it off. It’s a little on the bland side, with a light pumpkin taste that’ll probably disappoint hardcore seasonal beer fans, but like the original Blue Moon, I found it to be an above-average, enjoyable beer. As much as I hate using the word, it’s very drinkable. And as it only appears to be sold in packs of 12, that’s more important than it sounds.

Post Road Pumpkin Ale
Pours a pleasant dark amber. With a mild vegetable taste and a hard-to-detect aroma (at least in the batch we had), Post Road is a reliable, although somewhat unexciting, pumpkin beer. There’s nothing wrong with it, but when the narrow window for pumpkin beers opens once again next September, we’ll probably seek out and revisit at least a half dozen brands before coming back to this one. Seems to have its fans online, so I definitely do want to give it another shot in the future.

Jolly Pumpkin La Parcela No. 1 Pumpkin Ale
The most expensive pumpkin ale that I tried this year. Also, my least favorite, by far. Very mild pumpkin flavor that’s strongly overcome by a sparkly Champagne taste/feel that leaves everything feeling watered down and sour. Comes in a large bottle that I couldn’t finish. What I’m trying to say is, this probably isn’t your father’s beer, even if he was a hip dude into microbrews. Not recommended, but there are probably plenty of beer aficionados out there who genuinely like this sort of thing and could tell me why I’m wrong about it.

Twitter

  • @Nopybot This weekend, give yourself a break if you can! And whatever else you need right now, you have my blessing. 1 day ago
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