Monday, 29 March 2010

Vote or...absolutely nothing will happen to you

This Last week, there are student council elections at my personal hell college. Now, usually, I don't give a shit about them, and while I may browbeat someone into voting - it's the one aspect of political life I'm very passionate about - I didn't vote for this election.
Without getting into a long rant, everyone should vote. We have power via the simplest of gestures and I think it is not only wasteful but irresponsible not to express your views. I hate to hear people saying that they don't vote because they don't like "the higher ups" and don't want to support their "games". Well, there's one solution to that: vote for another party, vote blank, just VOTE. And that person will say "well, I'm not voting in protest!". Fine, protest, but bare in mind that you will be bundled with the people that went to the beach, or to a football match because they don't give a shit about elections. A black vote means you went to the trouble of voting, even though you don't agree with any of the choices presented to you. [You may point out that usually blank and null votes are counted together, and yes, they shouldn't be. It's still better than staying at home.] That, to me, is the best way of protesting, because I can't stand people blaming our politicians for everything - even though they aren't, you know, GOOD - and then not doing something to counter that. You have the duty to vote, and if you don't, you cannot blame others for choosing a certain person, because you let them make that choice for you. It's called being responsible for your future, and it may not seem like much, but every vote does count. And as soon as we all realize how powerful we truly are, I believe we will become a lot more demanding, and thus, not any guy with a law degree can run our country. Because our politicians know that most people don't care who's in charge, they don't try hard enough, and that's the real issue. It's very easy to satisfy someone who isn't that bothered about it in the first place. I'm not excusing their behaviour, I'm just stating that our current problem with politics and politicians is strongly connected to the voters' unwillingness to challenge them.


Maybe last year it was this crazy, but I wasn't there to witness it. I remember in my first year of college, the people from the C list glued little stickers everywhere. I thought THAT was obnoxious. It seems I have no idea what's obnoxious, because, as you can see from that picture, they spared the windows because they couldn't get to them. And really, I wish I had gotten these shots the day before, when the wind hadn't said fuck you to the collage treatment of that building, so you'd get the fuck effect of this batshittery. Maybe this will help.[More pictures after the cut]

Thursday, 25 March 2010

Literary Cleanup, book #6

Tom Sawyer, Detective - Mark Twain (free to read @ Project Gutenberg)

Don't mock me. If it's in my shelf, I'm going to read it, even if it's Where's Waldo. This really is something you'd read on a nice day at the beach, because it's a very simple and fast read. Yeah, I haven't got that much to say about it. Well, the only real thing that sprung to mind while I was reading it is that Tom Sawyer is a bit of a knob-head. Why? Well, he drags Huck with him so he can go his flights of fancy with some insurance, you know? At least, if he dies, Huck will too.
Also - and this either means I'm jaded or I've read too many crime novels - in which bloody court does the judge allow a kid to be a lawyer, let alone interrupt the trial so he can present a story for which he has no evidence? Anyway, like I said, it's a light read, good for when you're not feeling like thinking too much. Durrr.


Por fim, ouvi-o dizer, tão cheio de calma que me deu ganas de lhe pregar um soco:
- Tenho muita pena, tia Polly, mas creio que terá de me dispensar dessa viagem, nesta ocasião.
A tia Polly ficou tão estupefacta e atordoada com aquela fria impertinência que, durante meio minuto, perdeu a fala e afastou-se alguns passos, circunstância que me permitiu dar uma cotovelada em Tom, e murmurar-lhe:
- Onde tens tu o juízo? Porque não aproveitas uma bela portunidade como esta, e a deitas fora?
Ele continuou impassível, e volveu-me para baixo:
- Huck Finn, quererás tu, porventura, que ela perceba o meu grande desejo de fazer a viagem? Porque se ela o percebesse, começaria logo a duvidar, e a imaginar uma série de doenças, perigos e objecções, e, fica-o sabendo, anulava pela certa a resolução que me anunciou. Deixa-me cá; eu sei como hei-de manejá-la.
Confesso que não tinha pensado naquilo. Mas ele tinha razão. Tom Sawyer tinha sempre razão, era a cabeça mais atilada que tenho visto, constantemente alerta contra a possível má-fé alheia, e pronto para qualquer eventualidade.

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Literary Cleanup, book #5

The Princess - D. H. Lawrence (free to read @ project Guttenberg)

A good short story, that got a lot more interesting towards the end, though I still feel the pacing was all over the place-- at first, it's quite slow but then all the "good" bits, as it were, seem to tumble down on you quite rapidly, and you have almost no time to take them all in. The backcover tells me that the Princess is a typical D. H. Lawrence woman, which does make me want to read more of his books.

Btw, I must note this: I am reading a lot of short stories, yes, but I do not feel that cheapens this whole thing.Why? Well, mainly because I am trying to read the books I have, and I don't care if they have 3 or 8942842 pages. Besides, I find short stories to be great vehicles in assessing whether I'd be interested in reading a novel by that particular author or not. Moreover, they do come quite in handy when I get in to my usual rut of taking 4000 million years to get into a novel. Thus, I never stop reading, even if I don't really feel like it.


Ao lado do pai latagão e formoso, com o seu quê de louco, a Princesa andava direita, toda distinção mas pequena, quase minúscula no físico e com ar de criança trazida pelas fadas. Vestia simplesmente e em geral de azul ou delicado cinzas, com golas em velho ponto-de-milão ou de linho cheio de bordados finos. Tinha mãos frágeis que a tocar tiravam do piano sonoridade de cravo. E tendência para ir à rua de peregrina e capa, em vez de casaco, com uma colecção de chapéus oitocentistas. A pele era pura flor de macieira.
Parecia saída de um quadro. E morreu sem conhecer o estranho quadro onde o pai a tinha encaixilhado para sempre.

Monday, 15 March 2010

Literary Cleanup, book #4

O Barão - Branquinho da Fonseca

First crap book of the year! Let's celebrate! Honestly, I went into this excited, because I had just finished O Mistério da Estrada de Sintra , so I was all like "yeah, let's read some more portuguese authors!" only to become puzzled, bored and frustrated. Despite the title, O Barão - or, at least, the version I have of it - includes 2 more stories, As Mãos Frias and O Involuntário. Let's start with O Barão. The back cover says:

Novelist and short story writer, Branquinho da Fonseca was one of the founders of "Presença", the famous magazine that helped modernize portuguese literature. [...] O Barão probably is Branquinho da Fonseca's most popular book. The author delves in the telluric Barroso hill, deep in the core of Portugal, where he battles with a primitive world that dominates and almost absorbs him. The baron is one of the most fascinating and overwhelming characters of all portuguese literature.

Now, believe me: that last line is complete bullshit. But I'll get to that soon. First of all, it does surprise me that this is the guy who, in some way, was a pioneer in our country. How? I mean, I do get that you have to consider the time this was written in, but the Eça de Queiróz book was, in 1870, a lot more modern than this one, written in 1942. Now that just boggles my mind. How can something written in the middle of a war - well, even though Portugal was sipping on tea waiting for it to end, trying to be as far away from trouble as possible - and sound so self-indulgent, futile and detached from reality? I love how they mention the "telluric" aspect of it, but in reality, the actual place they were in was mentioned quite briefly. It's less about how beautiful and magical the place was and more about how magical and beautiful women are, in general. I think I would have liked not hated it if the book didn't try to be anything else than an ode to the powerful passions stirred by even the simplest of women. I use "simple" because both main characters have huge boners for the lady who makes them dinner. Why? Because OOOH THE COUNTRY THE ROMANCE SHE HAS BREASTS AND I'M DRUNK, BUT NOTHING WILL HAPPEN. There, that's the whole story for ya. And the baron? Self-absorbed, alcoholic douchebag who coerces the school inspector who's staying with him to drink a whole lot even though he will work the next day. Also, he convinces him to run around at 3 am going to some woman's house, to do...something. Being drunk, mostly.

(I love how I have so much to say about a book I didn't like, and yet for Sourcery I only wrote a small paragraph)

What about the other two stories? Well, since you asked, I can tell you that they are equally pointless and unimpressive. All the characters create big philosophical manifestos out of nothing, only to arrive to absolutely no conclusion. Ineffectual, meaningless tripe.

I usually have a rule about stuff I don't like: however bad it was, I will still try to read another book by that author because I don't think you can honestly judge their work having read only a tiny morsel of it. That being said, you can be damn sure I won't be running to library in search of more Branquinho da Fonseca. I have wasted enough time already.


Já estávamos ambos embriagados. O Barão ergueu-se, fitou-me e disse, de repente triste:
- Vamos beber por uma mulher.
Levantei-me também. Foi tão tal armário e trouxe uma garrafa de champanhe. Berrou:
- Taças!
E tentava tirar o arme da rolha, sem conseguir. Veio a criada e pôs quatro taças sobre a mesa. O arame não saía. Então bateu com o gargalo da garrafa na borda da mesa e o champanhe jorrou em espuma branca. Reparando que estavam mais taças, com as costas da mão atirou duas da mesa abaixo. Eram de reserva. Porém, daquela vez não queria reservas. E ergueu a taça que transbordava. Eu imitei-o, perguntando nebulosamente:
- A que mulher?
- À única!
E bebemos ao mesmo tempo, despejando-as de um só trago. MAs com surpresa notei que o barão tinha ficado subitamente pensativo. Depois, com um gesto solene atirou o copo ao chão e fitou-me, silencioso. Fiz o mesmo, atirei a taça.

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

A day in the life of a college student

The title should really be "how I keep myself amused in a day full of classes I don't want to have" or even more simply "I hate college, here's some pictures". Added bonus? Limericks!*

Woke up quite early to learn some stuff
Left the house running to catch the damn bus
The rain was most troubling
My chances to fall were doubling
The driver left, all I could do was cuss.

After the first class, trouble ensued
The need was growing--sorry to be crude
But using those terrible "facilities"
Was fraught with daunting possibilities
Bloody hell, I guess I'm screwed.

You may wonder the cause of the "show and tell"
Well, all I want is to share my own hell
Because in that dreadful college
There isn't, to the best of my knowledge
A place where you don't risk dying from the smell.

Monday, 8 March 2010

Literary Cleanup, book #3

O Mistério da Estrada de Sintra – Eça de Queiróz*/Ramalho Ortigão

First off, note that I only scanned the cover of the book I read because I like to have the exact covers I had on these posts. Also, there's the collection of short stories I mentioned. Funnily enough, at 160 pages, this is the longest one. Onwards!

Eça de Queiróz is one of the most notable portuguese writers, if not the most popular novelist. Up until now, I had only read Os Maias, which is required at most high schools, and everybody will tell you what a pain it is to read Os Maias. Those people obviously have no concept of pain. Real pain is Viagens na Minha Terra, and I like Almeida Garrett, so there. The thing is, his writing is incredibly descriptive and sometimes one does feel as if there hasn't been any story for the last 20 pages, just endless accounts of furniture smelling like the first cherry blossoms and women also smelling like something pleasant (and erotic). It says on the tin on the preface that he and Ramalho Ortigão quite hate this book and only published it because they feel that no writer should hide even their most terrible work. Of course, upon reading this, I thought “how pleasant that you say you hate it, that it's below you, but you'll still welcome the money it will make”. Anyway, I really enjoyed this one. And perhaps that is so because it is quite different from his style (I can't speak for Ramalho Ortigão, though); you see, the whole book is comprised of letters that were sent to a newspaper, giving the idea that this story actually happened. And reading each letter, you are caught, enticed by this odd mystery and immediately want to read the next chapter (or letter, in this case). This is the mark of a good mystery/thriller. If it excites your mind, then the pacing is right and your story is indeed intriguing. I quite enjoyed seeing it unravel, little by little, even though I sort of guessed what happened after I read the third (or was it the 4th?) letter.
If you are not a big crime/mystery novel person, you should at least know that it is quite easy to read. It even made me want to change up my reading order so I could get to some more portuguese novelists instead of jumping right onto Neil Gaiman or something of the sort.
A friend of mine mentioned this has a movie, so if you're not willing to try the novel, at least consider the movie, since, as I understand, it has a interesting take on the events.


Não obstante a disposição em que me achava de ceder da luta e de entrar no trem, perguntei em alemão ao meu amigo se ele era de opinião que resistíssemos ou que nos rendêssemos.
- Rendam-se, rendam-se para nos poupar algum tempo que nos é precioso! - disse gravemente um dos desconhecidos. - Por quem são, acompanhem-nos! Um dia saberão por que motivo lhes saímos ao caminho, mascarados. Damos-lhe a nossa palavra de que amanhã estarão nas suas casas, em Lisboa. Os cavalos ficarão em Sintra daqui a duas horas.
Depois de uma breve relutância, que eu contribuí para desvanecer, o meu companheiro apeou-se e entrou no cupé. Eu segui-o.

*I've always spelled his name that way.

Thursday, 4 March 2010

Of grumpy irish men and their thoughts

This isn't a recent discovery, by any means, but I feel like talking about it.

In stand up comedy, there are only 3 people I find incredibly funny. Of course, they are all british: Eddie Izzard, Bill Bailey and Dylan Moran. A friend had a trip to Holland recently and after years of badgering gently suggesting he should check him out, he asked me to put some videos on my mp3 player, and I saw this as a fantastic opportunity to addict him to fruit this irish bloke called Dylan Moran.

I only knew who he was because of Black Books, and I love that show quite a lot, I decided to investigate his stand-up comedy only to be amazed at how brilliant it is. He mixes observational humor with surrealism and just a bit of cynicism. I've only seen 2 of his shows, Monster (my favorite) and Like, Totally which you can find on some places. *cough*

Here are some clips:

Monday, 1 March 2010

Literary Cleanup, book #2

(now fixed, thanks Zé!)
Sourcery - Terry Pratchett

Third book in the Rincewind series, Sourcery is, so far, my favorite, story-wise. I really liked how the – already quite interesting – premise played out and I also enjoyed seeing more of the Librarian. Also, Conina and...I don't remember his name, but it was the young hero who was only a hero in theory, were quite fun, and I loved seeing their interaction with Rincewind. And I must add that the Seriph's pick up lines were amazing. I will never look at a melon again without thinking it should be jewelled. The book ends on a puzzling note, and I'm really looking forward to the next one, though I have promised myself I wouldn't buy Eric (the next in the series) until I read the rest of my list.


Without hesitation, Rincewind took a step backwards.
'Over to you, friend,' he said.
Nijel drew his sword and held it out in front of him, his arms trembling at the effort. There were a few seconds of total silence as everyone waited to see what happened next. And then Nijel uttered the battle cry that Rincewind would never quite forget to the end of his life.
'Erm,' he said, 'excuse me...'