Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Literary Cleanup, book #11



Los Mares del Sur - Manuel Vázquez Montalbán (available at your local library)

It's always harder for me when I don't know the author, and even harder when, after reading the book, I am puzzled as to whether I liked it or not. Mares do Sul is a perfect example of that. Nothing wrong with the book...well, if I said there was nothing, I'd probably be lying. This is one of those which I can't say I disliked, but I do have a lot of issues with it.

Mares do Sul is - according to the man's Wikipedia - one of the first books in the Pepe Carvalho saga, if you can call it that. Most of Montalban's work was devoted to exploring the stories (and work, obviously) of this 50 year old guy. Now, he's not just any dude, he's probably the first protagonist of a crime novel that fails completely at gathering my sympathy.

He's sold to us as very charming, with his vast culture, love of fine cuisine and blunt manner of speaking. In my mind, however, he's simply grumpy, obsessed with everyone's political standing and devoid of any kind of moral. He treats the women he meets like utter shite. He supposedly has one girlfriend, but he does not hesitate to fuck the teenage daughter of one of his most important clients, regardless of her many issues. She's a heavy user of all kinds of drugs and due to the death of her father (which Pepe is investigating), starts showing her real insecurities and becomes enthralled with this old man who never lets his guard down.

He fucks her, makes fun of her cocaine use - when she waits at his house for him, she prepares dinner...the first words he says are something similar to "nice meal, but where's the coke?". Perhaps this is supposed to be funny. To me, he just sounds like a guy that has no problems in using people to get what he needs. Be that money, food (since his "helper" always cooks for him) or a quick lay.

Still on women: he thinks he's such a fucking irresistible piece of ass, even when he's being shut down in a grand manner (see the excerpt for a clear illustration of this) or even when he's losing his erection. Don't believe me?

"Carvalho saltou da cama, procurou na mesita-de-cabeceira a caixa de Condal número 6, acendeu o charuto, sentou-se na beira da cama e contemplou como de uma varanda o espectáculo do seu pénis em retirada lenta."

He stood in awe of his flaccid penis. He lit a cigar to celebrate the fantastic awesomeness of his limp dick. This bloke is so into himself that I do wonder why he bothers fucking other people. Perhaps he needs someone to hold the mirror. Or camera. Or to sell tickets to his flappy show.

Another "cool" thing he does? He burns books instead of wood in his fireplace. Now that's just stupid. I have no words to describe how pathetic an attempt at being suave (or something) that is. Plus, in most scenes, instead of dialogue or ANY action whatsoever, we're treated to endless streams of his memories which are never relevant to the story. They are the kind of thing that you hear from people when they have no other arguments; the "in my time, things went smoothly" line of thought. For him, and his immaculate past, all other human beings are wrong, silly and have no real purpose in life. He doesn't trust anyone, and yet people keep falling at his feet, presumably because they see him as enlightening.

Even when the story finally ends, we see a powerful, rich woman be insulted by him...and then, because he's CHARMING OR SOME SHIT she decides to ask him to come and be his boy toy. Despite the fact that he's probably older. And, according the descriptions, not very attractive.

The story itself is somewhat interesting, and would probably be more had the author not focused so much on the inner dwellings of Pepe Caravalho and actually tried to build other charaters that didn't worship him instantly. Plus, he did have a clever way of presenting the story to us, and it didn't seem like the clues fell on Pepe's feet. The pacing could have been much better if so much of the book wasn't 70% "oh, woe is me, I'm so awesome and everyone else is stupid and ugly". Seriously, do we need a monologue in the middle of each scene? I think not.


I guess this is a decent read, but the main guy is such an asshole, I'd have problems recommending this to anyone else. Maybe it's just me, being a girl, with my girly feelings. Or maybe he's a fucking asshole. Yeah, probably that.

Excerpt:

Carvalho tinha vontade de lhe dizer: tinha o poncho, meu amor, e vamos para uma cama negra, branca, redonda, quadrada, tanto faz, porque quando a burguesia não pode conservar o controlo da cama, começa adjectivá-la.

- Vais continuar aqui, ou vens beber seis garrafas de vinho branco absolutamente sensacional?
- És rápido, forasteiro. Que insinuas?
- Que vamos para a cama.
- Não há dúvida. Conheces Juanito Marsé. É a sua técnica. Diz que lhe deram muitas bofetadas, mas que também teve muita sorte.
- E eu? A bofetada?
- Não. Mas também não a sorte. Estou à espera da minha miúda. Tenho-a aparcada lá dentro. O nosso é um amor impossível.
- Tinha acabado de nascer.
- São os melhores.

Carvalho despediu-se com uma pequena vénia. Na rua concentrou-se no tema dos amores que acabam de nascer.

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Swan dive!

So, we're all familiar with this:



...right? If you aren't, this is one of the best ads Old Spice has ever done. And that's saying a lot. I mean, they had Bruce Campbell working for them at one point.

They've produced a couple more ads, like this one (if you watch it, you'll understand the title of this post) and this one (which is apparently nominated for an Emmy). In any case, that isn't what made me write this up.

Oh no. The interesting thing about this whole Old Spice Man craze is that the company itself is putting an insanely large amount of videos out on their channel. Why? To reply to questions made via twitter. He even replied to 4chan. Nope, I'm not kidding:




Pure brilliance. Even funnier is this one, in which a user requests for help in proposing to his girlfriend:




I always crack up when they bring the candles in.

You can check out their channel for more video replies. I'm so glad they are letting Old Spice Man share his wisdom. After all, he's on a horse.

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Otomen - episode 2 recap

Oh, hi there. Did you click on this link thinking this was a post about something other than a silly japanese drama? Well, you were wrong.


The episode starts abruptly, in the middle of a classroom, where we see another glimpse of Asuka's childhood: the day when he had to write about what his father did for a living. After his mother arrives, he volunteers to read his essay, which starts out with him stating he doesn't have a father but that his mother is awesome. And then he informs the class that his father is away because he wants to be a woman, so



He also adds that he's looking forward to growing up so he can find out what a "new half" is. Or, you know, he could look it up on Urban Dictionary. Which in turn, prompts this



and this



...and it looks like it was filmed on the same day as that VERY SIMILAR SCENE from the first episode, since most people in it have the same lines. I know this was done for comedic effect, but it isn't very funny.



Okay, so it IS meant to look like Bleach? Actually, come to think of it...is this show inspired by Bleach? Like the guy/girl who wrote this thought that it would be a good idea to have a show about Samural Fluffykins.



What happened before this? I give you 3 choices:

a) she fainted but woke up as he was taking her to the school nurse
b) she slipped on a banana peel, did a front flip and landed on his arms
c) she injured her leg so he's helping her up

If you answered b) SHE SLIPPED ON A BANANA PEEL THEN DID A FRONT FLIP ONLY TO LAND ON HIS ARMS ...you are correct. This probably is the reason that nowadays, I enjoy dramas a lot more than anime. Because the same contrived anime devices happening in real life = lulz.




And then they decide to go to Transfer Student Girl's house, only to find her dad and a bunch of his pupils ready to turn them into human pretzels. She stops them, of course, but I'm too distracted by the title of this episode.



Can you hear that, ladies and gents? IT'S A FUTURE CONFLICT. WHATEVER WILL WE DO.

Asuka goes with Transfer Student Girl to a children-daycare-type-thing so he can help her take care of the kids. He then learns that their “playtime” consists of wrestling, kendo, karate, and



I keep reading that as “combat samba” which sounds a lot more interesting. IT'S A SEXY FIGHT TO THE DEATH. SHAKE THAT ARM OFF HIM. It would still be less violent than Surra de Bunda.

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Otomen - episode 1 recap

Oh folks, it's that time again. I haven't been feeling like myself, so the choice is obvious: I have to watch a show about asian people doing silly things that I couldn't possibly relate to. As per usual, I take screenshots out of context and try to make the most of the lack of plot by writing up my own - sordid - conclusions as captions.

This time, it's Otomen. What is an Otomen? Well, not even 30 seconds in, and you are given a very long explanation



For those of you who can't read that font (and I don't blame you for it), it reads: "An Otomen is a japanese boy who excels in both military and literary art while hiding his girly hobbies such as cooking and sewing, his girly way of thinking and his skills to act as a real man!"

REALISM. THIS SHOW HAS IT.

The opening scene is a sepia-toned one featuring a guy in a very stylish suit singing something about Otomen falling in love and then we see a little boy...



oh, I see. It's a boy being all girly, hence the frilly apron. BECAUSE BOYS BEING GIRLY IS SUCH A WEIRD CONCEPT, RIGHT. THIS MUST BE A DREAM SEQUENCE. OR AN ALTERNATIVE UNIVERSE.

So then, we skip to a scene which is probably a few years later, though everyone looks the same.



Ah, no more sepia filter. This must be real life. Anyway, the kid – Asuka [and now I'm hungry for sushi] – stole a branch off a cherry tree his father cherished. Instead of being angry, is father says that his honesty is worth “1000 cherry tree branches”, and then his mother, all excited, confesses she's bought a bag at a sale. Of course, the father has also a small truth to share, which is



...oh. Okay. Uh. * coughs * Is it just me or did he pick the most awkward time to reveal this? Let's observe the sequence of events:

I STOLE A CHERRY BRANCH!
I BOUGHT A BAG AT A SALE!
I WANT TO BE A GIRL!

Not exactly what I'd guess. And now the father is all “YOU HAVE TAUGHT ME TO BE HONEST, SON. THAT BRANCH REMINDED ME OF HOW I ALWAYS WANTED TO BE A GIRL AND NOW I FINALLY CAN.”

My goodness, I picked a great one.



Mother agrees.

Monday, 5 July 2010

Literary Cleanup, book #10



Cartas a Sandra - Vergílio Ferreira (available at your local library)

To be very honest, I don't remember much about Aparição. It's been a while since I read it, so my memory is quite hazy. I do remember, however, feeling like I didn't get it, but I wanted to. That's why I picked up Manhã Submersa from my mum's shelf. I liked that one a lot, even though it was about something I can't possible relate to. Sometime after that, I recall my friend David telling me he loved "Cartas a Sandra" and that it was very sad, but wonderful. Later, someone let me borrow their copy of it and I had it sit on my shelf, unread, for almost 3 years. A few days ago I finally finished the book.
I'll be honest with you: I did try, I did force myself to read when it seemed like I just couldn't do it. I even started my next book just to refresh my will to finish Cartas a Sandra. I still cannot say I have fully read the book, as I skipped over some parts, because I just wanted it to end. Unlike Manhã Submersa, or even Aparição, the aim of this one escapes me and though I wanted to understand Paulo and Sandra's story, I think that perhaps I have should read Para Sempre first, as it probably helps to understand their relationship. That being said, I don't think I will. I have seen love letters like these often so for me, it was hard to immerse myself in their world. I don't think they sound fake, but I do find it hard to believe the feeling itself. I know this sounds confusing, but bare with me.
I get that Paulo loves her. It's a given. However...why does he? What motivates this love? What made it so strong? Feelings don't always need to be justified, but in a book as short as this perhaps we would have been better served with something more substantial to explain their chemistry. Maybe I need to read it again to find out, because I suspect the answer is in the book, but as I didn't find it, I am solely left with a feeling of puzzlement and distance towards the characters.

Will not say I don't recommend it, because I suspect it's just not my cup of tea, rather than a really horrible literary piece.

Excerpt:

Como poderia eu ter imaginação para te reconstituir na sólida delicadeza da tua fragilidade? Sandra. O amor e a morte inserem-se um no outro, deves saber. Mas eu sobrevivi e isso é uma condenação. Penso-te e o teu esplendor renasce-me no meu pensar e a minha idade retrai-se quando me apareces. E a eternidade em que se vive, mesmo se a velhice é real, restabelece-me igual a ti que nunca envelheceste. E não me perguntes porque te escrevo, se tudo é vão, Mas há o meu desejo de te fixar na palavra escrita que te diz, para ficares aí com o milagre que puder. É Primavera e tudo é nítido no seu ser real. Os campos cobrem-se de relva, as flores despertam da sua hibernação, passa na aragem o perfume da vida, de tudo o que é vivo no mundo. A luz nítida demora-se no cimo dos montes e eu olho-a na sua agonia para um pouco existir no que te digo. Ou no teu nome de que não gostavam muito e agora renasce em sonoridade branda quando o penso ou o escrevo ou o digo em voz alta.

Thursday, 1 July 2010

That's Gay.

I found my new favorite thing on Youtube - well, aside from Shaytards and Overthegun:




That's Gay is part of Infomania, a satirical news series provided by Current. Anyway, all of that is less important if you consider the fact that Bryan Safi - the host - can actually make some of the most offensive bullshit I've ever heard into something so ridiculous you question why it exists in the first place. Case in point:



The first time I heard that "no homo" was an actual...saying, I was quite outraged. In fact, if I ever hear someone say this in real life, I might permanently affect their ability to produce offspring. Still, when you see the clip and realize how incredibly stupid it is to announce that you aren't a homosexual in the most random situations, one has to laugh at the insecurity that originated that. It's like talking about vegetables and then saying "NO VEGAN". It reminds me of something Eddie Izzard said in Unrepeatable:

So there’s a lot of gay and lesbian people around, and that’s groovy, and they have – what they’ve done is they separated sex and sexuality from what you do for a living. So you work in a bookshop? Okay, you’re good at selling books, you get on well with the customers? That’s what’s important, not who you sleep with or not. ‘Cause in the old days, they used to say, “Oh, you’re gay… You sell books? You probably shag the books! Yes, I’m sure! So we fire you for no reason at all…”


Okay, I just have to link one more:



Yep, completely logical arguments.