Renaming, Remaking and Restarting

Hello old friends!

I missed you all and sorry (again) I went missing. I always come back after months of inactivity and always say it won’t happen again, but it always ends the same way: I disappear. However, this time it was different. I took a long hard look at myself and the blog and tried to figure out why it seemed like I couldn’t write anymore after last year’s crazy rhythm. I think I figured it out.

At its core, the reason I stopped writing was that I was jailed to a specific set of themes while writing, as a result of the title of the blog: “Just Geeky Stuff”. The problem here isn’t the “Geeky”, but the “Just”. It is a barrier, a huge one, but, after a great deal of thought and consideration, one that I torn down.

So, meet my “new blog”: Ed’s Space for His Rambling Thoughts. Personally, I think it is a much better description of myself and my writing. It also opens a door to different experiences and, as a result, this tiny site finally becomes what it was meant to be: a window between me and you, that goes both ways.

Thank you for reading! Hope you have a great day.

 

The joy of drawing

Like most kids, when I was 3, 4, 5 even 6, I loved to draw. Just to draw, nothing specific. Everything was fun from trying to put what I saw into paper, as well as trying to materialize whatever thing I had created in my mind. And the paper was that: an infinite playground. Always fun and accessible, if a bit nonsensical.

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Me, 3, drawing for fun

Mind you, in my case, the drawings were not great in any way, probably they only made sense in my own mind, but they were magical all the same. But, like with most things in life, this changed when school became a bit more serious and people started comparing each other. During art class, all of us children were asked to draw and soon it was clear that the others, with the same age as me, could draw much better than me.

From that moment on, until my last art class in Brazil, as a 16 year old, drawing and everything else done during art classes became a source of shame and sadness. Even while giving my best, my works paled in comparison with those from others, and I knew it, that hurt the most. Of course, this had a profound effect in me: insecurity and a strong shame of myself. Still, it was something minor, drawing was something I did very rarely.

However, my course here in London (Foundation in Art, Design and Media) requires me to draw and, to be honest, that was a source of a lot anxiety about coming here, even making me question my decision all together. Nevertheless, I came and that proved to be the right choice, as quickly the focus here is not on a realistic representation of the world, instead it is on experimentation with materials and concepts.

But that is not what is important about the classes, what truly mattered is that they are an open space in that, yes, some people draw better than others, but no one is made fun of because of that. During one of the classes, our teacher, Phil, asked us to make as many sketches of the school we could in about an hour, however all of the drawing was to be made on newspapers. In the following class, he made us walk around Central London making sketches of buildings and streets. These two events, for some reason, awakened my long-lost sense of fun while drawing.

After doing the sketches around London, Phil asked us to draw some parts of our way back home. I decided I would go back by foot and make about 9 drawings along the way. The trip, which normally takes 40 minutes, ended up encompassing about 3 hours. The whole tie, I had a huge smile in my face, despite the cold and the funny looks people made at me.

Well, I didn’t write this just to show off or anything of the sort (ok, maybe a bit). My aim with this is actually making you a bit happier: if you were like me and hated drawing or even if you weren’t, but stopped for some reason, try drawing again, just for fun, like a child.

Hey again. I realize this is all very anecdotal, but I wanted to try my hand at writing something like this. It its a necessary experience. Nonetheless, I hope you enjoyed this selfish text of mine. If you did, please leave a like and if you want to ask something, or just talk, just a drop a comment 🙂

Movie Critique – “Café Society”

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Every year, Woody Allen directs and releases a new movie. Every year, me and my father watch it. At this point, it is one of the few traditions my family maintains. Which is great, but also brought a new problem: we can not be impartial in relation to Woody
Allen. Still, this yearly viewing made his style all the more clear to me and, surprisingly, Café Society manages to be different from the rest of his filmography.

Directed and written by Woody Allen, Café Society holds the distinction of being the first movie the eighty years old director filmed digitally. Another important “first” is that it is the first partnership between Woody and Vittorio Sorano, the cinematographer of Last Tango in Paris, Apocalypse Now and Café Society. Its main cast is made up of more familiar faces to Allen, though, such as Jesse Eisenberg, Steve Carell and Corey Stoll, as well as newer faces, such as Kristen Stewart and Blake Lively.

We are first presented to Bobby Dorfman (Eisenberg), a young jewish man from the Bronx in, in his way to Hollywood in the 30s, the “golden age” of movie-making. He quickly tries to get in contact with his talent agent uncle, Phil Dorfman (Carell), who gives our protagonist a job and introduces him to the vibrant cinema lifestyle, as well as his assistant, and lover, Veronica “Vonnie” (Stewart). Quickly, one of the marks of a Allen movie forms: a love triangle between a lady and two men, one younger and the other older.

However, this is not the only characteristic of the director that is easily identifiable: the jewish and neurotic protagonist, much like Mr. Allen himself, and his jaded lifeview, given life by Jesse Eisenberg, who reached a whole new level for his acting in Café Society. Another telltale mark of Allen’s movies is the presence of a narrator, this time the director himself, but it is a bit different from the norm, as he is not a character, nor does he offer insight of his own, merely presenting objectively the facts. Continue reading

Manga Critique – “Rookies”

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The cover of the first volume, with the protagonist, Koichi Kawato, centralized

Manga comes in many forms, from a realistic slice-to-life to the wildest fantasy, but the sports genre is the one that most frequently treads a path between the real and the fantastical. At first glance, Rookies seems to be an example of the first kind of sports manga, except it actually isn’t, as it is a “sports manga that isn’t a sports manga”.

Rookies is a “sports” and drama manga written and drawn by Masanori Morita between 1998 and 2003. It was serialized in Weekly Shonen Jump and ran for 24 volumes, that is, about 230 chapters. It also received a live-action television series and even a movie afterwards. Unfortunately, it was only officially released in Japan, Italy and Taiwan, which means the only way to read it in the rest of the world is through *ahem* shady means. I, personally, recommend batoto (an account is necessary): http://bato.to/comic/_/comics/rookies-r663

The baseball team of the Futakotamagawa high school (shortened to Nikogaku) has been suspended for a year from all official matches as a first year started a fight during a game. As a result, all serious players left the club and only the thugs stayed behind, only because the clubroom is comfortable, and spend everyday without a care other than girls. Koichi Kawato, a novice and optimistic teacher kicked from his first job, is hired to be the homeroom teacher of these students, as well as the counselor of the baseball team. The story revolves around Kawato and his desire to reform the team, by giving them a dream: the Koshien (the stadium the finals of the high school basebal championship are held).

Continue reading

Game Critique – “Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater”

metalgearsolid3Some spoilers of the Metal Gear series follow:

A frequent problem with series as a whole is how to make sequels, specially the third installment, as the first one started the series and the second one made it clear that it was a truly good series. Naturally, this creates expectations and the “hype”, which are not normally met. But, just as he had already done, Hideo Kojima blew those out of the water with Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater.

MGS3 is the third game of the Tactical Espionage Action series, originally released in 2004, produced, written and directed by Hideo Kojima. While at first being released for the Playstation 2,  it was later remastered for the Playstation 3, Xbox 360, 3DS and Playstation Vita.

In 1964, the height of the Cold War, the CIA agent, Naked Snake, who would later become the Big Boss, is sent to a tropical forest in the USSR to help the Russian scientist Sokolov and his nuclear-armed tank defect to the other side of the Iron Curtain. After meeting  Sokolov, Snake sees his former mentor, the Boss, defecting to the USSR, carrying two mini-nukes. Seeing that, the operative tries to talk with the teacher, and is soundly defeated. To make matters worse, the Russian Colonel Volgin fires one of the nukes, placing the blame in the USA. Snake, without the scientist and mentally and physically wounded, is quickly removed from the mission.

A week later, after recovering from his injuries, Naked Snake is sent to the same forest for the Operation Snake Eater: to stop a nuclear war, the USA has to capture or kill Volgin, eliminating his faction, as well as destroying the tank built by Sokolov and eliminating the legendary Boss. Throughout the mission, Snake has to surpass his mentor and defeat her new apprentices, the Fear, the End, the Fury and the Pain. Continue reading

Movie Review – “On The Road”

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On The Road is the 2012 movie adaptation of the book of the same name, written by Jack Keroauc in 1957 (which I wrote a critique on here). It was directed by the Brazilian Walter Salles (The Motorcycle Diaries) and adapted to the big screen by José Rivera (The Motorcycle Diaries). It was produced by the famous American director Francis Ford Coppola. It stars Sam Riley as Salvatore Paradise, Garrett Hedlund as Dean Moriarty and Kristen Stewart as Marylou.

Sal and his group of friends spend their days partying, discussing poetry and living life in the Big Apple, but, somehow, he can never write something worth of note. This situation changes when one of his friends tells him and Groucho Marx about another friend from Denver, a crazy man named Dean Moriarty. After he arrives in New York, the trio goes to Dean’s hotel room, where they find the man himself and his sixteen-years-old wife (it was the late 40’s, after all) and the greatest party of their lives. They keep talking with Dean afterwards, who inspires Sal to travel through the USA. He does just that, sometimes alone, sometimes with Dean, always meeting people and seeing the scenery, as well as finding the material for his book.

When I started to read the book , I already knew that there had been a movie adaptation, directed by a Brazilian to boot, and I was excited to have the opportunity to compare the two works. As soon as I was done with the book, I watched the movie. The experience wasn’t what I was expecting at all, as it lacked a lot of what made the book special. Continue reading

Book Critique – “On The Road”

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In this critique, I did my best to mimic the crazy, intense and energetic writing style of the Beats and, more specifically, Jack Kerouac. I tried to revise it and make it readable, but the result is still a bit weird, so bear with me, please. Hope you enjoy it!

Few are the novels that are known by a whole generation. Even fewer are the ones that are known as life-changing to almost everyone. On The Road is all of that, but also something else: a worldly auto-biographical account on travels through Post-War USA and the journey of men in search of “it” and the sweaty Dean Moriarty is there too, as the personification of Beat.

Jack Kerouac and his fellows of the soon-to-be Beat Generation met in the 40’s and, while talking about philosophy, literature and life itself, spawned a literary movement, grounded on the ideal that life should be lived without any form of censorship, be it internal or external. They also met a man called Neal Cassidy who lived the wild life they idealized and, influenced by him, Jack Kerouac traveled through the USA and Mexico, sometimes alone, sometimes with company, but always in search of “it”. These travels gave him the material, the facts and the stories to write On The Road.

The novel is an almost factual representation of what Kerouac experienced during his “trips”. In spite of that, because of censorship by the editors in a truly ironic act, all of the real-life characters that appear in the book had their name changed, including the author himself and Neal/Dean, the epitome of the Beat in the eyes of Jack. But what is Beat, you may ask?

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Manga Critique – “Assassination Classroom”

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Despite its title, its focus doesn’t lie on violence or assassination itself, as Assassination Classroom’s primary discussion is education, the job of a teacher and what it all should truly mean in modern society. Of course, there is still violence, but, differently from many other shounens, it is not the central aspect of the story.

Assassination Classroom is a manga series written and drawn by Yuusei Matsui and published in Weekly Shounen Jump between 2012 and 2016. It ran for 180 chapters an 21 volumes, as well as spawning a children-focused spin-off.

Half of the moon has been destroyed, and who is the culprit? A being who can reach unimaginable speeds and is made entirely of tentacles. As he reveals himself to world, he makes just one demand: he wants to teach the class of misfits 3-E of Kunugigaoka Junior High School in Japan and its students are the only ones that can try to kill him. However, he also stipulates that, if the students fail to kill him in one year or if someone else attacks him, he will destroy Earth and all life within it.

Kunugigaoka Junior High School has a different system than other schools: students are put in different classes according to their grades and behavior, class 3-A having the best students, while class 3-E has the “worst” ones. Among them, Nagisa Shiota, a very feminine-looking boy with terrible grades and the narrator of the story, and Karma Akabane, a brilliant boy who is famous for his mischievous and aggressive personality, stand out. When the mysterious being starts teaching, the class quickly notices that he is not threatening or scary at all, in fact, he is funny, relaxed, a bit pervy and a great teacher, even nicknaming Koro-Sensei. The year promises to be full of tension, growth and decisions for the class as they try and complete their mission, while trying to not grow attached to their affectionate and weird new teacher/target. Continue reading

Game Critique – Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty

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This is a critique, not a review, and, as such, has spoilers for both MGS and MGS2. Tread carefully.

Some works manage to rock the foundations of its medium, changing how it is seen and creating new limits to be broken. More often than not, this can only be achieved by a visionary, someone who can see the possibilities that its art form of choice can offer and proceeds to explore it to places never seen before. There is Orson Welles for movies, James Joyce for books and Hideo Kojima for games, which became clear with the release of “Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty”.

“Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty” is, just like its predecessor “Metal Gear Solid”, directed, produced, written and designed by Hideo Kojima. It was originally released for the Playstation 2, but was later remastered for the PC, Xbox, Xbox 360, Playstation 3 (which is the version I played) and Playstation Vita. It is published by Konami and developed by Konami Computer Entertainment Japan, which later became Kojima Productions. It was divided into two chapters.

On the 8th of August of 2007, the legendary infiltrator Solid Snake, with the support of Otacon, is investigating the rumored development of a new Metal Gear by the U.S Marine Corps. This search brings Snake to a tanker located in the Hudson River supposedly carrying the newest model of the weapon of mass destruction. However, Snake’s investigation is stopped when a third party appears in the tanker: Russian Mercenaries led by Ocelot. What exactly does this mean?

Two years later, the newest recruit of the recently reformed FOXHOUND, Raiden, is tasked with the mission of rescuing the U.S. president and other hostages from Big Shell, a oil clean-up facility built following the explosion of the tanker two years prior, which was seized by the terrorist group Sons of Liberty. The man identified as the leader of the group calls himself Snake. Raiden has to infiltrate the facility, neutralize the threat and rescue the person of interest. Doesn’t this situation seem familiar? Continue reading

Sorry for disappearing & Plans for the year!

I haven’t posted anything in one month. This shouldn’t happen, it simply shouldn’t. When I created this blog, I swore to myself I would post as frequently as I could, but things didn’t work out that way, unfortunately. The first week is kind of understandable: I was burnt out. After writing for nearly a year without stopping with school stuff on top of it, I needed a rest.

However, in that while, my computer started to have problems, it would randomly turn off and that quickly got into my nerves. As a result, I decided to hold off my writing until the problem was dealt with.

And, to finish this misguided attempt to make amends, I traveled for two weeks. I love to travel and helped me relax even more. Now, this is the past, let’s focus in the present and future.

This year, things will change a bit, for a myriad of reasons. Namely, I am in the last year of high school and will have to face university entrance exams. Also, my style of writing changed, it became more winded and, with my preference for critiques, now requires careful preparation, research and analysis.

What I am trying to say is: I will write less posts per week. Instead of the four I produced last year, I will probably dish out three post per week in 2016. I feel like this is the sensible choice and will result in more quality posts. I also plan to experiment with different types of posts.

So, please, stay tuned in one more year of Just Geeky Stuff!