Wednesday, July 31, 2013

El Eternauta

Hey everyone and welcome to my blog! Today I'm gonna post about one of the most important Argentinian (that is, from my country) comic-books: "El Eternauta".
Written by H. G. Oesterheld and drawn by Solano López, this character's story takes place in Buenos Aires, and it starts when he's playing cards with his friends in the attic of his house, which has been adapted to function as a "club house" and at the same time a workshop, because they all have hobbies related to engineering or science. They all are really surprised when they realize it's started snowing, since it doesn't snow here (except once in about 50 years, but that's just an exception), but that surprise rapidly changes into fear when they realize that is no common snow: each person touched by a snowflake dies in an instant, as they can confirm by looking out of the window. Luckily all their windows are closed, so they survive the "nevada mortal" (lethal snowing), and since their workshop is well equipped they can make a couple hazard suits to be able to walk out of the house.
After that, a post-apocaliptycal story unfolds, showing how this group of survivors manages to get food and weapons, competing with the other men of the city, as they try to discover what caused the snowing, and if there is any safe place.
Fastforward some pages, and the real conflict starts: after most men have united in a militia, an army of beetle-shaped aliens attack us, and it takes many days of fighting to hold them back... just to discover they're just mind-slaved by the Manos: aliens with many-fingered hands who control the beetles with giant computers that have many keys.

When they finally kill one of the Manos and think they're starting to win, he tells them, with his last breath, that they, too, are but slaves of a bigger alien species, who put sensors on them that detect when they feel fear, and shoot poison in their veins: thus they can't revolt, because just thinking of it makes them die of poisoning.
And that's one of the most interesting things in this story: you never get to see the real enemy, at least at the beginning.
I'm not gonna spoil the rest to you, but the story ends up becoming a time travel one.
Unfortunately, Oesterheld was "disappeared" by our last de facto government before he could finish writing it, but now the characters have become a symbol in the country and every once in a while more episodes of this comic-book are published by new writers, much like a super-hero.
If you want to read some south-american comics, I'd recommend you read this one.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Irredeemable: superheroes gone mad

Hello everyone and welcome to my blog! to those who have been following my recent posts, I'd gladly like to anounce that I've memorized the first 44 pokemons using my mind palace and I'm not stopping until I get to 151.
Today I'll talk about my favourite superhero comic, which doesn't belong to either the marvel universe or the DC one: Irredeemable.
Imagine what would happen if a superhero like superman, who is untouchable and has all the world depending on him, suddenly couldn't cope with the pressure anymore, or just got tired of all those useless humans who depend on him, then went insane and started playing GTA with all of them -That's what Irredeemable is about.

The main character, Plutonian, is your stereotypical superman-like hero: he is always happy to save everyone, fight aliens and cure cancer. But one day he just gets tired and destroys a whole city. The plot centers in all the other heroes of earth, who are really weak compared to him, as they struggle to see what made him change, and bring the old plutonian back, as they lead with alien invasions, all the obligatory comic villains, and many more things, but also it revolves around the mind of a superhero who lost his head, and the point of view of the common people, who have no superpowers and no idea what to do but observe.


This graphic novel shows some impressive design of characters, who evolve through the story to the point of becoming (all of them) completely unrecognizable (one even gets out of the closet, and other reveals his true nature to be utterly different from what everybody thought).
Take, for instance, Scylla & Charibdis: these two are twin heroes who share their power, but when one of them gets killed, the other one takes all that power for himself and starts using it to save people... yet, as time goes by, all that power goes up to his head and he ends up trying to gather all heroes and supervillains and  be their leader, to guide them in the quest for a better world, as he himself becomes more and more corrupted.

That's why I think this comic deserves to be read, at least for its originality and the way its characters have human minds, even being super-human.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Mind Palaces or the Method of Loci

Hey there, and welcome to my blog! Today's post will be a tutorial and explanation about Mind Palaces, a mnemonic technique, whose first documented use dates back to ancient Rome.

If you've seen the british TV series Sherlock, you've probably seen the bit about his "mind palace" and thought "woah, that sounds like something a genius would do" or something like that. Well, I'm here to prove you that's totally not true, because even I can use a mind palace!

The method of Loci, as it was called in Rome (plural of Locus = place), uses spatial memory to remember things. Quick! think of your kitchen. Do you know where you keep the cookies? even in which part of the drawer you have your cutlery? and where do you have all your matches or a lighter? Well, to answer all that, chances are you used spacial memory. And I bet you knew all the answers. Now if I say "quick, name the first 5 presidents of your country!" then you'd have a harder time answering. Why? because that doesn't have to do with space... and a HUGE part of our brain is devoted to that (think of it: when we were hunter/gatherers we needed to know where the mamooths were way more than how many people we could feed with each part).

To use this method, first you have to choose a place. Most people use a real place to which they're acquainted, at least at first. Personally I use my bedroom, where I know every single thing and its position.
the next step is to write down or just memorize each spot of it that you can remember. Some do a schematic drawing or something like that. Once you've decided all the spots (pegs), you can start using the place as a mind palace... as long as you choose a route. The route will be important if you want to remember things in a specific order, since all you'll have to do is picture yourself mentally going through each peg in a predefined order. For instance: I choose my bedroom.
I use  my bed, my pc, an armchair and a shelf as pegs (that's a start, though: you want to have more or less 20 pegs per room, and you'll end up being able to use your whole house). Then I see myself going from peg to peg, and as I do I asociate each one with a concept or a name... for instance, if I want to learn all the pokemons in order, I may go: bulbasaur on my bed, Ivysaur on the screen, Venasaur on my armchair, and a charmander on the shelf. Of course that would not be enough to remember them all, so I should add more pegs. one approach is to add more same-sized items: another chair, the drawer or a closet. The next step, though, is dividing each item into  a "mini-palace": the shelf has 5 books? each book is now a peg! the closet has 10 shirts? see if you can make each into a peg! with practice, your room can have as much as 50 pegs, turning into a literal PALACE of pegs. Then, as you go through the mental picture of it that you made, you can start remembering things in the order you put it.

So, try this technique out, and see if you can use it, at first, to memorize small things like a shopping list... I myself started by memorizing the first digits of Pi, to get accostumed to abstract concepts.

Now I'll leave... writing this article made me feel like memorizing all 151 pokémon!

If you try this tutorial out, please tell me in the comments so that I can help you, or ask me if something isn't clear enough. 
If you wish to continue on with your memory training, check out this link to learn how to easily memorize numbers.

I'd like to use this space to remind my dear readers that Esperanto is still a living language, really useful and easy to learn, which you can start learning right here... just check it, it'll be fun!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

League of Extraordinary Gentlemen

Hey everyone and welcome to my blog. Today I'll talk about a graphic novel written by the great Alan Moore: League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. This book, with only two tomes (and a third, bad one no one likes because it came later and we won't discuss it), revived the steampunk genre as we know it (causing it to "explode" in a way whose consecuences we have yet to see) and also the nostalgic longing for reading old, victorian novels.
how many victorian pop culture references can you spot? if you answered "many" then you're right!


The Series started as a homage to victorian literature, and all its characters are frmo those times: a plot which involves Mina Harker -now Murray- (Dracula), Dr. Jekyll (same), tons of Jules Verne characters, and even Oliver Twist, who are all gathered by a misterious "M" guy who all think to be Mycroft Holmes himself (though M may stand for many other things).
They all seek to complete a mission assigned by this M, thinking they work for the queen's men, but that's not exactly the case...
In here you can see mr. Hyde as a Hulk-like monster, Quatermain as a romantic novel character, Nemo like a pirate, and SteamPunk technology in every single panel, attached to all the Victorian-era-London buildings. there is also a movie but it's really really bad and it just makes the comic look less good by existing. And there are also rumors of a new, not that bad LOEG TV series coming out, which have to be confirmed yet, and dont guarantee it's gonna be better than that shitty movie (Alan Moore isn't involved in it either).
So, if you like steampunk and want to know where it started, or like Alan Moore, or like victorian era novels... or you just like graphic novels in general, then read LOEG!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Magic: the Gathering --Flavor Texts

Hey everyone and welcome to my blog! today I'm gonna show you something I find quite interesting: Magic: The Gathering flavor texts.
Most MTG cards have a couple lines at the end, which tell a little story, make a small joke, or just add to the overall sentiment of the card. These are called Flavor Texts.
I will now upload a few images of cards whose flavor texts are just great (keep in mind, this is a serious card game, and most flavors just add backgrounds to the card, so finding some with jokes on them...):
you may like puns or not, but this one is gold 

some jokes are just so simple they beg be told

red decks in a nutshell

So indifferent

This one is like an old proverb

these two came out at the same time, and they're exact opposites.

you can almost hear the man saying it
and finally, a new favourite of all:
goblins in a nutshell
I hope you've enjoyed the post, and if you remember some other cards with epic flavors you may post them in the comments section!


Reader's suggestions:
short but directly to the point... suggested by Oscar Mintegui
I'm happy to see more suggestions are coming up, even now!


Suggested by doneunder44



suggested by Tavi Beadenkopf



Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Perfect Blue

Hey there, and welcome to my blog! Today I'm gonna talk about a movie filmed by Satoshi Kon (based on a book): Perfect Blue.

Perfect Blue is the story of a pop idol who one day decides to become an actress. As she starts acting in a TV series, she goes through a rather traumatizing experience, and starts hallucinating, seeing her own "Idol Version" walking on the streets and calling her. Added to this, there's the conflict of a stalker, who follows her since the time she was an idol, and posts every single thing she does on a website in first person (bear in mind, this movie is from a time when having a website and posting on it was not at all that common), a thing the main character can barely understand: she visits the internet for the first time just to check that website.
As the movie goes forward, the real-life scenes in which she is an actress and the scenes in which she is acting start to get superimposed, as we also see stalker-related-scenes, and scenes in which she is her other, idol-like, personality. All that would make for a pretty complicated movie, but -wait for it- the character she acts as in the series, also has a double personality!

So, I really recommend this movie, because it shows how not all anime is for children, and how animated movies can be as complex and psychologically deep as any other. Also, this movie is the one they based on to make The Black Swan.

Bye, I hope you've enjoyed the post! if you comment on it, you'll make my day.


Monday, July 22, 2013

Marvel: Civil War

Hey everyone and welcome to my blog again! today I'm gonna talk about "Civil War" the series that got me into the marvel universe and showed me it wasn't as shallow and onomatopoeia-infested as I thought.
It's still pun-infested, for all I know.
The series, under the catchy slogan "whose side are you on?" starts when a young hero, who just happens to be near the side of a primary school, literally explodes, killing hundreds of innocent children. This leads to the drafting of a new bill in the congress: the Superhuman Registration Act, which says all people with superpowers, whether they're mutants, aliens or just the common superhero, must register officially to the USA, so that the government can hire them as soldiers, with a salary and stuff, but also train them and judge their actions.

As the bill gets passed, superheroes rally on two sides: the ones who support it, lead by Iron Man (who had already said he was Iron Man openly a couple times, anyway) and the ones who oppose it, lead by Captain America. 
Thus begins the greatest war in the marvel universe: not "good vs evil" but hero against hero, each one defending their own interests, as villains are left in a second place (from where they can pull strings and manipulate other characters to cause mischief and... sorry, I got carried away) and the common people who are not superpowered start forming thier opinions.
And that's what I like this about this series: it's not your typical "heroes fight evil guys and save random citizens" --Citizens take the main role in multiple times, as we are showed the state of fear some of them live in knowing the whole earth can easily be destroyed (Galactus, anyone?), the hard life of a reporter who gets accidentally involved, and many other points of view.
Of course, that doesn't move aside all your favourite heroes: Spider-man and his always complex, always changing, ever-teen mind; Reed Richards and the Invisible Woman, who have different opinions on the bill and have to deal with a troublesome marriage; The Thing, who meets the french superheroes... and many, many more.

that's why I think if you're gonna start reading comics from the Marvel Multiverse, Civil War is a really good start

Bye, I hope you've enjoyed this post!


P.S.: There are rumours this series may be adapted to a disney movie, which would be Avengers 3. They haven't been confirmed or discarded as of yet, though an adaptation of such a long and complicated series would be, at the very least, hard and costly to make (and there would always be the typical angry fans complaining it didn't come out as they expected)

I kill Giants

Hey everyone, and welcome to my blog again.
It's freezing here and my fingers are having a hard time hitting the right keys, so dont hate on me if I make a typo, please.
Today I'm going to talk to you about a graphic novel which combines beautiful drawings and a compelling (and short) plot.
I kill giants is the story of a young, kind of delusional girl, who likes tabletop roleplaying (as does this humble writer here) and takes it a little bit too far: she's convinced she is the only person able to kill giants.

Written by Joe Kelly, the plot starts by introducing us to this rather odd main character (who you can see in the front cover). She is a young girl, constantly talking about giants, and how to beat them. As the story goes forward, we see she doesn't have many friends, and she does have some problems at her home, with her family, which she starts to talk about with the school's psychologist. 
Finally, she mentions the existence of Titans: "giants so big and ugly, the sun doesn't want to shine on them", which of course end up being a metaphor for the real "elephant in the room" (or should I say Giant in the room), the cause to her being an outcast freak...


This novel, exquisitely drawn by J. M. Ken Niimura, is completely worth a read, and with only 7 short episodes it can be read in a day or two... What are you waiting for? go read it now! 

Bye, and I hope you like it. If you have any obscure comicbook or movie you want me to talk about, or some other topic, just tell me and I will.

Maus: a mature comicbook

Hey everyone, and welcome once again to my blog. Today I'm gonna talk to you about "Maus", a graphic novel (a term which I really prefer rather than "comic", since comic implies they're funny and kinda silly) about the holocaust.
Told by little mice

 Who are actually jews running from the nazis, that are, of course, cats.
Maus starts by showing us the author, Art Spiegelman, as he visits his father, a holocaust survivor, looking for ideas for a comicbook he's writing.
As his father starts telling him his story, Art starts writing it down and making it into a book... except he also tells the story of how he was told the story in the first place.
Thus, we end up having two stories: in one of them, we see Art's father as he survives through the second world war in Poland, being chased after by many "cats" and hiding "like a rat".
In the other one, we see Art struggling to better his bond with his father, who is short tempered, terribly ill, and obssessive about the tiniest details. Art even jokes about this in a strip, in which he says people may think he's just using a jewish stereotype instead of his actual dad.

By being so complete, and having so deep character designs, Maus became the first graphic novel to actually win a Pulitzer!

So, if you're looking for something to read, I'd totally recommend you to read Maus, and don't think its for children just because there are drawings in it.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

How to speak Esperanto

Welcome, everyone! today, you'll learn the basics of esperanto, the easiest language ever.
if you don't know what esperanto is, then check this post before reading the tutorial.

Esperanto follows a simple set of rules, to which it has no exceptions, and its vocabulary comes from the most spoken european languages (though it does borrow some things from japanese and chinese, it doesn't really represent them that well).

The first thing you have to know is that each type of word ends always with the same letter:
-Nouns (e.g., "apple") end with an "-o" (e.g., pomo)
-Adjectives (eg., "beautiful") end with an "-a" (e.g., bela)
-Verbs (e.g., "live") end with an "-i" in their infinitives (e.g., vivi) and have only three tenses, past, present and future, which are made by adding "is", "as" and "os" respectively (so "mi vivis, mi vivas, mi vivos" are "I lived, I live, I'll live, respectively). There are no irregular verbs.
-Adverbs (e.g., amazingly) end with an "-e" and derive from nouns or adjectives (e.g., "bele" = "beautifully")


Each letter is read with only one sound: Most consonants are pronounced the same as in english, but vowels change quite a bit, and there is the addition of circumflexed consonants, which have sounds present in the english language, but are represented in a different way. Thus:

"a" sounds like "spa"
"e" sounds like "pet"
"i" sounds like "meet"
"o" sounds like "war"
"u" sounds like "cool"

"ĉ" sounds like "champion"

"ŝ" sounds like "shower"
"
ĝ" sounds like "orange"

"c" sounds like "cats" (always)
"g" sounds like "grape"
"ĵ" sounds like "jape"
"j" sounds like "you"
circumflexed letters are typed with an "x" when you dont have the key to make them, so for instance 
"gx" = "ĝ"

All personal pronouns end with an "i":


Mi                              Ni                                                    I                        We

        Vi                       Vi                                                  You                     You
Li / Sxi / Gxi                Ili                                            He / She / It              They
      (ŝi)      (ĝi)

And to make them objective you just add an "n" to them (e.g., min = me)


So, a simple sentece could be "Mi estas bela" = "I am beautiful"  ("esti" is the verb "to be").

When a word is in plural, though, you add a "j" at the end of it.
"Ni estas belaj" = "We are beautiful" (belaj as in "bay-lie")
Nouns in plural are added a "j" too, just as in english one adds an "s", so "kato" = "cat", "katoj" = "cats" (see how "kato sounds like "cat", by the way?)
Finally, nouns and adjectives both go in plural or not, so they are said to "agree" on plurals, something in which english "disagrees": "Ruĝaj Pomoj" = "red apples"

So ends today's lesson, and I would recommend you to now visit "www.lernu.net" to learn some vocabulary, or get into contact with some "esperantistoj".

I hope you've enjoyed the post, and you can always suggest me some topic to speak about.

Esperanto

Welcome again to my new post. This time the topic will be Esperanto: a hobby of mine, and a cause under which many people rally.

Esperanto was created by L. L. Zamenoff, a Polish Jewish from Byalistok, in the victorian era.


The fact that he was a Polish Jewish man in Byalistok was really important in this subject, since Byalistok was at that time occupied and controlled by the russians, but still full of poles, jewish people, and some Germans. All of these groups kinda hated each other, and usually had conflicts, which led to a tense environment for everyone, where Zamenhoff spent his childhood and youth.
As the years went by, Zamenhoff came up with an idea: maybe if all those people spoke the same language, instead of speaking Russian, Yiddish, German and Polish, they would have something in common, and thus they would not hate each other!
So, Zamenhoff invented a language which was neutral, since it didn't belong to any nation, by mixing some Latin, English, Germanic, and a little Japanese, as he used the Slavic sounds and writing system. That way he created a language which was not only universal, but also artificial, and thus it was regular in all its aspects: Esperanto has a set of rules, to which it has no exceptions, and once you learn them you can learn the language easily. The same happens with pronunciation: each letter has only one possible sound, and each sound only one possible writing (unlike english, though you may have thought different).
The language currently has 2-3 million speakers worldwide, and it's a gemstone if you like learning linguistics related things, or just love learning many different languages, since it acts as the perfect intermediary between them. They say learning Esperanto saves you a lot of time when learning other languages, and I can testify to that, since it's helped me a lot with croatian (both because of its phonetic system, and because of its relative pronouns system)

If you're interested on learning Esperanto, you can check out my tutorial, or just take a course in www.lernu.net

Bye, and I hope you've liked the post. If you have any suggestions or questions, anything you want to say, or something you want ME to say, comment this post!

Welcome Post

Hey everyone, and welcome to my blog.
As you can easily see on my profile, this is not the first, but instead the third blog I've created.
The first of them I made when I was a young teen, and that was the public I was aiming for at the time.
The second one is in esperanto, and I kind of abandoned it after I realized not enough people in the internet speak esperanto (more on that later, I promise)

So, on this one blog I will try to write as best as I can, about the topics I consider interesting, and also about whatever my readers ask me to (if I have any readers at all).
The topics will range among any amount of geeky stuff, spanning but not limited to: artificial languages, anime&manga, comics (many kinds of them, from american to european or asian!), and interesting websites.

 I hope you'll enjoy your stay, and if you want me to add your banner on the site all you have to do is tell me, and then add a link in your blog to this one.