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NERD SPOT, PAULIE SAYS

Toreba: Review!

Ser una chica gamer no tiene por qué limitarse a videojuegos y juegos de mesa o cartas, como en mi caso que juego hasta jacks. Hace poco descubrí la plataforma Toreba, un app para Android y iOS (cuenta con versión desktop) que te permite jugar las conocidas Claw Machines, Claw Cranes, Grúas o máquinas atrapa premios en tiempo real ¡EN JAPÓN! Ah, tecnología, tanto bien y tanto mal nos haces.

Mal porque no es un pasatiempos barato y quizás no lo debería considerar un pasatiempos porque es como apostar en un casino… pero más kawaii y de manera anónima sin el peligro que te busque la mafia.

En Toreba, el dinero se traduce en TP Points. 5,000 TP points equivalen a $5, 10,000 TP son $10 y así nos vamos. Cada jugada te puede costar de 1,200 TP a 1,800 TP. Más vale tener algo de experiencia con estos juegos, ya que muy rara vez conseguirás los premios en una jugada. Al abrir tu cuenta y verificarla, se te acreditan 5 jugadas gratis, que puedes dividirlas en 2 de prueba y 3 intentos, o intentar de atrapar algo en 5 turnos. En ocasiones cuentan con campañas de Login, en las que te acreditan TPs solo por entrar en tu cuenta diariamente. También debo mencionar que hay veces en los que tienes que esperar tu turno y cruzar los dedos que alguien se aburra o se le acabe el crédito antes que a ti.

Yo tengo algo de experiencia con los claw machines: me ENCANTAN (por cierto, todos los vídeos en este post son míos).  Así de que sale mi ludópata interna, me brillan los ojos y me pican las manos. En Panamá casi no se ven, y al viajar mis compañeros de viaje no quieren perder tiempo esperándome a que le gane a la maquinita. O la clásica de que no tengo cambio para jugar.

Otro tema es que a muchas maquinitas locales las surten de premios bastante genéricos (tengo el ojo puesto en una que tiene uno interesante). No hace mucho fui a un arcade con Ed, y la ÚNICA maquina tenía el claw roto y emparchado con tape eléctrico. Obviamente no iba a agarrar ni polvo.

La mayoría de las personas piensan que el juego está rigged, que es imposible ganar. Cada vez que gano algo, hay una conmoción porque la gente se sorprender de que la máquina no solo traga dinero. El primer peluche que gané fué un Snoopy de una maquina en Taiwan en 2003, y desde entonces se que SÍ SE PUEDE. Hay trucos y técnicas, al igual que con otros arcades en los que aparento ser bastante buena.

Creo que mi especialidad es ganar gatos, y necesité fuerza de voluntad para no jugar por el gato negro.

Volviendo al tema de Toreba, diariamente y más de una vez al día incluyen nuevos premios. Siento que las cajas, por más pequeñas y livianas que sean, son mil veces más difíciles de ganar que los premios más grandes como muñecos de peluche. Ojo, la “garra” es distinta dependiendo del fabricante. En lo personal prefiero la tradicional de 4 brazos, pero en Japón tienen las de 1 o 2 brazos, el gancho, el perforador, el Takoyaki, etc… Específicamente, en Toreba me va mejor con la de 2 brazos, pero es definitivamente más difícil que jugarlo en persona aunque tengas acceso a dos perspectivas.

Una vez que ganas tu premio, te aparecerá un mensaje y debes reclamarlo antes de un periódo de expiración de 14 días. Los envíos son gratis cada 7 dias, así que lo recomendable es reclamar tu premio y hacer un solo cargamento antes que expiren. Ojo, el envío gratis tiene sus restricciones. Lean bien, no sean perezosos, ya que no me hago responsable si quedan en bancarrota.

Sé que además de Toreba, existe el Akiba Catcher . No tengo experiencia con este último. La interfaz me parece algo clunky. Sin embargo, es una alternativa que creo también ofrece envíos gratis.

En fin, si este es un tema de interés, déjenme sus comentarios de qué tipo de juegos les gustan, si quieren que pruebe el Akiba Catcher, o si quisieran ver más de Toreba, quizás un live stream una vez descifre cómo hacerlo, y me sacrifico. Mientras tanto, pueden ver más vídeos de mis jugadas ganadoras en mi canal de Youtube. Intentaré ganar un par de cosas más para felizmente esperar mis premios en la comodidad de mi hogar, al otro lado del mundo.

FOOD ADVENTURES

Caliope

Yesterday I flew in from my Disney trip, and to my surprise I was being emailed about being chosen for a fancy course tasting dinner courtesy of a local phone company I am NOT affiliated to yet still managed to win over a story on how I lost a tooth to a Jolly Rancher at a restaurant when I was a kid. Thanks though! and it was TODAY. Ed is also currently traveling so I took my mom as my date.

According to Wikipedia, Calliope is the muse who presides over eloquence and epic poetry; so called from the ecstatic harmony of her voice. She is spoken of by Ovid as the “Chief of all Muses.”

img_4987-1Caliope, a Farm-to-Table fine dining restaurant is located at Casco Antiguo (the old quarter) right next to this popular venue called Teatro Amador. They offer valet parking for $5, which I find a bit steep considering my car was parked right at the curb and not a private parking lot like previously told as I handed in my keys. Could’ve done it myself, you know?

On to the restaurant… It was fancy and breathtakingly beautiful.

Before heading there I did a bit of research and found it was rated as Panama’s #1 restaurant on Trip Advisor. And it generally had excellent reviews on other platforms. Their cuisine style is said to be Mediterranean Fusion and they offer appetizers, entrees and a wide selection of deserts, and individual prices on their menu range from $3 to $35. I was greeted by a very attentive staff and seated in a table for two next, and offered drinks. I had a Cosmopolitan (spur of the moment) and my mom had an Amapola. Then, the deliciousness took place when our first course showed up.

Portobello, Cremini and Champignon cream with rosemary, salt and ginger infused cream. Great texture and I was told it would open my appetite. Gurl, you clearly don’t know me!

Pickled eggplant, fine herbs butter and artisanal bread

img_4984Crudo del Mar: Jack fish slivers (corvina) with citronette, caramelized onion jam, melon sherbet and bread tiles. I almost shed a tear on how beautiful it looked and how amazing it tasted.

img_4983Wonton ravioli stuffed with duck ragu, fontina cheese foam, bechamel and bacon crumble

Beurre blanc trout with diced bread croutons on a bed of sauté potatoes

Mango sherbet for palate cleansing

Cinnamon infused Catalan cream with caramelized raspadura (unrefined brown sugar)

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Mago Montii being a good sport and letting me take a picture for my ~humble~ blog post

To end our dining experience, because all good things must come to an end…we had a magician wait for us on the ground floor right before we exit the building.

I was too amused to snap any photos during his tricks, but I was impressed! He did a few simple tricks with red foam balls that I am still trying to find some logic to. I should’ve asked if he could make a Pug appear from thin air but I guess a different kind of sorcery would be required.

Life has been full of magical moments lately and tonight was nothing less than that, literally. Tonight’s dinner was sublime, every course was absolutely delightful and it was a refreshing Friday night for sure.

If you’ve got a restaurant you’d like me to review, I’ll do it in exchange for some tasty food. Opinions on this blog are of my own and I was not paid to advertise anyone, their services and/or products.

 

ART, DESIGN + NICE THINGS, PAULIE SAYS

Dreaming big

I left my job months ago because I was basically being set up for failure by a psychopath boss and it’s one of the reasons I decided to halt the blog. I had simply taken time for myself and felt no inspiration for content, or didn’t want to post something that would come and haunt me later on. It’s been a rollercoaster and haven’t precisely been supported by many on my new endeavours. Not many people have contacted me and offered a helping hand… or just a casual hello, which is sad and made me feel betrayed in some way – but it’s also been eye-opening on how HORRIBLE and CORRUPT job politics are, how friends/work aquaintances can dispose you once you got nothing to offer them and how being friends with an insider is apparently the only way to score a job because experience and a pretty robust resume are overlooked. (I’m still available for hire, what you see is what you get so hit me up!)

Now, on to the unicorns, sparkles, magic and brighter things!

Amongst those who did and continue believing in me are the Make a Wish Foundation. Months ago I made a blog post about their annual Wish Day and how magical that experience was.

Back in May I was contacted by them to go as an Interpreter for a family on a trip. Never been an interpreter, though I’ve done certified translating work for clients. Anyway, back on the subject – I had to decline the offer, one of my close friends was getting married and I wanted to be there for her. I knew it was the right decision. Everyone I told this to said I was the biggest fool of all.

Well, I kept this under wraps for a few months now, but today another dream is coming true. I was contacted for a second time, and since I have been freelancing I accepted the offer. Today I’m hopping on a plane to Florida, on my way to Walt Disney World as an Interpreter for a really sweet boy named Joseph and his family.

I feel very excited and fortunate to be able to experience something like this. It’s not any trip, I’m becoming part of someone else’s dream – who is also fulfilling my very own dream. Joseph went through some dark times with his family after his diagnosis. He is a fighter and while I’ve only spent brief moments with him, I admire his strenght and how joyful he is. Also, we’re taking the MAAgic Flight, to make things even more exciting.


When I left my job one of the first things I wanted to do was buy a ticket to Disney, but it would’ve been a financially irresponsible thing for me to do. I suppose the power of wishing is real. It’s ironic how a few weeks ago Disney shattered my dreams after an interview gone wrong (yup, read that correctly!) and somehow I’m still going to what I agree holds the title as the happiest place on earth.

EDGAR SAYS, NERD SPOT, POPCORN TIME

In review: X-Men: Apocalypse

The first act of 2016’s X-Men: Apocalypse is so palpably dissimilar to the rest of the movie, that it should be considered a different film.

The first 30 minutes of Apocalypse are not a good movie. It’s passable at best, and clearly aimed at millennials almost exclusively. From the clearly tacked-on-by-a-script-doctor narration at the very beginning (about human flaws in superhuman beings), to the relentless barrage of blurry 60 fps frames, the third installment in the First Class trilogy starts with disappointment. Initiating with a confusing sub-plot full of already-developed characters that are consequentially inconsequential to the viewer, the film shoves En Sabah Nur’s transference ceremony to the audience amid a grand Egyptian setting that tells us in medias res that Apocalypse spent most of his story buried underground while “wreaking havoc throughout human history”, only to be awoken by the magnanimous power of daily sunlight.

Meanwhile, Magneto has adjusted to society, leaving his tragic past behind, using no mutant powers and no mutant name, while operating low key as a construction worker in Poland. Because this is an X-Men film, there has to be nostalgia, so naturally, it’s set 10 years apart from its prequel, as that prequel before it did. And because Magneto is Michael Fassbender ,and it’d be a sin not to overuse him as an actor, we need to see Magneto cry indignant tears of rage against an unjust universe. From a combo death that’s pathetic in every way, the Villain of the movie reloads in full form, portrayed by Oscar Isaac, whose only acting fault is that he can’t act what the script and direction don’t give to him.

Overall, though, X-Men: Apocalypse is a good movie, and the line can be sort of crossed around the first genuine line of dialogue between Moira and Charles regarding how the CIA would kill for Cerebro.

Following this quality of film-making, Singer raises his Apocalypse from the ashes until it soars as fan-favorite Jubilee remains yet un-showcased, but most other characters develop as quickly as teenagers. Some essence of First Class and a considerable essence from Days of Future Past permeates through this work, which combines Fassbender’s and McAvoy’s classic style of elegant theater school with a touch of the hip, the fast and the Quicksilver-paced. The movie isn’t tone-deaf as much as clearly stitched together by many different teams, minds, and cooks. This results in a work that’s polarized within itself yet ultimately redeemed by veteran filmmaking.

Also following Days of Future Past’s thematic relic, the fate of the Mutants can be determined by what the news media say about them. Guided by news media, Raven Mystique asks Prof. Xavier for help in rescuing her only other true ally: Erik Magneto (meaning both had left mutant life behind but were forced back into it). Thankfully, this touching character interaction is mirrored adeptly through Cyclops and Jean Grey, two characters who are much younger but who could also destroy the whole world by themselves. Starting from the death of Xavier’s favorite tree by his newest rising star, coursing through a sibling legacy to avenge, and ending as sloppily as Angel appeared, became Archangel and then ???, the film sort of just ends. It’s a tribute to entropy’s rapid decline. But the movie finishes with a strong portrayal of both Charles Xavier and Magneto, probably the most important constant in the trilogy. To be fair, this relationship never faltered in the movie, and its pace was appropriate and suspenseful enough for its source material.

Something to condemn was how relentlessly aggressive its marketing campaign ended up being, slapping YouTube ads with lines barely present in the movie (Apocalypse could control literally none of the Mutants). But its punches were so deservedly epic that Weapon X’s appearance wasn’t even gratuitous. Phoenix’s tease wasn’t even cryptic, and Charles Xavier was made of admirable star dust, challenging the Mutant epitome of Natural Selection itself.

From a first act of mismatched editing, poor writing and bland cinematography, to a second act of superb improvement, the film touts that only the strong will survive. Surely so, the film stands up from its crippled position in order to place the man who “wanted students, not soldiers” in its altar to transfer all power to him. Being defiant by nature, he challenges this notion, urging all citizens of Earth to use their power for helping those who have none.

The third act in filmed in an IMAX-size format, and the tension is managed accordingly well. Only one horseman out of four goes full circle from hero, to villain, to redemption. Another one becomes one of the good guys out of admiration for Mystique, but the other two become brand fodder as they disappear into the sunset. I do think this is just one of many X-Men films to come, but certainly the last with the First Class cast. Film perfection is rare, and it should be preserved in memories, like when Charles asked Erik to find power between anger and serenity. He reminds him that through all the loss and tragedy, there is still good in the world. And if anyone dares take it away, there is only pity for the poor soul who tries.

Ultimately, the X-Men series is all about hope for a better future. Walking out of the movie, it’s easier to yearn for a world that returns to its natural roots, free from weapons and war, from discrimination and inequality, and from Fox vs. Marvel.

NERD SPOT

Elo A Triforce Heroes Review

Hey readers! We’ve been on a brief break but we’re back with more content for your delight and entertainment.  

Given the impending announcement for The Legend of Zelda at E3 in a few days from now, let’s review one of their latest additions to the Zelda franchise. 

As a character in the photo booth mentions in the game, kids today want things fast. Triforce Heroes represents a solid effort to deliver a multi-player experience to a franchise that’s known to embody a knight’s lonesome journey.

Made up of four moderately-sized stages, each level in the game relies heavily on co-operation to get every puzzle solved and every treasure chest opened. Featuring creative design and inventive gameplay, Triforce Heroes utilizes 3D to make the world dynamic and the platforms alive. The textures show an effort to reuse A Link Between Worlds‘s settings to expand the narrative into a different story.

Taking a brave departure from the usual world, Triforce Heroes takes place in Hytopia, a kingdom ruled by King Tuft, whose daughter, Princess Styla, has been deprived of her lush appearance. Condemned to wear only a black leotard, Link must enter the Drablands along with two heroic buddies. At its heart, the story takes the approach that’s probably the best one for a children’s game whose very premise is shallow: a person’s chosen appearance reflects their soul. Losing an outfit is on par with losing part of one’s identity, and the mark of the hero in Hytopia is an aesthetic one: sideburns, parted hair, pointed ears. Thematically, the story divides its elements into threes elegantly, and the characters show a burning desire to understand why things happen. A particularly helpful character wants mostly to find out the reason why a theft of style was the path taken, and with little more than a prompt to action, Link embarks on an adventure of frustration like the franchise hasn’t seen in years.

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This game can’t be faulted for being easy. Because it’s not. Its levels may be short and simple, but the execution of every move requires some patience, well-thought timing, and, of course, style. Along the way, you’ll collect different materials that Madame Couture can use to stitch up a new suit for Link to wear. Each costume has a function beyond its aesthetics, such as enhancing items or performance. And this helps the game stay fresh. Its biggest source of staleness would be playing the same levels again just to complete every challenge, but the game is smart enough to change things around so that it doesn’t feel like Groundhog Day.

The game itself is quite fun, as Hytopia has moving characters with their own motivations, dreams, and fears. The place feels alive in many ways. The shop items change every day, children play game and share secrets, townsfolk tell stories and bards leave diary pages in the open so the plot thickens further. Even Styla leaves her room when her admiration for Link overrides her shame for feeling undignified.

Overall, Triforce Heroes possesses a quality that defines a Zelda game beyond all: it keeps you coming back. The challenge level guarantees that you’ll try most levels at least twice. And each enemy can be overcome in more than one way, forcing you to get creative with your play style. Some items are pretty tough to beat in single player mode, so Nintendo keeps its servers busy, allowing you to join strangers in the cutest communication mode I’ve seen in an online multiplayer mode: a set of emoticons Link can use to express ideas. You can either call the other players to join you at your location. You can tell them to use their item (only one item per player, you can’t finish a stage until all three players have their item). You can ask them to pick other players to form a totem. You can request for them to throw you so you can move on your own. You can warn them that what they’re doing is wrong or it’s taking them nowhere. You can cheer the team when morale is low or simply because you feel like it. You can celebrate when something’s done right. You can complain that something is frustrating you. And you can use your Zelda skills to traverse the varied landscapes that lead you to the Princess’s freedom.

ART, DESIGN + NICE THINGS, PAULIE SAYS

PUSHEEN BOX – SPRING REVIEW

Yesterday I finally received this ~bundle of joy~ and off the bat knew I had to show it off. This is my second Pusheen Box – a seasonal subscription box based on “that Facebook sticker cat” exclusive goodies. The one I received is sold out, but you can subscribe for the summer edition! (I wasn’t paid to advertise this box, in any shape or form, I’m just a humble, very enthusiastic fan and cat lady).

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Priced at $43.95 + $6 Shipping to the US per box, they claim its worth +$100 in stuff, plus you can’t really get most of them anywhere else. The one I will describe below is sold out, ordered it months ago…they actually have an automatic billing system after you purchase your first box.  I believe next box is scheduled for July so if you’re interested, I suggest you subscribe to their newsletter so you don’t miss out.

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So, let’s proceed to the box. You can scroll the pictures as you please in the gallery above. First of all, it’s probably the best designed subscription box I’ve ever received, given they transformed the whole packaging into a squared Pusheen. From the face, to the tail and paws on the bottom of the box. Two for you, Pusheen box coco!

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The contents: it was packed. Each box comes with an information card. It consisted in an exclusive Baker Pusheen vinyl figure(around 4 inches tall), a Pusheen cookie cutter, an apron, an umbrella, 3 pairs of socks, 3 sticker sheets, a pin set, a key cap and my favorite: a Pusheen mini planter! I’m in love with the planter and headed out to get a tiny succulent right away (bedazzled with tiny golden rocks, in case you hadn’t noticed, I love golden odds and bits).  Loved the previous box (winter edition) but I feel this one suits me better.

Veredict: absolutely worth every penny. If you’re a fan of Pusheen, go for it. If you’re a regular cat lady like myself, go for it. It’s a lot of kawaii for $50 every few months and the best part is they’re things you can actually use and not only exhibit. It offers a good balance between decorative and useful stuff. Meow.

NERD SPOT, POPCORN TIME

Captain America: Civil War – Movie Review

Having only directed episodes for nine TV series and three TV movies besides one feature-length comedy, brothers Joe and Anthony Russo weren’t necessarily regarded among the best filmmakers of their time prior to Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Phase 2. But Captain America 3: Civil War leaves no excuse to disregard The Russo Brothers. Helmed by Disney, Marvel was smart enough to sign the siblings into both of the parts that will close the Avengers film series, concluding the era of superhero movies that so many skeptics are looking forward to seeing collapse.

latest-2In a time of readily available information, it’s becoming increasingly important to ask why in general. Not only in matters of questioning authority or finding oneself, but also in analyzing and thusly understanding the world we live in. Why are superheroes so popular? Why are they so hated by others in return? Why are love and hate of things mutually exclusive concepts? Civil War does not answer those primordial questions, but it does bring some fine quality entertainment for masses who enjoy mainstream accessibility.

Be it 3D, 4D, or good ‘ol 2D, Captain America’s final trilogy chapter closes so many loose ends and opens up so many new worlds of possibilities, in such carefully crafted ways, that even the most hard-hearted of purists would be delusional if they denied that Marvel actually makes good cinema that acknowledges the parts within its continuity.

Let’s start from the script. The very first slam superhero movies get is for being too formulaic, almost engaged in a tragically Oedipal romance with Joseph Campbell, immortalizing his name as the daddy of screenwriting clichés. Hero rises, falls, rises again. People weep in awe at the Phoenix and all ends as it started, only improved. But why is this bad? At one point does a story stop being full of conventions and instead become full of organic parts? My personal answer is that it isn’t. Superheroes are definitely a stage of film history (hell, Marvel was smart enough to divide it in Phases), and it will eventually end. But even the fall of its empire is entertaining to watch. After all, that’s all it’s supposed to be: entertainment. And entertainment itself is a human necessity. Ergo, superheroes are just a part of a human need.

Captain-America-Civil-War-Splashpage-TeamCap-Photo

Let’s move on to the film: everything the viewer wanted was delivered like a checklist. Anyone familiar with Civil War knows and expects a set list of things: Iron Man vs. Captain America, Black Panther, Spiderman, Ant-Man riding Hawkeye’s arrows, Ant-Man becoming a giant, a speech of planting oneself like a tree and telling others to move on, and so on. In various comic book iterations, both Tony Stark and Steve Rogers eventually die at some point, so the source material canon has some pretty high stakes raised already. But even if you know nothing of this movie and the above stated elements were spoilers to you, you’re in for a fun ride.

The marketing for the movie was exceedingly clever, down to the things that the studios didn’t even control: Batman v. Superman was definitely meant to be released earlier. And it was totally meant to be a much less entertaining movie (for one, it has less characters, it has a much more serious tone, and its intent is to bring some cinematic solemnity to the Justice League). Following Joss Whedon’s beloved method of quippy remarks, the characters in Civil War breathe like regular humans. They bleed much less than regular humans, but they do so nonetheless, and they complain, they hurt, they hesitate, they repent, they improve, and even though they don’t… spoiler… die at all (only ONE character with a known name and speaking role dies in the movie… if you solely count sequences more than five minutes long).

Civil War does many things right: it continues the storyline, mood, and settings introduced by its predecessor (in a world where, for instance, Iron Man 3 is so disjointed from Iron Man 2, this is particularly noteworthy). It introduces characters in the best way possible (Black Panther is the only character truly shown for the first time in film), and it gives just enough screen time to the many characters is crams together without turning it all into a mess. Where Dawn of Justice stumbled and struggled while building a fearsome villain, setting up sequels and putting one side of ideals against its opposite (I thing BvS did all those things well, but you could feel the work it took), Civil War maneuvered seamlessly with little more than a few seconds of awkward editing that is expected in action movies. At least for once, we’re getting a properly packaged product where every scene promised in the trailer is actually shown to us in the movie itself. That’s a relief nowadays (and we even get to figure out who the mysterious bald woman in the Age of Ultron is).

captain-america-civil-war-posterAnd the core of the movie itself is about minimizing damages: sure, superheroes will always cause deaths, as the nature of a hero is to challenge the very concept of mortality. Following the ideology that saving a few lives is ethically “more right” than saving nobody at all, the movie imploded its capacity of failure into enjoyable plotlines that preserve the magic we all love in cinema. No hero is tarnished in the movie. Even its main villain is given a bitterly heartfelt moment to tragically grieve his motivations into the audience, and into a character changed for the better as a result of this apotheosis (what defines a hero). This movie is about consequences, and the anti-hero’s journey is almost the same as the hero’s (watching an empire fall), the only difference is that the hero attempts to stray the least from the rules (even though the system descends into synonymous entropy that following rules in full results in not doing the right thing) while the anti-hero writes his own, and then ignores his own rules.

Certainly, the movie itself is not about opposing forces, about the impossibility of true neutral balance, or about the Confederacy raising musket bayonets against the Union, as advertised in the title and as the least clever parts of its marketing would have you believe. But it is about many other related things, and it feels real in a world with routine news of terrorist attacks, increasing climate change, and unending conspiracy theories by self-proclaimed clickbaity journalists. Civil War is a needed breath in superhero movies. It is a necessary conclusion to storylines left hanging by the company that keeps the dreams of mice alive. It is a fair product of sacrifice and hard work, mostly by the screenwriters, actor, directors, and even the audience. And it is a deserved moment in comic book history, where nerdy fans can see their haven immortalized in what is arguably the most complete of all art mediums. I keep saying “in this world”, because in this world the superhero is supposed to die any time. But mark by words, heroes never die.

 

ART, DESIGN + NICE THINGS, PAULIE SAYS

WISH DAY

My parents were part of the The Lions Club and wanted me to follow their footsteps, but I never did. I saw how they helped gather stuff for people in need, but oddly, I didn’t feel identified with the cause, maybe because I felt these organizations only benefited the rich and were more of a social status label, for the most part.

I think it was a couple of years ago when a friend contacted me for a volunteer job. At the time, I didn’t have much time off to go on activities, so I offered my graphic design skills. Then I got to know a little bit more about the Make a Wish Foundation.

You may wonder… what’s that?

Founded in Phoenix, Arizona in 1980, when a group of caring volunteers helped a young boy fulfill his dream of becoming a police officer, Make-A-Wish is one of the world’s leading children’s charities.

After the start of Make-A-Wish in the United States, interest in granting the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions quickly spread to other nations. In 1993, Make-A-Wish International was officially formed to serve the five countries outside the U.S. – and now helps to serve children outside the United States in nearly 50 countries on five continents through its 39 affiliates. Make-A-Wish America grants the wishes of children in the United States through its 61 chapters. With the help of generous donors and over 32,000 volunteers, Make-A-Wish has collectively granted approximately more than 350,000 wishes worldwide since 1980. (source)

Late last year I even granted a wish, along with my coworkers. We held a bake sale and sold ice cream sandwiches to fund it. Little by little we gathered the money and it felt so good. Something as simple as a new bike can make a kid’s day, or his entire year. If you have the chance, resources, skills or just want to bring a smile to a kid, and yourself, do it.

So, two weekends ago I had the honor to volunteer again, this time it was not design related (yay!), so I got up early on a Sunday morning (I know, the horror) and drove my way into the venue for Wish Day.

April 29th is World Wish Day®, the anniversary of the wish that inspired the founding of Make-A-Wish® in 1980 and a worldwide day of gratitude to thank our donors, volunteers, medical professionals, sponsors, wish kids and families.

 

Wish Day was basically a party/fun fair for the kids, their healthier siblings and their parents. I was in charge of the “Duck Pond” and gave away prizes for the children. I may and may have not cheated a bit and helped them out so everyone got something…and maybe I did give away extra prizes to some kids… but It was a day for them go to all out. There was all kinds of games and things to do. I couldn’t even take many pictures, those kids kept me busy. Not surprised though, they had free popcorn, cotton candy, raspao'(Panamanian shaved ice), popsicles, burgers, hot dogs… and a freaking CANDY BAR. There was a candy bar, okay?! Even I walked out with my Jolly Rancher stash. My precious.

Most importantly, the children had fun and once more, taught everyone in the room how appreciative we should all be of the little things in life, like fishing a rubber duck off a kiddie pool and it being the biggest achievement ever. Those little people have probably been through hell and they are still fighting through it all with a smile.

If you’re interested in taking part as a volunteer for Make a Wish, you can contact them directly by clicking here or through me. There are many ways to do it and it doesn’t take much, but gives you back a whole lot.

EDGAR SAYS, POPCORN TIME

A la deriva

Artículo escrito por Edgar C. Mans

Si a un antropólogo se le preguntara algo complejo y pesado como “¿cuál es la solución a la situación en el Medio Oriente?”, lo más probable es que responda comenzando con el origen de un conflicto y siguiendo con algo como “el primer paso es la comprensión. Porque solo sabiendo el por qué, se puede comenzar a solucionar una situación social”.

¿Qué sentimos cuando vemos el peso de la justicia caer sobre un culpable? El cine es el arte morboso que no permite un clímax en el cual un monstruo sufre, porque en la vida real la mayoría de injusticias ocurren sin retribución newtoniana, causando nuestra gran mayoría de frustraciones a pequeña escala acumulándose en enfermedades crónicas.

El cineasta Miguel I. González confesó que se le pidió que callara el tema del dietilenglicol, ante vítores y aplausos de un público justamente conmovido. Pero más allá de una historia de un director, A la deriva es la historia de tres mujeres y las ramas y raíces que se extienden y crecen de ellas. Las hojas de su vida, las flores de sus sueños y las semillas de su indignación.

Como izquierdista social, me alegró que el monstruo del documental no fuera la Caja de Seguro Social. Como humanista me pareció satisfactoriamente ético el enfoque en lo humano. Hasta el monstruo de la historia es humano: cada culpable del consumo de dietilenglicol. Como socialista, me agradó la perspectiva femenina en un mundo incrementadamente consciente de la igualdad de género, compensando por milenios de desproporcionado privilegio masculino. Como público, me cautivó el tono tan orgánico, las texturas tan vívidas, y el ritmo tan delicado con el cual el filme toca los temas más sensibles y acaricia la psique con un susurro de esperanza ante la más perseverante de las adversidades: el dolor constante.

A la deriva es en mi prematura opinión el paradójico ganador de una competencia en la cual no compite. El premio del público claramente es uno guiado por conmoción y empatía. Y la película, done o no a la causa con sus procedencias, es la pieza clave en este movimiento que no descansa mientras haya afectados por el dietilenglicol.

Si a mí me preguntaran, sin ser antropólogo, ¿cuál es la razón por la que olvidamos tan rápido? Mi respuesta sería: para vivir. Allison, una niña gravemente afectada a nivel neuronal por el dietilenglicol, se ve temprano en el documental luchando por comunicar que entiende el concepto del cero. En la película claramente vemos víctimas, pero más que nada vemos sus esfuerzos en sacudirse tal fúnebre título. Lo más fuerte de A la deriva es la cotidianidad de todo. Como confusiones burocráticas en expedientes médicos pueden poner vidas en riesgo. Como un envío casual de glicerina para producir anticongelantes puede terminar en medicamentos otorgados por una entidad gubernamental para mejorar la salud. Como un cambio de receta puede terminar en un padecimiento de por vida. Movimiento reducido, cansancio constante, debilidad muscular, desorientación y otra gran cantidad de síntomas afectan a quienes han tenido el compuesto químico C4 H10 O3 en su organismo sin tratar por más de un día. Y día tras día, las protagonistas de la historia no olvidan, sino que luchan para vivir una vida con un semblante de la dignidad que merecen, cercenada por los síntomas de la intoxicación.

La película busca justicia. El movimiento que genera es uno de indignación. La misma indignación que causa ver niños privados de acceso a sus sueños, a un aprendizaje pleno y a una vida con salud. La misma indignación que siente una mujer al ya no poder ser libre para caminar, para ser esposa y amante, para ser ama de casa o compañera de vida. Los héroes de A la deriva son puramente humanos, viviendo un día a día con una realidad incómoda, pero unida a cada silla en la que se sientan.

Apropiadamente, A la deriva no sucumbe a la trillada herramienta de cámara en mano. El pulso de este documental es tan solemne como debe ser: la fotografía se mueve junto a los sujetos que retrata. El sonido captura el ambiente en el que juegan niños, en el cual se desplaza una silla de ruedas, o en el cual un pincel revive el rostro de un esposo difunto sobre un lienzo.

La delicadeza que logra A la deriva es admirable, y es sin duda un fruto de amor. Un amor a la vida que sobrepasa la amargura por no tener justicia ante los culpables de una calamidad masiva que afecta a miles dentro de Panamá y otros miles en decenas de países diferentes. Y es por todo esto, por el montaje de respiro esperanzado, por los planos de un paisaje pulsante, y por el cariño con el que tres voces lloran y sonríen colores del pasado y el futuro, es que A la deriva es una obra audiovisual incambiable. Urgente en su llamado, permanente en su efecto, necesario en su voz.

 

ART, DESIGN + NICE THINGS, NERD SPOT

Comic Jammin’

Today I’ll tell you about a very, very nerdy event I attended…it was awesome.

img_1830-1See, I have very, very talented friends. Not your Instagram celeb kind of friends,  but a group of comic maven geeks who i can call my bros. They are part of this independent web comic crew called Indiellusions.

A couple of weeks ago I helped them out organize for their fist Comic Jam, a free event for comic/manga fans to hang out and create together.

It consisted in a creativity workshop where participants would draw comics in a limited time frame, based on subjects picked at random from a fishbowl. Neat stuff, i tell you.

Basically, once you got there, we would hand out blank layout grids and pencils. Attendees could bring their own supplies as well. It was an exercise for creativity, storytelling and mental wits while sharing what their projects are and how they end up doing these things.

Some of the random combinations(based on pure chance, believe it or not) were: Hero, Columns, Race, Maple Syrup. I did sketch out this one but it was bad!

Another i remember was DNA, Death, College and Lobster. Curious thing was I did a little Google research and found out some studies proved lobster cells are indestructible to some extent. Myth says lobsters are immortal (crabs too) and had I been drawing, that would’ve been my general concept! Come on, lobster immortality? heck yeah!  

People from all ages attended, and it was a refreshing thing to witness. There were very young kids with all the imagination, and older people with technique that can only be polished with experience. It made me glad to see people take interest in cultural activities for self growth and I’m proud of my friends for their success doing what they do best.

On that same day, I scratched my car’s door with a metal rod. But that’s another token in my jinx library!

Also, they recently launched a web comic called Blueprint, with drawings from the ultra talented Albert Weand. I admired his work from when I first stumbled upon it a couple of years ago, then ended up hanging out with his friends and colleagues, such if life.

Synopsis from their website: Gustavo, a young architect who has achieved success, finds himself in a motionless period in his career, while Megumi, still in her college years, foresees the day she makes her dream of making manga a reality. Both of them, Megumi and Gus, find in each other the ideals and answers, to questions that by themselves, they could’ve never discovered.

Click here or on the image below to learn more about their project available every Tuesday and Thursday.

Blueprint-slider-updates

 

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