Sunday, March 25, 2007

Back to the Gym!

Today I went back to the gym, after 4 days at home! Feeling much better! I did 12.6km in the bike and 2.5 in the threadmills! Very happy with it, it's quite a challenge, but I am loving it!

I took the picture below 2 days ago, in the library here, and used a color pencil effect from an old version of Paint Shop. I like the colours of the background, with the books and pictures in the wall...

Thursday, March 22, 2007

News from Rio...

Long time no posts, I know, but I am sort of taking a rest from computers in general, just relaxing and taking it easy.

Mark went back to Dublin on Sunday but we have been talking everyday of course. I miss him lots, and wish he were still here, but it's only 5 weeks now until I come back!

Only problem is I got an infection (caused by the so-called rotavirus), and was forced to stay home since Monday night. I am taking antibiotics and today, for the 1st time, I felt better and started eating like a human being. Until yesterday my diet consisted of 1 banana and 1 apple every meal, which is bleahhh... Really. But today I had a little grilled fillet steak with broccoli and mashed potatoes.

I missed the gym for 3 days but tomorrow I will be back, unless I relapse, which is very unlikely. So, I have not much to report since Mark's departure.

Apart from that I've been talking to my Mom and Maria and it's always a laugh because they are nuts! Maria is such a character, with all her folklorical stories of crazy ghosts and werewolves and she really tells it with such a vivid body language and emphasis that I almost die of manic, compulsive laughing... And mind you, these are things that "happened to me", she says, very seriously. Like the ghost in the banana-tree: "Do you know ghosts love banana trees??", she asked me, and then started to recount the episode... I will not relate it here since it's something to be heard directly from the source! But I have lots of fun with these 2 ladies here!

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

New Comic Books (by Joann Sfar)

Yesterday we have been to Academia da Cachaça and, while waiting for my Mom to join us, we decided to check on the bookshop nearby, Da Conde. This bookshop is open quite late, until 1am from Thursdays to Saturdays and then up to midnight the other days. They always have the best DVD's and newest books and comics, as well as lots of art and philosophy. Very cool...

I was looking at the comics section and something immediately caught my interest. A series called "O Gato do Rabino" ("The Rabbi's Cat", check this Amazon page for reviews) by Joann Sfar. I decided to buy volumes 1 and 2 after having a quick browse at the artwork, which seemed outstanding.

I read it when we arrived home and it is simply brilliant. The story is told by a cat belonging to a Rabbi and his daughter, living in Algeria in the beginning of the XXth Century. The cat starts talking after swallowing the Rabbi's pet parrot and, on receiving the gift of the (spoken) word, he starts questioning his own Jewish identity, since he considers himself a "Jewish" cat. He discusses religious and philosophical matters with his master the Rabbi and decides he wants his bar-mitzvah - for he never had it. He also wants to start studying the Kabbalah (instead of the Torah) because "I like starting things from the end", he says.

The whole book is a very well-spotted tribute to Judaism and the life of Jews in Algeria and the Sepharad community in Northern Africa, full of humour and very cute moments as well. The cat is a strange one, of the Sphinx variety, and has expessive long ears and huge eyes. He is witty, intelligent and sarcastic, and loves questioning the world and those humans around him.

The book is also very touching in moments, for example, when the Rabbi leaves home and wanders around, depressed, until he finally meets a old acquaintance of his, the Sheikh Sfar (a wise man from the Arab community). Both of them travel together and chat and sleep and end up praying and celebrating the good news that the Rabbi has received in a letter from Paris. At the same time, the Cat and the Sheikh's Donkey (who also talks and sings) are having an argument on the origin of the names: is the name Sfar a Jewish or an Arab name? It ends up that it's both!

The translation (to Portuguese) is perfect and very, very funny; pretty much in the way we actually speak, with all the expressions and some hilarious slang. all in one, this book is indeed a little gem, mixing naivety and wisdom in equal measures.

I want to get the English version so Mark can enjoy it as well!

In Rio!

Yes! We are in Rio, finally! We arrived on Feb 25th. Mark will come back to Dublin next week, I think on the 18th, and I will stay until April 20th!

What have we been doing? Well, I am going to the local gym here, just across the road from my Mom's house, and I am loving it, although somehow it seems harder than the one in Dublin. Well... They made an evaluation today and I am kinda depressed, because I need to do something about my general form asap, and so on... At the same time, I am also excited, needless to say. It's gonna be though, but I am up to it. Plus, the staff are great and are always watching what you are doing and helping you with the machines. That's very good.

We have been as well to nice places like Academia da Cachaça, which Mark loves, and the new high-tech mall here in Leblon, the Shopping Leblon, which offers great shops and fantastic architecture. Unfortunately we are not allowed to take pictures inside. That is a bit ridiculous, of course, but at least the security guys are very polite.

And what else? Meeting friends and going places, all very relaxing... I will try and tell more about it these days, in short little blogs - if laziness allows me!