domingo, 16 de enero de 2022

"Strong female character test" Lord Yu (An Ominous Book)

 On the next entry to this fun self-assessment writing activity, I have to begin veering towards supporting characters because there isn't a lot of female main characters in the series.

Why is this?

Well, because I love centering a huge portion of the plot around the 脛imite Guard which due to its stringent training requirements, has a horrible gender imbalance where only 8% of the guards being female at the most.

So chances are I will start to see plenty of less important characters failing this test.

Lord Yu espouses the kind of nobleelf Lord Spaulding detests because she is living proof the Red Clan's unique Clan Leader selection criteria based on hair color is a terrible idea.

And yet despite garnering little respect in the mainland, her people love and respect her and she seems far smarter than what you'd think.

Click on the image to get An Ominous Book on Amazon!

1. Does the character shape her own destiny? Does she actively try to change her situation and if not, why not?

Lord Yu knows she is the next in line to inherit leadership of her clan. Her mother Tesra is dying of heart disease and she has pretty much already taken over duties as the clan's official figurehead.

Far less abrasive than Tesra, Yu uses her mother's terminal illness as the perfect excuse not to visit the mainland during the nation's most important ceremony in Book 3. This is with the purpose of training Richard and Vincent without unwanted prying eyes.

In book 1, Lord Spaulding warned her not to open the magical chest and showed the scar tissue on his arms as proof of its inherent danger. Against all common sense, Yu decided to veer inside.

At first sight, one would argue Yu's decisions are done under her free will without coercion. Sadly a spoiler from Book 3 proves this is not entirely true. And so she loses half a point.

Points: 0.5/1

2. Does she have her own goals, beliefs and hobbies? Did she come up with them on her own?

She wants to assist Lord Spaulding and Richard. She helps Spaulding free of charge because she is fond of him (mostly because they are the only clan leaders we meet early in the story that are mortal), whereas she finds Richard to be cute looking and believes he deserves to recover his rightful place as the king of Ayrtain.

Her beliefs are quite straightforward, but as I mention in question 1, her free will is not entirely preserved. There is no way to know if she agreed to any of the things she does in the story outside of taking the magical chest to the Elf King's palace.

We also never discover what she does in her free time.


Points: 0/1

3. Is her character consistent? Do her personality or skills change as the plot demands?

Yu is a master in deceit and takes advantage of being viewed as an obnoxious clown so that King Salman never sees her as a real threat. A lot of this behavior seems to be an act.

Being raised by Tesra likely had an influence. She knows perfectly well she can barter the Elf King's cooperation under the constant threat of letting human armies enter the kingdom's territorial waters and wreak havoc. I doubt Yu would go so far because she doesn't seem to detest Lord Froylan like her mother does, but it's a good way to keep the kingdom from meddling into her personal affairs which helps move the plot forward.

Points: 1/1

4. Can you describe her in one short sentence without mentioning her love life, her physical appearance, or the words ‘strong female character’?

The incessantly loud and boisterous heiress to the obtuse Red Clan that likes to set her own rules.

Points: 1/1

5. Does she make decisions that aren’t influenced by her love life?

Despite the seemingly innapropriate flirting on Spaulding (which was more of a prank than anything serious), she agreed to take the magical chest to the capital as a personal favor to her friend... and to satiate her curiosity because she wanted to confirm whether the artifact was as dangerous as Spaulding claims.

I still have a hunch a lot of the things she did for Richard was because she was attracted to him.

Points: 0.5/1

6. Does she develop over the course of the story?

In this respect, sadly not enough. She proves a veil of increased distrust of the government when she hopelessly watches Spaulding's brutal flogging. Even though she skipped further visits to the capital to protest Spaulding's suffering, by this time in the story, her actions are not fully governed by her willpower, and so I sadly can't give her any points. 馃槩

Points: 0/1

7. Does she have a weakness?

I would suppose laughing so loud that makes icicles in the ceiling fall to the ground could be counted as that. Add a dabble of being crass and sprinkles of overconfidence when it comes to underestimating dangerous magical artifacts and she is definitely no Mary Sue.

Points: 1/1

8. Does she influence the plot without getting captured or killed?

Yu moves the story forward in book 3. First she trains Richard and his servant Vincent even though she knows she could get arrested if the guard finds out Richard is in the country. She gives both humans money and a map to the place where they will encounter Lord Spaulding. She later on asks her mother to send her phantom beast to the mainland to invite Richard to her city for an important message that drives the plot forward.

And sadly... well. Despite all of her contributions to the plot, she has to get a half point due to a... well, that is a spoiler.

Points: 0.5/1

9. How does she relate to stereotypes about gender?

Yu learned from her mom to make her own rules. She can flirt with anyone she wants (even an underage human! Yikes!), doesn't care what the mainlanders think about her, and still she has a good fashion sense that frequently makes men stutter.

She knows she has curves and is not ashamed to flaunt them. Might go overboard a bit.

Points: 0.5/1

10. How does she relate to other female characters?

Yu seldom visits the mainland due to geographical constraints outside of her duty to the Elf King to be present during the New Year Festival and so she doesn't have a lot of chances to interact with the main cast.

She doesn't spend much time interacting with Nelida and is instead flirting with her brother Richard. Yu found the girl to be cute but most of the scant conversation was surrounded on her frequent taunts directed at poor Spaulding.

Yu has a nice relationship with her mother Tesra albeit due to Tesra's illness, we don't have a lot of chances to see this in action.

Even though Yu knows Seiran pretty well, Seiran has a far stronger relationship with Tesra and thus they are just amicable acquaintances at best.

Points: 0.5/1


The score is in! Yu gets a... 6.5. 馃槰

Sooo... I guess she barely squirmed into a ⭐⭐⭐ score. It isn't like... terrible given she only appears briefly in the story, but the test sure is enlightening.

Better luck next time, Yu!

lunes, 3 de enero de 2022

"Strong female test" Leilandy Aethinford (An Ominous Book)

Continuing this fun self assessment exercise, I wish to follow up with Leilandy. She only makes a minuscule appearance in An Ominous Book 1, and then becomes an important antagonist in books 2 and 3. And spoiler! Book 5.

With so many subplots ocurring concurrently in the story, Leilandy sort of gets tossed under the rug which is a letdown because she is the only 100%  human mage in the series to become massively overpowered without being under the influence of any of the 4 Ominous Books.

She is the most human character of them all, and a reflection of the society she grew up in. I sympathize with her, albeit I don't precisely like her either. Earlier when I wrote the books, I had pondered whether either she or Trevilin could be in the hunt for the Green Book because both of them were earth mages until I ultimately scrapped the idea and went in a different direction instead.

So sit down, steal an elf's mace and summon an earth golem! 馃槑

Click on the image to get An Ominous Book on Amazon!

1. Does the character shape her own destiny? Does she actively try to change her situation and if not, why not?

Leilandy's survival was an accident even the Ominous Book was incapable of predicting. The book decided to keep her alive because it wanted to exploit her burgeoning hatred of the Elf Kingdom to further its master plan. In this regard, Leilandy couldn't choose to survive the extermination of her family because her mother gifted her an ancient stone necklace that was a family heirloom and the it saved her life.

She also had no chance to oppose wearing the metallic mask that is an outdated tradition of her country. In this regard, she couldn't blame her suffering on the Elf Kingdom because it isn't a cultural export of the kingdom.

What she did have was the choice to ask Trevilin to teach her how to use magic. At first sight, her petition seemed innocent enough, but it is veiled by a mattice of jealousy for Richard being first in line to the throne (which she falsely attributes to his gender instead of the fact the Earlrose family had a stronger claim to the throne). Learning magic would be fruitful because she took advantage Richard was unable to awaken his magic to usurp the throne and planned to force Richard to live the rest of his life under house arrest far away from the capital where he couldn't be a nuissance.

The subsequent invasion of Ayrtain in book 5 was commanded by her with the purpose of being the new queen and to someday conquer the Elf Kingdom.

Points: 0.5/1

2. Does she have her own goals, beliefs and hobbies? Did she come up with them on her own?

We don't get to see her enjoy hobbies in book 2 because she suffered the worst punishment due to wearing the mask. Constrained by the threat of being tied to a chair if she exposed even a smidget of skin in public and forced to wear uncomfortable clothes that made it impossible to do exercise, she spent most of her free time praying. The book doesn't hint whether her prayers were genuine or because there wasn't a lot of other permissible activities.

Her disdain for the Elf Kingdom was imbued by her society which became unfettered hatred after she ended up expelled by Richard. Taking advantage the kingdom isn't well liked in many foreign nations, she somehow ended up in Hataraj, learned the language, and chose to marry a thuggish warlord she both adores and mistreats.

The siege of Ayrtain is entirely her doing and she proves to be a pretty resourceful commander despite having poor combat skills.

Points: 1/1

3. Is her character consistent? Do her personality or skills change as the plot demands?

She initially tolerates her cousin Richard and dislikes the Elf Kingdom, but her hatred grows in equal amounts as the story progresses.

She is heartless, demeaning and sadistic. She feels no remorse seeing humans starve to death in a gibbet and enjoys being cruel to captured elves out of spite.

It is no surprise she treats her lovers with equal amounts of lovebombing and as peons. We can see proof of this by the way she obtains the loyalty of both Knight Ralph and her husband Kumar.

Her stone collar is no ordinary piece of jewelry. It becomes increasingly powerful and has rendered her essentially immortal. Had she bothered to train in magic rather than become too reliant on the necklace, she could potentially destroy the kingdom.

Points: 1/1

4. Can you describe her in one short sentence without mentioning her love life, her physical appearance, or the words ‘strong female character’?

A bitter heiress to the throne that wants to blame every misfortune in her life to the Elf Kingdom whether or not this is true or not.

Points: 1/1

5. Does she make decisions that aren’t influenced by her love life?

Her ultimate goal is to regain her perceived birthright to become the Queen of Ayrtain, become a more powerful earth mage and someday destroy the Elf Kingdom for killing her parents.

Ralph and Kumar as just two artifices she uses to make it easier to attain her wish.

Points: 1/1

6. Does she develop over the course of the story?

She starts out as a jaded young teenager that has suffered through the trauma of losing her family for reasons out of her control and evolves into a bitter, cruel woman that just happens to be both beautiful and a competent earth mage.

Points: 1/1

7. Does she have a weakness?

She doesn't know anything about her stone collar nor its weaknesses. Her judgement is clouded by her unfettered hatred of the Elf Kingdom so she never bothers to learn the full extent to her magic or show the humility to apologize to Richard and make ammends.

Had it not been for her stone collar, she would have been considered to be a below average human mage and any apprentice Aimite guard could have easily defeated her with ease.

Points: 1/1

8. Does she influence the plot without getting captured or killed?

Yes. She awakens her magic, imprisons her cousin Richard, purges the capital of knights that remain loyal to her cousin while continuing to increase her grip on power.

The stone necklace ensured she remained unharmed when she emigrated to Hataraj and she willingly learned their language and culture because of a common hatred for the Elf Kingdom.

Book 5 however has a plot spoiler and that means I had to knock decimals here.

Points: 0.5/1

9. How does she relate to stereotypes about gender?

Even though Leilandy is quite ladylike in her choice of attire, she is outspoken about her racism, mistreats men (both lovers, enemies and allies alike), and quite resourceful when it comes to emigrating to a hostile foreign country to settle down. She doesn't believe a woman should be denied the chance to become a queen and is very adamant in choosing a husband as long as he is capable with the sword, blindly obeys her every command and can satisfy her sexually.

The book seems to prove she is a bit of a contrast to the gender stereotype during her magic training where she is caught talking to flowers with the demureness of a lady while at the same time being able to summon an unladylike rock golem shaped phantom beast.

Points: 1/1

10. How does she relate to other female characters?

Leilandy only shares a strong relationship with Nelida. At first they get along very well due to finding common ground about disliking the Elf Kingdom. Leilandy even tries to guilt-trip Nelida into taking her side at least once.

Upon discovering Nelida (now under the full control of the White Book) not only is a capable air mage but she confessed she murdered their family, they become sworn enemies.

Leilandy ceases to have a relationship with Nelida but lets her posessed cousin wreak havoc to the Elf Kingdom because this made it easier to imprison Richard who is accussed of withcraft and because Nelida was busy killing elves which is something she agreed with.

Points: 1/1


Point total: a whopping 9 points out of 10! 馃コ馃コ馃コ

5 stars! ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Perhaps Leilandy is blindsided by predjudice against both elves and men, and she has to rely on the magic of a stone necklace to become overpowered instead of learning how to fight better. But she is a pretty formidable female character that doesn't get the attention she deserves.

She should get a few extra points just because she looks so damn badass carrying a mace and has the audacity to talk back at Froylan. Very few characters are dumb enough to do that.

s谩bado, 25 de diciembre de 2021

"Strong female character test" Nelida Earlrose (An Ominous Book)

 I have decided to begin the "Strong female test" of the Ominous Book series on Nelida Earlrose, the troubled little girl that spends a good portion of An Ominous Book driving her poor elf uncle Spaulding insane due to being a complete pain in the ass spoiled brat.

When I first had the idea of writing this series, it featured the death of the vast majority of a human royal family by a batshit crazy magical book to advance its own nefarious purposes and Nelida was the unlucky sap that became infected by it. She gets to enjoy a lot of suckiness (many of them magnified because again, she is insufferably spoiled) but she is one of the drivers of the initial story.

Ahoy spoilers, if you don't want to be spoiled before this post, go read my book and feel free to come back! 馃槈

1. Does the character shape her own destiny? Does she actively try to change her situation and if not, why not?

In chapter 3, Nelida and Richard meet Lord Yu, the "colorful" heiress to the Red Clan who came to Spaulding's estate after Trevillin begged for her help.

Annoyed out of his wits, Spaulding wished his friend had chosen someone he didn't detest to help him. Too bad Trevilin got caught by his supervisor sneaking out of the job and grounded with unpaid overtime. Beggars can't be choosers when you plan to bend the law, I suppose!

Nelida already had a basic grasp of the Elf Language thanks to her classes and the two siblings discovered Spaulding was hiding a magical chest in his castle.

While it seemed both kids agreed to find it, Nelida could have urged her brother to behave instead of meddling into Spaulding's private affairs. Nobody coerced her to look in the pantry. She opened the door and discovered streak marks on the stone flooring which indicated the existence of a hidden trap door and got infected by the artifact that drove the story forward.

Given a lot of Nelida's behavior during the story was spurned by the book that posessed her, many things don't apply, but she did beg her uncle to learn magic.

Points: 0.5/1

2. Does she have her own goals, beliefs and hobbies? Did she come up with them on her own?

A lot of her initial goals is geared towards returning to her old life in Ayrtain and to be able to eat meat whenever she wanted. But it isn't so easy when you're a penniless 6 year old girl in a strange country where you neither speak the language or understand the rigid society that will never change to appease you. Hamarin offered the sheer basics of the language and culture in his daily classes without explaining anything about the existence of magic because Spaulding assumed they would soon depart his perfect solitary life and it wouldn't matter.

Nelida isn't seen doing any hobbies, except perhaps for her penchant for mischief looking for dangerous magical artifacts. The things she does do that are within her control given her young age and overall weakness are under her free will.

Her beliefs however are very straightforward: elves are fastidious, she misses the normalcy of the home she left behind and wants to return to it but learning so many things about her uncle's country and the existence of sorcery has marked her forever.

Points: 1/1

3. Is her character consistent? Do her personality or skills change as the plot demands?

Nelida grows during the course of the story. She continues to have a preference for human customs and cuisine, but she learns how to become less unappreciative, more open minded and caring.

Halfway in the first novel when she is delegated to the grim task of protecting her cousin Herb who is bedridden from disease, a badly injured Spaulding borrows his dagger for protection while he searches for help and she tries her earnest to keep her cousin alive within her limited abilities (she fetches for some water and tries to keep his fever under control). She is weak, practically defenseless, worried about her kidnapped brother and beyond exhausted, but she does not back down in this scene and stays awake until her uncle returns. I would really like to know what do readers think about this scene but I personally like seeing her in a positive light for a change.

The Nelida that we meet in the first chapter and at the end of the book shows some consistency in her character, but we can agree she will never be the same person ever again.

A lot of her growth seems stunted in book 2, but I believe it is marked by the trauma of her new life situation as the third in line to the throne. Her memory has been erased because the Ominous Book has no need to carry through with its plans at the time.

Because of the uneven growth of her character development in Book 2 partially because she no longer had full control of her body anymore, I had to give her a half score.

Points: 0.5/1

4. Can you describe her in one short sentence without mentioning her love life, her physical appearance, or the words ‘strong female character’?

A spoiled little girl that is forced to adapt to a foreign country and is loyal to her family.

Points: 1/1

5. Does she make decisions that aren’t influenced by her love life?

Given she doesn't have much of a love life, this would ring true. She looked for the magical chest due to boredom and wanted to learn magic to protect her older brother.

She has a crush on Lord Siri, but the influencing roles are reversed. She is the one that demanded him to get a haircut because he looked too much like her uncle.

Points: 1/1

6. Does she develop over the course of the story?

If she had been given a dagger and the command to stay put while her cousin was feverish while her uncle searched for help in the start of the story, she probably would have demanded to go with her uncle and abandoned Herb.

Fed up with being saved over and over again due to being unable to use magic served as a source of motivation.

Sadly for her, the fact she had been posessed by a magical book that used her body like a puppet to serve its own interests did knock half a point. The book did its best to emulate Nelida's decisions, but it isn't the same thing to have a false notion of free will.

Points: 0.5/1

7. Does she have a weakness?

Nelida probably has too many to tell! She's crass, spoiled, prone to temper tantrums and pretty poor at getting into someone's else's shoes.

She laughs at her uncle's spelling mistakes without acknowledging Human isn't his maternal language and being incapable of awakening her mana like her brother did made her feel jealous.

Points: 1/1

8. Does she influence the plot without getting captured or killed?

Well, nobody told her to open a hidden door in a pantry to get herself infected with a dangerous magical artifact, right? 馃槖

Funny thing is that even though this crucial event is the cause that moves the story forward, doing so proved to be her demise because she was never the same person ever again.

Points: 0/1

9. How does she relate to stereotypes about gender?

Nelida loves femenine human clothes and feels ashamed of wearing skimpy clothes. Elvish swimsuits are too revealing for her taste and she spares few jabs in the book to complain about wearing clothes she doesn't like.

That isn't to say she fits in a square box as a passive lady. If she had known how to use sorcery early in the story, she would not have hesitated in fighting in self-defense.

She shows no real interest to become a nobleman's wife when she grows up. Being only 6 years old in a family that was left in financial ruin, she was quite open minded to absorb Hamarin's teachings which did prove to offer some use in Book 2 as she tried to be a more neutral mediator between Richard and his cousin Leilandy.

Points: 1/1

10. How does she relate to other female characters?

Nelida mostly interacts with 2 female characters.

Book 1: Seiran where she soon formed a brief but amicable relationship. As a tomboyish outcast, Seiran didn't show offense when Nelida would speak her mind. Nelida seemed quite entranced by the elf's knowledge.

Book 2: Leilandy Aethinford. This is a tricky relationship. Both Leilandy and Richard were at complete ideological opposite ends when it came to their opinions of the Elf Kingdom. Richard espoused a nearly religious devotion to the kingdom and seemed to resent being forced to live in the relatively ordinary Ayrtain. Leilandy meanwhile grew up biased against elfkind even though she never traveled to the country or even met an elf other than Trevilin.

Nelida was then sort of stuck in the middle between both cousins where there was no truly right side. She appeased Leilandy because she hated eating vegan cuisine but she sided with her brother because they both appreciated their uncle. Nelida and Leilandy had a degree of common ground in this respect and her cousin even attempted to coerce her into agreeing with her on political issues more than once.

Points: 1/1


So, how did Nelida do? A pretty good 7.5!!! 馃コ馃コ馃コ

In my star rating meter, she got 4 stars! ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Go Nelly!

Well, this was a real fun writing exercise, and I shall soon present the next post.

See ya!

lunes, 25 de octubre de 2021

Carmen Mola: gross false publicity or brilliant marketing?

I sometimes read Spain books. In fact, the last 3 books I finished reading are all Basque literature published in Spain (luckily they all had Spanish translations).

I am reading a non fiction book by a Spanish author right now!

There are very few fiction books written by Latin American authors, be it trad or indie. A lot of it is cultural. Mexicans are (in)famous for not reading books for leisure... like... ever. Former President Pe帽a Nieto became a national mockey for both hiring a ghost writer to write the thesis dissertation for his masters degree that also plagiarized over 4 books word by word over the fact he was unable to answer the question of his favorite 3 books. At least Homer Simpson mentioned he loved to read TV guide. 馃し‍♀️

Spain has a huge trad book history and it is far easier to find books both indie and trad by Spanish writers. It is obviously the largest and well established market in the language. I think the English language readers that are happy the "eeeeevil feminists" are getting a taste of their own medicine are only seeing the Carmen Mola scandal from a far more egletarian anglo society lense.

Hate it or love it, ultra progressive viewpoints are not mainstream opinions in hispanic societies. Progressives are a very small minority of the population that get a huge amount of media attention but people don't think like that in real life. I don't see people in Spanish speaking countries to widely adopt inclusive language anytime soon.

I find it to be quite embarrassing while English language editorials were pushing to publish diverse authors since 2015, Spanish trad editorials waited until 2018 to emulate this formula. This is especially worrying because the vast majority of book readers in Spain are women. Men in Spain simply don't read books so editorials should have realized long ago they ignored the interests of their customer base for far too long.

Of course, plenty of men will complain about the reverse discrimination and how they are having a really hard time nowadays getting trad published anywhere. They always ignore the fact this is the everyday life of women who have historically been forced to publish with gender neutral pen names. Most aspiring female authors simply give up. Female readers like me are forced to swallow whatever is published even if we cringe deep deep inside about the often ridiculous ways male authors write women. I sometimes like reading these books with such abysmally cartoonish female characters because the 1 star reviews are so damn fun to write.

Women authors have historically had minimal leeway to write bad books. We had to work 10 times better and be scrutinized 10 times more. And I won't even start talking about how we are always under a magnifying glass being ridiculed for not wearing the right makeup or the right clothes or our weight... I get panned from all of those things all day so much that it entices me further to dress like a slob for the fun of annoying people.

The Spanish language criticism of Carmela's authors is very different from the rosey English viewpoint. One female reviewer suspected in 2020 Carmela was 3 men and has the facebook post to prove it. She thought at the time Carmela was 3 publicists that wanted to join the female author fever bandwagon. The reason was simply because they couldn't find a trad deal because editorials are now so uber vehement in reducing the shameful 30-70 ratio or risk irrelevance to the country's increasingly demanding female readers. She even suspected Carmela was the name of an ex of one of the guys. It's quite amazing she pretty much nailed the truth.

Critics of the Spanish feminist blogs and bookstores that lauded Carmela's books as grrl powerrrr mention the books had plenty of clues Carmela's books were examples of menwritewomen due to the ridiculously huge libido of female characters and the way male coworkers treated female characters which is totally unreal in real life among hispanic societies. They don't mock the authors as such (sometimes even giving the authors credit for being clever enough to dupe everyone for so long) but they focuded their ire towards the blogs and bookstores that blindly eco chambered whatever is written without even bothering to read the books.

After deliberation, Planeta couldn't disqualify Carmela's authors because they didn't break any rules, but I predict their rules next year will be far more stringent. If this blooper happens ever again, the female dominated reader clientele will stop buying Planeta books which in Spain's dire economic situation means bankruptcy.

If there is one good thing from all of this, Spain's grimdark and thriller female authors are getting a lot of free publicity.

s谩bado, 3 de octubre de 2020

Now I understand the reason why Chilean comedy cop film "Fuerzas Especiales" failed at the box office...

 A lot of people know I have traveled to a modest but still respectable amount of foreign countries, and hopefully once the pandemic ends, I will be able to continue traveling around. I have been to Chile on two occasions and would definitely go there again and again.

During my first trip, I saw posters in downtown Santiago promoting a comedy cop film called Fuerzas Especiales which is similar to those famous 1980's spoof comedy movies such as Police Academy or The Naked Gun. If you liked those movies, you will probably like this film as well. The fact that I dumped half of my popcorn on the floor after the movie ended is vivid proof I had a blast. I sort of feel glad the theater only had 1 person that didn't feel offended I was so annoying because I was likely laughing real loud.

Even though it was the sequel, the plot was very straightforward: Salinas and Freire are now best buddies and they have been promoted to the special forces. The problem is that, well... their rather "colorful" approach to policing is not well accepted among the clique.

I don't really get it. I think Salinas's idea of putting armor on a llama during a downtown Santiago protest in the first 10 minutes of the film was brilliant. As in pure comedy gold, haha.

The movie also delves into the romantic lives of our two heroes. Salinas is miserably oblivious to the fact the force's beautiful cop Vergara is crazy for him, whereas Freire's new girlfriend is both slightly closer to his age than his ex in movie 1, all around nice.... and just happens to be the single mom of a huge troublemaker child who hates Freire to the bone and will do any kind of mischief to get rid of him.

After Freire is wanted for a crime he didn't commit, the oddball team of heroes including the no nonsense Chief Oropeza and freshly minted officer Riquelme come to help clear the names of our friendly duo.

I would have thought such a movie would become a cultish hit in the US, particularly because the kind of slapstick humor in the film is so reminiscent of 80's satire films. No political agendas, just simple PG-13 rated fun.

While for some weird and rather unfair reason this movie was never released in cinemas in Mexico (I have no idea why if I believe a lot of families would have enjoyed watching it even if the Chilean accent is a bit hard to understand at times), sadly the English translated title is just... well... See for yourself:

I don't really understand the logic behind such an absurd title. The exact English translation should be "Special Forces". They could have simply tried to name the movie "Chilean Naked Gun" or "Chilean Special Forces", and it would have come out as something close to the original title without sounding condescending.

Yes, Mexico is a 3rd world country, 50% of the population earns less than 2000 USD a year and I have visited many houses in rural areas with dirt floors, don't have a toilet and much less a tank of potable water. Ironically houses without toilets have a good chance of having satellite tv but that is sort of offtopic. But despite that, the cities are actually quite developed, and nobody rides around with donkeys, not even in the villages where I have lived in for the past 10 years. People ride around villages in scooters or old tsurus.

Chile is actually quite a developed country. With a population of only 16 million people, half of which live in Santiago, rural areas always have well paved roads, lighting and toilets are pretty much everywhere. Chances are a rural town in Chile will have better facilities than a small midwest town of similar population in the US.

That isn't to say everything is peachy perfect in Chile, public college simply does not exist there so only kids born in wealthy families get college degrees which only further separates the haves and have nots. This ultimately affects the minority indigenous communities of the country that likely find it simply easier and affordable to go to college abroad. But insanely expensive colleges and horribly bad salaries for low skill labor in Santiago is a problem that affects the US as well. People also have to remember Chile has some amazingly skilled engineers. As a country that routinely gets 8.0 earthquakes pretty much every week, their building codes are probably one of the most stringent in the entire world and people over there don't even bat an eye when they get hit by their weekly 7.0 quake. I have been to the Atacama desert during one such quake and people were quite aloof about it. The US has tons of historic buildings that can crumble into pieces with 4.0 quakes. There is a reason why it took them forever to reinforce Washington DC's Capitol Hill. I actually saw the cracks on the marble when I went there in 2016. The quake that did so much damage was around 6.0.

I am not sure why Amazon Prime and Netflix removed this film from their selection. Either it was because nobody ever paid any attention to it, or the really awful English title was too distracting which only perpetuates the social stigma that every aspect of life in Latin America is backwards, primitive and all sorts of wrong when a lot of things in my neck of the woods are actually quite efficient. Chances are the pandemic will only further make processing things online such as loan repayments or petitioning passport renewals to become more and more efficient. Medical licenses even now are partially fast tracked online. Once the university gives the green light the student has passed all graduation requirements, the mexican government sends you an email that you are now allowed to pay the license fee and as if by magic, your digital pdf license is sent to you by email in less than 2 minutes.

It took me a whopping 5 days to go in person to the central offices 10 years ago and request a temporary license. Imagine how much more streamlined and efficient some of these processes will be in another 5 years. Hopefully greater sensitivity towards foreigners from thinking every corner of Latin America is riddled in poverty and backwardness will start to put some much needed breaks to pervasive bad stereotypes.

BTW, enjoy the film! Buenos d铆as, buenas tardes everyone!

viernes, 1 de noviembre de 2019

How to get rid of hover tabs on google chrome

Today I booted my 10 year old laptop (yes, I am stubborn and will not buy a laptop with Windows 10 because I hate that operating system so much), and google chrome did something funky with my computer and updated a new feature I definitely detest called hover tabs.

This screen cap is an image of what I am referring to:

I think it is distracting, ugly, and awful, and it seems like according to quora, at least one other poor sap hates the feature too.

If you hate it as much as I do and want things to go back to the old way, look at the screencap below and copy the URL. You click on the menu to disable the awful feature and close the program.

The next time you boot it, the awful horribly ugly feature will (hopefully) be forever disabled.

viernes, 27 de septiembre de 2019

UNAM opens a free language website that offers diplomas? Oh My!

Now, I know the UNAM University has a few online bachelor degrees that are dirt cheap and presumably equivalent to the whole enchilada undergrad degree. I myself would have jumped the bandwagon for a fun associates degree a few years ago had it not been I am currently doing a postgrad degree which absorbs most of my free time.

I just learned about a new pilot language website called the "Ambiente Virtual de Idiomas" which offers Spanish language speakers freebie stuff to learn English, Italian and French.

I couldn't care less about learning English, but tons of people will surely enjoy this feature from the website.

French is not a top language I would be interested in learning, but for anyone with a huge desire to visit a Francophone country (me! me!), maybe it will come in handy.

Hopefully they will expand the website and offer more material. Why not give it a try?

Unidades de Apoyo para el Aprendizaje (English language material only)

and a second website:

Ambiente Virtual de Idiomas (AVI)