Amazingly restored Samurai’s pictures from the XIV Century

(Source:s Dagospia: shorturl.at/eiBFX and DailyMail: shorturl.at/ovGQ0)

A young Swedish student, Julius Backman Jääskeläinen, 21, made us an early Christmas gift: the colourization of some incredible pictures taken during the mid-XIV Century in Japan and China.

A special mention goes to Felice Beato’s picture of a group of Samurai planning their next attack during the Boshin War (1868-1869) which was really brought back to life with such vivid and intense colours. This picture is also important for its significance as what could be considered the “final battle” between traditional-imperial Japan and progressive-monarchic Japan. This war started as a samurai rebellion against the progressive military government that was trying to modernize Japan in order to compete against the European powers that were threatening the island. The samurai, however, were against the loss of the traditions that wanted to protect at all costs and, after forming an alliance with like-minded nobles, started a rebellion to overthrow the government and restore the “imperial domination”. But not all samurai were involved with the “imperials”, Saigo Takamori, known as the “last samurai”, played an important role for the final victory of the Meiji that helped shape Japan as an advanced and progressive country that we all know nowadays.

But enough words, enjoy the pictures!

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Senua’s Darkness

As a fan of dark fantasy stories and a gamer, I was recommended to try “Hellblade: Senua’s sacrifice”. I admit the game’s description did not really catch me at first but against all my expectations it was emotionally overwhelming and exceptionally captivating. Additionally, if you are into Norse and Celtic mythology you will probably relate to the story and characters even more.

The game was published by Ninja Theory in 2017. The main character is a Celtic woman, called Senua who is desperately trying to find the soul of her dead lover. To recover it, she needs to pass through all the gates leading to Helheim, the Norse underworld, and defeat the goddess Hela who rules over the place. In order to reach Hela, Senua has to face enemies and solve many puzzles which are really well done and could be tricky so you do require a good eye for details and memory of the map. The fighting and controls are intuitive, nothing out of the ordinary. At the same time, you need to think about every move. Dodging and blocking at the right time is important so some players might find it frustrating, but believe me, nothing nerve breaking like “Dark Souls”.

Personally, the most fascinating features of the game are the voice acting and character development. Senua suffers from severe psychosis which is reflected through visions and voices in the gameplay. She struggles to confront her past and reality, as they both intertwine to a point that, just like Senua, you have no idea what is real and what’s not. The experience is amazing as the producers used real mental health specialists to develop the psychosis effect. The “Furies” (Senua’s haunting voices in her head) further enhances the audio experience so I strongly suggest playing the game with headphones for optimal immersion into the game.

It is worth mentioning the performance of Melina Juergens, who acted the role of Senua.  The German beauty started as a photographer and video editor, additionally, she also participated in technical projects for the test team. Her true potential as an actress was discovered when she was asked to act a short scene. Despite her initial hesitation, she managed to impress the team, thus taking over the main lead. Her talent was further appreciated by others, earning her a few prizes, including the 2017 Game Awards for “Best Performance”. We will surely see more of her in the next Hellblade 2 which is expected to be released this December or possibly early 2021. 

Overall, the strong game impact, voice acting and stunning graphics make this game distinctive. If you want to delve into the “Darkness” of Senua and explore Helheim, I strongly encourage you to sink in it.

Don’t let the darkness take you!

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Rock the Monday

“Life is 10% what happens to us and 90% how we react to it.”
– Dennis P. Kimbro

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The songs you’ve never known were blues covers

“The blues are the roots and the other musics are the fruits. It’s better keeping the roots alive, because it means better fruits from now on. The blues are the roots of all American music. As long as American music survives, so will the blues.” – Willie Dixon

One way or another, we’ve all heard the song “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood” whether it was in an advertisement or in a movie (Kill Bill, for example). I have always thought that the song was created by “Santa Esmeralda” until, recently, I stumbled upon Nina Simone’s version which turned out to be the original, to my great surprise. The styles are extremely different but they’re both great in their own right. Another famous version was performed by The Animals but it is not as catchy, at least for my tastes.

“Where did you sleep last night” was arguably one of the best song on Nirvana’s legendary “MTV Unplugged”. The original song however, as most fans of the band should know, is an old folk classic that originates as far as the mid 19th Century called “In the pines”. Blues singer Leadbelly gave the song wider success to the point that he is often mistaken for the original writer and composer.

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Yakuza Adventures

It’s quarantine time, works not going the way you planned it, you can’t travel or visit your loved ones. Overconsumption and the sofa have become your asylum. Even if you don’t suffer from any of these symptoms and you still wish to kill time, what better moment to add a new video game to your library.

I’ve recently decided to try Yakuza 0 just for the goof of it. It was also a good time to take a break from my regular addictions, like Elder Scrolls Online or the Witcher.

Now that I finished the game I couldn’t wait to write about it and tell you “Yes, try it!” but I wouldn’t even know how to describe my experience with it. If you love Japan, Japanese culture and humour I am sure you will find it absolutely amusing. There is literally a bit of everything: action, violence, drama, kinkiness and many awkward and cheesy moments that somehow complete each other and together make up a great story.

I am not going to spoil the plot for you, but there are two main characters in the game and you can play with both of them, having your bond time, learning about each character’s past, believes and relationships. The guys are actually strong, decisive and charismatic in their own way, so no kawaii business. The plot is complex and well structured so it is not hard to follow. In addition, the secondary characters are also well done, which helps you get into the story and maybe even shed a tear, who knows?

Unlike many Asian games, you won’t have to destroy your keyboard and joypad, clicking on buttons brainlessly (except few particular mini-games). The controls are easy to use and remember and there are very, very long breaks between each fight scene. Frankly, it felt to me that I was watching a really cool Japanese TV show, as there were constant recaps between chapters and extremely long scenes. So, if you plan to do the main quest in this game, book the day. Send your kids to their grandma, cook in advance, surround yourself with snacks and sit comfortably because you will need it.

Except for the engaging main plot, you can enjoy the additional mini-games and side quests. Unlike most games, Yakuza side quest could be quite funny and pleasant to do, so don’t miss them out!

There are plenty of mini-games as well like bowling, phone dating, pool, karaoke, dancing and many, many other kinky ones that you will eventually encounter by yourself, some of them are ridiculous in the most genius way. Dating is also possible, and I’ve recently found that some of the girls are actual porn actresses… if you are interested. After so many interactions and getting to know each other, I admit I couldn’t resist and googled them.

If you are in the 80’s music you might enjoy the dancing and singing competition. I really enjoyed some of the tracks they created in the game, real jewels actually. Especially, after playing for a while, they stuck in your head for good or bad.

Overall, the game is a unique experience and many of the things are exaggerated or not taken seriously. If you feel like a movie action comedy cheesy drama easy-going game, I think you will appreciate it. As for me, I’ve decided to continue the saga and install Yakuza Kiwami. Let’s see how our characters aged.

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The beginning of the pandemic: my personal experience in Wuhan.

I lived in Wuhan for three years, from 2017 until January 2020. Talking about my experience there could be the topic of another article, let’s just say that, even with all the difficulties, I have no regrets and I have learned a lot from it.

We have all heard a lot from Wuhan during the first few months of 2020: some horrible things, some heroic displays; the questionable hygienic conditions, the great strength of its citizens; poor response from the authorities, great response from the authorities. This is really the main thing when talking about China, you will never know where the truth lies and the only things that can really be done are analysing a wide spectrum of information, following your gut and always keeping in mind that all you read (no matter the source) might be completely fake and all your beliefs on the matter completely wrong. The article I wrote for tefl.com just reflects my personal experience and it takes into consideration what I have just mentioned in the previous paragraph.

Here’s the link:

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Monday Morning Blues

“They hear it come out, but they don’t know how it got there. They don’t understand that’s life’s way of talking. You don’t sing to feel better. You sing ’cause that’s a way of understanding life.” Ma Rainey

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The Future is Now

In these days Wien is hosting the Pioneers Festival, an event were inventors of all kinds can present their projects directly to an audience of investors and experts. In this year edition, great astonishment provoked the presentation of the flying car “AeroMobil” from a Slovakian team. Here’s the website if you want more info and to follow the video-presentation of the car.

 

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Voyager Golden Record

In 1977 the NASA launched the first Voyager expedition. A project intended to deepen the information of Saturn and Jupiter systems’ but also to explore the universe. In the spacecraft was included also a phonograph record directed to any intelligent life form that may came across it or future humans. The record includes pictures of the world and its inhabitants, mathematics and physics formulas, a welcome message in 55 languages (ancient and modern) and a music selection that spans from traditional music from several countries around the world and tracks of Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, Chuck Berry, Blind Willie Johnson and Stravinskij.

If you are interested in having a look to it check the official website of the Voyager Golden Record on the picture below:

(image from wikipedia.com)

and just for a goof, here’s the universe song of Monty Python as well

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25 years of travels

(from ctrlmagazine.it)

 

The incredible story of Gunther Holtorf that in 1989, together with his wife, decided to take his Mercedes 300GD (named Otto) a travel around the world. 900.000km in 177 countries is the result of the trip ended few days ago. Holtorf in 25 years traveled the 5 continents and lived many adventures and misadventures. Whilst traveling through Africa, after 100.000km and after having passed malaria 5 times, he and his wife decided to divorce and she came back to Germany. Nevertheless, Holtorf found another companion through an ad he published in German’s newspaper “Die Zeit”; Christine decides to join him in South America from where they travel up until Alaska and then ship in a container the car and sail to Australia. In 2010, though, Christine dies due a tumor but her son join Holtorf to continue the trip. Through all his trip he never ate in restaurants nor slept in hotels but always in his car.

 

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