Thanksgiving and New Project!

It’s Thanksgiving Week! As a human being I tend to complain a lot about everything, but when it comes the last Thursday of November it’s impossible not to remember the lessons I’ve learned with my American Family and my International Friends during this same time in 2012. I’ve learned to be more grateful than greedy, and to be always positive about things.

This year in especially I’ve been through so many things that these memories gave me some brand new perspective about my life and my responsibility as a person. That’s when it comes to action my New Project. Come with me in this new Journey!

I’ve came back home a long time ago, mid 2013, and I’m starting to feel that my English is fading away day by day. Of course I still know how to speak, write and recognize all my knowledge in the language in a bearable way, but it’s impossible to say it’s the same as it was when I was living in the USA.

I know that I need to keep in touch with the English language and to do so I decided to go further than just listening to music and watching movies and TV Shows. I’m gonna start a New Project that right now I call TIE, which stands for Tale In English. Someone might ask: “Why?”, and the answer it’s very simple: I want to do something different and meaningful.

I’m a huge fan of the writing career and I have the most respect for all professionals in this area. Being a writer it’s like playing as some sort of God. It gives one the possibility to create an entire World and give directions to it, for example. Besides I can’t even explain how pleasurable it’s all the process of planning, researching and developing an idea to the point of putting it on paper, or on screen. Part of ourselves is transformed into a piece of art! Isn’t it awesome? Well, I think it is. But that’s not all.

My year living in he USA was an amazing experience to me. I’ve learned a lot about myself, others and the World we all live in. And now I feel prepared to discuss all of it. I actually feel that I need to do so, because maybe I’ll help someone to find itself too and learn the things that I’ve learned about how to be a better and more thankful person. I guess that’s a great way to give back to the community the opportunities that came my way.

So, the TIE Project will be a fictional entertainment work that is based upon my exchange trip to another country at the same time that it improves my writing and English skills, ok? I wouldn’t call it a novel considering I’m going to post all of it’s content here, but the structure will be the same. I’ll try to write a chapter every week and post it on Sundays. This starting next week!

It’s going to be a fun ride and I count with you to make of this project a success!!

Hugs,

Orlando Braga Jr

Last Night At Chateau Marmont Review – Celebrity Trick 101

After reading the latest book release by Lauren Weisberger, Last Night at Chateau Marmont, I had a lot of questions popping on my head related to the struggle for fame and the so desired ShowBiz. Here is my opinion about this enjoyable novel.

Last Night at Chateau Marmont Cover

Lauren Weisberger built for herself a book signature when she debuted The Devil Wears Prada. Her novels have women in the leading roles, they have a strong relationship with New York City, the narrative does a great job making an insight in the characters mind and life, details are everything for the construction of scenes and all the people involved and pop culture have the final touch to make lots of people connect with the situations shown. Oh, let’s not forget all the romantic drama.

With that in mind, I can move on and secure to say that I really like Mrs. Weisberger’s books. They are entertaining masterpieces, and yes they are easy to read, that does what it intends to do: simply entertain. It’s a different purpose than books like The Lord of the Rings, The Life of Pi or The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. I like to bold this so I can explain that this is a comparison-free environment.

So, the novel tells the story of a woman married with a singer that is looking for his spot in the music industry. Eventually they see the singer’s career rocket-launch and their nightmare as a couple start. They don’t know how to manage their relationship from distance, both pass through lots of changes during the fame period, and although everything should be perfect because of the amazing opportunity  the singer is having, and consequently his wife. It turns out that they have to work on that together and learn how to be a successful couple along with successful public personalities.

So what is intriguing in this story? That all the things happening throughout the book can be true for someone, actually lots of people for the matter of fact. And worse, people go after this with in their unstoppable search for fame. There are so many extremely ambitious people looking for their spot under the lights, risking their relationship with their loved ones and losing themselves in the middle of fancy clothes, drugs, alcohol, recognition and money, lots of money.

Of course this by itself is not that bad (except for the drugs and alcohol), and I think it’s healthy for people to always try something better for themselves, no matter in which way, as long as they don’t put their life in risk or other’s. The problem is that everything when is too much turns out to be dangerous, and in the ShowBiz the sentence Too Much seems to make no sense. It’s never too much when the life of a celebrity is on discussion. On the backstage it’s expected for famous people to give up on their families, friends, relationships, small things, privacy and, in some cases, peace.

The book helps the readers understand that all the glitter and glamour expressed in parties, awards ceremonies, performances, fashion shows or whatever falls in this celeb-category, requires real people to do. People that suffer to be there and have to go through really bad moments, despite the happiness of being famous. Dealing with the public life and private life not losing itself and avoiding risking all the things that really matters is one of the messages Last Night at Chateau Marmont gives, and in my opinion is the best given our current society.

For those who think that this whole story of fame life being hard doesn’t matter because it doesn’t affect the whole World’s population, think again. How many common people get involved in trouble because of the pursuit of fame? Most of them don’t even get close to be famous, but they invest their life on it. And this is a lot of people. For them is good to know a little bit more about it to make sure that this is the life they desire. Now, people who doesn’t even get involved directly in this business I recommend the reading anyway for one simples reason: all of us are involved on this business. Everyday we face famous faces, famous voices and famous bodies. We may try to avoid it, but we can’t. They are everywhere. And being human-beings we will discuss about it. We’ll think about the bad looking people, the good actor, the awful player. We’ll judge them. And when we read this novel, is easier to realize that all those famous we talked about are actually people, not only figures.

I do think that this is quite something to think about. Maybe not talk about, because we’re too jealous for not being there. And we all know it’s not good to put it out, right? “Why would someone want to be famous? That’s ridiculous! I have better things in my life…” With this line most of the people will keep thinking the same things and pretending that they don’t care. They will be mean and feed vicious magazines. They will put their hate out on the internet, post funny things on Facebook and judge the mistakes of celebrities as if it would make any difference in their life.

What I mean with this is read the book without prejudice of futile things as some people would say. Think out of the box. Enjoy this novel and get something from it. Think about all those famous and untouchable people and how many of them go through similar things than those in the book. Picture yourself in their place and imagine how hard it would be. I promise this won’t hurt you, and it’ll make you a better person with the understanding that no matter the social status, people have the same vulnerable points. Or at least similar.

Even though I’m not one, here it go: Celebrity Trick 101, Famous or not famous people still go to the bathroom the same way, make sex fairly the same way, and can get hurt because of other people the same way. But more than anything, everyone is important for someone. Famous or not famous.

SuperBowl. SuperAwesome

I have to say the truth: I wasn’t expecting too much from this date. Now I have to say a more important truth: I loved it!

The SuperBowl is simply the most watched event on TV in the United States. And basically is the end of the National Football League (NFL). But all that is pretty clear for everyone, even those like me who comes from a culture where the word football would actually mean soccer.

Anyway, the thing here is so important that it doesn’t matter if your team is playing or not. The Final Game Night is inside the roots of the american society in a way that only experiencing it is possible to feel. Nearly everyone goes to the Walmart the day before to buy snacks and treats for the game, and they get together with friends or families to have so much fun. It works almost like finals of a World Cup for us, Brazilians.

For me being part of that was a complete experience of the life here in the US. I was really happy watching the game, cheering for a team (in this case the Ravens, because if the 49ers won, they would be tied with the Steelers in number of SuperBowls and my American Mentor Family wouldn’t be really happy about it) and most of all, understanding the joy of it all. This helps to get clear on my mind  the importance and the role of a big sport in a nation, and how close as human-beings we are, no matter what country we come from.

But I can go further and not only address it to football, but the whole complex relations of sports and a good and healthy life. Sports are amazing for every individual’s development and I’m sad that, as a child, I wasn’t very into it as I’m starting to get right now. Maybe that’s because soccer is the main thing in Brazil, and I’m really not very good at it. Anyhow, living here for 6 months I was able to go to several different sports matches and competitions, like soccer, basketball and swimming. This is an important item in the American’s life and they are completely right. Their children grow faster and healthier generation after generation and with skills developed for the rest of their lives.

As a Young Citizen I know that the future is in my hands, and I’ll make everything possible to take this example further to my country and apply it to my Godson, son, neighborhood, city, state and country.

I truly believe in this and I’m thankful for the United States (and its people) for helping me with my own development. I’m learning and extracting the most of the American culture everyday. By the way, for the first time I got the feeling that I’m understanding the rule of football.

Orlando Braga Jr.

PS: The Halftime concert with Beyonce was just amazing by itself. But there is nothing less to expecting coming from this great artist. =)

Sadness in America

This post is not the most pleasurable one to make. It took some days to consider the idea of writing it or not. But I decided to make an article related to the tragedy at Newtown, Connecticut. And I do so not only because I feel this anger inside myself, but also in memory of those people, specially the children.

It was the day after all the happening that I found courage to read, listen and talk about the killing of the 27 people in Newtown last week. For me it was, and still is, so outrageous, disgusting and undeniably unforgivable that it was too hard to know more about it. At that time I didn’t want to know more, because for me it wouldn’t change anything. It wouldn’t get back the lives of the 20 children. Unfortunately.

But I’m not going to write about everything that happened. No. All of us is tired and sick of it. We already know the necessary. I want here to discuss as an outsider, what is going on with the American Society?

I live in a place where I found myself so comfortable and welcomed, that is difficult to discuss about the bad side. But let’s be honest here: no country is perfect. No society is all correct. And just because of that we need to learn our mistakes as human-beings and as a group of people. That’s what I want to take from this sad moment in America.

Advises are not my intent. Instead, discuss the problem is. Back in Brazil I like to put our problems into discussion because it makes us think about them and reflect on our role in the World. There I like to take our weaknesses and work on how to make them become strengths. And right now we fight against violence too, but there is something that is different in our perspective: we know that those people are the Bad Guys, the Criminals, the Wrong Ones. Here in the US the feeling I have is that the normal people is turning against each other and doing those horrible things. Not only in this episode, but in many others, like the one during the ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ movie session.

I’m not saying that people in America is bad. What I’m saying is that the power to kill is in anyone’s hand. It may be someone sitting next to you in the bus. It may be your college classmate. Anyone has the right to have a gun. Anyone has the right to protect themselves and in some circumstances kill their relatives, friends, and uncountable innocent unknown people.

And thinking about that I remember how odd was for me to make American friends in my college here. How closed they were to let me be part of their routine and maybe understand more about me, my culture and my life as someone worthy of their respect. I still have only a few american friends, but they are amazing people who are up to know more about the World they live and not only their private life. This makes me happy, but it doesn’t blow away the fact that next semester it won’t be the same thing: I’ll be worried with everyone surround me. Anyone that pretend I’m not there and can have a mental issue and possibly do something harmful to me. Now, I’m afraid of their right to have a gun, in benefit of my right to live.

This all is only my testimonial of how this Sadness in America is affecting me, and how desperate I am to tell the Americans who still think they are alone in the World that they are not, and something have to be done in the values of their society in order to avoid those happenings. This is up to them. All of them. And I hope all citizens in the United States of America get through the next years without such scars in their history. I’ll be praying for all of us.

I can’t describe my feeling in writing this. But is clear to me that I did a good job in telling you, readers, how I really feel. I don’t want to offend anyone and this is not criticism by criticism. I’m truly believe the American Society need some changes, but only because I care about them.

Half of Me – Diversity of Influence and Feeling of Union

Hey, it’s Thanksgiving time in the US and at the same Black Conscious in Brazil. Both have different meanings, but the two can be used to develop some ideas and make creativity unleash more. And in this post I’ll talk a little bit about those ideas, and some others.

Drama. Pity. Mercy. And some other characteristics that drive us to feel sorry for the homosexual characters in current literature is the most common kind of mention related to gay issues. With Half of Me (not True Colors anymore) I’m offering a different point of view.

To begin with, the main character is not gay. But he sees himself related to an environment where the freedom of thinking and behaving is encouraged. Not coincidentally he faces himself everyday in challenging situations to the way he views life. This will be developed in a way that I can show how normal it is to have a different sexuality; that it shouldn’t be something abnormal, and in fact it is not.

I decided to put this into focus, because in Brazil the Black Conscious Day (and Week events) are related to the awareness of the influence and culture of black people in Brazil social development. It is a time to praise a fundamental piece in the mixed Brazilian people showing how normal it is to be black, and that racism is irrational. There is no difference between any other ‘race’ and black people, just the characteristics that builds our actions. In other words, what I call Diversity of Influence.

With Half of Me I want to show the Diversity of Influence of ‘gay’ lifestyle in the current way of living. It doesn’t mean that I’ll accentuate the difference. It is the complete opposite. I’ll show that what we don’t consider normal is completely common for other people and we can enrich ourselves living with that and mixing this influence with our past experience and life.

Prejudice is something we are tired to aim as enemy of any developed society. Now it is time to show how to overcome that, and maybe analyse why we think that way. And what makes me think about that is the Feeling of Union that Thanksgiving is all about. Not just be thankful for everything we have, but also be together with people. Be in piece with everyone, no matter what.

Each day my experience in the US turns out as a surprise. I get to know more about me, the others and the World. I stop to think before acting and saying. I understand that life is just one to waste with hate, instead we have to make meaning of our actions. It must worth living. It must be good to live. All of that I’ll work in Half of Me.

The beginning. At least a new beginning.

Hey World! Here it is one more blog to you! I hope you have space for one more person’s voice! Me. I’m Orlando Braga Jr. Some fast facts: I’m Brazilian. I live in Cedar Rapids, IA. I’m a writer. I like to be polemic. I love to share the word. Specifically my words. I’m not here to be one more. I’m here to be me; Share myself, my life and my work.

So here I go. That’s my first blog in English, so forgive me if make any mistake. I’m not perfect, and actually I don’t like the idea of perfection. The wrong is sexier and healthier to ourselves. It allow us to risk more and more every time. But anyway, I’m not here to talk about mistakes, failure or anything like that. I just want to make sure that YOU, don’t expect from me to be always right and search line by line to find mistakes. I just share my ideas and my point of view, in the most honest way.

This space is my little area in this vast Internet Blogging Environment, and all I want is to share my work with y’all! I’m a writer. A novelist, to be precise. And throughout the year, I’ll be posting texts and news from my projects. But you can also expect from me to say without any edition my opinions to everything that is happening right now in the World.

Those projects I talked above are my novels. I have some of them “under construction”, but all in Portuguese and at this point, stopped. Along with this blog I will also develop my newest project called True Colors. No, it is not related to the song. And no, this is not definite; the title may change.

True Colors is about life. Is the story of a reporter trying to understand an artist. It is set in Chicago and São Paulo. I love artists, and this book is dedicated to all of them. But if you is an artist, tell me more about you and your art. I’ll be more than happy to listen your story.

And that’s the end of my 1st post. I don’t expect you to like my blog, but I really appreciate comments and new ideas. Please don’t hesitate if you want to talk. Feedback means a lot to me, and I guess to every writer too.

In each post you will know a little bit more about me and my work.

As soon as possible, I’ll be back,

Orlando Braga Jr