Category Archives: Books

Eurovisão – dos ABBA a Salvador Sobral (2018)

Hi,

Into the books departament, I’ll be giving my opinion on a recently released book (4th May 2018 to be precise). And since we’re almost getting into the Eurovision Song Contest 2018 week, why not giving some opinion on one of the first two portuguese languaged books concerning the contest (the other one, titled “Portugal 12 pts – Festival da Canção”, was released in late April)? Here’s Nuno Galopim (creative supervisor of ESC 2018, as well as creative consultant of the last two Portuguese ESC NF‘s (Festival da Canção) and the portuguese co-commentator for ESC since 2016)‘s ESC related book “Eurovisão – dos ABBA a Salvador Sobral” (“Eurovision – from ABBA to Salvador Sobral”)

It all starts with a short preface by the winning artist of last year’s Eurovision Song Contest, Salvador Sobral in which he talks about how he first met Nuno Galopim and his first talk with him as seen in this translated excerpt:

Right on that first converstation, two curious things popped out: first one, the love he had for music. Any music. One minute, we’d talk about Bob Dylan – then we’d move on with Surfjan Stevens and then he’d tell me about the singer that represented Albania in the Eurovision Song Contest 2010 (Rona Nishliu). Everything with the same enthusiasm!

And second, the admiration he had for my sister (Luísa Sobral)’s song. Keeping his professionalism and impartiality, it was noticable – from the way he’d listen to and talked about the song – that it was special to him. Like it was, alas, later on to all Europe

After a prologue by Nuno Artur Silva, as well as a brief introduction by the writer himself, the book moves on with the theme in four different parts:

PART I: titled “Operação Kiev (Operation Kyiv): 2017″, it starts with a brief explanation of the moment they started the NF‘s reorganization back in 2016 up to Salvador‘s victory in the NF back in March 2017. And then goes on with the portuguese delegation’s journey to Kyiv, the most important content of this part: from the moment Salvador first showed up in the city during the Red Carpet ceremony up to his 1st Semi-Final and Final performances, culminating with Portugal‘s first win in the Eurovision Song Contest and its aftermath in Lisbon with the apoteosis of hundreds of people who came to see him at the airport

PART II: titled “Festival da Canção”, the focus is on the history of the portuguese preselection (from 1964 to 2017), resuming the several formats it had up until nowadays as well as its importance throughout the years in the portuguese general and music history (from its glory moments in the first few decades to total oblivion at some point in the mid 90’s up until last year)

PART III: titled “O concurso que narra a história da Europa (The contest that narrates the history of Europe), the writer narrates the history of the contest alongside some links to general international history and international music history. Right in the middle of the book, there’s also the book’s only coloured pages (16 in total, with photos from several artists that participated in the contest throughout the years)

PART IV: titled “1956-2017 / O Festival da Eurovisão: ano a ano (1956-2017 / The Eurovision Song Contest: year by year), each and every ESC edition gets an article on its own (maximum two-three pages) with a good deal of information. There’s also some kind of trivia after this part, listing the winners of the contest + the Marcel Bezançon Award winners (note that in Part II and Part III, there’s also some trivia lists (such as the list of the portuguese ESC entries, as well as thematic lists such as “best debut placings”, “returning artists”, etc…)

The book ends with a two-page conclusion that narrates the forthcoming edition of the Eurovision Song Contest‘s planning and the meaning of the edition’s theme “All Aboard!” + an epilogue written by Gonçalo Madaíl (creative manager of ESC 2018, as well as current deputy head of programs at RTP and the creative consultant of the Portuguese ESC NF since 2017)

All in all (and despite a few slight errors (for example, the writer stated The Netherlands got 3rd in 1972, when it was actually 4th), it’s quite a well-written informative book with a pretty good research as well as good writing. I’d reccomend the book to both hardcore ESC fans and those who have just begun to admire the contest and want to know more about it. It’s also reccomendable to general culture and history followers

A final treat – the second part of the documentary “Sem fazer planos do que virá depois”, first shown on RTP 1 back in 26th and 27th December 2017 as a two-part documentary (the program in question is mentioned in the book as Nuno Galopim’s inspiration for making it come true):

https://www.rtp.pt/play/p4196/e322976/sem-fazer-planos-do-que-vira-depois

Thank you,

LAboy 456
(Rui Craveiro)

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LX70 (2014)

Hi,

lx70

Back to the books department as I’ll be giving my opinion on a book that I bought and read recently (November 2014 is the date release). It’s none other than the follow-up of “LX60” which already has a opinion post on its own (click in here for more – https://laboy456.wordpress.com/2012/11/17/lx60-2012/ ‎)“LX70”, made and concieved by journalist Joana Stichini Vilela and art designers Nick Mrozwski and Pedro Fernandes, as well as launched by publishing book editor company Dom Quixote

Just like its predecessor, the history/general culture book mirrors the events of a certain decade: this time, we’re going to the 1970’s decade in Lisbon, Portugal, as the book’s subtitle clearly suggest from the start to finish: “Lisbon from dream to imagination”

Just like its predecessor, a whole vast array of articles about music, politics, television, arts, fashion, sports, dec0ration, etc… is included. Among the many topics discussed in the book, we can find out the story of a promising young spanish actress who passed away in Portugal after a car accident, the first shopping centers (curiously called as “drugstores” back in that decade), the first women in the police department, the Carnation Revolution (albeit in a different way), the first R18 rated magazine for adults, the first non-clandestine transvestite (before and after the Carnation Revolution, topics such as prostitution, homossexuality, transsexuality or drag queens were either forbidden or were still a taboo), the revolutionary programs on television in the late 70’s , the skateboard advent in Portugal, etc…. All in all, a crafty description of life in Lisbon (always aided by the written sources, the imagery sources (eventhough there’s at least one photo that wasn’t apparently found out in books – it’s noticeable when you look at it closely enough. A minor fault, me thinks) and the interviews made for this book)

In a bigger coincidence, the first mention to the book I’ve noticed of was also by television on November 2004: same channel (TVI 24  cable news channel made by the 4th terrestrial channel, TVI) and same guest (Joana Stichini Vilela). Of course I was excited to know there would be a sequel to “LX60” and I just had to get it as quickly as possible

And, boy, it didn’t really disapoint me (by the way, eventhough I was born in the late 80’s and had my childhood and puberty life in the 90’s, the 1970’s is without a doubt my favourite decade in so many aspects). First of all, the feeling of the 70’s is similiar to the 60’s book – retro hard front and back covers, with the inner silky and smooth cover skin and the fabric of the pages on the inside that smells like proper paper scent, just like in those days

In terms of contest: as vibrant and exciting as the first book, with the font being in same retro approach. Of course I knew some of the stories in its depicted articles, but there were some events I didn’t know about – for example, the story of spanish actress Soledad Miranda (also known as Susann Korda) and her unfortunate car accident; a parody that was taken seriously by a newspaper and, apparently, by the New York Stock Exchange depicting portuguese people dressed and acting as arabs; the 1st International Hair Festival held in the International Fair of Lisbon; the first appearance of one of the first sexy comic book heroines made in Portugal (Zakarella), etc…

All in all, a larger than life book totally recomended to those who like the history subject, more precisely that of the 20th century. And also to anyone who happen to like other things than history (politics, general culture, social issues, etc…)

A final treat – a news report about the week from the 3rd terrestrial channel (SIC)’s news bulletin, “Jornal da noite”:

http://sicnoticias.sapo.pt/cultura/2014-12-01-Memorias-de-Lisboa-nos-anos-70-reunidas-em-livro

Thank you,

LAboy 456
(Rui Craveiro)

O Estranhão (2014)

Hi,

oestranhão

A fictional book is coming right up to this blog – one that is targeted to young people, but whose reading could be also appreciated by teenagers, adults, etc…

In this case, the book I’m going to give an opinion from is “O Estranhão” (“The bashful one”), written by Álvaro Magalhães, illustrated by Carlos J. Campos and published by Porto Editora in 2014 

General plot: The main character is a 11 year old name Frederico Sá – Fred, o Estranhão to his family and friends – a bashful kid with a bigger than average IQ and whose biggest challenge is to live a normal life without so many obstacles to overcome in his own life

He’s likewise the narrator of his own story, all divided into several chapters besides the introduction (which he even describes how he was born):

– the fantasy story about “the clam boy” that was done by Fred during one of those bad days (he even wrote a happy ending to please the girls)

– his own alienated state of mind, starting with meditation and ending with her mother… joking about his birth (just after Fred tells her he had a crazy dream about being an alien during his meditation time)

– the supposed “love story” between his father and his father’s beloved car. At one moment, the car has some complications and Fred almost misses his classes

– the dislike for physical education and other problems such as bullying attempts from students bigger than him or a imaginative situation in the school library as he reads a book about a horrendous creature

– the “well-educated people club” in which the difference between a good-hearted and well-educated person like Fred and most of the students’ indifference to good manners is so blatant. So blatant that he decided to create a billboard in the cafeteria listing the options and the money those options cost – without much sucess in the end

– his passion for football (“soccer” in countries like USA and Japan), eventhough he’s not really good at it (comparsions between a boy and a girl’s mind are also on the focus. He even brings out the fact his father would like to see him becoming a famous footballer, just like portuguese footballer Cristiano Ronaldo – but still, as a bright boy, he always had some ideas and they are formulated into “out-of-this-world”‘s tactics)

– the two inventions for the 21st century that he created on his mind: light slippers (using a pair of slippers and a lantern) and spoon slippers (the lantern is replaced, therefore, by a spoon – it had the function of destroying insects)

– the “Fred va cockroach” case: the first part of the chapter concerns the nightmare he had with a giant cockroach, while in the final one, he saves a cockroach’s life as his older sister was ready to kill it

– the “symphony of love”, described by Fred as a web of events leading to love – even mentioning the fact his only good friend, Alex, is already dating

– and the final chapter of the book, “Me, she and the Moon”: as he was outside of a sporting goods store (on the previous chapter, he affirmed he was there as her mother wanted to buy some clothes on the shop), he saw Ana, Alex‘s sister, appearing in front of him. During the conversation, it was apparent Ana wanted something more than just talking: she wanted to actually kiss him… something that she did, despite Fred‘s shy reluctance (he wasn’t really into love). This translated into the fact they somehow became a love couple… eventhough that also became an odd one as Ana is the total opposite of Fred: demanding and a bit bossy for his own good

My opinion: Sheer genius of the year – and it all goes by only two words: thoughtful surrealism. For a juvenile book, this has a lot of cleverness in its story… and also a lot of oddness at the same time by the way it has been folded. Not to mention the wonderful set of characters (Fred, the main character, is really unforgettable… and, at times, relatable), as well as having some brightly made illustrations throughout the book (NOTE: the book a mix of narrative book story telling and black and white illustrations)

All in all, I’d reccomend this to all readers who like some mature and intelligent story complemented with good humour inside of a book targeted at young people…

Thank you,

LAboy 456
(Rui Craveiro)

Nos années Récré A2 – 1978-1988 (2013)

Hi,

nosanneesrecrea2011

nosanneesrecrea2012

To commemorate the 2nd anniversary of the blog I created, here’s a special post:

I went to France from Sunday, 16th March 2014 to Sunday, 23th March 2014 and something grabbed my attention from the get go (actually, before the trip I made – it seemed like a perfect opportunity to buy the book before it’d entirely disappear from sales): “Nos années Récré A2”, made by Sébastien Carletti and released officially in 2nd October 2013 by Flammarion

With 240 pages, the title of the book correlates with the children show seen in France 2 (back then Antenne 2) from 3rd July 1978 to 29th June 1988 created by Jacqueline Joubert (former continuity speaker and presenter who was, at the time, Antenne 2‘s head of children programming (the Eurovision Song Contest fans might remember her as the presenter of the 1959 and 1961 editions held in Cannes) and presented by several people – the most important of them all being Dorothée (at the time, a continuity speaker and presenter for the channel). More about the show that inspired the book can be found on this link: http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/R%C3%A9cr%C3%A9_A2

nosanneesrecrea203

The book itself is divided into the 10 years the show was on air. Although there’s a big focus on “Récré A2” and on the channel it was transmitted (Antenne 2), the other avaiable french channels (TF1, FR3 (nowadays France 3 since 1992), Canal + (since 1984), La Cinq (since 1986) and M6 (since 1987) also have a good amount of importance as we get to know the several series (both animated and live action ones) and children shows transmitted in France by chronological order (not only by year but also by season (meaning Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall) back then in those channels

There’s also a second division in the book: several animated series, live action series and children programs have a page or two extensively dedicated to them (on some of these, there’s even a resume of the last episode for those who missed it), while other series are only mentioned as a resume in some paralel sections resuming the rest of the programing for the channels already referred in the previous paragraph

Throughout the book, we see a two page spread dedicated to the Christmas programming in each channel at the end of each year’s sequence

nosanneesrecrea202

My opinion: it’s perhaps one of the best culture history books I’ve ever read in a long time (at least not since “LX60” (about life in Portugal back in the 60’s). All colourful and detailed in all its grandeur, with a large world of knowledge and trivias concerning the children TV programming in France back in what’s considered the first golden age of its kind (19781988)

Although there ain’t any existent flaws in the book, there’s always a sensation of wanting a bit more than 240 pages as there are a good bunch of series that also had a big sucess and that should have got a page or two on their own (especially in the later years (1986 to 1988). Not that it bothers me, though, as it’s not an obstacle for me to keep on reading the book over and over again

All in all, a book totally recommended to the television history fans (but also to the anime fans, non-anime fans, sentai fans, etc…). Hoping the creator of the book does think of a sequel of some sort one day, this time revisiting the second golden age of the french children TV programming, fronted by the highly famous french children show from 1987 to 1997 (“Club Dorothée” from TF1http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Club_Doroth%C3%A9e . I could even imagine the book as “Nos années Club Dorothée – 1987-1997”)

As a last treat, here’s a Youtube promo for the book:

Thank you,

LAboy 456
(Rui Craveiro)

Os filhos do Zip-Zip (2013)

Hi,

osfilhosdozipzip

As seen on my previous posts about books, some of those I love are history and general culture books. And the one I’m going to give an opinion for is no exception to the rule: “Os filhos do Zip-Zip”, released in March 2013, launched by publishing book editor company A Esfera dos Livros and written by journalist and historian consultant Helena Matos

Unlike other books of its genre, it gets less focused on a mix of narrative and images (there’s only about 32 colorful pages out of a 360 page book (eventhough there’s also images in the non-colorful images), but it’s likewise a narrated book about the last years of portuguese dictatorship (19691974. Note about the last words of the book’s title: “Zip-Zip” was a TV programme transmitted every Monday from 24th May 1969 to 29th December 1969. The very first talk-show program made in Portugal, it forever marked several generations for its sheer inovativeness, for its out-of-the-box comedy sketchs, for its showcase of new talents in the portuguese music and for breaking some tabus, etc…)

The book is divided into six parts as summarized:

Part I: the city life and its positive sides: shopping, etc…

Part II: the down sides of living in the city: lack of food in survival times due to expenses, etc… + the continuation of the Colonial War + the TV times

Part III: the women of those years

Part IV: the youth of those years + the music and the Vilar de Mouros festival (considered by many the portuguese take on the Woodstock festival… with less freedom, though)

Part V: the “space exploration” craze after USA‘s landing on the Moon feat + the mysterious lands + the growing industry of those years

Part VI: the politics of those years

My opinion: it’s quite a informative and yet opinated book that recalls the author’s generation in a certain critical point of view with a number of astonishing historical sources, but compared with other general culture books, this seems to be a bit of a disapointement in some terms, mostly in terms of visual look on the pages

Still, there are some interesting articles (like the ones about the television or the colorful pages, full of magazine images and ad prints) and that’s why I’d reccomend it anyway for those who like to read books in any kind of way

Thank you,

LAboy 456
(Rui Craveiro)