The minute I heard that Junot Diaz was coming out with a new book, I could not stop myself from dreaming about the time when I would read it, back to back. That is exactly what I did with his latest book, a collection of short-stories, more like a fragmented novel more like it – This Is How You Lose Her. The title of the book was enough to get me going. Poignant and at the same time real. A lot like life.
Junot Diaz’s characters (if you have read him earlier, you would know) are raw, passionate and also might seem larger than life sometimes, but that’s also because of where their roots lie – The Dominican Republic. His earlier books, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao and a collection of inter-linked stories, Drown were both superb and this one is no less.
This Is How You Lose Her, is about Yunior, a Dominican kid who was first introduced in Drown and then ended up being the narrator of, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. He makes a full-fledged debut so to say with this collection. The book’s stories center on Yunior’s doomed relationships with various women. It is almost as though he has a death-wish. He cannot be in a relationship for long, for reasons that the reader discovers along the way.
The book opens with the story, The Sun, The Moon, The Stars, where Yunior tries so hard to hang on to his one of many relationships. He cheats on his girlfriend (not once) and wants to win her trust back. That is the core of this story. It first made an appearance in 1999 in The New Yorker and by far is one of the best stories in this collection for me.
Yunior’s interactions with women but obviously are most note-worthy in the book. However, it is the secondary characters as well that matter the most. For instance, his brother Rafa, who shapes Yunior’s views of women to a very large extent and who is dying of cancer. The story, The Pura Principle linked to this one is sheer genius. Yunior’s absent father and his philandering ways are also hinted at, throughout the book.
The one story that isn’t related to Yunior is titled, Otravida, Otravez – about a woman who is a laundry nurse at a hospital, washes her lover’s clothes and constantly thinks about his wife and her letters to him.
The title comes from the shortest story in the book, Alma and how Yunior manages to lose her. The last story in the book that ties all ends and we see an adult Yunior, looking back on his mistakes is aptly and most ironically titled, The Cheater’s Guide to Love.
The writing is stupendous. Every word is in its place and cannot be replaced. There will be minor hiccups for the first-time reader to get used to the Spanish references, but that’s a large part of Diaz’s ethnicity which he but obviously brings through his books.
The characters are intense. There is no other way I guess to portray them when you are dealing with love and the matters of the heart. I would most certainly recommend this collection to everyone. Even to those who haven’t read his books earlier. Yunior as a character will be loved by you and hated at the same time, and if you have ever been in love, you will empathize deeply at his affairs and his loves. An outstanding read of the year.
Games : Double Dragon: Neon
Double Dragon was a pivotal video game franchise years ago, and it embodied all of the ‘80s flair that was so prominent at the time. Decades later, Double Dragon: Neon marks the return of the series, and the return of that same ‘80s style that was so cherished all those years ago. The game starts out the way any fan of the series would want it to: with Marian getting punched in the gut by some thugs and being kidnapped. It’s up to Billy and Jimmy Lee to traverse 10 stages across Earth and in space to rescue her from the clutches of Skullmageddon, a hilariously voiced interstellar skeleton.
The bulk of what you’ll be doing in Double Dragon: Neon is punching, kicking, and tossing dudes (and dudettes) around. The combat remains entertaining throughout due in part to the game’s upgrade system. Enemies frequently drop cassette tapes that can boost stats such as health, attack, and magic, or grant you special abilities like executing a super spin kick, tossing a fireball, or summoning a powerful dragon. As you progress, you continue to collect tapes and upgrade your skills further. You can even visit sporadically placed shops to up your stats and purchase more tapes.
The addition of shops in Double Dragon: Neon is a nice little detail that gives you something to do aside from just beating people up the entire time. That said, when you’re taking out Skullmageddon’s cronies, it’s incredibly satisfying. You’ll find a variety of weapons scattered around the levels and equipped by enemies. You're definitely going to want to use these tools to your advantage.
Another element that keeps the combat interesting is the large cast of bad guys and tough chicks that you’ll encounter on your quest to save Marian. While you’ve got your standard grunts, there are also plenty of ridiculous enemies that will require you to approach them with different battle strategies. Vanishing geisha girls, somersaulting karate dudes, and even undead villains impede your adventure. And while the end goal is always to beat the crap out of these fools, getting there often requires some slick dodging skills.
A lot of the enjoyment in the original Double Dragon games spawned from the inclusion of two-player co-op. Double Dragon: Neon offers that same feature, and while it’s still fun going it alone, teaming up with a partner is an absolute blast. There’s just something exciting about having a buddy watching your back and taking on Skullmaggedon’s minions together in order to save Marian, all the while performing rad double-team moves that are executed with a slick high five animation. Unfortunately at this time, the game is lacking online co-op, but at least there are definite plans to patch that component in at a later time.
Visually, Double Dragon: Neon is a throwback to the ‘80s, with characters sporting tacky clothing and weird hairstyles, all the while duking it out in locales that are rife with bright lights. Environments look great, and character models are just as spectacular. As pretty as Double Dragon: Neon may look, its best attribute is its sound. All of the game’s original music sounds like it was ripped right out of the ‘80s. The upgrade menu features love ballads, pop, punk rock, and old school rap, all infused with that great ‘80s sound. The levels themselves also sport some incredible tunes. The voice acting is great, too, with characters spouting out enjoyably cheesy one-liners. Of course, Skullmageddon takes home the award as the star of Double Dragon: Neon.
Additionally, because you can get through the whole game in about three hours, there’s no denying that Double Dragon: Neon is a bit light on content. There’s also an old school level of difficulty in the game that will likely put off a few gamers, especially if they’re playing the game without a co-op partner. If you’re into the series, the genre, and the time period it ever so successfully emulates, however, you’ll definitely be able to look past these minor gripes.
Double Dragon: Neon is proof that the beat ‘em up genre is still alive and kicking . The game is also proof that developer WayForward has a special golden touch when it comes to reviving beloved franchises and making them relevant. The game successfully captures that distinct ‘80s style in everything that it does. If you love Double Dragon, enjoy the raw action of beat ‘em ups, and have an adoration for the vibrant energy of the ‘80s, don’t deny yourself the privilege of experiencing this awesome amalgamation of all those elements. To call this game a revival wouldn’t do it justice. Double Dragon: Neon is a resurrection.
Game Rating: 8.5
Beauty Tips : Tips for growing eyebrow naturally
1. Massage the hair follicles under your eyebrows. With a fine eyebrow brush use circular movements in the direction of the hair growth. Repeat twice a day.
2. Apply olive oil, castor oil, vitamin E oil or Vaseline to the hair using a Q-tip or cotton ball. They will not only enhance growth, but strengthen the hair. Apply one to two times daily.
3. Applying milk to the eyebrows can help generate faster growth. For this remedy, pour a small amount of milk into a small bowl and dip a cotton ball inside, letting the cotton ball absorb the milk for one minute. Gently dab the cotton ball on each eyebrow for 10 to 15 seconds, and leave the liquid on the skin for 10 minutes after applying it. Rinse your skin with lukewarm water and wash with a gentle cleanser before applying a light moisturizer to prevent dry skin irritation.
4. Lemon peel-infused coconut oil can be made by putting the sliced peel of 1 lemon in a clean container with ¼ cup coconut oil, and allowing it to infuse for 14 days in a dark, cool place. To use the mixture, simply dab a small amount onto the eyebrows daily right before bed. You can use this treatment every day for as long as needed if no irritation occurs.