Graphic novels always make it easier for a story to tell what it has to. They have the sense of making the reader understand what it wants to without putting in too much effort. Maybe that is why I understand politics best through a comic strip. That works for me on more than one level.
Jerusalem: Chronicles from the Holy City by Guy Delisle is one such book. Before reading the book, I was aware to some extent about the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, but things became clearer, but obviously after the read.
Guy Delisle presents the conflict in a manner that I think a non-fiction account wouldn’t have been able to. This is not a typical travelogue either (though it is his account of travel to Jerusalem). The book is about Delisle’s wife, Nadege who works with the organization Doctors without Borders and she is transferred to Jerusalem for a year with Guy and their two children to help provide medical care in Israel. The book is a collection of the author’s observations of the city on a day-to-day living basis.
The narrative switches from bigger events to the daily living of the author and his family, which works very well with this kind of graphic format. There are no sides that Guy takes in the book. He just presents his observations – the keen eye for details – from Israel’s assault on Gaza to the Arab-Israelis issue. The book surprisingly is not controversial at all. As I said, Guy leaves the judgment and decision-making to the readers. He does not do it for them.
The reader gets to understand and notice just how bizarre Jerusalem is. The city is divided into different quarters – Jewish, Christian, and Muslim, each with their own rules and regulations. The military presence cannot be ignored. The check points are now a part of the citizens’ lives. The region is troubled and Guy infuses life and sometimes humour through his drawings and writing which is much needed for a book of this magnitude. A great read for all those who want to know more about this region and to a certain extent about its history.
Games : Borderlands 2
It’s almost common practice that the first game of a new IP is somewhat of a retail beta-test. Not everything in the game is user friendly, glitches and bugs are commonplace and some gameplay mechanics just don’t feel all that great. A great example of this is Assassin’s Creed. When put head to head against its sequel, it shows just much of a leap in terms of gameplay the second game is. This also somewhat holds true for Borderlands. It was without a doubt an amazing game, but not one without flaws. Classes all felt very similar outside of their class skill, no minimap was present, guns started to look too similar to one another, and the storyline was almost incomprehensible. Gearbox rectified all of this in this smash sequel that far surpasses its predecessor.
While the story doesn’t change much in terms of plot devices (you’re still vault hunters after all), its presentation is much more comprehensible this time around. There is a clearly defined bad guy in Handsome Jack, a self absorbed asshole with some devilishly good looks. He’s easy to hate, and provides a good enough reason to press on with your quest to take him, and the Hyperion corporation down.
At its core however, it’s still Borderlands. It’s still all about shooting and looting, completing quests, coming across strange and quirky characters, and customizing the crap out of your chosen character. The fact that the formula remains identical to the first will make players of the first game feel right at home with Borderlands 2. Whether you consider this a good thing or a bad thing is purely based on player preference. If you were expecting a major departure from what you already played back in 2009, you might find yourself disappointed. Borderlands 2 sticks to its guns, and improves on what made the first game so successful.
There are certain aspects of the game which are undoubtedly better. The skill trees feel far more diverse this time around, offering a much deeper, and more specialized customization. This sort of diversity also encourages players to experiment a bit with their builds and find one that truly fits their playstyle. What’s more is that completing challenges, such as killing a designated number of enemies with a designated gun, nets you Badass Tokens. These are well worth completing since each token grants you a permanent boost to a number of stats, such as gun damage, shield capacity, critical damage, grenade damage. Even better is that these stat boosts carry over to every character you make.
The tedium of quests has also gotten a much needed overhaul. Quests are now far more dynamic, changing and continuing based on your actions, rather than just task you with killing a certain amount of enemies, and returning back for your reward. There are also a bunch of standout quests that will undoubtedly bring a smile to your face, such as the Top Gun inspired mission, tasking you to collect volleyballs and jet fuel, and then killing a bunch of shirtless men, classic. One of my favorites however was the tea party quest for Tiny Tina. You first had to go collect members for the tea party, one which was an actual bandit. Then have them sit at the party (of course the bandit was roped up in an electric chair) and defend the party long enough from an onslaught of bandits until Tiny Tina was satisfied.
Another big change to quests is the fact that they can be failed if not done in a timely manner, or completely altered. In one of the storyline quests. If you destroy the cell quickly enough, you’ll save him and the quest will be over. However, if you take too long, it will fly back to its base, meaning you then have to infiltrate it.
If you were getting sick of seeing apocalyptic wasteland and barren desert, you’ll be pleased to know that Pandora is much more diverse. You’ll trek across a snow arctic tundra, lush grasslands, mechanical and robotic bases and more. Even the enemy diversity got a big bump in Borderlands 2. Aside from the standard human factions such as bandits and nomads, you’ll be dispatching ape sized Bullymongs, giant Crystalisks, and the invisible turning Stalkers.
Borderlands 2 is full of references not only to the first game, but other games, and pop culture as well. You’ll spot various references to famous movie or television quotes, and even references to various Meme’s.
Of course Borderlands wouldn’t be complete without a cast of quirky and eclectic characters, ranging from the still hilarious Claptrap, the pretentious Sir Hammerlock and the absolutely insane Tiny Tina. The writing is definitely out there, but for a game that’s so self aware, it simply fits.
Borderlands 2 didn’t come without a few disappointments however. The game does tout four all new classes, and that’s just plain wrong. Aside from Maya and her kick ass new Siren skill, we’ve seen these classes before. Zer0 is basically a reskinned Lilith with a sword, Axton is almost identical to Roland and Salvador is essentially Brick, except instead of relying on his fists, he can wield a weapon in each hand. This is a shame since instead of relying on completely new character archetypes, we’re pretty much treated to the same ones we’ve seen in the first game.
The fast travel stations are located too far from each other, and leading me to the end of a given map, only to have to run back to the other side of the map in order to teleport back to Sanctuary and complete my quest is a pain.
However, world traversal could have been made more fun. A wider assortment of cars would have been a great start. If you’re going to include vehicles in your FPS, at least add a bit more variety. The Bandit Technical is far from an upgrade to the Runner.
Arguably the worst thing about Borderlands 2 is its incessant nature of forcing co-op on players.
It’s an absolute blast when all the chaos ensues, you find yourself amidst a plethora of enemies, fighting for your life, ressurecting your friends, and watching those damage numbers fly across the screen. Gearbox knows the formula to ensure you’re glued to your controller for hours without wanting to stop.
Since the game is bursting with replayability with multiple playthroughs, classes, and the amount of crazy guns you can acquire, Borderlands 2 will easily occupy your system for a while. That’s not even counting the already announced four expansion packs that will be released throughout June 2013, and the fifth class, the Mechromancer, coming out in October.
Game Rating: 9.0
Beauty Tips : Remedies to grow long eyelashes
1. This inexpensive product, which has emollient and protective effects, is a mainstay of home remedies to increase eyelash length. First remove any eyeliner, eye shadow or mascara with a cotton ball, then apply petroleum jelly with a new mascara wand, or one that you have first cleaned well to remove any trace of the original product.
2. Natural Home Remedies recommends applying cool, unsweetened green tea to your lashes with a cotton ball to take advantage of green tea’s beneficial properties. Green tea is rich in flavonoids, including epigallocatechin-3-gallate, which has potent antioxidant and health-supportive effects. As with all home remedies for eyelash growth, take care not to get the liquid into your eye, and rinse well with cool water if you do.
3. Use olive oil to help protect, condition and lengthen eyelashes. Apply at bedtime with a clean mascara brush. Keep the oil on overnight, then remove it in the morning with a gentle eye makeup remover; according to iloveindia, the olive oil can attract dirt and dust to your lashes.
4. To stimulate growth and promote healthy lashes. As with brushing your hair, this can help distribute natural oils along the length of your lashes. To avoid stress on your lashes and eye area, always remove eye makeup before going to bed.
5. Enhancing the healthful properties of olive oil by soaking a lemon peel in a jar of oil for several days, then carefully applying the mixture to your lashes. Lemon is a mild natural antiseptic and antimicrobial agent, and may help promote healthier lashes.
6. You can enrich your diet to make sure you are getting the right nutrients and vitamins to promote eyelash growth. Eyelashes are made of keratin, a type of protein, and can benefit from a diet that includes high-protein foods like meat, fish, chicken, soy and tofu. Vitamin A, essential to lash growth, is found in eggs, fish oil, and red, yellow and orange fruits, while citrus fruits, potatoes and tomatoes are rich in vitamin C, a potent antioxidant. Calcium, also essential for lashes, is found in milk, as well as in dark green leafy vegetables.
7. Massaging your eyelids gently can increase blood flow and may stimulate growth of lashes, according to Grow Eyelashes. After washing your hands well, use the pads of your fingers to massage along your lids and lash line.