The Talking Violin
Mr. Violin sheds light on curious facts about Brazil – but he also touches on issues that somehow connect Brazilians to world topics, making his audioblog an invaluable link between South America’s powerhouse and the rest of the globe.
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Rio Olympics: Portuguese With an Accent
Seven years ago, Brazil was chosen as the host country for the 2016 Summer Olympics and, as such, secured coveted spots in every sport, including rugby, polo, golf and fencing – which are not popular at all in the country of soccer. So, faced with a shortage of home talent, Brazilian sports officials looked abroad for help, and surprise, surprise, expat Brazilians from across the globe turned out in droves – good for South America’s biggest country, which will have competitive teams and good for the athletes, who otherwise would not be able to take part in the Games. Of course, nothing is perfect – many of them speak little or no Portuguese, and others were not even born in the country for which they’re supposed to compete. As for how the home crowd is going to react, it’s anyone’s guess, but chances are if this international band of Brazilians rises to the challenge, support will certainly come.
Line-Cutting the Brazilian Way: No Extra Cost Required — Only Extra Age
Companies routinely give preferential treatment to customers willing to pay more, sometimes much more. And one very coveted perk is line-cutting, of course. In Brazil, things are no different, except for the fact that when it comes to supermarkets, banks, post offices, government agencies or any other place where people wait in line for the next available cash register or service window, the law requires they provide dedicated lines for those 60 and older. And if they don’t, then seniors are allowed to jump to the front of any lines no matter how long or short they are. Now — hold on to your seats — here comes the icing on the cake: it’s free. So when in South America’s biggest country, if you’re in your golden years, there’s no need to cool your heels. And my advice to you: don’t be shy — just go ahead and take full advantage of it!
Where Have All the Brazilians Gone?
Once everywhere on crowded New York sidewalks, at swanky Miami malls, and on fun Orlando Disney rides, the happy people from the land of soccer are nowhere to be seen. “Where have all the Brazilians gone?” ask puzzled American tourist officials. Well, well, well, well, the not-so-long-ago booming Brazilian economy is in deep recession. Many have lost their jobs, and those whose paychecks are still coming in can barely make ends meet — let alone travel — the direct result of soaring inflation eating away at wages. And despite an outpouring of generosity from airline companies, which have severely slashed ticket prices, planes are empty, and so are wallets, by the way, very likely made in China and bought in the U.S.
“Think It Over!” – Heartbroken Brazilian Kids to LeBron James
Yes, in the country of soccer, kids and teens also love basketball. And when word came that LeBron James was sitting out the Olympics in Rio, heartbroken youngsters couldn’t help but wonder why. After all, despite the objection of their nagging parents, they’d spent countless hours in front of TV sets watching game after game and rooting for the man they simply adore. Then, to top it all off, led by the basketball legend, the Cavaliers went on to clinch the NBA title. Ah, anticipation was through the roof, and young fans all over Brazil started thinking about the day they’d finally have a chance to marvel at Mr. James’s remarkable abilities on home turf. Jubilation didn’t last long, however. Citing the need for rest, the player’s agent announced the megastar would be taking a vacation instead. Now, still trying to come to grips with their utter disappointment, hordes of teary-eyed supporters hope the basketball phenom reconsiders his decision or, at least, picks one of Brazil’s many stunning tourist destinations for his well-deserved time-out. So they all in unison say: “Come on – LeBron – think it over!”
Savagery Prevails: Dogs Slaughtered in China
Boy, do we like our canine friends! So it came as no surprise to most of us when we learned that lawmakers in Albany, New York, are about to pass a law allowing cremated pet remains to be buried at human cemeteries along with their owners, which – I truly believe – is a sign of deep respect for those whose existence is entirely dedicated to making our lives better. Unfortunately, however, it’s not all good news: A city in southern China holds an annual dog-meat eating festival, and this year, despite relentless protests by animal rights activists who desperately tried to stop the carnage, thousands of pooches have been killed and cooked in restaurants. So let me just conclude by saying this: dogs are the same everywhere. The treatment they get from people – alas – couldn’t be more glaringly different.
Trump: “Crooked Hillary” – Brazilian Students: “What the Heck Does He Mean?”
“Crooked Hillary” – that’s what, more often than not, the presumptive republican nominee calls the woman who might become the next leader of the free world, leaving many in this country wondering what the heck Mr. Trump means. Well, fellow Brazilians, wonder no more, Mr. Violin to the rescue: in fairness to the man who may take over for Mr. Obama and out of an abundance of caution, I’ve looked it up. So here we go, meaning #1: “not in a straight line; bent or twisted,” says the Oxford dictionary. Well, perhaps, that could be a reference to her nose or, who knows, her smile. But then again, they look pretty straight to me. Which leaves us with meaning #2: “dishonest” – ouch! Hey, I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that the real estate tycoon appears to lean more toward the latter meaning. Either way, students of English all over Brazil can rest assured that Mrs. Clinton does not take it as a compliment.
Curitiba Lawyer Eduardo Malucelli Qualifies for 2016 Ironman World Championship in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii
Someday, somewhere, someone might come up with a more herculean effort. Today, on planet earth, however, swimming 2.4 miles, then riding a bike for another 112 and topping it all off with a full marathon is no doubt what brings humans closest to Greek Gods. And the place chosen for the ultimate triathlon challenge is Hawaii, where superhuman athletes from around the world get together to put to the test years and years of the most grueling training a person can endure. And this year, among them is Eduardo Malucelli – a 37-year-old lawyer and the doting father of a 12-year-old girl – but make no mistake, that’s as close as he gets to being a regular guy: juggling family, work and relentless daily practice in his hometown of Curitiba, in southern Brazil, Eduardo is gearing up for the race of a lifetime. Congratulations! Now go make us even prouder!
Brazil: Evangelical Christian Politicians on Collision Course With Same-Sex Marriage Advocates
Gay? Live in Brazil? Thinking of getting hitched? Well, for you, I’m definitely not the bearer of good news: despite fully accepted by the courts, same-sex marriage faces growing opposition in Congress. So you may want to skip the pop-the-question part of it and rush your partner to the nearest notary public. As for those of you who believe marriage should be only between a man and a woman, stick to your guns because your cavalry might be coming in the form of Evangelical Christian politicians. They’re many. They’re powerful. They speak for millions of worshipers/voters, on whom televangelist pastors wield such great influence. And if these eager representatives have their way, very soon, gay marriage will be history in this country.
Hopelessly hooked on WhatsApp, Brazilians – more often than not – forced to go cold turkey
Brazilians know the drill pretty well: A first-degree judge somewhere around South America’s powerhouse asks WhatsApp to hand over information on someone the police are investigating, and the answer is always the same – “We don’t have access to user data.” Then, an order is issued blocking the service across the country. No sooner does the App go dead than millions and millions of users start getting full-blown withdrawal symptoms; attorneys rush to courts; TV stations have a field day interviewing disgruntled, panicky customers; Mr. Zuckerberg – from far, far away in Silicon Valley – takes to his social media of choice to denounce Brazilian authorities; and international media outlets desperately try to explain to the world what’s going on. Finally, some excruciating, painful time later, the decision is overturned, and once again – frantic addicts can get their fix.
Wise up – pun intended – Mr. Flávio Augusto da Silva!
The headline reads: “Wise up – Pun Intended – Mr. Flávio Augusto da Silva!” And, of course, if you don’t live in Brazil (even if you do), you may be wondering to what the “Pun Intended” part of it is referring, right? O.K., Mr. Violin to the rescue: as the story goes – a long, long time ago, Mr. da Silva took out a high-interest loan to start a business (an English-language school). Yep, you guessed it: he named it WiseUp. His investment paid off, and this daring Brazilian made a killing. Fast-forward to 2016, and there he is, living in Orlando as the majority owner of a soccer team and having a $156 million stadium built – business venture in which he wants you to invest $500,000 in exchange for — surprise, surprise — a green card. And before you cry foul, I have to say: it’s perfectly legal!
8.8M and counting: There are only so many YouTube followers Kéfera Buchmann can have – or are there?
Who would have guessed back in 2010 when she first took to the internet that her profanity-laced videos would propel her into YouTube stardom. Naysayers aside, the 23-year-old keeps adding followers by the millions to her channel, giving her the chance to branch out into writing and acting — which in turn has brought her multiple sources of income. Just take a look at any list of the most influential YouTubers on the planet, and there she is: Kéfera Buchmann, the Brazilian sensation. And if record book sales, packed performances, Kéfera-crazed fans and an ever-growing number of subscribers are any indication, one can only feel sorry for those who still label her as a passing fad, either out of spite or simply for not understanding the sheer power of the web in today’s world.
Welcome to my audioblog! On this About page, I’d like to invite you to listen to my pieces of audio and let you know that your feedback is very welcome. Thank you so much for dropping by, Mr. Violin
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Nearly 6 Million Followers Later – YouTube Sensation Kéfera Buchmann Enjoys Unparalleled Success in Brazil
It is 1:30 p.m. The plane is about to land, and suddenly the crew is taken aback by a stern order straight from the cockpit: Please – make sure that Ms. Kéfera Buchmann is the very last passenger to get off the plane. Stunned flight attendants and passengers alike, then, start looking around trying to identify to whom the captain is referring. A few seconds later, a rather shaken 22-year-old raises her arm in the back of the plane, “I’m Kéfera.” In a scene reminiscent of the Beatlemania era, hundreds of adoring, electrified teenagers holding signs and screaming her name had taken over the airport, leaving authorities wondering why they had not been notified in advance that a pop star would be on that flight – or at least that was what all the mayhem on the ground led them to surmise. Despite boasting almost 6 million followers on YouTube, Ms. Buchmann – oblivious of how much her frenzied fans worshiped her, the direct result of her impromptu short videos on the internet, in which she speaks her mind on issues ranging from the mundane (makeup tips) to the controversial (When is the right time to lose your virginity?) to the downright personal (“I haven’t talked to my dad in a long time.”) – was about to fathom the scope of her natural magnetism, along with airport officials, who, up to that point, had no idea who she was. At 17, Ms. Buchmann – then an aspiring actress – took to the internet in the hopes of drawing the attention of TV stations so that she could launch her career. Instead, she ended up bypassing them and becoming an internet phenomenon in her own right, whose YouTube videos are now seen by millions. Taking full advantage of her outsize visibility, she is currently touring the country performing her play to packed audiences, made up mostly of teenagers who look up to her in ways rarely seen in Brazil. Born and raised in the southern part of the country – Curitiba – she now lives in Sao Paulo, Brazil’s powerhouse and one of the most populated cities on the planet, where she concedes “all the best opportunities are.” When asked how long her YouTube success would last, the ever-optimistic Brazilian answers with a smile, “I hope it goes on for a long time, but if it ends tomorrow, I’ll be forever thankful for the opportunities life’s given me.”