Raphael Melis and His First Literary Endeavor, “Nicanor the Penguin”

iUniverse author Raphael Melis talks about Nicanor the Penguin, his international experience, and his literary influences.

Please briefly describe your book . . .

The book is a fictional story based on real events of a penguin my family saved from a huge oil spill that happened in Brazil. The story reflects the thrills and gratitude for saving that little guy named Nicanor.

And can you tell us a little about yourself?

I was born in the United States, but at a very young age, my family moved to Brazil, where I spent most of my life. I spent 17 years as an insurance broker, and there, by doing Fine Arts as well, I felt that I needed something much more meaningful and fulfilling in my life. At a late age, I made a profound decision to join the US Armed Forces in a way to explore myself and my place in this world. After my return to the United States I decided to finish my education and get a bachelor degree. Now I use my knowledge to tell stories of my discoveries and adventures in life and Nicanor the Penguin is my first book to do exactly that.

Do you have any particular literary influences?

I think my influences are all related to comic books. Frank Miller, Jack Kirby and the duo René Goscinny and Albert Uderzo are all my big influences, but for Nicanor the Penguin is Antoine de Saint-Exupéry my big influence. I still remember the thrill of listening and later on reading the book when I was a child.

What is the one message you would like to convey to your readers?

To remember that there is a lot of goodness all around us, and if you are smart enough to grab that, much of good deeds can be done to fix the evil we find in our road for happiness. Don’t be shy to do the right think. In my experience if you show kindness and friendship to people, animals and birds, they will give you right back the same. But I can’t say about reptiles, I never had one.

Are you working on a sequel to your book?

No I’m not. Nicanor the Penguin was intended to be a one unique book for the public. But many other books with different characters will come for children audience.

Are there any events, marketing ideas or promotions planned for your book?

In this department, not yet, but I’m still brainstorming ideas to promote the book and trying to find some time to promote the book as well. But I have received a good advice about the subject: to check the Author Learning Center and learn with other authors about how to promote a book.

What was your favorite part of your publishing experience, overall and with iUniverse?

My favorite part was the process of preparing the book for publishing. I learned a lot about ways of printing a book and how the publishing company maintains the market quality standards for publishing a book.

Finally, what advice would you give to aspiring authors?

There are a lot of people telling you point blank what to do. Don’t listen to them and follow what you think you should do, and do it. If you are in doubt about it, ask somebody you trust for advice. In my experience if you ask that person you chose to seek out for advice, he or she will give you the light to whatever insecurities and uncertainties you might have with your project. Don’t be shy and afraid to create something unique and out of the ordinary. If everybody creates the same ordinary stuff we see in the market these days, imagine how boring the world would be?

Note: Interview originally posted on November 27th on iUniverse Blog. https://blog.iuniverse.com/author-blogs/raphael-melis-nicanor-the-penguin/

More To Come

I’ve been absent from my blog for a while and that is not my intention.

Now-a-days I’ve been so busy with my life that I haven’t found the time to write something for you, my select group of followers.

I am sorry for that, but nevertheless, I will post this weekend the interview I did with iUniverse Publishing about my book “Nicanor the Penguin”.

I’m also brainstorming the third piece of the series I posted here on this blog called “The Trump Election F#%&**d Me Over”.

The series is easily recognizable because all the articles have pictures of the 1956 film called Moby Dick.

I’m also thinking in writing my thoughts about “Star Wars – The Last Jedi” and WHY I think the film was the end of something cool and unique created forty years ago.

So…see you all later and thank you for following me.

I wish you, my select group of followers, a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you and your family.

Finally My Book is Published and is Called Nicanor the Penguin

After a long time in search of a publisher to publish my book Nicanor the Penguin, the book is now available for the public.

Nicanor the Penguin is a fictional story based on real events of a penguin my family saved from a huge oil spill that happened in Brazil. The story reflects the thrills and gratitude for saving that little guy named Nicanor.

Nicanor is a Magellanic penguin.

On average, Magellanic penguins are about two feet three inches tall and weigh about nine pounds. They live on the coasts of Argentina, Chile, and the Falkland Islands with some migrating to Brazil, where they are occasionally seen in the state of Rio de Janeiro. Magellanic penguins can swim at almost sixteen miles (twenty-five kilometers) per hour, and they live about twenty-five years. Female Magellanic penguins can lay two eggs each year, and something unique about Magellanic penguins is that they are monogamous, having the same mates for their whole lives. Their diet consists mainly of cuttlefish, squid, krill, and other crustaceans, and they will swim up to fifty miles (eighty kilometers) to hunt.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) classifies Magellanic penguins as a threatened species due to their vulnerability to global warming and oil spills, which kill twenty thousand adults and twenty-two thousand juveniles every year off the coast of Argentina.


Illustration & photo:

Illustration by Raphael Melis 2015
Photo by Carol Guttery 2017

Show Me Your Skill

I was asked during this week to show my skills by creating a simple design piece of lobby television advertise.

As usual I always want to do something cool and professional, but to do it, it takes time and a lot of fun. For this assignment I need it to show my skill in a short period of time without having much time for sketches and brainstorm.

The challenge was accepted and as asked, I created a four page design for a restaurant.

The restaurant I chose was the Salty Sow in Austin Texas. I chose this place because the food is awesome.

If in case you are in the area, I suggest you to try their Petite Bone-in in Filets with a nice glass of Codice red wine. You will not be disappointed. I promised.

Nevertheless for this exercise I created the opening page using their logo and information found on their website, follow by the address page with opening hours and two pages displaying their happy hour craft beers and some of their hour d’oeuvres.

For those who does not know what is lobby television design I can say this: lobby television is a marketing tool used in places where customers often have to wait for services like doctor’s office, airports, hotels, and banks.

Below is the design.




Photos: 01 – Salty Sow The Through picture. Photographer unknown;
02, 03, 04 – Random pictures found on Google images. Photographers unknown.

Awareness and Design

Gregory Peck in Moby Dick – Warner Bros 1956

A few months ago when I was preparing my thesis for the final hurrah at college I discovered a principle called Hanlon’s Razor.

Hanlon’s Razor principle asserts that when bad things happen it is because the wrong doing is related to human-caused behavior.

Whatever bad things happen it is far more likely to be the result of ignorance or bureaucracy than conspiracy or malice. For example: when Apple’s Siri was unable to find abortion clinics, many claimed Apple purposefully excluded them from the search results. The final explanation was that Siri was incomplete or buggy.

Hanlon’s Razor principle is to never attribute to malice what can be adequately explained as incompetence.

This principle is really cool to have in mind when bad things happen. The principle does not exclude the possibility of malice – sometimes bad things are, in fact, caused by bad people – but malice is generally less probable.

So remember that principle when you decide to blame somebody over malice. If you do a good research, it’s greatly possible that the problem will be pointed out over incompetence and not malice.

Remembering Hanlon’s Razor principle and thinking about my last article called “The Trump Election F#%&**d Me Over” a question comes into mind: is bias, bigotry and racism a cause of ignorance or malice from people?

As I wrote on my last article, I stated about my quest to understand why of the passive aggressive behavior toward veterans and to a certain extent, to a large chunk of the American population.

I wrote that “after the Trump election as a President of the United States, the liberals behind the sponsorship of their candidate started to look for scapegoats in an attempt to explain their demise. And anything that can be traced and blamed for their loss is being applied to others that is not part of their team”

There is today a gap of understanding between citizens and veterans in the United States in which I can’t explain why. That gap is not only applied to veterans but it is extended to a large some of Americans of different races, creeds and gender.

To this problem I wrote: “On my research I’ve found that the problem of bias, bigotry, racism and later on bias toward veterans is going on since the end of WW2. For some reason the generation borne on that period, in which went to school in the height of the American Dream and went to college in the 60s is the one, so far, to be blamed. The new ideas of liberty and freedom of expression gave birth to political correctness and sensitivities. For some reason that generation believed – and still believes – that political correctness and sensitivity is the right path to deal with bias, bigotry and racism, all the discriminatory ideals that was part of some nasty regimes in the WW2. But like Captain Ahab obsessed with Moby Dick, those new free thinkers became obsessed with political correctness and sensitivities as a path to righteousness. Now, after three generations of doing this we Americans are seeing the cracks of the system in which I believe will get worst every day. I wasn’t in the USA in the 90s but I sense that the years of Clinton Administration gave a big push to this nonsense. I cannot say for sure on that because I need more data about it so don’t take my word for it. But something happened in the 90s and that changed was felt on Brazil. We Brazilians noticed that the United States were getting away from their beliefs of equality, freedom and liberty, and more over, about their education system. As Brazilian we noticed that Americans were becoming ignorant and rude. All the changes that United States witness in the past were seen as hateful and wrong by a new generation of free thinkers that by the irony of the times, were using the same tools against those they believe was responsible for being hateful and wrong. If you reader check the later news about USA, you can see that the emergence ANTIFA a liberal radical sector is not much different than KKK another radical sector, that by the way, according to some, it was a creation of the same liberals that fight for equality and the nothingness of bias, bigotry and racism. The United States of America in the 90s was not the country of the 60’s and the 50’s administered by a generation rose in the 20’s and the 30’s. The United States of America is a country administered by a generation raised in the 50’s, 60’s, 70’s and the 80’s.”

Reading what I wrote I can point out by using the Hanlon’s Razor principle that the problems of bias, bigotry and racism toward any kind of people is not a problem caused by malice but by ignorance. As I believe people don’t use political correctness as an act of rational malice, but use political correctness as a way to get rid of malice. But, sadly, is not working in its form of cultural war.

Bias, bigotry and racism are ugly and opposed to equality, freedom and peace. Bias, bigotry and racism are offspring of ignorance, neurosis and narrowness.

Going back on my Gestalt readings, I wrote: “I’ve learned that humans are designed to react and act to a series of formulas preconceived for their existence. Those formulas can be used to seduce and to induce certain behaviors to buy and act in pro to a dominant ideology. The meaningful perceptions that a human can acquire from a chaotic world, meaning the environment, can transform his abilities to interact with this environment. The Gestalt psychology applying as a therapy shows that the unbalance between the self and the environment create what is called neurosis. Neurosis is not only the unbalance of preconceived formulas but it is a mind mental illness caused by a radical loss of touch with reality. This loss of reality is created by excessive obsession of things and the excessive irrational anxiety of things (things can be anything). The example of this irrational anxiety and obsession is seen in the creation of political correctness and safe spaces. Political correctness is the obsession to do the right thing and safe spaces are the medicine for irrational anxiety.”

As explained Neurosis is the unbalance between the self and the environment. To bring back balance and order to the self and the environment a design solution needs to be created with the solemn purpose to bring back a relatively stable equilibrium between the interdependent elements of self and environment.

Homeostatic process is the activity by which the organism maintains its equilibrium and therefore its health under varying conditions. Homeostasis is the exercise by which the organism satisfies its need while neurosis goes against that principle.

Awareness is knowing yourself and the environment with the purpose to predict problems and create a healthy camaraderie between the self and the environment.

Art therapy is an amazing tool to create awareness. This type of psychotherapy that encourages the free expression of the individual by creating paintings, drawings or modeling is a key element to transfer the neurosis to a medium of choice, and by doing it, facing their neurosis by acknowledging the problem and creating awareness.

But what about design? Can design be used as same as art?

User interaction (UI) and user experience (UX) design are being created to increase connectivity between people in a fast world of communication. UI and UX are in the avant garde of design in creating experiences through tablets, web, phones, hologram, app and more in a digital world of fast transformation. But it’s failing in provide awareness simply because the connectivity is alienating the user by a wrong doing cause of human behavior.

Alienation is the experience of being isolated from a group or an activity to which one person should belong to or be involved. In that matter, alienation is the loss of lack of sympathy toward another and can cause the lack of identity of the individual and create a sense of being controlled and exploited.

People are being connected and alienated instead of being connected and aware.

I believe design like art can provide awareness in the moment designers manage to create a solution that would help people to see that the importance of the digital era are irrelevant compared to the person-to-person connectivity. The anxieties and obsessions can be avoided by the simple use of critical thinking of needs and wants.

Design can be use like art as a key element to transfer the neurosis to a medium of choice, and by doing it, facing their neurosis by acknowledging the problem to create awareness.

How can be done? I have no idea.

Nevertheless I still believe that the problem of the United States of America is related to a humongous group related neurosis and this neurosis is the one responsible in creating all the problems of bias, bigotry and racism in America including the bias toward the American veteran.

Awareness is the key to solve the problem and more needs to be done on that field of knowledge.

More about HR: http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/HanlonsRazor.
More about GT: http://www.gestalt.org/yontef.htm.

The Trump Election F#%&**d Me Over

Gregory Peck in Moby Dick – Warner Bros 1956

I don’t usually do this. My blog is a place to share cool stuff about design and art. But I want to share this information with you all my followers.

The Trump election in the United States f#%&**d me over.

I moved to Austin, Texas-USA after I finished college because the visual design and graphic design trade in Austin is booming. Knowing what I know plus the ability to create cool stuff made me believe that I would have a job and commence my journey as a designer; a dream I’m seeking for a long time.

Obviously I was wrong.

As I checked my website and this blog I realized that I truly have a good portfolio to reach out to others that share the same love I have for design and art. But in a total of 9 weeks living in this city I applied for 300 jobs, and for my surprise, I simply can’t make it. That happens because I am a veteran. A veteran of the U.S. Army.

I am truly certain that I can’t make it because this information of veteran’s bias relies on my experiences living here in the United States and by witnessing other veteran’s tale of the same struggle.

After the Trump election as a President of the United States, the liberals behind the sponsorship of their candidate started to look for scapegoats in an attempt to explain their demise. And anything that can be traced and blamed for their loss is being applied to others that is not part of their team.

There is today a gap of understanding between citizens and veterans in the United States in which I can’t explain why. I’m still doing research to understand the why, but I don’t have a definitive answer right now.

Like I wrote to a friend on my Facebook account I believe that bias, bigotry and racism comes from a era not present to this one I live today. It’s a long thing going on.

On my research I’ve found that the problem of bias, bigotry, racism and later on bias toward veterans is going on since the end of WW2.

For some reason the generation borne on that period, in which went to school in the height of the American Dream and went to college in the 60s is the one, so far, to be blamed.

The new ideas of liberty and freedom of expression gave birth to political correctness and sensitivities. For some reason that generation believed – and still believes – that political correctness and sensitivity is the right path to deal with bias, bigotry and racism, all the discriminatory ideals that was part of some nasty regimes in the WW2.

But like Captain Ahab obsessed with Moby Dick, those new free thinkers became obsessed with political correctness and sensitivities as a path to righteousness. Now, after three generations of doing this we Americans are seeing the cracks of the system in which I believe will get worst every day.

I wasn’t in the USA in the 90s but I sense that the years of Clinton Administration gave a big push to this nonsense.

I cannot say for sure on that because I need more data about it so don’t take my word for it. But something happened in the 90s and that changed was felt on Brazil. We Brazilians noticed that the United States were getting away from their beliefs of equality, freedom and liberty, and more over, about their education system. As Brazilians we noticed that Americans were becoming ignorant and rude.

All the changes that United States witness in the past were seen as hateful and wrong by a new generation of free thinkers that by the irony of the times, were using the same tools against those they believe was responsible for being hateful and wrong. If you reader check the later news about USA, you can see that the emergence ANTIFA a liberal radical sector is not much different than KKK another radical sector, that by the way, according to some, it was a creation of the same liberals that fight for equality and the nothingness of bias, bigotry and racism.

The United States of America in the 90s were not the country of the 60’s and the 50’s administered by a generation raised in the 20’s and the 30’s. The United States of America is a country administered by a generation raised in the 50’s, 60’s, 70’s and the 80’s.

But in this matter, it could be, also, that what is happening today in America is a side effect from the later times.

When the forefathers of America build the nation and proclaim the independence from Britain saying that “all people are created equal” and that belief were not extended to the Africans and Indians living in the United States that helped and fought for the revolution, they didn’t foreseen that the exclusion created might have doomed America forever in creating this gruesome bias behavior.

Nevertheless, going back to my portfolio website, the standards existent in the market my website and this blog are okay. Actually to be very honest with the reader my website got more info than any designers in the market. I know this because I did an extensive research about other design portfolio before creating mine.

I believe that the problem of the United States of America is related to a humongous group related neurosis and this neurosis is the one responsible in creating all the problems of bias, bigotry and racism in America including the bias toward the American veteran.

On my quest for knowledge I’ve learned about Gestalt and the psychology behind it.

I’ve learned that humans are designed to react and act to a series of formulas preconceived for their existence. Those formulas can be used to seduce and to induce certain behaviors to buy and act in pro to a dominant ideology. The meaningful perceptions that a human can acquire from a chaotic world, meaning the environment, can transform his abilities to interact with this environment. The Gestalt psychology applying as a therapy shows that the unbalance between the self and the environment create what is called neurosis.

Neurosis is not only the unbalance of preconceived formulas but it is a mind mental illness caused by a radical loss of touch with reality. This loss of reality is created by excessive obsession of things and the excessive irrational anxiety of things (things can be anything). The example of this irrational anxiety and obsession is seen in the creation of political correctness and safe spaces. Political correctness is the obsession to do the right thing and safe spaces are the medicine for irrational anxiety. Gestalt Therapy proved that the only way to deal with the problem of anxiety and the obsession is though awareness.

Awareness is knowing yourself and the environment with the purpose to predict problems and create a healthy camaraderie between the self and the environment. But sadly at this moment people are not aware, especially when it comes to veterans.

So because of this lack of awareness and the projection of failures, I guess by being a veteran, it became a curse in a nation partly run by liberals blinded by the Ahab obsession of killing the whale.

To be honest with you, because of all of that… the Trump elections f#%&**d me over and the job I seek is in a boat heading far far away from the American’s shore.

Michael Caine in Play Dirty – United Artist 1969