Saturday, 25 February 2012

A Fool's Guide to Adventure

Book - The Book Thief - Markus Zusak
Photo - Lewis Shaw

People often ask me - normally after I've spilled an anarchic anecdote over the floor over the conversation -
"Lewis, how do all these things happen to you?"

Anybody who knows me well or has read this blog end-to-end will know that I have a habit of ending up in strange situations - whether it's driving a 7-ton truck down a  Dutch highway or dancing half naked in fascist African Kingdoms, I can't seem to keep myself away from the bizarre occurrences that make up my time on Earth. It can be both a good and bad habit to keep, but as a sideline for jaw-dropping anecdotes, my adventures are definitely a plus.

But for all the people who ask the aforementioned question, there is much jealousy, confusion, and bewilderment. It is for those people that this particular post is for.

A simple answer is that 'How do all these things happen to you?' is a question wrongly put. Although I will accept that amongst countless variables there is an element of luck - these things don't happen to me - I bring them upon myself. However - here are a few pointers on how to have yourself some of these delectable adventures.

1 - Since around the age of nine, I've had an utter fascination with the Latin phrase 'Carpe Diem' - 'Seize the Moment/Day'. You may just think of it as the horribly middle-class obsession of a growing child, but the thing is that those two words have taken a hold on my consciousness, and taken me more places than anything else.  Say 'Yes' to as much as you can - interesting places are almost always the places just outside of your comfort zone - and by comfort zone I am also referring to your living room couch. You will have to leave the house, sweetheart.

2 - As I sit on buses, trains, park benches and other public domains, I hear an awful word of... ooh, what's the word. Oh yes, stupid people. A lot of these people also happen to be students, students who go to my college - which brings with it a valid point. Doing well in all your classes and getting top grades in every subject does not, by any means, make you clever. Common sense cannot be taught in a classroom, just by getting outside. I'm not entirely sure what this point amounts to, without having to phrase it like this - don't be stupid, stupid.

3 - Earlier today I was told that I am very critical of people. Thanks, Josie. Despite my obvious bitchy response to this comment, there is a clear element of truth in it, and for a good reason. I'm an incredible bitch, and very honest to those whom I do not admire (Of which there are many) - this simply being my defense mechanism. Surround yourself with good people, and when the smell of adventure lingers beneath your world-weary nostrils, grab these people and take them with you.

4 - I'd be lying if I told you that there was no element of story-telling ability that goes with the recounts of adventures. A helpful hint: these adventures are made re-tellable by the focus upon minor bizarre details. When you're sat at that dirty bus stop in Trafford, look to the French accountant on your right and say 'I told you that Pot Noodle was a bad idea'. It's a normal enough situation, until you mention obscure tidbits of information.

This morning I got incredibly tired of lounging around indoors and drinking coffee. I looked at the walls holding me in, and I looked at the assorted distractions to keep me there. I grabbed my bus pass, and ran. I pondered all of this as I sat alone next to Fleet Pond (A pond that is definitely of lake-ish proportions). 

I asked myself - what is an adventure anyway? Must we go on intergalactic travels to places we can't pronounce, with strangely attributed amigos, and attempt the impossible? I settled on anywhere out. Out of the ordinary, out of the schedule, out of your comfort zone, out of the house. I absorbed the good weather, the moment I had seized. I opened my book, and faced the first words of the chapter - 'Time for a change of scene'. 

'Yeah. That'd be good.' I thought, following the wise words of this book written by a man I'd never met. As Is sat, I thought more and more about this change of scene. Plans were made, people called. Maybe not today, and probably tomorrow, but one day - more adventures will be had. It is written.

- Lewis

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Cigarette Burns: Chronicle

So unless you've been living under a rock (A social style which I am admittedly tempted to undertake sometimes) you will know that it was Valentines day yesterday - or as I like to call it, Singles Awareness Day. Now you're probably thinking - ah, Lewis is notoriously good with the ladies, he obviously went to the cinema with a bunch of hot chicks and is now going to rub that fact in our faces in the shape of a movie review - but no.

Lewis didn't go to the cinema with a bunch of hot chicks yesterday, instead he went with three dudes - Brownbear, C*nt Destroyer, and Tom. They went clothes shopping, drank Shakeaway, gossiped, and eyed up hot boys. There, I said it.

The film we went to see - Chronicle - is one that Brownbear showed me the trailer for a good month ago, a trailer to which we both chimed 'That looks awesome'. Following the story line of troubled boy meets superpowers meets craziness, the film doesn't go into completely uncharted territory with its ideas and narrative - but it maintains the slightly undesirable tag of a film with no definable genre.

Mixing up an impressive array of different styles, first-time film director Josh Trank lines up a cast of relative unknowns and throws them into an idea best described as Cloverfield-meets-Misfits, quickly diving from happy-go-lucky teenagers with superpowers story line to a much darker, challenging backdrop.

The film is told through the age-old technique of found footage, beginning with the protagonist, Andrew (Dane DeHaan) buying an old camera to try and stop his father from abusing him, and changing in different ways. The way the story is shown develops throughout the film in believable ways that will have you smirking from ear-to-ear in damn cleverness.

Apart from a small number of continuity errors that superpower films tend to be riddled with, I do have one gripe with the film - the writing. Aside from the flying around in the sky and the supernatural antics, the film attempts to stick to a realistic view of what would happen if generic supernatural incident #321 actually happened, and so accordingly, the film is a mix of jump-cuts through dull dialogue, and omg lol we r high schooler lingo. Later on in the film however, our characters develop and have to confront some pretty out-there stuff, and so the scriptwriters jump back to the film school dreams of epic monologues and academic references, in a way that is so unnatural that you'd think they took a University to the brain instead of an Alien-Meteorite-Thing.

Aside from that, the film is an innovative and compelling feat from a team of fresh creators. Its blend of comic book story, interesting moral dilemmas, fresh narrative and downright jaw-dropping array of special effects will make any bro-date that bit more awesome.

Lewis: 8
Brownbear: 8
Tom: 7
C*nt Destroyer/Ross: 7/8

Favourite Line: "I COULD CRUSH YOU."
That delivery. Just. Yes.

- Lewis

Saturday, 4 February 2012

Stabbed 151 Times With a Brick

Every now and again it's comforting to sit back and reflect on how magnificently lucky we are. For the majority of people, this is pretty easy - you just think of all the horrible places, the disasters and deaths, bombings and bastards and remind yourself that you are not affiliated with any of these happenings, and are significantly happier and better off because of that.

But the thing is, whilst I was sat there planning adventures and scrolling through information and statistics, I discovered a much more efficient, and hell of a nerdier way to do it.

Over the years that have amalgamated to form my lifetime, I have, for want of a better phrase, been around the world once or twice. I've been to a couple of different places, and as it happens, it's the responsibility of the authorities of these places to publish statistics pertaining to how dangerous being in these places is. They want everyone who is on their way there to know how likely they are to be stabbed, raped, shot, scammed, or blown up.

However, in retrospect, these statistics make for a good measure of how lucky you are. So I took it upon myself, in a sort of self-fulfilling and ever so slightly bragging manner, to look at the different places I've been, and see how dangerous they are/were. During this almost hedonistic bout of research, I discovered some worryingly compelling figures (Some relevant, some completely irrelevant but still damn interesting). I have published some of my favourites right here.

For instance, in South Africa, 50 people are murdered every day - it has also earned the dubious title of 'Rape Capital of the World' due to you being more likely to be raped there than anywhere else in the world. I am still alive, and my bumhole is still intact, thus lucky points go to me. True story - my friend and travelling partner Mischa (Who is in fact South African himself) was once staying in Johannesburg when he was held at gunpoint by a mugger. Mischa, who didn't have any money on him, said a little prayer in his head when he had to tell this guy 'Look buddy, I'm broke'. A moment later, the gun clicked an awkward click, and the mugger turned and ran.

People wonder why Mischa is so faithful to God.

Another morbidly interesting fact about South Africa is that since Mandela was voted in in 1994, over 3000 commercial white farmers have been killed on their farms - including one incident in which a man was stabbed 151 times with several instruments - including a brick. Now I don't know about you, but I never really thought of bricks as 'stabby' implements...

Meanwhile, in London, lots of people were being stabbed and robbed every day. I go to London quite a bit, so just to up my lucky points I scrolled through various numbers and statistics, and came up with a true fact that has not been yet published - did you know that in London, you are more likely to be mugged, than you are to win the lottery?

In other news, a teenage blogger today orchestrated a drop in sales of lottery tickets...

There is a wealth of worrying words and startling statistics out there, and just so you can feel lucky I recommend that you go out there and find out just how lucky you are. Go to Nation Master, find an interesting statistic (Relative or not) and post it in the comments - if you feel lucky that is.

Well, do ya, punk?

- Lewis