Our Earth is a big place. But also a small place — it really depends on how you look at it. To us, our Earth is our home; vast, detailed and endless. But if you’ve ever read up on astronomy and looked at the scale of the universe, you’ll quickly realise that our Earth is basically invisible amongst the much more gigantic celestial entities out there.
I don’t want to make this intro too long-winded and full of phrases like “I’ve worked so hard on this magazine”, “thank you so much for joining me on this journey” and “this is the beginning of something great” because although all those things are true, I know that’s not really interesting to read. So, instead, I’m going to answer a question that you might be pondering at this very moment: where did you get the name Kanis Majoris? What does it mean?
It’s the name of a star. Not just any old star, though, it’s one of the biggest stars that human beings have observed to date. The real name of this star is VY Canis Majoris , and it’s very, very far away. How far away? Well ... does it matter? The answer is probably going to be something-something light-years. But what difference does the exact figure make to us, sitting here on Earth? Still, if you are aching to know, you can Google it.
It’s also very big, like I said before. But just how big? Well, let’s put it this way. Take a second and consider how big the Earth is. Try to remember the last time you opened Google Earth or looked at a globe. Think about any long plane journeys you may have taken, and how you went from one point on Earth to another, in such a long amount of time. Really think about it. The Earth is huge, isn’t it? For us, anyway. Now think about the Sun. You know it’s bigger than the Earth, but how much bigger? About a hundred times bigger. That’s right. The Sun is so big that over a million Earths would fit inside it. So the Sun is pretty large. But compared to VY Canis Majoris, our Sun is merely a speck of dust that you see floating around in a beam of sunlight on a sunny day.
VY Canis Majoris is so big, that over nine billion of our Suns would fit inside it. Yes, billion. Like, with a “b”. If that’s too many numbers for you, another way to think about it is this: if you got in an aeroplane and took a trip going around VY Canis Majoris once, the journey would take you over 1,000 years. Why am I telling you all this? Am I trying to use VY Canis Majoris’ size as a metaphor for my success? And try to segue into a whole paragraph about how big this magazine will be one day, like the star it’s named after? No, that’s not what I’m doing. I’m just telling you about this star because that’s what this magazine, Kanis Majoris, is all about; sharing knowledge, giving information that may or may not be useful and making you laugh along the way, when I can.
Was that a good intro? Is it enough for you to be able to read the rest of the issue comfortably? Some of you are probably saying yes, others saying that you aren’t sure, but most of you are probably still reading this and not saying anything because people don’t usually answer out loud when whatever they’re reading asks them a question. Firstly, because reading is a passive activity and secondly because I can’t hear you, only you can hear me. Like television. Or YouTube. That’s it for now. Enjoy the mag.
 I changed the C to a K for the title of the mag because what if it turns out that some corporation technically owns VY Canis Majoris and I get sued for copyright? You’re right, that is ridiculous. But anything is possible in this strange universe, isn’t it? I’m just kidding. I changed it so it would be easier to pronounce.
— Not to scale. Please do not use this highly inaccurate diagram to navigate the seas at night.
This is the Canis Major constellation from the southern hemisphere that VY Canis Majoris is a part of. In this constellation (I mean in real life, not my very, very basic diagram) we can see stars with cool names like Sirius [α], Adhara [ε], Wezen [δ], Unurgunite [σ] (also known as Sigma Canis Majoris), Murzim [β], Muliphein [γ], Aludra [η] and our very own VY Canis Majoris [×].
One of these facts is false.
You can get high-speed internet on the Moon.
A dragonfly can see in all directions at once.
Bluetooth is named after a Danish king from the 10th century.
A speck of dust is halfway in size between an atom and the size of the Earth.
There can be yellow, pink, purple, black and even white tomatoes.
“Odd” and “Even” are popular male names in Norway.
If you inhale a pea, it can sprout and grow in your lungs. It’s happened before.
A dragonfly also has a lifespan of only 24 hours.
The clownfish has the ability to change its sex. If a breeding female dies, the male fish will change its sex and mate with another male.
On Jupiter and Saturn, it rains diamonds.
Brown eyes are actually blue underneath. Melanin is a substance which makes the iris brown by layering over the blue.
A group of unicorns is called a blessing.
It’s a common misconception that a dragonfly only has a lifespan of 24 hours. Most species of dragonfly live for up to five or six months, some living for several years.
La Joconde is French for the Mona Lisa. Known as one of the most valuable paintings in the world and probably also the most famous painting in the world. But why exactly is that? What makes the Mona Lisa so famous? Is it really just that amazing?
Not exactly. The Mona Lisa is famous because it was stolen. Yep. Back in 1911, the world’s most famous painting, which wasn’t really that famous back then, disappeared from its place in the Louvre and didn’t reappear for two whole years. It became a huge story in the newspapers. An investigation was launched as to how a 15th century painting could have just vanished off the wall. Visitors flocked to the museum to see the place where the Mona Lisa used to be. It attracted a lot of attention. A lot of attention. So much so, in fact, that the Mona Lisa quickly rose in fame and became known worldwide. People probably just missed her smug, cool smile — a concept known in Italian as sprezzatura .
Then one day, at long last, the painting was found. It was discovered that it had been stolen by a former Louvre employee who had simply come into the museum during regular hours, hidden inside a broom closet, waited until the museum closed, taken the painting out of its frame and then sneaked out into the night with the Mona Lisa inside his jacket. This was 1911; things were a lot more simple back then. Imagine trying to do that now. How quickly do you think you would you get caught? Very quickly.
Anyone who has been to the Louvre Museum in Paris to see the Mona Lisa will know that it is basically just an ordinary painting. It is, however, known to be quite mysterious; the strange background, the question of the meaning behind that famous smile and the seeming lack of eyebrows. Even the lady portrayed in the painting has a disputed identity; in other words, we cannot be certain who the lady in the portrait really is. The most popular theory is that she is Lisa del Giocondo, a noblewoman back in 15th century Italy and wife of wealthy silk merchant Francesco del Giocondo, who commissioned the painting. The name “Giocondo” is probably where the French La Joconde (or Italian La Gioconda) comes from. However, there are other theories that the lady featured in this famous painting is not, in fact, Italian noblewoman Lisa del Giocondo, wife of wealthy silk merchant Francesco del Giocondo, but possibly any one out of various other iconic women from European history — mainly noblewomen and duchesses.
Those have seen the Mona Lisa in the flesh will also know that it’s quite a small painting — that is, smaller than expected. Or at least smaller than I expected when I went to go see it back in 2014. The Mona Lisa measures around 770 mm x 530 mm. So a little smaller than an A1-sized poster. I’m not really sure what I expected really, but having seen and heard about this painting since childhood for some reason I expected it to be a little bigger. Another reason this painting seems smaller than it is, is probably because when you go to the Louvre to see it, you have to stay well away from it; behind the barrier and amidst all the other fans that are dying to see the world’s most famous painting. Not to mention all the security measures they have, including a thick pane of glass behind which the painting is hung.
You may already know that it was painted by someone called Leonardo da Vinci. No, not the actor from Titanic — although that Leonardo was, in fact, named after the famous painter. Though Leonardo da Vinci was more than just a legendary painter. He was what is known as a polymath: a person whose knowledge spans over a variety of various subjects. Da Vinci was an inventor, an engineer, a sculptor and a scientist, among others. He was also a vegetarian and was known to buy caged birds from markets and set them free.
But, wait. Da Vinci was Italian, right? So why’s the painting in France? Good question. And that’s exactly what the man who stole the Mona Lisa thought. His name was Vincenzo Peruggia, an Italian who believed that the Mona Lisa should be in Italy, where she was painted. After stealing the prized painting, Peruggia kept it in his apartment in Paris and then was finally caught after trying to sell the painting to a gallery in Florence, Italy.
So how is she today? The one and only Mona Lisa? Well, after getting stolen and then returning back to the Louvre, the painting has since been met with a few unfortunate incidents over the years. There was a guy in the 1950s who was apparently in love with the painting and tried to steal it. Like one incident of theft wasn’t enough. There was another man who threw a rock at the painting. Another woman tried spraying the painting with red paint in 1974. More recently, in 2009, a Russian woman threw a teacup she purchased at the Louvre gift shop at the Mona Lisa after being denied French citizenship. The painting managed to survive these incidents generally unscathed, although the rock did damage the glass case and a tiny spot of the painting. Last year, in 2019, the museum put some new rules in place where visitors have to queue up in groups before only being allowed to see the painting for thirty seconds at a time. Barely any time to throw souvenirs or plot a painting heist.
There are many calendar systems in the world. Seriously, a lot. The Gregorian calendar , which is the “main” one that most of the world follows, and the one you may be most familiar with, is related to the Earth’s trip around the Sun. So, you could say that it’s a solar calendar.
But not everyone follows the Gregorian calendar. Although the Gregorian calendar is the most common throughout the world, some countries and cultures have their own calendar that they follow. Perhaps one of the most famous ones is the Chinese calendar. Well known for its association with animals, this calendar system is lunar-solar, because — you guessed it — it’s related to the Moon as well as the Sun. In 2020, Chinese New Year fell on January 25th, meaning that the previous year according to the Chinese calendar had been completed and the new one had begun. The new one this time being the Year of the Rat. A common, fun thing to do is to figure out which animal’s year you were born in according to the Chinese zodiac. So, for instance, if you were born in the year 2000, you were born in the Year of the Dragon . The Chinese zodiac works in a cycle that repeats every twelve years. So when you turn 12, that year (in this case 2012) would also be the Year of the Dragon. And then again when you turn 24, and so on.
There are twelve animals in the Chinese zodiac, as per the twelve year cycle. One animal for every year. There are many theories on what the backstory of the animals is, but the most well-known story is that of the great race. The Jade Emperor, who is considered one of the first gods in Chinese mythology, called all the animals of the world for a race to get across a river. Twelve animals participated in the race, and the order in which they finished the race determines their place in the calendar. It starts off with the rat, who won the race using wit. It knew it would not be able to cross the river on its own, and so climbed onto the back of the ox, who came second. Some of the animals in the zodiac are known to have a reason for finishing the race in the position that they did. The dragon, for instance, claims that it could have won quite easily; after all, all it had to do was fly over everyone else and could have easily been there first. But it didn’t — instead, it came fifth, with its reason being that it was busy helping other creatures across the river. The dog, who came second-last, was too busy bathing in the river. So you could say that each animal’s personality affected their performance in the great race to determine the zodiac, and in turn, possibly says something about the individuals it represents.
You probably knew all this already. But, did you also know about the Ten Heavenly Stems? See, there’s more to the traditional Chinese calendar than animals rushing to come first in some race. The calendar is associated with the five earthly elements: fire, water, earth, wood and metal. And this can be further divided into yin and yang (yes, that black and white roundish emblem), meaning each year is unique in a 60-year cycle. So going back to the year 2000, it is not only the Year of the Dragon but is also assigned the element of earth, as well as the yin/yang value of yang. Therefore, the Gregorian year 2000 is, in the Chinese calendar system, Dragon Earth Yang . Quite fascinating, right?
 It’s called the Gregorian calendar because of Pope Gregory XIII, who made it based on the old Roman calendar. There’s a fantastic video of Neil deGrasse Tyson talking about the inception of the Gregorian calendar and why we have leap days on his appearance on The Joe Rogan Experience. Also CGP Grey has a great video on leap days.
 The Chinese New Year started on Feb 5th in the year 2000, so you would only be considered as born in the Year of the Dragon if you were born after Feb 5th 2000 and before Jan 23rd, 2001.
 You can, of course, find out the values of your own birth year online with various websites. You can also find out other information — such as your supposed personality type, lucky numbers, which other zodiac horoscopes would make ideal friends or romantic partners, as well as which zodiac horoscopes you should be avoiding. It is, of course, very similar to the kind of things you may find in the Western horoscopes.
You may be wondering what you’re looking at here. Well, this big red-ish shape is VY Canis Majoris — one of the biggest stars observed by humans so far — and that small blue dot is in fact our planet Earth if it was right next to VY Canis Majoris. To scale. And yes, this star is in fact spherical, but because it’s so mega-huge, the surface looks almost flat at this scale. That’s how big this star is. You’re probably thinking: “Wow, big deal. So what?” Well, go ahead and scroll down. I got some stuff to show you.
Should we take some of that pumpkin pie you made?
Everything here is (roughly) to scale except for the positioning of everything. If all the planets and the Sun were as close to each other in reality as they are here in this diagram — well, let’s just say it wouldn’t end well. In case you’re wondering what these funky little marks are, they’re actually the astronomical symbols for each celestial body.
You are here .
What would the Earth be without the Moon? I mean without it, what would we look up at every night when feeling melancholic? That’s what the Moon’s for, right? I’m joking, of course. It’s also for werewolves to howl at when they become human again.
The closest planet to the Sun. And to Earth. Wait, what? Mercury is the closest planet to the Earth? But what about Venus? It’s clearly in between the Earth and Mercury. It’s got to be. That’s what I thought too until I watched a fantastic video explaining it all . Check it out.
Despite being similar in size to Earth, this planet is a little weird; its day is longer than its year, first of all. It’s because Venus spins relatively slower than it goes around the Sun. Imagine that. A year goes by, but the day still isn’t over. Secondly, Venus doesn’t have any moons. Apart from Mercury, it’s the only planet that doesn’t have any — even Pluto, the supposed dwarf planet, has five. There’s also a thing called the transit of Venus, which is when Venus passes between the Earth and the Sun. It’s a rare astronomical event  — that’s not going to happen for a while; the last one was in 2012 and it was awesome. Just kidding, I didn’t see it — with the next one taking place in December 2117. Set your alarms, people.
The biggest planet in the Solar System. Jupiter is, as you might know, a gas giant. Which basically means that it’s like a cloud; there’s no solid surface, meaning you can’t actually land on Jupiter. You can just poke your head into the hydrogen-and-helium-rich atmosphere and hope for the best. Oh, and remember that it rains diamonds on Jupiter ?
This is Saturn without all its rings, by the way. Did you know that if you put Saturn in a huge tank of water, it would float? Yeah, I know. Such a pointless piece of information.
Remember back when Pluto was a planet? It was declared a dwarf planet in 2006 after scientists discovered Pluto is actually not a planet , but one of many celestial objects in a large group known as the Kupier belt . It was discovered in 1930, and due to its distance from the Sun, it takes Pluto about 248 Earth years to complete its orbit once. This means that in the 76 years that it was considered a planet, it didn’t even manage to finish one orbit. But don’t feel bad for Pluto. After all, it does have a radioactive element named after it .
So we’ve talked a lot about how small the Earth really is. You’ve read it and now you’ve seen it, too. The Earth really is small, right? So, now that you’ve seen all this, you want to hear a secret? That small blue dot next to VY Canis Majoris was not, in fact, Earth … it was actually the Sun. Yes. That’s how big VY Canis Majoris is compared to the seemingly gigantic Sun. The Sun is miniscule next to it — and the Earth at that scale is basically invisible. And that is how small we really are.
 Unless you’re an astronaut on the ISS, in which case you’re still being affected by Earth’s gravity so I guess it still counts as Earth?
 CGP Grey’s fantastic video on how Mercury is the closest planet not only to Earth but in fact all the planets was absolutely amazing. It’s called “Which Planet is the Closest?” and I realise I’ve sort of spoiled the video by revealing the answer, but the video is definitely still worth watching.
 So, the way the transits of Venus work is that they occurs in pairs that are eight years apart. So it happened in 1761, then again in 1769. And then it didn’t happen for around another 105 years until 1874. And then again eight years later in 1882. But then the next pair came 122 years later, in 2004 and 2012. Now the pattern will repeat, so the next pair is going be in 105 years’ time — in 2117, like I said, and 2125. Why am I telling you all this? Well, to tell you the story of Guillaume Le Gentil, a French astronomer who wanted to see the transit of Venus back in 1761. He left France and travelled to India to see it, but on the day of he was unable to observe it properly. So, he decided to stay in India for the next one — which would be in eight years’ time — after which he would return home. Well, to his misfortune, when he finally got back to Paris he discovered that he had officially been declared dead, his wife had remarried and he had been replaced in his position at the Royal Academy of Sciences. How unlucky. Oh, and he didn’t even get to see the transit of Venus in the end. Upon the second occurence of the transit — in 1769, the one he stuck around eight years for — he was unable to see it because of an overcast sky. It wasn’t all bad, though. During his time in India, Guillaume Le Gentil learnt a lot about Indian astronomy and was able to write about it. And there’s a play and an opera about him.
 I mean, talk about making it rain.
 It’s still considered a planet in New Mexico. Apparently due to the fact that the man who discovered it — Clyde Tombaugh — lived in New Mexico.
 If you’ve ever wondered why exactly Pluto was stripped of its planetary status, check out CGP Grey’s amazing video — I know. Another CGP Grey reference. But what can I say? His videos are awesome.
 Plutionium. Atomic number 94.
Coffee, as you may know, comes from a plant. This plant grows and bears a fruit which is harvested and then processed . The seed of this fruit basically becomes a coffee bean after all that processing. Now, if you take this coffee bean, roast it and then grind it to make small granules, you will have coffee with which you have two choices: run water through it to make brewed coffee, or combine water and pressure to make espresso. These are the two options, and they are the base of all coffee types. Macchiato, cappuccino, mochaccino, latte, americano, affogato, espressino, cortado… the list goes on. None of those is made up, by the way. Not even espressino . In English, the word coffee came from the Dutch koffie, which came from the Ottoman Turkish kahve, which came from the Arabic qahwa.
Coffee is consumed all around the world in many different forms. A lot of the modern-day drink names — cappuccino, espresso, latte — originate from Italian, probably because Italy was one of the first (if not the first) places in Europe to import coffee back in the 16th century. Or maybe also because espresso was invented in Italy. Mochaccino, however, — also known as a mocha — actually gets its name from the city of Mocha, Yemen which was a hub for coffee trade from the 15th to 18th centuries.
Alright, enough with the history lesson. Let’s make some coffee. But first, we’ll need some. A quick trip to the supermarket — or local artisanal coffee roastery, if that’s your style. Or just take a look online — and you’ll see coffee usually being sold either as ground or as whole beans. And there will be all sorts of countries of origin; Colombia, Ethiopia, Brazil ...but which one to get? And why does coffee only come from hot, tropical places? You can probably guess why. The coffee plant only grows in certain climates, mainly countries with lots of rain and mild temperatures. Take a look at a world map and find the latitude line known as the Tropic of Cancer (it should cut through Mexico, northern Africa, the Middle East and India). Then find the Tropic of Capricorn (Australia, southern Africa and the middle of South America). Coffee generally grows in between these two lines, in an area known as the coffee belt.
There are some coffees that are better than others. Or considered better, anyway. Kopi luwak is a type of coffee originating in Indonesia that is one of the most expensive types of coffee in the world, and it is a very special type of coffee indeed. So what is it? Well, deep in the forests of Indonesia, there is an animal that the locals call a luwak. In English, it’s called an Asian palm civet — but think of it as kind of a mix between a cat and a racoon. It’s a small animal that eats the coffee fruit (that we mentioned earlier) and then later — when it’s digested — the seed of the coffee fruit (i.e. the raw bean), after being influenced by the civet’s natural digestive process, comes out in its business. If you reach in and take that bean that has been through the civet’s body and make coffee out of it, for some magical reason, the coffee will taste absolutely amazing if compared to a regular, un-digested-by-an-Asian-palm-civet bean. It’s evidently so amazing, in fact, that kopi luwak sells for about $20 per 50g internationally  and an entire industry has been built around this miraculous recipe given to us by nature .
After buying your coffee — remember, we’re still at the supermarket/local coffee roastery/online store — you can bring it home and make it how you like. Remember, the two main types are either brewed or made as espresso. For a brew, it’s simple. You just need to basically pass water through the coffee, kind of like how you would with tea, and then filter it. There are various methods of brewing; French press, Chemex, V60 or you could just do it Indonesian style5 and not filter it at all. And then we have espresso which is made by adding pressure, for which you would need a machine of some sort — although you can get yourself a “hand-operated, manual, portable” espresso maker which will make espresso, however, whether or not it has the same result as a machine is up to you to decide.
Two of these facts are false.
Some types of baby turtles communicate with one another while still in their eggs so that they can all hatch together.
Panthers have the most powerful night-vision abilities of any mammal.
Turning a shark upside down can make it go into a coma.
Natural gas is odourless. The smell is added to make it easier to detect leaks.
Anatidaephobia is the irrational fear of being watched by a duck.
A chicken named Mike once lived without a head for 18 months.
The Amazon River, despite being one of the world’s longest rivers, has only one bridge crossing it.
In Japan, there is an island that’s full of rabbits.
Despite being a Pharaoh, Cleopatra was actually Greek, not Egyptian.
There are no mosquitoes in Iceland.
There are some species of ants
that enslave other ants.
There is a vault off the coast of Norway where thousands of types of seeds are stored in the event of any kind of doomsday-type scenario.
“Panthers” don’t actually exist as a species — rather they are a general term used to describe leopards, jaguars or cougars that are usually black in colour.
The Amazon River is over 6,000 km in length but doesn’t even have one bridge. The reason mainly being that there isn’t really a need for one. Most of the Amazon River runs through the rainforest where there aren’t any cities or towns and many crossings are done by ferry.
So, Korean looks pretty hard, but it’s actually quite simple once you break it down. Are you ready to find out how?
It’s cacti, right? Not cactuses. Cactuses doesn’t sound right. Doesn’t it? Well, I can tell that you’re super stressed about this, so I’ll put your mind at ease — they’re both correct. Cacti is the plural that English has taken from Latin, since in Latin a lot of the masculine  nouns end in -us when singular and in -i when plural. Thanks to my overenthusiastic high school Latin teacher, I still remember this .
In English, we only seem to apply this rule to some words that end in -us. For example, people say fungi (fungus), radii (radius) and nuclei (nucleus). We can even say octopi as a plural for our tentacled friends . But we don’t really say viri (virus) or thesauri (thesaurus).
At any rate, cactus and cacti are both acceptable. But here’s a more challenging question: Which is the correct plural, fish or fishes? You might think fish is more correct, but in actual fact, they are both correct — all depends on what you mean. Fish and fishes actually both work as plurals, but they have different meanings. Fish is for when you are talking about a group of fish that are all the same species. For example, if you go fishing and catch three mackerel, you’ve got yourself three fish. But if you catch a fourth fish, let’s say a tuna — which, well, lucky you  — now you’ve got four fishes.
This is all if you want to get really technical. For the most part, you could just use fish when you want to brag about your fishing skills and it would be totally fine. In fact, most native speakers of English don’t even pay attention to or perhaps don’t even know about the difference.But what about your blonde fiancée? I mean blond fiancé. Wait, which is the correct spelling?You might have seen them all before in written form. But what’s correct? Yep. You’ve guessed it. They are all correct but with different meanings. Blonde (with an e at the end) refers to a female with pale-coloured hair and blond (with no e) refers to a male with pale-coloured hair. The same rule for fiancée and fiancé; female and male respectively .
English is a strange language, and — like most languages — it has all sorts of quirks that have become a part of the language over the centuries. Languages mix together a lot, especially over time, and the roots of English mainly comprise of Latin and the Germanic languages.
Which leads me to my final question. Have you ever wondered why, in English, we have different names for the meat and the animal? Like beef and cow. Chicken and poultry. Pig and pork. I mean, this is strange, right? Barely any other language does that for pretty much all (generally consumed) meats. But instead of me telling you now, why don’t we save that for next time? No, this is not some sort of marketing tactic; leave you on a cliffhanger to get you to read the next issue of Kanis Majoris. No. Besides, you could just Google it before that. In fact, I encourage it. Yes. This is your homework assignment. Go and find out why we have different names for the animal and the meat in English, like the examples above. And let me know what you find .
 Yeah, Latin is one of those languages that has masculine, feminine and neuter nouns.
I say “Latin is” not “Latin was” because even though nobody really speaks it anymore, it still exists as a language. That’s fair, right?
 That’s right, I actually studied Latin. It’s a long story.
 Speaking of octopuses/octopi, they are incredibly intelligent and capable creatures.
Just go to YouTube and search “octopus opening jar”. Spoiler alert — they can open jars.
 Tuna can fetch a mighty good price. You may have heard of that bluefin tuna that sold for $3 million in Japan.
 It’s also the same for brunette and brunet (female and male respectively).
 When researching online, be sure to read more than one source and be careful of misinformation. Personally, I think Wikipedia is a great source because it has citations and sources listed at the end of every article.
A conversation with Annette, who is one half of Chase for Adventure — a social media project and online business all about travel, lifestyle and of course, adventure. In 2018, she and her husband Daniel sold all of their stuff and decided to travel the world.
You guys are looking to go to every country in the world. How many countries have you been to so far and how long do you think it will take to complete your journey?
So far we’ve been to 42 countries between the two of us. We originally thought that we were going to be able to do all the countries in the world in five years. But with the recent changes to the travel industry, it might be a while before we can even get to an airport. With that said, we still remain optimistic and will adapt to whatever times are ahead.
What has been the most secluded place you guys have been to on your travels so far?
If we’re talking about “in-the-middle-of-nowhere” secluded, that’s where we are now in Koh Chang, Thailand. The house we’re living in is in the middle of the jungle surrounded by a national park. Our house also backs up to a river that will fill up during the rainy season. We feel like Jane and George of the Jungle. The most romantic place we’ve stayed in though is the Railay Phutawan resort on Railay Beach in southern Thailand. It’s nestled up on a mountain surrounded by cliffs. That’s where Daniel and I go whenever we need to take a disconnected weekend together.
That sounds beautiful. Now for a would-you-rather question. Would you rather go on a two-hour hike up a mountain at 3 am to watch the sun rise or have a care-free roam through the streets of a mysterious new city?
In our first full year of travel, we did a lot of hikes through South East Asia. We even ambitiously summited Mount Fuji in Japan just two weeks after starting our full-time travels — with no prior climbing experience. We were a little over hiking after that. We’ve done a few hikes here and there, but honestly, we love getting lost in a new city. Street food is the way to my travel soul!
Any interesting/cliché souvenirs that you’ve bought so far?
We aren’t souvenir people since we document all of our travels, but I did let myself buy a lehenga and a saree for the Indian wedding we attended last November. We carried that thing in our bag for months after our India trip until we could send it back home.
How do you decide on which country to go to next? Put up a map and throw a dart?
We go on Skyscanner and choose “flights to everywhere” for the departure month we want to leave. Then we simply just pick the cheapest flight we can find to a new country.
Now, for the most crucial question. How do you afford all this travelling and how do you make money whilst travelling?
Those are heavily loaded questions! We do a lot of things. Before the pandemic, we had a tour business. But now we have an online course that teaches people how to transition into the digital nomad lifestyle. We’ve also just opened up a boutique of travel accessories. So we have a few things going.
Let’s say one of you wants to go to a certain place, but the other isn’t interested. What do you do? Has this happened so far?
Gratefully, Daniel and I are on the same page about almost everything. The only place that has really divided us so far is Vietnam. Daniel really wants to go back, but I’m still getting over my culture shock from the last time we were there in 2019. I know I’ll warm up to it eventually, but I’m just not there yet.
What do you like to do to pass the time on a long journey?
I’m kind of a workaholic and love working on Chase for Adventure. That’s what usually consumes all of my time. If I’m on a motorbike and can’t have my laptop out, I’m obsessed with business podcasts like Entrepreneurs on Fire, The Goal Digger Podcast, Online Marketing Made Easy and Smart Passive Income.
Any tourist traps (anywhere in the world) that you guys would recommend avoiding?
We usually avoid touristy areas when we’re traveling, so we don’t have many to speak on. But out of all of them, I think Ubud, Bali was the worst. Don’t get me wrong, it’s totally beautiful; the food is great, and the Balinese are lovely people. With that said, there were way too many tourists there when we went in 2018. I think post-COVID-19 it might be a different story, but we’ll see!
Honestly, I quite agree with you about Ubud. So, back in 1271, it took Marco Polo around four years to get from Italy to China (with breaks). What would you do if this was the 13th century and travel was incredibly difficult, limited only to sailing, riding and walking?
I would definitely sail the world because the ocean is my happy place. On a side note, the show Marco Polo on Netflix is amazing!
I would probably sail, too. It would be faster than travelling on a horse, I guess. How about SIM cards? Do you get new ones for each new country you go to? And is it difficult to get SIMs in some countries?
So far, SIM cards have been a breeze to get in most places in Asia. You buy them at the airport for as cheap as $10 and you get a month of decent data. We get them for any country we will be in for longer than a few days.
Imagine you both have been marooned on a desert island with nothing but one knife and the clothes you’re currently wearing. The island is small with only a few trees and no wildlife. What do you do?
I wish I had a better answer for this, but if I didn’t have Daniel next to me, I would die. I have no survival skills whatsoever, whereas Daniel can make anything out of anything. He’s a super resourceful dude! So, I’d probably be in charge of making a tent out of palm trees, and Daniel will go out fishing with his bare hands.
What kind of visas do you get when you travel? Is a tourist visa usually enough?
A tourist visa has always been enough for us. Most countries are very generous and give us [US passport holders] at least a month.Was travelling the world an idea that you both came up with together, or did one of you have to convince the other?
Daniel took a little bit of convincing at first, but that’s a whole different story!
You can see Annette and Daniel in action on their YouTube channel, their Instagram and also their website, where they host amazing online courses that teach people how to quit their soul-sucking 9-5’s and transition into the digital nomad lifestyle. Their Worker to Wanderer course is available now at chaseforadventure.com, as well as all sorts of other travel-related content like cheatsheets, travel guides, workbooks and more.
YouTube: Chase for Adventure
I have lived in cities my whole life. Born and raised in London, UK and having visited numerous cities around the world, metropolises (is that the correct plural for metropolis?) are where I feel comfortable. I have, therefore, quickly grown accustomed to the busyness of Jakarta.
You fully understand the term “concrete jungle” when you live in, or even visit, Jakarta — in both terms; you see the “concrete” and you experience the “jungle”. The smoggy, grey city is populated with concrete; roads, bridges, flyovers, thick pillars to hold up the flyovers, buildings, overhead train systems, underground train systems, stairs and pavements — where present. You also see the jungle-like nature of the traffic; the green-helmeted scooter riders zig-zagging through the gaps in between the cars; the rusty-blue coloured angkots spontaneously appearing before driving off, zooming illegally down the bus lane; the multitude of cars all painted in a hue of black, white or something in between; the street sellers sitting by the side of the street next to their carts on plastic stools, selling steaming rice, noodles, soup, fresh fruit or the starlings peddling instant coffee, tea, juice or water off the back of a bicycle. You also witness the contrast that the city offers. From the tidy streets lined with mansions and greenery in Menteng to the shacks that stand overlooking the Ciliwung river. From the full eight-lane carriageways lined with tall buildings to skinny kampung alleys barely wide enough to allow a scooter to pass through.
Although it is the national animal of Indonesia, there are no komodos roaming the streets of Jakarta . The jungle-like nature of the city has been created by us humans, what with our rushing around and trying to get to wherever we’re going as soon as possible. It’s the same everywhere, I think. Most of the other cities I have either visited or lived in — London, Paris, New York, Lahore, Cairo — all have had the problem of jungle-like traffic. Most people are reluctant to believe that London also has traffic problems, but it’s true. There have been times in London where I’ve travelled less than a kilometre in 45 minutes.
When being so far from your home, you notice how different everything is. Everything is different in Jakarta than in London (except maybe the traffic, although it’s not as arduous in London). Everything, from the obvious things like the people, food and language, to the smaller, more basic things. The thickness of the air is different. The taste of the water is different. You even see colours differently. The sun is higher in the sky, and the sunshine is more vigorous. The moon is tilted at a different angle in Indonesia than in Europe. The trees, plants, insects and soil all seem strange and new. The smells of the city and the level of humidity are all to me a part of Jakarta’s identity. The warm rain. The booming thunderstorms. The fact that it’s even hot at night. That blanket of smog smothering the city that you only see once you go higher than ten storeys. The backdrop of blaring car horns and piercing whistles from the street-standing traffic conductors. The howling echoes of the azaan from the mosques.
I first visited Jakarta in 2018. I stepped out of Soekarno-Hatta Airport and into what felt like a sauna at the time. Little did I know that I’d be moving to this very city only a year later. Moving to a new city on the other side of the world is a very educational experience — not only will you learn about a different culture and pick up a new language, but you’ll also learn about what is considered “normal” for other people, the values that other cultures have, and you may even learn a thing or two about yourself.
 Komodo dragons are native to a group of small islands in Indonesia, including Komodo Island, which the giant lizard is named after. The island has become part of Komodo National Park, which has initiated a temporary shutdown starting this year after a number of komodos were illegally trafficked out from the park. That’s right. People were actually stealing komodo dragons from their natural habitat and selling them on the black market. Poor creatures.
THE TOP 50 MOVIES OF THE LAST DECADE
The 2010s are over. We are now in a new decade, the 2020s, and I think this is a good time to reflect on some of the best movies that we’ve had over the past decade. Some of these movies you might have already seen, some you may have never even heard of and some you may have simply forgotten about. Now, bear in mind that I am by no means a professional movie critic. Nor did I see every movie in the 2010s. This is a very subjective list, in no particular order, of movies that I think are definitely worth seeing for one reason or another. Alright, enough chit-chat. Let’s talk movies.
You’ve definitely heard of Parasite. It won an Oscar this year and was the first foreign-language film to do so. Question is, is it that good? My opinion is yes. A film about a family living in poverty whose luck suddenly turns and a series of interesting events ensue.
It’s a movie that’s easy to follow, with a light sense of humour. It’s the sort of film where if you’re on the fence about it, just watch it. It’s only 2 hours and 12 minutes long and you probably won’t regret it if you like interesting films that have a lot of twists and turns. It’s also got a lot of symbolism and underlying metaphors — if you’re more of the in-depth-movie-analysing type. It does have a rather bittersweet ending, though.
Watch if you like: truly entertaining films with a plot that builds up slowly, then at the end pays off with a gripping finale and a smooth ending.truly entertaining films with a plot that builds up slowly, then at the end pays off with a gripping finale and a smooth ending.
A really fun film that’s not only nostalgic for those who grew up playing with LEGOs but also a movie that, for a kids’ film, is quite well thought-out in terms of its concepts. They really took the concept of LEGO and applied its creative, versatile nature to this film. What do I mean by that? Well, let me put it this way. When you watch this film, it reminds you not only of LEGO and all the various things you could possibly do with it but also the culture of LEGO. What LEGO means for people. How LEGO is used in people’s homes and experimented with to make all sorts of things. It also tackles the way kids imagine and create, whilst bringing in some family-dynamic elements, too. It’s not just a fun animation film with everything made of LEGO, it literally takes the idea of LEGO and incorporates it into a fun, fast-moving film that I thought was really one-of-a-kind.
Watch if you like: FUN ANIMATION MOVIES WITH A QUIRKY SENSE OF HUMOUR AND A REALLy OUTSIDE-OF-THE-BOX ENDING.
Ex Machina is not your usual sci-fi film about the advancement of AI and robots that look extraordinarily like humans. It’s a film that’s got style, character, a storyline that gets a bit chilling as it goes on, well-written dialogue, a great cast and great effects. It’s a film that asks questions not only about why we as humans have created and are continuing to create AI, but also throws out questions on the themes of life, existence, evolution, love, sex and the intelligence of machines overtaking that of human beings. The soundtrack is also great, with one scene in particular towards the end of the film (for those of you who have already seen it, I’m referring to the scene with the knife) where this deep electronic track (Bunsen Burner by CUTS) kicks in that’s just perfect for the situation. A truly memorable film with a great concept and a fantastic ending.
Watch if you like: STYLISED MOVIES WITH GREAT DIALOGUE.
You’re probably thinking: “The Cabin in the Woods? I can just tell the movie’s plot right from the title... a bunch of kids go into a forest and stay in some creepy cabin, right?” You’re actually not wrong. It is — as the title suggests — about The Cabin in the Woods. However, this is one of those films that is more than what it seems — in a way that you would never, ever expect. The plot also escalates to the point that by the time it gets to the end, the movie has become much, much more than what it was at the start.
Watch if you like: HORROR MOVIES, BUT WITH A DIFFERENCE.
True Story is based on, well, a true story about an avid journalist who crosses paths with an alleged murderer who has a charismatic, likeable personality and begins investigating the truth behind the events that took place the night he supposedly murdered his entire family. Starring Jonah Hill and James Franco as the journalist and alleged murderer respectively, I was impressed seeing these two actors, who are usually in comedy movies, in a serious movie like this. Both performances were outstanding, and it’s really amazing to see an actor or actress star in a role outside of their usual genre. So the movie’s got a pretty serious tone, but it’s also got a great plotline and the way the story unfolds is quite enjoyable.
Watch if you like: MURDER TRIAL MOVIES WITH A PSYCHOLOGICAL ASPECT, WHERE THE WHOLE TIME YOU’RE WATCHING YOU’RE ASKING YOURSELF WHETHER HE DID IT OR NOT. QUITE SIMILAR TO PRIMAL FEAR.
You may remember when The Interview was released back in 2014. It hit the news after the North Korean government threatened to take action if Sony, the studio, released this film that, basically mocked their country, culture and leader. Although the film was actually edited by the studio to be more acceptable for North Korea, the computer systems of Sony were hacked before the movie’s release and it all became instant global news. After watching this film for the first time, I thought to myself one fundamental thing: this movie is hilarious. I, personally, have always loved the sense of humour the “Seth Rogen” movies have, and in my opinion, this is the best one ever. The characters played by Seth Rogen and James Franco are an almost unmatchable duo, and the two have a chemistry that just ties this whole film together. Also, the usual pop-culture references and somewhat silly humour these movies have blend perfectly with the topic of North Korea. Whether it’s offensive or not is up to you, but there is no doubt that this is a funny movie.
Watch if you like: “SETH ROGEN” COMEDIES.
Ryan Gosling plays a nameless movie stunt driver by day and a crime getaway driver by night. A mysterious guy who lives alone, wears cool jackets and isn’t the very talkative type. He suddenly gets sucked into the mob world and things escalate rather quickly.
Watch if you like: MOB AFFILIATED Movies, MOVIES WITH MEMORABLE SOUNDTRACKS, MOVIES WHERE THE PLOT KEEPS UNFOLDING, OR MOVIES THAT HAVE A NEO-NOIR/ELECTRIC-NEON AESTHETIC.
After his daughter goes missing, a father spends every waking moment tracking her movements and figuring out what happened to her. Sounds familiar, right? We’ve all seen this kind of premise before. But what makes this film particularly interesting is its concept. The film is composed entirely of screens — meaning you see what the characters are doing on their phones, computers, CCTV cameras etc, but never the characters directly. It’s the sort of thing that you really need to see in order to understand fully. Searching was a really refreshing take on the “missing-person” genre and makes a comment about how much of our lives are composed of screens. I was honestly a bit unsure about seeing this film at first as I thought the whole concept would be a bit gimmicky, but as I started watching I really started getting used to the structure of the movie. Searching works because it’s well-made, well thought out and has a great story for any thriller/mystery fan.
Watch if you like: MISSING-PERSON MOVIES, BUT WITH A DIFFERENCE.
Stylishly dark and mysterious with a plot that zig and zags with every scene, Gone Girl is a mystery movie that wins you over with its execution, cinematography and story. A husband is suspected to have murdered his wife when she is declared missing and you, as the viewer, are stuck in the middle, not sure who to believe. A smart movie with well-written dialogue and immaculate pacing, Gone Girl is perhaps the best film of 2014. Maybe even the best film ever.
Watch if you like: A DARK, STYLIZED MYSTERY WITH A GREAT PLOT.
A somewhat recent hit in Hindi cinema, Andhadhun is a dark comedy/crime film with an intense plot full of sharp twists and turns, lies, murder and deception.
Watch if you like: DARK COMEDY/CRIME FILMS WITH A GREAT PLOT.
You probably see the poster for this movie and think it’s going to be some kind of mission-based action film starring Jake Gyllenhaal. Well, at least that’s what I thought going in. And that’s exactly what it is — except it isn’t like what you would expect. The concept of this movie, which I will not reveal, is what makes this film really fun and enjoyable to watch.
Watch if you like: ACTION MOVIES, BUT WITH A DIFFERENCE. A MUST-WATCH IF YOU LIKED EDGE OF TOMORROW.
If you don’t like complex movies with a lot of dialogue, a lot of plot layers and a rather long runtime, then you will definitely not enjoy this one. Maybe that’s why you haven’t seen Inception. And don’t plan to. If so, you may carry on to the next film. But for those interested in films heavily reliant on conceptual ideas, this one will be a pure gem. The idea of dreams becoming the access into someone’s mind is handled by this film most spectacularly. Also has a heist-type premise and a lot of gun action.
Watch if you like: ACTION MOVIES AND/OR PSYCHOLOGICAL THRILLERS BECAUSE THIS MOVIE IS A BIT OF BOTH.
A great film with a rather odd title, Three Billboards, as it’s commonly known, is clever, relevant, entertaining and well-made. The title of the movie makes you curious about these three billboards outside of Ebbing, Missouri and what significance they hold. Well that, dear reader, is why you should watch the film. You could just find out online or speak to someone who has already seen the film, but trust me when I say that this film is better enjoyed watched instead of having the plot read off its Wikipedia page from your smudgy phone screen.
Watch if you like: DRAMA FILMS WITH A SOUTHERN-UNITED-STATES VIBE. ALSO MOVIES WHERE THE PLOT UNFOLDS NICELY WITH GREAT PACING.
As chilling as the title suggests, Cold in July starts off one way and feels like, by the end, a totally different film. The plot feels like entering a dark cave with a flashlight — the deeper you go, the bigger the cave seems to get. With elements of mob-affiliation, police corruption, family bonds, cold-blooded murder as well as small-American-town-in-the-80s vibes.
Watch if you like: thriller movies that are slow, chilling, gruesome and thoroughly thrilling.
An ensemble of misfits battle against a space villain in an intergalactic, sci-fi-esque atmosphere. Sounds familiar, I know. But this movie is unique with its sense of humour, likeable characters and that throwback-to-the-60s-and-70s soundtrack that you wouldn’t expect in a movie like this, but it totally works. An awesome standalone superhero film.
Watch if you like: SUPERHERO MOVIES, MOVIES WITH COOL SOUNDTRACKS, STANDALONE MARVEL MOVIES.
A time-travel-based movie set in the not-so-distant future, Looper is stylised with a cool, southern-United-States vibe and a great performance from Joseph Gordon-Levitt. With hitmen carrying long-barrelled guns, people walking around with telekinetic abilities and the mob doing, well, what mobs do best, this movie has an excellent premise that it executed flawlessly with a storyline that loops around itself — as the title suggests. One of the greatest conceptual films of the 2010s, for sure.
Watch if you like: CREATIVE, CONCEPT BASED FILMS. WATCH THIS ONE IF YOU LIKED INCEPTION.
A fantastic film about a guy, played by Joseph-Gordon Levitt, who gets cancer — that’s not really a spoiler, don’t worry. This movie has a unique sense of realism in the way that the main character handles his issues which makes you really relate to the situation and forces you to think about how you would handle it all if that was you. His friend, played by Seth Rogen, adds some classic Seth Rogen-ish comic relief to the film to make this a highly relatable and loveable drama.
Watch if you like: Realistic dramas, Comedy dramas, “SETH ROGEN” COMEDIES or movies that you can enjoy and relate to without having to think too much. A great one for when you can’t decide what to watch.
When looking back on The King’s Speech, the thing I remember the most is its beautiful cinematography (just Google “The King’s Speech shots”). It’s beautifully made with the shots being so artistically framed in this period film set in 1930s England — if you care about that stuff when watching films. The ‘King’ in the title is King George VI, and although the plot can be summarised in maybe a sentence or two, this movie is more about portraying the events. So if you’re looking for a movie with a roller-coaster ride of a plot then I’m sorry, but maybe this one isn’t for you.
Watch if you like: BEAUTIFULLY MADE PERIOD FILMS WITH OUTSTANDING PERFORMANCES BASED ON TRUE STORIES.
A classic whodunnit murder-mystery from the Hindi movie industry of India. A teenage girl is killed in her family home in Mumbai, and we are led through the case by an eccentric detective who chews walnuts to keep his brain sharp. The title translates to “mystery”, and that’s literally what this film is in all its essence.
Watch if you like: CLASSIC WHODUNNIT MURDER-MYSTERY FILMS.
A completely original movie with an offbeat tone and hilarious dark humour, The Lobster has a very strange, eerie vibe. I really enjoyed the dialogue in this film; it’s funny, simple and brings out the characters’ emotions very well, which is something that I think Yorgos Lanthimos does very well in all his films, with the long silences the characters leave between speaking adding to that unsettling tone. The film also entertains a sense of absurdity that is mixed well within the world of the movie and adds to the humour. This is the kind of film where you really have to watch it to know what I’m talking about here. It’s a totally unique film that although is similar in tone to Yorgos Lanthimos’ other films like Dogtooth or The Killing of a Sacred Deer, brings something very new to the table with its subtext, social commentary and highly enjoyable plot with dark humour throughout.
Watch if you like: ABSURD DARK COMEDY FILMS, FILMS WITH SOCIAL COMMENTARY OR FILMS THAT AREN’T AFRAID TO BE A LITTLE WEIRD.
Set in the future, Her has a premise that is quite a common topic in movies and TV shows these days: the advancement of AI. Now, before you sign Her off as some cold and boring sci-fi flick, just know that Her is more romance than sci-fi. The title itself hints that there’s a woman involved, and if you’ve seen the poster for this film then you’ll remember a moustachioed Joaquin Phoenix with round spectacles and a red shirt. So it implies a romance… but who does he fall in love with? Well, that’s what this film sets out to illustrate with its amazing cinematography and warm, likeable tone.
Watch if you like: ROMANCE MOVIES, BUT WITH A DIFFERENCE.
You may know Black Swan as “that ballet movie with Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis”. Or you may have already seen it — in which case you’ll know that it’s not just any ordinary film. If you haven’t seen it yet, it may surprise you when you see that the genre most people put this movie in is “psychological thriller”. This is because Black Swan is about more than just a ballerina twirling around some studio where one entire wall is a mirror. It’s kind of like Fight Club, but instead of making soap, stealing cars and blowing up buildings, it’s about ballet (for sure), but also jealousy, drugs, dedication and the blood, sweat and tears one sometimes must go through in order to achieve one’s dreams.
Watch if you like: PSYCHOLOGICAL THRILLERS WITH AWESOME VISUALS AND A NICE PLOT TWIST AT THE END. WATCH IF YOU LIKED FIGHT CLUB.
I’m not really a fan of biopics, but The Theory of Everything was definitely an exception. This film was exceptionally well-made. Watching the life of Stephen Hawking portrayed absolutely amazingly by Eddie Redmayne was a fantastic film experience. You also get to learn a bit more about Hawking’s disease — motor neuron disease — and how it affected those around him as his health slowly deteriorated over the years. The actors did a fantastic job in this film playing the characters of real-life individuals. It was an incredible biopic that makes me open to watching other biopics.
Watch if you like: BIOGRAPHICAL FILMS, FILMS BASED OFF TRUE STORIES OR REALLY WELL-ACTED DRAMAS.
A crime movie starring Robert Pattinson. Yes. Robert Pattinson. In a movie about a bank heist, drugs and sex. You watch this movie and really see how far Pattinson has come from his Twilight days. He plays the role of one of two brothers and he definitely kills it with his performance.
Watch if you like: CRIME MOVIES WITH A STORYLINE THAT TWISTS AND TURNS.
I cannot believe I almost forgot this one as I was making this list of top 50 movies, as it’s one of the most memorable movies of the previous decade. This movie sets out on a mission and it most certainly delivers — kind of like what Nicholas Cage’s character does in this movie. He and his buddy, played by Ron Perlman (the one who played Hellboy in the early 2000s) are sent on a mission to transport a young girl through a plague-infested 13th century Europe. If the movie already sounds good, go watch it, because the visuals, setting and style of this movie make it a true icon of the 2010s.
Watch if you like: movies set in medieval times, especially those that are dark and gothic-y.
A totally off-the-wall movie that breaks the fourth wall consistently. A self-aware film that doesn’t take itself too seriously. A superhero movie that parodies the whole superhero genre and, by definition, itself. Deadpool is hysterically funny. Full of pop culture references, tongue-in-cheek humour, great action and a superhero who’s witty, immature and actually more like an anti-hero. A must watch if you’re into superhero movies, but are jaded with the same old conventional superhero movies that we are constantly surrounded with.
Watch if you like: SUPERHERO MOVIES, BUT WITH A DIFFERENCE.
A film that took twelve years to shoot. Yes, you read that right. Director Richard Linklater hired actors and filmed them as they got older, giving the film a realistic and genuine effect. The story follows the life of Mason, a six-year-old boy who, by the end of the film, is attending university. A great drama film that really grows on you.
Watch if you like: EMOTION-TEASING DRAMA FILMS THAT HAVE AN EASY TO FOLLOW PLOT AND AN UNMATCHED SENSE OF REALISTIC-NESS.
Set in a fictional European country in the 1930s, this highly stylised film has stunning visuals, a light sense of humour and a nice, easy to follow story. It’s precisely the sort of thing you would expect from a Wes Anderson film. With pre-WWII-Europe vibes and a quirky soundtrack, this aesthetically pleasing, emotionally appealing and adventurously exciting film will have you watching it over and over again as you tell everyone you know what a beautiful masterpiece The Grand Budapest Hotel is.
Watch if you like: OTHER WES ANDERSON FILMS, QUIRKY COMEDY FILMS OR FILMS WITH AMAZING VISUALS.
An iconic horror/thriller from the last decade. With a subtle tone of dark comedy and a weird, eerie plot, Get Out is one to watch over and over with its foreshadowing, racial commentary and didn’t-see-that-coming ending.
Watch if you like: HORROR FILMS THAT ARE ALSO THRILLERS THAT ARE ALSO DARK COMEDIES.
Birdman, or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance, is a unique movie, for sure. The main thing that strikes you as soon as you begin watching it is that it’s one of those movies that’s made to look like it’s all one shot. What is this film about? Well... it’s better if you go into this one blind, I think. This movie, for me, was more about the experience of watching it rather than following the plot. The movie has a very interesting atmosphere, with it mostly taking place in a theatre. When watching this film, you’ll be looking at a lot of backstage areas, dressing rooms, corridors, stairwells and people wearing one of those headset-microphones dashing about and getting things organised as the theatre is opening a play soon and stuff needs to be done. The visual aesthetic kind of reminded me of Black Swan, as the two films both have a backstage-peek-behind-a-production feel. Also, they’re both set in New York City.
Watch if you like: QUIRKY FILMS THAT HAVE UNIQUE VISUALS, GOOD DIALOGUE, AND GREAT ACTING.
A story about aliens visiting Earth, Arrival is intelligent, metaphorical, visually incredible and all-round outstanding. With a twist at the end you would never expect, Arrival’s dialogue, themes and ideas will keep you thinking about it for a long time.
Watch if you like: INTELLIGENT, CONCEPT-BASED SCI-FI FILMS WITH GREAT VISUAL IMAGERY.
Watching Whiplash really gives you a visual definition of what hard work is. The film follows a young jazz drummer studying at a prestigious music school and, my God, does this kid work hard to get to where he wants to be. His motivation is somewhat encouraged by his tutor, played by J.K. Simmons — yes, the angry boss from the Toby Macguire Spiderman movies — and you’ll find out what I mean exactly by “encouraged” after you watch the film. If you’re looking to get motivated, forget Instagram influencers and get on this film because Whiplash illustrates how dedicated you have to be to become successful. How someone can be pushed so far emotionally, mentally and physically and still keep going to get to where they want to go. What one must sacrifice to become the next Jimi Hendrix or Muhammad Ali. Whiplash, to me anyway, is a visual representation of never giving up and going all-in to pursue a dream. And its message comes across with great cinematography, so even if you don’t care about jazz music, drumming, or even anything creative you can still be entertained.
Watch if you like: REALISTIC DRAMA FILMS THAT SHOW TRUE, PROFOUND EMOTION AND ARE WELL-MADE. AS A BONUS, YOU’LL REALLY LOVE THIS FILM IF YOU LOVE JAZZ MUSIC.
Watch if you like: dark comedy films that are quirky and unique.
Shutter Island is one of those films where the less you know, the better. So all I’ll say is this: it’s got Leonardo DiCaprio, it’s set in the 1950s and it’s a psychological thriller with a detective-investigation aspect and a major twist ending.
Watch if you like: PSYCHOLOGICAL THRILLERS WITH TWIST ENDINGS. you’ll like this one if you liked memento.
Hm. How do I explain this one? Alright, well, Relatos Salvajes (or Wild Tales, in English) is an Argentinian movie that is hard to put into a genre. I guess you could Google it if you really want to know what kind of genre this movie fits into, but I don’t mind leaving Relatos Salvajes genre-free because this movie is a lot of things at once. Thriller, horror, drama, social commentary (is that a genre?) and also dark comedy in places. It’s a compilation of six short stories that each carry a message about humanity, society, love, revenge and greed.
Follow Leonardo DiCaprio as he lives the wild, dynamic life of a wealthy, corrupt stockbroker. Full of drugs, sex, parties, f-bombs, yachts and throwing a dwarf onto a giant target board — because why not — this movie is by no means a boring, dry tale of a man climbing up the corporate ladder. Instead, it’s a witty, crazy, cocaine-filled ride led by a red-faced Leonardo DiCaprio shouting aggressively into a mic.
Watch if you like: WILD MOVIES WITH A LOT OF ENERGY, MOVIES WITH DRUGS, SEX AND GREED OR JUST ANY MOVIE WITH Leonardo DiCaprio.
You saw Twilight, a romance about a human and a vampire, now watch Warm Bodies, where it’s a zombie instead of a vampire — although compared to Twilight, it’s not as focused on the romance. It’s a zombie apocalypse rom-com where the zombies aren’t vicious creatures running around eating people alive, but rather slumped over undead humans just shuffling slowly around the post-apocalyptic environment (they do still eat people alive, though). There is, as per usual with zombie films, a colony of uninfected humans that have built themselves a wall to keep the zombies out. I was a little unsure about it first, but after watching it you realise that Warm Bodies is a charming, fun movie with a cool indie-pop soundtrack. It’s definitely more marketed towards teens, for sure, but it’s still one that can be enjoyed by everyone.
Watch if you like: ROM-COMS, WITH MORE OF A SHIFT TOWARDS THE COMEDY RATHER THAN THE ROMANCE. ALSO WATCH IF YOU LIKE FUN ZOMBIE MOVIES.
An iconic horror film from Indonesia. Pengabdi Setan (or Satan’s Slaves) is eerie, creepy and unnerving. A must-see for any horror fan.
Watch if you like: ORIGINAL,WELL-MADE HORROR FILMS.
The true story of a cold-blooded man who killed for the mob, this film is chilling to its very core. Gripping and thrilling, this movie has classic mob elements like assassination, carrying around briefcases full of money and lying to your family (which is big in this film). Watch Michael Shannon play the contrasting role of an ice-cold hitman who’s also a loving father and a family man while counting how many facial hair styles he changes throughout the movie.
Watch if you like: MOB MOVIES, SERIOUS DRAMA MOVIES, GRIPPING THRILLER MOVIES.
Well... how do I describe this one? Mother! is a totally unique film. Although genre-wise, it would probably be a mix between horror and mystery, this film has a very odd tone, is full of unreal events that unfold in a very nightmare-esque fashion and has supernatural qualities that make Mother! seem more like an abstract conceptual art piece than an actual film. One thing is for sure: this film is not for everyone. Taking place entirely in a house, you follow Jennifer Lawrence as a housewife who watches as strange occurrences begin to happen all around her. Full of shocking moments, great cinematography and an ending that leaves you surprisingly satisfied, this is one for you if you like films that aren’t like other, normal, conventional films.
Watch if you like: STRANGE HORROR/MYSTERY FILMS, CONCEPTUAL FILMS OR FILMS THAT ARE MORE LIKE AN ARTISTIC EXPRESSION. GIVE THIS ONE A WATCH IF YOU LIKED BLACK SWAN (IT’S THE SAME DIRECTOR AND SOME OF THE TONAL QUALITIES ARE THE SAME ACROSS THE TWO FILMS).
Drishyam is a murder-mystery, well without the mystery aspect. But that isn’t to say that this movie is boring. Quite the contrary, in fact. Based on a Malayalam-language film of the same name, this Hindi-language remake is the story of an ordinary family that gets caught up in a tense, distressing situation. The street-smart father, played by Bollywood heavyweight Ajay Devgn, must use his wits to do whatever it takes to save his family.
Watch if you like: CRIME MOVIES WITH WIT, THRILL AND FAMILY VALUES. GIVE THIS ONE A GO IF YOU LIKED ANDHADHUN.
Set in Tehran in the 1980s, this Iranian horror film is truly chilling with its unnerving visuals and interesting concept. With themes of fear, anxiety and paranoia, it follows a mother who has been left alone with her daughter to cope with the distressing situation of having to live in the midst of a war. Probably my favourite horror film of all time.
Watch if you like: WELL-MADE HORROR FILMS THAT ARE EXCITINGLY CHILLING..
A stunt biker played by Ryan Gosling gets involved with some criminal activities. Wait, doesn’t that sound a bit like Drive? Only in Drive, it’s a stunt driver played by Ryan Gosling who gets involved with some criminal activities. That, however, is where the similarities between the two movies pretty much end. Gosling’s character is quite different in the two films; in Drive he’s a silent, mysterious, nameless guy but in The Place Beyond The Pines, he’s more of the edgy, reckless type with neck tattoos and can be seen in either a smudgy t-shirt or an equally smudgy tank top. The plot also has quite a different form in this film. Where Drive has a plot that deepens as the film progresses, The Place Beyond The Pines is one of those films where the plot completely flips and, by the end, the film has completely transformed with totally new characters in the spotlight.
Watch if you like: MOVIES WITH REALISTIC CHARACTERS and A SIMPLE STORYLINE that, by the end, is miles away from the beginning.
Another one from Iran, A Separation is a really realistic drama film with an easy-to-follow storyline and great pacing as the movie unfurls. The best part of this film is how realistic it feels. The amazing performances from the actors and brilliantly-written dialogue bring emotion, tension and drama in a beautiful and enjoyable way.
Watch if you like: REALISTIC DRAMA FILMS FULL OF EMOTION.
Interstellar is a really well-made, epic, sci-fi film. Matthew McConaughey totally kills it as a space pilot who is sent to space to save humanity. It’s a premise that we’ve all seen before, I know, but Interstellar is unique in its concept, style and, most of all, soundtrack. The score for this film, beautifully done by Hans Zimmer, makes this film a true masterpiece. The soundtrack brings with it a sense of epic-ness as well as enhancing the notions of time, movement and the empty void of space. I was listening to the soundtrack as background music for weeks after watching this film. If you’re on the fence about Interstellar, thinking it’s just going to be an average, run-of-the-mill space exploration movie… trust me, it’s not. Maybe try listening to the soundtrack first to get a feel for the film.
Watch if you like: MOVIES WITH EPIC SOUNDTRACKS, LIKE INCEPTION OR STAR WARS. ALSO WATCH IF YOU LIKE EPIC, COMPLEX SCI-FI FILMS.
Daniel Radcliffe gives a killer performance as an undercover FBI agent who infiltrates a white supremacist group suspected of being involved in terrorist activities. Imperium is the type of film you’ve seen many times over, but the tension and drama in this one make it rather unique. And it’s fun to watch a British actor pretending to be an American FBI agent pretending to be a white supremacist.
Watch if you like: CRIME/THRILLER FILMS WITH GREAT ACTING AND A LOT OF TENSION.
This one is definitely not for everyone. But if you are the type of person who would enjoy Ted, odds are you’ve seen it already. Still, there’s probably someone out there who enjoys watching Family Guy but never got round to watching Seth Macfarlane’s directorial debut film.
Watch if you like: FAMILY GUY-type humour.
A heartwarming musical full of passion, emotion and highly-memorable music. Set in the French Revolution days of France, Les Misérables, although incredible, is not for everyone. It’s a musical, but not in the way The Lion King is a musical where they break into song every now and then. No, this is like the kind of musical where pretty much every single line in the movie is sung rather than spoken. And then you’ve got the musical numbers, too — of which there are quite a few. However, if you like musicals (or simply don’t mind listening to pretty much non-stop singing for over two and a half hours) then you will enjoy Les Misérables. The music is incredible, with each song a work of art capturing the moment and characters beautifully. The story is also a classic, romantic tale full of themes of love, redemption and freedom.
Watch if you like: MUSICALS WITH OUTSTANDING MUSIC OR PERIOD MOVIES SET IN THE NINETEENTH CENTURY. DEFINITELY WATCH THIS ONE IF YOU LIKED SWEENEY TODD.
What I like most about this movie is the ending. The rest of it is pretty much your run-of-the-mill psychological thriller. It’s not even a thriller, really. It’s more of a psychological drama. But the ending is good, so keep watching until it’s over.
Watch if you like: PSYCHOLOGICAL MOVIES THAT ARE SLIGHTLY MORE MEDICALLY ORIENTATED. OR JUST MOVIES THAT END WELL.
Set in the favelas of Rio De Janeiro, three street teenagers find themselves on an adventurous journey when they discover a wallet while digging through some trash.
Watch if you like: ADVENTURE MOVIES OR MOVIES SET IN BRAZIL. A GOOD FIT FOR YOU IF YOU LIKED CITY OF GOD.
A gripping thriller/mystery from David Fincher. Set in Sweden, it follows a twisting, mysterious plot that plays out with stylized visuals, interesting characters and a rather horrifying scene (“I just want my money”) that make this an edgy, dark film with a multi-layered story.
Watch if you like: Dark, stylized mystery/thrillers. Or thriller/mysteries. It’s the same, I guess. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is probably one for you if you liked Shutter Island, Zodiac or Gone Girl.
Since the introduction of life hacks, they have spread across the web and become increasingly popular. Recently, however, life hacks are getting some bad press after fake ones being posted that do not work as intended — or even at all. With that being said, these are some tips, tricks and useful information for when on the internet (which, in 2020, is pretty much all the time). Oh, and all of these are tried and tested, so they all work (at the time of this magazine’s release).
NEED A QUICK, FREE VPN?
Install the browser Opera (available for desktop and mobile).
It has a free VPN built-in.
Passport Index is your go-to place for up-to-date information on pretty much anything to do with passports and visas. Want to travel and need to see what visa you need? Want to find out which passports have the highest power rank? Want to sort all the world’s passports by colour? It’s all here at passportindex.org.
Make fun drum beats with your keyboard.
BILL CLINTON SWAG
Go to billclintonswag.com.
Test your knowledge on places around the world when you are dropped into a random location somewhere in the world via Google Street View and have to guess where you are.
factslides.com is a great source for amazing “did you know” facts. The site also gives sources for each fact it presents, so you can read further into it.
IKEA OR DEATH
Another fun online game.You are presented with random, Scandinavian-sounding words and have to decide whether they are the names of death metal bands or IKEA products.
A fun website that takes any song and loops parts of it so that it seemingly goes on forever.
A time machine for the internet. Simply type any website and see how it was at a different point in time.
A online game where you are put into the shoes of a low-income person in America and you have to try and make it through the month without going broke.
If you’re reading an article on Wikipedia, going to the address bar and replacing “en” with “simple” will simplify the article for you.
Use wetransfer.com. You can send any files up to 2GB to anyone for free.
A great tool for generating colour schemes from AI powered software. Really useful for graphic/web designers.
Listen to radio from any country for free at radio.garden.
A search engine that plants trees.
The New Yorker has online jigsaw puzzles that you can play and put together. Great for killing time.
SIX THINGS THAT USED TO BE MORE COMMON
Going back to outdated printed material, remember catalogues? These thick books produced by retailers full of photos and details of their products. It seems like such an absurd idea now, but back then it made total sense. We would have catalogues stacked on a shelf in our living room when I was a kid; IKEA, B&Q, Woolworths, Littlewoods. The crown jewel of catalogues in the UK back in the late 90s/early 2000s, however, was perhaps that of Argos. Argos is a store in the UK that sells pretty much everything; furniture, appliances, sports equipment and much more. Nowadays, you can just go online and shop from there, but back when I was younger you had to actually go to Argos and physically pick up the over-two-thousand-and-something-paged printed directory that had all of their products. And they made a new one every few months. So it was a lot of paper.
It was so useful back in the day. Newspaper had many practical uses besides just being a printed form of current affairs. The thin paper was perfect for spreading out on the floor for during messy art projects, rolling up to swat annoying flies with or even, as a last-resort, wrapping paper. Even Mr. Bean demonstrates the versatile nature of newspaper in Do-It-Yourself Mr. Bean when he wants to paint his apartment.
When I was a kid, my family and I moved around quite a bit. On arrival at any new home, my mother would insist we lay down a sheet of newspaper inside every drawer and on every shelf — as not to trust the hygiene of the previous occupants. Newspaper smelled a certain way. The 50gsm paper had a certain feel to it. I used to like flicking through newspapers and vandalising every face in it by with devil horns and a moustache. Newspaper was also great for collages; cutting things out and sticking them down elsewhere to make a picture. Newspaper was great for cleaning; my dad always used newspaper to clean windows and mirrors. He was convinced it was better than using any old cloth as it wouldn’t leave any marks. It used to be present in every home at any given moment. Even if you didn’t buy newspaper, newspaper would somehow find its way into your home.
Back before movies were an .mp4 or represented by thumbnails on smart TVs, VHS tapes were all the rage. They slightly smaller than an A5-sized paper, and around an inch in thickness. I’m sure you’ve seen one before, you may even have used one. But am I the only one who kind of misses it? It was a physical object that had a movie in it. Sometimes even more than one. Depending on the type of tape and the VCR you recorded on, you could have up to 11 hours of video. And you could record anything from TV onto a tape; a movie, a TV show, sports highlights, anything. Heading out while your favourite TV show is going to be on? VHS has got you covered. Want to watch a movie that’s going to be airing at 3am but you’ve got work the next morning? No worries. You can insert a blank tape — or one that already has something on it; if you want to record over it — into your VCR, set a timer and let the magic happen. Even if the TV was switched off, the VCR would still record as long as it was on and the channel was set to the right one. At my house, we had stacks of VHS tapes with all sorts of movies that we had recorded straight from TV. And once you had it, you could watch it over and over with no expiry date — as long as you didn’t touch that brown tape under the flap. Touching it would ruin the movie . And then there was a whole thing about rewinding your tapes after you finished watching them. Because it was analogue technology with all the movie data stored on brown tape, — as it was back in the day, like with cassettes or those old computer hard drives that stored data on tapes — the tape would basically remember where you left off when you took the VHS out of the player. So when you got to the end of your movie, you had to then press rewind and go all the way back to the beginning, rewatching the movie you just watched in reverse2. Or you could even rewind a tape by hand. But that would take forever, and your finger would be aching by the end of it.
This one is kind of obscure. Back in the early 2000s — when I was a kid — the internet was a bit expensive and not very fast. So, to get important information like news headlines, flight times, weather, cinema listings etc, you could go onto your television and press a button (usually it said “TEXT” or “TXT”) on your remote and your TV screen would go completely black. Whatever you were watching would still be playing in the background — you could still hear the shouting and cheering from the contestants on The Crystal Maze  — and then the TV would show this really 8-bit style webpage. Except it wasn’t a webpage. This was Teletext, also known as Ceefax in the UK, and although it was invented in the 70s, it was still being used — in my house, at least — until the early 2000s. You would navigate it using the buttons on your remote and get what ever information you needed. My mum would use it all the time to get flight arrival times or check what movies the local cinema was playing. It was the most simple, retro-looking thing you’ll ever see. Seriously, check it out. Search “teletext” for images or videos. Thank me later.
Next on this nostalgic trip, MP3 players. These things were amazing — just plug them straight into your computer and drag and drop all your songs. Plug it out, plug in your headphones and you’re good to go. Out of juice? All you need is another AAA battery. Need a USB to store your homework for school? The MP3 player had your back. It was just this thing that was truly portable and could function independently … as long as you had your headphones.
Speaking of which, I can’t really say why I like wired headphones better than wireless ones. I guess it’s the charging aspect. Wired headphones never needed to be charged, they were just this thing that came alive whenever you plugged it into a device. They would last forever4 without having to be turned off and have its battery charged. Wired headphones could be taken anywhere without the need for a case to put them in. And you could just plug them in anywhere you saw that 3.5mm jack — which is a rare sight to see in and of itself these days. Wait, why am I talking in the past tense? Out of all of these things, wired headphones are probably the only ones that are still widely used. So why do I feel nostalgic talking about them? I guess maybe because it feels like they’re on their way out. iPods and MP3 players don’t exist anymore, smartphones are slowly getting rid of headphone jacks and it’s just a matter of time before we won’t be seeing our wired acoustic companions any more. Gone will be the days when you could roll them up and put them into your pocket without having to arduously place them into a shiny, sleek case5. No more will there be the joyous frustration of untangling headphones previously rolled up into a front pocket. And say goodbye to the times when you were at the gym with your wired headphones and the wire kept bouncing up and down with you as you worked out. But you know what? We had a good run with old technology. It was fun while it lasted. And it’s okay to move on. If we still stuck with technology from the 90s and early 2000s, it would become annoying after a while. And we would start hating it. So I think it’s better this way; we look back, feel nostalgic and preserve all our good times.
 When you put it in, the brown tape would run through the VCR and be read by a lens of some sorts and it would play your movie, so I guess touching it would distort what the lens can read? I don’t really know a whole lot about how that technology worked, so I’ll leave the technical details to the experts. But I do have first-hand experience of VHS tapes being ruined.
 It seems a bit annoying to have to rewind through the entire movie as soon as you’re done watching it, but it had to be done. Especially if it was a rental tape. By the way — I don’t know if this is how all VCRs operated or if it was just our VCR… but instead of pressing “rewind” and going all the way back, if you pressed “stop” and then “rewind”, it would go a lot faster. Like the entire tape would be rewound in a matter of minutes. Anyone else remember that? No? Just me?
 An amazing British game show from the 90s. A team of contestants take turns to complete challenges to win small crystals. The more crystals they get, the better. It was quite similar to Fort Boyard. Although The Crystal Maze did get a bit of a reboot, I don’t think it’s quite like the original.
 As long as you went for a reputable brand and looked after them carefully.
 I’m just kidding. Wireless headphones are amazing. I have a pair of Galaxy Buds and they are fantastic. They fit in your ear snugly, they’re amazing for the gym and the charging aspect isn’t too bad.
WHAT HAPPENED TO GAME OF THRONES ?
You know that feeling when you have so much to say, and yet you don’t even know where to start? That’s what I’m feeling as I’m writing this, thinking back to the epic television series that ended more than a year ago.
Game of Thrones was the most imaginative, complex, unique and original TV shows I had ever seen. And they ruined it. We explored the amazing fantasy world through the first few seasons. The storylines and character arcs were built up. The concepts and locations came to life. The foreshadowing. The visual symbolism. And then… a trainwreck. There’s a meme that went around after the final season (season 8) aired of a drawing of a horse that begins at the rear with amazing detail, shading and tone. The drawing continues with slightly less detail in the middle, and then finally finishing off with the horse’s head looking like it was literally drawn by a five-year-old . It pretty much hits the nail on the head when it comes to representing visually what the series Game of Thrones looks like as a whole. Beginning was amazing, middle good, but then the ending was just like the homework that you do ten minutes before the class. Actually the middle — and by middle I mean seasons 4, 5 and 6 — was pretty good, too. Seasons 4 and 5 were excellent, actually. I also enjoyed season 6 when it came out but seasons 7 and 8 just made season 6 look bad.
“I never watched Game of Thrones. What exactly are you talking about? Why were people so up in arms when that show ended?” Well, I’ll tell you. Imagine I started telling you a bedtime story. I told you a little bit each night as I tucked you in — I know that’s creepy, but come on, work with me here — and it was the best story you’d ever heard. It was complex and had lots of different characters each with their own goals that they were trying to achieve and things they were trying to do. And then, many years later, as I was getting to the end of the story, I just said “Oh, and then so-and-so woke up and it was all a dream. All of it. Yep. Alright, goodnight.” Wouldn’t you be like, “But what about that character who was trying to get better at judo so she could fulfill her dying father’s wish? Or that other character who ran away from home but went on an adventure through the country to find the hidden money? Or that family that was killed by that serial killer who is the brother of the president? Or the virus that was spreading through the country? What about all of that? How does that end?”
And I turned to you and just said, “I already told you. That’s the end of the story.”
How would you feel? That is how I — and many, many others — feel about Game of Thrones.
 You can Google this image, just search “Game of Thrones horse meme”. There are some variations, but they all pretty much have the same point.
SIX SHOWS THAT MIGHT BE WORTH WATCHING
This was an amazing drama/mystery. I really like series that are short and self-contained, i.e. a miniseries, like this one. It’s only six episodes in which the story unfolds and wraps up in something you could watch within a week. Mark Ruffalo plays two twin brothers — yep, he plays both of them — whose family has a somewhat mysterious past and we’re led through the story by Ruffalo’s amazing performances. Beautifully shot and extremely well-made, I Know This Much Is True is for you if you like movies or TV shows with a good story that unfolds nicely. There isn’t a lot of crime with this one, so don’t go in expecting a lot of murder and detective action. It’s more of a drama that shows the powerful relationship between family and tackles issues about mental disability. And no, it has nothing to do with that song by Spandau Ballet.
RECOMMENDED EPISODES: ALL OF IT. THIS SHOW HAS AN ENGAGING STORY THAT OPENS UP BEAUTIFULLY LIKE SOME SORT OF ANTIQUE PUZZLE BOX, SO MAKE SURE YOU KEEP WATCHING UNTIL THE END.
5 SEASONS / 22 EPISODES
An extremely popular show that seems to have become a pop-culture phenomenon in recent years. Black Mirror is philosophical, thought-provoking, satirical and — yeah, you got it; I’m sure you already know about Black Mirror. As someone who has been watching the show since it began, my opinion — and “advice” for anyone who hasn’t seen it — is that it really depends on which episode you choose. The episodes, although are mostly all rooted in social commentary, based in the near future or in some sci-fi-esque world and pretty much all have a rather dismal, dystopian vibe, can be quite different in terms of story, themes and ideas. Some episodes are better than others. I have some personal favourites from Black Mirror that in my opinion are good ones to check out. Black Mirror is brilliant for the most part and is more than a doomsayer sci-fi series that is trying to get you to unplug from the grid. A lot of the episodes are great in terms of drama, dialogue and mystery and can become one of the most memorable things you’ve seen.
RECOMMENDED EPISODES: Black Museum, Hang the DJ, White Christmas (special episode), Fifteen Million Credits, The Entire History of You, White Bear, Crocodile, Hated in the Nation. THOSE ARE JUST MY PERSONAL FAVES.
This is an amazing animated miniseries that is part fantasy, part horror and part comedy. I really enjoyed this series with its silly humour, relatable characters and heart-warming moments. Two half-brothers get lost in the woods and, while trying to find their way home, come across all sorts of obstacles they must encounter to get to where they want to go. Over The Garden Wall is only ten episodes, and I think this is what makes it a true gem; it doesn’t feel like it’s dragging on or too short. After watching the last episode, it leaves you wanting more but also satisfied and content that you watched it all. Does that make sense? I’m not sure. But Over The Garden Wall definitely makes sense. It’s a fantastic animated series that is beautifully haunting and has amazing music. It also has a kind of didn’t-see-that-coming ending. Is that enough? Need I say more?
RECOMMENDED EPISODES: ALL OF IT. ALL TEN EPISODES WERE SOLID GOLD FROM THE START RIGHT TO THE FINISH.
5 SEASONS / 61 EPISODES
This show is one-of-a-kind. Featuring comedian Louis CK as a fictionalized version of himself, the strange and off-beat storylines, the randomness of the events and the quirky dialogue is a must-watch for any fans of Louis CK’s stand up. The show walks a fine line between realism and absurdity, and it walks it really well. The humour, comedic style and the way the events unfold in every episode is completely Louis CK-esque. Although by looking at the show’s five seasons from afar it may seem like Louie is just a mish-mash of various situations all unrelated to one another with no coherent storyline, I think that that actually makes the show so unique. There isn’t anything really consistent in this show as the seasons go on — at times, not even the actors are consistent across episodes — but that doesn’t stop it being an enjoyable, original and rewatchable piece of television.
RECOMMENDED EPISODES: ALL OF SEASON 1; SEASON 2: EPISODES 2, 3, 5, 8, 9, 11 & 13; SEASON 3: EPISODES 1, 3 — 7 & 9 — 13; ALL OF SEASON 4 AND ALL OF SEASON 5.
3 SEASONS / 26 EPISODES
Corporate represents corporate culture in a very dark, nihilistic, yet hilarious way. Full of social commentary and a sense of absurdity — and I personally really enjoy the way this show balances those two things — Corporate embodies what corporations are, what they do and how they are viewed in society. The intro sequence of this show is awesome. The smartly dressed individuals standing around some classy-looking corporate office, smiling creepily at the camera reminds me of those stock photos you see if you search “corporate” or something like that. It’s always amazing when a show’s intro sequence sets the tone of the show you’re about to watch, and the intro to Corporate does that really well by having a creepy, edgy vibe. This really isn’t a show for everyone, but it is the kind of show that lets you know what it is right from the get-go. Corporate starts off really strong in the beginning as a clever satirical sitcom, but then seems to become more of a silly, watered-down comedy as the seasons go on. At any rate, you’ll enjoy Corporate if you enjoy dark parodies that have witty, ironic, well-written humour. Alright, did I use the word “corporate” enough times already?
RECOMMENDED EPISODES: BASICALLY JUST A HANDFUL OF EPISODES FROM SEASONS 1 & 2 AND none of SEASON 3. YOU WANT SPECIFICS? NO PROBLEM. SEASON 1: EPISODES 1 — 6; SEASON 2: EPISODES 1, 5, 6, 8, 9 & 10; SEASON 3: NOTHING, LIKE I SAID. I JUST FEEL THAT BY SEASON 3, THE VIBE HAD COMPLETELY CHANGED AND THE SHOW HAD TOTALLY LOST ITS FOCUS, SO I WOULDN’T RECOMMEND IT.
2 SEASONS / 12 EPISODES
A brilliant and original British sketch show. Similar to Key & Peele, Cardinal Burns stars Seb Cardinal and Dustin Demri-Burns playing recurring characters and parodying familiar notions while definitely being very funny. In the first season, I should say. The second season, although quite inventive in parts, relied heavily on the familiarities of the first season and kind of felt like it had lost the plot a little bit. Still, give both seasons a try and see for yourself what you think of it.
RECOMMENDED EPISODES: FOR THE MOST PART, ALL OF SEASON 1 WAS GOOD. I WOULDN’T RECOMMEND SEASON 2.
Twenty-four clues for twenty-four movies.
Can you guess them all?
Matthew McConaughey cries whilst checking his space voicemail.
Tom Hanks burns over a million calories running through America wearing a plaid shirt and a red hat.
Bill Murray can’t sleep in Tokyo.
Two hooded figures wearing red cloaks scare everyone in the village with their horrifying faces and sharp claws.
Sean Bean dies. This time wearing a tunic and holding a sword and a battlehorn.
Johnny Depp wears leather clothes and has blades for hands.
Growing up in the slums of Mumbai gave him all the answers.
Ryan Gosling smirks as he gets into a car chase with the cops.
Three brothers on a train in India.
They meet on the top of the Empire State Building, but they realise they had met before.
They try everything to get home; planes, trains and — of course — automobiles.
Leonardo DiCaprio shouts out something about being a king whilst on a ship.
Jesse Eisenberg teams up with Justin Timberlake and makes a famous website.
What happened to Rosamund Pike?
Snapping Polaroids and giving yourself tattoos?
Did you remember to never answer the phone?
Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt are vampires.
A high school student tricks everyone into thinking he’s sick whilst having a day full of fun.
They shoot some guys, pick up a briefcase, get involved in a robbery at a diner, then I guess go their separate ways?
Morgan Freeman keeps his promise and goes to see an old friend.
Leonardo DiCaprio crawls into the carcass of a horse and wins an Oscar.
The housekeeper is allergic to peaches.
A young boy gets separated from his parents in China.
Did Edward Norton kill the Archbishop?
Two detectives solve murders in the marshlands of southern Spain.
1. Interstellar, 2. Forrest Gump, 3. Lost in Translation, 4. The Village,
5. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of The Ring, 6. Edward Scissorhands, 7. Slumdog Millionaire, 8. Drive, 9. The Darjeeling Limited, 10. Sleepless in Seattle, 11. Planes, Trains and Automobiles, 12. Titanic,13. The Social Network, 14. Gone Girl, 15. Memento, 16. Interview with the Vampire, 17. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, 18. Pulp Fiction, 19. The Shawshank Redemption, 20. The Revenant,21. Parasite, 22. Empire of the Sun, 23. Primal Fear, 24. La Isla Minima (Marshland)
As I write this, I am watching the rain pour through my window in Jakarta. Those who aren’t familiar, here in Indonesia there is no summer and no winter — instead only a rainy season and a dry season . The temperature more or less stays the same throughout the year, usually between 25 and 31 degrees Celsius. So even in the rain, the tropical climate allows for you to wear a t-shirt outside and not feel cold. Although do expect to get wet.
This is not what I’m used to. Being from London, I am used to having a year with four seasons. Although realistically speaking, the UK mainly has two seasons, which I call “cold, grey and miserable” followed by “boiling hot”. These seasons are transitioned by brief, mild periods of spring and autumn, each usually lasting around six weeks. So the idea of four seasons, each beautiful in its own way and lasting for three entire months is not entirely true for UK weather. Nevertheless, I am accustomed to the weather shifting as the year goes on.
Back to rain. So Jakarta has pretty vigorous rain when in season, although it is by no means the rainiest place in the world. Mount Wai’ale’ale  in Hawaii has so much rain, that it is estimated (by experts, I assume) that it rains 350 days a year there. For those counting along at home, that’s only around 15 days in a year when it doesn’t rain on Mount Wai’ale’ale. It’s no wonder that they have more than 200 words for rain in Hawaiian.
But Mount Wai’ale’ale is not the rainiest place in the world. There’s Mawsynram,a village in India, as well as a few places in Colombia. It’s disputed as to which place actually has the most amount of rain. I guess we’ll be fine as long as we just bring a raincoat to all of them.
Jakarta gets pretty rainy, but the worst rain I have ever experienced was in Lahore, Pakistan. In that part of the world, they actually do have summer and winter. But then they also have another season: the monsoon season. It occurs every year at the end of summer and it is basically when it rains a lot after a long hot summer. And believe you me, summers in Pakistan get scorchingly hot — it can get to around 45 degrees Celsius during the day in the peak summer months. It’s so hot that you can’t even go outside unless in an air-conditioned car. Forget about taking a summer stroll when in Lahore, you’ll have to wait until evening when it cools down to a more reasonable temperature. Unless you enjoy walking in what feel like oven-like conditions.
So the summer can get hot, but then it shifts over to the rainy season around August-September which is when it rains so much that people’s homes often get flooded and it causes serious damage in some cases. There was one night I remember I was in my mum’s car and we were driving through a rainstorm. It felt, however, like we were driving through an ocean. Our small car pushed through as wave after wave of furious water washed over our windshield, and my mum — who was driving, I was thirteen at the time — struggled as basically nothing could be seen other than the distorted blare of headlights rushing past us. As the road we drove on began to flood a little, the wheels of our Suzuki Mehran splashed through, and there was a chaotic mess of water coming from below as well as from above.
One last rain-related anecdote. So, last year I took a trip to Solo, a small city in Indonesia situated in the middle of Java island, a ten-hour train ride away from Jakarta. While I was there, I visited a tea plantation on the foot of Mt Lawu — about an hour outside of the city. After arriving, I began walking around the quiet village next to the plantation, and I had only been there around thirty minutes or so, when suddenly I started sensing the air getting a little... wet. Now, despite being only on the foot of the great mountain (it’s actually a volcano), this village was pretty high up in terms of altitude  and so the moisture I was feeling was actually cloud. Because of the altitude, (or maybe because it was near a volcano in a very vegetation-rich area, I’m not sure of the reason, really. Any scientists/meteorologists feel free to correct me on this) a very low layer of misty cloud began rolling into my surroundings as I walked down the silent village street lined with huts and fields. I could barely see beyond a hundred metres. There was not a person in sight. The clouds around me got thicker and I began feeling like I should probably get out of there. It felt just like fog, but wetter — like being in some sort of cold steam room. Then, suddenly, I felt a drop of cold rain hit me on my arm. Then a few more. I felt the drops picking up the pace. I, also, picked up the pace. It began to drizzle. I power-walked down the deserted street, looking for a solution. I was in a mystery village with no one in sight. I had no umbrella. I looked into the fog and saw a mosque up ahead. I got into the mosque just as drizzle became rain. The mosque was empty. I did my prayer, then sat by the window of the mosque and watched the rain as it went on for the next hour. It was every pluviophile’s dream. That’s where I took the photo [on the left] and ate the snacks I had in my bag. Yeah, that’s it. That’s the end of the story. And the end of this magazine, the first issue of Kanis Majoris. Like in the beginning, I want to thank you, dear reader, for reading my work and for making it this far. I guess this is goodbye, but let’s not make a big thing out of it — like that scene in Fight Club where they go to a thrift store. No, this is not goodbye at all. We will continue the fun in Kanis Majoris No. 2 and it will be just as good, if not better than this one.
Alright, that’s it. Thanks for reading.
 The rainy season in Indonesia typically runs from November until May, with the dry season being the rest of the year.
 Pronounced “why-ah-lay-ah-lay”.
 After consulting Google Maps, I can now see that it was around 1,000 metres above sea level. Is that considered high up, in the geography industry? I have no idea.
 Someone who loves rain, but you probably guessed that already.
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Kanis Majoris is a magazine by Hamza Javaid (@arkadinarium).
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Kanis Majoris No. 1 was released in November 2020 with thanks to: Faris Javaid, Larasari Tisno Suryawati (@larasarits), Kevin Graham (@perazimmagazine), Adwoa Graham (@sarah_agperazim)
Photo by Uriel Soberanes on Unsplash.
TRUE THAT NOs. 1 & 2
Facts sourced from: FACTSlides.com
CAN ANYONE HERE READ KOREAN?
Based on “Learn to read Korean in 15 minutes” by Ryan Estrada.
SERIOUSLY, THOUGH. HOW SMALL ARE WE?
Astronomical symbols from the font “Astronomic Signs St” by Southype.
This is a copyrighted publication by Kanis Majoris Ltd © 2020. Sorry I have to get all legal on you here, but it’s important for you to know that this magazine cannot be copied or reproduced whether in whole or in part without prior permission. I mean, I know we just met and everything but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.