NO. 3

WHERE DO AIRPLANES GO WHEN THEY DIE? TO AN AIRPLANE GRAVEYARD, OF COURSE.

Kanis Majoris No. 3 / Nov 2021
Intro
DOGS
Hm, I Didn’t know that
AIRPLANES AND DESERTS / THE ROSETTA STONE I / SPACE EXPLORATION / FUN FACTS
marko polo
THE ROSETTA STONE II / HOW TO SPEAK INDONESIAN #2 / BALI / LANGUAGES
life, etc.
THE PAIN OF BEING IN A WHATSAPP GROUP CHAT / PAINTINGS / A REVIEW OF THE OFFICE / THREE AWESOME PODCASTS / RIDDLES / THE BEST ALBUMS OF ALL TIME #2 / BE CAREFUL WHEN ALLOWING ACCESS TO RANDOM APPS / GUESS THESE MOVIES / SOME AMAZING THINGS WE ALL KNOW
finale
ART
DID YOU MISS KANIS MAJORIS NO. 2? NO WORRIES, YOU CAN CHECK IT OUT HERE. YEAH, THIS IS LIKE A REPEAT-BROADCAST OF AN EPISODE THAT WAS ORIGINALLY SHOWN AT 2AM ON A WEDNESDAY.

Take two of these and call me in the morning.

I went to Bali for a three-day trip. I stayed in a cheap-ish hotel near the touristy area of Kuta, just south of the main city of Denpasar. Exact location doesn’t matter, but let’s just say there was this very busy main road and just off that main road was this dark, skinny alleyway. My hotel was down that alley, about halfway in, past a few houses. And this alley was so narrow that even a car would struggle to enter. If you somehow managed to get your car in, the only way to get back out would be to literally shift it into reverse and back out into the main road. So you can tell it was a rather quiet little place with not a lot going on.

I took a taxi straight from the airport to the hotel upon arrival, and when we got near the hotel, the driver couldn’t find it. Why? Because Google Maps was telling him that the hotel was right there, on the main road on the corner just before the skinny alley. We went around a couple of times before he realised that the hotel was actually in the dangerously narrow alley that he wasn’t willing to drive into. So he dropped me off at the entrance to the alley and drove off. I walked down from the main road to the hotel, which was probably like a two-minute walk. When I got to the hotel, I saw it was a very basic hotel that didn’t really have a lobby; it looked kind of like one of those American motels where all the rooms just open out into the street. There was a small office on the side that was empty, but after a few moments someone came out and I was able to check in and get into my room.

A few hours later, I wanted to go out to go and get something to eat. By this time it had already gotten dark and I was rather hungry. In Jakarta, where I had just come from, you can just order a Gojek or Grab — a motorcyle taxi that you order through an app [1] — and go anywhere you like. But I didn’t realize that, in Bali, these things are slightly less common. So I tried to order a ride via the app, as I was used to, but couldn’t find one. I tried a few more times before giving up and deciding to walk. No worries, I thought. I’ll see more of Bali this way. Whatever that meant. So, I step out of my room and into the dark street.

It was dark. I mean really dark. The main road outside was buzzing with traffic but this alley was like a ghost town. I looked up and down the alley. There was a lamp post directly above me, lighting up the hotel and its small parking area, but other than that the entire alley was quite unlit in either direction. There was only one other lamp post and it was at the entrance of the alley, where the main road was. So there was light where I was and there was light at the entrance of the alley, about 150 metres away. But in between these two pools of light was total and complete darkness. Like there could have been a twenty-foot drop leading to those pygmy mummies from The Mummy Returns in there and I would have no idea.

So, I began walking towards the main road and I had taken maybe five steps before I started seeing some sort of moving shape in the darkness. I kept walking. I took maybe another few steps before I realised that up ahead, barely visible by the faint light coming from a few of the houses, was a dog. It lay curled up on the floor in the middle of the alley, seemingly minding its own business. I kept walking, instantly remembering that someone had told me that Bali has a lot of dogs. I just kept thinking, What could go wrong? It’s probably just asleep or something. I took barely five more steps before the dog lifted its head and looked at me. Now, it was too dark for me to see its face or eyes, but you know when you can tell when something is looking right at you? Well, this dog was. It stared at me, and I at it, as I walked slowly towards the silhouetted dog. As I drew a little closer, the dog stood up. Uh-oh, I thought. Now, I’ve never had a dog, but I knew that that wasn’t good. This dog was getting defensive.

Something similar had happened to me a few years prior while walking to my dorm at uni and the caretaker of the dorm’s dog had decided to get defensive and start barking. But nothing else. The dog just stood its ground and barked until I had gone. So I wasn’t really afraid anything bad would happen in this alley. I just equated all dogs to be the same, even though I’m sure they’re not, but I don’t know anything about animals so I just went with it in the moment. I crept closer, feeling the tension grow.

And then, at once, something happened.

Like some sort of canine horror movie, literally four more dogs rose up out of the shadows and began looking down the dark alleyway straight at me. Four more dogs that I had no idea were there. Now there were five of them. A pack. I decided that this is probably a good time to turn around and go straight back inside the hotel room and order food from Gojek (it started working eventually, thankfully).

I have no shame in saying that I was afraid. I think that was rational fear, though — unlike my fear with rats. This was common sense telling me to not try to be a hero and end up with five different bite marks from five different Balinese dogs. Like what The Lion King taught us: “Being brave doesn’t mean you go looking for trouble.” Does that even apply here? You tell me.

You’re probably thinking: So you just stayed inside your hotel room for three days? Well, luckily, the next morning I woke up and looked outside to find the alley completely dog-free. And I had ordered a scooter. What? You mean like you had ordered a Gojek ride to go somewhere? No, I mean I had rented an entire scooter. In Bali, there are all these scooter-rental places you can rent a scooter or motorcycle through for an incredibly affordable price. I had contacted the scooter hire company through WhatsApp the evening before and the guy told me he would come to my hotel to drop my scooter to me in the morning. So the guy came, dropped the scooter and for the rest of my time there I was able to ride in and out of the alley without having to walk into a doggy-ambush. Nor did I really see those dogs in that alley again, either. I did see plenty of dogs around the rest of Bali, but it was nowhere near as scary as that first night in the alley. So, if you’re going to Bali, just bear that in mind: there are actually a lot of dogs on the island. Here in Jakarta, you don’t see them much — only when they’re someone’s pets, usually. But in Bali stray dogs pretty much roam free everywhere.

Don’t let that deter you from visiting, however. Not all dogs are scary. Even Kanis Majoris has been named after VY Canis Majoris, a star that gets its name from the Latin for “greater dog” — with canis being the Latin word for dog. I was also born in 1994, the Chinese New Year of the Dog, which is an odd coincidence.

Although I’m not really a dog-person, I still feel some sort of connection to dogs and they’ve kind of become the unofficial mascot of this magazine. But there’s one thing that’s always amazed me: how many different types of dogs there are. There are so many and they’re all so different but they are all dogs. Now, I know why there are so many breeds; something, something, selective breeding, right? But my point is that from a large, wolf-looking huskey, all the way down to a tiny little pug with a smooshed-up face, they all count as a dog. And that is fascinating.

As always, welcome to this issue of Kanis Majoris. A few rules before we start: please turn off all phones, keep the noise level to a minimum and if you notice a piñata hanging from the ceiling, feel free to use the bats provided to beat that thing to the ground.

[1] Kind of like Uber. So you order in exactly the same way as you would with Uber, but instead of a car showing up, you get a driver on a motorcycle or scooter who, after confirming your name, will give you a helmet and invite you to jump on the back. You get on, the driver takes you where you’ve ordered to go and then you jump off, give the helmet back to the driver and paying the driver if you haven’t done so already. You can pay using a bunch of online payment methods as well as cash. And you can also order, send and receive things through this system. Ordering food from any restaurant, requesting the driver to go to a certain store and buy something on your behalf, send a local package. It’s very useful and a lot gets done with Gojek and Grab.

Not in a desert, I know. It’s actually from the Gardens by the Bay in Singapore. But who cares? You get the idea.

The sun-baked cactus stands solemnly in the desert as yet another airplane roars overhead.

There used to be this plane that could cross the Atlantic in three and a half hours. That’s fast, considering it usually takes airplanes between seven and eight hours to go from London to New York. We’re talking, of course, about the Concorde.

Queue the when-I-was-a-kid-I-remembering-seeing-Concordes-passing-over-my-garden anecdote: When I was a kid I remember seeing Concordes passing over my garden. And yeah, given the fact that they travelled faster than the speed of sound, they were quite loud. They would always be heralded by a deafening rumble that got louder as the Concorde got closer and we’d usually run to the window to see the Concorde as it passed; triangle-shaped with a long, pointy nose and usually with the British Airways logo on the tail. I can’t remember how often we’d see one, but it was probably around three or four times a year. 

The Concorde was a project by the UK and France — the name comes from the French word for “agreement” — when they decided to make a project to build an aircraft that could go faster than the speed of sound. It was back in the days when the UK and France used to collab a lot together, with the Channel Tunnel and whatnot. The Concorde was unveiled in 1976 and it instantly became marketed as this super-luxurious thing you could get on and fly across the Atlantic in speed and style [1]. Yes, Concorde was expensive to fly on. An average ticket cost around $8,000 [2].

So, what happened? Why did it go out of business?

Well, as always with these kinds of things, there was no one single reason. A contributing factor was the rise in popularity of this thing called the internet. Because meetings could now be done online, there wasn’t as much of a need for companies to put their employees on an expensive flight across the pond to attend a meeting on the other side of the Atlantic.

Another reason was the well-known disaster in 2000 where the back of a Concorde burst into flames as it was taking off in Paris. It crashed into a nearby hotel and everyone on board died. As seen on Air Crash Investigation, the investigators of the incident found out the reason for the fire was because of a leakage in the fuel tank. This was no ordinary leakage, though. What happened was that five minutes before the Concorde took off, a different plane was taking off on the same runway and on this plane was a loose strip of metal that had rather recently been glued onto the plane with some sort of adhesive. On this day, however, the strip of metal fell off the plane as it was taking off exactly where the Concorde was going to be taking off in a few minutes’ time. When the Concorde began its take-off, bolting down the runway at nearly 200mph, it ran over the strip of metal which caused the tyre to explode (Concorde tyres would explode like a small bomb if they were ruptured) and in that explosion, one of the rubber pieces of the tyre hit the fuel tank and caused a hole to blow out, making the fuel leak and a blazing flame to emerge from the back of the aircraft, bringing two of the four engines to a shutdown and 113 people to die.

Wow. Sorry for that downer of a story, but that’s what happened. And I think it’s incredible how one little strip of metal can destroy an entire plane and how so many small things can add up to cause so much destruction. Concordes kept flying for a little while after that, but then were permanently decommissioned in 2003.

But where do airplanes go when they die? Weird question. But here’s the answer: to an airplane graveyard. Bet you didn’t see that coming, right? But yes, it’s true. There are a number of airplane graveyards around the world, one of which is located in the Mojave Desert in California. Old aircraft is flown in to be laid to rest and it’s pretty cool to look at. Just dozens of empty, no-longer-used planes standing peacefully in the arid desert. 

By the way, do you know what the largest desert in the world is? It’s not the Sahara. It’s actually Antarctica. Deserts are technically defined as places with low amounts of rainfall, so Antarctica is actually the world’s largest desert. Here’s another interesting story of two men who were exploring the desert in Australia back in 1874. After travelling much farther than the rest of their party, one of their horses suddenly died and they decide that one of them will take the one remaining horse and go in search of water. The one with the horse, Alfred Gibson, made it to the water but his tracks continued on through the wilderness. The other, Ernest Giles, eventually made it to safety and although he and others searched hard, Alfred Gibson was never seen again. The desert is now known as the Gibson Desert, after the explorer who was never found.

Anyone else get chills from that? That’s a campfire story right there. And it’s true, so that kind of adds to the chill-factor. Alright, that’s enough scary stories for one night. Let’s get out of here.

[1] What do you mean it doesn’t match the title? Okay, well let’s just say that these cactuses have a backstory. Yes. They, um, used to be in a desert, somewhere out in the barren landscape of wherever, getting roasted by the desert sun and being subjected to the deafening rumble of airplanes before they were rescued and brought to the Gardens where they are subjected to tourists staring at them and daring each other to touch the spikes to see how sharp they really are. Alright? Does that match now? Hey, it could be true. I don’t know.

[2] Round-trip, from New York to London, and way back in 1997. In today’s money, that’s over $13,000. Speaking of the ‘90s, remember The Parent Trap (with Lindsay Lohan as a kid)? That movie actually has the Concorde in it as part of its plot. I won’t spoil the movie for you but — ah, what the hell, I’ll just tell you. I mean, the movie came out in 1998. If you cared so much, you would have seen it by now. Okay, so in the movie, there are two twin girls (both played by Lindsay Lohan) who had gotten separated at birth but then get coincidentally reunited. They decide to get their parents — who had gotten divorced shortly after they were born — back together so they switch places and go to each other’s homes. One lives in California while the other lives in London. They hatch a plan and ...okay, skip a little bit to almost near the end where the parents kind of want to get back together but they’re unsure since it didn’t work out the first time, right, so the mother goes back to England with the British twin and the father stays in California with the American twin. They arrive home in London to find that the father and other sister waiting for them! I mean, what? How? The Concorde is how. So, because of the Concorde, they were able to take a quicker flight and get there quicker than the other guys. I mean, now that I think about it, it doesn’t really make sense — it’s a kids’ film, after all — as all the Concorde did was save you like 3 or 4 hours in flight time. So how they were able to get to the airport, — even though the mother and other twin had a head start since they left first — get on the Concorde, fly over to London, land, get a taxi, get to the mother’s house, find a way in and sit there, waiting for them all because they were a few hours ahead? They must have literally overtaken the other plane as they were flying past the Azores. Not to mention the briefcase of money that it cost to get on the Concorde.

Write it thrice, make sure it’s precise, don’t forget to make it look nice.

Here’s something. You know Egyptian hieroglyphics? Yes, that old language with icons instead of letters like a stork, a key, a cat, a man with the head of a falcon, and so on. You ever wonder how people figured out how that language worked? I mean like when modern humans went into ancient Egyptian temples and saw those strange icons carved into the walls, how did they work out what the pictures meant? How did modern humans figure out how to read Egyptian hieroglyphics?

The answer is the Rosetta Stone. The Rosetta Stone was the key to understanding the eccentric Egyptian emojis. Until the Rosetta Stone had been discovered, no one knew how to read the mystical, ancient language. Egyptian hieroglyphics had been lost in the pages of time until suddenly, some French soldiers found this big, black slab of rock with weird writing etched into it in northern Egypt. It was named the Rosetta Stone after the town near which it was discovered.

So how did the Rosetta Stone help people understand Egyptian hieroglyphics, exactly? Well, if you look at it, you’ll notice that the writing etched into the Stone is in three different languages: Egyptian hieroglyphics (icons of cats and cereal bowls and weird lion-men), Demotic (another form of ancient Egyptian writing that was used in later times, to me it looks visually similar to Arabic) and Ancient Greek (you’ve met Ancient Greek before, I’m sure [1]). The text itself is actually the same piece of text but repeated thrice in the three languages. And this was the key.

At the time of the Rosetta Stone’s discovery, people still knew how to read and write Ancient Greek, as that was a language that had never been forgotten through time. So, historians, linguists and other clever people used the familiar Ancient Greek to figure out how to read the unfamiliar Egyptian hieroglyphics. Since the text itself was the same, they could use what they knew to work out what they didn’t know. And through this process, they could learn the pieces of language bit by bit and eventually be able to use the whole language. We probably wouldn’t have unlocked an entire piece of ancient history if it wasn’t for the Rosetta Stone.

[1] If not, just think back to maths or physics class when the teacher would write a complex formula on the board and it would have like seven different Ancient Greek symbols which would make you contemplate whether anything in life even matters at all.

Why is the fuel tank empty? Is this rocket powered by AA batteries or something?

You probably hear it in the news all the time: some space probe is being launched to some nearby planet and it’s going there to find water or maple syrup or something. It won’t arrive at its destination for another few years, though, and when it does, it’ll be collecting data and samples and whatnot for like ten years before heading home, at which point nobody will care anymore. I mean, that’s a long time. What is the point? Why do we still keep sending probes and stuff out into space? To find what? Life? Isn’t there enough life on Earth? 

Or this one: they dress a group of astronauts in orange jumpsuits [1] and put them on some rocket heading out into space so they can go live in a big satellite [2] for several months? What is that all about? What are they actually doing up there? Space camping?

You’re probably thinking all of this. Or maybe you’re not. Maybe these are just my thoughts and maybe, just maybe, you’re actually a little surprised at what you’re reading since Kanis Majoris has always had themes of space and astronomy (the magazine is named after a star after all, VY Canis Majoris) so you’d probably have assumed that I, the writer of Kanis Majoris, would be quite the space nerd who gets excited every time some new space probe is sent soaring off to sojourn in the stratosphere of some celestial sphere. No. Well, yes and no. Yes, I do like space and astronomy and have loved learning about the planets and stars since I was young, but no I don’t really get excited every time they launch yet another mission named after some Roman or Greek deity. I just always kind of think to myself: what’s the point? What are we looking for out there, exactly? Don’t we have enough problems here on Earth?

Sorry. I don’t mean to be so cynical. I actually do think it’s amazing the progress we as humans have actually made in space travel. Like getting to the Moon. We actually got to the Moon. Like the Moon. We went there. It’s incredible. It is. I still think it’s pointless. But it is incredible. I think it’s incredible that we went to the Moon, I just don’t think we need to go there again. It can just be a been-there-done-that kind of thing. I mean what are we going to find there this time that we didn’t find the first six times [3]?

I also think it’s kind of cool how some of the stuff we’ve made has travelled way out there into outer space. Like there are currently five space probes that we’ve launched that have made it so far away from Earth that they’re not even in the Solar System anymore. Four of them (Pioneer 10, Pioneer 11, Voyager 2 and Voyager 1) were launched back in the ‘70s and one (New Horizons) was launched back in 2006. The two Voyager probes each have a Golden Record: a golden disc containing information about Earth such as images of places, sounds of nature, music from various countries and samples of languages spoken by humans. These discs are there for, you know, in case anything out there finds it and wants to know more about us. I hardly doubt that anyone or anything will ever find these discs out there, though, in the cold, dead void of space.

Similarly, the Pioneer probes each carry a plaque that, again, have some information about Earth in the form of illustrations engraved into them such as a drawing of a naked man and woman and a diagram of where Earth is located within the Solar System. It has other information too, like a diagram of a hydrogen atom and some long numbers that apparently are a code of some sort to figure out when exactly the probe was launched or something like that, but those things are a little too complex for me, so I’ll just leave those for the aliens to figure out.

[1] So you might have seen astronauts wear orange suits as well as white ones. The orange ones are what they wear during takeoff and the white ones are what they wear when spacewalking. Why do they have two colours? It’s in case of emergencies. If anything goes wrong during launch and the rocket ends up falling out of the sky and into the sea or something, the orange hue of the astronauts’ suit — also known as “International Orange” — will be easier to spot. The orange one is also better equipped for launch, like it has a parachute and stuff. The white one also gets its colour for the same reason: white is easier to see against the black of space, in case they are floating away in space and need to be rescued. The white one also is better suited for space as its more resistant to the Sun and whatnot. You get the idea. I’m not sure when exactly they change out of their orange suits and into their white ones, though. It might be like in Harry Potter where they change into their uniforms on the train when they’ve almost arrived at Hogwarts.

[2] Yes, I know it’s called the ISS (International Space Station), but I don’t know, it just looks like a big satellite where astronauts go have a science slumber party. Yeah, they're up there doing experiments and stuff, I know. It does sound like fun, let’s be honest; twirling around in space and — because of the speed that the ISS orbits the Earth — watching the Sun rise and set sixteen times a day. That’s right. The ISS actually orbits the Earth. No, it isn’t like thousands of miles way out in space; its orbit is actually only about 250 miles (400 km) above where you are right now. So, yes, it is technically still in Earth’s orbit, but it’s still pretty high up. Two hundred and fifty miles is actually quite far. How far? Well, for comparison: a commercial airplane typically cruises at around 6-7 miles (9-11 km) above the ground, the Red Bull Stratos jump made by Felix Baumgartner in 2012 was at 24 miles (39 km) above the ground and the similar jump made by Alan Eustace in 2014 was at 26 miles (41 km). And those guys were pretty darn high up when they made the jump. I mean, they fell at over 800 mph when plummeting towards Earth. That’s faster than the speed of sound. So now imagine 250 miles. It’s around ten times higher than either of those jumps.

[3] Yes, there were six Apollo missions that made it to the Moon. The first was Apollo 11 (Neil Armstrong, footprint, “one small step for man”) in 1969 and the last was Apollo 17 in 1972.

True that.

#4

Only one of these facts is true. Can you guess which it is?

1.

The gondolas in Venice were originally painted black by smugglers so they could go around undetected at night.

2.

Pigeons are the only species of bird that cannot move their eyes.

3.

There is a rare breed of Indonesian chicken that is completely blue — even the meat and the eggs.

4.

There is a small town in Germany where none of the residents speak to each other.

5.

Polar bears glow bright blue when viewed by infrared night-vision.

6.

Gingerbread men were invented by Josef Stalin.

7.

Christmas trees were brought into British popularity by Germans during WWI.

8.

There used to be a flying reptile that was as tall as a giraffe.

9.

The castle-like chess piece known as a rook is named after the bird of the same name as, in olden times, rooks were kept in cages atop the castle’s towers.

ALRIGHT, HIT ME. WHAT'S THE ANSWER?

#8

is true. It was called Quetzalcoatlus and it lived somewhere between 65 and 100 million years ago.
OKAY. WHAT ABOUT THE OTHER FACTS?

1.

The gondolas in Venice are actually required by law to be painted black which started so that all gondolas could look the same.

2.

Kind of true, except most species of birds cannot move their eyes. 

3.

This one is correct, except it's black not blue. Look up: "ayam cemani".

4.

This one is just totally made up. Unless there is such a town in Germany, which would be a complete coincidence, but as a result of my one-quick-Google-search research, I can conclude that no such town exists.

5.

Polar bears are actually undetectable by infrared night-vision. 

6.

Gingerbread men were actually invented by Elizabeth I, not Stalin.

7.

Christmas trees were in fact brought into British popularity by Prince Albert, who was the husband — and first cousin — of Queen Victoria. And he was German, so that part is true.

9.

The castle-like chess piece known as a rook comes from the Persian word rukh which means “chariot” as it was originally a chariot, not a castle.

He’s turned off the lights, he’s locked the door and he’s gone.

We’re going to do an activity. A demonstration of sorts to further understand the basics of how the Rosetta Stone was actually used to unlock the entire language of Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics. Okay, here we go. Take a look at this sentence below.

Grumpy wizards make toxic brew for the evil Queen and Jack.

Alright. Now, take a look at this next sentence. I know, it looks strange. But just bear with me.

GRUMPY WIZARDS MAKE TOXIC BREW FOR THE EVIL QUEEN AND JACK.

These two sentences are actually the exact same thing, just written in different languages. The first is, of course, in English and the second is in a strange language that you don’t yet know how to read. Because it’s a language that I’ve made up called Sinak-Sinak. Yes, that’s “Kanis-Kanis” backwards. Yes, I know that’s lame. But let’s get back to business.

Now, you are going to do exactly what the people decoding the Rosetta Stone did: try to figure out how to read this strange language.

How do you do that? Well, take a look at the first letter of each sentence. In the English sentence, the first letter is “G”. And in Sinak-Sinak, the first symbol is “G”. So we can say that G = G. Now the second letter. We can see that in the English, it’s “R”. And in Sinak-Sinak, the second symbol is “R”. Therefore, R = R.

Now, if you go through this whole sentence and decode every single symbol, you’ll actually then be able to use these two sentences as a key to learning the whole language and reading any sentence in Sinak-Sinak.

For example, this:

VANILLA.

VANILLA.

Did you manage? No worries if you didn’t. Well done if you did. Now, how about this?

i would like some vanilla ice cream, please.

i would like some vanilla ice cream, please.

Should be a piece of cake. It’s cool if it wasn’t. Now for the real challenge:

excuse me, i ordered some vanilla ice cream around two hours ago and is still hasn't arrived. what do you mean i can do better? listen, vanilla is delicious, okay? no, it is. i don't even need sprinkles.

excuse me, i ordered some vanilla ice cream around two hours ago and is still hasn't arrived. what do you mean i can do better? listen, vanilla is delicious, okay? no, it is. i don't even need sprinkles.

Whew, that was long. So I don’t blame you if you gave up halfway, but you get the point. This is basically how it worked with the Rosetta Stone too, where they used what they knew to figure out what they didn’t know, and then once they had done that, they could use that as a key to unlock the entire language. Although with the Rosetta Stone it was, of course, a much more complex and laborious process that took years and probably a lot of late nights peering at the old, stoney text through a magnifying glass whilst wearing white gloves, telling the security guard to just go home and leave the keys with you because it was going to be another late-nighter.

Ada tiga kelinci di hutan.

Last time, we learnt the basics of the Indonesian language. Tonight, we will carry on that journey with more vocabulary, grammar and other bits of language. Let’s begin here with animals.

RABBIT

KELINCI

LION

SINGA

JELLYFISH

UBUR-UBUR

CAT

KUCING

MONKEY

MONYET

FROG

kodok

ELEPHANT

GAJAH

GIRAFFE

JERAPAH

SPIDER

LABA-LABA

DOG

ANJING

BAT

KELELEWAR

SNAKE

ular

CROCODILE

BUAYA

FISH

IKAN

BUTTERFLY

KUPU-KUPU

TIGER

HARIMAU

LIZARD

cicak

DRAGON

naga

So, like last time, let’s talk about how to pronounce these words. Pronunciation in Bahasa Indonesia — or “Indonesian language” — is relatively simple for an English speaker. The letters are pronounced generally always the same way, and the vowel sounds can be used a little differently to English. Here, take a look. 

a is pronounced “ah” as in “farmer”
e is pronounced “uh” as in “mother” or “ey” as in “their”
i is pronounced “ee” as in “taxi
o is pronounced “oh” as in “more”
u is pronounced “oo” as in “flute”

So this is what we looked at last time and that is basically it for pronunciation that you really need to know to get started. Other than that, just remember that the “c” is usually pronounced like “ch” in “children” and the “g” is pronounced like “g” in “glass”. Also, the “r” is always rolled. Got it? Great. Let’s look at some more words. 

FOREST

HUTAN

RAIN

HUJAN

SEA

LAUT

SUN

MATAHARI

CITY

KOTA

MOON

BULAN

PERSON

ORANG

Here are some things to do with nature and the outdoors. A few fun facts: hutan can mean “jungle” as well as “forest”, if you add the Indonesian word for “mother” (ibu) before kota, it will mean “capital city” and bulan not only means “moon” but also “month”. By the way, “orangutan” comes from Indonesian. Can you figure out what it means? Yep, it means “person of the forest”. 

AND

DAN

IN/AT

DI

You remember these two from last time, right? Dan is pretty easy to remember because it’s an anagram of “and”. And di … well, it’s not that complicated a word to memorise. Just two letters.

THERE IS/THERE ARE

ADA

YES

IYA

NO

TIDAK

The words for “yes” and “no” in Indonesian are often shortened to ya and ngga respectively when speaking. The “ng” in ngga is pronounced using a similar “ng” sound in a word like pisang (banana). Remember, from last time? Those of you who weren’t there: try saying the “ng” like the first “ng” in “singing”. So for ngga, make an “n” sound that’s kind of in the back of your throat, and then just say “gah”. “Nn-gah”. Try it.

Alright. Now we want to do some counting. Numbers in Indonesian are quite simple and follow a steady pattern that is easy to pick up.

ONE

SATU

1

FOUR

EMPAT

4

SEVEN

TUJUH

7

TEN

SEPULUH

10

THIRTEEN

TIGA-BELAS

13

TWO

DUA

2

FIVE

LIMA

5

EIGHT

DELAPAN

8

ELEVEN

SEBLAS

11

FOURTEEN

EMPAT-BELAS

14

THREE

TIGA

3

SIX

ENAM

6

NINE

SEMBILAN

9

TWELVE

DUA-BELAS

12

FIFTEEN

LIMA-BELAS

15

The teens continue in the same fashion. So if “five” is lima and “fifteen” is lima-belas, you can probably work out what sixteen, seventeen, eighteen and nineteen are using the words for “six”, “seven”, “eight” and “nine”. That’s right. Just add belas to each one and you’ve got it.

TWENTY

DUA-PULUH

20

TWENTY-ONE

DUA-PULUH SATU

21

THIRTY

TIGA-PULUH

30

The rest of the numbers until one hundred. So, again, it’s quite simple. The “tens” (twenty, thirty, forty, fifty, sixty, seventy, eighty and ninety) all follow the same pattern. So if “two” is dua and “twenty” is dua-puluh, you can probably work them all out. Just add –puluh to each number.

Now, if you want to talk about any other number in between the tens, you just add the extra number onto the end. So “twenty-one” is dua-puluh satu. “Fifty-five” is lima-puluh empat. “Ninety-eight” is sembilan-puluh delapan. Easy. 

ONE HUNDRED

SERATUS

100

ONE HUNDRED AND EIGHTY-FIVE

seratus delapan-puluh lima

185

TWO HUNDRED

DUA RATUS

200

The “hundreds” series. Use —ratus. Similar patterns like before. For any number in between the hundreds, just add it onto the end. That’s all.

ONE THOUSAND

SERIBU

1,000

TEN THOUSAND

SEPULUH RIBU

10,000

TWO THOUSAND

DUA RIBU

2,000

FIFTY-FIVE THOUSAND

LIMA-PULUH LIMA RIBU

55,000

TWO THOUSAND FOUR HUNDRED AND SIXTY

DUA RIBU EMPAT RATUS ENAM PULUH

2,460

SEVEN HUNDRED AND FIFTY THOUSAND

TUJUH RATUS LIMA-PULUH RIBU

750,000

The “thousands” series. Use —ribu. Same type of stuff as before. By the way, in Indonesia (and a lot of other non-English speaking countries) they use a period (.) as a thousands separator. So 10,000 would be 10.000 in Indonesia.

ONE MILLION

SEJUTA

1,000,000

TWO MILLION

DUA JUTA

2,000,000

TEN MILLION

SEPULUH JUTA

10,000,000

FIVE HUNDRED AND FIFTY MILLION

LIMA RATUS LIMA-PULUH JUTA

500,000,000

Last one, the “millions” series. Just use —juta. And there we go. You can now count till 999,999,999 in the Indonesian language — yes, that’s sembilan ratus sembilan-puluh sembilan juta sembilan ratus sembilan-puluh sembilan ribu sembilan ratus sembilan-puluh sembilan. Need to go higher? Use miliar for “billion” and triliun for “trillion”. Or if big numbers aren’t your thing, use what we learned earlier to go back and translate the title of this section.

Get your coat, we’re leaving.

BALI

If you’re ever in Bali, make sure not to step on the canang sari on the ground. What is canang sari? It’s a small offering as part of the Balinese tradition where they take flowers and a number of other things like tobacco, put it all into a banana leaf and place it on the ground. Walking down a street in Bali, you could see loads of them, one after the other; in front of people’s shops, in front of temples (like in the photo above) or even just laying around in the sand on the beach.

Where is Bali again? It’s one of Indonesia’s islands [1]. In terms of size, I’d say the island is big enough for it to take a few hours to get from one side to the other by motorbike or car. Bali is is rich in sandy beaches, forests, mountains, waterfalls, terraced rice fields, milk pies [2], beaches, tourists, monkeys and dogs [3]. 

The best thing I’d say about Bali is how different it feels to Java [4] — the “main” island of Indonesia, where the capital Jakarta [5] and most of the major cities are — as Java has a Muslim majority whereas Bali has a Hindu majority. So the culture is different, of course, despite Bali being the next island over from Java. And given that I’m not a Hindu, the culture is fascinating and it's commendable how they’ve managed to keep it so well preserved. They have temples and old architecture that’s still intact since God knows when. They even have roadside shrines and altars where people come to make offerings. It all feels very authentic and you really feel like you’re in the midst of their culture and religion. 

I went to Bali for the first time in the summer of 2019. At the pre-pandemic time, Bali was buzzing with tourists touring the tourist traps of tourism. And I was one of those tourists. I went to a lot of the tourist-y places that, in reality, just turned out to be kind of a waste of time.

The first place that I think was kind of boring was this place called Tanah Lot. If you’re familiar with Bali, you’ve surely heard of it. For those not familiar, just search “Tanah Lot” on Google and look at the images. It’s an old temple of sorts that’s on the coast but it’s located basically in the water, a little out to sea. That’s it. Now, this sounds cool on paper, but what you actually get when you go out there is that there are like a million tourists all there to take the same exact picture and, kind of ironically, everyone’s pictures are ruined because of all the tourists. Also, the temple itself looks a lot better in the pictures online than in person. And I know the temples are all culturally significant and part of the Balinese culture and everything, but I mean from a tourist’s point of view, it just wasn’t that enjoyable a place. There is a small park adjacent to the temple that has a few things to look at (namely some statues and other architecture and stuff) but nothing really that you wouldn’t really see in the other parts of Bali anyway. I don’t know, that was just my experience.

Another famous site in Bali that I wasn’t really a fan of was the Ubud Monkey Forest which is, as the name suggests, home to hundreds of monkeys. Actually, I’ve just looked it up and Wikipedia is telling me that the number is 1,049 monkeys. Oh, wait. It says “about 1,049 monkeys”. So it’s not an exact figure. Anyways, whatever the number is doesn’t really matter because this monkey forest was a little disappointing. And I don’t blame the monkeys. The forest is small. A lot smaller than I expected. Maybe I didn’t go everywhere? I don’t know, man. I went everywhere that I could see and I came out of there kind of surprised at how small the whole forest was compared to how popular of a destination it was. Like it’s the kind of place that everyone tells you to check out when you go to Bali, but in actual fact it’s all hype in my opinion. The monkeys are basically just jumping around acting like, well, monkeys and there are signs everywhere that tell you to look out for your stuff because, according to the signs, the monkeys might possibly take it. Yeah. So be careful when you’re there.

I’m not sure why the monkeys in Bali’s Monkey Forest are so erratic. I mean, I know they're monkeys but I actually went to another monkey park where the monkeys weren’t monkeying around at all. This other park was in the city of Bandung, on the island of Java and around three hours from Jakarta called Taman Hutan Raya Ir. H. Djuanda (kind of a long name, I know, but it’s named after a politician from Indonesian history) and it was a lot more fun than the Monkey Park in Bali. This park was way, way bigger and monkeys in this place were a lot more chilled out, albeit more timid. They often scampered off if we got too close, but overall seemed a lot less stressed than what I saw in Bali. I don’t know, the Monkey Forest seemed more like a zoo with the monkeys being held in captivity as compared to Taman Hutan Raya in which it kind of just felt like we were just roaming around what seemed like the monkeys’ natural habitat.

The second time I went to Bali was this year, 2021, and Bali seemed a lot different than my first visit. Not only had the crowds of tourists disappeared, but the tourist traps had also been temporarily shut (due to the pandemic, of course). Multiple hotels, restaurants and small businesses had shut up shop and closed down. Everywhere was a lot more quiet, and the only people I saw were basically local tourists from other parts of Indonesia.

Bali has constantly been a popular tourist destination and for good reasons. The island has a lot to offer and there is a lot to see and do for sure. There is a lot of traffic on the streets of Bali, which most people aren’t prepared for, but it doesn’t seem like that big of a deal when coming from a traffic goliath like Jakarta. It’s also very modern and full of artsy coffee shops, cuisine from all over the world, clothing boutiques and large shopping malls as well as old temples, quiet villages and the tallest statue of a Hindu deity in the world [6].

Enjoy the photographs, most of which are from the southern and central parts of the island. Next slide, please.

A shrine located in a tree.
Canang sari on a beach in Kuta.
More canang sari.
A lonely dog lays on the lovely sand looking out and lulling on life.
A lot of greenery in Bali. A lot. Hope you’re not allergic.
Wow, such a pretty sunset. Quick, grab my camera before it — ah, it’s gone.
Suluban Beach, Uluwatu. Intense waves, surfers and a lot of rocks.
Monkeys at the Monkey Forest in Ubud.
Yes, I know. Very cute. But don’t get too close, or they might — yeah, there goes my water bottle.
And more monkeys. According to Wikipedia, the monkeys in the Monkey Forest are Balinese long-tailed macaques. Good to know, right?
A rocky beach. Nothing else to say here, is there?
A statue of, um, I’m not quite sure what.
There goes my flight. Oh, there’s the statue way off in the distance. Can you see it?
And, to finish, Tanah Lot. Yeah, this is what it was actually like — pre-pandemic, of course.

[1] One out of around 17,000 islands. The exact number of islands Indonesia has changes depending on who you ask. The country claims to have 17,504, but apparently only has 16,056 registered with the UN.

[2] Pie susu as it’s known in Indonesia where “susu” means “milk” and “pie” means “pie”, is quite similar to the Portuguese pastel de nata.

[3] Didn’t I already talk about the dogs in Bali? Oh, did you miss it? Never mind, just go down the hall and take the first door on the right. If you see the painting of a weeping woman kneeling by a koi fish pond, you’ve gone too far. Or just click here.

[4] Fun fact: the programming language also known as Java gets its name from the Indonesian island, named after a type of coffee originating from Java.

[5] For now. The government of Indonesia has announced that they will be moving the capital of the country to another location on the island of Borneo. And by “moving”, I mean they are going to be building a new city and assigning it as the capital, not uprooting the entire city of Jakarta and flying it over to another island hundreds of miles away. Like repotting some sort of horrifically gigantic plant.

[6] The Garuda Wisnu Kencana statue in the southern part of Bali. It’s the 15th tallest statue in the world (surprisingly, the Statue of Liberty in New York is actually the 50th tallest) and it’s actually quite near Bali’s Ngurah Rai International Airport. The park in which the statue is located was actually closed when I went this year due to the pandemic, however it may or may not be open now. I guess it depends on when you read this.

Did I say tomorrow? Sorry, I meant today.

You know when it’s a blazing hot and sunny summer’s day and you see this tree that’s got all this beautifully cool-looking shade under it? Well, in Indonesian they have a word for that: teduh. It’s used to describe a place that’s nice and shady. And I don’t mean “shady” as a place with a lot of boarded-up windows and weird characters hanging about. And if you went and sat under that tree and looked up, you may witness the Japanese concept of komorebi: sunshine filtering through the leaves on a tree. 

In Urdu/Hindi [1], we have the same word for “yesterday” as well as for “tomorrow”: kal (it’s pronounced so it rhymes with “dull”). Not so interesting, right? But we also have a word for the day after tomorrow: purson. For this one, the pronunciation is pretty simple except for the “n” sound at the end which you have to make into a nasal “n” sound. Kind of like in French with a word like bon. So it’s “purr-son”, with the nasal “n”. And it means the day after tomorrow. Still not that interesting? Well how about if I told you that English also has a word for the day after tomorrow? Overmorrow. What? Why are you laughing? 

Here’s something I found out recently. In Denmark, when they show Danish movies in cinemas, they put subtitles for people to understand. Now, wait a minute. Shouldn’t the people of Denmark understand Danish? Yes. But apparently the various dialects of Danish are so different across different parts of Denmark that sometimes it gets hard for other Danes to understand.

The numbers in French are a complicated, messy, beautiful tray of ratatouille that someone made whilst they were distracted with the game that was on TV in the other room. You may already know about it, given the popularity and widespread-ness of French, but if you aren’t familiar with the numbers in French, here’s the rub: in French it goes un, deux, trois, quatre, cinq, six, sette, huit, neuf, and diz (that’s one to ten). Then onwards from eleven it’s onze, douze, treize, quatorze, quinze, seize, dix-sept, dix-huit, dix-neuf and vingt for twenty. With me so far? Nothing too complicated yet. After that, it follows a basic pattern (like a lot of languages) like twenty-one is vingt-et-un, twenty-two is vingt-deux, thirty-six is trente-six and okay, blah blah blah. You get it. It’s all well and good until sixty-nine (soixante-neuf). After this is where it gets messy. Seventy in French is soixante-dix, which literally means “sixty-ten”. It’s pretty strange. But oh, does it get stranger. The system continues in this manner with seventy-one being soixante-onze, or “sixty-eleven”. And then this carries on for a bit, until eighty where the typhoon of weirdness begins blowing so hard that the roof of rationality rips off and flies away. Eighty is quatre-vingt or “four-twenty” (since four multiplied by twenty is eighty). Yes, really. Eighty-one in French is quatre-vingt-un and the numbers continue, with ninety being — are you ready? — quatre-vingt-dix or “four-twenty-ten”. And for the finale, ninety-nine in French is quatre-vingt-dix-neuf. Whew. 

I’m just kidding with the whole making-fun-of-French thing. Plus, for me as a speaker of English — one of the most inconsistent languages ever — to be poking fun out of any language is pretty bold. And to be honest, I like the complexity that French has in it as a language. It adds character, makes it feel like a language that’s evolved organically over centuries and that makes it more fun to learn. Also, a lot of languages have complex number systems. Danish has a similar system to French with the multiplication-thing; like their word for three is tre and four is fire, so their word for sixty is tres and eighty is firs since 3 x 20 = 60 and 4 x 20 = 80. 

Urdu, a language that I speak coming from a Pakistani family, also has a pretty complicated number system. Unlike other languages, the numbers don’t really have a consistent pattern and so you basically have to memorise all the numbers from 1 to 100. I speak Urdu fluently but even I don’t have all the numbers down yet. I guess practice makes perfect.

[1] So Urdu (the national language of Pakistan) and Hindi (the national language of India) are basically the same language although the writing system is totally different. Hindi uses the Devanagri script (so it looks similar to Sanskrit and Nepali) while Urdu uses the Nastaliq script (so it looks similar to Persian and Arabic). In speaking, Urdu and Hindi do have differences in vocabulary and register, but for the most part it is the same language and speakers of either language can understand speakers of the other almost effortlessly.

Brought to you by the World Wide Web.

You check your messages. Nothing new. You look at your chats. You feel somewhat bored talking to the same people every day. What happened? You think. I used to have so many friends. You mentally go over your memories, thinking about certain people you used to hang out with but no longer talk to any more. I should shoot them a text, you decide. I wonder how they’re doing? You scroll much further down, past the chats you’ve been in over the past few months and into the realm of buried messages and group chats that you haven’t touched for years. Some of these people have changed their profile photos since you last spoke to them, and you see some almost unrecognisable faces. You scroll. Almost near the end, you find an old group chat with your high school friends that was last active around three years ago. The last few messages were an exchange of  emojis after one of your friends shared a link to a video that wasn’t really that funny but you’d sent a laughing emoji anyway. You feel a little nervous as you tap on the text box and begin typing. Hey guys, you write. Long time! How is everyone doing? That should be good enough. Keep it short at first, to get it going. You are about to press “send”, but then you hesitate. Nah, you think. This is too bland. I haven’t spoken to these guys in ages! I should show more passion. You erase your earlier entry. You type again. You’re hoping that the other four guys are sitting there with this chat open and they’re seeing that you’re typing. Then you’ll look like the hero for getting everyone back together. OMG, guys! How’s it going? Hmm. Seems better. You press send and type out another message. Last time we spoke was when So-and-So was in office! You look at what you’ve typed. No, you think. No need to get political. You erase the message and just stare at the already-sent message:  OMG, guys! How’s it going? This seems fine. You look at it, like a rocket shot out into space. You feel excited. Any second now. This message will travel through wires, satellites and servers and, somewhere in the world, four phones will vibrate simultaneously. One of them is bound to check their phone immediately and, if they’re a true friend, will also get a rush of excitement to be reconnecting with you and will reply immediately. Then the conversation can kick off. Why didn’t I message these guys before? you wonder, making a note to always keep in touch with friends from here on out.

A while passes. You’re curious as to what’s happening. Have they received my message? I’m sure they have. They’re probably just busy. You go to the “group info” section so you can check out their profile photos while you wait and that’s when your heart drops. Next to “participants”, it shows the loneliest number surrounded only by two brackets: “(1)”.

IS THIS THAT PAINTING THAT WAS MADE FOR THAT KING BECAUSE, YOU KNOW, THEY DIDN’T HAVE CAMERAS BACK THEN?

I went to art school back in 2012 and when you’re in art school, you have to do a lot of research. And by research, I mean going to galleries, scrolling through endless art blogs and reading about various art movements. 

And there have been so many art movements. Like so many. And everyone has their own preference as to what kind of art they like, but for me I kind of like old paintings from the Renaissance period (roughly the 14th to 17th centuries). Painters like Leonardo da Vinci, Michaelangelo and Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino (also known as Raphael) are really what I would call the definition of good art.

I really like Da Vinci’s paintings. A lot of people say the Mona Lisa [1] is overrated but I think it’s a pretty good painting, although I can’t really pinpoint what is it exactly that I like about it. Maybe because it’s so famous it’s basically become a world-famous icon at this point? I also really like The Last Supper. And then you have Michaelangelo with his Sistine Chapel and Raphael’s The School of Athens. It’s amazing craftsmanship. But I also kind of like paintings that are a little more mysterious and enigmatic. Paintings like The Garden of Earthly Delights and Netherlandish Proverbs are Dutch paintings from the 16th century whose visual aesthetic I really like. Yeah, they’re a little creepy but, I don’t know, I kind of like that. A little creepy I can handle, heck I like it — for some reason. But only a little creepy. I’m not talking Saturn-Devouring-His-Son level of creepy. That painting is horrifying. I’m not going to tell you not to Google it because that will only make you want to do it more. So go ahead. But don’t say I didn’t warn you.

I also really like other paintings from the Early Netherlandish master time period, like from Master of the Martyrdom of St. Lucy and Master of the Amsterdam Death of the Virgin. These are strange names, you may be thinking, but they’re actually notnames. Notnames are names given to artists whose identities are unknown or lost. So these artists actually get their names from the names of their paintings.

I also like paintings where there’s a lot going on. Like some sort of old-timely Where’s Wally? [2]. Although there are some more minimal paintings, like Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks, that I think is just fantastic in its tone, style and subject. I also really like Giorgio de Chirico’s paintings with their bare look and quiet atmosphere. Another favourite of mine — yes, this segment is just going to be all about what I like and don’t like — love Eugène Delacroix’s Liberty Leading the People, which is part of the romanticism movement. These are all paintings you might have seen before. I also like paintings that are incredibly realistic, like The Blind Girl by John Everett Millais or God Speed by Edmund Leighton.

So, with that, let’s move onto the paintings that I don’t like, shall we? Being an art student you do of course come across some work that you just cannot bring yourself to like whilst doing your research. One artist that I can think of whose paintings I’ve always just found too creepy to be able to comprehend is — and those of you familiar with the world of fine art might already know who I’m talking about — Salvador Dali. This guy was weird. He was just one of the most eccentric characters I’ve ever read about. He had a pet ocelot. He once arrived at a college to give a lecture with cauliflowers in his Rolls Royce. I mean, just take one look at that moustache and tell me yourself. But I don’t hold his eccentric character against him; we’re all weird in our own way. However Dali’s surrealist paintings are just absolutely bizarre to me. Everyone knows his painting with the melting clocks — it’s called The Persistence of Memory — but if you go and Google it and actually take a closer look, you’ll see it’s probably a lot more bizarre than you remember it being. I mean, yeah, that’s the point, but for me I can’t really comprehend what that strange white shape is. Is it a dead horse? A long piece of silk? [3]. And if you haven’t seen any of Dali’s other paintings, yeah; they’re just as weird as the melting clock one. If not weirder.

Another famous painter I don’t really like is Picasso. I never understood the hype. His use of cubism — which is when you paint using geometric shapes and give the piece a fragmented look. You can also paint from multiple angles and put it all together — was never a style that appealed to me. I mean, he actually co-invented the style, so kudos to him, but I never liked his portraits where one eye was bigger than the other, the nose was on the forehead and there were just triangles and circles floating around. Just seems a bit childish to me. Kind of like Edvard Munch’s The Scream. Yes, that painting that looks like it was literally drawn by a five-year-old with crayons. Never understood the hype behind that one, either. Interestingly enough, the red sky in that painting is thought to be due to the 1883 eruption of Krakatoa, a volcano in Indonesia, which was a gigantic eruption and could have been heard thousands of miles away.

But I don’t get that painting at all. I mean, what’s the big deal? Some sort of hidden meaning? The screaming figure represents… something, something? I mean, I’m more of a visual person; if I like a painting, it’s usually because of its visual quality. With paintings, I’m usually not into finding the “deeper meaning” and whatnot. And there are much better portraits than The Scream such as American Gothic by Grant Wood, Self-Portrait with Thorn Necklace and Hummingbird by Frida Kahlo [4] or Whistler’s Mother by James Abbott McNeill Whistler [5], to name a few. I even don’t mind Da Vinci’s Saint John the Baptist (although the facial expression is a little creepy). But some art styles are not really for me. Like A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte, a painting that uses the style known as pointillism. It uses small dots to make up the whole picture, a style that although gives the painting a warm and adorable-ish look, I just can’t get into it. I also never really liked impressionism, including the famous Vincent Van Gogh whose work, although understandable, I couldn’t really appreciate the various brushstrokes all moving in different directions. 

And finally, we’re going to talk about the last type of art that I can’t stand: still life. Paintings of trees, plants, ponds and things like that. I just find it so boring. That’s why I never liked a lot of work by Monet, Turner or Cézanne. 

And let’s not even get into the can of worms that is Jackson Pollock.

[1] So die-hard fans of Kanis Majoris — if such a thing exists — will remember the story of why the Mona Lisa is so famous from Kanis Majoris No. 1. If you haven’t the foggiest what I’m on about, you can check it out here.

[2] We call it Where’s Wally? in the UK. I’m not quite sure why it’s different to Where’s Waldo? in North America and other places. Like in French it’s “Charlie” instead of “Wally” (Où est Charlie?), in German it’s “Walter” (Wo ist Walter?) and “Ali” in Turkish (Ali nerede?). But since the whole thing was invented in Britain, we’ll stick to “Wally” as the original, proper, correct version. If that’s okay.

[3] Okay, so after looking online it seems to be that the white shape Dali painted was actually a human face (possibly himself). But, I don’t know. I don’t see it.

[4] Although the title is a little unimaginative. By the way, you might know about Frida Kahlo and how she was in a bus accident and then her powerful and symbolic paintings reflected her pain and — oh, you already know. Okay.

[5] As seen in one of my favourite childhood films, Bean, in which Mr. Bean ruins everything with just one sneeze. As always. 

I’ve already seen this episode twelve times and it just keeps getting better and better.

I’ll say this: Michael Scott is one of the most likeable and relatable characters ever. He’s desperately alone, constantly embarrassing himself and always looking for attention and approval. And I think a lot of us can relate to that. Yes, come on. You’ve embarrassed yourself at some point in your life in a very Michael-Scott-esque way. It’s okay. We all have.

For those of you who haven’t watched The Office (the US version), Michael Scott is the regional manager of a branch of a company that sells paper. In other words, he’s the boss of a small office. And whilst watching any episode of The Office (the US version), you basically ask yourself the same question over and over again: how is this guy a manager? Because Michael Scott is the most un-manager-like manager there is. He’s always looking for attention and distracting his employees when they actually want to work. He’s inappropriate and he’s often harassing or making fun of people and he’s also so immature that he throws a tantrum any time anyone makes fun of him. But he’s not a bad guy. He’s a constant annoyance to his employees — and basically anyone else around him — but he also has such a good heart and he’ll do anything for the people he cares about even if they won’t do the same for him. He forgives easily and cares about people’s problems. He started a charity run for Meredith after he found out she had rabies. He cried when Angela’s cat died — and actually cared — and he was the only one who came to Pam’s art show and truly appreciated her work. His tragedy is that his own overly disruptive personality gets in the way of people liking him, which is all he really wants. And Steve Carrell manages to pull it off with such amazing skill with the way he looks at the camera after every joke and manages to keep the balance between warm-hearted Michael and selfish, immature Michael.

I think the reasons why people talk about this show so much is mainly three things: realistic-ness, dialogue and characters. The characters are realistic and believable, coming off like they are real people (the show does present itself as a documentary, after all). Each character does have their own quirks and personality, of course, but for the most part, they seem like regular office workers that could very well be people you work with at your own workplace.

Every character’s arc was great. Ryan, as a temp who kind of showed up every now and then, to becoming the boss, to then getting arrested for fraud and then returning as a slacker who kind of doesn’t care about anything before beginning his new phase of being a more smart and creative Ryan. Even some of the background characters were great. Like Creed. What I love about Creed is that he never really becomes a main, central character. He’s always kind of in the background being the weird, crooked old man he is and it works out really well.

There are two characters, however, whose stories I didn’t like: Michael and Andy. Michael should never have left as the show was just not the same without him. If I’m ever rewatching random episodes of the show, I always pick episodes before season 7, episode 22, Goodbye Michael, which is — as you might have guessed — when Michael leaves. I sometimes like to pretend that Goodbye Michael is actually the last episode of the show, in which DeAngelo, played by Will Ferrell, replaces Michael as the regional manager and the employees of the Scranton branch realise how crazy their new boss is, thus basically bringing them back to where they were in season 1. I think I would have been happy if that had been the actual ending to the show.

Another character I have a problem with is Andy. Andy began as a kind of antagonist and I think he should have stayed that way. After he exploded with anger and punched through that wall, he should have disappeared. He could have either gotten fired and never have been seen again, or if the writers wanted Andy to stay on the show, they could have had him transferred to another branch. He then could have spent the next season or so maybe trying to sabotage Jim and the Scranton branch and failing at every attempt before possibly disappearing for good. I don’t know, something like that.

Look at me, telling the writers of a popular show how to do their jobs. But hey, this is just my opinion. I just think that would have been a much better character arc for Andy because instead what happens is that when he comes back from anger management, he gets rebranded as a “good guy” and becomes the most goofy, cringey character ever. Him getting engaged to the uptight and cold Angela who didn’t care about him at all and treated him like shit whilst also cheating on him with Dwight is painful to watch. And then the rest of the time he’s either jumping around the office embarrassing himself or kissing someone’s ass in an attempt to … I don’t even know. I just don’t like when Andy’s around and I definitely don’t like when he becomes manager and he and Erin become the new romantic element to the story. He becomes too much of a central character and all it does is make me realise how much I miss Michael Scott.

Just one more character that I’d like to talk about specifically is Jim, whom I really dislike, maybe even more so than Andy. Jim is just so smug and acts like he is the most rational, sensible person ever but then he spends all of his time basically just pranking Dwight in the most over-the-top and unnecessarily passive aggressive ways. Any time anyone else is doing anything out of the ordinary, Jim will act like what they’re doing is totally ridiculous. Like when Michael had the idea of starting a paper company, Jim literally shut him down and mocked him for such a crazy idea. Or whenever Dwight wants to actually do something useful like hide weapons around the office or start a task force to solve a problem, Jim makes fun of him and makes him feel like an idiot. But then Jim is also the one who thinks moving Dwight’s desk into the bathroom or literally climbing a telegraph pole to hide some red wire for Dwight to find are rational and sensible things to do. Around season 6, when he becomes co-manager, Jim gets all serious and starts telling people to “get back to work” even though he spent the first five seasons basically slacking off and flirting with Pam.

Pam, by the way, I actually really like as a character. Her arc is one of the best on the show as she grows from a timid receptionist to becoming a more smart and confident person who learns about themselves and goes through her journey taking risks and learning. When Michael starts The Michael Scott Paper Company — which is probably my favourite subplot of the show — she is the only one who was spontaneous and adventurous enough to go along and try something new. Jim is just a lazy coward who never tries anything new. He spends years working at Dunder Mifflin working the same job for a lot of it and shuts down others who want to have new or original thoughts or ideas. Even though he himself does eventually have an idea in season 9 when he starts his own sports company.

So the characters are really one of the main things that brings this show to life, is what I’m trying to say here. The dialogue-based comedy of the show uses each character in a brilliant way, like in scenes where the whole office is having a debate of some sort and each every character chimes in with something that’s exactly in line with their personality. Like the “whoever or whomever” scene or the time they have to do the first aid course.

The show does, however, shift in comedic style for seasons 8 and 9 — which, surprise surprise, is right after Michael Scott leaves. The characters basically became parodies of themselves, begin acting even more outlandishly than in earlier seasons and the humour was not what it was before. There is a theory that I read online once that the reason why the characters of the show start acting stranger than earlier in the show is because of the radon in the ceilings that has been mentioned at various points throughout the show. The radon — a gas which is a health risk for humans — slowly, over the years, poisoned the minds of the employees of Dunder Mifflin Scranton explaining their erratic and wacky behaviour in later seasons. It’s a cool theory because as ridiculous as that sounds, you do have to appreciate the genius of it as a concept; that something within the story explains the comedic quality of the show itself.

Or it could just be that Steve Carrell leaving basically made the show not as fun to watch and you, as the viewer, only continue watching through to the end because you want to carry on the story and see how these characters that you’ve spent all this time with end up. And although the ending to the show is a little peculiar, I think it works. It’s a little outside-of-the-box, but I think it’s a good ending for this show.

This is probably the longest review I’ve ever written. So I’ll stop now and just say that The Office (the US version) is probably the funniest show I’ve ever seen and it is absolutely comedy gold — the first seven seasons, anyway. If you are interested to watch it but aren’t sure if you’d like it or not, you’re in luck. Each episode is only around 20 minutes long on average (there are some special episodes that are longer) but you can have a watch and see for yourself. There are also shorter clips on YouTube of the best bits of the show.

Oh, you wanted to know my opinion on the UK version of The Office? Well, you could have told me that before I started talking about the amazing humour of Michael Scott and went on that long rant about Jim. Anyway, I haven’t really seen the UK version of The Office.

Extend the antenna, turn up the volume and put it next to your pillow as you drift off to sleep.

THREE AMAZING PODCASTS

You’re listening to the So-and-So Show with me, your host, Mr. So-and-So. Today’s episode is sponsored by Some-Random-Startup and we’re going to kick off our episode today by introducing our very special guest, Dr. Expert! Dr. Expert, thank you for being here. It’s been a while! I haven’t seen you since last… God, when was it? Really? Was it that long ago? No, because I remember ...

Does this sound familiar? Are you bored of your regular, everyday, run-of-the-mill podcast? Do you want to try something ...new? Okay, I'll stop sounding like a bad infomercial. But seriously, I find a lot of podcasts seem to begin with the most jarring, unnecessary intro that goes on forever before any kind of actually meaningful content. Sponsors are established, pleasantries are exchanged between guest and host or the topic of the episode is introduced rather than just going straight into the actual content. I’m not sure how you feel about it — or if I’m even making sense here — but I just prefer when people get right into it. As a result, I don’t really enjoy a lot of podcasts, but there are three that I have listened to extensively and I think are incredibly unique. Maybe I just need to try out more podcasts, but these are the three that I think are pure gold — from what I’ve come across so far. 

Welcome to Night Vale

Twice a month
since 2012

A podcast that is seriously one of the most creative things I have ever heard. Absurdly strange with a dark sense of humour, Welcome to Night Vale is a podcast styled as a radio show for a fictional desert town somewhere in the south-west of the United States. The concept is totally genius. Although it’s hard to describe in words, the show, through incredible writing, off-the-wall humour and relatable social commentary, does a fantastic job of making you feel like you are a part of this strange, mysterious town where all sorts of weird things happen that are, hilariously, totally seen as normal. Welcome to Night Vale is the show where you really need to listen to really get it, and it’s also the kind of podcast where you’ll either love it or hate it. You’ll either totally get it or you’ll think it’s dumb. 

WHAT’S A TYPICAL EPISODE LIKE? Although so unexpectedly random with no knowing what’s going to come next, almost every episode (or at least the ones that I’ve listened to) of Welcome to Night Vale has a similar trajectory where various strange things happening in the fictional town are reported, one of them usually being the main problem, accompanied by descriptions of other things in the town, appearances by recurring characters and usually some music instead of a weather forecast. Like I said, you really have to listen to it to get it. Generally, episodes are around 20-30 minutes in length, but some are around 45 minutes long.

The Monday Morning Podcast

Twice a week
since 2007

Hosted by comedian Bill Burr, The Monday Morning Podcast is a comedy podcast with a very off-the-cuff style and the most hilarious ad reads of any podcast I’ve ever heard. Bill gives his hilarious take on current affairs, tells travel stories from the road, gives his unprofessional yet wise, backed-with-years-of-life-experience advice and, despite the show being broadcasted bi-weekly since 2007, finds a way to tie it all together without it ever getting boring or repetitive. With barely any guests. This is a must-listen for anyone who likes Bill Burr’s comedy style and his spontaneous, quick-witted humour. One of the best things that I like about The Monday Morning Podcast (or The Thursday-Afternoon-Just-Before-Friday Monday Morning Podcast on Thursdays) is that Bill is able to find a way to mock anything — including himself, often calling himself out for being ignorant or stupid. The Monday Morning Podcast is one of the best and unique podcasts out there — just be prepared to listen to a lot of talk about American sports as that is one of Burr’s favourite topics to talk about. But, like me, if you aren’t interested in listening to a choppy summary of last Monday’s game between two random teams I’ve never heard of, you can of course skip all of that with the “fast forward by 30 seconds” button. Is there a name for that?

WHAT’S A TYPICAL EPISODE LIKE? Typically, the Monday episode is an hour long, with the Thursday episode being a shorter “I’m just checkin’ in on you” listen. The Monday Morning Podcast goes wherever Burr’s mind goes. It’s usually just him talking for the entirety (unless there’s a guest) with no music, effects or intro (not counting the fade-out music of the Thursday episodes or the “advice” jingle). He usually does advertising halfway through, and it’s the only ad reads that I actually enjoy listening to because Bill Burr makes them all hilarious by cracking jokes throughout and, at times, making fun of the actual sponsor. Have you ever seen any other podcast do that?

99% Invisible

Once a week
since 2010

A brilliant podcast about all sorts of knowledge, lesser-known facts and finding the extraordinary in the seemingly ordinary. 99 Percent Invisible is a must-listen for people who love learning about things previously unheard of with a complex and detailed story behind them or diving into the history of something well-known like a landmark. I particularly have enjoyed the Mini Stories episodes they’ve done. The show is well-produced with friendly, easy to understand language and a positive vibe of wonder and curiosity.

WHAT’S A TYPICAL EPISODE LIKE? 99 Percent Invisible does really well setting up the topic — I know in the beginning I said I don’t like it when people set up the topic at the start, but 99 Percent Invisible does it in a concise and swift way where they don’t drone on for ages at the start. Look, I never said I was some sort of podcast-expert. Alright, I’m sorry. Yes, I am too picky. Okay? Can we move on now? — and then going into depth with a well-researched story that reels you in with every step. Episodes vary in length, some around 20 minutes long with others a little longer than an hour.

Mr. J will see you now.

7.

A ring of fun that can change in size.
Fingers make it fly right before your eyes.
Packed full of energy and has an easy name,
go to far and it won’t be the same.

8.

Has many wings but not one feather.
Let it watch over you in hot weather.
Slowly turns and looks around,
A gentle breeze and a humming sound.

9.

A keen eye that needs just a moment
to see all it needs, then report to its components.
Later it will show you what it has seen,
When you need it again just press the screen.

SHOW ANSWERS

ANSWERS:
7. an elastic band, 8. an electric fan, 9. a camera

Stop. Hold it right there.

Hi. Thought I’d just check in and see how you’re doing? Great? Great! Well, I just wanna say that I am very, very glad that you are reading this magazine (which is the third issue, see the other issues here) and I would love to hear your opinion on what you think about Kanis Majoris. Love the mag? Let me know! Hate it? Shoot me an email! Want to give me a suggestion and/or offer me a unique investment opportunity in which you hastily need to transfer me a huge amount of money that used to belong to some dictator of a third-world country? Go ahead! I’m looking forward to your email. Now remember what we talked about and get back to reading. And make it quick because I’ve got ice cream cake sitting in the car and it’s not going to make it if we don’t get home in twenty minutes.

Subjectively Shortlisted

THIRTY-SIX MORE ALBUMS THAT MAY OR MAY NOT BE WORTH LISTENING TO

So there are a lot of albums out there, and turns out making just one list of thirty-six albums isn’t really enough. That isn’t to say that these thirty-six albums are less important than the previous thirty-six (or vice versa). Like always with Subjectively Shortlisted, the order is not important; it’s just a list of things I think are worth checking out. Or maybe not. Depends on you. Again, before we start: this is all this is very, very, very subjective to my own opinion. And I’m not a professional music critic; just someone who enjoys music a lot. Okay, here we go.

Melody’s Echo Chamber

by Melody's Echo Chamber
2012

A shoegaze-y, psychedelic-styled sound with reverbed vocals and a must-listen for those who like Tame Impala and Unknown Mortal Orchestra. You know, that cool, chilled-out type of music that you can just put on and not think too much about.

NOTABLE TRACKS: I FOLLOW YOU; SOME TIME ALONE, ALONE; BISOU MAGIQUE

NOT FOR YOU IF:
YOU LIKE STRUCTURED MUSIC THAT HAS DEPTH, PURPOSE AND MEANING. AND YOU HATE ECHOEY VOCALS AND VAGUE, DISTORTED GUITAR SOUNDS.

Norman Fucking Rockwell!

by Lana Del Rey
2019

A fantastic album from the one and only Lana Del Rey who I really think outdid herself on this release. Her singing style is kind of the same as it always is, so don’t go in expecting any change there — but then again, does her voice need any change? The change in Norman Fucking Rockwell! is mainly with the ... you know what? I can’t seem to put my finger on it. The style of the album sounds kind of similar to her other work, and so do the lyrics, so what’s different? I think it’s just that there are so many killer tracks on this album that make it very re-listenable.

NOTABLE TRACKS: MARINERS APARTMENT COMPLEX; VENICE BITCH; CINNAMON GIRL

NOT FOR YOU IF: YOU WON’T LIKE THIS ALBUM IF YOU DON’T LIKE LANA DEL REY’S STYLE, BASICALLY, BECAUSE THIS ALBUM HAS THE SAME LANA-DEL-REY-ESQUE ELEMENTS THAT ALL HER OTHER ALBUMS HAVE, PRETTY MUCH.

The Way Out

by The Books
2010

Weird, experimental and also kind of catchy, this is an album that you listen to and then ask yourself what exactly it is that you are listening to. And why.

NOTABLE TRACKS: A COLD, FREEZIN’ NIGHT; I AM WHO I AM; ALL YOU NEED IS A WALL

NOT FOR YOU IF:
YOU AREN’T A FAN OF JUST COMPLETELY RANDOM AND NONSENSICAL MUSIC THAT IS A MISH-MASH OF SO MANY THINGS THAT IT MAKES YOU QUESTION ALL OF YOUR LIFE DECISIONS THAT HAVE LED YOU TO THE POINT OF YOU LISTENING TO THE ALBUM.

The Lumineers

by The Lumineers
2012

A nicely-crafted sing-along-able folk/indie album from The Lumineers. Although I would call this album folk/indie, The Lumineers doesn’t sound like most other folk/indie albums in the sense that it feels a lot more grand and spectacular with its use of instrumentation like in Ho Hey and interesting, catchy lyrics like in Big Parade.

NOTABLE TRACKS: HO HEY; BIG PARADE; MORNING SONG

NOTABLE TRACKS: YOU DON’T LIKE THAT INDIE-FOLK VIBE.

When You See Yourself

by Kings of Leon
2021

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: this band just keeps making good music. I thought that by at least by their eighth album, Kings of Leon would have become a group of washed-out has-beens, but boy was I wrong. I mean, let’s be fair: their music is not as spectacular as their earlier stuff, but it is still very listenable and worth checking out. Does that deserve praise? Of course. Look, these guys have been a band since — wait, let me check Wikipedia — 1999. Twenty-two years. That’s a long time to be in a band. And I’ve never been in a band or anything, but I think it’s pretty difficult to be a band for that long and stay relevant and keep things fresh. But these boys have managed to pull it off very well indeed, so kudos to them. Who knows what the future holds for Kings of Leon and what they’ll do next, but at this point in time I think they're doing really well. Wait, so how’s the actual album? Oh, yeah. Forgot about that part. The album definitely has some strong points that definitely still has that classic Kings of Leon style with the riffs and sick bass lines, however, other parts of the album are a bit bland. I think if you like Kings of Leon, you’ll like When You See Yourself. If you’ve never been a fan, then this might not be the album that will win you over. 

NOTABLE TRACKS: THE BANDIT; 100,000 PEOPLE; STORMY WEATHER

NOT FOR YOU IF: YOU AREN’T INTO ALTERNATIVE ROCK-ISH BANDS THAT HAVE A GOOD SOUND WITH STRONG RIFFS THAT MAKE YOU WANT TO LEARN GUITAR, BADASS BASS LINES THAT MAKE YOU WANT TO LEARN BASS AND BEATS THAT MAKE YOU WANT TO — YEAH, YOU GET IT. DRUMS.

The Life Aquatic Exclusive Studio Sessions Featuring Seu Jorge

by Seu Jorge
2005

In making this list, I told myself that no soundtracks or any “greatest hits”-type albums would be allowed. But I’ll be damned if this isn’t a beautiful collection of acoustic Bowie renditions. In Portuguese. Seu Jorge makes each song so amazing with nothing but an acoustic guitar and his dark, oaky voice. If you’ve seen The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, you’re already familiar with what I’m talking about as these songs were all featured in the film. And since the songs that were in the film were rerecorded for this album — with another few new songs thrown in — I don’t think this counts as a soundtrack. The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou does have its own separate soundtrack album so I think putting this one here is fair game. And even if it isn’t, I’ll take whatever penalty comes my way to put Seu Jorge on this list. Oh, wait, there is no penalty because it’s my magazine.

NOTABLE TRACKS: REBEL REBEL; LIFE ON MARS; STARMAN

NOT FOR YOU IF: YOU DON’T LIKE SLOW, BEAUTIFUL MUSIC.

I like this playlist. It really defines who I am as a person.

Nagisanite

by Indigo La End
2012

A short, six-track album by Japanese outfit Indigo La End. The first three tracks are incredibly energetic and fun, with the last three tracks being a little more moody and good for when you want to reflect on life, giving the whole album a good dynamic between the first half and the second half.

NOTABLE TRACKS: 楽園 (Rakuen); レナは朝を奪ったみたいだ (Lena Wa Asa Wo Ubatta Mitai da); el

NOT FOR YOU IF:
YOU DON’T LIKE DYNAMIC, ENERGETIC JAPANESE ROCK MUSIC.

Danger Days: The True Lives of Fabulous Killjoys

by My Chemical Romance
2010

I absolutely loved this album when it came out. The concept, style, characters and lyrics were right up my street and was inspiring how creative and different it was. Now, I know most fans of My Chemical Romance probably hated this album because — as is usual when any band does this — Danger Days was miles different from their usual emo-ish style up until that point. But I really liked it. I think bands have to evolve as time goes on and if My Chemical Romance kept on doing the same thing forever, it would get boring eventually. So Danger Days was a bold change and I really enjoyed this album a lot, like I said. The concept of the gunslinging boys riding around a dystopian desert in a muscle car whilst being hunted by a corrupt corporation sounds cool even on paper. And I think MCR did it really well with their lyrics, music videos and new style of sound. 

NOTABLE TRACKS: NA NA NA (NA NA NA NA NA NA NA NA NA), BULLETPROOF HEART, SUMMERTIME.

NOT FOR YOU IF:
YOU DON’T LIKE MUSIC THAT HAS GOOD IMAGERY AND LYRICS. ALSO IF MAYBE YOU WERE A MY CHEMICAL ROMANCE FAN UNTIL YOU HEARD THIS ALBUM, AFTER WHICH YOU BURNT ALL OF YOUR MCR MERCHANDISE AND DELETED ALL THEIR SONGS FROM YOUR IPOD. WE’RE TALKING ABOUT 2010 HERE, SO YEAH THAT SOUNDS ABOUT RIGHT.

My Head Is An Animal

by Of Monsters and Men
2012

Icelandic band Of Monsters and Men are an indie folk group with a similar sound to bands like The Lumineers or Mumford & Sons. What I like a lot about My Head Is An Animal the most is there are no filler tracks. Each and every song is good, basically, and the whole album has a very fun, dynamic sound which really shows off the talent of this band.

NOTABLE TRACKS: MOUNTAIN SOUND; LITTLE TALKS; SIX WEEKS

NOT FOR YOU IF:
YOU DON’T LIKE INDIE-FOLK MUSIC BECAUSE YOU JUST DON’T LIKE IT AND YOU DON’T REALLY NEED A REASON.

Can We Go Out Now?

by Puff Punch
2021

A surf-punk-ish album with cool, indie vibes and a good, dynamic energy. Only four tracks that although might all sound the same, the concept of the album is nice and every track is listenable. Even Everyday I Miss You, despite the fact that I don’t really like the sound of a ukelele.

NOTABLE TRACKS: HOUSE ARREST; YOU’RE ANNOYING BUT I LOVE YOU; HOMEBODY

NOT FOR YOU IF:
YOU DON’T LIKE FAST-PACED INDIE ROCK MUSIC THAT NO ONE HAS EVER HEARD OF.

Head In The Clouds

by 88rising
2018

An album that’s a bit like if pop came to a costume party dressed as hip-hop. The sound is diverse — maybe because it features multiple artists from all over the place like Thailand, the US, Indonesia, Japan, and more — and each track brings something new.

NOTABLE TRACKS: PEACH JAM, MIDSUMMER MADNESS, HISTORY.

NOT FOR YOU IF: YOU AREN’T INTO HIP-HOP-ISH/POP ALBUMS WITH A LOT GOING FOR THEM.

Pretty. Odd.

by Panic! At The Disco
2008

This album is the most different from all of Panic! At The Disco’s other work. From being an indie/emo, tight-clothes-and-eyeliner band, they went to Pretty. Odd. which has a slightly different style and a more bright, romantic and cheerful vibe compared to the edgier stuff from their earlier work. It’s got this vintage vibe to it with hints of folk as well as the usual indie rock sound all mixed together as a memorable package before the other band members eventually left and the lead singer, Brendon Urie, went on to make music that I personally do not like at all.

NOTABLE TRACKS: NINE IN THE AFTERNOON, WHEN THE DAY MET THE NIGHT, NORTHERN DOWNPOUR.

NOT FOR YOU IF: INDIE-FOLK/ROCK MUSIC THAT HAS A VINTAGE, ROMANTIC THEME AND VIBE MAKES YOU NOT WANT TO LISTEN TO MUSIC ANYMORE.

Listen, if you’re going to sing along, you have to know at least some of the lyrics.

Tenacious D

by Tenacious D
2001

The first time I heard this album, I remember I was laughing so hard as I thought about how it had taken me so long to discover this album that’s basically comedy combined with music that makes for a very enjoyable listening experience. The songs are short, catchy and are quite a few number with short interludes of Jack Black and Kyle Gass making comedy gold with their banter and silly arguments.

NOTABLE TRACKS: SERIOUSLY, THE WHOLE ALBUM. SERIOUSLY. BUT OKAY, I’LL GIVE YOU MY TOP THREE: TRIBUTE, DIO AND CITY HALL.

NOT FOR YOU IF: YOU DON’T LIKE THE “JACK BLACK” SENSE OF HUMOUR. IF YOU DO, HOWEVER, THEN YOU’LL PROBABLY LIKE TENACIOUS D. ALSO IF YOU DON’T LIKE MUSIC COMBINED WITH COMEDY.

The Lion’s Roar

by First Aid Kit
2012

This duo from Sweden create a really nice blend of country, folk and acoustic sound in this album that has ups and downs, highs and lows and a really cool closing track, Wolf.

NOTABLE TRACKS: EMMYLOU; THIS OLD ROUTINE; WOLF.

NOT FOR YOU IF: YOU DON’T LIKE FOLK-ISH, COUNTRY-ISH TYPE SOUNDS.

Foo Fighters

by Foo Fighters
1995

Dave Grohl’s solo effort in recording the first album for a band that would become a huge success later is in my opinion one of their best albums. The loud, rough sound definitely has remnants of the ‘90s grunge rock aesthetic and although it’s a little messy and random in terms of lyrics, it’s got a distinctly ‘90s sound. Maybe because it came out of the ‘90s.

NOTABLE TRACKS: GOOD GRIEF; FLOATY; WEENIE BEENIE

NOT FOR YOU IF: YOU DON’T LIKE THAT ‘90S GRUNGE, ‘90S ROCK OR ‘90S GRUNGE ROCK. LIKE EVEN THE MENTION OF ANY OF THEM GIVES YOU THE CREEPS.

Rumours

by Fleetwood Mac
1977

A hit album from the ‘70s that is relistenable, catchy and understandably such a popular album. The sound is quite varied across the tracks — I mean sometimes it’s more country, sometimes it’s more folk and sometimes more ballad-y which makes it feel like it’s not really a consistent album, but each song does really stand out as its own thing. And that’s what I think makes this album so great.

NOTABLE TRACKS: SECOND HAND NEWS; DON’T STOP; SONGBIRD.

NOT FOR YOU IF:
YOU AREN’T INTO ’70S POP MUSIC WITH A TWIST OF COUNTRY AND FOLK.

Next One

by Glim Spanky
2016

Next One is a rock album that’s kind of hard to describe without ruining all the fun. I could write a whole paragraph that will have words like “energetic”, “dynamic” and “cool”, but ultimately the music of Glim Spanky is way, way better experienced through listening rather than words. Like most music, actually. So the question becomes: why would anyone bother to actually write reviews on music? Like I am doing right now?

NOTABLE TRACKS: NEXT ONE; grand port; 時代のヒーロー (Jidai No Hero)

NOT FOR YOU IF: YOU HATE, HATE, HATE ENERGETIC ROCK MUSIC. IT HURTS YOUR EARS, GIVES YOU A HEADACHE AND MAKES YOU WANT TO LIE DOWN AFTER JUST LISTENING TO IT FOR NINETY SECONDS.

Fetch

by Melt-Banana
2013

This wicked-fast noise rock album from Japanese band Melt-Banana might seem to some as one long, loud block of unnecessary noise however I think it’s an amazingly energetic album that has some really cool styles and sounds.

NOTABLE TRACKS: CANDY GUN; VERTIGO GAME; LEFTY DOG (RUN, CAPER, RUN)

NOT FOR YOU IF: NOISY ROCK MUSIC MAKES YOU QUESTION EVERYTHING YOU’VE EVER KNOWN IN YOUR LIFE.

This song sounds like someone made it in their bedroom at 2am. Oh, they did?

The Black Parade

by My Chemical Romance
2006

If you were a teenager in the early ‘00s, you probably heard this album. Especially Welcome to the Black Parade, which was on everyone’s iPods and presented on a lot of kids’ Bebo or MySpace pages back in 2006. But you know what? It’s a mighty fine album. It definitely holds up and not only for nostalgic value. I think The Black Parade can still be enjoyed in 2021 because of how iconic and unique it is. The themes of death, sickness, family and love tie together well with the emo rock sound that was iconic to the ‘00s.

NOTABLE TRACKS: WELCOME TO THE BLACK PARADE; I DON’T LOVE YOU; TEENAGERS

NOT FOR YOU IF:
YOU DON’T LIKE THAT EMO-TYPE ROCK MUSIC.

Reanimation

by Linkin Park
2002

Reanimation is a remix of Linkin Park’s earlier album, Hybrid Theory, which I talked about last time. Although Hybrid Theory was a great album in and of itself, Reanimation takes the music from that album and pushes it in a different creative direction with a more hip-hop-ish aesthetic, cool effects and sounds and an overall feeling of being familiar to Hybrid Theory yet also like a different version of the same music. Which is what a remix is, I guess.

NOTABLE TRACKS: ENTH E ND (KUTMASTA KURT REANIMATION) [FEAT. MOTION MAN]; X-ECUTIONER STYLE (FEAT. BLACK THOUGHT); H! VLTG3 (EVIDENCE REANIMATION) [FEAT. PHAROAHE MONCH AND DJ BABU]

NOT FOR YOU IF:
YOU DON’T LIKE THE EARLY-‘00s HIP-HOP/RAP AESTHETIC.

seperti takdir yang kita tulis [single]

by Nadin Amizah
2021

Translating to “like the destiny we write”, this single by Indonesian singer-songwriter Nadin Amizah has a beautiful acoustic sound, kind of like most of her other music.

NOTABLE TRACKS: UM, IT’S A SINGLE.

NOT FOR YOU IF:
YOU DON’T LIKE SOFT, SLOW, HEART-FELT, BEAUTIFUL, REFLECTIVE, EMOTIONAL SONGS.

This Love

by Bobby Oroza
2019

This album is a groovy, jazzy, funky sound that you can listen to when you want to feel, I don’t know, some old-school soul and funk vibes — despite this album being from 2019.

NOTABLE TRACKS: MAYBE, MAYBE, MAYBE; SHOULD I TAKE YOU HOME; THIS LOVE

NOT FOR YOU IF: YOU DON’T LIKE OLD-SCHOOL, VINTAGE-STYLED MUSIC.

Lola Versus Powerman and the Moneygoround, Pt. One

by The Kinks
1970

A classic album that came out in 1970 and has a very ‘60s and ‘70s vibe to it. The tracks are in good variety, with some slower songs like Lola and some more powerful ones like Powerman and This Time Tomorrow.

NOTABLE TRACKS: STRANGERS; THIS TIME TOMORROW; POWERMAN

NOT FOR YOU IF: ROCK MUSIC FROM THE ‘60s/‘70s ISN’T YOUR THING.

Elia y Elizabeth

by Elia y Elizabeth
1973

This album by Colombian sisters Elia and Elizabeth is rich in sounds of folk, funk and psychedelia with some good ‘70s vibes and good jams like Descripción and Todo en la vida. The duo basically only ever released a couple of albums — this one and another called ¡Alegria! — which were both kind of identical in style and substance and were later compiled together into one super album in 2014 called La Onda De Elia y Elizabeth. I only picked Elia y Elizabeth over ¡Alegria! because it had a couple of better tracks, but they are both pretty solid albums and to get the full experience of these girls you might as well check out the compilation of the two albums.

NOTABLE TRACKS: DESCRIPCIÓN; TODO EN LA VIDA; FUE UNA LÁGRIMA

NOT FOR YOU IF: YOU AREN’T INTO GOOD MUSIC. NAH, JUST KIDDING. I GUESS THIS ALBUM, OR THIS KIND OF MUSIC, ISN’T FOR YOU IF YOU DON’T LIKE FUNKY, PSYCHEDELIC-Y ‘70S MUSIC WITH A LATIN TWIST.

United

by Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell
1967

A great duo album with great R&B and Motown vibes, United is an album where basically none of the songs are filler. Every track is very well-made and amazingly performed by Gaye and Terrell and I think it’s a great album to put on if you want to feel some of those late ‘60s/‘70s vibes.

NOTABLE TRACKS: AIN’T NO MOUNTAIN HIGH ENOUGH; IF I COULD BUILD MY WHOLE WORLD AROUND YOU; GIVE A LITTLE LOVE

NOT FOR YOU IF:
YOU DON’T LIKE OLD-SCHOOL “GOLDEN OLDIES”-TYPE MUSIC.

Ah, this song. I remember when it first came out, back when I was in — oh, wait, this isn’t that song.

Manners

by Passion Pit
2009

This fun, electropop album has some of the best from Passion Pit. Every track is lively and energetic giving a sense of wonder and inspiration through great instrumentation and creative production.

NOTABLE TRACKS: LITTLE SECRETS; TO KINGDOM COME; SLEEPYHEAD.

NOT FOR YOU IF:
YOU AREN’T INTO FUN, INDIE-ELECTRONIC-POP-TYPE MUSIC.

To Pimp A Butterfly

Kendrick Lamar
2015

Here we go again, another Kendrick Lamar album. I talked about DAMN. last time and this time I’ll mention Lamar’s previous release, To Pimp A Butterfly which, despite being a well-known and acclaimed album released around six years ago, I didn’t get around to listening to until this very year. I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised with the sound and style of this album. It has a huge jazz, funk and soul-like aesthetic especially in the first half of the album which I really liked. In terms of lyrics and themes, I usually don’t go that much in depth with music as to analyse the meaning and commentary, but with this album and I found myself reading the lyrics as I was listening and following the narratives of the album which are presented in quite creative and interesting ways including a dialogue with Tupac Shakur in the last track. As you can expect from Kendrick Lamar, there are powerful themes of racism, fame, crime... amongst other things that I probably missed. Like I said, I’m not a big analyser when it comes to music. I hear a nice sound, I like it. The sound of To Pimp A Butterfly does change quite drastically in the second half of the film and kind of loses that funky, jazzy vibe that the first half has but I guess that’s somewhat understandable as there does need to be variety. Or else it would get boring and repetitive.

NOTABLE TRACKS: FOR FREE? — INTERLUDE; KING KUNTA; THESE WALLS

NOT FOR YOU IF: YOU AREN’T A FAN OF POWERFUL RAP/HIP-HOP MUSIC (LIKE I SAID LAST TIME).

Blindfaller

by Mandolin Orange [this band have changed their name to Watchhouse since this album was released]
2016

This album is beautifully folk-y (sorry I keep using that word but that’s just how I describe a folk-type sound), and has a very strong aesthetic that you’ll definitely appreciate if you like folk, Americana and country music. The instrumentation combined with the dueted vocals creates a very warm and calm atmosphere with themes of love, tragedy and just general the-journey-of-life stuff.

NOTABLE TRACKS: HEY STRANGER; WILDFIRE; ECHO.

NOT FOR YOU IF: YOU ABSOLUTELY JUST HATE THAT SOUTHERN-COUNTRY-AMERICANA-TYPE SOUND. BECAUSE THAT’S WHAT THIS ALBUM IS, THROUGH AND THROUGH.

Madvillainy

by Madvillain
2004

This album is an incredibly creative and stylized, remnant of old-school hip-hop and, despite the fact that I don’t really listen to much hip-hop, Madvillainy is something I really enjoy listening to. I think one thing I really like about this one is that it’s a mix of genres and sounds, with some completely random samples that add to the style and give the album a fun, nostalgic vibe.

NOTABLE TRACKS: ACCORDION; MEAT GRINDER; ALL CAPS

NOT FOR YOU IF: YOU DON’T LIKE HIP-HOP MUSIC THAT IS CREATIVE, CATCHY AND COOL.

Tapestry

by Carole King
1971

A feel-good, soul-sounding album with hints of soft rock and pop making it a very easy listen that you’ll like if you like stuff like Fleetwood Mac and The Carpenters.

NOTABLE TRACKS: I FEEL THE EARTH MOVE; IT’S TOO LATE; YOU’VE GOT A FRIEND

NOT FOR YOU IF: IF YOU DON’T LIKE OLD, SLOW, EASY LISTENING MUSIC.

Do you mind if we listen to that album again from the beginning? I didn’t quite catch the deeper meaning.

Ghosts of the Great Highway

by Sun Kil Moon
2003

This album has a melancholic vibe as well as an uplifting quality that makes this album a good one to drown your sorrows in. Although some of the tracks are a bit repetitive — as in they seem to drag on with the same verse and chorus going on and on, like Carry Me Ohio and Gentle Moon — they still present a good atmosphere and if you are listening to Ghosts of the Great Highway whilst crying your feelings out, then I don’t think you’ll really mind the repetitive-ness of the song. In fact, from personal experience, you might even appreciate it.

NOTABLE TRACKS: CARRY ME OHIO; SALVADOR SANCHEZ; GENTLE MOON

NOT FOR YOU IF:
YOU DON’T LIKE MELANCHOLIC ALTERNATIVE ROCK MUSIC.

25

by Adele
2015

The third album from Adele. What else needs to be said? This is Adele we’re talking about. Just natural, God-given talent that’s harnessed and collected into a package with all the standard things you can expect from an Adele album: powerful vocals, themes of sorrow and heartbreak and the experience of attempting to sing along.

NOTABLE TRACKS: HELLO; WHEN WE WERE YOUNG; ALL I ASK

NOT FOR YOU IF: LIKE I SAID LAST TIME, IT’S IMPOSSIBLE NOT TO LIKE THIS ALBUM. THE ONLY WAY YOU CAN DISLIKE THIS ALBUM IS IF YOU PLAIN AND SIMPLY JUST DO NOT LIKE MUSIC.

Paranoid

by Black Sabbath
1970

This classic heavy metal album is exactly the kind of heavy metal I like. I’m not really into the progressive stuff — although I do like a bit of Slipknot from time to time. I’m more into the type of heavy metal like Led Zeppelin and this album by Black Sabbath. This album does remind me a little of Zeppelin’s first album in some ways with the heavy sound and catchy riffs. The song Iron Man on this album is, yes, the theme song from the Iron Man movies, although I’m not really sure what came first, the Marvel character or this song.

NOTABLE TRACKS: WAR PIGS; PARANOID; IRON MAN

NOT FOR YOU IF: YOU “NOPE” EVEN AT THE MENTION OF OLD-SCHOOL METAL AND CLASSIC ROCK.

Icky Thump

by The White Stripes
2007

I love how off-the-wall this album is. I’ve always thought The White Stripes are a fantastic band with every single album having something to offer, but what I like about Icky Thump is the wacky, unhinged attitude and crazy, energetic instrumentation; extensive guitar solos, blaring distorted riffs and booming drums that echo through this album making it quite a fun, catchy and unpredictable listen. There’s also some blues-influenced music like in Catch Hell Blues as well as a bit of a Scottish-style interlude somewhere in the middle — which kind of reminds me of Neutral Milk Hotel’s In the Aeroplane Over the Sea — with Prickly Thorn, but Sweetly Worn and St. Andrew (This Battle Is in the Air). Even the song names are a little out there.

NOTABLE TRACKS: CONQUEST; LITTLE CREAM SODA; CATCH HELL BLUES

NOT FOR YOU IF: YOU DON’T LIKE ROCK MUSIC THAT GETS A LITTLE CRAZY AND NONSENSICAL.

Falling for U [single]

by Peachy! and mxmtoon
2017

This is a cool, lo-fi-hip-hop-ish-styled single that is difficult not to like.

NOTABLE TRACKS: IT’S A SINGLE.

NOT FOR YOU IF:
YOU DON'T LIKE THE LO-FI HIP HOP AESTHETIC. OR MAYBE YOU WANT TO PRETEND LIKE YOU DON’T LIKE IT BECAUSE IT’S SO POPULAR AND YOU’RE HELLBENT ON GOING AGAINST THE GRAIN. IN WHICH CASE, YEAH, OKAY THEN.

Año Santo

by Triángulo de Amor Bizarro
2010

Rough and energetic, this album — which is in Spanish, by the way — is an indie punk-ish sound with a loud, fast and noisy dynamic. The song titles are pretty cool too: De la Monarquía a la Criptocracia, Super Castlevania IV, Muchos Blancos en Todos los Mapas. I don’t know, song titles mean something to me; they are a part of the music, of course, and they can add a sense of style to a track or album. I feel the same about album artwork and although Año Santo’s artwork is a bit um-what-exactly-am-I-looking-at-here? for me, it does visually reflect the rhythm and theme of the sound. This album does get pretty noisy pretty quickly. And it continues that way for pretty much the entire album but hey, if you like noise rock and punk rock-type music then this is for you.

NOTABLE TRACKS: DE LA MONARQUÍA A LA CRIPTOCRACIA, AMIGOS DEL GÉNERO HUMANO, SUPER CASTLEVANIA IV

NOT FOR YOU IF: LISTENING TO LOUD, PUNKY ROCK MUSIC MAKES YOU WANT TO CANCEL YOUR MONTHLY MUSIC STREAMING SUBSCRIPTION.

Brought to you by the World Wide Web.

You sit in your chair with both elbows up on the desk as you browse through the app store on your phone. You’re looking for an app that can help you be more produc— aha! You see one. 14k reviews, mostly five-star. 1M+ downloads. Seems worth a try. You tap “install”. It downloads and installs in a matter of seconds, after which you tap “open”. You lean back in your chair as the app loads up. It displays a welcome screen, after which it asks you to allow access to your files. You press “allow”, as you always do with these things. It then asks you to allow access to your location. You press “allow” again. It asks to allow permission to record audio. You press “allow”. It then continues, asking you to allow permission to make phone calls, take photos, access your contacts, read your emails, look at your search history … you just press “allow” every time, hoping it will be the last one, before another popup appears asking to allow permission for something else. After the eighth popup, you begin to get frustrated. It’s now asking you to allow permission to make important life decisions. You frown at the screen, annoyed. What does that even mean? Whatever. It’s just an app. I mean how can an app take control of my life decisions? Maybe this is the developers’ idea of a joke? At least a million other people also must have gone through this. And you really want to see what this app is all about. You hit “allow”. The app buffers for a second, before a question mark appears on the screen and it says verification required

The door to your bedroom suddenly opens and a man in a suit appears. He’s carrying a large stack of papers. What in God’s name? “Um, excuse—?” you begin.

He holds up his hand. “This will only take a second.” He sets the stack of paper down onto your desk. He produces a pen from his inside jacket pocket. He hands it to you and points to a blank space marked by a brightly-coloured sticky memo label. “Sign here, please.” You look at him blankly. He’s got this nonchalant — borderline bored — expression on his face as if there’s nothing strange about this.

“Who are you?” you ask.

“I’m from the app. I just need you to sign here.”

“Yeah but what is this?” The page is densely packed with words and small print.

“This is a verification contract. We need it to undergo new users as a process of verifying their identity.” He has a very monotonous voice.

“Why do you need to verify my identity for this stupid app?”

“We just need your signature here.”

“How did you get into my house?”

“Our verification process authorizes us to be present wherever the user is.”

“What? What does that even mean?”

The man sighs. Up until now, he had his finger on the blank space where you were apparently supposed to sign. He withdraws his hand from the page, pulls up your other chair and sits down opposite you, smiling a smug smile with his hands clasped and resting on his lap.

“I want you to listen to me,” he says. “I’ve been doing this a long time. On this app, we have over one million downloads. We do this for every user. I see this every day; people want to download the app, they want X, Y and Z but when it comes to committing, they get all tensed up. They ask a hundred questions and then, in the end, they sign the God-damn contract. Why? Because they know. They know that this app will improve their lives. They know that a million people can’t be wrong. They know that sometimes freedom must be sacrificed to gain something much more valuable.”

“And what is that?” you ask, wondering.

“A better life.”

You look down at your phone. It still says verification required. “Can I at least read it first?” you ask, looking at the hefty stack of paper. The man shakes his head.

“Listen, you don’t need to read it. It’s all standard stuff. You really think reading it will somehow make you feel better?” His plain face is so ordinary-looking, it’s difficult to describe.

“But I can’t sign something without reading it—”

“Everyone says that. They all want to read it so they can feel some kind of control and accountability. But in the end, everyone signs it. Also, you don’t need to read all this legal jargon. Leave that to the professionals. You just focus on being creative. And upping the productivity.”

You look down at the pen he gave you. It’s elegant and slender, feeling like it’s made out of heavy steel.

“Come on, do the right thing.” He slides the papers towards you. You pause. Then you put the tip of the pen onto the page and sign.

He turns over to the next page. “And here.”

There’s another blank space amongst the paragraphs of finely printed text. It’s also marked with a brightly-coloured sticky memo label. You sign that one too. He turns again, skipping a whole chunk of pages until the next brightly-coloured sticky memo label that’s sticking out from the side of the stack of paper. You sign. He turns to several more memo labels, one after the other, each with a blank space prompting you to sign. Your heart pounds. You try reading some of the text as he turns the pages, but it seems impossible to read given his speed and the micro-scale sized font the entire contract is written in. After the last signature, he picks up the contract and stands up. He somehow produces a manila envelope out of thin air and, sliding the heavy contract into it, seals it shut and puts a small white sticker on the front. The sticker has some sort of strange-looking barcode on it. He holds out his hand. You shake it. “You have yourself a nice day,” he says in his emotionless voice. You hold out the pen to him. “You keep that,” he says, smirking smugly. He leaves, clutching the thick envelope under his arm and closing the door behind him.

You sit back in your chair, unsure how to feel about what just happened. You look at your phone. The question mark disappears and gets replaced by a large tick mark. Congrats, it says. You’re all set up!

Guess these movies.

25.

A young boy’s wish comes true when he makes his family disappear at Christmas.

26.

Two guys sell soap, smash up cars and beat each other up.

27.

Tom Hanks makes friends with a volleyball.

28.

Leonardo di Caprio acting super confident wearing a pilot’s uniform.

29.

He goes into a cave, finds a lamp and gets three wishes.

30.

Brad Pitt asks about what’s in the box.

31.

Christian Bale makes his voice deeper on purpose when he puts on the black costume to go and catch the deranged clown.

32.

A young girl who loves to read gets magical telekinesis powers.

33.

Jim Carrey can’t lie.

34.

The car is a time machine.

35.

A vigilante tries to introduce anarchy and blow up the Houses of Parliament while Natalie Portman gets her head shaved.

36.

There’s a man without a head riding around town scaring people.

37.

Would you like the blue pill or the red pill?

38.

A barber in Victorian-era London kills people and turns their meat into pies.

39.

A group of Greek soldiers charge forward into battle as they shout battle cries led by Gerard Butler who cannot stop yelling.

40.

Will Smith runs around town trying to make ends meet.

41.

Harrison Ford looks for his missing wife in Paris.

42.

Matt Damon is a cop secretly working for the mob and Leonardo di Caprio is in the mob secretly working for the cops.

43.

Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jamie Lee-Curtis do the tango at some fancy banquet.

44.

He got tired of his job so he just stopped caring. They promoted him.

45.

Three teenagers are kept isolated at home by their parents and told that they can leave when they lose their canine tooth.

46.

He says he’s an alien. But is he, though?

47.

Johnny Depp has a younger brother who’s mentally challenged and a mother who’s overweight in a small town in Iowa.

48.

An African tribe finds a glass bottle.

SHOW ANSWERS

25. Home Alone, 26. Fight Club, 27. Cast Away, 28. Catch Me If You Can, 29. Aladdin, 30. Seven, 31. The Dark Knight, 32. Matilda, 33. Liar Liar, 34. Back to the Future, 35. V for Vendetta, 36. Sleepy Hollow, 37. The Matrix, 38. Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, 39. 300, 40. The Pursuit of Happyness, 41. Frantic, 42. The Departed, 43. True Lies, 44. Office Space, 45. Dogtooth, 46. K-Pax, 47. What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, 48. The Gods Must Be Crazy

Outstandingly Ordinary

SIX THINGS THAT ARE SERIOUSLY UNDERRATED

ELEVATORS

Elevators are amazing. And anyone who has been on the twelfth floor of a building when the fire alarm went off knows what I’m talking about. Stairs are incredibly long, needless to say, but I don’t think most of us really appreciate elevators for how amazing they really are. Even taking the stairs down from the fifth floor is a journey and a half. And I think I don’t even need to talk about how hard it is to take the stairs to go up. It’s amazing that we can just jump into a small box and go up and down as we please without having to insert a coin every time.

WI-FI

I was watching You’ve Got Mail recently and seeing Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan messaging each other with their clunky ‘90s computers was such a throwback. Especially the fact that they had a long wire plugged into the back that made me think back to the days of wired internet. Isn’t it just amazing how internet is just wireless now? Like, think about how much data we stream on our devices; YouTube videos, Instagram feeds, emails, online shopping and on and on and on, it all comes through the air and appears on our screens almost instantly. Gigabytes upon gigabytes of stuff. Like magic. Okay, sure, sometimes your Netflix buffers for a second. Sure, sometimes your internet goes down and you’re not sure why. But even then, you get that dinosaur game to keep you occupied. It’s just fascinating to me how everything that used to come through that wire now just comes through invisible beams jumping around the house. And even more so, to be honest. Where in the ‘90s the internet was basically just used for spreadsheets, browsing forums and — like in You’ve Got Mail — sending emails, now we use the internet for much, much more. Our whole lives are on the internet. For better or for worse.

AIRPLANES

Sounds weird, but I’ve always been amazed at how airplanes, these massive feats of technology and engineering, are able to just take off and soar into the clouds. I have looked online and watched videos and stuff that explain it, and yeah I get it; it’s something to do with the engines and the speed of the airplane creating a higher amount of pressure beneath the wings than there is above the wings, and this difference in pressure makes the airplane fly. Yeah, I understand the science. But I still don’t get it. Like how does that work? What is “pressure” when you actually think about it? It still just seems like magic to me that a giant hunk of metal can just be able to fly like a bird or something.

Other flying objects I understand; a hot air balloon totally makes sense to me. Hot air rises, and that flame above the basket makes the air inside the balloon hot, making the balloon fly. And since the amount of hot air inside the balloon is so much, it’s enough to lift the balloon up. I got it. Those Zeppelin airships from the early 20th century? I can get my head around them. I just equate them to a helium balloon flying away from the backyard birthday party — even though I know the Zeppelin airships were sometimes filled with hydrogen rather than helium — but the concept of something filled with some sort of gas being able to fly I can understand. Even a humble kite floating on the breeze I can comprehend. But an airplane, I seriously just don’t get how those two engines can make the whole thing take off into the clouds. Also, not only is an airplane able to take people in the air, but also have things like movies, food, blankets, pillows and a toilet all up there in the sky. Some top class airplanes even have showers and a full-sized bed. I mean, isn’t that incredible? I think Louis CK put it best when he said that being in an airplane is like being “like a Greek myth”. And the travel times are incredible, too. You can literally go from one point on Earth to another within a day or so. I mean, you might have an annoying eight-hour layover somewhere that is actually further away from your final destination than where you started from, but my point is that we have this amazing technology that gets you where you need to go safe and sound — most of the time anyway.

HEADPHONES

I’ve talked before about wired headphones being amazing, but this time I’m just going to talk about headphones in general. Don’t headphones just amaze you with how even the cheapest pair can play any song, no matter what genre or language? It can output any singer’s voice, recreate any instrument and, not only that, it can recreate any sound. Like literally any singer, any instrument, your voice, my voice, the noise of a piano falling down a flight of stairs … literally anything as long as the sound is recorded digitally. I guess I should give kudos to digital audio technology too for being able to take sounds and turn them into digital 1’s and 0’s. I mean, sure, some headphones are able to produce sound much more clearly and dynamically than others, but in terms of the general technology, what is in those tiny buds that makes the headphones take those gigantic threads of binary numbers and move or vibrate in such a way that it recreates every song on planet Earth?

LIGHTERS

So a lighter isn’t really that big of a deal, right? Except when it is. Fire can be essential in some situations and a lighter allows you to have exactly that all in this small plastic thing that can fit easily in your pocket. And they’re so cheap. I mean I know it’s probably because of the whole mass-production-made-in-China thing, but it is amazing how you can have a fire-maker that’s so easy to use and so portable. Even fire is so cool. You can start from a tiny spark and it can grow into a roaring bonfire within minutes. Still not convinced of how amazing lighters are? Watch the movie Cast Away [1].

PENS

A pen. A thing with which you can write, draw, make notes, create a masterpiece or spin around and win championships [2]. A pen is useful, portable, cheap, and versatile. Need I say more, really? No, I needn’t. Because everyone knows the power of the pen. What’s that quote again with a pen and a sword or something like that? [3]

[1] You don’t want to watch it? Fair enough. I sometimes don’t watch movies people tell me to either when I feel like it won’t be a good fit for me. Or if I can’t be bothered. So Tom Hanks (hm, that’s the second reference to Tom Hanks in this segment) gets stranded on an island for four years and although he eventually does get Bear-Grylls-level survival skills, he struggles at first to do things like catch fish and build fires. And then after years on this island, he finally gets rescued and comes back to the real world where one of the first objects he encounters is a lighter. Like one of those long ones with the click-switch that you use to light a stove or a barbecue. And he is just bewildered at how instantly fire appears whereas on the island it would take him hours just to get a little flame going.

[2] Pen spinning is an actual sport in which people twirl and spin pens and do tricks and stuff. The pens they use are special pens that are longer than normal-sized pens, however, but there are a lot of people that take part and there are also world-class competitions for this.

[3] “The pen is mightier than the sword.” — Edward Bulwer-Lytton. I was just pretending to not know for, I don‘t know, comedic purposes.

You’re good, but maybe don’t quit your day job yet?

So, a lot of you have been asking — alright, none of you are asking. But I was going to talk more about my “catastrophic high school career” that I’ve mentioned before.

It all began when I was sixteen and I really wanted to go into computers. You know, like programming and all that. I had loved computers since I was a kid and it was my dream to become a software engineer or something. For A Levels, (in the UK, after high school finishes at age 16, you go into a further stage of study where you pick your own subjects and study them for two years before you go off to university) I chose all science subjects: maths, IT, chemistry and physics. I ended up failing all of them, basically, and I was forced to find an alternate career path at the last minute. So I chose art, which although was also a passion of mine but had always been more of a hobby.

Nevertheless, I was still always interested in studying art because I’d always wondered: what do they actually teach you in art? I mean, you can learn to paint and draw and make things out of clay by yourself through practice. I learnt how to draw at the age of 10 by copying illustrations from books. So what do they actually teach you in art school?

Not much, as it turns out. From my experience, art school is basically all about you practising your craft and learning how to be creative. The teachers/professors are just there to kind of guide you in the right direction. It isn’t like economics or mechanical engineering where you sit there and listen to a lecturer whilst making notes. It is after all a much more practical subject. So, while I was still in my second and final year of A Levels, I abandoned any hope of passing all the subjects I had taken and just focused on my art portfolio so I could get into some sort of art school after graduating (which was smart because I actually did end up failing).

The issue was, however, that I didn’t have a portfolio. All I had at the time were just my doodles of Batman and attempts of making a portrait of my younger brother, so I had to work fast and put together a body of work in under a year that would be good enough to show art schools. I looked at other portfolios online, experimented with random techniques, learnt a whole lot of new skills and then put it all together before applying to any and every art Foundation course I could find in London. I eventually got in and began my one year of Foundation, which in a lot of cases you have to do before doing a degree in any kind of creative subject.

When you’re an art student, you have to do all sorts of weird things to “get the creative juices flowing”. First of all, you have to do a ton of research. This basically means going to random galleries and scrolling through endless art blogs. You’re basically just trying to get inspired and find a theme that matches your ideas so you can reference it in your own work. It does get a bit pretentious sometimes. In Foundation, we had to go to all sorts of exhibitions and look at various pieces of work.

Have you ever been to a gallery and seen art students sitting on the floor with their massive, A3-sized sketchpads, drawing everything they see? That was me.

Our tutor would take us to a gallery and tell us to “make studies” of everything we found interesting. It was fun, to be honest. I always found art very fun. It was the kind of thing I never really got tired of, despite doing it all day. I’d go to school, do art all day, then come home and do some more. It never got boring. 

We also had to do “life drawing”. Yes, that means drawing naked people. It’s quite common in the art world and yes it is a bit awkward at first — especially when you’re drawing the person as they’re standing in the middle of the room in their birthday suit and they start making direct eye contact with you as you’re drawing them — but you get used to it and, to be honest, it really helps you as an artist really understand the shapes and contours of the human form. And no, it’s not sexual at all. It’s nothing like the “draw me like one of your French girls” scene in Titanic.

So, how do you actually draw? Is it difficult? Well, I’ll tell you what is difficult: having to draw vertically. Like when you put a sheet of paper on an easel — yes, that wooden stand thing that artists use to put their paintings and drawings onto while they’re working on them — so the paper kind of stands almost vertical in front of you while you’re drawing. Because you’re so used to drawing in a sketchbook to then going to the easel which is a much steeper angle, you really have to relearn how to hold the pencil for those kinds of moments. And how you draw is actually very simple: you just look at the subject and make marks. That’s all there is to it. I’m sorry. There is no real secret.

You just really have to observe the subject carefully. In fact, that is actually one thing they do teach you at art school. Our teacher would put so much emphasis on the observing part rather than the drawing part. Sometimes he’d even tell us to draw an object without looking at the paper at all. 

There are some techniques you can use to help you observe better. One method is to use what’s known as the “negative space” around the object to get a better grasp of the object’s shape. So instead of looking at the object, you look at the empty space around the object and use that information to place your marks on the page.

It takes practice. But it’s definitely something you get better at the more you do it.

Another technique — which personally I never really liked doing — was “measuring”. You might have seen this too, where artists are holding their pencils in front of them while focusing really hard. The idea behind it is that you take your pencil — or whatever medium you’re using; a lot of artists actually use charcoal — and hold it out in front of you with your arm outstretched in the direction of the subject. Let’s take the classic fruit bowl as an example. So you’d use the pencil to measure how big the orange is, let’s say. You measure starting from the tip of the pencil and see where the orange comes up to, put your thumb at the spot on the pencil where it does. And you mark that distance onto the paper. And then you would do the same for, say, the banana. And you’d use the first measurement you made with the orange as a unit and see how many of the “orange measurements” fit into the banana. And then mark that onto the page. It’s a little complicated to explain, but essentially what you’re doing is figuring out the proportions between the various objects and using the pencil as a measuring tool. Or, at least, that’s how I was taught it. It’s obviously not super precise, but combined with your depth perception and your observational drawing skills, it actually comes pretty close.

That is the end of Kanis Majoris No. 3. I’d like to thank you, as always, for reading and I will see you in the next issue of Kanis Majoris. Well, I won’t actually see you. Nor will you see me. But you know what I mean.

CONGRATS, YOU’VE FINISHED READING KANIS MAJORIS NO. 3! OR YOU’VE JUST SCROLLED DOWN TO THE END JUST TO SEE WHAT HAPPENS. EITHER WAY, THE NEXT ISSUE OF KANIS MAJORIS WILL BE OUT IN MAY 2022. SO, SEEING AS WE’VE STILL GOT PLENTY OF TIME TO KILL, I’M GONNA GO TAKE A NAP. CAN YOU WAKE ME UP WHEN IT’S ALMOST TIME?
Kanis Majoris is a magazine by Hamza Javaid (@arkadinarium).

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Kanis Majoris No. 3 was released in November 2021 with thanks to:

factslides.com
wikipedia.org
webflow.com