A Sarcastic Cover Letter

So, I wrote a really goofy cover letter for an indie publication because they were looking for a “snarky editorial writer” who likes to rant and such. I figured instead of just showing my fiance what I wrote, I’d show my fiance what I wrote through the internet as well. I personally thought their ad was awesome and per request, I tried writing a cover letter that grabs their attention and something that was applicable for what they were looking for. I don’t recommend copying this format though.

“The music scene is terrible. Artistry has been traded in for the talentless. Anything

popular tends to be over produced electronica and ran by nepotism (I’m talking to

you Will Smith). It’s a generation ran by One Directions and I’m expected to give 5

Seconds of Summer a pass because they know how to play the same three chords

repetitively. Please, don’t tell me that Skrillex is talented or how cool Coachella is. If

you’re over the age of 12 and don’t take drugs, then congratulations, you’ve peaked

higher maturity than the aforementioned demographics. I could write a novel about

my distaste for the music scene, but that’s not the point of this “cover letter.” I’m

reaching out to you for employment.

BitCandy, you say you’re looking for a snarky Editorial Writer, but how serious is

your claim? When I was an editor for the Golden Gate Xpress Newspaper, the editors

above me would constantly edit my pieces for being “too snarky” or “too cynical.” I

know I’m what you’re looking for, but do you know it? I personally felt at home

when I read the first lines of “Do you like to rant? Are you a sarcasm machine?” in

your ad. I’m often labeled a hipster because I find the music I like the old fashion

way; you know, by purchasing records and going to shows. Pretty hipster of me, I

know. I could give you a long list of why I’m qualified for what you’re looking for and

how I want this job, but what’s the point? It was either grab your attention or give

you information I’m sure all your other applicants have spewed out.

I hope this was enough of an attention grabber to get you to the third paragraph and

I guarantee you, if BitCandy takes the time and chance on me, you won’t regret it.

Thank you for your time and I look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,

John Bradley Wilson

P.S. Nickleback is spelled “Meghan Trainor.”

The Hobbit Trilogy: An Evaluation

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I saw The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies last night. 3.5/5 Read on if you need to understand my rating.

Yes, the film adaptation of the beloved novel, “The Hobbit”, originally one piece of literature; originally planned for a two-film adaptation with Guillermo del Toro and Peter Jackson; changed to a two-film adaptation with Peter Jackson; ultimately ending up as a trilogy heavily including material from the appendices, has finally come to its prolonged conclusion. Please don’t call yourself a huge LOTR fan if you have never read the books. Many of my points and discrepancies come from a disregard of the original literature.

BOFA is a guilty-pleasure film, with action I found much more compelling than “The Desolation of Smaug.” Both films’ action defies probability and gravity. However, BOFA didn’t have that ridiculous barrel scene, so it gets a pass. It’s a blown-up action film with Middle-Earth as its background. I enjoyed it on a visceral level and just accepted that it was a stupid action film. It was not as dreadful as DOS, but maybe I had lower expectations. The opening scene with Smaug destroying Lake Town doesn’t work as a beginning of the film. The second film had such a cliffhanger revolving around this dragon about to destroy this city, and to end it 10 minutes into a film that came out a year later feels anti-climatic.

In the opening scene and 40 minutes into this film, I did not care about anyone and was very aware I was watching a film. It took the superb acting by Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins to suck me back in. His dialogue with Thorin (credit to the screenwriters) adds a human element to it. Due to the fact that “The Hobbit” trilogy has a George Lucas touch to it, hinders any real character development. Also, there’s 13 dwarves and a handful of other characters to follow. It’s hard enough keeping up with the dwarves in the book. To Peter Jackson’s credit, that seems like a hard feat to accomplish. But what doesn’t help is that these films are butter scraped over too much bread. There’s great source material to follow and it didn’t need three movies. It’s a stretched out story with as much CGI crap that one can fit in each frame (the George Lucas effect). The film focuses too much on the unnecessary (it’s unnecessary because the original story flows fine without the film’s inclusions) material of the appendices and attempts to be as epic as LOTR, that the character development is stalled and they’re set pieces for a visual experience. Side note: why is Billy Connolly’s character all CGI?

Much like DOS, BOFA’s action does not posses any real peril. The characters are almost untouchable, but I applaud the film makers for following the source material and killing off Thorin, Fili, and Kili. It was one of the few times I felt an emotional connection…..well 2/3. Kili and Tauriel’s romance made me not care more. I know a lot of people have found this romance cheesy, and rightly so. This brings me to a lot of my main points. A lot of the grievances people have with these films are aspects that are NOT in the novel. I follow a lot of Youtube film reviewers; Schmoesknow, Jeremy Jahns, Chris Stuckmann. I really appreciate their opinions and it often makes or break if I see a film. However, they often justify the concept of stretching out “The Hobbit” story and tell people not to compare the source material. But their gripes, like many other film goers, stem from elements that the film is not a stand-alone piece.

It’s Not In The Book/It Is In The Book

I’m annoyed when I hear that the books don’t matter, because they do. As I said earlier, don’t call yourself a fan of the series until you’ve done your homework. Unless you’re Steven Spielberg, you should probably stick to the novel’s material. I’m not a Tolkien purist and understand changes need to be made when you’re making a film. “Jurassic Park” is a great film on its own and it steers from black and white in regards to the novel. But “The Hobbit” novel is a perfect, linear story and the characters you’re supposed to care for, you do. There’s a sense of adventure that the films lack. It’s trying too hard to be like its epic LOTR counterpart. I have my issues with the original trilogy, but I feel Peter Jackson did the best adaptation you will ever get, and I don’t mind most of the creative liberties they took. The Scouring of the Shire; important, yes, but as a film, it does not translate well after destroying the ring. Tom Bombadil; my favorite character (next to Pippin and Merry). Tom and the barrow-downs is such a rich element of the novels and it’s the epitome of great fantasy. But ultimately, it does not affect the overall story of Frodo, which is what the filmmakers were adamant about. There’s much more to discuss about LOTR, but this is about “The Hobbit.”

Radagast the Brown has been dubbed by a few as the Jar-Jar Binks of these films. While not as bad, he’s a zoophile who smokes weed and is covered in bird feces. He rides around on CGI rabbits and is used as an eagle tamer in the final battle of BOFA. He’s nothing more than a sentence in the novel and I think we all prefer him that way.

The romance between Tauriel and Kili has maybe about 10 real minutes of screen time. Sure, Kili makes a penis reference in DOS, but that doesn’t count. Not in the book, not necessary. I don’t understand creating Tauriel. I really liked Evangeline Lily in “Lost”, but this character is not interesting. And when you add her romance with the one dwarf without dwarf prosthetics, it’s forcing a connection that’s not there. The fact that it’s a made up (made up as in not the book’s material) romance with a made up character is too distracting for when you’re supposed to feel something when Kili dies. Kili originally dies with Fili defending a wounded Thorin. It’s more honorable and I cared a lot more. His made up romance with a made up character who serves no real purpose is laughable, not tear-jerking.

Orlando Bloom is great as Legolas and I tend to forgive his over the top antics in the film’s depictions of the Battle of Helms Deep and Pelennor Fields. His banter with Gimli helped is the human element that was missing in “The Hobbit” films. You saw their friendship grow and the film really captured their arcs. But just knowing Legolas was added in for fan service makes me despise his action scenes. He’s untouchable! I also never worry about him because he’s in the next set of films. He kills one of the main villains in BOFA, which I guess isn’t so bad. The main orc that’s not Azog isn’t in the book, so having a character not in the book killed by a character not in the book works….I guess. Legolas’s lack of mortality (besides the fact he’s an elf) is one of the reasons I’m not huge on prequels. Prequels tend to use the same characters from the original, so I’m not too worried about them. The fight between Obi-Wan and Anakin at the end of “Revenge of the Sith” is fun and goofy and all, but you know they’re both going to live. Anakin turns to charcoal, but you know him and Anakin are in EP IV-VI.
Legolas also has aged! I’m not the first one to say this, but he doesn’t have that elegant, elf-like look he had in LOTR. He has a Benjamin Button effect.

Gandalf’s side journeys are a desperate attempt to bridge both stories. Gandalf disappears a lot in the novel, and you accept it because he’s a cooky wizard. You don’t need to know where he’s going (unless you read the appendices). Your focus is on Bilbo and the company. Gandalf being captured by Sauron and seeing the Sauron gif is another desperate attempt to stretch out the story. They eventually vanquish Sauron in the BOFA, but that’s it? For over 60 years, Gandalf never attempts to uncover anything or has any real memory about it? Is it really not until Bilbo gives the ring to Frodo that he bothers to do any research? Hey Gandalf, it’s an odd magic ring that Bilbo found, and you just were captured by a ring maker, maybe you should look into that! Sure, Saruman say’s “he’ll handle it” but over those 60 odd years, you never bothered to ask questions? Sauron did not need to be a focus in the film, but a foreboding presence to the next set of films. With this bridge, you’re left wondering why Gandalf was neglecting any of this. Also, the battle with Galadriel, Saruman, and Elrond against the Nazgul ruined the mystery of the Ringwraiths. You know just enough in LOTR and in BOFA, they’re goofy transparent spirits with different aesthetics that don’t line up with the hooded menaces. This story did not another made up action scene. Seriously, was the barrel scene not enough?

The singing in “An Unexpected Journey” has been met with some mixed reviews. I’ve heard that it’s too kid-like or that it’s corny. Well, hate to break it to you, but “The Hobbit” novel is a kid’s book that is a bit corny. It’s one of the aspects I found the most gratifying in the film. When the dwarves are washing dishes in Bag End and break out into a tune, I broke a smile. I thought it was a great way to include the singing, which is greatly excluded from the LOTR films. It captured the magic of Middle-Earth and AUJ is actually my favorite film in this trilogy. It was the only film that had the adventure-sense and there’s a magic to it that was eventually bogged down by overly-long orc fights in the next films. Yeah, there’s a ton of creative liberties taken and the pacing is off, but I felt like I was in Middle-Earth. It wasn’t in an action movie with Middle-Earth as the setting. It also has a lot of Hobbiton, which is my favorite element from the films and novels. I recently took a trip to Hobbiton and it’s the reason I felt compelled to even write this review.

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I found AUJ to be the most loyal to the novel, and it captured it well. The climax with the cave goblins and Azog served well, even with the extensive time it took to get there. People, primarily those who did not read the book, went into AUJ expecting an epic like LOTR and were disappointed. Of course they were! It’s not supposed to be this grandiose tale. “The Hobbit” is on a smaller scale and does not possess the elements to match LOTR. Sure, the filmmakers tried, but it wasn’t there in the first place.

The encounter with Smaug in DOS starts off great. Bilbo steals the show, yet again, with a CG character. Smaug looks awesome and he lives up to his reputation. But then the dwarves get involved and make that weird dwarf statue. You’re submerged in this dialogue with this hobbit and this monster, and to have it end with dwarf shenanigans was odd, and another reason DOS is my least favorite. It too, was not in the novel and it did not serve as a good climax. As I said earlier, DOS ends with such an emphasis on Smaug’s fury and he’s killed off in the first act of BOFA.

The pacing plagues AUJ the most, but the other films as well. AUJ takes too long to get to the point; DOS takes too long to get to the point, but throws more action scenes in it to please teenagers; BOFA is the polar opposite. There’s a 30ish minute build up, a 60ish minute battle, and a 20ish minute reflection then it’s over. All three film’s pacing suffer from the fact that appendices material is added and it all feels like filler. When you watch AUJ and DOS, then read the novel, it’s humorous how quickly you get to the encounter with the trolls and Beorn. It takes an hour to see the trolls in AUJ and a whole movie for Beorn.

I Do Like The Hobbit Trilogy

I really do. BOFA looks awesome. I saw it in high-frame rate and unlike when I saw AUJ 48 frames per second, I found it complemented the film’s visuals. It wasn’t weird and distracting. They’re well filmed and well acted. I don’t think anyone would doubt Peter Jackson’s talent, and Howard Shore’s music is what separates the LOTR trilogy from many films. Billy Boyd and Annie Lennox both have great songs that see off each trilogy. It’s what makes my stomach drop at the end of “Return of the King.” “The Hobbit” trilogy is fun for its own reasons, but it could have been so much better. If Peter Jackson took the same approach to “The Hobbit” as he did with LOTR, that is, sticking to the novel as best as possible and honoring Tolkien’s work, we would have had a fun singular film and a four film epic. Sticking to the novel would have solved the pacing issues, the stupid inclusion of Legolas and creation of Tauriel, the romance, the character arcs etc. I am really trying to condense my thoughts, because unlike these films, I want to get to the point. The novel ain’t broke, don’t turn it into something it’s not.

We now have a six film saga, so I guess that’s neat. I can at least get through “The Hobbit” films to reach LOTR; I have a harder time with Star Wars EP I-III. Overall, I ache a bit knowing that this is probably our last film experience in Middle-Earth until the remakes. The tradition of seeing these films each December was still fun, and harkened back to my nostalgia when I saw the LOTR each December back in middle school. I still cannot stress enough to read the novels. They’re a difficult read at times, but they are so beautifully written and there’s a lot of neat stuff that isn’t in the films. I’d also be a liar if I said that I don’t own both versions of AUJ and DOS (theatrical and extended) and I’ll probably do the same with BOFA. These films certainly aren’t perfect, but it’s a great portal into a fantasy world that I’ve grown to admire since I first read “When Mr. Bilbo Baggins of Bag End announced that he would shortly be celebrating his eleventy-first birthday with a party of special magnificence, there was much talk and excitement in Hobbiton.”

The Guide To Being a Man II (LOL)

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Last September, I wrote responses to Wall Street Journal’s John Carney’s list of how to be a man. You can read last year’s article here. If you wish to see my responses from last September, just go to that section of this blog. I don’t write a lot, so it shouldn’t be hard to find. They released an updated version of that list this past September. I would have responded earlier, but I’ve spent this whole year not being a man and backpacking and traveling. My bad. But hey, in the Spirit of Christmas, let’s be a little Scrooge-like, shall we?

“Now, we’ve decided to team up with Genius (formerly Rap Genius) and update that list for 2014, and to include annotations. Click the highlighted lines to read more.”

The annotations do not work for my laptop; probably being that I’m not a real man and am a broke backpacker. But I thought I’d take time out of my empty life and respond to their updated list. Being that this is an updated list of last year’s, there’s some repeats. So, I’m just going to respond to the newbies. Enjoy!

Always carry cash. Keep some in your front pocket.-See, this is my problem with this list and last year’s. They offer some decent life advice relevant to tipping and other miscellaneous tidbits. Admittedly, some of it is pretty spot on and could create for just convenience in your life. Much like this tidbit about carrying cash. How is this related to what’s in between my legs? Even in the 21st Century, (especially in San Francisco) there are many places that are cash only. You don’t want to use an ATM; those silly withdrawal fees add up. Also, ever traveled around Southeast Asia? 98 percent of businesses are cash only. So, was I more of a man because I ALWAYS had cash on me! Was my fiance a man because of this? Oh man, I hope not.

Rebel from business casual. Burn your khakis and wear a suit or jeans.- Are you referring to work related incidents, or everyday attire? If you’re referring to everyday attire, I don’t think you’re impressing anyone at The Olive Garden.

It’s okay to trade the possibility of your 80s and 90s for more guaranteed fun in your 20s and 30s.-Are you implying binge drinking? If so, that doesn’t make you more of a man. It shows how you want to justify your stupid decisions. Sure, you get a minor dopamine release, but then all that manliness gets in the way and you ruin not just your liver. In this article, it says it all in the title. So, jackass, alcohol dependency is related to blunted dopamine transmission. You’re obviously dependent on alcohol for your dopamine release, otherwise you wouldn’t try justifying it. And if you’re still binge drinking in your 30’s, if that’s not an incentive to grow up, I don’t what is. Giving up your 80’s and 90’s in such fashion shows that you’re an idiot and don’t think five years ahead.

Play competitive sports for as long as you can.-Yay for masculinity norms! I grew up playing hockey and quite frankly, don’t understand how people dislike sports. But I digress. I certainly don’t look at someone like Sam Harris or Bill Gates and correlate their “manliness” on how long I think they played sports. They’re brilliant, successful minds and don’t rely on jock mentality to stand up for themselves. I’m sorry if you’re trying to compensate for something.

Never date an ex of your friend-Another example of irrelevance to masculinity. Honestly, for the most part, if you switched this article and last year’s, but changed it to “How to be a real woman” it wouldn’t make much of a difference. Yeah, never date an ex of your friend because that’s a dick thing to do. It doesn’t make you more of a man refraining from something that you should be already. It’s like wanting credit for have never been to jail. I haven’t 🙂

If you perspire, wear a damn undershirt- A basic odor issue. Does bathing make you more of a man too?

People are tired of you being the funny, drunk guy-…..said the guy who just tried justify drinking heavily in your 30’s. Your responses are as pathetic as an unknown blogger taking the time to respond to questions regarding how to be a real man.

You probably use your cell phone too often and at the wrong moments.-That’s just social commentary on today’s generation addiction to technology. You should really go to Singapore and tell this to each and every guy you see on their phone. You’ll be out of breath within minutes. Today’s culture has an unhealthy obsession to their phones; men and women. Why don’t you just shoot me a text? We can sort this out iPhone to iPhone.

Buy expensive sunglasses.- Hey, this is cheating! You literally said that last year, but had more to say about it. I quote, “Buy expensive sunglasses. Superficial? Yes, but so are the women judging you. And it tells these women you appreciate nice things and are responsible enough not to lose them.” Did you realize how much you sounded like a tool last year? Well if you’re going to cheat, I’m just going to use my answer from last year. I quote, “Are you only going for superficial girls? I have Star Wars posters in my room and heck, my girlfriend still likes me. I also have an HD Television as well as a Pearl Export drum set. Both of which are more expensive than sunglasses, more useful, in good shape and I appreciate these nice things a lot. Does that really say anything more than I enjoy my movies in HD and I play music as a hobby? Guess what Mr. Carrey, or is it Carney? Sorry, this got long. Chicks dig musicians! I’ll stick to my Wal-Mart sunglasses while being better at something than you. This doesn’t make me more of a “man” than you; it just shows that I have a passion for something other than being Patrick Bateman. Enjoy your spray tan.”

Act like you’ve been there before.-Like I’ve been where before? If you applied this to literally everywhere I went, it might not prove as fruitful. If I went to Planned Parenthood and acted like I’m a “local” there, I don’t think that would pan out very well. I don’t want to be that guy that gives off a confident aroma of passing his HIV blood test every week. Or Disneyland! Does it really make you cooler than all tourists acting like you frequent Disneyland? If anything, you’d get lost not asking for directions on how to get to the Tea Cups. That place is huge!

Laugh more.-A tip to longevity if applied properly. Once again, nothing to do with manliness. Congratulations, you laugh. What a man! Are you Swedish? Well, you must like spinach. Off of your logic, that makes complete sense.

Learn how to fly-fish-Learn how to backpack, play an instrument, surf, skateboard, play hockey, be a programmer (they make the money), play poker, cook….get the point? All the aforementioned are cooler and more enjoyable than fly fishing. They certainly do not make someone less of a man. It just shows you have different hobbies. It sounds like the writers of these articles took their own lives and just slapped together a manly list, like they were the epitome of manly existence. My wine collection has bigger balls than you.

A glass of wine or two with lunch will not ruin your day.-It does for some people, I suppose. I enjoy a 40oz with my burritos as much as the next manly man, but once again, this has NOTHING to do with a penis. This list isn’t even fun to write anymore. If this is a tongue in cheek article written by a woman, it’s freaking genius.

It’s better if old men cut your hair-You’re creepy.

Own a handcrafted shotgun. It’s a beautiful thing.-Sounds good, Sarah Palin.

There’s always another level. Just be content knowing that you are still better off than most who have ever lived.-Good life advice. Ever been to Cambodia? That will humble your suit wearing, binge drinking ego.

Cobblers will save your shoes. So will shoe trees.-You got me there. I don’t know what that is. I thought you were talking about porn.

The cliche is that having money is about not wasting time. But in reality, money is about facilitating spontaneity.-That’s a cliche? I thought the cliche was money doesn’t buy happiness. You’re not deep, sweetheart. All style, no substance.

Do not use an electric razor.-I couldn’t agree more! Those things are annoying!

#StopItWithTheHashtags-Come to think of it, you and I probably have a lot more in common than I thought we would. #missedconnection

Your ties should be rolled and placed in a sectioned tie drawer.-You work at McDonalds. I told you, there’s no need for a tie.

You may only request one song from the DJ.-If you’re going to places with DJs, it shows that you have terrible taste in music and haven’t grown up. End of story.

Take more pictures. With a camera.-Look at my travel posts. Your pictures aren’t impressive. And guess what? Most of those photos were taken with an iPad. It’s convenient!

Place-dropping is worse than-name dropping.Bowel dropping beats them both.

When you admire the work of artists or writers, tell them. And spend money to acquire their work.-Some things are pleasing to the eye aesthetically, but you don’t necessarily need it in your routine life. At the risk of repeating myself, why are you masculine out of this?

Your clothes do not match. They go together.-Did you run out of things to write? I’m getting there myself.

Yes, of course you have to buy her dinner.-Chivalry, nice. But the way modern day feminism is, that’s a hindrance to equality. Oh, the agony.

Staying angry is a waste of energy.-Yup. It leads to ulcers too. You’re not as clever as you think.

Don’t use the word “closure” or ever expect it in real life.-I really hope this article is coming to a closure.

Drink outdoors. And during the day. And sometimes by yourself.-More justification for drinking!

Date women outside your social set. You’ll be surprised-Yes, how surprising is it that women who aren’t binge drinking at 30 are different. Your social set sucks.

You cannot have a love affair with whiskey because whiskey will never love you back.-Yes, most inanimate objects have that issue. Objectophilia tends to be very one sided.

Feigning unpretentiousness is worse than being pretentious.-That’s the most pretentious thing I’ve heard.

The New Yorker is not high-brow. Neither is The Economist.-Neither is Business Insider.

If you believe in evolution, you should know something about how it works.Tell that to Creationists.

Ignore the boos. They usually come from the cheap seats.-What, did your stand up comedy career have a poor ending?

Give thoughtful gifts.-It’s usually the idea behind giving gifts. I didn’t give my fiance the flu without having a sincere motive behind it.

Life is short. Wait for a good pitch to hit-These kind of contradict each other. Wouldn’t it make sense if the words “life is short” and “wait” weren’t next to each other?

Oh man, that was just as long as last time. Well, in tradition with the previous edition, here’s a photo of something completely random.

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I don’t know what’s more sad. The fact that I took the time to respond to some guy who has no idea who I am, nor will he. Or the fact that I did it twice.

Backpacking in 82 Days: Last days in Kuta, Singapore, Initial thoughts on Cambodia and Phnom Penh

Getting out of Bali=one of the best parts of the trip. Don’t get me wrong, Indonesia has its great qualities. But it’s turned into such a tourist attraction that it’s full of hawkers gearing toward westerners, while trying to rip you off. Balinese people seem to keep to themselves, so if you want to see their genuine and awesome culture, seek it out and not through a tour. It’s all a bunch of scams.

Devyn and I did go white water rafting on our last day in Bali, which was solid. Not the most extreme, but a solid time nonetheless. We took photos with our other cameras, being the iPad is too large.

The following day, November 13, we finally headed towards Singapore through Jetstar. It’s basically like Southwest, but without the free soda and checked in bag. Their staff is hilariously unpleasant too. Getting into Singapore was a breath of fresh air. No one was trying to rip us off or get us to buy useless trinkets, and it was westernized. It’s a trivial thought, but after being in a place like Indonesia, it’s nice being somewhere that feels like home.

In the airport, we got profiled pretty badly. We’re white with huge backpacks. We certainly stuck out. The guy at customs kept re-checking my passport and every 5 minutes, and we were asked to have our bags put in scanners.

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My initial description of Singapore was an Asian San Francisco. They have a Muni and Bart type modes of transportation, everyone is on their phones, there’s a lot of solid eateries, it’s expensive and it’s obviously filled with an Asian culture. It’s way cleaner than San Francisco and doesn’t smell like crusties. Also, every single Asian stereotype you can think of, Singapore has. It’s awesome. If it wasn’t so expensive, we would have spent a greater deal of time there.

To save money on our two day venture in Singapore, we tried finding the cheapest accommodation so we could have fun during the day. At $18 per person, Backpackers Cozy Corner hostel offered that. Don’t be fooled by the title; it’s not cozy. It’s run down, there was no window in our room and it has some of the most interesting characters you will ever meet. We’re convinced some people live there. It wasn’t predominantly backpackers like most hostels.

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There were loads of frail senior citizens and a South African woman no taller than my leg, who was off her rocker. I had a beer infused conversation with her our last night which included topics of eating anacondas, feeding tribunal cultures with the anaconda, swimming with great whites, marrying a guy 5 times due to different religious ceremonies and a whole lot more. Did the discomfort of our hostel ruin our time? Hell no! It’s hilarious. Everything about this trip, good or bad, results in a fond memory.

First night in Singapore had us eating our weight in ramen, while pounding back sake and solid beer. Our first time not having Bali’s Bintang! We loved it. We were seeing Dumb and Dumber To that night, so we needed a lot of beer. Quick note, the movie gets a 6/10.

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After a sleepless night in paradise hostel, we woke up and booked it out of there to try spending our whole day outside. We visited Little India, which is the closest thing I’ll get to India without actually visiting it.

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Being in Singapore for only two days, we couldn’t fully immerse ourselves in the culture. From the brief descriptions we heard, Singapore’s older generation were hard working trying to pave the way for a better society. The current generation are pampered kids reaping the benefits from the older generation. It’s pretty clear too. There’s a serious technology obsession and you get the vibe that most of these kids never worked a day in their life, regardless of how inaccurate it may be. Hey, sounds familiar! ;). Joe Hill and old Wobblies would be disappointed.

Our dinner was spent at this pretty neat Italian restaurant. Having wine that is remotely decent was awesome. I certainly will appreciate a good Cabernet even more so. Wine in Indonesia was overly priced because of difficult importation. It was our first glass since NZ. Read my review on Trattoria Lafiandra on Trip Advisor, if you wish, to hear about our pushy waiter lacking wine knowledge, while fancying himself a wine guy because he knows what “full body” means.

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The following day, the 15th, we hopped on a plane to Phnom Penh, Cambodia. I was nervous because I read about some “safety concerns” in Cambodia, primarily PP. There were stories about tuk tuk drivers threatening violence for a higher rate, sexual assault, pick pockets, being jumped and much more. My old film teacher even said “get the fuck out of Phnom Penh. Nothing but people trying to rip you off.” Despite reassurance from Lonely Planet, saying that just like any other city you need to keep,your head up, I was still nervous.

Lonely Planet has yet to steer us wrong. Yes, tuk tuk drivers are a little overwhelming, but compared to hawkers in Kuta, they’re angels. Once you give an affirmative “no” to their service with a smile, they back down. Hell, if you’re friendly enough with one, you can hire them for most of your transportation in you’re around long enough. It cost a little more, but if you have a good gut intuition, you can tell who is shady. We got a tuk tuk from the airport to our hotel no problem. If you have your wits about you and aren’t stupid, Cambodia isn’t a problem. I felt more overwhelmed by Bali.

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Our first night in PP, Cambodia consisted of eating a fried spider along with a great meal. Like the true Balinese, Khmer people are amazing. Even with more of a language barrier, they never fail offer help and a smile. Genuine people like that really humble you.

For more about the people, our trip to The Killing Fields, and our time in Kampot (which is where we are currently) I want to do two different posts. It’s topics I don’t want bogged down by a long post.

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Backpacking in 82 Days: INTERSTELLAR

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Ok, so technically it’s not 82 days anymore. It’s 82 days minus 14. I realized that after I finished yesterday’s blog.

In keeping with our homesick feeling, all Devyn and I did today was read in 2 different Starbucks while waiting for our 3:45pm showing of Interstellar; all an elaborate ruse to avoid parasites known as hawkers.

Now, generally, I always told myself if I consistently blog, I’ll never do movie reviews. Everyone does it now a days, whether it’s on WordPress or YouTube. Admittedly, my favorite film critics are on YouTube; schmoesknow, Jeremy Jahns, and Redlettermedia. I don’t fancy myself having anything new to offer (except that I hate everything) so it’s a territory I tend to avoid.

However, I am technically reviewing a film simultaneously with my travels, so there’s a new angle for ya. I saw and am reviewing a film I saw, which had Indonesian subtitles. Devyn and I feel pretty similar about Interstellar, but I have some different thoughts about it. If you want to know what she thought, she’s hot and won’t be hard to spot on Facebook.

(Spoilers I guess)

My main verdict about this film is a solid MEHHHHHHHHH!!!! I didn’t hate it nor will I ever watch it again. I went into this film with no expectations after hearing some initial negativity about it, and I remain in a solid middle-ground. The visuals did an awesome job at showing the vastness in space and I felt it was as realistic as a space exploration film would get. It’s not worth the IMAX admission. They’re aren’t enough shots where I wished I was in an IMAX theater. Not to take away from how well the film looks, but as opposed to the opening shot in The Dark Knight Rises, I think a normal price for admission is all you need.

I’m not going to get into how I thought the acting was good because I’m lazy, but I will say one thing. I like that Matthew McConaughey is on a resurgence of being a respected actor. During the period where it was easy to hate on him, I was in my early teens. I remember being shocked at how bad the roles he chose to be in. The first time I saw him act was in 2000’s U-571. He’s great in that, and it’s nothing like how he was in films like Surfer Dude. He’s always been a good actor, so his weird lull period was something of a shock to me.

With this being a Christopher Nolan film, there’s going to be a great deal of hype and nerdgasms surrounding it. This is where lies the film’s first problem. I feel like people had a very different film in their head going into this. It’s part of the same issues that plague the Star Wars prequels (don’t get confused, I hate those films). It was not what they expected, and that leaves people disappointed. Before hearing mixed reviews, I thought this film, and I’m sure others will agree, would be on an epic scale the way last year’s Gravity was, with a Nolan touch. What we are left with is a space exploration film that left audiences confused.

I personally understood the film perfectly well, even with the heavily scientific elements. At the very least, I got the gist. The plot itself is pretty linear; it’s the side elements about relativity and different dimensions that seemed to have left people dumbfounded.

I think another issue with the film is that, it too, didn’t know what it wanted to be. Was it supposed to be a more realistic space epic or opera, like a Star Wars and Gravity love child? Or was it supposed to be a film layered with social commentary about the future of the human species, mixed in with dense scientific theories? The film was entertaining on a visceral level, but I understand why people disliked it.

Side note: It felt lazy when they were showing Michael Caine’s character aged 20 something years later from when we first saw him, but they didn’t bother making Ebenezer Scrooge look older. They stuck him in a wheel chair to imply age and frailty, which is humorous when you verbally discuss it. Also, Matt Damon shows up! His character’s motive I found to be the most baffling.

Maybe I’m wrong, so help me out brilliant people on the internet:

He was sending out faux information about the planet he was on being sustainable in order to be rescued. Instead of explaining this to the crew of the Endurance, he tries killing them so he can take their ship to leave back to earth. Why couldn’t he just tell them the planet he’s been stuck on can’t sustain life, so move on? Was he worried they would carry out their mission and head to the next planet orbiting Saturn? Is attempted murder and blowing up your camp really necessary? The character of Cooper has every motive to head back to earth, even Anne Hathaway does. I could be wrong, but I felt confused at that moment, and didn’t really care either way.

The film looks great, but has nothing much else going for it except on an aesthetics level. The scientific theories about black holes, relativity, and the concept of space hibernation is intriguing, but Neil Degrasse Tyson has a much more interesting outlet in these phenomenons, and then some. I’d say check the film out for something mentally stimulating, but it didn’t go beyond that for me.

Backpacking in 82 Days: The Gilis, misc adventures, and reflective thoughts

Logging everything according to individual date has become unnecessary and tedious. In NZ, we actually had a pre planned itinerary broken down into a day by day schedule. It was much easier to keep track of dates and activities that way.

Once you lose that, your days tend to blend into each other and, for at least Devyn and I, we only remember bigger events and our reflective thoughts if it’s important. That’s what it has been like in Asia. Some days, we just did nothing but read or hang on the various beaches. I don’t want to blog about that and I’m sure my audience of 4 doesn’t want to read that. So, where to start…..

Today is November 10 in the afternoon and this is being written after getting in an altercation with a hawker that ended in a “go fuck yourself”. Needless to say, I’m a little livid and writing about positive events while drinking a beer is a good way to unwind.

The Gilis- A set of 3 islands (we went to Gili T) in which, in my perspective, is a complete free for all. They’re beautiful beaches located in a world without motorized cars or police. People go to the island we went to for partying without any real rules. For anyone who think they’re badass for partying in Vegas, I suggest heading over to the Gilis. You really are isolated from the rest of the world.

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Yet, somehow, there seems to be order. It’s like a well-organized Lord of the Flies scenario. You’re in no more danger than the rest of Indonesia; you keep your head up just the same.

Devyn and I stayed in a cottage for $16 a night. It came with its downside however. A load of ants in our bed and other critters in our bathroom. Your bathroom is technically located in a room outside, adjacent to your living space. We made friends with a spider the size of my fist and a few cockroaches. But, the family running it was super nice and fed us every morning. You are on an island, so no room is without these problems I learned, unless you fork over more cash. A lot more. We personally wanted more money for activities.

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Another hilarious downside was being right next to a Mosque. Mosques broadcast prayers 5 times a day over a loudspeaker everyday. A pretty cool experience 4/5 times. However, 1/5 times takes place at 4am for a good 20 minutes. At that point, you feel like a religion is being forced upon you, and it almost seems selfish to make the rest of the world hear your prayers. It’s like church bells. Shortly after, I read an article about Israel trying to pass a bill, deeming it noise pollution. Look it up. But, from various sources, a good chunk of Lombak and the Gilis are Muslim, so I have no real right to complain. Especially since, I don’t know if you know, there’s some tension between certain Muslim groups and the States. Here’s a few pictures that are irrelevant to what I’m saying:

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No pictures do Gili any justice. We went scuba diving and snorkeling and, hands down, the best you will ever experience. The water is crystal clear, bath tub temperature, and littered with amazing sea life. It was after these dives that Devyn and I got drunk and started discussing veganism. I can’t recap it verbatim, but went something like this:

Many of the places we have visited so far in Asia are poverty stricken and it’s only going to get worse when we are in Cambodia and Vietnam. Places like this survive on meats and poultry. It’s a genuine strife for survival. One thing animal rights groups don’t realize is these countries don’t have the means or proper resources for “free range” animals or what not (Anthony Bourdain also has said this). A place like the Gilis especially, their economy survives a great deal from fishing.

It got us thinking that veganism is such a 1st world issue and privilege. Would we really have the audacity to tell these people to stop eating animals? Basically, cut out most of your diet because I don’t agree with it. On the flip side, the call for veganism has brought attention to problems like factory farming in the states, which is horrible. But these issues, from what we are seeing, is our own fucked up nation’s issue. You can’t call for a “greener lifestyle” or international meat free diets when that’s how these people survive. Unlike the states, places like NZ and from what we have seen in Indonesia don’t have the factory farming issues. We’re just fat asses who over indulge. There needs to be more focus on eliminating that disgusting shit, as opposed to what it has now turned into; an elitist movement set on telling people what to do. Why can’t we ever focus on moderation? Why is it always so extreme? Just kill off Texas first and we can start from there.

I don’t want to bag on that lifestyle because I do think it’s a great way to live when done without patting your own back. Just don’t tell me how much healthier it is to be vegetarian/vegan while you’re smoking a cigarette. Living a greener lifestyle and reducing one’s meat intake is great, especially in the states where indulgence is such an issue. Also, this blog is not meant for too much venting, more just inner thoughts about what Devyn and I have discussed. So please, feel free to tell me how much of an uneducated asshole I am in the comments :).

Too much reading, here are more Gili photos:

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If you want to save money, eat at side streets and food markets. Devyn and I fed ourselves for $4 USD almost every night. Sure, it is nice to go to some of the other restaurants conveniently located on the main strip, but if you want your bang for your buck, take an extra few minutes to do some searching. Speaking of Devyn and I, anyone who thinks they’re in a solid relationship, I dare you to travel this long with each other. Boy, do you work out kinks. If anything, this trip has made me realize why this girl is my forever. Mediocre relationships wouldn’t survive this so yes, I’m tooting my own horn; we are awesome.

It was during the Gilis where we realized we were planting ourselves in one country too long. Meeting people who work in the Gilis (especially our dive instructors) we realized we can’t just do play time forever. Many of the workers from other countries work during the day and rage at night. Repeat. Devyn and I can’t wait to be a boring, home bodied couple drinking wine and watching movies after a long days work. We aren’t meant for the party lifestyle and a trip like this makes you ready to grow up. Here’s more photos:

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If you ever do a budget trip like this, don’t stay in one country too long. You get bored. We ended up booking a flight two weeks earlier than originally planned to head home.

After the Gilis, we decided to spend the last week of Indonesia back in Kuta. With our bigger budget from cutting the trip short, we hired a guy to drive (you can find these anywhere) us around and take us parasailing, to a coffee plantation, and an awesome Hindu Temple with wild monkeys. We got ripped off for parasailing by a few hawkers, but it was still fun.

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SPEAKING OF HAWKERS!!!!!! I mentioned them in another blog post, but did not explain what they are. Kuta is the main destination for a lot of people visiting Bali, so naturally it’s full of hawkers. Hawkers are people who set up little shops on sidewalks selling faux versions of various products (ie. sunglasses, shirts, etc). Usually it’s really cheap because it’s bootleg copies. From what I heard, most of them are not Balinese.

I really wanted Bintang (their local and only beer) t shirts because my clothes reek and I thought it would be cool. Devyn and I venture into a little store where, of course, they’re trying to pressure you. It comes with the territory. But, this guy in particular, tried selling me two shirts for 750,000 rupiah, or over $60USD. I said no way and only wanted one. Mind you, I got a sweet pair of sunglasses a few weeks ago for $4. We went back and forth and I told him no more than 75,000 rupiah at best. He took that as a deal, bagged the product and stuck it in my face. Devyn, being the smart person she is, said no way and it’s going to be no more than 50,000. One thing led to another, he got pissed and (for my younger audience, the rest of the this is explicit) said “fuck you” to Devyn.

When someone says that to your fiancé, your natural instincts are to punch the guy. But you’re in a country where that leads to serious problems with the po-po. I tried being calm and telling him to not speak that way, so he said “fuck you” to me. Dev and I took off while flipping him off. He continued being an asshole which led to a darker side of myself. Without too much detail, it ended with me saying, “Have fun eating dirt for the rest of your life, you cocksucker.” (I told you mom, but it’s clean language now)

I’m human and have minor anger issues, especially when my fiancé is insulted. It’s incredibly horrible to say that and is not a 100% my character, but when you’re worked up, it’s amazing what you will say. The whole point of this trip is to see the world and have learning experiences. This particular experience is a good example of how I have many flaws, and I should work on not allowing it to bring out cruelty. I’m an asshole sometimes, but who isn’t? It’s why I disagree with Sirius XM firing Anthony Cumia. People get worked up. Look that up.

The only thing I regret is grouping hawkers in with the Balinese. Balinese, true Balinese people, are beautiful souls who never have anything bad to say. We even met a guy named Putu who invited us to his brother’s wedding. Hawkers are not true representations of this culture, so I’d be lying if I said I didn’t exactly wish I didn’t say what I said.

I’m an American. I’m a white male. Naturally, I was born with privilege. I don’t deny that. But out of this, no matter the scenario, I can learn to be a little more humanistic and apathetic to others without what I was born with.

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Backpacking in 82 Days-October 19-26 Final Days in NZ; Start of Asia

We are in Bali now, but here’s a lazy recap of the end of New Zealand and other such endeavors. I’m also having wordpress issues, so ignore the hilarity of BIG pictures.

October 19- It was my 25th birthday, and probably the best one yet. It’s damn near impossible to top what Devyn and I did. We did the Pure Glenorchy: Lord of the Rings scenic tour. It was an early morning, half day tour and after a lot of wine drinking the night before, 8am wasn’t friendly. What this tour does: It’s a 4×4 tour where you get picked up from your accommodation with a small group and they take you to various locations from the film (ie. “boil, mash em, stick em in a stew scene” isengard, Lothlorien. Aside from the nerdgasm, it’s a beautiful scenic experience.

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After, we had some time to kill in Queenstown, being we got back at noon. Now, Queenstown is the adventure capital of the world and makes backpacking on a budget difficult. We splurged on a jet boat, but that’s about all we could afford. Bungy jumping, skydiving etc all range from $190-300+ NZD.

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We got an amazing wardrobe with this adventure, clearly.

To top off an excellent birthday, we ventured to Fear Factory Queenstown. It’s hyped as NZ’s scariest haunted house and in the tourist pamphlets, it has some pretty rave reviews. Devyn and I are huge horror fans and don’t scare easily. We think modern day horror sucks and has been dumbed down to torture porn. How scary can this really be?

My hats off to FFQ for they freaked the shitballs out of us. It’s a maze you do in complete darkness and you have to follow these red lights. You’re constantly feeling around in the dark, with “things” feeling around for you. We were pretty much stalked and mocked by a crazy woman the whole time. She laughed maniacally, grabbed us (they can touch you) and turned off our red lights. It’s hard to explain how good they get you without recapping the whole 20 minute maze. What they do well is playing off subtlety, the unknown, and messing with your imagination. It’s what true horror is.

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October 20-23- We left Queenstown and took a long drive to Christchurch. Other than stopping off the side the road to check out an old church, it was an uneventful few days. Christchurch was badly damaged from an earthquake in 2011 and it’s a scene right out of a post-apocalyptic movie. No words can explain how gnarly the damage is. We felt a bit odd and disrespectful taking photos of the damage inflicted. We really just spent the days preparing to leave for Bali.

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Recap on NZ-kiwis are amazing human beings. I’ve said it before, but they live a hobbit lifestyle. Good food, drink, and company is all that’s important. They are incredibly helpful to travelers and were genuinely interested when we mentioned that we’re from California.

We listened to a lot of NZ politics radio and their news mainly concerned the Ebola scare and ISIS. Global news was a larger topic there. Being an island on the other side of the world, their political problems aren’t as large. They had an hour of a vet giving pet advice. It was great! An interesting parallel with them and the states was their “issues” with various Maori people. From what I gathered was that they tend to be the participants in many crimes committed in NZ. However, allegations came out that the police were racist and targeting Maori people much more. Understand the parallel America?

October 23-26. 4am wake up call to get to the airport and start our trek to Denpasar, Indonesia. After a layover in Australia and a 12 hour endeavor, we landed in Bali. It was there where we really felt out of our element and truly on the other side of the world. Mushrooms are legal here, but everything else equates to the death penalty.

Leaving the airport, we were bombarded with people trying to carry our luggage and get a tip out of it, as well as taxi drivers trying to rip you off. Thanks to our Lonely Planet guide, we learned to walk through a parking lot 300 meters away and hail our own.

The drive to our hotel is where it sunk it. Their traffic is an all out free for all. Ironically, the best drivers I have ever seen. On these narrow roads, they know how to maneuver.
Aside from going to Mexico to get drunk when I was 18, this is the first time for myself personally, that I saw first hand poverty. It’s only supposed to get worst as we work our way to Cambodia 3 weeks from now. It’s incredibly humbling.

When Devyn and I return to the states, we have to save up for our wedding, buy cars, get jobs and an apartment. If these are our only problems, we are spoiled. The real Balinese people, (not the hawkers) are beautiful people so it’s pretty heartbreaking.

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That’s not to say we didn’t enjoy our few nights in Kuta enjoying the beaches and great/cheap food and beer. It’s another reason we felt terrible; we are living like kings and queens basically at the expense of a poor country. I understand tourism has boosted Bali’s economy, but it sounds like an invalid reason to pat ourselves on the back. I really want to return to the states much more appreciative of what I have.

As a californian, I’m just a lucky person. It’s why I can’t stand nationalism. Unless you have served he country or have overcame obstacles to live here, (those leaving Mexico) your nationalism is justified and God bless you. Everyone else, according to Chris Rock, are just lucky. I’m no better than these people because I was born advantageous. Our goal here is to respect these amazing people to the hugest of our abilities and show our gratitude for their incredible hospitality.

You do learn how to be pushy. Hawkers are always trying to sell the tourists cheap merchandise, such as clothes and tours. They’re always coming up to you trying to force a sale, so while being polite, you have to be pushy back. You can’t blame them, though. They’re just trying to make a living in a tough environment.

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A lot of Australians holiday in Bali. We met an awesome family at our hotel and it was the first time on the trip we really met a cool group at our accommodations and really compared cultures. Until then, it was just crusties in our hostels. Until we visited NZ, Australia, and Bali, I was under the impression everyone hates America. We do suck on a gargantuan level, sure, but when I was in Europe 6 years ago, it was open season on me. Just like we are with others, they were genuinely interested in American and California lifestyles. So, yeah, shut up England (I know not Europe) and France.

Our first few nights were in Kuta. Seeing the poverty of good people made Devyn lose it (I found a good one) and last night, the high level of stray dogs and cats hit me. Unless you’re callus, I guarantee any first time travelers will tear up while visiting Southeast Asia.

We left Kuta to travel to Ubud today. It was an odd and shady circumstance of changing ghetto shuttles 3 different shuttles. While we were slightly on edge, we still had fun.

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Once in Ubud, the Balinese continued to spoil us with kindness. We found a really awesome room 3km from the center of town for $23. That gets you a resort. Devyn told them it was our pre-honeymoon and, well….

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We’re undeserving assholes. Wear right next to rice fields so needless to say, the scenery is awesome.

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