Mar 28, 2014

'The Secret Life of Walter Mitty': Ben Stiller on hyperreality and losing yourself in the moment

<< crossposted on the 'Lets Get Real podcast' blog

Australia's Movie Guy, Marc Fennell dubbed 'The Secret Life of Walter Mitty' as "the best 2 hour Travel Agent ad you've ever seen". So its only fitting that I found this Ben Stiller feature on the Delta Airlines inflight magazine 'Sky'.

Delta Airlines' Magazine 'Sky' (December 2013): The Ben Stiller Magic
The profile written by a forgivably gushy Steve Marsh, injects some psychoanalysis of Ben Stiller
The Ben Stiller Magic
Stiller, at least in the movies he directs, has always seemed obsessed with reality --specifically with how reality is shaped (or warped) by the stuff we watch when we’re on the couch... 
"So why are you so interested in this notion of reality? It seems like your entire career has been obsessed with this idea."
"Wow," Stiller says. "I never really analyzed it. That’s interesting you say that, because I’ve never thought about it that way." He pauses.
As someone drawn to Dreams and Reality this was right up my alley.
I ask him if he ever daydreams. "No, not really," he says. "When you're making a movie like this, or any movie really, you're so in the moment, you’re not really daydreaming. But I do try to take time to appreciate the experience of doing things you wouldn't normally get to do."

He remembers one moment on the set of Mitty: "This wasn't really a daydream, but it was just kind of a moment of realization. I was in the water and we had to do a shot where the Zodiac boat is approaching me to pull me out of the water, and the only way we could get the shot was to put the camera in the boat, because it's like a POV of the boat coming at me. We were a mile or half a mile out to sea in the ocean off Iceland, and the swells were pretty big, so they dropped me in the water and just drove away. It was just a funny, surreal moment. Cause I'm really in the ocean here by myself. I couldn't see anything; the boat went far enough away that it was gone, the swells were at four feet. And I was like, This is crazy, this is actually... this is happening. I'm really in the ocean. If that boat doesn't come back... I mean, I know they know I'm here but... It's like the funny crossover of reality and movies, where you do real things but somehow you think because you're doing it for a movie that everything is OK. And, actually, the weird thing that you're doing is as dangerous or weird as it would be if there was no camera there; you're still really doing it." 
Whether its an Astronaut going about his routine or a backpacker off to his next destination there is an element of being outside yourself that is necessary to accomplish "extraordinary" things.

'The Secret Life of Walter Mitty' (2013)
Whilst walking around Cartagena I spotted this perch by the water. Not being scared of heights and with my fondness for climbing things I decided to scale it. I could be like a Pirate of the Caribbean.
Only at the top did I realise how precarious and foolish the endeavour was. What was I thinking?
From Below: Crow's Nest in Cartagena, Colombia
From above: Probably not the best idea 
We "get into the zone" or are under so much pressure we forget to appreciate the moment. When you're caught up in the moment or swept by momentum, things you never thought possible can be mundanely achieved.
We just have to remember not to appreciate them mundanely.

Mar 17, 2014

The pursuit of happiness: A collection of "Happy triggers" during travel

Happiness is a recurring theme you come across during long term travel. As you enjoy a combination of "living the dream", ample free time and are surrounded by like minds its an irresistible subject.
When the love ends and you come back to earth it can be difficult readjusting to the daily grind, inevitably you end up revisiting and reassessing how you value happiness.

1) Pharrell Williams: Happy - Philippines after Typhoon Haiyan
2) Time Magazine (July 8, 2013): The Pursuit of Happiness
3) Zen Pencils: #128 Bill Watterson - A cartoonist’s advice
You can find happiness projected everywhere when you have good thoughts. Interestingly my mood at the moment isn't great but Happiness is in the Zeitgeist and its hard to avoid these days. In one day a video of Typhoon Haiyan victims dancing to Pharrell's Chart Topper 'Happy' became viral. I also came across a 'Time Magazine' cover on the Pursuit of Happiness in the library, a Bill Waterson quote on defining happiness was referenced on my favorite podcast.

Factor in the pervasive Billion Dollar Self-Help industry and the barrage of motivational quotes on Social media, you'd be forgiven for being cynical to the sugar rush. When you're in a down mood however its a welcome antidote checking in to happier times to uplift yourself

In the spirit of good vibes I've compiled a collection of Happy Triggers in my travels:
Jacques Henri Lartigue: Why I'm getting a camera
I traveled several months without a camera around Europe. Reading a passage about "trapping" happiness" in an exhibition for French Photographer Henri Lartigue is what convinced me to finally get another one. His dynamic photos capturing people in moments of joy are full of whimsy and magic.

Cave clanning
Being a kid again: Cave Clanning in La Perouse, Sydney
This happy adventure is notable because it happened in Sydney, confirming my bias that good times are a state of mind. You don't need to be in a far off land or look to another time (past or future) to let the good times roll. Its about tapping into a spirit of wonder and finding the awe we once had as kids.

I collected songs that reminded me of moments and feelings which I dubbed as "Songs to be happy to". The triggers ranged from sports and language, to artists I met and anthems amongst friends.

Limerence: Snowboarding, Skating, Surfing, Christmas and Love
Its funny how you come across random concepts that inform your experience moving forward. Watching TV in Portugal, I heard David Brooks mention "Limerence" on Charlie Rose. Months later spending time with people lost in their passion for sport and art we bonded over those shared loves.

Let's Get Real - Episode 2 preview: Pursuit of Happiness
The documentary 'Happy' (2011) first appeared on my radar when it was referenced in the second podcast I recorded. It was a topic dear to my guest as he had been exploring its nature after the passing of his beloved mother.

VIDEO: 'Happy' (2011) trailer

The documentary has been referenced several times on the 'You Made it Weird' podcast with Pete Holmes. I will finally make the effort to watch it and plan to host a screening to watch it alongside others. As they say "Happiness is only real when shared".

Mar 9, 2014

The streets of Bogotá, Colombia in pictures (December 2013)

Bogotá, Colombia was the last destination for my 6 month South America jaunt. I spent 5 nights in the Capital during Christmas period, hooping in the courts of La Candelaria on Christmas Day. Most of my days were spent walking the long streets, watching the locals at leisure as they rode on wheels and walked their dogs. The season brought the streets to life at night as vendors traded wares and treats like Canelazo (Cinnamon Hot Drink).
Colombian Paratrooper
Work in progress
Tiny Dancer
Reservoir Nuns
Sled Dogs
Fashion shoot wardrobe change
Purple Reign
Ride. Sleep. Dance.
The hood
Christmas Elf
Ribbons, Mirror balls, juggling, Slackline. Cielo!
General Awesomeness
Casey Jones
"Ancient spirits of evil..."
We rollin'
Street life
More Photo related posts:
- Full Ecuador album (November 2013) via Facebook
 - Jacques Henri Lartigue: Why I'm getting a camera
Street life photos in Buenos Aries and Porto Alegre
- Spotted: Photos from Buenos Aries - The first 48.
- Find all posts featuring photos here

Mar 3, 2014

Pro Wrestling and Mixed Martial Arts in South America

Último Guerrero en Pie (Medellin, Colombia):
Sábado 14 de Diciembre @Coliseo del Colegio Palermo
I've talked about my love for Combat sports in the past, I had the pleasure of finding each sort in South America. MMA events were more readily available but my timing was almost always off by a few days. I have a preference for Pro-Wrestling but if my memory serves me right I only spotted it in Santiago, interestingly my lone Lucha Libre event clashed with a competing show on the other side of town.
Revolución Lucha Libre (Santiago, Chile):
Domingo 7 de Julio @Teatro Novedades
Photo Credit: Paul K
I had hoped to find MMA in its second home of Brazil. On the night I'd planned to watch 'Floripa Fight IX' in the resort city of Florianópolis, clumsy bus orientation led us astray searching for the venue in the wrong suburb. Thankfully I met some Brazilian jiu-jitsu kids in my Rio hostel weeks later who told me about the tourney they were entering. This allowed me to find the authentic BJJ experience I'd been seeking.
Brazilian National No-Gi Championship (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil):
Sábado 26 de Outubro @Tijuca Tênis Clube,
Find other Wrestling related posts here:
- Coolspotting. Nerding out in England: Comics, CosPlay, Video Games and Wrestling
- Memento Spotlight: UFC and WWE autographs in England
- 30HG NBA Destinations: WrestleMania 29 and Indy Wrestling

Jan 31, 2014

Sydney Underground, Bunker parties and secret spots

Whilst travelling one has a tendency to go more extreme with their exploration. Arriving with fresh eyes, and buoyed by fellow travellers, we delve deeper and are more open to opportunities

I had a 'Yes Man' year prior to my yearlong EuroTrip in 2011. Aided by the irregular hours of my new job I was able to experience my hometown of Sydney through a new perspective. During this time I navigated through several scenes, from Spoken word, Punk rock, Comedy, Art and Hip Hop.

'The Bunk Party'
Photo credit: Boomshee
I'd been to my fair share of shows at squats and interesting spaces from my time in Punk Rock. This Bunker Party by Chowder Bay was my first in the Electronic scene. This night affirmed what I'd always believed about Sydney. Whilst it might not stay out as late or have the reputed party scene as the other Global Capitals. There's more than meets the eye.

Coolspotting in Sydney: Comedy, Art, Festivals and Galleries
- Find all "Home" related posts here

"Beaches ain't Sh-t II"Secret Party at Obelisk Beach
Photo Credit: Unknown
This night was interesting because of what I didn't do.
A yacht was docked close to the shore and several partygoers had swum onboard and reported the occupants were quite accommodating. It sounded like a crazy enough adventure to go on but I hesitated. My running mate and I had discussed the foolishness of risk-taking behaviour on the drive in, this certainly qualified. I'm also not that great a swimmer.

This missed opportunity and the topic of FOMO [Fear of Missing Out] plagued me for weeks. I transcripted some great insight from Writer Mike White who talked about it on Marc Maron's WTF podcast. It came up again in a podcast conversation I had with a Yoga Instructor.

- Let's Get Real | Episode 6 preview: Be like water
- Actor, Writer and Traveler Mike White speaks to Marc Maron about Adventure

Being a kid again at the 'Henry Head' bunkers
Photo credit: 미쉘sam's Flickr
CouchSurfing has always been a hit or miss affair for me. That said, many of my more memorable and obscure experiences have been through the Hospitality exchange network. After returning from my EuroTrip I connected with a ragtag group of CSers to do some Urbex [Urban Exploration] around the coastline of Sydney.

One of the CSers had recently returned from several years teaching English in Japan. Through further conversation we discovered that she was a running mate of my Cousin who had been teaching English himself in rural Japan. That night I attended a joint birthday party celebrated by a CSer I had interviewed for my podcast.

- Let's Get Real | Episode 3 preview: Love and discontent
- Zach Cregger: Being a kid again and the power of "play"
- Matt Besser: Travel coincidences and Counting the serendipities
Louis Theroux, Couchsurfing and Holland

Jan 8, 2014

South America Post Compilation

Activity on the 'Loz in Translation' blog has been minimal which is unfortunate as I value my output when I travel. I consider it the mark of a good journey when my travels lead to memorable moments that also pave the way for great art and stories. The 'Memento Year exhibition' and my 'Quotes Collection' come to mind in this regard.

That said, whilst in South America I was generating content for my other Interest blogs: '30 Home Games' (Basketball) and 'Let's Get Real podcast' (Reality) . Find a selection of posts below:

30 Home Games

My time in Caracas, Venezuela for FIBA Americas 2013
Photo credit: Brian I
Streetball with locals around South America: Christmas Day in Bogota, Colombia
Let's Get Real podcast
Technology VS Human instinct: From Inuits in Northern Canada to Jungle Guides in the Amazon
'The Secret Life of Walter Mitty': Ben Stiller on hyperreality and losing yourself in the moment
Being truly free [with the help of Robots?]: 'Whatever You Wish' by Isaac Asimov

Jan 2, 2014

'Loz in Transit' South America 2013 expanded map

'Loz in Transit' South America 2013 map
180 days in South America: Chile, Argentina, Venezuela, Brazil, Ecuador and Colombia

South America (North)
Venezuela Day 57 - 72 (September):
Stays: Caracas
Ecuador Day 120 - 150 (November):
Stays: Cuenca, Vilcabamba, Guayaquil, Montañita, Baños, Cuyabeno (Amazonas), Quito
Colombia Day 150 -180 (December):
Stays: Popayán, Cali, Salento, Medellín, Cartagena, Santa Marta, Tayrona Park, Bogota

South America (South)
Chile Day 1 -29 (July):
Stays: Santiago, Valparaíso, Viña del Mar, La Serena, San Pedro de Atacama
Argentina Day 30 - Day 57, 73 - 81 (August):
Stays: Mendoza, Córdoba, Rosario, Buenos Aires
Brazil Day 82 - 119 (October):
Stays: Porto Alegre, Santa Maria, Santa Cruz, Erechim, Florianópolis, São Paulo, Curitiba, Rio de Janeiro

Other 'Loz in Transit' maps:
- 30 Home Games: NBA Destinations
- 'Loz in Transit' Europe 2011 expanded map