Callum B. Downes

Month: March, 2014

Future Leaders or Drug Fiends? An insight into typical Uni Students. (Author’s Note 4th edn)

Esteemed in the admiring hearts and minds of the masses, shining ever so brightly as a beacon from which innovation, progress and enlightenment inexhaustibly illuminate. Universities are upheld as vital seams, binding the very fabric of our world. Yet our society tends to overlook the not so vital students who are so intricately interwoven throughout this grand fabric of the modern age.

Kind of like the mediocre embroidery woven into the birthday sweater from your Grandmother, students are the focal point of the university, however, they are usually deplorable drunkards who fraudulently claim government welfare benefits in order to maintain drug addictions. Consequently, the general public are left to grudgingly admire these students and politely say, “Thanks for the sweater Grandma”, as their hard earned wages are raped and pillaged by the tax department, who satisfy the appetites of the drug fiend students.

Nevertheless, amongst other noble pursuits I indulge myself on campus, like valiantly standing my ground during a Mexican stand off with a irritable Mother duck, or indulging in the thrill of drying my hands in three seconds flat, thanks to state of the art Dyson engineering, people watching on the infamous duck pond lawn and admiring the diversity of said drug fiends, remains to be my all time favourite past time on campus at UOW.

Over the last couple of years, this obsessive people watching has led me to draw some chin- waggingly interesting conclusions, regarding the ragtag student populous of UOW. I have devised that the majority of the student body can be categorised into six distinct groups, based on the stereotypical characteristics they display on Campus…

1. Mature Age Students

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The mid-life crisis is a tragic affliction, manifested in the eager, idealistic and passionate participation off these students, who, due to their plethora of life experiences, cannot resist the urge to share their wisdom at every chance they are given. These philosophical bombshells often last longer than a complete recital of the Quran, are usually completely irrelevant to the topic of discussion and are sometimes vocalised on their own accord, without the permission of the lecturer.

2. Foreign Students

More often than not, these students can be found chain smoking in large groups of shared ethnicity, indignantly shouting in their mother tongue, or lining up for the free shuttle bus. Glasses, joggers and plaid shirts make up their uniform, and after 5:30pm, these students make up 100% of UOW’s population.

3. Exercise Science, Nutrition & PD/H/PE Students

Identifiable by their distinct attire, consisting of Nike joggers, tights and Lorna Jane catalogue items, these students are undeniably the most attractive UOW attendees. They will almost certainly be females, who pack highly nutritious lunches in Tupperware containers.

4. Engineering Students

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Tailed by a waft of expired lynx deodorant, mobs of these students gather in impenetrable balls of testosterone, debating the existence of girls and whether or not it is mathematically possible to talk to them. Without a doubt, they loath their degree and future job prospects, yet argue it’s all worthwhile, because one day they’ll be raking in the Benjamins.

5. Environmental Science, Marine Biology & Geography Students

TreeHugger 

Beach bum hippies sporting long shaggy mop tops, unruly beards, panel caps, boardies and thongs.  Such students are at UOW to save the whales, but wish they were riding waves with them instead.

6. Arts Students

Totally unaware of why they are even attending University, these Martin Luther wannabes assume they’ll change the world one day. Unfortunately, the reality is, they’ll continue to pop anti-depressants, whilst contemplating the gargantuan HECS debt that they’ll never pay back, due to their non-existent job prospects. Eventually they’ll become miserable high school teachers.

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Film Review: 12 Years a Slave

If you’re anything like me, you probably held some reservations before watching this film. Doing your upmost to ignore the hysteria, which relentlessly surrounded its release and asking yourself, could it really leave me as emotionally drained as the incinerator scene on Toy Story 3?

Astonishingly, the answer is, yes it can. To be honest, the last time I’d felt so inexpressibly moved during a film doesn’t exist, as director Steve McQueen delivers a gut-retching take of raw emotion and human suffering, unparalleled in today’s filmmaking industry.

Any self-confessed lover of cinema, art, history or the exploration of the human condition must seek to immerse themselves in this sensory feast, which not only achieved cinematic breakthroughs that will fashion the future of filmmaking forever, but also cemented itself within the enclaves of history by becoming the first movie directed by a African-American (Steve McQueen) and also written by an African-American (John Ridley), to win “Best Motion Picture” and “Best Writing, Adapted Screenplay” at the 2014 Academy Awards ceremony.

12 Years A Slave is based upon the life of Solomon Northup, a well respected freeman of New York, who was kidnapped and enslaved in 1841, leaving behind his wife, two children and self-made careers in carpentry and music. Sold like livestock to a surprisingly compassionate plantation owner in the south (Benedict Cumberbatch), Solomon, renamed “Platt”, loses everything he once cherished. His life spirals into a constant arm wrestle against fear, cruelty and humiliation, as he is sold into the hands of the maniacal “Epps” (Michael Fassbenger), whose palpable lust for slave girl Patsey (Lupita Nyong’o) sends him uncontrollably into vicious fits of rage brought on by his own self-loathing.

It is during these onsets of fury that McQueen implores the audience to empathise ever so deeply with the pain expressed by his characters, who are literally slashed to shreds, bringing to light the harsh realities faced by these slaves during one of humanities darkest periods in history. Strikingly powerful close-ups and extended single takes, allow us to ponder the complexities of the conveyed emotions.

Donning the exceptionally challenging role of Northup is Chiwetel Ejiofor, who perfects the intensity and desperateness required of his role. No easy task as his dialogue is predominantly steeped in body language rather than words, accentuating the ponderous mood that overshadows the entire film, leaving you teetering on the edge of your seat and losing popcorn down into the recesses of your shirt.

Apart from a few brief moments of diverting sub-plot provided by co-producer Brad Pitt, the poetic narrative of 12 years a slave flows like the tears that will almost certainly roll down your screwed up little face. After leaving the theatre, however, looking like a teenage girl, emotionally shattered by unrequited love, will be the least of your worries, as you contemplate the incalculable sins that humans are capable of inflicting upon each other in our dystopian world.

A Red Head’s Observation of Nightclubs (Author’s Note 3rd edn)

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Lately, testament to my dedication to study, the majority of my precious time has been wastefully spent perfecting my Aristotle pose whilst pondering some of life’s biggest questions, rather than committing such useful brain power to my Himalayan mountain range of university work. Worse still, my brain assumes that the most advantageous time to commit to such philosophising is whilst I’m laying in bed trying to fall asleep.

One such sleep-defying question was why was I born with red hair? Why did God curse me with such a depraved deformity? Why didn’t my parents euthanize me at birth?

Okay, so maybe I’m just kidding, however the fact remains that the colour of my hair and the lack of pigment in my skin qualifies me as socially handicapped. Take my track record with girls on a night out as a prime example here. If I approach a girl in a well-lit area, where the redness of my hair and pastiness of my skin are accentuated, the chances of scoring her digits are almost zero. At best, I might receive comments like, “You look a little like Ron Weasley”, or “You’re like a better looking version of Prince Harry”. Sheldon Cooper would have a better chance in this situation. On the other hand, if I approach a girl in a dark area where my deformities are concealed, such as a dodgy back alley or a nightclub dance floor at one of Wollongong’s finest establishments, than my chances of attaining a girls number increase tenfold.

Which brings me to the next big question. Why do Wollongong nightclubs suck? After four disappointing years of experiencing Wollongong’s nightlife first hand, I have hypothesised three possible answers to such a pressing concern.

1. Sweaty Douchebags

Identifiable by their undersized clothing, steroid abuse and fist pumping, these creatures usually roam in distinctive packs who do not socialise with each other, choosing instead to scan the nightclub for potential mates to grind upon as some form of pre-mating ritual. Displays of dominance such as sculling full beers and bar brawls are common traits.

2. The Ratio

To quote the great Steve Stifler, “It’s a sausage fest”, as I’m often reminded on the overcrowded dance floor, as I struggle to move and hope that was a mobile phone sticking into my side and not somebody who was happy to see me.

3. The Inhumane Environment

Population density exceeds an Indian slum, the floors are covered in industrial grade adhesive, the toilet floors are covered in a concoction of bodily fluids, the general aroma resembles a 3rd world back alley, there is no where to escape the noise produced by the seemingly endless supply of amateur wanna be DJs and having fun is heavily policed by overpaid steroid abusers, with cliché tattoos and overinflated egos.

Personally, I would rather not contract HIV, and so only attend Wollongong’s nightclubs if I feel obligated by friends, in which case I cover my entire body in a giant condom.

Gig Review: Sticky Fingers @ UOW Garden Party 2014

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Restlessly lining up, droves of students anxiously tapped their feet to the distant, ever-present rhythm of the famed Unibar in anticipation of the loosest party on the UOW calender. The one and only, the infamous. Garden Party.

Unlike previous years, which have been plagued by overcrowding and stagnant cues, culminating in the disastrous refusal of entries at last year’s event, it was smooth sailing through the pearly gates of UOW, apart from St. Peter’s regulatory search of my dates bag, to which I replied, “There’s only a pinga or two down the bottom mate”.

“Wouldn’t mind one of those”, exclaimed St. Peter.

Classic UOW Security staff! HA!

Musical Nevada awaited the pilgrims inside, teed off by a twist n’ shout worthy set from Brisbane talent, Jeremy Neale, whose 60’s inspired numbers had the ladies swinging their hips and shaking their tail feathers. His hit single, “In Stranger Times”, sent the crowd into hysterics as they shouted, “baby, baby, baby, why-hy-hy, nah nah nah nah nah nah nah, something-ing-ing-ing”.

But everybody knew the real reason everybody was there. Newtown’s finest reggae-pop misfits, Sticky Fingers, were set to ride on their famed mellow, yet psychedelic roller coaster of a performance with the bidding punters of UOW.

Leading out with fashion statements that would leave Trent from Punchy glowing green with envy, the motley crew banged out a super mellowed version of “How to Fly”, a track that also preluded their debut album, “Caress Your Soul”, in 2013.

Bucket hats and Adidas tracksuits aside, the “Stickys” had their audience captivatingly tripping balls with them the whole way down rainbow road, thanks to killer renditions of “Bootleg Rascal” and their current hit single, “Gold Snafu”, which had fans whistling and swaying in homage to the effortlessly catchy guitar hook. Things turned down a notch with a heartfelt performance of “These Girls”, as the gents in the audience took hold of their date’s hips and reminisced of “the one that got away”.  Oh the Tragedy!

The lads brought it home with their reggae hit, “Australia Street”, during their encore, bringing down the foundations of the Uni Hall with them. Heads bopped in flamingo style unison during each verse and gentle sways complimented the spine tingling choruses, capping off a truly electrifying show that left us all with the cherished memory of front man, “Dizza”, gallivanting around stage without a shirt, sporting sunnies and a mo to rival the great late Freddy Mercury.

Thank you Sticky Fingers for a great night. We doff our bucket hats to you fine gentleman.

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