OTWO February 29th 2013 Issue IX
talks great art from James Joyce to Breaking Bad
on the magic of creating music
chat having a quiff full of wee
Otwo Attempts... becoming the Pope
Mystic Mittens’ Feline Fortunes
Regulars – Page 2 & 3
Mystic Mittens brings her latest instalment of feline fortunes. Kevin Beirne vents his anger about the dire state of social life in UCD, and What’s Hot and What’s Not gives you the 4-1-1 on the latest hip and happening trends.
Hidden Gems – Page 4
Should you be looking to expand your cultural horizons, this fortnight’s Hidden Gems in on hand to list the best obscure museums Dublin has to offer.
Travel – Page 5
Taking you off the beaten track, we bring you everything Valladolid has to offer.
Aries March 21 – April 19 Did you know that if you successfully swim across to the little island on the lake you’ll gain the power to tell everyone you swam to the little island on the lake? You’ll also gain a fine. Taurus April 20 – May 20 You’re slowly beginning to accept that college life in UCD is never going to be like Animal House, unless you count the ‘Animal House’ of horses and cows behind the vet building.
Games – Page 6
Dead Space 3 and Black Mesa are put under review, while Steven Balbirnie chats to Youtube Let’s Player, Krism, and Duncan Wallace examines the discontinuation of Medal of Honour.
Film – Page 9
Hyde Park on Hudson, Song for Marion, and Cloud Atlas are reviewed. Patrick Kelleher counts down the Top 10 Worst Romantic Comedies. Casey Lehman gives us his two cents on the return of Schwarznegger and Stallone, while Laura Bell looks at the CSI effect, and Anna Burzlaff chats to recent Sundance winner, Tony Donoghue.
Centre – Page 14
Conor Luke Barry talks to the iconic figure of Irish literature that is Patrick McCabe.
Music – Page 16
Otwo gets cosy with Bloody Beetroots, Bastile, I Am The Cosmos and Walk the Moon, before it casts its critical eye over the latest album releases, looks at the greatest songs to cry yourself to sleep to, and relays all the antics Heathers have to report.
Fashion – Page 23
Isobel Fergus ensures your sartorial success for the next season as she lists the biggest trends from New York Fashion Week, while this issue’s spread focuses on footwear and bags to keep you looking fresh in the months ahead.
Otwo Attempts – Page 26
Move aside Ratzinger, Kevin Beirne has his eyes on that hat, as he attempts to become the head of the Roman Catholic Church.
Fatal Fourway – Page 27
Things have become very serious indeed, as our four competitors contend over the title of greatest political TV drama.
University Observer Volume XIX Issue VIII Telephone: (01) 716 3835/3837 Email: email@example.com www.universityobserver.ie
Cancer June 21 – July 22 Isn’t parking on campus a nightmare? Obviously I wouldn’t know; my adorable little paws incapable of using a steering wheel. I’m just trying to relate to you kids.
Scorpio October 23 - November 21 It’s time you got in touch with your proletariat roots, stopped this bourgeois academic nonsense and join a union. Workers Unite! Sagittarius November 22 - December 21 This fortnight will see you going absolute insane in the membrane. You’re going to go to Dicey’s. You’re going to drink loads of alcohol and shout really loud incoherent things, and act obnoxiously, and pull loads of birds. You’re going be out of control. You absolute ledge. Capricorn December 22 - January 19 This week your aura is definitely delving into the blue field of the cosmos. Saturn and Venus are on a collision course, first stop Pluto and the stars of the Milky Way are aligning to form an image that bears an uncanny resemblance to Terry Wogan. In other words: shit’s about to get crazy.
Leo July 23 – August 22 Mittens Pro-tip #87: Want to attract the attention of your college crush? Find out what their favourite pop song is and keep singing it in their vicinity until you start to mate.
Aquarius January 20 - February 18 There’s no point dwelling on the past. The Wire is over and it’s time to move on.
Virgo August 23 – September 22 Did you know that the whole world is in on a Truman Show style conspiracy and everyone but you is an actor? I thought this would be the best place to tell you.
Pisces February 19 - March 20 Your brief flirtation with necromancy will end with an exorbitant bill from the magic shop and a strange understanding of Michael Jackson’s eating habits.
Editor Emer Sugrue
Film Editor Casey Lehman
Deputy Editor Aoife Valentine
Television Editor Laura Bell
Art, Design & Technology Director Conor Kevin O’Nolan
Chief Stylist Sophie Lioe
Chief Designer Gary Kealy Otwo Editors Conor Luke Barry Anna Burzlaff Music Editor Emily Mullen
Gemini May 21 – June 20 You will write something really witty on the new ‘Before I Die…’ blackboard in the Arts block, such as ‘sex’ or ‘I like sex’. Everyone will call you a legend for making light of combating depression.
Libra September 23 - October 22 Remember that looks can be deceptive. That mole on your back in the shape of Gregory Peck may prove to be more than an interesting dinner conversation piece.
Staff Writers Kevin Beirne Stephen Connolly Isobel Fergus Niall Gosker Edward Kearns Emily Longworth
Contributors Fiona Dunkin Aaron Flood Patrick Kelleher Chief Photographer Megan Mawhinney Caoimhe Graham McCartin McDonnell Mystic Mittens Gary Norman Chief Writers Duncan Wallace Lucy Montague Aimee Ward Moffatt Shane Willoughby Killian Woods Edith Wong Games Editor Steven Balbirnie
Special Thanks Guy, Colm, Orla and Rory at MCD Promotions, Laura, Chantal, Caroline and Amy at Universal, Ciaran at Warner Music, Shark, Love Hearts, Pavlova, Plasma lactate concentrations, Skittles Confused? and Weezer’s Maladroit.
ARRRRRRGGGHHHH WHAT’S HOT AND WHAT’S NOT
WHAt’s HOt WES ANDERSON MONTH AND EXHIBITONS
The Littlegreen café and street gallery on High Street, Dublin have been promoting all things Wes Anderson for the month of February. This Tuesday and next Tuesday they’ll be playing double screenings of Wes films from 6pm, with free popcorn and spot-prizes for best Wes film costumes. Additionally, there’s a fan art exhibition taking place on Thursday 21st , hurrah!
CREMA ON COFFEE Coffee has always been cool, but it’s now especially cool to pretend to know what you’re talking about when ordering coffee. The current trend is insisting on the presence of a crema, that cream layer of foam that forms on the surface of espresso shots. Instant coffee brands have started advertising the crema as a selling-point, despite it making no real difference to the coffee taste. Regardless, it’s still cool.
SIGUR RÓS STUDIO-SCENTED CANDLE To coincide with their upcoming tour, Sigur Rós have released a customised scented candle that’s been inspired by the smells of their studio surroundings. The Varðeldur candle, named after one of many unpronounceable tracks on their latest album, emanates the scent of driftwood campfire. Selling on the band’s site for $23.50, a meagre price to pay for the smell of creation. Right?
WHAt’s nOt MARIAH CAREY’S WORDS
With her 14th studio album Triumphant set for release in March, fans and haters alike can get something out of the plethora of overlyworded sentences used by Carey in her music. Lines like “As we proceed getting buzzed” and “All I have I wannna give to thee” give the listener the impression that the random-word-picking-from-the-dictionary technique was the primary one used in the creative process.
DEFACING PLEASE TALK CAMPAIGN SIGNS What began as a humble and endearing attempt to compile the hopes and dreams of the student body to raise awareness for mental health has quickly deteriorated into another forum through which penis jokes can be made. The ‘Before I die, I want to…’ chalkboards in Newman are now dominated by the verbs ‘ride’, ‘shift’ and ‘bone’. Another potential confrontation with mental health issues successfully sidestepped, well done everyone.
LENT WITHDRAWAL SYMPTOMS
These days, most of us have abandoned the partaking in Lent as a practice of faith, and instead have begun using it as a means of casual rehabilitation. Caffeine and nicotine have replaced the more innocent childhood options of sweets and chocolate, resulting in the increased abundance of headaches and withdrawal shakes throughout campus. Why must life without the casual ingestion of addictive toxins be so hard?
soapbox With the recent return of the student bar, Kevin Beirne reﬂects on the poor options available to UCD students in search of a social life Starting college, I expected to spend the next three or four years of my life meeting new people and getting drunk in new and intriguing ways. Thanks to movies like American Pie, I expected every night to be a mess of alcohol-fuelled hijinks that somehow ended in me getting laid, and with very little class time involved. Upon actually spending some time in UCD, I began to realise very quickly how misguided I was, except for the part about not going to my classes. As a first year, having only ever experienced the horrors of Wezz (essentially the underage, South Dublin version of Coppers), nights out of drinking and shifting while developing a mild case of tinnitus were still relatively new to me and seemed exciting for some reason. Now, as a final year student, I find myself wondering how I managed to waste almost three years of college in such places. It’s not like there’s a whole lot of choice among the nightclubs in Dublin. As far as the clubs are concerned, you’re either painfully mainstream or an oddly-specific niche. Even meeting people in societies can seem very intimidating to a young first year, since there is always an established clique at the head of every one, no matter how much they deny it. Meeting people in class is hardly any easier for an Arts student; instead of feeling you have classmates, it’s instead more like a group of vaguely familiar faces that you think you saw in a tutorial once before. It must be awful being a first year this year, since Ents have been practically anonymous to the average student. With a third of this year’s second semester gone, we finally have the student bar back… Except not really, since it’s only going to be open on special occasions, and it will cost you a few quid to get in. So basically it’s going to be like a really awful nightclub, but at least it won’t pretend to be a place where you can actually have a conversation with someone anymore. Instead of organising anything original that would actually encourage students to meet new people, the nights in the bar will most likely be based around the tried and tested method of “spend loads of money so that you can get far too drunk and listen to a DJ you’ve never heard of before play other people’s music.” The more ambitious among us will be expected to go in search of the shift or, for the truly adventurous, the ride. I’m not saying it isn’t fun to let loose and have a few drinks, but it would be nice to see our SU and the University, promoting some fun events where you can meet new people and integrate into the UCD Community better without the main focus being on drink. Either that, or get a better bar. It seems to work for Trinity.
Hidden Gems: Museums In an effort to bring some culture to the citzens of UCD, Conor Luke Barry has found four of the oddest museums Dublin has to offer James Joyce Tower Forty Foot Sandycove Point, Dun Laoghaire
Ye Olde Hurdy-Gurdy Museum of Vintage Radio Abbey Street, Howth
Looking out over a majestic view of the Dun Laoghaire coast, the James Joyce Tower is a cultural landmark in and of itself. One of a series of Martello towers, these structures were purpose-built by the British Empire as coastal defence against Napoleon. When Napoleon became less of a threat through dying, the towers became vacant and somewhat useless. James Joyce stayed in this one for six days and had the sense to make it the setting of the opening chapter of Ulysses, forever immortalising the tower as his own. The ground floor is home to all sorts of relics to whet any Joycean’s whistle, such as his death mask, his guitar, and his other death mask. Many letters written by the man himself adorn the walls and cabinets, some of them about changes to be made to his book, others about how much he wants to sleep with his wife. From here it’s possible to make your way up a claustrophobic spiral staircase to the roof, granting you the same view of Dun Laoghaire as the characters in Ulysses back in 1904, though now with more smog and wi-fi. Due to a lack of funding, the building recently was on the cusp of closing for good. These fears were quashed by a band of dedicated volunteers who assembled to man the museum, allowing for longer opening hours and a brand new admission price of no money. Congratulate this dedicated bunch by paying a visit.
With a name that makes it sound fictional, this is perhaps Dublin’s most unusual museum. Strangely enough, it is located in yet another Martello tower; because seemingly once they were abandoned by the British, we struggled to find a use for them besides ‘fill with culture’. The unlikely museum is the pet project of radio enthusiast Pat Herbert, his interest in the devices beginning when he was a boy in the West of Ireland in 1947. Pat nostalgically recounts how his neighbour had bought a radio to follow the All Ireland that was (for the first and only time) taking place in New York, the entire town gathering around “the magic box in the corner”. From then on he became fascinated with all the different makes and designs and began collecting as many as possible, converting his attic to accommodate. It was eventually necessary to find a new home for his vast collection and, aware of the social importance of his 300 or so devices, he decided to set up a museum in the unusual locale of a Martello tower. While old-timey radios are the primary focus of the collection, it also includes a variety of gramophones, Morse Keys, televisions and other outdated mass media and communication devices Herbert has collected over the years, all of which the man himself will enthusiastically explain in depth if you’re lucky enough to visit when he’s giving a tour. An unlikely collection, no doubt, but a fantastic example of one man’s enthusiasm creating something great.
Admission: free, Open daily 10am – 4pm
The ‘Dead Zoo’ Kildare Street, Dublin 2 While the rest of the inclusions may have nationally relevant artefacts, what they fail to present to their eager public is a cramped room full of animals that have been dead for nearly a century. The Natural History Museum (or the ‘Dead Zoo’) fills this cultural void, with a collection of long deceased creatures from home and abroad. Here you can appreciate these beasts posed in positions that you’d naturally find them in the wild, such as lions heroically prowling, birds feeding their young, and whales dangling from ceilings. There are also adorable baby animals, allowing you to coo over them while actively ignoring that they’ve been dead longer than you’ve been alive. The collection itself is quite impressive: The ground floor is dedicated to our homegrown talent of beasts, many of which are now extinct, all accompanied by charmingly oldfashioned descriptions. Making your way upstairs and you’ll be treated to more exotic international mammals, be they skeletons or in faux-fleshy form. Having being forced to close for a number of years after the stairs collapsed, we can only be thankful that the entire building wasn’t redone, the style endearingly out of date, and the building itself charmingly (though safely) rickety. For instance, if you wobble the floorboards in a particular way you can make the monkeys bounce ever so slightly, like some sort of grotesque jungle corpse puppet show. The ‘Dead Zoo’ is a quaint dead animal showroom for all the family. Admission: free, Tuesday – Saturday: 10am – 5pm, Sunday: 2pm – 5pm
Admission: €5, 11am – 4pm, Saturday and Sunday only November – April, daily May – October
Little Museum of Dublin 15 St. Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2 For a comparatively small city on such a tiny island, we’ve been the focus of an awful lot of international attention throughout recent history, building up a pretty distinct culture as a result. The Little Museum of Dublin is a celebration of this, nostalgically gathering all sorts of distinctly Dublin artefacts in an effort to remind us modern day folks about where we came from (well, where Dubliners came from, at least). The museum lives up to its title by cramming everything into two small rooms of a Georgian house. Framed historical documents and photos hang on the walls in chronological order so you can take a virtual trip through our fair city, all with a slight pivot of your head. There are also interesting relics such as a bench from the old-timey Dublin trams, as well as the lectern John F. Kennedy spoke from on his Irish visit, giving you a sense of Irish life from various different periods in time. The tour guides are especially interesting, with clued-in and enthusiastic staff eager to go on and on about the different pieces. More than anything, the focus on such recent history allows you to relate in a way that just isn’t possible with other museums. A living, breathing museum that is well worth a visit. Admission: €4 for students, open Monday - Sunday, 9:30 am – 5pm
Travel: Valladolid Megan Mawhinney goes off the beaten track and gives you the ups and downs of Valladolid, Spain
f you’ve never heard of Valladolid, it’s because it is not a tourist destination. I had never heard of the city until I was told I would be spending nine-months there, and it is not a destination that gives a good impression prior to arrival. Internet research will tell you it’s a small, boring city with not much to see and even less to do. Even natives of the area will warn you it’s mostly an ugly, industrial place. Needless to say, I wasn’t particularly looking forward to going. However, upon arrival, you’ll be pretty pleasantly surprised. Even in the more wintery months, you’ll be surprised by how warm the Spanish sun is. While the locals wrap up warm in hats and scarves at this weather, it’s like the warmest summers day for any sun-starved Irish. The city centre is nothing like what you’ll expect. You can take gorgeous walks through the narrow winding streets with beautiful old embellished walls, some still carrying the families’ coat of arms and some with quaint and brightly painted balconies. Beautiful ancient structures stand alongside modern buildings and shop fronts. Some gentle meandering will lead you to Plaza Mayor, the main square with long-standing, intricately decorated buildings. Bars and cafés fill the plaza, with dozens of chairs and tables dotted around the edge of the extensive open space. The sun stays high in the sky for most of the day, lighting up the square where you can enjoy a meal or just sit with a coffee and people-watch as groups pass by. This side of the city captures the relaxed social atmosphere of Spain perfectly. Although it is said that Northern Spain is nowhere near as laid-back as the South, a social life is still the most important thing to many Spaniards. There is always time and money to meet for food or a drink with friends and family. Family time is always made on a Sunday, when most shops shut down for a day. Too many chairs are pulled up around a tiny table in a bar and everyone shares news and a drink, while the children run around the square dressed in their smartly matching outfits. Groups of middleaged women still meet for coffee and gossip as though they are still in school, and elderly couples venture out in their most luxurious furs and suits, regardless of the weather. Although Valladolid isn’t a usual holiday destination, and you can’t expect anyone to speak a word of
“Groups of middleaged women still meet for coffee and gossip as though they are still in school, and elderly couples venture out in their most luxurious furs and suits, regardless of the weather”
comprehensible English, once you start looking, there is any number of great things about the city. Valladolid has some of the best art museums in the country, and many of them are free on Sunday, so while all the shops are shut down, you have a chance to explore the more cultural side of the city. Their sculpture museum houses beautiful pieces from as far back as the first century. The contemporary art museum is in a beautiful old building in the city centre, which is as beautiful and interesting to look at as the varied exhibitions they hold.
Valladolid is also very proud of the fact the Christopher Columbus died in their city. There is a museum in the house where he died, and even if you’re not the biggest fan of the conquistadores, it is interesting to see some original (and more notso-original) pieces of furniture and artwork from the sixteenth century. There is a huge nightlife, with different events organised almost every day and night of the week. Apart from the clubs, if you don’t happen to enjoy ‘80s love songs remixed into Euro trash dance songs, take a walk down a side street and though they look particularly dodgy at night, you’re bound to find one of the many quirky little bars dotted around the city. There are more bars in Spain than there are in the rest of Western Europe, and it’s not difficult to understand why in Valladolid, as you can’t walk down a street without discovering a new pub. You could attempt to have a drink in each one before you leave, but a simple holiday would never allow you the time to explore them all. There are some gems, however, and head for any of the bars decorated with eclectic furniture, little odds and ends and brightly coloured walls, that play
anything from jazz to indie rock, and you’re in for a good night. As well as somewhere to get a drink, there are hundreds of tapas bars spread all over the city. Hopping from bar to bar, you can get a cheap and varied meal and try an array of traditional Castilian food. On a weekend night, these bars will be loud and overflowing with locals from all generations. They eat quickly, standing up, throwing their napkins to the ground and moving to the next bar. Valladolid is a characteristically beautiful and richly cultured Northern Spanish city. If you’re looking to experience real Spanish culture, architecture and food, then a visit to Valladolid won’t disappoint.
“The contemporary art museum is in a beautiful old building in the city centre, which is as beautiful and interesting to look at as the varied exhibitions they hold”
REVIEWS DEAD SPACE 3
i t h f ra n c h i s e s like Resident Evil and Silent Hill now lacking the horrific escapism that once defined their earliest entries, the Dead Space series and how it wears its tangible and intangible scares on its rigged out sleeve have become as important as any innovative game play mechanic, stylized visual quirk or atmospheric audio quip. Dead Space 3 takes more of traditional action impetus this time out and while the scares are somewhat diluted, it doesn’t make for a diluted experience. Dead Space 3 is a good action shooter game; it just doesn’t really feel like a Dead Space game anymore. The game carries a lot of extra baggage, and unnecessarily so. The intent of the greater experience is altered by the sum of these newfangled additions; and while there is some merit to their integration into the world of Dead Space, their presence only serves to relegate Dead Space’s innate survival horror soul to a sideshow. Dead Space 3 is more into shoot-outs, all-out action sequences and making big guns that kill monsters faster. There’s little time for psychoneurotic scares and slow-burning tension here. The first two hours is just running and gunning. Yes, dismembering the malignant Necromorphs is as satisfying as ever, but the pacing is considerably different. The game implores you to go from one staged massacre to another. It just doesn’t feel as mysterious or as repugnant as it once used to, not least because the
standard issue has more in common with a machine gun than it does with the franchise defining Plasma Cutter. Dead Space 3 allows you to create some truly intuitive and deadly weaponry through an impressive weapon crafting system. There’s also a unified ammo system this time out. What all of this means is that Dead Space 3 has become a trigger happy experience. The addition of co-op has had a huge influence on game play and gun play. Taking on the hordes with grafted weaponry makes more sense, not least because there’s so many this time. The co-op itself is actually one of the game’s strongest components and new guy Carver joining old hat engineer Isaac Clarke makes for a mostly enjoyable co-operative experience. Yes, the gun-crafting simplifies the action, but its layers are impressive. The presentation is glorious. The visuals, coupled with the superb audio, really bring the Sprawl-like lunar colonies and the iced precincts of Tau Volantis to life. In typical Dead Space fashion, the world is excellently realised. Dead Space 3 is over saturated by the weight of its own innovation and as such, what makes Dead Space so great to begin with, has become diluted. Dead Space 3 is still a great action game, but it might not be the game you want it to be. by Shane Willoughby
Dead Space 3 - Title Electronic Arts - Publishers Visceral Games - Developers PC, PS3, Xbox 360 - Platforms
lack Mesa is a free fancreated mod that recreates Half-Life with enhanced graphics and environments. Requiring the Source engine available freely from Steam, this game features impressive visuals with decent gameplay. Its main strength lies in the details and rich environment, and effectively integrates the forever silent (and possibly sociopathic) Gordon into the new landscape with expanded dialogue and detailed environment. Black Mesa effectively achieves its purpose: a rich and harrowing retelling of the worst day at work you never had. In the original Half-Life, you play as mute physicist Gordon Freeman caught in the aftermath of an experiment gone catastrophically wrong (read: bad physics causes aliens). However, computing power of 1998 limited the possibilities of interaction with the environment and characters. Black Mesa successfully enhances dialogue, background, and provides overall greater interaction with environment. Dialogue lines seek to employ your mute character and are rich with context and dimension, and interaction with previously immobile objects makes the facility a more interactive environment. The soundtrack, completely redone, remains faithful to Half-Life’s themes while being on par with the equally clear graphics. With these, Black Mesa employs your otherwise silent character into a richer environment without overriding original Half-Life canon. In comparison to the original HalfLife, Black Mesa’s graphics are akin to upgrading from DVD to BluRay:
graphics are redone in crystal clear clarity. Aliens inspire terror and visceral disgust from the player. Human models have more detail and variety in appearance, giving an aesthetic depth that makes the game more realistic. Motions are more fluid, and even facial animations are more natural and detailed to evoke more emotion. With the surrounding environment redone in beautiful detail, Black Mesa’s graphical upgrade is an argument in itself to play the game. The playability of the game is variable – some aspects are well thought out and worthwhile additions to the experience, while others are less well updated. More objects can now be carried in-game, giving Gordon quirky, albeit somewhat useless options for slaughtering aliens. However, the aim of handheld weapons is not natural and does not always hit where you would expect. Also, players can no longer jump as far as in the previous HalfLife, and certain mechanics such as ‘bunny-hopping’ are not as effective. However, playability issues are minor, and the game is otherwise fluid enough to not detract from the beautiful graphics and in-depth environment. Though Black Mesa can be played without prior knowledge, it is no substitute for the original Half-Life; the original still retains a relevance held by few classic games, and Black Mesa currently lacks the last four chapters of the game. However, with stunning graphics, intricate detail, and fluid immersion, all for free, Black Mesa is sure to be an enjoyable play for any fan of the original Half-Life. by Edith Wong
Title - Black Mesa Publishers - Black Mesa Modiﬁcation Team Developers - Black Mesa Modiﬁcation Team Platforms - PC
With ‘let’s play’ videos becoming a growing phenomenon on YouTube, Steven Balbirnie talks to Krism about her experiences as a let’s player
ouTube videos of people playing through games while commentating are certainly not something new, however they have never before been as prominent as they are now. The Machinima network, which has over 6 million subscribers, features a variety of let’s players on its channel such as Two Best Friends Play and the Christopher Walkenthroughs; while the single most popular let’s player, PewDiePie, has roughly 5 million subscribers to his channel. With such a huge potential audience for gaming videos, it has never been a better time to be a let’s player. Krism is a relatively new let’s player, though her videos have already gained her a growing fan base. When asked about what motivated her to get into making gaming videos, her answer is straightforward: “I’ve been watching let’s plays for years now. My first experience with it was when I was researching a video game, Fatal Frame, and needed footage. That’s when I found Mangaminx’s playthrough. After I got what I needed I just kept watching her channel, and afterwards I found other let’s players and watched their content. I suppose that’s what got me interested in it. After a while I just decided it might be fun to try it out myself, so I did, and I like it so I’m still doing it.” While the experience is enjoyable, Krism is candid about the amount of time and effort that goes into making a let’s play video and the potential setbacks that can happen. “There have been times where I have lost entire episodes worth of footage or commentary and have to start everything over (unfortunately this happens more often than you might think) and obviously that adds to the time it takes to get everything finalised. If everything is smooth and streamline, and it’s just a basic run through of a simple game, I’d say it takes a day or two to make a full video ready to be posted to YouTube. This includes things like recording, cleaning up audio, editing footage, rendering, and all that not fun technical junk.”
Krism’s theory about why such gaming channels are growing in popularity is that this is part of a broader cultural trend in which gaming is becoming a more normalised social activity. “I think the main reason that gaming channels are getting more popular, is simply because doing so is becoming more and more ‘mainstream’. Gaming channels have been around for ages, of course, but like every other fad something activates a trigger which launch them into the public eye, then everyone jumps on the bandwagon. Could be anything from someone seeing a gaming video and going, ‘Hey, you know what, I like playing games, and I know lots of people who like games, so I’ll start a channel about it!’ or maybe, a popular person does it, and then other people start going ‘oh, so-and-so is starting a gaming channel! I’ll start one too!’ and pretty soon everybody is doing it, be it for one reason or the other.” Similarly, Krism believes that let’s plays are simply tapping into a cultural aspect of the gaming community which has been a feature of it since it first existed: “As for why let’s play videos themselves are so popular, simple; BGE, also known as, Backseat Gamer Effect. No, really! Remember when you were little and either you had an older sibling who you watched playing on a console or computer, or you went over a friend’s house, or even just huddled
around some guy at an arcade shooting for the high score, and how even though you weren’t playing yourself, the experience was still fun and almost as satisfying as jamming on the buttons yourself? That’s what BGE is, and let’s play videos, in a way, satisfy that same feeling. LPers, or Game Commentators,whatever you want to call them, digitally invite the audience into their homes for a round of games as if they were a friend coming over to chill out. They talk, they crack jokes, make funny faces; they have a good time and the audience feels, and moreover, craves that. Obviously there’s a comedic element to it, too, but it’s the ability for LPs to satisfy these elements that makes them so popular.” This sense of inclusiveness also explains why live streams have become so popular; “audiences tend to enjoy them a little more than a regular LP because they get the instant gratification of hearing their favourite LPer talk live; no idea what is going to be said or what is going to happen, with no possible way to skip ahead, you can’t duplicate that experience in a pre-recorded video. They also get the perks of having a comment they posted read, possibly joining in a call for a question hour or something similar, maybe even win a few prizes.” Krism’s response to a question about the future of her channel reflects her desire to diversify further.
“I plan on expanding my channel to become much more than what it is now. I want to do something more creative. I’d like to do reviews of all sorts of entertainment media, from games to movies to books” “I plan on expanding my channel to become much more than what it is now. I want to do something more creative. I’d like to do reviews of all sorts of entertainment media, from games to movies to books. I’m also planning on doing some animated shorts and parodies. However, or all my plans I guess only time will tell if anything will actually pan out how I want, so I’ll just keep on and see where it takes me.” Whether the current popularity of let’s play videos is a momentary fad or marks a long term shift in the interests of audiences remains to be seen. However, as long as they’re enjoying what they do, LPers such as Krism will continue to make videos to entertain their loyal fans. You can check out Krism’s let’s play videos on her YouTube channel http:// www.youtube.com/user/KrismPro
“The Machinima network, which has over 6 million subscribers, features a variety of let’s players on its channel such as Two Best Friends Play and the Christopher Walkenthroughs” 7
With the announced end to the Medal of Honor series, Duncan Wallace investigates whether this fall from grace is a sign of oversaturation within the first person shooter industry
edal of Honor heralded a wave being shot around corners), it failed to excite the really matter how sophisticated the underlying of first person shooters centred market or hold the loyalty of the MOH commu- technology is, if the product isn’t itself intereston World War II; almost univer- nity. Far from a scenario whereby the realism of ing. Where Battleﬁeld 3 succeeded, and its sibling sally pitting the player against the game engine resulted in its being spurned by title failed, was the method by which the multian exclusively Nazi foe in the a fickle public, Warﬁghter experienced the apathy player aspect was broached. EA took the sweepEuropean theatre. Call of Duty and Medal of Honor of a product that failed to innovate and meet a ing scope introduced by DICE and developed the were two of the leading franchises in this regard; standard inflated by competition. technology upon which Battlefield was based; focusing on single player experiences that would The flame war between Battleﬁeld and Call of adding destructible environments, excellent visumimic films such as Saving Private Ryan, a film Duty communities, and the games’ similar set- als, more realistic physics and game tweaks to an which largely provided the catalyst for this breed tings, to a large extent mask the radical differenc- otherwise largely unchanged environment (EA of shooter. As the noughties rolled on however, es in both franchises’ philosophies. COD espouses DICE has a habit of actually porting maps made this exclusive preoccupation with WWII waned, large cinematic campaigns, unreal and spectacular for Battleﬁeld 2 to its more modern iterations in and sights turned to the ‘War on Terror’ as a in equal measure, while Battleﬁeld holds itself out the form of DLC). new environment for the industry to explore. A to be a realistic and thoughtful shooter. Battleﬁeld Call of Duty, on the other hand, has pursued an more crucial development was the release of the fans were left largely nonplussed however, by the arcade environment for its online game; devoid of seventh generation of video-game consoles that single player experience, and the revelation of the vehicular combat or more sophisticated strategy. could reliably handle online multiplayer. abandonment of the role of commander, a hall- Treyarch additionally accidentally stumbled upon Medal of Honor followed, rather than led in mark of the series prior to EA’s acquisition, deeply Nazi Zombies as a particularly popular mode, such both these aspects, and in 2010 EA released it divided the community. that what began as essentially an Easter Egg in a to an underwhelming reception. 2010’s sequel, For many years single player first person shoot- spin-off WW2 title has become a staple in the franWarﬁghter also failed to hit its mark with critics ers have been tunnel maps; linear and with little chise (with both zombie and non-zombie flavours). and fans alike, with EA COO Peter Moore stat- scope for player independence. ID attempted to In counterpoint, the lacklustre efforts made ing: “The game was by EA to promote the solid, but the focus multiplayer aspects of on combat authentic“The flame war between Battlefield and Call of Duty communities, and Warﬁghter are surprisity did not resonate ing; with official docuw i t h c o n s u m e r s ” . the games’ similar settings, to a large extent mask the radical differences mentation (including While Battleﬁeld 3 has in both franchises’ philosophies” the actual game box) shipped almost 13 millacking vital details lion copies, Warﬁghter about game modes, has achieved merely 0.86 million. Poor sales of spice up games such as Doom and Quake by turn- the design of the multiplayer, or even the limits Warﬁghter sealed the franchise’s fate, with Crysis ing such maps into labyrinths, whilst Valve has placed on player numbers. Indeed, EA chose to 3 and Battleﬁeld 4 set to become EA’s sole first per- pursued a mixture of puzzle-solving and plat- outsource the entire development of Warﬁghter’s son shooter developments in the near future. forming. Many developers have focused on the multiplayer to Danger Close (a reversal of roles in Although competition cost Medal of Honor its delivery of the story to engage the player, making comparison to the development of Warfighter’s place in commercial entertainment software, this the linear experience appear epic, whilst a hand- predecessor). It is no surprise, therefore that such was a result of the weakness of EA’s product rath- ful have gone the other direction and produced indifference on the part of the developer be mirer than a hot-potato random elimination. Where non-linear sandbox environments, seen in such rored by the public. EA has typically led in productivity, it has lacked titles as Far Cry. Clearly the winners at the moment in the FPS in nuanced design. So while Warfighter could Neither Warfighter nor its predecessor (nor war is Activision’s COD, at least in terms of raw more than hold its own in terms of graphics, use indeed Battleﬁeld 3) succeeded in providing any- sales; achieving over 27 million sales for COD: of the terrain altering Frostbite 2 engine, and even thing other than the most primitive manner of Modern Warfare 3 alone. Yet, if as prominent a smooth out a number of the technical kinks that progression through an uninspired story; throw- franchise as Medal of Honor can fall, it is clear have plagued Battleﬁeld 3 (most notably an inher- ing a hapless AI foe against the player, which has that, within the FPS market, any series is vulnerent lag in the engine that may result in players to be routinely dispatched. Ultimately, it doesn’t able to the innovation of rival developers.
Following his success at the Sundance Film Festival, Anna Burzlaff talks to film maker Tony Donoghue about restoring objects of history and learning to appreciate locality
reland is a country synonymous with a handful of things. Alcohol is certainly one. Economic depression may have become pertinent in the past few years, and an overwhelming sense of the colour green has to be in there too. In any case, in relation to Ireland, furniture is not necessarily one thought that would instantly come to mind. Tony Donoghue, with his short stop/start animation, Irish Folk Furniture, is hoping to change this. Hailing from Tipperary, Donoghue has a penchant for all things rural. His previous short animation, A Film From my Parish – 6 Farms, focused on the relation of six farmers with their land and with their community. Irish Folk Furniture looks at rural Ireland’s relation with old hand painted dressers and cupboards. It’s hardly the stuff of big Hollywood blockbusters, but then again Donoghue is hardly the man to seek such appraisals. That’s not to say that Donoghue’s work has gone unnoticed. He has recently received an award at the Sundance Film Festival for Best Short Animation, an accolade that he will add to many others. His work may be niche but that does not make it any less valid. In fact, Donoghue is in many ways attempting to make his subject matter mainstream. He is trying to make Irish Folk Furniture part of the Irish consciousness. Disregarded and dumped into the corners of disused sheds, these forgotten relics of national rural history are without question worth preserving. As Donoghue says: “That’s everyday history. It doesn’t have to be about exotic battles or exotic locations, just collecting the everyday is really, really important.” What comes across both in Donoghue’s work and in his person is a deep interest in issues of locality. The concept behind his films was formed following the death of his mother. Conversing with her friends from Tipperary introduced ideas of community into the director’s artistic conception. Yet it wasn’t just ideas of locality in a broad sense that excited Donoghue. Other simple things, such as the Tipperary accent, fascinated him.
“I had such an interest in how people said things. I often didn’t actually care what they were talking about, because they were using little regional expressions. Like the carpenter whose voice we hear when the mouse runs across, in the previous film when he’s excited he goes ‘oh be the hokey’ but when he gets really excited he goes ‘oh be the hokey pokey.’” As an aside, this is a phrase that interestingly enough found its way onto an advertisement for an insurance company on RTÉ. Yet, it was also a question of the intricacies of Irish rural life; how the people of Tipperary thought and continue to think. Donoghue acknowledges that there still exists a variety of divides within Irish society. Many people abandon their rural roots in favour of an urban lifestyle; moving to Dublin and forgetting their agricultural heritage. “It’s a snobbery,” explains Donoghue. “It’s a pretence. There’s still this strange psyche in Ireland of ‘perhaps if I do well enough they’ll think I’m a Protestant.’” Having said all of this, one might easily assume that Donoghue’s work has symbolic meaning; an artistic device by means of which insight and understanding into the Irish psyche comes to be revealed. While, like all good art, Donoghue’s films let the viewer take from it what he or she will, the director’s intent seems to be simply driven by a deep interest and passion for furniture; no hidden meanings, no symbolic subtexts. Donoghue recognises his eccentricity in this regard. While he was in the process of making Irish Folk Furniture he recalls that, “a lot of people said ‘who’s that lunatic pushing furniture around the place?’” But Donoghue’s endeavours paid off, and many of the inhabitants of Tipperary realised the importance of preserving these objects of
“It’s a snobbery. It’s a pretence. There’s still this strange psyche in Ireland of ‘perhaps if I do well enough they’ll think I’m a Protestant.”
history. After all, these pieces of furniture are imprinted with the past and often through preserving them, one preserves the memories of past generations. It’s clear that Donoghue knows what he’s dealing with. He spent the best part of ten years developing this project. He spoke to the locals and listened to their stories, oftentimes unearthing narratives he had never expected to find: “Often, you know, rural chauvinism; a farmer will presume he’s much more interesting than his wife. So you’ll have to walk the fields listening to him talk about his favourite Friesian bull before you’re even allowed near his wife in the kitchen. As soon as he runs out of steam or gets bored with you, you’re often allowed into the house. The thing is, out of those very walks and conversations comes material that neither of you intended.” Irish Folk Furniture creates an effect that the viewer may never have expected. Hearing the topic of the film, some may suppose it to be, put simply, rather dull. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Donoghue’s mastery of animation and documentation, impressively achieved on a camera that cost no more than €150, results in an eight-minute film that charms and fascinates from start to finish. Ireland needs more people like Donoghue. People who are looking inwards for inspiration, looking beyond the tropes of destitute, drunken, leprechauns for a sense of Irishness. As the director says, “when I go to anthropological festivals there’s always someone from Sweden making a film about people from the Amami Islands, or somebody from American making a film about the Irish, and I’m going ‘well, why the hell doesn’t that guy from Colorado make a film about the farmers of Colorado?’ It just seems so strange that people feel the need to do the exotic, the exotic being anything other than their own.” Donoghue doesn’t depict the exotic; he depicts the familial and familiar, but does it in a wholly exciting and innovative way. Irish Folk Furniture is available to watch on Youtube.
REVIEWS Title: Hyde Park on Hudson Director: Roger Michell Starring: Bill Murray, Laura Linney Release Date: February 15th
hough Ghostbusters 3 might not be happening, a tragedy for Bill Murray fans the world over, at least we can get our fill of Bill as one of America’s greatest presidents. Though it’s Margaret “Daisy” Suckley (Laura Linney) that narrates the story of her affair with the ailing Franklin Delano Roosevelt on the eve of World War II, Murray’s turn as the president is the real core of Hyde Park on Hudson. Through Daisy’s eyes, we watch as Roosevelt receives King George VI (Samuel West), the first British monarch to ever visit U.S. soil, at his mother’s country estate. While this was mostly a visit of diplomatic goodwill, its deeper purpose was to court American popular support for the British cause as they prepared to stand up to the Nazi conquest of Europe. It is part of both FDR’s brilliance as President and the subtlety of Roger Michell’s film-making that the impending conflict receives only passing mentions. Hyde Park is, along with Daisy herself,
HYDE PARK ON HUDSON Roosevelt’s retreat where he can, as he says: “Forget the world”. The film’s conflicts stem more from the Queen’s (Rosemary Cross) misinterpretation of the president’s casual attitude as disrespect than from fears of Nazi annexation. It is precisely this casualness that makes Murray the fantastic centrepiece of an otherwise dull film. Stricken with polio nearly 20 years before the small slice of time depicted in Hyde Park, FDR is shown to be almost cavalier about the resulting physical disability, allowing himself to be carried around like a baby and cracking jokes at his own expense. His relaxed attitude extends to his interactions with the King and Queen as the film asks us to let ourselves loosen up along with its characters. We can bond with them on a human level; not as leaders with the weight of the world on their shoulders but as men with flaws and emotions. The film’s female characters, on the other hand, are nowhere near as deep or well-drawn, which is
puzzling given FDR’s proclivity for dynamic female company. It almost seems like Michell would have to have gone out of his way to make Daisy so flat, who we have no good reason to care about. She gets dragged along by her own story, falling for the 32nd president with a speed that would make most romantic comedies jealous even though she seemingly brings nothing to the table in that relationship. The Queen may be even worse, as she appears to have come to America with her husband to do nothing more than complain and
Marion (Redgrave) is in remission from cancer, yet her life appears full. She is blessed with a husband, Arthur (Stamp), as well as a grown-up son and a young grand-daughter. However, upon the return of her cancer, she ramps up her efforts to do what she loves: sing in her local old folks’ choir. It is here that the dynamic between Marion and Arthur most strikingly plays out. It resembles an almost juvenile toing and froing between a brother and sister, at times resembling parental dynamic, the stoic Arthur is initially reluctant to allow Marion to overstretch herself. Marion, on the other hand, refuses to allow her husband to coddle
In a Nutshell: Worth it for Bill Murray; though if you don’t love him as much as Woody Harrelson does in Zombieland maybe stay home. by Casey Lehman Title: Song for Marion Director: Paul Andrew Williams Starring: Gemma Arterton, Terence Stamp, Vanessa Redgrave, Christopher Eccleston
Song for Marion
n first glance you may be armed to wage war against Song for Marion and what seems to be sickly sweet optimism and joy, ready to rain derision upon something which is, on appearances, confined within the smothering boundaries of a ‘feel-good movie’. Indeed, Song for Marion has the potential to be very tiresome: a dramedy set in a sleepy neighbourhood in England about people discovering peace and joy in life? Check. Lots of singing and tittery jokes? Check. A ‘big competition!’? Check. All of the signs vital for the beating heart of a sugary commercial success.
tell him what his brother would have done differently. She does, however, provide one of the film’s running jokes at the expense of British stereotypes as she learns that hot dogs will be served at the president’s picnic, which fills her with no small sense of dread.
her for the remainder of her life. However, minus the bickering, the magical essence of their relationship holds steadfast, retaining a youth long past. Marion’s similarly aged companions are not boring old prudes either. However, sprinkles of a tryhard attempt at a whole ‘ooh, let’s look at old people chuckling about sex and rock ‘n’ roll’, are present. It is perhaps here where the film, trying to pull two different audiences at once, feels disingenuous. Making up for this, however, are the excellent performances. Stamp expertly assumes Arthur’s dry wit and smouldering anger at life’s regrets, without becoming the
parodic grumpy-old-man. Similarly, Arterton’s portrayal of the plucky young choir-leader could have been painfully perky, yet she pulls it off with an understated charm. Redgrave is dignified and multidimensional, despite the fact that her appearance as the terminally-ill heroine is altogether brief. Though Redgrave’s Marion often steals the spotlight, it is ultimately in the grimaces and exasperated sighs of Stamp’s Arthur and his refusal to let his guard down that lies the true beauty of this film as he comes to embody the conventional beast-tobeauty transformation. It might be clichéd but we don’t care because, by the closing frames, Arthur grants his inner cynic (as well as our own) permission to leave the skepticism at the door and just crack a smile. In a Nutshell: A feel-good movie that transcends the clichés through great performances and a charming central couple. by Fiona Dunkin
ROm-COMs 10. Leap Year (2010) Amy Adams travels to Ireland to propose to her boyfriend, but fate intervenes when she meets a charming Kerry man who sounds French and/ or British. It is famous for its soul destroying depiction of Ireland as a place where trains don’t run on Sundays.
t’s a miracle that Cloud Atlas even exists. Adapted from the 2004 book of the same name, which has long been considered unfilmable, and its production background is almost as ambitious as its premise. Three directors, The Wachowskis (The Matrix trilogy) and Tom Tykwer (Run Lola Run), and with backing from numerous different independents, it is a film that was never made with box office smash in mind but rather is a labour of pure cinematic and creative love. This enthusiasm shines through effortlessly in the finished product, whose grandiose scale is matched only by its ability to touch and to move. Cloud Atlas tells six distinct but connected stories ranging from the 18th century to the far apocalyptic future. Both time and genre are transcended; The Ghastly Ordeal of Timothy Cavendish is a comedic portrayal of an elderly man’s never-ending series of mishaps, while An Orison of Sonmi~451 sees the Wachowskis return to sci-fi, with a tragic tale that emphasises the value of life. Each of these stories is experienced by the protagonist in some contextually appropriate way; composer Arthur Frobisher finds the journal of Ewing, Sonmi~451 watches the biopic Cavendish eventually writes. These direct connections allow the viewer to begin understanding the many more subtle ways in which these souls have affected each other’s lives over the course of hundreds of years. Never does the film collapse under its own immense weight, somehow managing to juggle such diverse threads by effectively highlighting the underlying human similarities between them. The cuts never jar and the entire film benefits from a technical mastery, both beautifully shot by cinematographers Frank Griebe and John Toll and scored by Johnny Klimek and Reinhold Heil, overseen by Tykwer. Not satisfied with an incredibly lofty premise, the visual nature of film affords Tykwer and the Wachowskis the opportunity to more overtly drive home the novel’s themes of rebirth and the transcendence of the spirit, one which is capitalised on superbly. Hugh Grant, Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Hugo Weaving, and more give passionate performances, playing multiple roles, often crossing gender and race. The makeup work involved in crafting the new appearances for each is occasionally excessive and distracting but mostly works well. The notion of breaking convention and going beyond an established norm is one which reverberates throughout each of the stories told but the very film itself also speaks to this, asserting that to seek the content of one’s heart is the most important thing of all. There is surely no better embodiment of this philosophy than the dedication which dragged Cloud Atlas through development. In a Nutshell: A genre-skewing and time-bending labour of cinematic love. Inspiring and offers hope for risk-taking in an increasingly risk-free industry. by Niall Gosker
Title: Cloud Atlas Directors: Tom Tykwer, Andy Wachowski, Lana Wachowski Starring: Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Hugo Weaving Release Date: February 22nd
9. Because I Said So (2007) Mandy Moore stars as the world’s latest singleton. Clearly she couldn’t survive without a man and needed her mother to sort one out for her through personal ads. Yes, it is as ridiculous as it sounds. 8. One Day (2011) This romantic ‘dramedy’ tells the story of two friends, Emma (Anne Hathaway) and Dexter (Jim Sturgess), and their lives over the course of 20 years. If you can appreciate Anne Hathaway’s awful Yorkshire accent or the cheesy, tinkling piano soundtrack, then feel free to enjoy this catastrophe. 7. The Break-Up (2006) Things don’t get a whole lot worse than watching Jennifer Aniston and Vince Vaughn meander around a devastatingly boring plot for 107 minutes. Although its attempts to be something unique are admirable, ultimately it completely fails in its main goal: to be funny. 6. The Proposal (2009) Although the central premise of Sandra Bullock getting married to avoid deportation might sound somewhat thrilling, it’s not. Despite its promising beginning, it descends into sentimentality and mediocrity, and not even its lead actors can save it. 5. What Happens in Vegas (2008) Picture this: a cocktail of Ashton Kutcher, Cameron Diaz, Las Vegas and a shotgun wedding. Still want to see it? I thought not. I think we all wished what happened in Vegas would have just stayed in Vegas. 4. Fifty First Dates (2004) Audiences take cover: Adam Sandler is yet again trying to be funny in this chaotic mess of a film. Although its central story deviates from the typical rom-com, Sandler’s presence makes it impossible to enjoy this film. 3. P.S. I Love You (2007) Hilary Swank plays the miscast widow of an Irishman in this disappointing film. It might be watchable if it weren’t for Gerard Butler’s awful attempts at an Irish accent. Hilary Swank’s talent is completely wasted. 2. 27 Dresses (2008) Katherine Heigl is always the bridesmaid and never the bride, and has amassed 27 bridesmaid dresses. She must find a man to chain her to a kitchen sink before it is too late, and she descends into spinsterdom. Who ever said feminism was dead? 1. How To Lose a Guy in 10 Days (2003) Kate Hudson is a journalist in New York City, and is left desperately incomplete without a man by her side. She fails to lose Matthew McConaughey in the required ten days, and so the movie ends, leaving us riveted to the last shot. by Patrick Kelleher
Time Will Tell:
The Comebacks of Stallone and Schwarzenegger With the recent revival of the big dumb action film, Casey Lehman investigates whether there is space for these muscle-bound superheroes in today’s Hollywood
ylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger, the two biggest action stars of the last 40 years, have made recent comebacks that, while incredibly exciting to ageing fans and adolescent boys, have been less so to critics and the box office. With latter-day instalments in his successful series of yore pulling in huge profits, Stallone got a bit of a head start on the comeback trail while Schwarzenegger was still acting in perhaps his cushiest role yet, the Governor of California. The success of the I-Can’t-Believe-It’s-Not-Racist cheeseball Rocky Balboa (2006, the sixth instalment in the series) gave Stallone the stones and the cash to push through Rambo (2008, the fourth instalment), proving that, even at age 62, people would still pay to see him take his shirt off and kick some ass. And it didn’t stop there. Stallone next teamed up with some other action favorites such as Jet Li, Jason Statham, pro wrestler “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, MMA fighter Randy “The Natural” Couture, and even his “Russian” nemesis from Rocky IV (1985), Dolph Lundgren (who is, in fact, Swedish) for The Expendables (2010). This high body count testosterone frenzy was never going to win any Oscars like Rocky (1976) but it put Stallone back on top of the action world, giving him the biggest opening weekend of his career. Unlike audiences however, critics were less receptive to The Expendables (though they warmed somewhat to The Expendables 2 ), with various writers calling it “braindead”, “breathtakingly sleazy”, and “sadistic”. In reality, Stallone must have expected these reactions. Going out of his way to cast as much muscle mass and action movie pedigree as he could, Stallone’s film is nothing if not over-thetop. If people can’t enjoy it for what it is, a more sympathetic reviewer might say, it’s probably their own damn fault.
The Expendables 2 teamed Stallone with Con-Air (1997) director Simon West and added Jean-Claude Van Damme (playing the villain conveniently named Vilain), internet meme Chuck Norris, and The Hunger Games afterthought Liam Hemsworth to the alreadyimpressive roster of the original (though Mickey Rourke had unfortunately dropped out). The sequel outperformed its predecessor both commercially and critically, pulling in over $300 million in addition to praise for being funnier and even more self-consciously over-the-top than the first. On the heels of this success, it seemed critics were finally ready to take this kind of movie a little less seriously. Stallone’s comeback may have come to a screeching halt this year as his most recent picture, Bullet to the Head, has been met with lukewarm reception by critics and embarrassing box office receipts. The movie sees him teaming up with fellow action pioneer Walter Hill, director of the liberally-quoted The Driver (1978, a major influence on both Quentin Tarantino and the recent Ryan Gosling flick, Drive ), for a smaller-scale replica of The Expendables’ big budget excess. Unfortunately, without the star power of those blockbusters, Bullet to the Head has been a disappointment in the course of Stallone’s promising comeback. Time will tell whether the Italian Stallion, due to turn 67 on July 6th, has been knocked down for good. Battling an old contender may be just what Stallone needs to get back on his feet. Following a foray into politics that was, if nothing else, entertaining, Arnold Schwarzenegger is now back in the movie business. After cameos in both of Stallone’s Expendables films, Schwarzenegger’s latest, The Last Stand, was released in January of this year. Though the most troubling aspect of this picture is the fact that the insufferable Johnny Knoxville
still gets acting roles, it does not bode well for Schwarzenegger’s return that the first feature starring him since 2002’s Collateral Damage has failed to make back its modest production budget after nearly a month in theatres. The story of the rest of his young comeback is generally one of rumour and hearsay. Though a few probably minor movies are currently in post-production (such as The Tomb, another collaboration with Stallone and, puzzlingly, rapper Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson), the franchise revivals that were so successful for Stallone’s comeback are still the stuff of wishful thinking. Schwarzenegger has been said to be attached to a fifth Terminator film (hopefully one not directed by McG), a potentially amazing sequel to Ivan Reitman’s Twins (1988), a sequel to the Conan the Barbarian remake, and even some type of remake/sequel to Predator (1987). The real question in the new careers of both men is simply if they are physically up to the task anymore. Writer-director Stallone foresaw these potential criticisms and cleverly integrated them into the plot of Rocky Balboa. In a nutshell, his trainer (in the film) forces him to admit to himself that he will never regain the speed that would allow him to compete on that level in his battle with Mason “The Line” Dixon. Instead, they focus on rebuilding the famous endurance and pure punching power that defeated Ivan Drago, Clubber Lang, and Apollo Creed. The real story was somewhat less heroic. He was 61 years old when he began training for Rocky Balboa, and Stallone has admitted to using Human Growth Hormone and prescription-strength doses of testosterone to help him prepare for the role. While in real-life sports this would be a potentially career-ending revelation, Stallone’s case proves steroids can have the opposite effect on an aging action movie star. Similar reports have not surfaced about Schwarzenegger but again, time will tell.
The CSI Effect
With crime dramas’ popularity cementing them firmly in television schedules across the globe, Laura Bell looks at the impact this has on real world crime
hile we all know that television dramas tend to stretch the fabric of reality into a shape mildly unrecognisable to those of us composed of living tissue; forensic crime shows have so distorted their audiences’ expectations of science, that researchers have decreed this fundamental lack of understanding a phenomenon, and have aptly titled it ‘The CSI Effect’. While the fedora-wearing male two rows down from you in your first year philosophy lecture might have offered the gem that most people are smart enough to eliminate the elements of unreality from their beliefs; the actual reality is that in fact, people are not that smart. TV crime has become a staple of our collective media diet, all designed to make crime scenes look slicker, sexier, and much more simple than they actually are. The anatomy of a full crime lab is typically diversified into nine departments, each with different staff, equipment, and extremely limited communication between them. The do-it-all, geeky-yet-cool-master-of-all-trades-and-alsogorgeous scientist doesn’t exist. Nor do they eat KFC in the lab, wear designer outfits to crime scenes, or let spiky jewellery dangle dangerously over the centrifuge. Nine separate labs do the work of one fictional one, taking ‘Trace Evidence’, ‘Forensic Toxicology’ and ‘Controlled Substances’ as examples of branches (not to mention two separate divisions for fingerprints alone), each populated by staff who expressly ignore each other for the sake of preserving objectivity, and of course, their jobs. It may be personal for Horatio Caine, but according to working criminologists he is in a league of his own, being singularly more efficient, better funded, and more upwardly mobile than pretty much anyone else in the public sector. He is also most likely in need of a psychological examination, but that’s really another matter.
The list of minor liberties taken with real science is staggeringly long. Blood doesn’t fluoresce under ultraviolet light without the area being doused with (and destroyed by) a lot of chemicals first. The shortest DNA test takes a minimum of 48 hours to process, while the rest take weeks or months. Fingerprint database systems never come up with a conclusive match, and are often in error; regardless, actually finding a usable print falls under the exception, rather than the rule. By the time corpses are autopsied, they don’t look like extras painted white, but have grey, waxy skin and swollen, discoloured faces. The quantity of evidence is as important as the quality of it, since a number of tests require destroying samples to reach conclusions. And, as former L.A. Sheriff’s Department CSI criminologist Elizabeth Devine asserts, debunking decades of classic crime programming: “Nobody chalks bodies.” Typically, however, the CSI Effect is generally known to have four separate impacts on the viewing audience. Firstly, predictably, forensic shows have piqued student interest in the sciences, particularly biology, psychology and criminology. Secondly, studies have proven that programmes like CSI, Bones and NCIS actually educate criminals in how they may better execute an evidence-less crime. Since TV writers tend to massively exaggerate the reach and efficiency of scientific testing, as well as the weight it holds in a court of law, criminals who play close attention to these standards can leave virtually no usable evidence. Joshua Marquis, a criminal prosecutor from Oregon notes that it is “not uncommon for rapists now to bring bleach with them and effectively sanitise the crime scene.” The third impact of the ‘effect’ is perhaps the most damaging to the legal process, and pertains to juror’s perceptions of reasonable practice and how they are influenced by the prime time version of mystery solving. Expectations of how much DNA
evidence should have been at the crime scene are particularly threatening to the objectivity of the jury, who feel they understand the forensic process when their perceived ‘knowledge’ couldn’t place them farther from the truth. In 2004, jurors in a case concerning Robert Blake, an actor charged with murdering his wife acquitted the defendant, citing a lack of gunshot residue as their reason. Gunshot residue is made of the microscopic particles discharged from a gun when it is fired, and is easily contaminated. Two years after the case, in 2006, the FBI crime lab at Quantico decided to cease gunshot residue analysis due to inaccuracies in testing that were seen to massively compromise the validity of results. “Negative evidence witnesses” are also becoming increasingly popular, with their sole purpose being to swear that not all crime scenes yield an abundance of forensic evidence merely waiting to be reaped, if not for ineffective investigators. The manner in which legal professionals, including judges, deal with the effect qualifies as the fourth impact the effect has on the courtroom. In 2005, an Arizona Attorney’s Office released a study of 102 prosecutors who overwhelmingly believed that TV crime dramas affect jury verdicts, with 83% believing that jurors should be specifically instructed on the CSI Effect and how to avoid invoking it in their judgements. Cases previously considered ‘cut and dry’ find perpetrators acquitted and judges forced to educate themselves in forensic science in order to define scientific fact from televised fiction. For Professor Robert Shaler, who was an active forensic scientist for 40 years and is now director of forensic science at Penn State University, working with the fourth impact is very important in order to set civilians straight. “I was a crime lab guy, but I was never the person portrayed on TV. That person doesn’t really exist.”
Critically acclaimed Irish author Patrick McCabe takes time out of his busy schedule to talk about writing The Butcher Boy, his thoughts on filmmaking, and great art from James Joyce to Breaking Bad, with Conor Luke Barry
t’s an odd sensation meeting a writer whose novels are so clearly filled with his own personality and experiences; it’s a bit like you’ve met before, like you already know more than you should. Such is the case with Patrick McCabe. Born in Monaghan, his work utilises a very distinct style to give readers a unique insight into a type of Ireland that doesn’t quite exist anymore, or perhaps never did. McCabe was shortlisted for the Booker prize with his 1992 novel The Butcher Boy, launching him from almost total obscurity and cementing him as the most exciting new voice in Irish writing. Since then he has written multiple novels and plays, co-organised a festival, and has had his work adapted into film, as well as being nominated for the Booker prize yet again. With such an extensive list of achievements you’d imagine the man is forever hectically at work. Yet McCabe is casually slumped into his armchair, stress barely a concern. The conversation starts off with quite highbrow, chatting about another acclaimed Irish author. Perhaps unsurprisingly, McCabe is an avid fan of James Joyce, but what specifically appeals to McCabe about the man? “Just that he’s a hundred years ahead of his time,” replies McCabe immediately, no need to think it over. “He could take the dross of a drab little town like Dublin, which it was a provincial city no matter what they claimed it to be, and managed to make it into the stuff of world literature. It’s just a little rainy dump on the Western seaboard of Europe, that’s all it was. And yet, he managed to trump the great literary giants of London, Bloomsbury, they didn’t know what was coming. That still hasn’t been bettered, I don’t think.”
Patrick McCabe uses a similar technique in his own work. While Joyce did it with Dublin, McCabe uses a more rural setting, focusing on the drab and making it, in an odd way, into something spectacular. Blurring the line between the ordinary and the fantastic, his novels focus on the mundane and find beauty in it. “Well, the mundane is where most people live. So if you don’t find something in there you’re in trouble. Because most people lives are about going to work and coming home and the beauties in-between, but they’re not exclusively glamorous. You can find glamour in ordinary things, of course. Mundane is probably unfair, probably the quotidian, the ordinary. So that’s probably true. Because I live a very ordinary life, always have.” This ‘ordinary life’ is no doubt an asset to his work, many of the references in his books seemingly influenced by this lifestyle. Similarly, McCabe had a tendency to show in his writing the influence of media that wouldn’t necessarily be seen as ‘high art’, such as comic books and popular movies. “I would have always been an inveterate reader, I suppose it comes from the cinema more than anything. When you’re growing up and there’s little enough stimulation apart from the printed word and the cinema. So if you lived in a rural backwater, which effectively I did, you tend to voraciously devour anything that’s going. So you wouldn’t be in a position to say ‘Oh, I don’t think I’ll go tonight because it isn’t Luis Bunuel, or Fellini’. You’d go to everything. Then you’d discover that some popular movies are astonishingly good in their own terms and some art movies are not so good. So whatever moves you is fine by me.” Unexpectedly enough, this led to a discussion of one of the great masterpieces of our generation: Breaking Bad. Though it may be unsurprising that a successful Irish writer would be a fan of Joyce, it’s nice to know that he still has time for a more pop culture piece of media. “But Breaking Bad is far from just being workaday popular culture,” contends McCabe with great enthusiasm. “There are some episodes of Breaking Bad that are absolutely astounding, because you don’t know where they’re coming from. There’s one episode called ‘The Fly’, which takes place underground in that laboratory. But it’s like Harold Pinter, I think they must have been parodying Pinter or something. That happens, then in the next episode they might be robbing a train, which is like a Western. And it constantly surprises you, so anything that surprises you on the stage or on the screen has got to be good, that you didn’t see it coming. They’re always ahead of you, you’re never ahead of them. It’s moral too. It’s where the visual image is going, I think. Cinema is going through one of these extraordinary periods of metamorphoses that it goes through every fifty years or so. I never saw that coming, I though it was the end of cinema or something. I know about these things chiefly through my daughters and all their friends, you see, so they would be in their twenties. Though I’m actually more enthusiastic about them than they are. I don’t watch all these box sets, but I’ll watch some of them. May have taken the place of the novel, actually, I think.” This offhand remark about modern TV shows taking the place of novels is a strong statement coming from one of Ireland’s most prolific
“Look, let’s be very straight about this. When someone of the calibre of Neil Jordan shows interest in your book, you don’t start looking for problems” novelists. If he thinks this is the case, would he be interested in getting involved with film-making? “I’d always be interested in writing for cinema,” he answers. “But I’m not particularly interested in going around hustling, trying to get projects off the ground, because that’s very time consuming.” With filming equipment currently cheaper than ever and with McCabe’s level of notoriety, does he really think he’d have difficulty getting a short film made? “That isn’t the problem. The problem is what you do with it once you’ve completed it. It’s now taken the place of the short story. When I was 18 or 19, Alan Titley, the critic wrote a now defunct magazine called Hibernia. In that he wrote ‘Oh Jesus, not another Irish short story’, because our generation was writing these things, they were coming out of our ears. And now the short film seems to have taken it’s place. So you’ve got all these youngster making short movies but Youtube is fit to burst with all these things. And they have short film festivals where they’re shown once and then they vanish into the ether. It’s no good if a work of art, you know, you spend a year making a short movie, and nobody sees it. They might see it at a film festival, that’s not enough. That’s just other filmmakers. It’s like the world of poetry where you go to a poetry reading and you
“The mundane is where most people live. So if you don’t find something in there you’re in trouble. Because most people lives are about going to work and coming home and the beauties in-between”
Still from Neil Jordan’s adaption of The Butcher Boy look at the audience and it’s 25 other poets. Well that’s not of any interest to me whatsoever. For that reason, I’d much prefer either to do public performances myself, or put on a play. I wouldn’t care where it was put on, just get a few actors together. Or write a novel, because it’s more immediate, and straight away your connecting with your audience. You’re not at the mercy of money.” Of course, McCabe isn’t a total stranger to the world of film-making. Two of his books, The Butcher Boy and Breakfast on Pluto, have been adapted into successful films by Irish director Neil Jordan. While both of these are great examples of how to successfully transition from book to screen, the point about film as an art form being ‘at the mercy of money’ surely must have been a concern, perhaps leading to an apprehension that the point of his novels might get lost in translation. “Look, let’s be very straight about this. When someone of the calibre of Neil Jordan shows interest in your book, you don’t start looking for problems. You wake up in the morning and you thump the pillow and say ‘Fuck man, this is just fantastic’. Because he’s the greatest filmmaker this country has ever produced and I knew he’d do a good job, and I was right from the start. When I met him first I said ‘I want you to do it because you’re a poet’. He’s a visual poet, and the book is very poetic in a strange way. And, in any case, it was such a Cinderella story that I never expected anybody to read the book, never mind it becoming successful. And I didn’t much care, because I had passed the point of caring.” Passing the point of caring seems an unconventional strategy when it comes to writing a critically lauded, Booker prize nominated novel, but McCabe is quick to define exactly what he means by this.“ The reason I didn’t care was not because I was some kind of blithe Wilde-ian character stomping the world, declaring his genius or anything like that. The reason I didn’t care was because I had cared so much up to that that when the first draft of it was rejected, which it was; not because the publisher was wrong, it’s because it was no good. And I thought it was good. And then I started to question my own judgement, which is very dangerous territory to be in. Because when you’re 32 years of age and you’ve devoted yourself to writing and you now are not sure about your own judgement, it’s going to be very hard to convince someone else that what you have to
say is of any value. But anyway, when I wrote the next draft of it, which was the final draft, without a word changed, really, it had come from such a deep reservoir of untapped feeling, that I thought nobody would get it. First it was written in an unstoppable vernacular, it was about a little country town and you think ‘well, who’s going to give a fuck about a little country town on the border?’ So, I really didn’t care, because I had put everything in it that was me. That doesn’t mean that when it was picked up I wasn’t delighted, I was. But the place that it came from was probably the pure place that every artist should find themselves in, that you only care about the thing itself. That what happens afterwards, it’s in the lap of the Gods anyway.” This attitude of not caring and letting yourself write truthfully is something that arguably can’t be taught, but that doesn’t stop McCabe from passing on this advice to budding writers at his weekly writing workshops. “I suppose what I try and get them to do is try and figure out what kind
of a writer they are. Some people might already have a book deal, some people might have this impulse and have had it all their lives but are terrified of it. Figuring out where you fit into this, there’s no competitive thing. No idea of ‘our star pupil this week is such and such’ and then she sits there basking. That’s not the case at all. The case is, what do you want from it and is it realisable. If you’re going to devote your life to it, this is what you can expect. Are you still interested? And if they are, fine. But there’s just as many different writers as there are different people, and we can teach that as well, people get a sense of themselves. You can demythologise it. The fountainhead from where it comes is unplumbable, you don’t know where that comes from. You might call it style, you can’t teach that. But you can give people the tools and the advice to how this might be realised and how they would find their way to their own style.” He rests back into his armchair, point made. “That can all be taught. No mythology about that.”
The engigmatic figure behind the Bloody Beetroots, Sir Bob Cornelius Rifo chats to Stephen Connolly about the process of composition and the importance of punk-rock
loody Beetroots’ veiled aspect of the project, including lights-driven, orthodox performYoutube, displaying varying demastermind has a silly directing the music videos and ances of his more renown contemgrees of inventiveness and, as Sir name. It would be dedesigning items of clothing, with poraries. This, no doubt, can be Bob ruefully notes, musical comceitful of us to pretend much success. In 2009 Sir Bob at least partly attributable to Sir petence: “The response was brilotherwise. One advantoured with Aoki and in 2008, Bob’s duty to punk-rock’s history: liant, but I was so surprised that a tage of interviewing the man himhis song ‘Butter’ was included on ‘‘[It] has been an essential part of lot of my fans couldn’t read sheet self via email is it negates the need the soundtrack for FIFA ‘09 and my musical growth but it has commusic and had to use software to to awkwardly stammer a request adverts for season two of Jersey pletely lost its social impact. I say convert the score.” for a man titled ‘Sir Bob Cornelius Shore, as well as featuring extenthis reluctantly because I actuThis is but a part of an interestRifo’ to an impatient PA over a sively on European and North ally can’t think of another genre ing, if perhaps not very durable, crackly international phone line. American dance charts. of music which has taken its place trend developing. Also released in Bloody Beetroots’ official web“I studied at art school and the in creating a revolution. The sothe past year , Beck’s most recent site describes the project as “an two subjects which really shaped cial context which made it so imalbum ‘Song Reader’ consisted anomaly amidst the cocooned me are photography and life drawportant has been lost as the genre solely of a collection of sheet mutrends and coddled pedigrees ing. There was a certain strength changed so drastically. We need to sic scripts and artwork, and will of dance music.” A fraction selfwhich came from working with a learn how to make people aware allegedly never exist in an official aggrandising that may be, but Sir thick graphite pencil and black and of the social and culture imporaudio format, save for interpretaBob is clearly determined to stand white photography which inspired tance in music.’’ In fact, of the few tions from other performers and apart from the rest of the rabid me and now inspires my complete ways to distinguish Sir Bob from fans uploaded to his website. And pop-electro pack, and often sucBloody Beetroots aesthetic. The the others in the live band is to you thought My Bloody Valentine ceeds. How though? It’s not the market is really competitive at the search for the ‘1977’ tattoo adornwere wilfully obtuse. black Venom mask disguise; the moment but everyone is so unique. ing his sternum; it’s a year given When composing a song, Sir likes of Deadmau5 Bob explains that and Daft Punk have he initially devises been concealing “The social context which made it so important has been lost as a title, and all meltheir identity with the genre changed so drastically. We need to learn how to make ody and vocal conoutlandish headtent, if any, follows people aware of the social and culture importance in music.” gear for ages and by from there. “The now the notion is real magic of creatold hat. It’s also probably not nec[It’s a] race to nowhere and if we significance by him due to it being ing music is that your hand guides essarily the music. It must then be started to compete then we will the birth year of both himself and you as a composer. I always imagsomething less superficial. just end up copying each other. I the genre of punk. Well, almost. ine I’m travelling or see myself on Perhaps it’s how seriously Sir have never felt any anxiety of exIn October of last year Sir Bob a colourful journey and that someBob appears to take all this, compectation with my music but I do opted to release the latest sintimes quick-starts the process.” pared to most of his contempofeel a sense of disappointment with gle, ‘Chronicles of a Fallen Love’, This isn’t the end of that howraries. “This isn’t dance music as how the electronic scene has been purely in sheet music form iniever, as Sir Bob goes on to excithedonistic escape,” he explains. taken advantage of by the music tially, inviting fans to put forward edly allude to his future plans of “This is shared adrenaline as cataindustry. My efforts now are to retheir own interpretations before experimenting with gospel music, lyst and call to action. Free your store the dignity and the true form the frenetic official version (with as well as a new album and, mysass and your mind will follow, to of the genre, so we don’t lose sight guest Greta Svabo Bech singing) teriously, a film. This endearing flip a Funkadelicism.” of why we all do this.” was released. “This was a conlevel of artistic ambition, or, as The Italian multi-instrumenWorth a bash, we guess. In adscious decision because I wanted those less-enamoured by Beettalist Simone Cogo formed the dition to touring his DJ set (with my fans to view the song as a piece root’s thumping charms may put Bloody Beetroots project in late his collaborator Tommy Tea) his of music. Often in dance music it, pretentiousness, as opposed to 2006 and quickly won the benevodecision to tour as live band ‘‘The people don’t treat the music as if it gimlet-eyed capitalism, is perhaps lence of the wise men of electroBloody Beetroots Death Crew is that, they treat it as if it’s disposwhat makes Bloody Beetroots that house, Steve Aoki, Etienne de 77’’ offers more dynamism and able. My idea was to make it about bit more interesting than some of Crecy, Alex Gopher and several potential for unpredictability in the music, and nothing else.” competition on Beatport’s charts others. He has since then involved live shows than the rather sterile A number of fan-made ‘premixand, crucially, more likely to be rehimself in virtually every artistic and austere laptop, sequencer and es’ subsequently surfaced on membered.
Bastille’s lead singer, Dan Smith chats with Aaron Flood, about the band’s debut album, having a quiff full of wee and being a part of the musical hype machine
here are two ways to put this: either you know of Bastille and have a certain degree of coolness and hipster about you, or you don’t know of Bastille and therefore have neither of these ‘qualities’. It doesn’t really matter if you don’t, because Bastille aren’t giving you much choice as to whether you’ll hear them. Since the release of their first single ‘Flaws’ in June 2011, Bastille have gone from strength to strength. On the foundations of numerous rave reviews of their live performances, and critical and popular acclaim for their songs, they are set to explode into the scene in a big way. However, lead singer and composer, Dan Smith, remains firmly grounded despite the massive praise the band are receiving. He laughs upon hearing of the bands “newfound fame,” and claims that: “We’re not massively aware of the fame. We’re really just getting on with things, gearing up to the release of the new album and touring.” The group have received plaudits including “Best New Band” and “Future Biggest Band in England” thrown at them. Smith says: “It’s quite weird to hear. I guess in a way it’s nice but it doesn’t really mean anything!” This down-to-earth tone continues, as he describes the band’s experience over the past two years: “We’ve enjoyed a lot of it and had fun, and just worked really hard and built things up to where they are now. We’re really lucky as to how people have discovered us and gravitated towards us. I think we’ve never really received a huge amount of media attention; a lot of our fan base is very genuine and just quite like the songs. So, I guess we’ll see what happens from here.
We’ve no idea what to expect from it really.” Bastille has built up an established fan base by advertising themselves through the Internet and social media. Despite this warm embrace of the internet, Smith finds it a mixed blessing: “What’s difficult with the internet is that it’s so ridiculously huge and there’s so much stuff on there. Anyone can upload anything to the internet and it can just sit there unseen forever. It’s quite a daunting prospect but as I’ve said before we seemed to be quite lucky that people found us and liked our songs and videos and that kind of thing.” Bastille have also used more traditional media to advertise themselves, with songs ‘Flaws’ and ‘Oblivion’ appearing in Made In Chelsea and The Vampire Diaries respectively. “It’s interesting the thing Made In Chelsea thing happened very early on, we hadn’t really been around that long. The reaction was interesting… we had one song online called ‘Flaws’ which they used a small clip of in the show along with a lot of different music, and in one night we got over 10,000 views on YouTube, which, for us, was a big deal. It was interesting to make fans from something you wouldn’t really associate yourself with.” Stylistically Bastille are very hard to define. There’s the elec-
tronic influence heard in songs like ‘Flaws’ and ‘Bad Blood’, while other songs like ‘Overjoyed’ are more stripped back. When asked about how he would describe the band’s sound, Smith replies: “I wouldn’t. I don’t know, I guess for me it’s just about I wanted each song to be individual and to try out different things from song to song, and to try and not repeat myself too much. I always find it really hard to describe the sound of our music.” This indefinability returns when Smith is asked about Bastille’s upcoming debut album, Bad Blood. When asked if he could describe the album, Smith states that, “In my mind it’s composed of different songs that I like and different sounds I wanted to touch upon. It’s quite difficult to step back and sum it all up.” The release of the album is obviously going to be a landmark moment in both Bastille and Smith’s life. “It’s so weird to think that it’s coming out though. I can’t really get my head around the fact that quite soon it’ll be out. Finishing and handing it in was quite like handing in a dissertation.” Bastille’s live performances are lauded by both fans and critics alike. Yet with this enviable live reputation, Smith maintains his grounded attitude. On their Reading and Leeds performance, Smith notes that: “I’m somewhat of a pessimist, I thought we’d be perform-
ing to a tent with four drunk guys throwing piss at us! So to walk out on stage to a tent full of people, it felt like one of our own gigs.” Despite their warm reception, Smith and co. didn’t escape the traditional Reading “piss-bottling” that occurs every year. “I remember we either went to V or Isle of Weight festival like last year, and we were just wandering around watching acts, and Rihanna was on the main stage so we went to watch a bit of that. We wandered into the crowd and there’s just like beer and piss flying around everywhere. You just hear people going like “Awhhh Rubbish!” and suddenly you feel this wetness on your head, and everybody looks around at each other and they realize it’s actually warm… and it’s not beer.” Finally, before finishing the conversation Smith tells us about his hopes and wishes for the year. Staying true to his grounded self, Smith merely hopes that: “People that already like us like the album and it attracts a whole lot of new people. I hope we have time to write and record the second album… it depends on the success of this one and whether or not we get the chance to make it.” Somehow, they just may get that chance. Bastille play The Academy on April 4th. Their debut album, Bad Blood, is out March 4th.
I Am The Cosmos
Fresh off the heels of their debut album release, Anna Burzlaff chats to I Am The Cosmos about artistic intent and sustaining friendships
usic history has the bond of friendship is a factor been steeped in also. As Murphy says, “It’s a very great pairs. John personal thing, I think, to make Lennon and Paul music together, especially when McCartney, Jimthere’s only two of us and there’s my Page and Robert Plant, even stages when we’re doing 12 hour Sunny and Cher; they’ve all made stretches, just the two of us. It’s an names for themselves through intense thing.” partnership in some way or anMuch of Turner and Murphy’s other. Also seeking the accolade of repartee is back and forth. Like great partnership are Ross Turnall good partnerships, they seem er and Cian Murphy, otherwise to be on the same page throughknown as I Am The Cosmos. out. In terms of the music they Turner and Murphy are new on want to create and the way they the scene. Their debut album, intend to go about it, both are of Monochrome, was released only a like minds. They’re extremely few weeks ago but is already maklucky in that sense. They are, in ing waves in Dublin and beyond. their approach, unusual. The use Inspired by a song by ‘80s Japaof analogue equipment, the online nese band, Mariah, Monochrome download release, the lack of exhas a curious dichotomy of sound, tensive touring, it would seem natcombining both a nostalgic feel, by ural to describe their engagement way of analogue equipment, and as off kilter. However, a question something wholly modern, by way on whether they consider themof innovative song writing. selves mavericks is met with bel“We definitely tried to make a lowing laughter from the two, as modern album, that was our idea,” they quip jokingly: “We’re like Top says Murphy. “Even though we Gun, yeah Top Gun. The Top Gun were using older gear there were of the music industry, that’s us.” times when we’d be quite adamant So, perhaps they don’t regard about trying to keep it sounding themselves as mavericks, but they modern. It’s very easy to fall into do acknowledge an unwillingness nostalgic holes, trying to get a parto conform in terms of contemticular ‘80s synth sound.” porary trends, with an album that Monochrome sounds intense. avoided any sense of stylisation or It’s heavily laden with emotion adherence to what was regarded and full of romantic heart ache, a as cool at the time. prevalence both Turner and Murjust cracking really bad jokes, or viding support for their fellow Acrimony is a path well-travphy acknowledge. It was, after all, trying to make each other laugh, artists. As Murphy puts it: “Eveelled when it comes to musical a record made in the wake of peror going out with our friends and ryone’s just super supportive of collaboration, John and Paul, sonal romantic difficulties. Turnlaughing our heads off, just to kind each other, cause things have been Sunny and Cher: they all ended er’s description of such a style of of break it up. There are certain getting a bit harder. It brings peoin some form of discord. It would music as “tears on the dancefloor” bands you look at and they seemed ple together, and everyone wants seem as if to work together is to emphasises the meaning further. pained, almost, by their intensity. everyone to do well and there’s no grow disgruntled at one another. It’s heavy, harrowing, intense, yet Maybe it’s an Irish thing as well; backstabbing. There’s maybe not Long hours in the studio provide inherently danceable. A strange we try not to take ourselves too as much at stake anymore. There’s the ideal environment for prickjuxtaposition when it comes to seriously.” no guys coming in with briefcases ling hairs and bruising egos. If one musical genre, but were to have such one that Turner a preconceived no“Everyone wants everyone to do well and there’s no and Murphy have on the nature backstabbing. There’s maybe not as much at stake anymore. tion managed to create. of musical partIt seems natu- There’s no guys coming in with briefcases of cash going ‘This is nership, meeting ral to gauge the Turner and Murtwo as melancholic what you’re working for,’ but then there’s so much going on as phy would come as characters from a shock. There’s no well.” the content they tension, no battle create, but Turner for superiority; on and Murphy seem to defy expecClearly then support for the alof cash going ‘This is what you’re the question of their friendship tation, chuckling, joking and being bum wasn’t confined to the depths working for,’ but then there’s so it’s a unanimous “stronger than generally merry throughout the of the studio, nor did it just come much going on as well, it’s incredever,” accompanied by a display interview. One would wonder how from one another. The music ible.” of healthy man love in the form of the burden of such heavy emoscene in Ireland is one which is It’s hard to believe that were a hug. The hug is bromance at its tion, present in their song writing, constantly growing, churning out the environment of money-driven most genuine. The album, on the avoids leaving any overwhelming more and more interesting and music still prevalent in Ireland other hand, is Irish music at its residue on the two. “I think everyexciting names. It would seem the that Turner and Murphy would be most exciting. one has a bit of darkness in them days of ruthless backstabbing in a susceptible to its pull. It’s not as if at times, for sure,” explains Turnfrantic scuffle for record deals and the two don’t appear driven, it’s I Am The Cosmos play The Buter. “But I think because the music European tours dwindled with the rather that they seem so at home ton Factory on February 23rd and can be quite intense or dark at recession. Good things can emerge in what they’re doing that little their debut album, Monochrome, is times, we would juxtapose it with from bad; Irish musicians are promuddies their direction. Surely, available for download now.
Walk the moon
With the wind nearly blowing the phone from Eli Maiman’s ear, Emily Mullen has a chat with the Walk The Moon guitarist about face-painting, musical experiences and ‘80s influences
li Maiman is on the other end of a crackly phone line. His enthusiasm for just about everything is evident in his slow drawl despite the difficult interview conditions. It is difficult to discern what Maiman’s saying and a string of educated guesses have to be made when the line sounds quiet-ish. This culminates in an astounding amount of slightly patronising “Yeah, yeah, yeah,” with a sprinkling of laughter for what seems like joke-making when Maiman’s voice sounds somewhat high. This could be the wind as Maiman eventually gets a bit pissed off and curtly says: “You just keep laughing when I answer a question, what’s your problem?” Yes, the best impression wasn’t made on Walk The Moon’s guitarist, that’s for sure. The band’s name is taken from The Police song ‘Walking on the Moon’. This rather direct ‘80s influence is one that still has an effect upon the band. “It’s the music that we are drawn to, the melodies, the hooks and everything . The music that you listen to when you are 18 becomes the music that you listen to for your whole life somehow, and that’s what happened with us.” The band had several changes before bassist Kevin Ray, drummer Sean Waugaman, and lead singer Nicholas Petricca joined our friend Maiman and became the steadfast members of Walk The Moon. “Nick started the band after he left college, and tried lots of different
combinations before we all came together and it just felt right and we clicked,” explains Maiman. “We speak the same musical language, which helps in creative situations.” Slightly spodgy luminous facepaint has fast become ubiquitous with the happy-clappy indie band, and to Maiman the vivid hues are symbolic of the effect his music has upon his fans: “Visuals are huge during performances. The face painting started from the ‘Anna Sun’ music video, so it was just an accident but fans have just started com-
that Maiman supports: “I mean we are just a band, just four lucky guys, who get to make music every day. But we are lucky enough to have a job that helps us work out our demons, and deal with the stuff that frustrates us. Through us dealing with our own problems it helps others to do the same, to find a release from whatever is bothering them.” Following the release of two self-released EPs, consisting of 2009’s The Other Side: B-Sides and Rarities and 2010’s I Want! I Want!, the band were signed to RCA and
“We are lucky enough to have a job that helps us work out our demons, and deal with the stuff that frustrates us. Through us dealing with our own problems it helps others to do the same” ing to gigs with face paint and they are just so enthusiastic about it. It is a cool way to connect with everybody in a communal way, to visually represent this group experience that we are all having together.” This rush of emotion is something that the band’s live performances provide to its audiences, raw simplistic emotions of happiness and hope. “The fans started it, it’s not like we had a team of marketing strategists that started it, it was just a happy accident!” says Maiman. This spontaneous donning of vivid hues ties is perhaps a reactionary act of release for the audience, one
released their self-titled debut. The adjustment from self-releasing to working with a major label was a relatively smooth one. “It was way different, with self-releases you make it happen when you have the money to do it, you work on it in little bits you record in garages, in living rooms, in churches and you get it done piece by piece. Whereas when you are working with a major label, there is a serious strategy to the whole thing. There is marketing done before the release date, it is done in a thought out intelligent way, as opposed to just flailing about like the way we had done it
before when we were an independent act. It’s a significantly different process but no less satisfying.” Despite the positive experience that the band eventually had upon finally involving itself with a label, Walk The Moon were daunted by the process beforehand: “We grew up watching documentaries about how bands from the ‘80s got completely screwed by major labels and yeah we were reluctant to enter into a deal at the start.” Leaving behind the youthfulness of the previous album, those oh so repeated lyrics of “I was up against the wall on the west mezzanine, we rattle this town, we rattle this scene,” Maiman asserts that the next album will be a progression and a reflection on how they have evolved. “I think a lot of the album that is out right now was written during that late college period in our lives, and for a lot of people that time is a period of uncertainty and nostalgia. I don’t think we have much time for being nostalgic and I think the next record will definitely head in a very different direction.” Despite the miscommunication and accidental rudeness, Maiman is still excited about performing in The Academy, although it could be the prospect of punching Otwo in the face mid-performance. You can’t blame him really. Walk The Moon play The Academy on February 22nd and their EP Tightrope is out now.
My Bloody Valentine Bastille MBV Bad Blood
The Courteeners Anna
Eels Wonderful, Glorious
It’s here! The Chinese Democracy of shoegaze! My Bloody Valentine’s first album in 22 years has been so eagerly anticipated that when the album was released for download on the band’s website, their servers crashed due to excessive traffic. Their last release, Loveless, is regarded as a classic and has maintained a strong following of fans who will not be disappointed by MBV. Shoegaze is a terrible name for a genre however. It’s too narrow-minded, it doesn’t convey the depth of the music that My Bloody Valentine make; MBV is a symphony of distortion. When ‘She Found Now’ begins the album, it’s as if the last two decades have not passed, and we are instantly surrounded by layer upon layer of Kevin Shields’s fuzzed-up guitars. They’re loud, and they should sound harsh, but instead they’re warm and enveloping. There are beautiful melodies at the bottom of this ocean of noise, if you can find them; Shields’ and Bilinda Butcher’s high, breathy vocals whisper in your ear like an old friend. They get a bit more raucous and dissonant on ‘Who Sees You’, before taking things down a bit for the organ-led ‘Is This and Yes’. Then we get back to the ray-gun wah-wah and spaced-out phasers on the more abstract second half of the album, which may not appeal to everyone. Deep down though, there’s always a dream-pop song hiding beneath the squalls of overdrive, showing Beach House how it’s really done. The rulers are back. And they’re just as good as ever.
First overheard in the background of an awkward pause in Made in Chelsea, this London-based foursome has steadily grown in popularity since then. With the intoxicating single ‘Flaws’ already topping the charts, they are certainly paving their way into the world of the music industry. Offering a mixture of mellow sounds with bursts of pop and electronic influences, Bastille are playing up to the public’s insatiable appetite. The opening track ‘Pompeii’ is an upbeat introduction to the album with Dan Smith’s easily identifiable voice smoothly matching the backing vocals and drums without fault. The recapitulation of ‘‘eh-ohs’’ in a minor tone draws the song together in a dark yet upbeat manner. This continues with the albums stand out track: ‘Things We Lost in the Fire’. Although there are very clear indie vibes, the drums and harmonies throughout this song are what makes it an upbeat, wellrounded record. The tone mellows in a church-like vibe with a choirsounding introduction of ‘Icarus’, which quickly amplifies into a strong rhythm returning to the trademark drumbeat which is heard on each track. Rounding off the debut offering, ‘Daniel in the Den’ opens with strong piano and ascends into vocal layering and electro beats, giving the melody a modern twist. The album closes with ‘Laura Palmer’ and ends the record on a high, with soaring vocals bringing it to an atmospheric close.
Anna opens with the track ‘Are You in Love with a Notion’; a big title and an even bigger sound that is rather missing the familial Courteeners sonic twist. It enters with a cacophony of wah-woahs and heavy bass, accompanied by a sea of studio effects and synthesisers that threaten vocals and engulf most of the album. Anna felt promising listening to this track. Unfortunately ‘Are You in Love with a Notion’ is the only highlight of the album. It is questionable whether the Manchester four-piece have misplaced their raw, light-hearted indie sound, so well embodied in their debut album, St.Jude. The track ‘Lose Control’ opens with a Two Door Cinema Club pastiche of electronic drums and airy guitar, which leads the song into a chorus of droning chants of “Loooose Control,” which borders on becoming a forced sing-along chorus. Some might argue that the dark mood of the album projects a level of maturity on the LP and advancement in lead singer, Liam Fray’s, writing, but for me it feels somewhat overproduced, and that perhaps they are trying a little too hard to please the widest audience they can reach. Anna lacks the magic and appeal that St.Jude effortlessly radiated. It will be an uphill battle charting this one, with some luck they won’t over think the next album, and finally get back to their roots.
Wonderful, Glorious is EELS tenth studio album and sees the band’s main creative force, Mark Oliver Everett, producing some of his most visceral and defiant work to date. Building upon the cautious optimistic sound of 2010’s album, Tomorrow Morning, with belters like ‘Kinda Fuzzy’ and ‘New Alphabet’, Wonderful, Glorious contains the creative mix of raw EEL talent, sadly tainted with a slight degree of boredom, emerging with the realisation that there is upwards of ten similar tracks on the album. The adeptness at which Everett infected self-assured rock with his own debilitating self-loathing must be commended. However, despite Everett’s claim on the opening track, ‘Bombs Away’, that he is “tired of being complacent,” this assertion is ironically lost in the growly vocals and hazy production of the album. Nonetheless, certain tracks do provide moments of solace from the album’s far too frequent lack lustre sound. The stellar song, ‘I Am Building A Shrine’, offers some hope in terms of the band’s future. The forced growly vocals seem to distract from the failing of vocal ability at times. Indeed Everett appears to be more comfortable on slower melancholic tracks like ‘On the Ropes’. The album’s sound is charming yet the sheer lack of variety becomes grating as Wonderful, Glorious progresses. The listener finds themselves almost growling back at Everett, pleading for some sonic variety.
In a Nutshell: A beautiful, noisy, fantastic album worth the two decade wait.
In a Nutshell: This first offering is definitely worth a listen; it oozes potential and modern day musical intelligence.
In a Nutshell: A forced and high conscious sound from what is a great band.
In a Nutshell: Brilliant and boring in almost equal measures. A lacklustre addition to any music snob’s iTunes.
by Edward Kearns
by Aimee Ward
by Graham Mc Cartin
by Gary Norman
What’s On: uCD Cinema Monday Week 5: 18/02/2013 - 22/02/2013 The Hobbit - 3D
Life of Pi
JDIFF - Bypass Muppet Marathon (Filmsoc)
Final Fantasy The Spirts Within (SciFi)
UCD Cinema, UCD FilmSoc and the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival have teamed up to bring you a screening of Bypass. Fast-paced Basque romantic comedy Bypass, resembles a TV sitcom, but co-directors Patxo Telleria and Aitor Mazo know how to plot a caper feature. Tickets are €9.90 and can be bought from jdiff.com or from the UCD Student Centre. UCD Cinema have organised a 10/15% discount on tickets for all JDIFF screenings taking place across Dublin. Simply enter the code UCD2013 when ordering to avail of the offer. Tickets to The Hobbits, Life of Pi and Argo are €5 for students and €6 for non students. (3D screenings may have a surcharge). Jameson Dublin Film Festival Screening of Bypass is €9.90 for students. Society screenings are free for members. Tickets for screenings are available at the student centre desk 30 minutes before the screening, 50¢ discount for Filmsoc members.
FRI 08 MAR 2013 – OLYMPIA THEATRE TICKETS €25.40 (INC.BKG.FEE)* *TICKETS FROM TICKETMASTER OUTLETS NATIONWIDE. 24 HRS: 0818 719 300. BUY ONLINE: WWW.TICKETMASTER.IE PHONE & INTERNET BOOKINGS SUBJECT TO €1.65 SERVICE CHARGE PER TICKET UP TO €13.20, 12.5% OVER €13.20 (MAX €6.10), AGENTS €2.15 PER TICKET WWW.MCD.IE | WWW.FACEBOOK.COM/MCD.PRODUCTIONS
SCAN HERE TO LIKE US ON FACEBOOK
E X T R AS
hoes and bags are all you need in life, right? As long as you’ve something to walk in and something to carry your books in then you’re sorted. Whether it’s a new pair of heels, or a new rucksack for college, these little added extras are more important than you might think. Check out any street-style blog or fashion magazine these days, and it’s all about zooming in on the accessories. The right shoes and bag can make or break an outfit, and it’s an easy way to pay less, but create maximum impact. Take a pair of black heeled boots or wedges, they can easily be styled up for the evening or paired with jeans for a laid back look. A matching black shoulder bag or clutch will tie the shoes in with the rest of the outfit, and the good thing about black is, of course, that it looks good with everything.
Cute schoolbag-style canvas backpacks are everywhere at the moment, and they’re perfect for college. For the boys: shoes for the coming warmer months come in all shapes and sizes. How about a pair of boat shoes or some summery desert boots? Lighter colours can really refresh an old pair of jeans and take you from the depths of the winter right through to the spring semester. A lighter, brighter colour palette is finally showing signs of infiltrating our winter mind-set, and the perfect way to freshen up a dreary outfit is to swap your winter boots for something that really pops. It’s a cheap way to re-vamp your wardrobe and draw the eye to something new and shiny. So next time you feel tired and bored of wearing the same thing to class five days in a row, think about those extras and their endless possibilities.
Awear Black heeled boots: €50 (2) Black wedged trainers: €60 (1) Pink stilettos: €35 (5)
Penneys Denim backpack: €10 (8) Studded saddle bag: €9 (6) Blue brogues: €11 (7) Navy backpack: €10 (8) Boat shoes (men’s): €11 (11) Glitter peep toes: €15 (4) Block heeled flat: €12 (6)
Desert boot (men’s): €16 (9) Studded bum bag: €7 (1) Turquoise clutch: €7 (4) Beige clutch: €7 (4) Turquoise bag with bow: €10 (2) Striped deck shoes (men’s): €8 (10)
It’s the little things that can make or break an outﬁt. Sophie Lioe explains the best way to make shoes and bags work to complete your look
11 8 6 3 10 Om Diva Orange clutch with spots: €36 (3) Vintage tan bag: €32 (3) Pink flats: €10 (sale) (7) Gold flats: €10 (sale) (4) Red and white clutch: €10 (sale) (3)
4 9 7
Photographer Caoimhe Mc Donnell Models Donal Mc Keone, Sophie Lioe, Christin Mc Weeney Stylists Sophie Lioe and Christin Mc Weeney
Key Trends from New York Fashion Week In the wake of the spectacle that is New York Fashion Week, Isobel Fergus picks out the key trends that emerged over the seven days
lthough the winter of 2013-2014 might seem like a long way away, fashion followers were out in full force at New York Fashion Week to start preparing their wardrobes for next season. Despite a blizzard during the week, designers managed to power through to show some memorable collections and left a flurry of new trends for fashion experts to scrutinize. It was the first time event organisers live streamed the shows, allowing fashion followers the world over to instantly connect with looks and trends, showing the growing importance of social media in the fashion industry. Hundreds of designers took part in showcasing their autumn/winter collections and all have shown plenty of trends to follow. Fur, leather, patterns, visible zips, capes, keyhole dresses and statement jewelry are top trends to look out for your winter wardrobe. Some styles have been resurrected and others are brand new. Here are the key looks that were seen overlapping on many of the runways New York played host to.
with a deep-red fur shift dress, while Diane Von Furstenberg showcased a host of furtrimmed jackets. Leather has also been bountiful on the runway. Kenneth Cole showcased leather pants in both black and burgundy. Stylist turned designer, Rachel Zoe was yet another to fill her collection with leather and fur. For anyone who wants to take the leather trend in a more unique direction, leather harnesses were a must have accessory on the runways of Prabal Gurung and Hervé Leger. While, for those opposed to fur and leather, many of the designers showed the quality of affordable faux furs and leathers to be consistently as good as the real thing.
shows. Michael Kors used houndstooth in a number of different ways including a stunning houndstooth stole wrapped around a sheer black dress. Rag and Bone made use of texture using tweed and quilted fabrics in both check and houndstooth. Even for the pattern-adverse among us, New York certainly provided a vast array of choice to keep on trend, from plaids in muted tones to vibrant patterns in bright colours.
Some may be disappointed to see the return of leather and fur for another season. Designers for the past few years have used fur in small amounts, trying to reflect the economic downturn and the changed affordability of consumers. Yet this season fur has been plentiful on the runways, from fur stoles, collars, coats and shrugs. Badgley Mischka showcased fur vests with evening gowns and Alexander Wang had extensive amounts of fur trims on his black jackets. More unusual were fur skirts, like that shown on the runway of Christian Siriano. Designer Derek Lam also went for the unconventional
Prints and patterns are also a must have to brighten up the winter months. Patterns were not only popular among womenswear designers, but were also a dominant feature on many menswear runways. Seventies prints were a big look for Autumn/Winter 2013-2014. Both Marc Jacobs and Diane Von Furstenberg referenced the era of the infamous Studio 54, circa the 1970s, in their collections. DVF channelled the look with a hot pink suit and a bright turquoise dress. Von Furstenberg used colour blocking in many of her patterns, which included florals, geometric patterns and animal prints. Plaid was another popular look on the runway. Perhaps less surprising was the array of plaid in both the men and women’s collections of Tommy Hilfiger, but the look was also popular among the collections of Rebecca Minkoff, Philip Lim and Victoria Beckham. Houndstooth featured in New York veteran designers Michael Kors and Tommy Hilfiger’s
While pops of colour were popular with many designers, the biggest trend that was seen in some shape or form on every runway was black. It has always been a favourite in the fashion industry but after bright colours have dominated in past seasons, classic and wearable black seemed to make a comeback that remains fresh and new. This will be a popular choice amongst consumers as black is always forgiving and a black item is likely to have that timeless appeal that other bright trends don’t. Narciso Rodriguez was a designer who favoured plenty of black, opening and closing his collection with it. The key piece for any wardrobe was the black jacket, which ranged from the tailored tuxedo style to the edgy motorcycle style. New face Alon Livne, at the age of just 22, had beautiful black gowns with a modern twist as part of his collection. Jason Wu was another designer who gave this trend a new feel with black polka dot schoolgirl style dress with a white collar and a youthful peplum waist. Designer Max Azria also featured a lot of black in his collection and added the simple touch of black baseball caps with leather trims to finish off some of his creations.
Fur and Leather
Becoming the Pope As a spiritual position becomes vacant, Kevin Beirne attempts to become God’s direct line to earth
n Monday February 11th, the world was shocked when the leader of the one true religion stepped down from his post due to ill-health. Having served for a hugely successful seven and a half years, Darth Sidious II resigned as pope. Within minutes, my Twitter timeline was filled with people making Pope jokes as a way of masking their pain for losing our greatest moral expert since the previous Pope. Even though he had not died, it felt like he was dead to me, such was the irrelevance he would suddenly have on my life by standing down. Like most good Irish Catholics, I followed the Pope on Twitter. I sent distraught tweets to @Pontifex in an attempt to get him to reconsider. My attempts were in vain, since the Pope was infallible and had obviously not made a mistake in resigning. Whether or not that infallibility will still exist after he gives up his post on February 28th remains to be seen. For the first two hours of Monday morning, I felt like the light had left my life, but then I remembered the thing Jesus had said about it always being darkest before the dawn (or maybe that was Florence and the Machine), and suddenly I knew what needed to be done. By midday, I had come to a realisation and I announced my candidacy for pope on my Facebook page alongside a picture of myself dressed Cardinal Seán Brady from Halloween of 2011. Clearly my Facebook friends were just as lost as I was, at least that was the conclusion I drew from the amount of likes the post gained. I had the public’s support, I could not lose. The next step in becoming pope was for me to officially apply for the job. Having never emailed the Vatican before was a minor hurdle. I first decided to go straight to the Pope himself, once again sending him a tweet. After he had not replied to me for a few days, I began to feel very foolish. Obviously, he was too busy with all the tweets he was being sent to reply to any of them. Whether or not he replied to me, I knew that he had read it, and that it was his will to not reply. I quickly remembered that Google was a thing and found the email address for the Vatican Press Office. I decided that there were probably millions of emails being sent to the Vatican applying for the position, so I got straight to the point. I laid down my credentials for the job and made sure to emphasise just how white and male I was. I explained that, in my youth, I had played Jesus in weekly drama productions during mass, thanks to my ability to memorise more than two lines of dialogue. I also pointed out the fact that I had spent around a year as
“I explained that the direct line to God would be fully utilised by someone such as myself, since I had so many questions for him, such as why is the Bible so scientifically inaccurate and who I should bet on in the next Super Bowl” an altar boy, although I forgot to mention that it was in the same church as Bono sometimes goes to. I cursed my fallibility, and looked forward to such a time as when I would not make these simple mistakes any more. The next part of my application was to set myself apart from the rest of the pack. A job application is a place where you cannot be afraid to toot your own horn, so I was sure to let it be known that, not only did I get a B in Latin for my Junior Cert, but I was also a subeditor for a college newspaper and would be happy to lead the cause of reworking the Bible to appeal to a younger audience. I argued that by removing all the incorrect information and all the bigotry, we could potentially reduce the Bible to an easy to read pamphlet, something that would definitely catch the short attention spans of today’s youth. Despite my enthusiasm, I needed something more and I had just the thing. I explained that the direct line to God would be fully utilised by someone such as myself, since I had so many questions for him, such as why is the Bible so scientifically inaccurate and who I should bet on in the next Super Bowl. As a friend of mine had pointed out, an atheist pope would definitely be a nice change of pace. I remembered to sign off with a joke, showing that I could make the papacy fun. I pressed send and waited eagerly for a reply. As I lay in bed that night, I allowed myself to imagine just what it would be like to be pope. I imagined my coronation. I could hear the scream of the crowd as Beyoncé announced “I present to you, Pope LL Cool J the second!” followed by our duet. I would then be carried through the streets of Rome as a hero, healing the sick and doing magic tricks for the poor on my journey. A massive party would be thrown in my honour all over the world, and we would do shots straight from the Holy Grail. I know that it would be even bigger than both Black Mondays and the UCD Ball rolled in to one. At the time of writing, I have still not received a reply. I am sure that this is due to the sheer volume of applicants. I still have faith that they will reply, and that by the time this is printed that you will have already heard my story. I look forward to serving you all.
FATAL FOURWAY best political tv show
The West Wing
Conor Luke Barry
The 1980s were not only the golden era for the creation of charming female editors, but for political satire. Spitting Image may have had politicians glued to the screen in equal parts fear and hope that they would encounter their puppet counterpart, but nothing before or since has matched the genius and and satirical evisceration of Yes Minister. Yes Minister and its sequel, Yes Prime Minister featured the Rt. Hon. Jim Hacker MP attempting to bring in his policies and cut down on bureaucracy in government, while the British civil service in the form of his Permanent Secretary, Sir Humphrey Appleby does everything in his power to put the minister in his place. Alongside this constant battle for political influence is some of the greatest lines committed to television history. The lasting brilliance of Yes Minister is how deeply it penetrated the ludicrousness of government. Every joke is as true today as it was 30 years ago, and Sir Humphreys ability to wring words of their meaning is legendary. In fact, Yes Minster is so great I’m not even going to bother explaining why it is because Aoife, Conor and Anna are so clearly wrong. The West Wing was inspirational, but complete nonsense. No real politician is like that. Even Obama had to hire the writers from West Wing so he could sound West Wing-y. The Newsroom is extremely hit and miss and too errs on the inspiration over honesty side. And Borgen is Dutch or something, so who cares. If you want to the know the both depressing and hilarious truth about politics, go for the classics. Yes Minister will beat your piffling political show every time.
The Newsroom hasn’t been one of Aaron Sorkin’s most critically acclaimed ventures, but that shouldn’t put you off. Critics are the haters that are gonna hate, especially when those critics come as part of some of the very same types of media organisations which Sorkin portrays as being spineless and sensationalistic. The West Wing wasn’t perfect when it began either, but because Sorkin had made a name for himself by the time he decided to do The Newsroom, people expected it to a masterpiece, and slammed it while it was still attempting to iron out the kinks. If you can ignore some relatively small faults however, there is a lot to love. The Newsroom is compelling. It’s not entirely realistic in the way the world has decided serious dramas should always be, but it doesn’t intend to be. Sorkin aims for aspirational, he aims to present us with a very beautiful newsroom that is producing the news perhaps the way we should be. It’s thought-provoking and trying to add to the discourse, whether journalists want to hear it or not. That’s all besides the fact that it’s chock-full of sharply written comedy and funny one-liners. Will McAvoy (Jeff Daniels), the main character as the news anchor, is often a total dick but it’s still very hard to hate him, and he’s surrounded by a great supporting cast. The ongoing romantic drama between him and his executive producer, Mackenzie McHale (Emily Mortimer) gives this Sorkin show something The West Wing never really had. Also, there’s Olivia Munn, being amazing. The idealistic speeches, criticised for being cringey, are often enlightening, and The Newsroom will hook you with what it’s trying to say about some pretty complicated issues. The fact it manages not to be boring is so impressive you have no choice but to vote for it.
When raising issues of feminism I’m always careful to err somewhere between two camps; I fall neither on the side of women who chant for the extermination of the male race or that of women who still think that page three modelling is a reflection of choice. Therefore my reasons for loving Danish political drama, Borgen so much, is that its feminist leanings also lie right in the middle of these two extremities. Women and politics have been terms that have been deemed incongruous until relatively recently. Even today our political landscape is an alarmingly male-dominated one. As images of misogyny continue to permeate the world of media and politics andas women’s issues continue to be pushed to the back burner of the political stove, now, as much as ever, are the symbols of strong women needed. There are countless reasons why Borgen is so outstanding, such as the fact that it’s in Danish, a language that is so hilarious you would think they’d made it up. It also happens to perfectly depict the dynamics and interplay between media and politics. But it has to be the figure of the female Prime Minister, displaying dominance and exerting power in a traditionally male arena, that comes to the fore. The last thing I want to do is to alienate the male viewer into thinking Borgen is some sort of mouthpiece for the obscure ravings on menstruation by a French feminist, because it’s clearly not. It’s much more subtle in its approach. It’s simply a story of the struggles women face in balancing family and work, and overcoming the prejudices that still pervaded common thinking on the role and limits of women in society. To conclude: Let’s all go burn our bras and read Virgina Woolf. Women Unite!
The West Wing was a turning point in television. Beforehand everyone was all ‘Why would anyone want to watch a drama about the inner workings of the White House?’, and afterwards they were all ‘Oh, that’s why’. It’s possible that a lot of you missed out on this masterpiece when it originally aired as most of us were about eight, and there’s only so much political drama you can handle at that age. But now that you’re a college going, young, hip, trendy liberal (probably), there is no better time to ignore your academic pursuits and gorge on this mammoth series. The show follows the unrealistically moral and generally spectacular White House administration of President Charles Bartlet (Martin Sheen) and his political posse. Created by Aaron Sorkin (of Moneyball fame), it’s jammed full of his patented sharp wit and fast-paced dialogue, as well as fast-paced pacing, as they strut up and down the halls determining the fate of the world while making clever puns. In fact, each member of this political team is so sharp, clever, and witty, it’s like a White House full of Tony Starks. But instead of becoming Iron Man and using violence to solve to world’s problems, the Bartlet administration fret about ethical concerns. And then use violence. In fact, the greatest testament to the show is that it manages to make me feel patriotic for a country that’s not even my own, which is some impressively effective propaganda. Of course, the moralistic musings of the Bartlet administration bears so little resemblance to a real American government that it ‘s only use is as a cruel counterpoint to our shoddy real life world leaders. Because, at it’s core, that’s what The West Wing truly is; what it would look like if we somehow managed to construct a utopian leader. And apparently it looks like Martin Sheen.