27th Nov 2012 Issue VI Volume XIX
The Arts & Culture Supplement of the University Observer
Mystic Mittens’ Feline Fortunes
Virgo August 23rd - September 22nd Stop falling for superstitious mumbo jumbo, believing that the end of the world is coming with the imminent completion of the Mayan calendar. Use rational thought and listen to me, a fortune telling typewriting cat.
Page 2 – Regulars
The magical, fortune telling cat says some more words, What’s Hot and What’s Not reminds us what is and isn’t appropriate to enjoy, and Caitriona O’Malley vents her frustration on unnecessarily early Christmas decorations.
Page 3 – Hidden Gems
For those who enjoy having painful drawings surgically administered to their bodies, Victoria Sewell gives us the lowdown on Dublin’s best Tattoo Parlours.
Page 5 – Games
Steven Balbirnie chats to Marc ten Bosch about his fantastically odd upcoming 4D puzzle game, as well as talking to Chris Hecker about the forever in development Spy Party. Recent big releases Halo 4 and Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 get the once over.
Page 8 – Film & Television
Fully embracing the festive spirit, Michael O’ Sullivan lists his top ten Christmas films, Casey Lehman shows that even Christmas films can deal with big issues, and Laura Bell investigates why Christmas advertising is vile. Emer Sugrue catches up with Irish director Ian FitzGibbon about his most recent filmmaking foray, Death of a Superhero, and as always, film reviews are there too.
Page 13 - Travel
Emily Mullen spent her summer in Australia’s Perth and is here to give you the highs and lows and in Postcards from Abroad: Denis Vaughan is still enjoying Chinese life, but their Google ban is causing him problems so big he may have to come back home. Oh China.
Page 15 – Music
The one and only Chris Jericho is interviewed about his non-wrestling musical group, as well as Yeasayer, Delorentos and Voice of Ireland champion Pat Byrne. Grainne Loughrane lists a few songs you probably shouldn’t admit to liking, as well as, of course, this issue’s album reviews.
Page 23 – Fashion
Otwo helps you learn what style of clothing you should have on your body while wandering the streets, as well as an introduction to the trendiest clothes you could wear this Christmas.
Page 26 – The First Year Experience
Lucy Monatgue-Moffatt extols the wonders of cynicism as she tries and fails to change her ways.
Page 27 – Fatal Fourway
‘Reading is for dorks’ is the mantra of this issue’s Fourway, as the gang argue over the best book-to-screen adaptation.
University Observer Volume XIX Issue VI Telephone: (01) 716 3835/3837 Email: email@example.com www.universityobserver.ie
Taurus April 20th - May 20th It’s nice that you enjoy Christmas songs a full month before the event, but for people who can overhear your iPod spewing Bing Crosby while they’re trying to study, it only encourages bloodlust. Gemini May 21st - June 20th You won’t be able to focus during your exams because you will spend too much of your time reminiscing about more fun times you’d spent in the RDS, such as at Funderland or the National Garden Bench Exhibition. Cancer June 21st - July 22nd You will meet the man/woman of your dreams for a whirlwind winter romance. Unfortunately, your festive lover is only in it for ‘boning’, but you can comfort yourself with Christmastime Quality Street and Chicken Run on repeat.
July 23rd - August 22nd Don’t be too concerned about the study you didn’t do for exams. You won’t do well, obviously, but if you were ever going to amount to anything would you really be studying Arts? Every night’s a party!
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
Aries March 21st – April 19th You will make the unwise choice of not getting the bus to your exams this year and end up on a Wizard of Oz style adventure, except it’ll take place in the docklands and you’ll make no friends. Also, you’ll fail your exams.
Libra September 23rd – October 22nd The UCD lake will freeze over and you’ll try to impress everyone by skating out to the little island. The ice will melt, you’ll be stuck, and your waving to shore will go unnoticed because nobody was watching in the first place. Scorpio October 23rd – Novermber 21st You may not have money for Christmas presents this year, but all your family really want is for you to be together. And that you don’t get drunk again and embarrass everyone. And an iPad mini. Sagittarius November 22nd - December 21st Your essay will make less sense the longer you try to write it, until eventually it’s just “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” over and over. Then you’ll fail due to plagiarism. Capricorn December 22nd – Jan 19th The stress of exam time will result in you caring less and less about your physical appearance, eventually showing up to the library in only slippers and a top hat, before being rightfully arrested. Aquarius January 20th – February 18th This year you’ll take a stand against the awful Capitalist system that equates giving Christmas presents with showing love. But as you try to explain this concept to your crying little brother you fail to remember why you thought it was a good idea. Pisces February 19th– March 20th The bitterly cold weather gives you an excuse for not leaving your bed and going to college. Besides, another episode of New Girl is kind of going to your Film Studies class.
Staff Writers Stephen Connolly Niall Gosker Edward Kearns Lucy Montague Moffat Michael O’Sullivan Victoria Sewell
Contributors Stephen Bance Fionn Claffey Deane Connolly Chief Photographer Eoghan Finn Caoimhe Eva Griffin McDonnell Heathers Grainne Loughran Illustrator Caitriona O’Malley Emily Longworth Rebekah Rennick Denis Vaughan 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, Hutch, Robbo McD, Nerds, Tool, Toblerone, Buplex, Bleak Expectations, HIMYM, Christmas for being now, Puddles, Seamus and Oswald. Not Thanks The 700 anti-fees marches, exams and general illness.
JIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIINGLE WHAT’S HOT AND WHAT’S NOT
WHAt’S HOt CHildRen on THe lATe lATe sHoW
Following the rise and rise of John Joe (that kid who wanted to be a horologist and keenly corrected Ryan Tubridy on his knowledge of watch-fixing), the new great appeal of the Late Late Toy Show is watching kids that we wish we were cool enough to be when we were younger, talk about toys. And watches. Ideally, less time should be spent on Ryan, and the array of carefully selected pop singers, and more time on kids who want to fix watches.
‘THe mAn WHo sliPPed on THe iCe’ nosTAlGiA
It’s the most wonderful time of the year, but forget your trivial religious holidays, for we are now approaching the third anniversary of that glorious moment in which one man made a difference by spectacularly falling on the ice for RTÉ, and all the world to see. “It’s still dangerous for Dublin pedestrians,” they said. Indeed, the danger of becoming a national hero haunts us all.
Gin AdVenT CAlendAR
Or ‘Ginvent Calendar’. For a mere €99, firebox.com are selling a shot a day for an alternative lead-up to Christmas. Instead of the traditional biblical imagery, individually labelled and wax-sealed bottles of gin await you behind each door of the calendar. Gins range from rare brands, for the gin connoisseur, to recognised store brands. Nothing says Christmas like drinking the pain away.
WHAt’S nOt PoTenTiAl snoW
It is often said that the “the fear of death is more to be dreaded than death itself”. The Ancient Roman scholars who thought this up were most definitely referencing the nightly horror of checking the MET Éireann forecast for signs of wet, icy death to come. “But snow is fun!” you cry. Yeah? Well, let me just take this snowball and shove it up your... jumper.
TRAnsPoRT To eXAms
The punishing task of actually physically relocating yourself to the RDS should probably be a 5 credit elective. Ballsbridge appears effectively void of infrastructure; a place public transport goes to die. Despite this, lecturers still seem to curiously maintain that interdimensional travel via the number four bus is not a good reason to miss your exams.
end oF THe WoRld bullsHiTTinG
With 21/12/12 being the last day of a major cycle in the Mayan Long Count calendar, apocalyptic bullshitting has become reignited for another year. Nowadays, people latch onto doomsday propaganda for the purposes of humorous scepticism. But we’ve been through so many potential doomsdays that the joke is now old. Meanwhile, 2012 marks the last year in our lifetime when the day, month and year will match in date format, making 12/12/12 yet another excuse to do shots.
soapbox Christmas decorations in November make baby Jesus cry, writes Caitríona O’Malley Shamefully and illicitly listening to Wham!’s achingly remorseful, yet infectious, ‘Last Christmas’ in mid-November will induce greater feelings of guilt than dropkicking a puppy into a bonfire. Who could possibly listen to such a festive, frothy hit before December has even come? It borders on sinful. After all, Hallowe’en is still blazing in the memory and the leaves are still crisp and plentiful on the ground. Still, nothing is as crass, vulgar, irritating and blatantly commercial as shops and streets adorned with Christmas decorations as this premature stage of winter. Next time you’re creeping through the aisles of Dunnes Stores desperately searching for prawn cocktail Pringles, glance to your left. The shelves groan under an array of selection boxes, shining baubles, chocolate Santas and those toys with ‘Press Me’ buttons. Of course, once pressed, they refuse to turn off and one is forced to flee in embarrassment as Rudolph bellows through another round of his sickening song. Honestly, this dazzling selection is gaudier than the combined wardrobes of Elton John, Lady Gaga and Dolly Parton. And is there a chocolate Jesus or marzipan Mary to be seen? Of course not. After all, a woman who is impregnated by a higher force isn’t as heart warming as Santa watching your innocent, oblivious children while they’re sleeping and vulnerable, is it? The worst abominations are those advent calendars. All through December, they tease you with the promise of a microscopic nibble of chocolate behind each cardboard flap. They do not advertise the fact that the cardboard is probably tastier than the bland chocolate, or that come the 24th, you’ll be filled with a gnawing emptiness once you swallow the final disappointing piece. How can this crushing sense of loss be healthy for young children already hopped up on the promise of Santa squeezing down their chimney to eat their food, scare the dog and scrawl an illegible message on a piece of paper? The Grafton Street lights were also turned on last week, so now, while having to contend with the swarms of idiots who constantly bash into you as you walk by, you also have to dodge dewy-eyed tourists snapping reams of pictures of these lights at every possible angle. You would think watching the man make the same dog out of sand every day would provide sufficient entertainment for them. To make matters worse, cloying singer Brian Kennedy warbled through carols whilst teenagers holding giant, brightly wrapped cardboard boxes gazed adoringly at him. It’s November Brian, put it away. Most of us do have a deep and unwavering love for Christmas; but in December. The 11th month of the year is not the time for cheap, twinkling angels lining the shelves of discount shops. So before you haul the tree out before November has been extinguished, think of the hard-working elves. Apparently, the earlier the decorations go up, the more Santa beats them and the more he denies them food, decent pay and fair holiday time. The scarlet tyrant.
Hidden Gems: Tattoo Parlours With such a huge range of possibilities out there, Victoria Sewell pins down the four best places in the country to get yourself inked Skin City 60a South William Street, Dublin 2
Wildcat, Stephen’s Green Shopping Centre, Dublin 2 Right in the centre of the city, Wildcat is one of the best known studios in Dublin. Originally opening as Celestial Ring, it was taken over by the English “Wildcat Ink” brand several years ago. They currently have two studios in the capital, one on the top floor of Stephen’s Green Shopping Centre, and the other on Jervis Street. Given its central and busy location, the Stephen’s Green studio has a steady trade of both prearranged custom work, and walk ins from tourists and shoppers whose attention is grabbed while passing by. They also open every day of the week, which is
Eden Art Tattoo 8 JKL Street, Main street, Edenderry, Co. Offaly A little off the beaten track, at about an hour and a half outside the city centre, this studio is definitely worth the trip. In new, modern and very comfortable surroundings, the studio is decorated with prints and photos of the artists’ own work, as well as paintings and images they use as inspiration. Edel Walsh has also only been tattooing for a short while, but her skills have come along leaps and bounds in that time, and she appears to be improving by the day. Walsh is excellent at black and grey portraiture, and is currently building up her portfolio with these pieces. If you’re looking for some reference check out the portraits of Wednesday Addams and Harley Quinn in her portfolio. On top of this Walsh has done some great full-colour work, using really vibrant colours. Put simply, some of her recent pieces are outstanding. She also has an album online of pieces she wants to do for her portfolio, so if you are looking to get a good deal on some great tattoos this is certainly not an option to be missed.
great for fitting your appointment in around work or college. Kris Barnas has a fantastic portfolio of black and grey work, which makes him the first choice for many when it comes to black and grey pieces. A talented painter as well as tattoo artist, Barnas’ skill at shading is remarkable. He also has a great eye for full colour work, having won best tattoo at the 2011 Dublin Tattoo Convention for a full colour batman-themed sleeve. Brian Duffy does great work in what’s known as ‘new school’. This is a style of tattooing which uses oldschool symbols and images, such as hearts, roses, swallows scrollwork, etc., but uses new techniques and cartoon-like drawing styles to depict them. Snakebite 54 Middle Abbey St, Dublin 1 Hidden away on the 3rd floor of a relatively unmarked building on Abbey Street (next door to Twisted Pepper and 3rd Floor Espresso) lives one of Ireland’s premier, and most respected tattoo and piercing studios. The studio has been operating for over ten years and has become one of the stalwarts of the Dublin Tattoo scene. Snakebite is well known both for its artists and its piercing expertise, and the shop even offers a 25% discount on piercings for students. Over the years there have been a large number of artists coming and going from the studio, but two of the best working there at the moment are Sean Kealy and Denise. Kealy has been tattooing for a relatively short time, but appears to be improving with every new piece he does. He seems to favour a new-school or cartoony style for most of his piece, and has proven himself to have a real talent with colour. Recently he’s moved into portraiture and photorealism, at which his skills are rapidly excelling. Denise, who prefers the mystique in having her surname remain unknown, works predominantly in a photorealistic style and also favours lots of colour in her work.
Skin City is a relatively new addition to the Dublin tattoo scene, having only been open for a couple of years. However in that time the studio, and the artists there have won numerous awards for their work. The artists at Skin City all tend towards full colour and black and grey photorealistic pieces, and have all done fantastic large scale custom pieces. One of the artists, Remis Cizauskas, boasts a portfolio of work that is truly breath taking. He has to be one of the best, if not the best portrait artist in Dublin (and the country). It is difficult to find the words to describe some of the work he has done to date. However, a quick warning is necessary: as he does get booked up months in advance, expect a long waiting list. Working alongside Remis is another master of full colour photorealism, Pawel Lewicki. Famous for his fantasy style and imagery, Lewicki’s work is full of fantastic bright colour and intricate detail. If you’re interested in getting a large sweeping piece, this is certainly the man to look up.
Subtlety and Deception
Chris Hecker talks to Steven Balbirnie about Spy Party; a tense multiplayer game based on perception and deception, and the rigours of the game’s beta testing process
py Party was first shown publicly in 2009 and has been in development ever since. The game is the brainchild of developer Chris Hecker, who previously worked on Spore. Spy Party takes the form of a two-player game across a variety of missions and settings in which one player is the spy while the other is the sniper. The goal for the spy is to successfully complete a given mission objective while avoiding detection, whereas the sniper is tasked with identifying and eliminating the spy while avoiding civilian casualties. In practice, for the spy to succeed, they must be able to emulate the behaviour o f t h e g a m e ’s n o n - p l a y a b l e characters to trick the sniper into believing that they are one of these computer-controlled individuals. This means the sniper is entirely reliant on the ability to perceive the subtle differences in behaviour that distinguish a human from a computer. The game’s premise is an intriguing and clever one given that it is essentially an inversion of the Turing Test, the Turing Test being a test of a computer’s ability to imitate a human; while Spy Party tests a human’s ability to imitate a computer. The game has been going through an extensive development cycle, though, as Hecker explains: “Any
deep player-skill game needs a really long beta period, with lots of people playing it, to be balanced and tuned correctly.” Hecker’s commitment to this balance has involved a substantial engagement with play testers through events such as PAX and EVO, and through the game’s closed beta; and Hecker’s approach to play testing has evolved in tandem with that of Spy Party’s development. “It’s pretty different now than when I first started out,” says Hecker. “Early on, when I didn’t have many play testers, I’d take pages of notes on balance and design fixes at a show, but now that I’m in closed beta and have players with 50, 60, 70, even 150 hours of gameplay under their belts, I don’t learn much design-wise at shows where people are playing their first couple games. Well, that’s not totally true, because if I was focusing on accessibility I’d learn a ton from new players, but since I’m doing the ‘depth-first, accessibilitylater’ design methodology, I’m almost exclusively looking for balance issues at the elite level, and it’s rare to see games at that level at shows.” He goes on to explain that “development shows are more about introducing people to the game for the first time, rather than gathering playtest data. That will change when I start to do accessibility and
tutorials and make it so you don’t have to read a manual to play the game, but that’s a ways away.” Hecker has considered the possible inclusion of other modes that would involve extra players or additional features that would alter the game’s dynamic. However, when asked about these it is clear that they are secondary concerns and his primary focus is on perfecting Spy Party’s main mode before turning to other possibilities: “I think a lot more testing is needed on the core asymmetric mode until I’m satisfied with it. For these hardcore competitive multiplayer games, where you’re designing for hundreds or thousands of hours of gameplay, the tiniest stuff gets amplified until it’s game breaking, so you have to be really careful. I don’t know if the other modes will need as much testing, but I won’t ship something that isn’t working or living up to its potential, so if it feels like there’s something deep in one of the other modes that’s worth investigating, I’ll take the time to do it”. Though he doesn’t rule out the inclusion of alternative modes at a future date: “If there are some additional modes that are fun and interesting and work but are not quite as deep, I’m fine with having them in there for variety. The game needs some breaks from the tension anyway.”
One of Hecker’s more immediate goals is the incorporation of new art work into the game, though the potential consequences of this change to the game are still uncertain; “the art will be in by next PAX, and I really don’t know what impact it will have, actually. I’m going to put it in side-by-side with the old art, so that the game is still playable even if it’s a disaster and takes forever to get working.” Hecker also plans to open the beta to the wider public before the end of the year, with the hopes that it will broaden the Spy Party community, and generate funds through a paid beta. “I’m also hoping to fund the game to completion with the paid beta, so it needs to be open for that to be a possibility. And yeah, building awareness is key for indie games, so the beta needs to be open so people can decide to try it, tell their friends about it, post a video on YouTube or stream it on twitch, or write about it on their blog,” says Hecker. While Spy Party looks set to go through another phase of intensive b e t a t e s t i n g, C h r i s He c ke r ’s meticulous attention to detail could pay off with Spy Party’s depth and fine tuning leading to it becoming a hit on the elite competitive gaming scene. Only time will tell. More details on the upcoming game will be available at www.spyparty.com.
ReVieWs HALO 4
ive years since the last numbered entry in the Halo franchise, Bungie have moved onto a new project shrouded in secrecy, so the burden falls upon 343 Industries, comprised of veterans and new-blood alike, to attempt to fulfil expectations. Master Chief is back to save the galaxy again. Sadly, this journey ends up being rather unmemorable, lacking the inspiration the development switch up promised. Despite some great moments, it’s apparent that 343, afraid to genuinely shake things up, simply went through the motions. The result is a campaign that offers nothing new and the frustratingly inconsistent checkpoint system drags the single player experience down further. Spartan Ops, a new subcampaign designed for co-operative play and released in weekly episodes is conceptually exciting and off to a solid, though understated, start. Time will tell whether or not it reaches its full potential. Gone are Marty O’Donnell’s iconic themes, with Neil Davidge taking the reins on musical composition. His score, a combination of electronic and orchestral, never reaches such memorable highs but is great in its own right. Visually, Halo 4 is regularly mesmerising, so much so that it’s difficult to comprehend how the Xbox 360’s dated hardware is able to produce such a spectacle. Multiplayer is where players will spend most of their time and so is arguably the most significant
CALL OF DUTY: BLACK OPS 2
component of the game. It is also where the most radical changes have occurred. Taking some obvious cues from its biggest rival of the generation, a slew of first time franchise additions, from minor to major, find their way into Halo 4; grenade indicators, instant respawns, killstreak rewards, and most controversially, a custom loadout system, perks and all. Halo has, for its 11-year existence, maintained its own unique singularity in what has become an increasingly derivative genre. There’s no doubt that with Halo 4, the time had come for the combat to evolve once more but it is undeniably disappointing that this evolution has resulted in bowing to the norm rather than continuing on its own defiant path. The precise and delicate balance the series’ competitive modes had maintained is lost beneath what is now a sloppier affair, the methodical rhythm interrupted by too frantic a chaos. The purity of play has been diluted. Halo 4 is a strange paradox. The campaign lacks innovation and verges on stale. The multiplayer, while admirably attempting to improve, ends up misguided and detached from what had once distinguished it from its peers. Despite these significant issues, there is still much to enjoy here; it’s just impossible to shake the feeling that it could have been so much more and that a fundamental part of the series’ own identity has been lost. By Niall Gosker Halo 4 - Title Microsoft Studios - Publishers 343 Industries - Developers Xbox 360 - Platform
here were doubts about the latest instalment of the Call of Duty franchise, Black Ops 2. The general air around the gaming community was that a step was being taken too far into the future this time, and that this would take away some of the essence of what makes Call of Duty what it is. However, Black Ops 2 is a fantastic, grounded first person shooter set between two different time lines giving the players the best of both worlds. The missions are set between the 1980s and 2025. The story continues on from the previous game when the numbers in Mason’s head make a return and continue to torture him. This time Treyarch are trying to keep things fresh by incorporating a different type of gameplay into the campaign. Along with the campaign, which you can pursue straight through, you also have the choice of an alternative gameplay where you view your troops from a command view and go on designated missions. Not only do you command your troops but you can go first person and take the enemy on yourself alongside them. This is something that Call of Duty has never done before and is an interesting way to keep the campaign alive and increase its lifespan. This is also the first time when your actions in the game actually make a difference towards its ending. The choices you make decide whether or not certain characters
live or die. The hours of the game increase even more with the ability to make decisions, as now you will want to play through the game again to see the alternate endings. The online play is as good as ever with a new series playlist to compete in where you are entered into a league and only by winning matches can you go up through the ranks. There are a few problems with the spawning in the game but that is to be expected at the time of release. There’s bound to be a patch just around the corner. As you’d expect, Call of Duty’s now famous zombie mode makes a welcome return in Black Ops 2. Ever since World at War, zombies was a fantastic survival mode and Treyarch have aced it again with Black Ops 2. It’s an incredibly fun four player split screen experience, and shouting ‘GET ON THE BUS’ while playing Trazit, the new zombie mode, is going to become a common occurrence. Black Ops 2 has so much to offer and it will be a long way down the road before you get tired of this gem of a game. And even if you do get tired down the road; there’s always the bus. By Deane Connolly
Title - Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 Publishers - Activision Developers - Treyarch Platforms - Playstation 3, Xbox 360, Wii U
an alternate Dimension Marc ten Bosch talks to Steven Balbirnie about his new puzzle game Miegakure, and the fourth dimension
hen asked about the meaning of such an unusual title for a game, Marc ten Bosch’s reply makes it clear that Miegakure’s title encapsulates the entire concept behind the game: “Miegakure means ‘hidden from sight’ in Japanese. It’s one of many traditional garden techniques used in Japanese gardens. As one walks along the garden paths, the placement of the garden elements is such that the garden can never be seen in its entirety. This creates in one’s mind the illusion that the garden is larger and more complex than it is. I thought that this was beautifully similar to how the game only allows you to only see three dimensions out of four, and hence the player can never see the entire level at once, and has to navigate the space to get a complete view, while keeping a mental model of it in their head.” Miegakure is a puzzle platformer that operates in four dimensions, a difficult concept to grasp, though ten Bosch’s explanation of the fourth dimension is intriguing. “There is a famous 1884 novella called Flatland that takes place in a world whose inhabitants can only see two dimensions out of three. It’s interesting because this gives an idea of what might happen in the fourdimensional case. But thanks to computers we don’t have to imagine anymore, we can just see it on the screen, and interact with it.” Addressing the fact that time is usually perceived as the fourth dimension, ten Bosch goes on to explain that “time can also be represented as a number and in Einstein’s theory of relativity we have found that it is powerful to treat it like a fourth dimension. However time is different from a fourth dimension of space in many ways. For example, we perceive it as always moving forward. This game is
purely about another dimension that works exactly like the first three.” In Miegakure, the presence of four dimensions will allow the player to interact with the game’s world in a way like no other platformer, with the main character of Miegakure capable of four-dimensional movement. “At any given time the player can only see three out of four dimensions, so movement works like any other 3D game where you can walk around and jump. The difference is that by pressing a particular button, you trade one dimension for the fourth one. As you do this, the world appears to morph around you because you are now seeing it from a different perspective. After the switch movement still happens in
3D, but one of your three dimensions is now the fourth one. Pressing the button again trades the dimensions back. This allows you to move in four dimensions using only 3D movement,” says ten Bosch. Using four-dimensional movement as a game mechanic will allow Miegakure to implement some truly ingenious puzzles and ten Bosch’s description of four-dimensional movement gives a flavour of the kind of puzzles that players will face once the game is released. “I’m treating four-dimensional movement like a super power. What kind of feats could you accomplish if you could move in 4D? Would you use it for good or for evil? You could appear inside of any closed building without touching its
doors. You could move objects without anyone seeing you. You could appear to float in mid-air. And so much more that I don’t want to spoil. The problem is understanding how, and that’s where the puzzle aspect comes from.” Designing a game with an extra dimension to incorporate is bound to be a challenging experience, though it is clear that this an experience which ten Bosch thoroughly enjoys: “I come from a computer graphics background, and generalizing 3D computer graphics techniques to 4D is a fun kind of challenge, just within my reach. Game design-wise the game is constantly implicitly teaching new concepts and I think the challenge is the same that any teacher has, which is to have a very clear understanding of these concepts in order to teach them in a very clear way.” Marc ten Bosch is also interested in opening up the possibilities for players to design in four dimensions as well, stating: “I would like to allow players to create their own puzzles. I would love to be able to play my own game and be surprised by some of the levels people create. With the way levels are built right now, it shouldn’t be very hard to do. Also, designing a level requires a stronger understanding than playing one, so as a teaching method it would be great.” The game’s development has progressed in leaps and bounds since ten Bosch first unveiled it in 2010 with Miegakure’s mechanics and visual aesthetics evolving in tandem with ten Bosch’s increasing understanding of the fourth dimension. Miegakure looks as though it may be one of the most innovative puzzle games that the industry has seen in years, and as ten Bosch says: “What I have revealed so far is only the beginning.” You can follow the development at http://miegakure.com, or find Miegakure on Facebook and Twitter (@MiegakureGame).
REVIEWS Title: Silent Hill: Revelation 3D Director:Michael J. Bassett Starring: Adelaide Clemens, Sean Bean, Carrie-Ann Moss Release Date: Out Now
he most notable feature of Silent Hill: Revelation 3D is that in the wake of its release, the same critics who panned its 2006 predecessor Silent Hill have completely readjusted their perspectives on just how bad a video game adaptation (even from a vaunted series like this one) can be. The story follows father-daughter duo Heather and Harry, played by Adelaide Clemens and Sean Bean respectively, as they live on the run from evil forces that are tirelessly trying to draw them back to cursed town Silent Hill in order to execute a predictably convoluted cult ceremony. Since the majority of Bean’s screen time is spent warning Heather off going to Silent Hill under any circumstances, she obviously finds herself well en route within the day, accompanied by the blatantly suspect Vincent (Kit Harington) whose eagerness to follow her into hell is disproportionate to the likelihood he’ll get lucky with someone displaying so overwrought an Electra complex.
Silent Hill: Revelation 3D Exposition dominates the film’s dialogue in an attempt to delineate the overcomplicated plot that ritually sacrifices coherence in order to make vague nods to fans of the game and to facilitate an extensive employment of CGI monsters and cheap 3D scares (body parts! clowns!). In terms of delivering the suspense and atmosphere that Silent Hill is famed for, director Michael J. Bassett gives away just how ambitiously he plans to horrify the audience by throwing in a lazy toaster jump-scare in the first five minutes. However, in keeping with the previous film, Revelations’
production design is striking and aptly grotesque, and complimented by faultless cinematography and an eerie soundtrack composed by Akira Yamaoka. It hints at a creative vision ultimately thwarted by the lacklustre individuals charged with bringing it to life. Clemens gives the best performance in the film, managing to look scared and sad in all the right places. Bean and Harington seem to have given their collective best to the season of Game of Thrones they shared; their performances (and accents) are cringeworthy. The ubiquitous villains are even less memorable, displaying as much
motivation and emotion as the set pieces, despite the premise of the film resting entirely on their religious zeal. Certainly the most engaging aspect of Silent Hill is its use of 3D. The visual immersion in Heather’s nightmare is served well by the increased depth of field, and the instances in which ash and fire engulf the audience are memorable. Kind of. In a Nutshell: Horrifying, for all the wrong reasons. by Laura Bell Title: The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2 Director: Bill Condon Starring: Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner Release Date: Out now
The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2
tarting at the last film is rarely the best way to get the most out of a series. Despite not knowing the background of most of the characters, the plot is so simple that the film is actually fairly coherent. It also happens to be painfully boring. In short, Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) has given birth to a child and the father, Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson) has just turned Bella into a vampire, so she’s recuperating after that ordeal. They’re hanging out in a forest
along with some other vampires and Jacob Black (Taylor Lautner), the llama-looking werewolf guy who just can’t get over Bella, is also sticking around. A sort of vampire/ mafia group seem to have a problem with the fact that Bella and Edward had a baby, so they declared war on them and their friends. There are very few things right with this film. The acting is poor across the board; the rest of the cast’s total inability to impart any convincing emotion drags down even actors who are normally pretty
decent. Dialogue is sometimes delivered with awkward pauses in between each actor’s line, this could have been easily fixed with some clever editing, but for some reason wasn’t. A family of Irish vampires makes an appearance in the film; their accents and appearance reduced a packed cinema to fits of laughter. It’s hard to fault the story massively given that it’s based on some very dull source material, but when the film does depart from the book hilarity ensues; the major
twist of the film just seems to be the classic primary school plot device: “I woke up and it was all a dream”. An overarching problem with the Twilight Saga is its obsession with being marketable to as young an audience as possible. There’s a fairly ‘brutal’ battle scene towards the end, with a decapitation every other minute, but in an effort to maintain its PG-13 rating, the special effects are reduced to what looks like rubber heads being ripped off a dummy. Vampires are supposed to be actually scary, not pale lads who’re obsessed with purity. They should want to rip your throat out and drain you of every last drop of blood, not marry you and settle down. There’s nothing scary about The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2, in fact, there’s nothing interesting about it either. In a Nutshell: Stay at home and read or watch anything that isn’t Twilight or its derivatives. by Conor Kevin O’Nolan
Christmas Movies 10. The Santa Clause You know it’s officially Christmas-time when this bad boy gets its annual dust-off by RTE One. Tim Allen drinks his weight in chocolate milk and the cute kid gets his family reunited. Sort of. Pure nostalgia outweighs artistic merit here; this flick is as much a part of Christmas as the smell when you first open the big tin of Roses. 9. Gremlins Raucous fun from horror director Joe Dante, with executive producer Steven Spielberg leaning over his shoulder to ensure the cute-factor. That is until Billy feeds Gizmo after midnight, causing his little friends come out. And they’re not so cute. But they do spark off some serious Christmassy chaos.
Rise of the Guardians
ise of the Guardians follows Jack Frost, one of many celestial beings brought to life by the Man in the Moon. He is chosen to become one of the Guardians, a select group consisting of Santa, the Sandman, the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny, whose job it is to protect the children of the world, and help them in their fight against Pitch Black, A.K.A. the Bogeyman, who is trying to stop all the children of the world believing in the Guardians so that only fear remains. Make no mistake, this is a children’s movie. The dialogue is simple and the story uncomplicated and full of vibrant, colourful characters. The entirety of the film revolves around the power of children’s belief in that which only they can believe in, and the importance of keeping that belief alive. When Pitch Black begins his reign of terror, the Guardians begin to lose their power as the children stop believing in them. The tooth fairy loses the ability to fly when he kidnaps all of her fairy minions and the children of the world wake up penniless, the Easter Bunny (who resembles a kangaroo and speaks with an Australian accent) reverts into a cute, teeny bunny form when Pitch Black’s nightmarish creations smash all the eggs he was supposed to deliver on Easter night, and so on. All the while, Jack struggles with the fact that nobody believes in him, and with the fact he has no idea who he was before he became Jack Frost. It is a coming of age tale of sorts. Jack strives to find his purpose in life, the Guardians relearn what their true purpose in the world is, and the children learn the power of belief and the hope it can give them. Guillermo Del Toro’s influence as producer can be clearly seen in the fantastic visuals, particularly in Pitch Black’s Nightmares, the tooth fairies and Santa’s elves. The film proves, as have others before it, that 3D for 3D’s sake is not good enough. This film was made for 3D and makes full use of the extra feature, giving even more life to the well-animated characters on screen. The characters are interesting and different from their normal incarnations (Santa has Naughty and Nice tattooed on either arm), the jokes are amusing and the whole thing is underlined by its warmth and its obvious direction at children. While it may contain a few plot holes and inconsistencies, Rise of the Guardians has the potential to become a much loved childhood film for future generations. In a Nutshell: If you leave this film without a warm, fuzzy feeling, you have no soul. by Michael O’Sullivan
8. The Grinch Jim Carrey pulls the strings, even with his face covered in two inches of green makeup. Gets extremely schmaltzy at the end, but this is sort of evened out by the fact that Cindy-Lou Who grew up to be a kohl-smeared leather-wearing rock singer and the mayor of Whoville grew up to be Mitt Romney. Shudder.
Title: Rise of the Guardians Director: Peter Ramsey Starring: Hugh Jackman, Alec Baldwin, Isla Fisher Release Date: November 30th
7. Home Alone A tip of the hat to the late John Hughes please, a filmmaker who defined the ‘80s on-screen and reinvented the teen movie. He wrote this film for a broader family audience, with Chris Columbus directing. Joe Pesci essentially plays a parody of his character in Goodfellas while Macauly Culkin steals the audience’s collective heart. 6. Love Actually A surprisingly good romantic comedy, with an impressive ensemble cast, including Alan Rickman on perfect form, Bill Nighy as a hilariously depraved pop star and Liam Neeson showing his tender side, because there were no terrorists to kill. 5. Casablanca Okay, so it’s not a Christmas movie, but much like the original King Kong, it’s always on TV either on or around the day itself. Any excuse to stare deep into Ingrid Bergman’s eyes and quote along with the terrific script. 4. The Dead John Huston’s sombre and beautiful adaptation of James Joyce’s story. Watch it late at night on Christmas Eve, absorb its atmospheric depiction of Edwardian Dublin, and get reflective with Gabriel’s closing soliloquy on life, death and the past, as the snow falls outside his window. 3. Elf This is more than a Christmas film; it’s a masterpiece, with Will Ferrell absolutely slaying as the confused grown-up elf in New York. Zooey Deschanel is fantastic, but this film belongs to Ferrell and his love of candy, candy canes, candy corns, and syrup. 2. The Nightmare Before Christmas Directed by Henry Selick, but the brainchild of Tim Burton, this tale of Jack Skellington’s longing to be different and bring the spirit of Christmas to his town (in any way possible, even if it means kidnapping the Big Fellow) is adorable, spooky and funny, often all at once, with some dynamite musical numbers to boot. 1. Die Hard The Nakatomi Christmas party doesn’t quite go to plan for Bruce Willis; he ends up having to shoot a load of terrorists, climb around elevator shafts in a dirty vest, and blow up half the building. He saves his marriage in the process though, so it’s righteous carnage, and isn’t that what Christmas is really all about? by Edward Kearns
Christmas Movies with a Message Something more than just a time for celebration, Casey Lehman shows how Hollywood uses Christmas to tackle some big issues
hristmas movies: sugar-coated, uplifting family fun. Light comedies with snowy landscapes where even the most cynical old misanthrope can’t help but learn the true meaning of the holiday. But beneath this veneer of presents and cheer, some of the best yuletide flicks in Hollywood history have been able to address some of the most pressing social issues facing modern society. Though they are often resolved quite unbelievably, the mere fact that these statements reach a wide audience give them value beyond the box office. Perhaps the biggest Christmas movie of all time, Frank Capra’s It’s a Wonderful Life (1946) is broadcast constantly throughout the season and has been ranked among the best films ever made. It tells the story of George Bailey (Jimmy Stewart), a reluctant businessman who clashes with the evil Mr. Henry Potter, an unrepentant slumlord who actively opposes George’s attempts to help the poor of his community with loans. George’s charity and Potter’s avarice provide the film with a moral battleground between the man who would exploit the poor and the one who would stand in his way. Capra’s decidedly unsubtle directorial hand softens the considerable impact of this divisive issue, resolving it in his unique fashion when the community George had been so passionate about helping bands together and saves his business. The Tim Allen vehicle The Santa Clause (1994) keeps its address more on the domestic side of things, examining divorce and its effect on the American family, particularly children. Allen plays Scott Calvin, an advertising executive at a toy company who accidentally kills Santa Claus (children’s movies in the 90’s were a bit dark) and is forced to take over as the big guy, much to the delight of his young son.
Unfortunately, Calvin’s ex-wife is now dating a psychiatrist, played by the always-wonderful Judge Reinhold, who sees Calvin’s eventual embracing of the Santa Claus “delusion” as a danger to the child’s well-being and has him removed from his father’s care. Of course, through the ‘Magic of Christmas’, Calvin actually does turn into Santa Claus and is able, with the help of some well-chosen gifts and a tinsel-toting elf SWAT team, to reconcile with his estranged wife and save Christmas for their son. The moral centre of the film is the difficulty Allen’s character has in actually being a father. He certainly loves his son, but he is also obsessed with work which, evidently, created the deepest rift between him and his wife that eventually led to their divorce. At the office, he is shown to be charismatic and talented, being honoured at the company Christmas party for his outstanding work. At home, however, he is ignorant to his child’s wants and needs, a terrible cook, and an all-around disagreeable person towards his ex-wife and her new boyfriend. Calvin, as might be expected, is almost completely broken when he loses custody of his son, who represented the only truly meaningful relationship left in his life. The son, for his part, never stops believing in his father and this belief inspires Calvin to fully accept the role of Santa Claus, thus also embracing his most important role: being a parent. Nora Ephron tagged her breakout hit, Sleepless in Seattle (1993) with the Christmastime farce Mixed Nuts (1994), starring Steve Martin. Though roundly panned by critics, Mixed Nuts used the holiday to address perhaps the darkest social issue of all: suicide. Martin runs Lifesavers, a failing suicide prevention hotline in Venice Beach, California, with the help of Mrs. Munchnik, a cranky old woman played by Madeline Kahn, and
Catherine, a shy, girl-next-door type whose social awkwardness prevents her from telling Philip (Martin) that she is in love with him. Throw in a gun-toting ex-con in a Santa suit, his pregnant girlfriend (Juliette Lewis), Liev Schreiber in a dress, and Adam Sandler playing a ukulele, and you have Mixed Nuts. Martin’s talent for physical as well as verbal comedy is to be admired in this movie, as is Ephron’s deft handling of the film’s darker subject matter. The spectre of death looms large over Mixed Nuts. Aside from the above-mentioned profession of the protagonists, Venice Beach has a serial killer on the loose, Mrs. Munchnik is in fact a widow, and Juliette Lewis shoots Martin’s landlord with a .38. The climax of the film comes when the ex-con in the Santa suit climbs a building and threatens to somehow jump off and shoot himself at the same time. Martin’s life-saving speech underscores the dark comedy of the movie, admitting that sometimes life definitely sucks but he and the other characters must learn to make the best of it, at least for the sake of his newborn child. A tired-out trope of a life’s philosophy, perhaps, but, at the same time, a brave confrontation of the human condition with all its ups and downs. Competition at the box office around Christmastime demands high-power stars and tried-andtrue stories with maximum popular appeal. Within that tight framework, however, some of the best Christmas movies ever made have been able to dramatically address serious social issues. Exemplified by the exploitation of the poor in Frank Capra’s It’s a Wonderful Life, to divorce in The Santa Clause, and suicide in Nora Ephron’s Mixed Nuts, Hollywood has shown that there is no better time than the holidays for a movie with a message.
Ian Fitzgibbon Director Ian Fitzgibbon talks to Emer Sugrue about sex, death and over-active imaginations
ith the huge financial incentives to film in Ireland, it’s not surprising that the island has become a hub of filming activity. Game of Thrones, The Tudors and The Lovely Bones were all filmed here, though the action is placed elsewhere within the narrative. Few productions make a feature of the Irish landscape and culture that is so familiar to natives. One director who aims to break the trend and strive to always feature the Ireland he knows is Ian Fitzgibbon, director of Perrier’s Bountry, A Film With Me In It and most recently, Death of a Superhero, a light-hearted drama about a 15 year old Irish boy called Rory (played by Thomas Sangster) who has been diagnosed with leukaemia. Adapted from the book of the same name, the story was originally written and set in New Zealand, but the location was shifted to Dublin when Fitzgibbon signed on as director. “I was approached by the Film Board who were interested in investing in it, but were interested in what I was going to do with it,” Fitzgibbon recalls. “So I explained that what I wanted to do with it was re-set it here in a very specific place which is near to where I live. I sat down with this guy Mark Doherty and rewrote the script, knowing that it was going to be within that small part of Dublin, that very specific part of Dublin that I felt had a kind of a magical visual aspect to it.” This is not the first time Mark Doherty has served as a writing partner to Fitzgibbon, whom he also worked with on the 2008 black-comedy A Film With Me In It starring Dylan Moran and Doherty himself as a down on their luck writer and actor having the worst day of their lives. After a series of unfortunate accidents, the two desperately try to figure a way out while reimagining the events as a potential script. Though a comedy, it has many dark dramatic moments
which have a similar feel to the primarily drama based Death of a Superhero. “It shares some tonal moments for sure,” Fitzgibbon agrees. “It has a certain darkness and dryness to it, but I think its the kind of subject that needs that. I think often times you see films that lapse into a kind of mawkish sentimentality and we were just not interested in that... In fact I banned actors from crying, that was one of my first rules, because I was really nervous about trying to generate emotions artificially somehow, or in a slightly more facile way... I think one person sheds one tear at one stage but that’s about it … I wanted to infuse Rory with a lot more humour as well, so Mark and I worked very hard to trying to find the beats that gave us laughs, because it would have been a tough story otherwise.” In addition to moving the setting from New Zealand, and adding Fitzgibbon and Doherty’s signature dark humour, the film takes a more fantastical angle, interspersing animation with live action showing Rory’s feelings and struggles to come to grips with his illness. “I’d never worked with animation before, it’s the first time I’d done it. It’s kind of what drew me to it as well... When I became attached to the screenplay, the animation was taking a different role. It was more about a visual way of expressing the boy’s emotional development and growth and the fact that he’s learned to accept death. I found that a bit dull. I wanted to find a way that was a bit more fun and naughty, exploring what was going on inside the boy, because he’s quite cool and aloof, and I like the turmoil and the high energy of the animated world as a contrast to all that.” There has been mixed response to the style of animation in Death of a Superhero, with some criticising it as overtly violent and sexual. Sex and death however have always seemed common teenage obsessions, even without a
life-threatening illness as motivation. “Well yeah, what else is going to be going on in your body at that age? They’re very teenage preoccupations. When speaking to a psychologist who deals with people who have incurable illnesses, she said the most challenging thing are the teenagers, because they have one foot in the childhood world and one foot in the adult world but they’re neither really. They have all this energy going around in their body, all these hormones; they’re trying to find out who they are and who they might be. Certainly as a boy you just go around with a permanent erection, I mean, what are you going to do? What are you going to think about? So it felt to me like, that’s exactly what he’d be drawing, albeit in a heightened fantasised way. I think a lot of adults don’t want to think that’s what’s going on because they’re uncomfortable with it, but I think that’s what is going on, so I think it’s a fair reflection of what’s going in his head.” Since Death of a Superhero, Fitzgibbon has moved back from more serious topics and back to directing comedy. Since production wrapped up last year, he has since filmed a new series of Threesome, and was taken on to direct the second series of Moone Boy, a sitcom about a boy with an imaginary friend written and starring Chris O’Dowd. At first describing it as a complete change from working on Death of a Superhero, Fitzgibbon was surprised when Otwo drew a link between the two projects. “You know, I never thought of that but I suppose I did. It’s not dissimilar in that sense; it is a boy living in an imaginary world, where the imaginary part of him is just as big as the 3-Dimensional ordinary bit. So maybe I did have an affinity to it without realising it. And maybe that’s why Chris asked me to do it, I don’t know.” Death of a Superhero is released in Ireland on November 30th.
It’s beginning to look a lot like Capitalism
Laura Bell takes a look at how the annual pre-Christmas advertising can put a damper on your festive cheer
hile at UCD the month of December is best understood to be the time in which a vicious Battle Royale between snow and students reigns on the Belfield campus, for much of the rest of the world it is month of a seemingly never-ending influx of advertisements, all building up to a single 24hour block of festive cheer. Originally a Christian holiday marking the birth of the saviour of mankind, December 25th now seems to celebrate a collective indulgence in a capitalistic dream world of mistletoe, holly, and Dickensian decadence. While one doesn’t need to be Don Draper to deduce that emotional manipulation is the backbone of all successful advertisement, Christmas themed commercials are still a breed apart from standard non-seasonal fare. Ad executives spurn typical strategies, budgeting, and audience discrimination in favour of pushing the universal message of the Meaning of Christmas. Sentimentality is the order of the day, where details like information about the product, the company selling it, an angle on why it is unique, are unimportant. The message is not of persuasion, but of guilt. No matter the festive trimmings, the essence of each advertisement seems to remain the same: if you give (our product x) to (our target audience), they will love you more and you will be a good (relation); and if you receive product x, well, you are promised nothing short of total self-actualisation and inner harmony direct to you on December 25th, if only you get that new Playstation 3… complete with two free games, terms and conditions apply. In the UK, retailer John Lewis shelled out roughly €7.5 million on a minute and a half long commercial entitled The Journey, which had a special and much hyped airing on Channel 4 in early November, following a number of 10 second
long teaser advertisements in the preceding weeks. While a scheduled network premiere of 90 seconds of a six million pound snowman-in-the-snow may seem grandiose and unnecessary, the figures don’t lie. The release of the John Lewis festive commercial coincides with the onset of an annual 11.4% jump in sales, a minimum sustained throughout the season. At £70,000 per second, the company makes an extra £84 million per day. It certainly seems worth it. Meanwhile, the Coca-Cola Corporation asserts that “the appearance of our iconic Christmas advert marks the beginning of the festive season”, and since the company can credit themselves with the popularisation of the modern conception of Santa Claus as white bearded, rosy cheeked, and decked out in a red and white suit from as early as the 1930s; this is arguably not an entirely unfounded assumption. Though radio spots and in-store visual merchandising can, and often do, begin as early as August, the bulk of television adverts come in with Coca-Cola in the first week of November. The New York Times reported that this increasingly early onset of Christmas themed ads, part of a phenomenon known as ‘Christmas creep’ is intended by retailers to compensate for the recession and the consequential reduction in consumer spending power. With the so-called holidays spread out over months, consumers are able to pace their purchases, stretch their budgets, and ultimately buy more. Ireland, unfortunately, is far from exempt from this feverishly commercialised take on Christmas. The Late Late Toy Show has been the highest rated programme in Ireland every year for the past ten. In 2009, 2,247,700 total viewers tuned in to RTÉ for the live show and its single rebroadcast, while accordingly, a 30 second feature by the host or his helpers runs for a consistently cool €17,000. First come, first serve.
Defying belief, advertisers rarely come under fire for the calculated manner in which they design their commercials to manipulate viewers, for the grossly consumerist values they propagate, or even for their completely fabricated conception of what Christmas is and what it feels like, that is somehow now embedded as fact in the modern psyche. As if society is collectively in denial, political correctness trumps all of the above. The 2012 commercial for supermarket chain Asda was heavily criticised for being sexist against both women and men, portraying the men as incompetent and lazy and the women as over-worked around the home and forced to shoulder the heavy burden of organising everything. This is no revelatory stance for advertisers to take: rarely will a man take the lead in selling a cleaning product; unless of course he is overtly idealised in order to appeal to an assumed female target demographic. However, Christmas advertisements will strike nerves where typical spots will not, because they are designed to be explicitly personal, to force the audience to emote and to connect with them, and to sell a glamorous, if fleeting, lifestyle rather than a mere household necessity. Seasonal advertising is a calculated risk and, when successful, a commercial can become a festive institution, beyond the water cooler talk material that marks sales highs for the rest of the year. (Just ask Guinness, Kelloggs, and Coca-Cola.) Despite all evidence pointing to the fact that the advertisements of the holiday season are, ironically enough, soulless on a borderline Satanic level, as with all vices we might as well just sit back and enjoy them. Don’t get too invested though; if Tesco are making you misty-eyed via flogging Brussels sprouts and turkey, perhaps you should consider reading up on the Gaza Strip.
Despite finishing exam season in Beijing, Denis Vaughan isn’t worried his results will be what’s forcing him home earlier than expected
postcards from abroad:
ast week I had my midterm exams. Normally in Ireland I’m incapable of ever taking these seriously and always tell myself that if I do badly it doesn’t matter, I can always pull it back for the final exams. I’d like to say that over here I’m able to take academia a little more seriously, especially considering the pass rate is 60% in China but I just can’t do it. If anything, I’m even worse over here. It’s bad but I’ve now reached a point where I’m just completely indifferent to my Chinese classes. Not because they’re Chinese classes. I like learning Chinese, I wouldn’t be here otherwise. For some reason I just feel that I’m not actually benefiting from them at all. Not as much as I want to anyway. It might seem a bit odd but I think I learned more during my first two months before college even started. I’m convinced it’s all about the environment you’re in. When I arrived in Beijing, I was working in the suburbs in an area where absolutely nobody spoke English. I needed to use Chinese to survive there. Even though I lived in a dive that had a hole in the ground for a toilet and a permanent smell of musk, it was all worth it in hindsight. I had to get the landlord’s permission to turn on the air-conditioner and shower (which was conveniently located above said hole in the ground) so when you’re in a situation like that you’re forced to use the local language. In the classroom you don’t really
“Those of you familiar with The Great Firewall will know that you can’t access any of the websites that most of the young generation in the west spend their time on”
have any incentive to use the language other than to pass exams. It was much more motivating when the incentive was survival. As well as that there are just some things that you don’t learn in the classroom. You don’t pick up the local dialect and all the colloquial phrases that they use. Last week in class for example, I learned about a dragon coming to someone’s house and scaring them. I mean, dragons are great, but I can’t really picture myself chatting with someone about a dragon visiting my house any time soon. On a non-academic related topic, I’ve got a new job. I’m still in the English teaching business; I’m just no longer teaching five year olds the days of the week and how to sing Old
residence. It’s more convenient than commuting. If they actually match you with someone that lives near you, that is. And with everyone you are matched with, you have to lie to so the company looks better. That’s standard in Beijing though. There’s a serious shortage of English
“Even though I lived in a dive that had a hole in the ground for a toilet and a permanent smell of musk, it was all worth it in hindsight” Mc Donald. I find this slightly beneficial to my mental state of mind. Being a shiny happy person who’s juggling half a dozen screaming children that are hanging off you really takes it out of you. I work for a tutoring company now instead of a Kindergarten. The way it works is the company has a list of clients that want to learn English. If the company hires you, they try to match you with the students that are most suited to you or in your area of
teachers here. That’s why they just hire under-qualified people such as myself and ask us to lie to the students. As far as my students are concerned, I’m from England. Although I don’t like it, in China the country you come from carries a lot of weight and Ireland isn’t really up there. Most don’t know where it is. You’re more respected if you come from a more powerful country like America or England so that’s what I tell my students. I was a 24 year old
Canadian for a while too back when I was in Datong so you get used to lying through your teeth. For example, my 24 year housemate who is also teaching English in Beijing lived in Manchester and graduated from the University of Cambridge with a degree in English literature. In reality she’s a 21 year old NUI Maynooth graduate from Meath. But I can’t really say anything. I have a masters in teaching foreign languages from Beijing Language and Culture University. China’s mad like that. In some ways, it can be as shady as it gets and you can get away with anything, and yet in other instances it can be ridiculously strict. Take censorship for example. No Facebook means no Facebook. You’ll only get it if you pay for a good VPN and they’ve even shut down a lot of those recently. Those of you familiar with The Great Firewall will know that you can’t access any of the websites that most of the young generation in the west spend their time on. This includes Facebook, Twitter, Blogger, Youtube, Google and more. I can actually live without these for the most part but the only issue I have is with the Google ban. UCD mail is powered by Gmail so as a result I can’t access it which is just plain annoying. Even more so when you have academic transcripts that need to be sent to a Chinese university ASAP in order for you to be accepted for your second semester abroad. Getting in touch with the student desk has been a serious effort. Just today I had the International Officer in Quinn contacting me via my hotmail account saying that Peking University have sent an urgent mail saying they can’t process my application (which was meant to be finalised two months ago) because they don’t have my transcripts. I’m hoping express post to China works its magic or I could be homebound a bit sooner than I expected.
There is more to Perth than a tin tavern and some red dirt. Emily Mullen explores how a flourishing economy can transform a city into a cultural mecca
Pensive in Perth
.H. Auden once claimed that to be lonely is to be free. If this sentiment is true, then Perth, a city which lays claim to being the world’s most isolated, must be the most free? Well through isolation and an abundance of cold hard cash, Perth has transformed itself into a relative oasis on the West Coast. Although you will still hear the beseeching sentiment of ‘Go to the East Coast, there’s nothing here!’ from natives and tourists alike. The Swan River flows alongside the city, and enters the Indian Ocean just outside, which culminates in a wonderful photo opportunity as the garish lights of Perth are reflected in the seemingly endless width of the tributary. Kings Park dominates the metropolitan area, and is the largest inner-city park in the world, providing some well needed respite from the urban city centre. Despite the various news features about “bodies found in Kings Park” it is a great place to join the Australian passion for exercise, though perhaps during the day light hours. Beaches surround the city, from City Beach to Cottislow Beach; everywhere there are beautiful white sandy plains and turquoise sharkfilled waters. The Great Whites love the Perth coastline, and they also love to munch pasty Irish people, so be warned. Perth also features on the Humpback Whales’ annual commute to the Antarctic. Whole families can be seen just off the coast. Kangaroos and koalas are not to be found hoping around roundabouts or munching at every Eucalyptus tree in the neighbourhood, much to the disappointment of many expectant tourists.
Exhibition Centre (possibly the ugliest building known to mankind) are all located in Northbridge. The West Australian Ballet, the West Australian Opera both present regular programmes in both the historic and lovely His Majesty’s Theatre in the city centre, or the Burswood Dome located just outside of the city. AFL dominates the population of Perth’s lives, with the ardent supporters of The West Coast Eagles and the Freemantle Dockers. Supporters don their garish colours and their foam hands with pride and march through the city, shouting “Let’s go freo, let’s go!” over and over again. They seem to play most weeks, and going to one of the games is an experience; there are four goals, the players appear to
is incredibly difficult to have a bad meal in Perth. With a high level of immigrants from Asia located in Northbridge expect yummy authentic cuisine, and not a greasy stir-fry in sight. Shopping varies from the exclusive Rag and Bone, and Chanel to the cheap and cheerful Target, with not many high street stores in between on offer. However, there does seem to be a resurgence of independent Australian labels featured in boutiques with beautiful quality clothes, though they come complete with a beautiful quality price tag. Perth is a city based on mining fortunes, with fly-in fly-out mining camps based just a few hours on a chartered flight away, Perth is the
“The Great Whites love the Perth coastline, and they also love to munch pasty Irish people, so be warned” Perth city is separated into the more commercialised business district, by a railway and a horseshoe bridge, a bridge which leads you into Northbridge, the slightly less illustrious part of town, the nightlife capital and the cultural centre. The Gallery of Western Australia, housing the state art collection, the Museum of Modern Art, West Australian Symphony Orchestra and the Perth Convention
get points for simply catching the ball and there are little funny referees that run about the place doing funny throw-ins and just being generally hilarious much to the Irish Diasporas’ delight. Food in Perth is amazing, if price is no object. From the Cake Shop in Leederville, fish and chips at The Lucky Shag at the quays, to Sunday breakfast at the Boat House café, it
ideal destination for these workers to let off some steam and spend some of the small fortunes that they have accumulated from living and working up in the mines. Through the sheer volume of these workers, and the commerce that it has created Perth has transformed itself into an urbane and prosperous city. Ferraris and Bugattis zip through the streets of Perth without much
notice, three bungalows are sold for a couple of million without the blink of an eye. The cost of living is so very high: flights, accommodation, food and drink are all geared towards the purses and wallets of those earning the ridiculous wages in the mining towns, not towards humble travellers. Yet with all this prosperity comes great benefits, from free buses that run frequently around the CBD, to facilities and cultural attractions that in Ireland we could only dream of. The downside to Perth is its location; it takes hours to get anywhere, with Sydney, Melbourne and Darwin being upwards of a four hour flight away. The nightlife is a somewhat lacklustre to say the least. It has the ingredients to be a decent city for nightlife, with its sheer volume of bars and clubs that stay open until 5am, yet it lacks the Irish enthusiasm for enjoyment, or perhaps the Australians haven’t yet cracked the Irish passion for pre-drinking and are put off by the pints that cost $13 a pop. As much as Warhol’s Campbell Soups and Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake provide the stuff of great intellectual stimulation, the sheer vastness of wealth in the city is overwhelmingly apparent. Sophistication and culture may be pervasive in Perth, but there is ultimately something very odd about the whole ethos of such an isolated city attempting to centre itself into the world’s cultural sphere.
Yeasayer Yeasayer’s Ira Tuton Wolf talks to Stephen Connolly about musical direction and artistic credibility
ver want to get into the w h o l e ex p e r i m e n t a l music vibe without ever having to actually listen to stuff that’s unpleasant or weird, while still getting the glowing gratification of having something that might be termed ‘progressive’ in your headphones? In other words, not having to do any of that tedious experimentation yourself? Yeasayer can help. They’re entirely willing to take on the task of experimentation, and will gladly summarise their findings in a four-and-a-half minute abstract for your perusal. And you both get to feel like the cool ones. Genre classification, as ever in these troubled (not to mention pretentious) times, is a difficult, often thankless task. The group, however, around the time of the 2007 release of their debut album All Hour Cymbals, rather sportingly attempted to label their music as “Middle Easternpsych-snap-gospel”, while reports from the studio around the time of recording promised their latest album to be “like a demented R&B record” and ‘‘like an Aaliyah album if you played it backwards and slowed it down.” “I guess,” Ira Wolf Tuton, the bands Philadelphia-born bassist muses, “If I find myself sat next to a 75 year-old man on an aeroplane and he asks what we do I’ll say pop, perhaps experimental pop music, and I’d probably say the same if it were a 16-year-old guy. That’s the way I view it. We still adhere a lot to pop formats but try to produce and write it in a more creative and hopefully more informed way.” Two years ago we saw the release of Yeasayer’s most famous album, Odd Blood , the merit of which remains the sole instance of universal agreement among the human race since the canal-based homicidal capers Coronation Street’s Richard Charles Hillman earned him a name for being a ‘dangerous bastard’. It earned them the curious honour of being the most-blogged artists of 2010. The inevitable weight of expectation to match Odd Blood’s
impact with this year’s Fragrant World appears to be lightly borne though; Tuton is effacingly charming and laid back, contradicting the preconceived image of a neurotic asthmatic hunched over a stylophone one may have. He doesn’t even seem to care when the first thing he hears in our interview is his name pronounced utterly incorrectly: “Yeah, my parents probably care more than I do.” Much has been written of late in connection with the group’s new and innovative stage design, contrived in collaboration with visual art software programmer and University of California Professor Casey Reas, it consists of a complex array of origami-like, crystalline sculptures onto which various pulsating visuals synced with the music are projected. “Implementing that was more complicated than anything we’ve done in the past-structurally, in terms of programming and in terms of honing the material to match the visuals. We were shipped the set that day before we began the tour, so we had one rehearsal…the first three weeks were trial by fire.” Concerning the necessity of visuals to compliment the Yeasayer live experience, Tuton is under n o i l l u s i o n s. “They’re pretty important for any show. Pe o p l e t e n d to overlook that and rely on the effect of four sweaty attractive guys. We ’ r e f o u r sweaty guys… I dunno if we’re attractive, so we’ve got to rely on something behind us. [Live music] is
something so different from listening to an album; I don’t really understand not taking advantage of it.” Attendees of the group’s shows over the past year and a half will have recognised many of the album’s new songs, as they evaded release until August. When asked why, you can almost hear him shake his head over the phone. “You’re talking to the wrong guy, that’s the industry for you, all the planning and stuff on their end. We wrote this album ready to go a while ago. If we have free time we’re generally working on music.” Exposing as not-as-yet-inoculated audiences to unreleased material is situation that musicians avoid, for reasonably obvious reasons. Yeasayer fans however seem to be more accommodating. “We definitely appear to have a core fan base that follow us and have followed us, and that isn’t surprised if we make a left turn and go in a different direction, and that’s exciting.” The August unveiling of the record attracted a spectrum of criticism from the press, ranging from enthusiastic to slanderous, the complaints in the many instances relating to the decision to curb the group’s trademark eccentric approach to production, and the darker lyrical content. Followers were equally undecided: “I think those won over by the last record were very confused when we brought out this one. They expected some of that same stylistic direction and it’s a polarising record.
It’s a little strange to me, but at least it elicits a strong reaction.” Many comments were also made about the arrangements on the album. Some remarked that the group had adopted a more minimalistic style and failed, while others blamed the density of the arrangements for weighing the songs down, at once proving that music journalists invariably are paid too much, and justifying the repetition of a question we asked Animal Collective in the previous edition: is it a struggle to keep things simple in a group like Yeasayer? “Always, certainly. But that is one of the most difficult things to pull off: creating something that is meaningful and substantial, and not regurgitory within a simplistic framework. It’s always one of those things to work towards.” Sadly our question about marrying experimentation with accessibility was left unanswered as Tuton’s dog suddenly intervenes and he shouts: “My dog’s gone crazy, holy shit!” “At this stage,” he concludes when asked about the band’s incentive to proceed, “Three albums in, the goal is to progress individually in some way. You can always change direction from where you are going right now, and that isn’t an easy thing sometimes but such is life.” Yeasayer play the Village on December 1st. Tickets are priced €25.
Delorentos’ Kieran McGuinness discusses the joys of a good breakfast with Fionn Claffey
elorentos’ recent selfreleased album Little Sparks has seen them reach the top three in the Irish music chart. It has received glowing appraisals to date with many five star reviews. With numerous gig listings next month, it’s no wonder that the band’s guitarist and vocalist Kieran McGuinness was unfortunate enough to mix-up his regular Weetabix with a dreaded, shredded variety. Fortunately Otwo’s expertise extends beyond music and culture; we were on hand with our vast knowledge of cereals, offering the ‘soupy’ hot milk remedy to a grateful Delerento who reckoned: “That is the highlight right there”. Outside of his cereal woes Mc G u i n n e s s a n d h i s f e l l ow Delorentos, Ross McCormick, Ro Yourell and Níal Conlan are recently back from their European tour which included gigs in Germany, Spain and Holland, each of which are particularly famous for having an international football team which has beaten our national squad by four goals in recent years. Thankfully we can compete internationally on the music scene with the likes of
Delorentos. They are just back on our shores now in the process of yet another tour. “It’s good to be back,” McGuinness muses, as he begins espousing the comforts of home. These home comforts are most missed when he faces a language barrier when touring abroad. He felt that his lack of Spanish left his on-stage monologues unappreciated. This has been one of the best years for the band and they are ambitious about the upcoming shows from the positive reception they have gotten from recent Irish gigs and the rave reviews received with the new album. Delorentos are set to make a bigger splash in the Irish music pond this year. On touring in Europe, Yourell has said he thinks the Irish music scene is restrictive and limits the financial prospects which might be available in other countries. McGuinness however, disagrees with this notion: “If you’re trying to make a fortune by making music well then you’re in the wrong business. If you want to make money in music you’re better off buying shares in Ticketmaster.” When it comes down to the music,
McGuinness is confident that it doesn’t matter where you are and how much you are making. He appreciates his good fortune and the opportunities they have had as a band to play internationally as well as well as their domestic stature, however. “Every time we play somewhere new there is a renewed excitement”. McGuinness sees each gig as another experience for the band to leave an impression as they did in their most recent stint in Amsterdam where they hadn’t played for two years yet still drew a sizeable audience. They will be heading stateside this March and McGuinness hopes to visit Mexico and South America while there. Give him a map and a pin and he would play in that country, he says. There is no border control for Delorentos. Everyone in the band is involved in the song-writing process and McGuinness describes this as a filtering procedure, where everyone has to be in agreement with a song before they sign off on it. It can work both ways according to him: “It can be the best thing, but it can also be a pain in the arse sometimes.” This Delorentorian method works well for them, he assures us, and they know when it is finally filtered down to 12 songs that they have a collection of quality material, with Little Sparks as the evidence of this. McGuinness talks about the closeknit nature of the band jokingly recalling their bike rides and hand-inhand beach promenades but reveals that sometimes tensions do build and they would be left “punching the heads off each other”. They quickly cancelled the custom band-sized bed
they had on order from Ikea in case they would kill each other, not long after the band started. They have moved beyond their friendship to a brotherly relationship now though, which comes with but both up and down sides, as they know each other’s pet hates which is often exploited. Regarding the ‘last ever show’ in 2009, McGuinness states that it was not due to band relations but rather that they felt they were caught in one direction, though “unfortunately not the same direction as One Direction” and that it wasn’t really working until Yourell came out and said he wasn’t going to continue the charade. Upon further discussion they realised they liked playing together and would prefer to continue it in the future. After a short timeout they resolved their differences: “Delorentos were just at that stage in the relationship where after breaking up with your other half, they arrive on the door with chocolate and roses and you realise they’re a keeper.” So after all the chocolates had been eaten the band decided to take it as an opportunity to write better songs and to play better gigs. Music clearly means a lot to McGuinness and the rest of the members of Delorentos: “You’re in a band, the envy of your 15 year old self so you push yourself really hard, and try your best to be interesting and creative as a band… not to add to a general noise.” It is for this reason there is no particular ‘spark’ in question in terms of creativity for the Delorentos boys: “Sparks are not Disney-esque explosions… They are the subtle little things which form relationships”. They took these subtle little things into their song writing and combined with their hard work. This is required “to do things in new ways with instruments that have been played before and chords that have been used before,” according to McGuinness. Delorentos have been part of many of the Gaeilge festivals, translating some of their songs for the cause. “Our national language is something we have always been interested in… It may not always have been cool but there are loads of bands doing it”. This is particularly down to Yourell, who having gone to an Irish-speaking school is a proud Gaelgeoir. From this he is very influenced by the Irish language and previous music which he brings into the band with him. There is little rest for the fourpiece but McGuinness reveals that his plans for the rest of the day revolve around playing guitar with his fellow guitarist Yourell who is sitting in the background eating beans on toast. He contributes a quick rendition of ‘Óró, Sé do Bheatha ‘Bhaile’ amidst a mouthful of Bachelor’s finest. Regarding the future of Delorentos, there is definitely no worries of a lack of fibre in their diet. Delorentos play Vicar Street on December 21st. Their album, Little Sparks is out now.
Wrestling superstar and heavy metal frontman Chris Jericho speaks to Stephen Bance about boyhood dreams, Shakespearean plays and spiders in his mouth
n s u r p r i s i n g l y, s i xtime World Wrestling Entertainment champion Chris Jericho is a hard man to pin down. Following a month-long courtship, one botched interview, and an alleged 18 missed calls to his phone (c’mon Chris, it was more like five), Otwo finally got the chance to talk shop with the self-proclaimed ‘ayatollah of Rock ‘n’ Rolla’. For a certain generation of young Irish men, Chris Jericho conjures up memories of boyhood, of battles waged up and down the country in the gladiatorial arena of some school playground or front green. Having just evaded a clumsily executed ‘People’s Elbow’, some merciless foe would flip his opponent onto their stomach bending them into an almighty contortion, all the while squealing “Walls of Jerichooooo!” Yes, we have indeed all been there. The name Chris Jericho is synonymous with wrestling. Lesser well known to the masses however has been his 13 year foray into the music industry, as lead singer of metal band, Fozzy.
Originally dubbed Fozzy Osbourne, the band was formed in 1999 by guitarist Rich Ward. Fozzy have since produced four studio albums, the most recent being Sin and Bones which was released in August. Having come a long way musically since the early days of performing covers, Jericho is adamant that the new album is taken seriously, likening it to Fozzy’s equivalent of Metallica’s infamous Black Album. “We wanted to put the listener on a little bit of a rollercoaster ride. So that’s kind of where the Black Album was our inspiration because that’s the epitome of a record that you can listen to all the way through, that has a certain feel to it. The concept was that we wanted these songs to be very heavy and melodic. It’s definitely a very dark record.” Despite their pretensions to darkness, Fozzy’s listening tastes are more light-hearted. “We love The Police and Queen, Pink Floyd and all those type of bands.” Indeed one dimensionality is something no one can accuse them of, with band members having played with acts such as Enrique Iglesias, Paul Simon and Billy Joel. The lyrical content of Sin and Bones
certainly lives up to the albums billing as dark, with the subject matter fluctuating from the bizarre to the gruesome. Their hit single ‘Sandpaper’ gets straight to the point with gems such as “Blowtorch my brain away, there’s nothing left for me to pray” amongst other squeamishly mental phraseology. Fozzy’s approach to song writing is a novel one. “Inspiration comes from a lot of different places but it’s always based around song titles for me.” Much like his repertoire of wrestling moves, Jericho explains that the paramount concern for Fozzy’s lyrics is entertainment value rather than authenticity: “Some songs, like ‘Spider in my Mouth’, I read that phrase in a Stephen King book years ago. It doesn’t literally deal with someone having spiders in their mouth but it’s just a great way to start a set of lyrics with that phrase, so I just kind of work backwards from there.” Safe in the knowledge that it was impossible to execute a Code Breaker via telephone, Otwo queried whether the transition from wrestling superstar to a less well-known figure in metal was tough personally. “When I was a kid I wanted to be in a rock band and I wanted to be wrestler. Those were my two dreams and they both came true. Whether I’m playing in front of ten people or 10,000, I love it. You know when you have a passion for something and you know that you’re good at it and that it’s working, it’s never hard.” Jericho retired from WWE in August, but to him Fozzy has been his primary concern for the last few years. There is a sense that he is aware of the band being labelled as a gimmick, and
he refuses to let Fozzy be depicted as a spin-off of his wrestling fame. “It’s not a hobby for me, it’s something I’ve been doing my whole life since I picked up my cousins bass guitar when I was 12 years old. I didn’t just wake up one day and say, ‘Hey I wanna be a singer in a rock band.’ It would have happened whether I had been in wrestling or not. I’d be playing music no matter what.” He is enthusiastic about the upcoming European tour that kicks off in Cork this month. “To start off in Ireland is going to be huge. We’ve been waiting to come back for a couple of years; they’re always crazy tours and always a blast to do.” It’s clear that Jericho’s primary aim is to please his fans. Indeed who can forget such infamous performances as the night he whipped a packed out stadium into a frenzy by urinating into the teapot of his wrestling nemesis William Regal. “Whether it’s wrestling or music or a doing a Shakespearean play or whatever, the crowd is always the X-factor for any good performance. Some nights you get it, some nights you don’t, but you just have to do the best show you can.” Jericho may have mastered the art of appeal, whether through mounting the stage in his skin tight purple pantaloons or performing with Fozzy, the crowd lap him up. When asked by an adoring fan on twitter last week what the most important attribute of being a performer was he simply responded: “All about the CHARISMA BABAY.” Charisma, confidence and an affinity for anger and shiny purple pants that is. Fozzy’s latest album, Sin and Bones, is out now.
Pat Byrne Winner of The Voice of Ireland Pat Byrne chats to Meadhbh Park on the release of his debut, his college experiences, and his future in music
here’s something undeniably powerful about Pat Byrne’s voice; somewhere in the gravel and the emotion is pure honesty, and that’s what makes Byrne so likeable and genuine. Sitting in the lobby of the Westbury hotel, it’s easy to spot him, with auburn hair and a navy t-shirt and jeans, it seems fame hasn’t gotten the best of him and he’s still keeping it real. In fact, fame is new and alien to the Carlow boy, who comes from humble musical beginnings. Years of gigging around various pubs and venues around Kildare, Dublin and Carlow gave Byrne the experience he needed, but the step to go on television was not something he thought he would ever do: “I always said I wouldn’t… but I was always doing the same venues every few weeks and it just got boring and I saw myself doing that for the rest of my life and I said I’d do this, just to see if I could get into more pubs or get more money, I didn’t see myself getting this far or releasing an album or anything like that, but now that it’s happened, I’m delighted.” Byrne started off as a drummer for a metal band called Incisor when he was just 12. This allowed him the time to find his musical strengths at an early age, beginning with drums, learning guitar at 16, and at 17 he decided that singing was what he felt best at: “I enjoy singing a lot more; it’s a lot more expressive.” Taking inspiration from such musical giants as Bruce Springsteen and Bob Dylan, Byrne began to realise that he wanted to take the chance and make music his life. He went to Maynooth to study music and anthropology, yet never took his education there too seriously: “I went to college to keep my parents happy. College was the best time I ever had, I loved college, but I really just went there just to keep people happy but I always knew I’d be doing music.” However, he never wanted to sell out to the music industry, the most important part of music for him is keeping true to himself and his style. He entered The Voice singing Bruce Springsteen’s ‘The River’ and it soon appeared that Byrne was not going to be changed, that he was going to keep to the music that made him happy. After he won the competition, Byrne sat down with mentor Bressie and Coronas singer, Danny to pen songs that would eventually end up on his debut album.
“Very surreal to be sitting down and writing songs with those guys; I needed those guys to give me a nice balance between commercial stuff and alternative stuff, I needed the commercial stuff to keep the fans happy and I needed the alternative stuff to keep myself happy.” Bringing new music into the world is one of the most exciting and humbling experiences a person can have. Byrne was lucky enough to be given a professional session band and the opportunity to record in the leading London Studios, Metrophonic Studios where such acts as The Wanted, JLS, Sugerbabes and Olly Murs have all recorded. Byrne was not the usual clientele and in the generic pop-hits factory, he surprised them with his alternative take on music. “They had a lot of Olly Murs type tracks for me; that’s not me at all. Then we got to know each other and they seemed to really relish what I was doing, it was a nice break for them and they really want me to go back” But in this world where pop and indie are on the throne, is there much space for alternative old-school rock? Byrne seems to think so, when asked if he ever feels pressured to keep up with the changing trends of the
mainstream, he replied: “No, I don’t feel pressured, although to be honest a lot of the stuff in my album isn’t really alternative, it’s mainstream enough, but it’s me.” But surely it must be far too easy to compare yourself to other TV song contest regurgitations? “I cringe a little when I see them, but I’m thankful I was given time to write some good songs and it wasn’t about getting an album out as quick as possible, they wanted it to be a good album.”
So from pubs in Kildare, Pat Byrne has won The Voice of Ireland, written songs with Bressie, played in bands with Robbie William’s keyboardist, recorded in the London studio, and sat on Phil Collin’s couch watching his music being brought to life, all in a year. Now with the release of his debut album, All or Nothing, has he got any advice for other young musicians looking for that all important break? “Just practice, gigging is really important, get as many people to hear you as you can and be true to yourself, that’s the best advice I have.” Although good luck has definitely come Pat Byrne’s way, he hasn’t let it get to him or go to his head. It can be easy to lose yourself in the pandemonium of fame, but he’s standing his ground and he definitely hasn’t forgotten his beginnings and takes every step of the way with gratitude. When asked what it was like that moment when he won The Voice, he simply said: “It was a great confidence boost that so many people voted to get me there, it was really gratifying.” The future looks bright for Pat Byrne. He has a tour coming up with dates yet to be announced and he has hopes of eventually breaking the US and even perhaps making collaboration with the talented Lisa Hannigan. All we can do is hope that he won’t just be every other reality tv show graduate, but Byrne seems to have all the marks of one who wants to stick around. Pat Byrne’s debut album All or Nothing is out now.
mixtape Guilty Musical Pleasures
We all have them, the songs that go against every fibre of your musical integrity. Grainne Loughran recounts the songs that you wouldn’t be caught dead listening to on Spotify ‘We’re Going to Ibiza’ - The Vengaboys Screamed by every Leaving Certer heading off after the exams and whispered by every sad individual who just wants to recapture the ‘90s. Either way, both groups will end up drunkenly shouting “WHOAH!” and fumbling over the rest of the song by the end of the night.
‘Call Me Maybe’ - Carly-Rae Jepson It doesn’t matter that we’ve heard it 17 million times. Somehow, when Carly comes on the radio, we remain oddly concerned and listen closely to the unfolding tale as she gives this potential perv her number in such an upbeat tone, completely unaware of possible forthcoming murder.
‘What Makes You Beautiful’ - One Direction Don���t lie, now. You don’t care if these guys only like that young one because of her low self esteem. You don’t care that feminism has just died. You really just want Niall Horan to call you beautiful. Play it loudly… and sing it, shrilly.
‘Careless Whisper’ - George Michael Guilty feet are exactly what you have when you dance to a song this bad, but those feet have got more rhythm in them than George thinks. Sure, you’ve been practising your sway in the bedroom mirror. You’ve even got the earrings.
‘Safety Dance’ - Men Without Hats Seriously, we can’t be the only ones who want to run merrily through the fields with a very small person dressed as a court jester and playing a lute. Even at that, the most magical part is Ivan Doroschuk’s hair flowing ever so gracefully in the wind.
‘Bring it All Back’ - S Club 7 Sure, no one’s heard of any of them in about ten years, but their disgustingly happy-clappy optimism for the future is addictive if not exactly valid. The one thing we can be certain of is that they’re more embarrassed of this than you are.
‘Young Love’ - Jedward What? Jedward can sing something half serious? Apparently so. Here they really capture the very essence of first love, with shooting stars and lightning strikes. Funnily enough they don’t mention the dodgy shifting behind the bike shed, but no one’s perfect. ‘Achy Breaky Heart’ - Billy Ray Cyrus You have to feel sorry for this chap. If his heart was this dodgy before Miley appeared on the scene then I don’t know how he hasn’t had a cardiac arrest by now. It’s one your dad tends to croon when he’s had a few, which gives it a special place in your wilting heart forever. ‘Uptown Girl’ - Billy Joel This is the cheesiest song known to humanity. Karaoke machines have broken to the force of drunken female screaming of the lyrics. Everyone wants a man like Billy Joel. Few are brave enough to admit it.
‘You Spin Me Round’ - Dead or Alive It’s gayer than Christmas and more disturbing than... anything, really, but you can’t say that you don’t do the crazy hip gyrations in your head whenever it plays. You desperately try to keep your mind off the strange men spinning around on a sort of upside down salad spinner and the look on Pete Burns’ face as he says “Watch out, here I come,” but you can’t. You begin to sway. Say goodbye to your friends and hide away on a remote island, because you’re never going to be allowed to forget this one.
Hi again! Time is flying. It’s the end of November already and if you believe in that kind of stuff, the world is scheduled to end in about a month. Myself and Louise were in America a few months ago and we got completely hooked on a tv programme called Doomsday Bunkers. You might want to have a look into it! Moving on, it has been an interesting two weeks. This week, our second single was released off of our album Kingdom. It’s called ‘Lions, Tigers, Bears’ and it’s definitely one of our favourites to play live. It completely embraces the ‘90s dance phase we were going through while writing the album. We’ll be doing some radio promotion around the country for it over the next few weeks which is always fun. Keep your ears peeled! Also, on November 20th, Youtube gave us some pretty amazing exposure on their homepage for the entire day, which we were very excited about. As we mentioned in our last entry, we attended the Tatler Woman of the Year awards the weekend before last. It was pretty amazing. We got to meet some really talented and inspiring women. Maria Doyle Kennedy, who we have become friends with since performing in RTÉ recently, asked us to accept her award, and she won her category! Thankfully, we did not trip up or drop and break the award so it was a successful evening! The next stint of our Irish tour is fast approaching. Our Pepper Cannister gig on December 11th is being planned and prepped for at the moment. Strict dress code of tacky Christmas jumpers to be confirmed! In other news, we’ve been listening to lots of music recently. This generally tends to happen when we finish writing/recording an album. We can’t listen to a thing while writing but we can’t get enough when we’re done. This weeks’ favourite has to be Alt J and their Mercury prize-winning album An Awesome Wave. To be completely honest, when I first heard their name, I initially thought, ‘Hmmm, obscure electro or dub step’….not that that’s a bad thing. It’s far from it. These guys are incredible and this album is such a treat. My personal favourite track being ‘Taro.’ Definitely give it a listen if you haven’t already. Until next time, Ellie and Louise xxx Heathers are playing at the Pepper Canister Church with a full band, on December 11th. Tickets are priced €17.50. Keep an eye on The University Observer’s Facebook page for details of our free ticket giveaway.
Taylor Swift - Red Grade: B-
Ben Howard The Burgh Island EP Grade: B
Listening to a Taylor Swift album for the first time is almost like walking into a room lined with her many lovers gone by, who have all consecutively broke her heart and are standing around waiting to be taken down a lyrical peg. At the tender age of 22, Red marks Taylor’s fourth foray into album production. As each album flies past, you begin to wonder whether poor Taylor will ever find true love, or if she’s just using these guys just for musical ammunition. However, the result of all this ‘heartache’ has produced something of such emotional indulgence there’s no surprise Ms Swift has created such a formidable army of fans, and Red should be music to their ears. Opener ‘State of Grace’ sees Taylor taking a heavier approach, as you’re welcomed with a drum beat as opposed to her characteristic guitar strum. Preceding country infused tune, ‘Red’ sets up the tracking list nicely; so far so heartbreak hotel. Yet, there is something undoubtedly special about Taylor’s songwriting. Using lyrics as her paintbrush, she creates a vivid image of personal emotion that catapults her into the welcoming arms of susceptibly teary-eyed teenage girls (the categorising was inevitable), seen in track ‘All Too Well’. There is nothing to deny the fact that chart topping single ‘We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together’ is a modern age pop classic; never have we witnessed a song creating such empowerment in those of the female race then that track. Red is at times nostalgic, flirty and dramatic. Perhaps such a title is a definite warning sign to any prospective Swift boyfriends.
After his début album, Every Kingdom, was released last year to critical acclaim and a shower of awards, Ben Howard must have felt the pressure mounting. How does one follow such a successful album? Well, it seems Howard has found a perfect answer: release a trickle of new sounds on a short EP. It’s just enough to reassure us that he hasn’t lost his creative spark, but still leaves us hungry for more. The Burgh Island EP is a gorgeous little sample of Howard’s new musical direction. From the haunting melodies to the eerie, sorrowful lyrics, it’s clear that he has ventured into the darker end of the musical colour spectrum. No pastiche of ‘Keep Your Head Up’ will be included, that’s for sure. This is obvious from the outset, as the first track, ‘Esmeralda’, is a dark and atmospheric piece of music filled with dark lyrics that call for self-reflection. This melancholy air lingers through all four tracks; there is no sign of the upbeat tones and motivational messages that reverberate throughout Every Kingdom. The small collection of dreary tunes is the perfect soundtrack for miserable, stormy weather. Indeed, it’s a far cry from the sunny, buoyant songs found on his début album. If the prospect of Howard changing his style worries you, there certainly is no cause for anxiety. Every song is as beautifully crafted as his previous releases. They still retain his trademark guitar picking raw vocals, and those trademark harmonies.
In a Nutshell: A twee record full to the brim with country heartache.
In a Nutshell: Dark and mysterious, a promising taste of things to come.
by Rebekah Rennick
by Eva Griffin
The Rolling Stones GRRR! Grade: DThe Rolling Stones are back with a brand new CD case to house their extensive repertoire. This three disc, 50 track, mammoth compilation of The Rolling Stones’ greatest hits has been released in order to commemorate their 50 odd years on the pulse of Rock and Roll, and features a chronological mapping of their success over the past half century. Naturally it includes the greats such as ‘Paint It Black’, ‘Under My Thumb’ and the definitive ‘(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction’ but once you move past their golden era and begin the descent into the bleakness of the 1980s you may find things beginning to wane a little. Despite this blip in their musical history, the compilation is not filled to the brim with their repetitive hits but it includes the somewhat exciting early throwback covers of artists such as Chuck Berry and Bobby Womack. These tracks are a breath of fresh air, yet you cannot escape the feeling that they have treated these covers as a
money making scheme. It is essentially a greatest hits collection, with one or two surprises. The new tracks ‘Doom and Gloom’ and ‘One More Shot’, appear new and exciting relief in an otherwise overly-familiar album. Jagger’s vocal in both tracks is all too impressive for a man of his age proving he can still exert command, while Richards’ guitar is reminiscent of the gusto with which he earned his name. In a Nutshell: If you’re a fan chances are you already own several copies of these songs. Are the new tracks really worth it? No. by Eoghan Finn
What’s On: UCD Cinema
Week 12: 26/11/2012 - 30/11/2012 Dollhouse
To Rome With Love
Home Alone (Filmsoc)
UP (SciFi Soc) Home Alone (Filmsoc)
Tickets to Dollhouse and Frankenweenie are €5 for students and €6 for non students. Other screenings are €4.50 for students, €5.50 for non-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.
Otwo’s Guide to Surviving:
espite the fact that the entire city has been covered in decorations and Christmas lights for the last few weeks, it ’s not easy to get in the Christmas spirit when you’re facing into a month of exam hell. The RDS is not a venue that inspires anything but dread after three years in UCD. It’s freezing, noisy, and full of people panicking and reaming off information that you haven’t seen before and suddenly need to learn in its entirety in the five minutes before you take your seat among the thousands of other anxious students. They’ve even installed an ice-rink in the RDS complex, just in case your exam period was lacking the general hum of faint Christmas music, and less faint screaming, excited children. It’s easy to turn into a Grinch when your little sister is spending her last weeks of term making Christmas trees out of magazines and glitter covered cards with Santa’s beaming face all over them, while you battle through shopping centres packed to the brim with festive shoppers simply to pick up some pens that work so you don’t die of a heart attack when every one of the ones you’ve been using all term die a miserable death in the RDS’s ice cave. Disgruntled parents blocking your path at every turn in the general vicinity of Santa’s latest grotto won’t add to your mood. Cranky parents, annoyed not only by their own hyper children, but at having to pay 15 quid to wait in line for two hours so their kid can get a passport photo with a fake-Santa who can’t remember the child’s name, and a ‘deluxe present’ of a baby selection box, won’t be overly cooperative when you push by in a desperate attempt to escape the Christmas music that the shopping centre, or the streets in some cases, insist on blaring at you in a bid to get to you to spend all your money so they won’t go out of business. Yay, the birth of Jesus! Once you finally emerge, pens triumphantly in hand, you face yet another trial just to be able to
study. If you choose to venture into UCD during reading week, finding a place merely to sit down will be a struggle. If you’ve managed to circumvent that wagon SUSI, you will pass the first hurdle and find yourself through the turnstiles of the library. If the SuperFines haven’t already got you, you might be able to get the one rogue copy of your most difficult module’s main textbook if you’re lucky enough to catch it as someone drops it back at desk, in the vain hope that the librarian will take pity on them and let them take it out again without it even getting near the library’s shelves. If your main aim is to secure a plug, it’ll be faster if you turn around and go back home, sit down in your room and locate the nearest power source there because you’re otherwise going to spend the rest of the day wandering around in circles, hoping someone has a not-too-seriousbut-still-briefly-worrying family emergency and will have to vacate their space, just so you can finally gain access to simple electricity in our apparently world-class University. After the library couldn’t keep students out because they hadn’t paid their fees, it decided the best way to keep pesky students out of the place would be to mark parts with plugs aplenty as ‘quiet zones’ and send LibroCop around to fine them for daring to plug their laptop in. In conclusion, just don’t bother coming to your University to learn, because
they don’t want you here. Staying home is a much nicer alternative study place. It comes with the benefits of the toaster and kettle being nearby, infinite electricity all the time, and best of all, you don’t have to endure sitting beside one of the many, many UCD students who have abandoned all sense of personal hyg i e n e p u re l y because it’s exam time and they can blame it on the stress of it all. If that final essay for the elective you will forever regret choosing still won’t end, you can walk away, make some tea, and throw up a few decorations to put you in a festive mood. Everything about life seems a little better when your house smells like a real Christmas tree. Even if you still have endless, endless readings about genocide to do, throwing some fairy lights around yourself will surely do nothing but help. If nothing else is working, the solution to all your problems is very simple. Whether your woes lie in your lack of Christmas spirit, or just a module doomed only to failure, the answer is Love Actually. Sure, for your average Christmas Grinch, Love Actually should probably be an intolerable endurance test. Pretty much every one of its many, many storylines derives from some horrible cliché and its cast follow suit. Hugh Grant continues to be as British as possible, Colin Firth is terribly deep and reserved, and Keira Knightley is still constantly pouting for no real reason. You may think you’ve seen it all before, but when that ridiculously young kid runs through the airport, dodging airport security like 9/11 never happened just to tell the ten year old love of his life that he loves her, everything will reset itself in your life. Everyone is getting married or getting laid, Hugh Grant is the Prime Minister, Snape is a dad, and Bill Nighy is an incredibly aged rock-star, and there is literally nothing more you could want in one tightly wrapped Christmas package. by Aoife Valentine
Street Style As street style’s growth in the fashion appears unfaltering, Rebekah Rennick examines the origins and appeal of this pervasive phenomenon
orget the Dior and Versace catwalks, the pursed faces of Karl Lagerfeld and Anna Wintour that have almost come to represent couture fashion; today the kings and queens of our styling world are treading the pavements we ourselves walk. Street style has always been a cornerstone of fashion, but with people increasingly aiming to express their individuality through their clothing, the high street is their stage to create something spontaneous and truly their own. Do a quick search for street style and you will be bombarded with photographs, videos, blog reports and even twitter accounts dedicated to those walking amongst us with impeccable style. The street is where life’s dramas and events unfold, and this is also true for the clothes we wish to wear. But when did this trend really start to take shape? For the past 50 years, the social and cultural invasion of street styling has bubbled away innocuously until now, in 2012, where you can’t simply walk down your local high street without eyeing up someone’s delectable duffel coat or their cute pumps. Street style was made a notable term circa the 1960s after an area in Tokyo called Harajuku became the hub of teenage expressionism and intrigue. Every Sunday, teenagers flocked to this area in a kaleidoscope of different styles, showcasing their personal interpretations of style.
Youths dressed in punk, hip hop and what is referred to as Ganguro (“California Girl”) outfits could be seen socialising together, and picking up each other’s tips. Since then, many countries have embraced this Harajuku idea; some arranging meetings like those in Japan, and others in more subtle ways amongst their inhabitants. The interesting thing about street style is the association it possesses. For years now, although individuality is evident, the clothes you choose to wear unashamedly categorise you into some sort of ‘style tribe’. If you choose to wear certain items of clothing you can be titled as Hipster, Boho, Punk, the Abercrombie & Fitch addict, etc, by those passing you by in less than a second. Around 20 years ago, street style was a way in which angst-ridden teenagers or punks could channel their internal frustrations through nose piercings and grubby tartans, and rebel against conservative theories in their Doc Martins, whilst chanting Johnny Rotten’s prophecy. Decades previous to that, there was already an idea of ‘normal’ attire versus street style; in the 1940s, a young man could choose between the expected clothing to be worn, or if his desire to enlighten his individuality was brewing, he would opt for a zoot suit composed of rich fabrics and eye-catching accessories placing him in the category of the Zooties. While everyone seeks their own take on their style, a communal thread or thought can be seen throughout some styles which rope them into certain genres or as I claimed above, ‘tribes’. Similarly, street style acts as a way in which many of us judge our fellow human beings. It is the pinnacle make or break process by which we almost spontaneously criticise people we don’t even know by means of their mustard coloured cords. You can’t deny that there are times when you’ll be walking down Grafton Street, watching people as you go, only to take a quick displeasure to someone wearing the most unfortunate pastel emblazoned jumper, or outrageous shorts, and quietly approve of another passers-by excellent choice in hat and coat ensemble. Perhaps you feel you shouldn’t be so shallow, but to think they picked those out of their own accord is sometimes a little too much to handle and the silent judging continues. It’s a terrible thing, but it’s an aspect of street style that influences all. In terms of the technological influence of street style, more and more people today have the ability to share and discuss their style tips with a wider audience. Through websites such as lookbook.nu and blogging sites, thousands of people every day log on to see who is wearing what. Likewise, others are creating their own careers on the back of their blogs composed of street couture. One particular example is Youtuber “BeautyCrush”. London based Sammii who owns the channel specializes in make-up, but a large chunk of her content explores her own, day to day outfits and
styles. Videos entitled ‘Outfit of The Day’ are scattered around Youtube, watched by thousands daily, and she is not the only one leaving her accessible fashion footprint behind for us. The influence of those amongst us has slowly moved from outside on the streets to inside your homes, seeping into the mind-set of any dedicated follower of fashion. But who is being caught by this tremendous wave of fashion? For years it has always been teenagers at the forefront of street style, teenagers pushing the boundaries as to what they can wear on our streets. High fashion catwalk shows are now channelling the photographs of everyday people hitting the fashion high notes to widen their appeal. Henry Holland for Debenhams, Kate Moss for Topshop, Fearne Cotton for New Look; the list of fashion designers and celebrities alike lengthens, and all are fighting to get their labels into the high street shops to contribute to the upcoming generation’s chic. From 1950’s tailored suits to 2012’s spectrum of different style genres, it’s difficult to know what you could see someone wearing in a street near you. As Jane Austen once famously said: “One man’s style must not be the rule of another’s”, and in terms of today’s street style, I think Ms Austen would approve wholeheartedly.
Cream blazer: €79 - The Harlequin Glitter polar neck: €19 - The Harlequin Tie-dye jeans: €39 - The Harlequin Wedge trainers: €18 - Penneys
ho says sequins, jewels and a handful of glitter all worn together is over the top? Inspired by the upcoming festive party season, we bring you the best way to inject some glamour into your wardrobe. The trick here is that more is more; throw on sequins over glitter over some more sequins and you’re on the right track. Vintage shops are the perfect treasure trove of shiny must-haves, meaning you can get the look, without running the risk of looking tacky. Vintage shops can be the home of numerous bargains, which will come in handy when you’re looking for heavily embellished sequined
items. They can be some of the most expensive items you’ll find on the high-street, and layering them won’t be cheap. Most of these pieces are ‘80s inspired, with shoulder-pads everywhere, but if this is a step too far for you, then just cut them out and bring them bang up to date. Remember that glitter doesn’t have to mean girlie; it can also mean grunge. It seems like an unlikely combination, but glitter can be the perfect offset to a boyish, androgynous look. Paired with some loose-fitting denim jeans, suddenly an embellished sequined top is pared- back and strikes the perfect balance. An eye-catching blazer can also serve as a way to instantly dress
Black blouse: €59 - The Harlequin Blue sequined top: €30 - Lucy’s Lounge Levi 501’s: €39 - The Harlequin Glitter heels: €18 - Penneys up whatever you’re wearing; perfect for running straight from work to a Christmas party. Shoes, bags and jewellery help to layer up this look. If your feet can’t take another pair of heels, opt for some sparkly flats to see you through to the end of the season. Some metallic coloured on-trend wedged trainers are a simple alternative, which add a street-style vibe to whatever you’re wearing. Going all out with this trend also gives you the green light to go crazy with your make up. To really dive head-first into the party atmosphere, throw some glitter on your lips on top of some gloss or lipstick to make it stick, or go for a dark eye shadow with a hint of metallic shine to really make
your eyes pop. Although this all may sound a bit much when worn all at once, you could just pick one feature to focus on and just go as bright and bold as you can to really compliment your outfit. If make-up isn’t your strong point, stick with glitter nail polish. The high-street is full of all kinds of colour combinations, or better still layer them yourself for your very own customised nail colour. So when all those Christmas party invitations start flooding your Facebook feed, do not despair. One glamorous investment piece can be worn in a multitude of ways. Just have fun with it, and remember, at least one person has to out-shine the Christmas tree.
Sophie Lioe imparts all her styling wisdom to ensure all the sartorial boxes are ticked this festive season
Cropped jacket: €25 - Penneys Lace top: €15 - Penneys Jeans: as before
Sequined dress: €29 - Penneys Gold heels: €18 - Penneys Glitter clutch: €9 - Penneys Pink sequined dress: €60 - Lucy’s Lounge Glitter flats: €8 - Penneys
Photographer - Caoimhe McDonnell Model - Fara Courtney and Dearbhla Cantwell Make Up Artist - Kate Kelly Stylist - Sophie Lioe Shoot Location: Kelly’s Hotel, South Great George’s Street
Sequined blazer: €50 - Lucy’s Lounge Clutch: as before Glitter polo: as before Jeans: as before Cocktail ring: €3 - Penneys 25
the First Year experience: 100% awful After a disastrous week, Lucy Montague Moffat ﬁnds an upside to life: her own cynicism
have been very cynical this week. I have been rocking around the place with a scowl and intent to kill glimmering in my cold, dead eyes. I don’t know what it is that I did wrong but for some reason the world has it in for me. Instead of trying to figure out what ghastly deed I unconsciously committed to deserve all this crappy karma, I am doing nothing but watching it play out its evil course of making my life miserable. I am not being over dramatic to try to squeeze sympathy out of your critical reading eyes, nothing like that at all. In fact I am proposing, instead of us all feeling sorry for ourselves alone wondering if anyone else is in the middle of a shit storm, we should all rise up together in a parade of sulking and misery. We need to embrace the bad fortune that has been placed upon our heads like a Twilight book to the face. And so in celebration of this yucky world I now exist in I am going to list all the annoying things that have happened to me in the past week in an attempt to embrace them and then let go, hopefully revealing a new, sexier, positive me. I am imagining a mix between Zooey Deschanel and Miley Cyrus but we’ll see how it goes. It is ironic because cynical is exactly the opposite of how I should be feeling in my current life. I just completed a three hour motivational training course in work (the sense of achievement is mighty). However, if there is anything to make snide comments fall out of my mouth like cynical Tourette’s, it is a good
old motivational course. They are really asking for it though, with their “stand up and give the person beside you a backrub” way of getting you to sexually harass your fellow colleagues. I did learn a valuable fact in the three hours, one thing that I will remember for the rest of my life as a highlight of all the millions of motivational talks I have been to in my eight sad years in retail. First you have to write ATTITUDE on a piece of paper and then assigning each letter a number according to where they are in the alphabet (e.g. A as 1, T as 20). Once you have a number beside each letter add them up. Yes! Yes! Yes, that is right. It adds up to 100! My mind is not easily blown by people, unless they are Louis Theroux, but by golly after the motivational speaker finished hopping up and down shouting “100%! Attitude equals 100%” I had to bend down and pick up pieces of my brain from the floor, because I had shot myself in the face. I also had a date this week. It was early days, maybe five dates in, but things weren’t going very well between us. It had turned into one of those situations where half way
through the date I’d get horribly bored and start to ponder big life questions in my head (“If I could sing would I enter the X-Factor?” and “I wonder how many horse whisperer parts Sarah Jessica Parker has turned down?”) to keep myself awake. But then sometimes he would be fun and I’d forget all about my boredom and imaginary singing career. So this date was kind of a last chance saloon situation, although he didn’t know this, and I made pros and cons lists in my head as I waited in the cold for him. And because the world has it in for me, he was, of course, 45 minutes late. I don’t usually mind lateness, really; it doesn’t tend to bother me, but he wasn’t even sorry and that really pissed me off. He didn’t even run up to me in a gasping for air, ‘I’ve run for miles, please forgive me’ way. He just sauntered up to me and shrugged a sorry. So I had to get rid of late boy, which is a bummer because it’s nice when you are dating someone cause you end up seeing all the latest releases in the cinema and find new pubs. It’s less fun doing that stuff alone. The other really crap thing is that apparently the world is going to end
soon, which is upsetting. I have lots to do and an end of December deadline is just too little time to fit it all in. And on top of all this it seems that I have a rare disorder where the more I study, the worse I do in tests. My Geography multiple choice question results have decreased each time even though I have studied more each week than the last one. This makes no sense! Or maybe it does but I am just too stupid to realise. Maybe I should just get it over with and give my body to science. They can do loads of crazy experiments on me and find out that due to my over consumption of bread, it has started taking over my brain, engulfing all the cells, slowly turning me into a walking sliced pan. I was in UCD the other morning. It was nearly nine o’clock, which in my state of mind is a dangerously early time to be sauntering around the Newman Building. I went over to a Stand and Surf computer, still half asleep, and that’s when I saw him. He was standing up, with his headphones plugged into the monitor, watching the latest episode of New Girl and laughing loudly to himself. I looked at the back of his head and smiled to myself, possibly the first smile of the week. He reminded me that you can find happiness in a world where everything seems to be the worst. You just need to find that little thing that makes you happy and appreciate it. And for me, my happiness comes from being horribly cynical about things. It brings me joy and if you add up the letters of JOY you get 50 which means nothing.
FATAL FOURWAY best book to screen adaptation
V for Vendetta
Perks of Being a Wallﬂower
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
Conor Luke Barry
While some may argue over that this stretches the definition of ‘book’, it is a comic-book and therefore counts. Nerds the world over have embraced the term ‘graphic-novel’ and in that spirit I believe the best film adaptation of a book of any sort is V for Vendetta. The film of V for Vendetta is not only brilliant, but much much better than the original material. The film version of V for Vendetta is equal parts cool, moving and inspiring. It makes you want to stand up and fight for a cause, even if you are both cynical and incredibly lazy like me. The book on the other hand, is a bit... weird. The film is is a lot more black and white than the book, and loses a lot of the subtly of characterisation of the novel. But unlike every other film-of-abook in history, this actually makes it better. In delving so far into the psyche of it characters the book gets quite disturbing, with V becoming horrifyingly focused at all costs, Evey as a pathetic broken mess and that police man Finch going on a crazy LSD trip for no reason at all. The book is dark, but not in an interesting way. By stripping back some of the complexity, the film allows for a much more powerful story to emerge. The story of injustice, and the power of the many. It gives hope. It has Stephen Fry in it. It’s basically the perfect movie. Verily I ask you to Vote and Verify my View, and Vouchsafe my Victory in the Verdict of... Vatal Vourway.
It’s not often that a book translates well to the big screen, because usually the audience knows the book inside out and different factions are invariably disgruntled by some major cut to the story or even the slightest plot change. Perks of Being a Wallﬂower gracefully sidestepped this complete landmine, crowning itself king of book to film adaptations; a feat made even more impressive when you consider how hard core Perks fans are. The book made you fall in love with Charlie, Sam and Patrick, and the film retains every ounce of the book’s honesty and truth. It’s keeps the book’s tone and steers clear of being patronising, unlike so many coming-of-age movies. Perhaps this is down to the book’s author, Stephen Chbosky also taking the reins on the film’s screenplay and direction, but either way, even the most die-hard fans were impressed by the movie. The film keeps the magical scenes magical, ensuring the ‘I feel infinite’ car scene is as amazing as it is in the book, and Paul Rudd as Mr Anderson, Charlie’s English teacher, plays their relationship perfectly. And though Charlie’s heart-wrenching suicidal poem is left out, the Secret Santa scene still works, and is very lovely and perfect. The painful scenes from the book aren’t glossed over in the movie, either. Remember when Charlie kisses “the prettiest girl in the room” and it’s not Mary-Elizabeth? Almost worse in the movie. The Aunt Helen flashbacks are handled brilliantly as well, though you won’t make it to the end of the film without turning into a blubbering mess. In a good way. Also did I mention Ezra Miller is in it? Because he absolutely kills it as the most perfect Patrick you could ever imagine.
Maybe no film, no matter how brilliantly adapted, can ever match the fantasy and excitement of your own imagination of the novel it’s based upon, but it can certainly come very close. Hunter S. Thompson’s drug induced escapades, which are so wonderfully bizarre and often highly disconcerting, do indeed make the stuff of fantastic cinema. A simple trip to report on a motorcycle race form the premise of the story, however don’t let this fool you into thinking that Fear and Loathing is some mild-mannered sporting tale. This is a film filled with sick, twisted surrealism, scattered with copious drug use, murder, crocodile heads on women, and Johnny Depp with a receding hairline; it is the stuff of nightmares. I can’t help but feeling somewhat of the cool kid in this Fourway; the brooding smoker in a group of snorting lemonade drinkers if you will. Perks of Being a Wallflower suggests to me that some of my competitors have yet to reach that joyous stage of puberty and are trapped in notion that Emma Watson is actually a good actress. Age and sophistication proves both of these as false, cementing Fear and Loathing as the far superior choice. Sure you can opt to relive the geeky teenage life you more than likely led (let’s not lie, you’re reading a section of the newspaper called Fatal Fourway), or you can choose the far more badass, not to mention artistically credential, choice of Fear and Loathing. So stop being such a loser and succumb to the peer pressure; voting for Fear and Loathing is scientifically proven to make you cooler, and that’s not even a lie.
A lot of films based on books make the catastrophic mistake of making their celluloid recreations too similar to the word-filled page-athon that inspired it, forcing audiences to jerk out of their seats in disgust, monocles dropping into their popcorn, proclaiming: ‘Boo! I’ve already read this in word form! Why are you showing it to me again?!” Except that doesn’t happen because, for some reason, people adore having the thing they read made again as accurately as possible but starring John Cusack. For example, Watchmen decided instead of doing anything new with the book that they should literally film the comic’s pages and attach and awful soundtrack to pretend it was a bit different. They were far too concerned with upsetting fans and being ‘loyal to the text’ that they forgot to actually have any original thoughts (though the opening montage was deadly). The Shining, in contrast, is a film where the makers clearly skimmed the book, thought ‘that’s an interesting idea’, then flung the book to the other side the room and just typed out whatever they wanted. Which is exactly how you should make a film; Kubrick was on the ball. I’ve never understood people complaining that a film wasn’t enough like the book. It’s not like a Hollywood release means that all the copies of the source material spontaneously combust, the innards of the original story lost forever. If you want the story of the novel, read the novel. A film should take the general idea of the book and then go off in some mad direction with it, interpreting it however they like. Which is why The Shining is the mother of all adaptations, because it barely resembles the original work.