31st January 2012 Issue VIII Volume XVIII
The Arts & Culture Supplement of the University Observer
“if they start telling you your life has no future, just tell them to fuck off”
steven moffat OTWO talks to the man behind Sherlock, Doctor Who & Tintin
Also inside >>
ing the Financia S Club | Otwo Attempts Solv Cathy Davey | Darina Allen |
contents Page 3 – Regulars
Aoife Valentine seethes about the people who don’t deserve a Facebook profile, as well as keeping anyone out of the loop up to date with the essential What’s Hot and What’s Not.
Page 4 – Spiritual & Gender-related Advice Dixon tells the gents of UCD how to feign being working class without having to suffer the indignity of doing DIY, while Mittens foretells your future without granting you the pleasure of a grain of hope.
Letter from the Editors
Page 5 – Roddy Doyle
The L&H’s presentation of the James Joyce award to renowned Irish author Roddy Doyle provided Jon Hozier-Byrne with the opportunity to conduct an insightful interview with one of UCD’s most accomplished, humble and witty alumni.
Page 6 – Fashion
Fashion is all about one gender this issue, as we feature an allmale fashion spread and Alexander Andrew examines the gender imbalance in today’s fashion industry.
Page 9 – Food
Elaine Lavery speaks to the Irish culinary legend that is Darina Allen about her unanticipated entry into the cookery business, her worldfamous Ballymaloe Cookery School and her opinions on fast food and dieting.
Page 10 – Travel
Kate Rothwell highlights the quirks of Freiburg, Jon HozierByrne brings out the best in Brussels and Ben Storey explores Edinburgh’s Camera Obscura.
Page 12 – Games & Technology
Rory Crean draws attention to the unsung heroes of the gaming world – voice actors – and we review Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary and Assassin’s Creed: Revelations.
Page 14 – Cover Feature
In our centre feature this week, Emer Sugrue talks to the acclaimed writer of the BBC’s Sherlock and Doctor Who, as well as Steven Spielberg’s Tintin, the incomparable Steven Moffat.
Page 16 – Film & TV
This week we review The Muppets, The Descendents and Man on a Ledge, while George Morahan derides the Top Ten Overrated Films, Dermot O’Rourke asks why below-par biopics are shoe-ins for Oscar nominations, and our resident Fatal Foursome get all adolescent deciding which is the best teen drama.
Page 20 – Music
Music is as varied as ever this issue, with interviews with everyone’s favourite lovely lady, Cathy Davey, the rising rap sensation that is Maverick Sabre and the hipster metal heroes that are Cynic. On a slightly less serious note, we also caught up with Bradley and Jo as they finally succeeded in bringing the S Club party to campus.
Page 27 – Otwo Attempts...
Cormac Duffy takes his witty sense of humour, sharp dress sense and a cigar and uses all three to try and tackle the financial crisis. However he fares, he’s a hero in our eyes.
Page 28 – Backpage Bants
Acclaimed comedian Fred Cooke brings the humour to the back page of this issue, while we confuse the kids about campus with a question about non-existent Sabbatical Officers. 2
Issue 8 – Commitments to the Elementary as well as the Timey Wimey Howiya,
Before what is in this fortnight’s issue is revealed to you, let us digress a little. If you don’t want to, then look to the left of the page and you’ll see the contents in a convenient list form. When Doctor Who returned to our screens in 2005, it was ostensibly marketed as the brainchild of Welsh writer Russell T. Davies, and although Davies plotted the larger story arcs, other writers would be roped in for standalone episodes. One such writer was Steven Moffat. Now, most of these filler episodes would be easily forgotten, but Moffat’s contributions were always the ones to look forward to – awash with dizzying imagination and sharp humour, they would often be the highlight of each series. After Davies stepped down, Moffat became head writer of the show, and the series has only improved under his guardianship. His work on Who, combined with his crucial efforts in rejuvenating Sherlock Holmes (in spite of Guy Ritchie’s attempts to make the great detective part Iron Man, part Indiana Jones), his role in adapting Tintin for the big screen, and his wonderful sitcom Coupling have quite possibly confirmed Moffat as the best writer in film and television today, and if not the best, certainly its most distinctive and inventive. This week, Moffat speaks to Otwo, and if such things
tickle your fancy, then turn to page fourteen for Emer Sugrue’s interview with the man himself. Also in Otwo this fortnight, we have acclaimed author and playwright Roddy Doyle as well as 2/7th of S Club, so there’s something for everyone, it seems. Jon Hozier-Byrne spoke to Mr. Doyle when he collected the James Joyce award from the L&H last week, and he proved to be both a straightforward and enlightening subject. The former schoolteacher came across as refreshingly pragmatic and modest, and is most definitely a worthy recipient - proof of such humility is on page five. On the other hand, we have S Club, and what more can be said about them. Despite drug charges, racism controversies, adulthood and the loss of the majority of the group’s original members, S Club continue to stagger around the college circuit to the rapturous applause of drunken, nostalgic, students who may be highon-irony-and-possibly-othersubstances. Kate Rothwell caught up with Bradley McIntosh and Jo O’Meara at the recent Cheese Fest: Take Two. That’s nearly 400 words spent on four out of twenty-eight pages; you’ll have to find out the rest for yourselves. Toodles, Aoife and George
DISLIKE What’s hot and what’s not
What’s Hot Lighthouse Cinema Reopening
The Lighthouse cinema in Smithfield was reopened last week after Element Pictures, a film/television production company responsible for films such as The Guard and The Wind That Shakes the Barley, took over its management. NAMA be damned, we can now enjoy movies in the Lighthouse’s plush surroundings once more – at least until we finally get that cinema on campus. Huzzah!
Lols on Youtube
It’s not even exam time yet and there’s already a surplus of lol-inducing videos to distract you from doing just about anything. Between Shite Irish Lads Say and the UCD Law Ball 2012 – Perfect Day promo video going up this week, Otwo has been easily amused by cringe-inducing videos this issue.
Anti-Valentine’s Cards at mardymabel.com
Shops may be plastered in red hearts and more crepe paper than you’d find in a primary school classroom on a Friday afternoon, but let’s face it, who needs cards with nauseating, sickly sweet verses when you can buy anti-Valentine’s cards with greetings such as “I love you even though you have food in your teeth” and “Too lazy to break up with you” on the front. It’s beautiful, really.
What’s Not Tallafornia
It really is a mystery as to why this show ever came into existence. It’s not like Geordie Shore or The Only Way Is Essex were ever critically acclaimed shows that needed an Irish spin on them. The poor people of Tallaght are forced to claim they live elsewhere, and nothing actually happens in it. Also, there’s a designated “Score Room.” Vom.
Ah lads, we’ve barely gotten over introductory lectures, and there’s already talk of which ladderclimbing hacks are running for various positions, and who’s declared what on Facebook. Just because they’ve spent the holidays preparing manifestos doesn’t mean anyone cares yet. Or indeed, ever will. If you have to talk about it, leave it until the campaign posters go up, yeah?
Lame Hoodie Slogans
Who decides these things? Surely no one wants cringey slogans on their backs? There seems to be a sudden influx of them this week, with gems including “We bury our mistakes” (Pre-Med), “We feel you up when you’re feeling down” (Physio) and “TD or not TD, that’s the election” (Politics). There should be some new criteria for class reps that stops them mass-producing these things. by Aoife Valentine
soapbox Facebook’s new Timeline may be causing frustration among its users, but bigger problems lie in their actions online, writes Aoife Valentine
h Facebook. While in the beginning you may have seemed like a shining beacon of hope in a world filled with Bebo Stunnahz and more widgets than we knew what to do with, you have since descended into a black hole filled with, eh, Bebo Stunnahz and the most pointless ‘like’ pages ever to come into existence. What’s more, you’re not even trying to hide it anymore, as you slowly force Timeline onto unsuspecting neophobes; you look just like Bebo and you like it. What’s worse than giving Bebo Stunnahz a huge space in the form of a cover photo to plaster their best duckface-in-the-bathroomon-a-night-out photo, is that Timeline is a stalker’s dream. Not only does it allow you to very easily track every move anyone’s ever made on Facebook, but it gives you the option to record unnecessary details like your first kiss, every cold you’ve ever had, and really, any time you’ve so much as moved outside your front door. Then again, if you’re silly enough to add these things in, you probably fall into the category of being-shit-at-Facebook. Number one on the list of offences by those who are shit at Facebook? Thinking anyone cares. Absolutely no one cares what you’re doing at this moment in time, or wants to know about every breath you take. If you’re posting more than one of these self-important, inane statuses a day, you should really take the time to move yourself over to Twitter, where at the very least, you’ll have to limit yourself to 140 characters for any one update. It’s still highly probable that no one will care, but the social norms over there are a little looser and we won’t be obliged to follow you unless we have masochistic tendencies and wish to die of boredom. If you’re posting multiple statuses which solely consist of a sad face or something equally as vague and attention-seeking, you shouldn’t be allowed to have a profile. You may as well just put up a status saying, “I’m so lonely, talk to me please.” If you need pity comments from people who are barely your friends to validate your existence, you should go play in traffic. More annoying than status updates are incessant event invitations. There is no need for every club night in existence to have an event page, and more unnecessary than that is Ents inviting everyone to every single one of them, especially when they are always called something ridiculous like ‘Shifters Tuesdays at Copper Face Jacks’, which is just the most pathetic thing. Smell of desperation, Signature Group. Just stop trying. Even an invitation to ‘Suck My Deck’ could be overlooked, however, so long as you’re not the person constantly sending app invitations. They’re the worst kind of people, not just at Facebook, but at life. Go outside and make a friend. Seriously. 3
Mystic Mittens’ feline fortunes Taurus
May 14th – June 21st Your results were great, yes. I advise that you don’t piss it all away with the celebratory crack binge.
Our feline forecaster is coughing up hairballs that predict your future, and that future is neither bright nor pretty
April 19th - May 13th As Venus descends so will your rate of attendance. Stats show that that is a bad thing. Who knew?
Dear Dixon, First off, I kind of feel uncomfortable calling another man “dear” but that’s convention for you. I’m having a lot of work done at home, but for me, DIY involves pouring my own four fingers of fine, smoky whiskey into a thick bottomed glass. As a result I’ve had a lot of guys round here laying carpet and whatnot. I’ve been making them tea and keeping the biscuit plate topped up while nodding in bewildered agreement at their sports references, but I can’t help feel somewhat emasculated. How can I get them to treat me like one of the guys without looking like I’m “one of those guys”? You know the guys I mean. Yours spotlessly, Rob (clean hands) Stears Listen here Robby, You know what a steer is, Roberta? It’s a bull that’s been castrated so it can’t dance the flank-steak mumba with the heifers in the same field. I know that because of my time spent as a cowboy (or cowman, as the local villagers referred to me), where I would castrate anything that moved with the speed of a souped-up Coup de Ville that also castrated things. Now, I’m not saying your second name is just a description of your current sweetbread situation, but damned if you didn’t 4
June 22nd – July 20th The future has not yet been decided and is up for debate in my mind. I like Whiskas, so none of that Tesco Value shit.
September 17th – October 30th Before you go see The Artist, please note that the film is silent, in black and white and that cinemas do not offer refunds solely on the basis of your idiocy.
December 18th - January 20th January was depressing; however, February is looking like it will be twice as bleak for you, Sagittarius. Lonely on Valentine’s Day much?
January 21st – February 16th Your career prospects will be looking up as a significant number of experts in your chosen field are killed/maimed in that rather convenient public transport crash.
October 31st – November 23rd Going to a Super Bowl party this weekend, yeah? Just shout while doing your best Christian Bale as Batman impersonation and you will fit in perfectly.
July 21st – August 10th Not even I speak like one of those deranged lolcats; they give classy cats like me a bad name. Sit up straight and speak like a human being, you imbecile.
November 24th – November 29th You’re grand and all, but I feel a scorpion jacket would make you seem even cooler.
August 11th – September 16th I would like a “cheezburger” as well though, so get me one, or I’ll prove your degree worthless. You’re in Arts, you say? Never mind.
November 30th – December 17th
No, no, you’re not real. You can’t be. I’m just make-believing you, I know it. Pfft, Ophiuchus, like, why would that exist?
February 17th – March 11th I try to keep away from personal hygiene advice, but for you I’ll make an exception. Deodorant. Buy some.
March 12th – April 18th That new tutor is going to treat you as if there was never a Geneva Convention. All right, that’s an exaggeration, but you’ll have to read a lot.
Leave your questions for the dashing detective on the Dixon Coltrane Facebook page lose your balls some time ago. But don’t fret, pal o’ mine: Dixon knows how to glue balls back on too. You want to be treated like a man by the working class? Well, there are two ways to do it, chum: firstly, you could get some callouses on those soft hands, start eating under-cooked meat straight off the pig, and learn what it’s really like to be a working man. However, this will leave you for little ‘lighting a cigar with legal tender’ time, and if you’re a lazy man, it might not be the right fit. So, the second option is to take Dixon Coltrane’s Patented Three-Step Schoolin’ for Acting Poor. When I’m done with you, you’ll be able to throw away that Masters degree, and start pursuing that sweet, sweet FETAC level five. Step One: It’s no longer dessert, it’s sweet. It’s not tobacco, it’s burn. It’s no longer salary, it’s Jobseeker’s. Keeping on top of your parlance will keep you ahead of the game, which, by the way, is football, not soccer. Step Two: Start slurring your words, like you just drank a half of whiskey – this will convince the working man that you’re on their side, and that you didn’t get any fancy schoolin’ either. That, or they’ll think you’re drunk. In
Dixon Coltrane Real Men Smoke on Airplanes fact, might as well get drunk, to make sure you got your bases covered. Step Three: Learn what sport is. I know a soft-handed man like yourself wouldn’t know one side of a ball from the other side of a different ball, but when dealing with the calloused hands of the ‘real men’, it’s important to remember that they express affection through insults, and emotions through nothing. The only way to infiltrate that dark, lino-floored world is to learn sports, and talk about them instead of normal conversation. Chin wag about
Chelsea’s Chinese angle, or gab about the Gunners’ gummed up grifts and gashouse geese. There’s nothing real men love more than artful alliteration. It’s time to be a real man, Steers. Throw away the Proust and get some Pumas. Leave behind the Bavarian cream and get some Bavaria Imported. Drop the Flann O’Brien and pick up the Trousers O’Neills. Go cheat on your wife, then cheat on your mistress with your wife. Get a purchase on those balls. That’s the rub, Dixon Coltrane
During his brief return to UCD to be presented with the Literary and Historical Society’s James Joyce Award, Roddy Doyle sat down with Jon Hozier-Byrne to discuss his work, his country, and his passions – and explains why UCD isn’t one of them
“So, in a cheerful way, if they start telling you your life has no future, just tell them to fuck off”
oddy Doyle is not happy. Waiting in front of a lecturer’s entry way to Theatre P, we stand in the ‘secret tunnels’ and wait for his name to be called. I have been asked to interview the Booker Prize winning author, an opportunity I lept at as a lifetime fan of his work, but the proposition was proffered with an unusual caveat – I would be interviewing him in front of a packed lecture theatre in the lead up to his receipt of the James Joyce Award. I try desperately to break the ice, commenting on how the L&H had truly rolled out the red carpet for him, gesturing towards the large chalk outlines of phalluses scrawled onto the dark tunnel walls. Doyle seems nonplussed. We cannot make out any name being called, but the sound of rapturous applause fills the tunnel, and we assume we best begin. We enter and take our seats, and as Doyle gives his opening statements, the cause of his previous dissatisfaction becomes somewhat clearer. “I feel no emotional rush walking in here, for example, where I would have been twice a week for three or four years. I never look at UCD football scores, I couldn’t care less. I don’t feel that kind of attachment that Americans seem to feel towards their own colleges. Never worn a UCD scarf or jumper... ” Doyle continues, before changing tack, recalling the friendships he gained in UCD, “But at the same time, it’s been an extraordinary experience, watching, from a distance, the continuing lives of people whom I met here ... What a privilege it had been to be here. I suppose I’d feel the same way if it was
Photographer: Jack Walsh Trinity or DCU, to be here though, for those four years, and to gather up these friendships, and to watch them take flight.” Whatever malaise left in Doyle from our introduction was immediately cast off when asked why he has chosen to vocalise the ‘New Irish’ so prolifically in recent years, most notably in the adaptation of Playboy of the Western World, in which the protagonist, Christy Mahon, is replaced with a Nigerian immigrant, and a long standing collaboration with the multicultural newspaper Metro Éireann, in which Doyle publishes a chapter of a story focusing on New Irish protagonists every issue. Doyle rises in his seat, and explains, “I never anticipated that Ireland would become a magnet for immigrants, and yet it was. We had to accept we were living a different life, we couldn’t blame the Brits for our poverty any more … I thought it was great.” Doyle hints at the skill that, perhaps more than any other, has cemented his reputation as the ‘authentic’ Irish voice in contemporary literature; his ear for dialects, and his remarkable capacity for witty dialogue. “When people start learning English, they learn the informalities as well as the formalities. You have this lovely thing where Polish people use the word ‘like’ a lot, as if they were thirteen-year-old girls … It becomes a habit, they think that’s what you do. They use old, hackneyed phrases that we use, in ways that were probably never intended, it’s brilliant, it’s like the invention of a new phrase. The word grand … Tiny little things like that, send me running home to work when I hear [them].”
This shift in focus places Doyle’s work in the somewhat unique position of bookending either side of the boom years, and as such, proving massively influential in defining an ever-shifting national cultural identity. Having made his name with the generationdefining Barrytown trilogy, and after winning the Booker Prize for Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha in 1993, Doyle’s work had become synonymous with a pre-Celtic Tiger, under-privileged voice. Perhaps his resurgence in recent, more turbulent years owes a great deal to this arguably more authentic Irish literary mode, and his latest work, an adaptation of The Government Inspector, presents the classic Russian satire of Nikolai Gogol through the brown-enveloped optics of our not-so-distant history. Co-opted somewhat as a recessionary author, Doyle is not shy about expressing his impassioned opinions on the topic, particularly in relation to Ireland’s youth. “Your future is supposed to be grim, you’re not supposed to have a future. Four years ago, five years ago, going to the airport would have been a cause for celebration; you’re going off to see the world, you were going off to conquer the world, you were Irish and that’s what we do. Now, it’s supposed to be a tragedy.” Doyle reflects on what he perceives to be an expectation of hopelessness directed towards today’s students. “I heard a kid from Dundalk, a seventeen-year-old, on the radio very recently, saying that he ‘was worried about his job prospects when he left college.’ I did a bit of calculation; that’s four or five years away, and I actually didn’t believe him. In his soul, in his heart, in the back of his head where his real person was lurking, he didn’t believe that at all. He was saying what was expected of him, that’s what I think.” Doyle expresses his annoyance with the media, whom, to him, look exclusively for “tears ... something deeper and darker that might be there,” and eloquently proffers advise to the students assembled, “So, in a cheerful way, if they start telling you your life has no future, just tell them to fuck off.” 5
OTWO Fashion men’s special
a male perspective
Maggie wears: Striped cardi · €16.99 Green top · €19.99 Green bag · €22.99 Trousers · €21.99 Shoes · €32.99
John wears: T-shirt · €12.99 Jeans · €24.99 Shoes · €29.99
entlemen, it’s time to stop relying on your sister/mum/girlfriend for style advice; Otwo is here to help find your way through the meandering maze of high street trends and high fashion inspirations. Updating your wardrobe need not be a chore reserved for those panicked moments before a night out or special occasion of some sort. And there’s no need to stick to a uniform; casual dressing doesn’t necessarily mean hoodies and tracksuit bottoms. The high street has much more to offer than your average slogan t-shirt and a pair of runners. The jeans department of any store may seem overwhelming – hundreds of pairs of seemingly similar looking pairs of denims. What style? What shape? If skinny jeans are too much for you, fear not. Straight styles are a less extreme version and still avoid the baggy nineties look that no one wants to repeat. Stick to darker colours, such as navy blue and maroon, although beige chino-style trousers also work well. Darker denim is generally advisable, as lighter denim does no favours for anyone. In the shoe department, high tops and canvas boat shoes are the more stylish alternative to white runners. Cardigans are a wardrobe stable that don’t have to look like they came out of your granny’s wardrobe, chunky knits in winter colours are a safe bet. They will not only keep you warm through the last of the cold months (well, realistically in this country you’ll be wearing them through until early summer), but they’ll also prove to be a better alternative to your average coloured hoodie. Patterned t-shirts such as the Aztec-style one featured here offer a subtle focal point and are bound to get a compliment or two - assuring you’ll meet those sartorial standards without your clothes screaming out for attention. Cheeky retro-style prints such as this ET one are also an easy way to add interest to what you’re wearing, whether you’re recycling an old favourite or picking it up for a few euro in a bargain basement. Accessorising can be kept simple with a woollen scarf or a leather belt: the simpler, the more effective. This will set off block colours, simple stripes and layered tops. There’s no need to overstylise or look too polished by making an effort with your wardrobe; simple polo shirts and well cut jeans are all you need to look like you haven’t just rolled out of bed and thrown on whatever you have on the floor. Well, maybe you have – but the clothes on your floor just happen to be remarkably well co-ordinated and stylish ... apart from a few beer stains perhaps. By Sophie Lioe
Opposite page, top
Opposite page, bottom
Paul wears: Grey print t-shirt · €6
Paul wears: Grey jumper · €12 Shoes · €14 Jeans & bag · Model’s own
Paul wears: Striped long sleeved top · €7 Scarf · Model’s own
Photographer: Caoimhe Mc Donnell Models: Paul Duggan & Anthony Hennessy Stylist: Sophie Lioe Assistant Stylist: Niamh Hynes Clothes: Penneys
Anthony wears: ET t-shirt · €8 Mauve trousers · €12 Navy cardigan · €15
Anthony wears: Polo shirt · €10 Mauve trousers · €12 Green hoodie · Model’s own
OTWO Fashion men’s special
In an age where gender equality is preached but not always enforced, Alexander Andrew takes a look at discrepancies in various facets of the fashion industry
American designer Marc Jacobs
brazilian model Gisele Bündchen
e c n a l a b m I r e Gend T
he recent Men’s Fashion hints at the perceived downfall of shoulder pads and the occasional bow Week in New York got off masculinity, and some believe that tie brought about by Beau Brummell. to a promising start with women should be more highly reHowever, there is an obvious gendesigns from Giorgio Armani and vered, and as such, gain a higher sta- der imbalance off the runway, with a Christophe Lemaire of Lacoste tus amongst men in the same career severe male dominance in the design taking to the runway. Yet, perhaps – a reversal of gender roles from most stakes. Many designers openly and rather fittingly considering all the other professions. The possible ex- frankly maintain that homosexual fixed smiles and erroneous wearing planation for this ‘dominance’ may males have a more acute eye for deof sunglasses indoors, something be due to the widely held opinion sign than women within the industry, false began to emerge through the that fashion is a predominantly femi- and are chosen ahead of women for smoke and mirrors. Take a look nine industry, and thus causes men design positions. Taking statistics behind the scenes, and one notices a to react strongly against any ‘accusa- from the New York Times, the Council startling lack of equality – or at least tions’ of interof Fashion Dea certain lopsidedness of gender both est in fashion, signers of Ameron the catwalk and behind the scenes. which begins to ica claims that With the knowledge that Mr. visually ques121 women and Charles F. Worth was the first person tion their sexu156 men make in history to have his name sewn into ality, and thus up its council, a purchasable garment, one begins straight males and the encycloto question the perceived female back down in pedia of ‘Clothdominance within the fashion the industry for ing and Fashion’ industry. By solely inspecting the fear of being held entries of modeling aspect of fashion, one can stereotyped. thirty-six female see that male and female models An article and sixty-nine contribute equally, and yet women by Nour Haba, male designers, are more highly revered and thus ‘Gender Inequalthe majority of better paid. According to Forbes ity in the Fashthe males bemagazine, “A top male model may ion Industry’, ing openly gay. take home anywhere from $200,000 raises the idea Evidently, this to $500,000 annually, but most make that in spite of perception of a less glamorous living from catalog a culture of fethe homosexual [sic] work.” This sounds like an male oppression male with an eye impressive figure until you consider engrained in for design and the fact that the top-earning female western society, German designer Karl Lagerfeld style – more so models are making millions. Gisele fashion has bethan his female Bündchen earned an estimated $45 come an outlet; a place where women or straight male counterparts – is one million last year alone – a startling can rise to the top, i.e. above men. that colours hiring choices within statistic for a generation that has Ever since Vogue was established fashion design circles and has created been raised to accept and push for in 1892, one can imagine how this a pronounced double standard. Most equality. ‘dominance’ should have been satis- of fashion’s biggest design houses, The argument for female domi- fied over the years, not forgetting such as Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Lannance within the fashion industry the introduction of suits for women, vin and Yves Saint Laurent, are led by 8
men – Marc Jacobs, Karl Lagerfeld, Lucas Ossendrijver and Stefan Pilati, respectively – and the success of newer, British and Irish names such as Christopher Kane, Christopher Bailey for Burberry and J. W. Anderson also prove that this disparity is here to stay, and aid in tipping the scale of gender balance the other way. Despite a large majority of designers being male, most consumers of fashion today are still female, but we must ask why that is. In spite of the fact that the young men of today have shown an increased interest in fashion, through affordable high street shops such as Topman and H&M, the average fashion consumer is of the fairer sex. One may begin to blame society, the media, the industry, but who in reality is conforming? We, the public, are ultimately culpable. Complying with trends, pushing peers, and thus creating this illusion of a decline. There is an irony in the fact that male models are underpaid compared to their female counterparts, and yet there is male dominance in the design side of the industry. Is this an inequality the industry will just have to grow used to, or is there something that can be done to combat it? As in any workplace, there is inequality on every level - it just appears that the fashion industry has taken this to an extreme. The creative dominance of men contrasted with the underrepresentation and financial discrepancy that male models suffer is a point in question, the balancing out of which remains to be seen.
Darina Allen A household name to gastronomes, aspiring chefs and everyday lovers of eating, Elaine Lavery speaks to Darina Allen
he food and fashion industries mirror each other more than you might realise. At one end of the spectrum, we have cheap and fast – Penneys, McDonalds – while at the other end of the spectrum, we have expensive and exclusive – Prada becomes Noma (two-star Michelin restaurant in Copenhagen, voted world’s best in 2011). Darina Allen is neither Penneys nor Prada. As founder of the celebrated Ballymaloe Cookery School, Allen believes in simplicity and quality when it comes to food. “I love a boiled egg for supper, but it will be a really good boiled egg and some fresh bread. So it’s not a whole ton of fancy food, it’s not expensive food; it’s just real food ... I’ve never been to Burger King in my life, I once had a McDonalds and that was enough for me to decide that I wasn’t particularly interested in going back again.” Allen’s purpose for entering the food industry was not to get rich or to gain the recognition she has accumulated over the years. In the beginning, with four young children, it was purely an economical decision: “We [Allen and husband Tim] were in horticulture; we grew tomatoes and mushrooms for the home market as well as export for many years, and then in the sixties, labour costs started to rise. There was twenty-five per cent inflation, we were heating five acres of greenhouses with oil, so the whole thing became very uneconomic quite quickly.
“We had to look at what resources we had and what talents we had between us and try and earn a living in a different way. We were in the middle of a farm growing a lot of produce, so one of the obvious things was to start a cooking school, and I had done Hotel Management [in Cathal Brugha Street, now DIT] and loved to cook, so I started giving cooking classes with Myrtle [Allen, Darina’s mother-in-law], originally in Ballymaloe in the mid-to-late seventies. Then we decided we would go ahead and invest and convert some of our farm buildings into a little cookery school and opened in September 1983.” In its twenty-eight years, the school has grown in stature and repute, and now functions with both indoor and outdoor classrooms. The indoor classroom is the kitchen, where every afternoon, fifty-nine students of eleven different nationalities take the infamous, twelveweek cookery course (there are also shorter and weekend courses). The outdoor classroom is the surrounding farm and gardens, including an acre-sized unheated greenhouse, in which the staff and students grow fresh produce all year round – both are vitally important to the school and the Ballymaloe ethos. There are two lessons that Allen hopes to impart to her students and neither pertains to the act of cooking itself: “One is that all good food starts with really good quality produce.
Even more so than that – this will sound a little hippyish – but, basically, it’s all about the soil, the fertility of the soil, the quality of the soil. I like to quote Lady Eve Balfour – she was one of the founders of the Soil Association – and she reminded us that the health of the soil, the health of the plant, the health of the animal and the health of the human are all one and indivisible, where all is connected. So for chefs and cooks, unless you really understand that good food is all about starting off with really good raw materials, then you have to be a magician … If you’ve got a really beautiful piece of fresh fish, fresh meat or wonderful fresh vegetables you need to do so little to make it taste good” The second lesson Allen teaches is that food is our medicine: “We forget that the whole reason for eating is to nourish our bodies, keep us healthy, give us energy, vitality, the ability to concentrate, and yet, a lot of the time, we shovel anything into ourselves and then we’re wondering why we have a lump or bump or tumour. Nowadays, so many people have bottles of tables and vitamins and minerals. If they were really eating good quality food, they wouldn’t need any of that.” Asked about diets, Allen gives a not unexpected answer: “I’ve never dieted in my life. I believe diets are a disaster in general. You can eat four slices of sliced pan, and you feel as thought you’ve eaten cotton wool. Eat one slice of really good, homemade brown soda bread or yeast bread with good cheese on it, and then you know you’ve eaten something”. Allen labels processed food “cheat food” as it cheats the body of nutrients it expects to be getting. In other words, eat better and you desire less. The proof of this mantra is evident – both Darina and daughter-in-law Rachel Allen, the public faces of Ballymaloe, have a body shape which any yo-yo dieter would lust after. The benefits of cooking go far beyond the joys of eating. As well as providing a career path and opportunities to travel, Allen reveals a secret well-known to all good cooks: “Being able to cook is a terrific skill in so many ways, because you will never be short of friends and it’s one of the easiest ways to win friends and influence people.” 9
Hustle and Brussel
Hidden Gem Camera Obscura,
Brussels may be known for its historic architecture and confectionery, but Jon Hozier-Byrne discovers why the Belgian capital is more bizarre than it seems
Castlehill, Edinburgh If you want to interact with the city of Edinburgh in a way you never thought possible, Camera Obscura is the place to go, writes Ben Storey
Photographer: Lindsey Cleland
hen one thinks of Edinburgh, a number of its main attractions automatically spring to mind, such as the Castle, the Walter Raleigh Monument and the dungeons. h, Brussels. The faint smell of turned-over make Brussels such a fascinating, if peculiar, However, hidden amongst these is an attracbins, the winding streets and churned-up case study in culture. tion that should be considered one of the city’s pavements, the distant echo of a dog barkparamount sites to visit. The Camera Obscura is The de facto symbol of the city is the bizarre quite literally in the shadow of Edinburgh Cas- ing on every street corner. Brussels is one of Manneken Pis, a seventeenth-century statue of a Europe’s truly great cities, but it cannot be de- young boy urinating into a fountain. In a city so tle, situated only yards away, yet it remains relatively obscure. Despite opening in the 1850s, it nied, it’s also one of its strangest. rich in culture, the fact that this Little Man Pee For all intents and purposes, Brussels is a city has gained such traction hints at the surrealism still remains one of the city’s best-kept secrets. The attraction itself is named after its main largely untouched by the modern age (with the that underlines the minutia of Brusselèèr society. feature – a device that combines a camera and a notable exception of the nuclear-age Atomium Men wear bowler hats, moustaches, and wireperiscope to create a unique way of seeing and in- nestled in Heysel Park, as remembered fondly by framed spectacles, like an unabashed homage to teracting with the city. It is housed in a hub at the Irish students from the cover of many secondary the supporting characters from the great Belgian top of a beautiful Victorian building. In this hub, school science textbooks). It’s easy to get lost wan- export, Tintin. Shops seem to have remained visitors can interact with a projected vision of the dering along the streets, and in doing so, traverse untouched for centuries, revelling in brightly cocity, created using an array of mirrors, lenses and decades and centuries as both your surroundings loured window displays and hand-painted, bohedaylight. The camera allows you to spy on people and mood change with the increasingly beautiful mian shop fronts. Every second August, the full in the streets, bend and twist them into different architecture. From the gargantuan Royal Palace, 1,800 square metres of the Grand Place is covered, shapes and divert traffic. Pay a visit and you will complete with humourless, comically-dressed wall to wall, in colourful patterns made from a guardsmen, to the beautiful public gardens dot- carpet of begonia flowers. Brussels is, in a word, hear many gasps of amazement. The building itself offers fantastic panoramic ted around the city, Brussels is aesthetically mar- mental. views of the city, adding to the sense of won- vellous, and you could happily saunter the streets Gastronomically, Brussels may not equal Paris der that pervades the premises. Far from being for hours on end without getting bored. when it comes to haute cuisine, but it is infinitely The highlight of such glacially-minded wan- more student friendly, both in taste and in budget. a one-pronged exhibition, the structure also houses a magic gallery, where kaleidoscopes, op- dering has to be the Grand Place, which, without Waffles are available on every street corner, gartical illusions and funny mirrors facilitate hours exaggeration, has to be one of the most stun- nished with everything from summer berries and of entertainment. Many of these items are pay- ning open squares in the world – indeed, it was ice cream to fresh mussels. Salons de Thé line the per-use, but those who are on a tighter budget voted Europe’s most beautiful city square in 2010. streets for the rare non-beer drinker, and spectacor saving their funds for more recreational pur- Surrounded by archaic guild halls, the stunning ularly, ornate chocolate shops open late into the poses can enjoy the gallery’s selection of free en- town hall, and a host of intricately detailed fa- night for revellers on the long walk home. tertainment. Before you leave make sure to pop cades make the Grand Place an ideal spot to sit Sure, Brussels is not the cleanest city in into the novelty shop, where you can revel in in one of the many (surprisingly reasonable) bars Europe, nor is it the cheapest, and God forbid you childhood nostalgia. With everything from pogs that line the edges of the square, and drink an icy are mobility-impaired when trying to negotiate to holograms for sale, you will be hard-pressed chalice of Chamay Bleue brown ale as the sun sets the spiralling streets, let alone the extremely not to part with some of your hard-earned cash. behinds the gothic spires. unwelcoming Metro system, but it has an allure The Grand Place alone is worth the price of all of its own. A stunning mix of the surreal All in all, the exhibition possesses an oldworld charm and simplicity that it owes to its a flight to Brussels, as are the eighty different and the baroque, Brussels is a sublime mix of Victorian roots. Camera Obscura offers a truly museums, catering to every conceivable inter- the old and the very old, with all the nostalgic unique and fresh experience to visitors of the est – the Museum of Modern Art in particular and aesthetic charm that suggests. Brussels city. This is an ideal outing for those who want is exceptional, Brussels being, as it was, the is a long-forgotten world of brown ale, rolling to recapture an afternoon of childhood wonder home of the surrealist master Rene Magritte. tobacco-stained fingers and bow ties, nestled and amazement, or simply spend a couple of What you don’t factor into the price of your amongst some of the most beautiful architecture ticket are the innumerable artistic quirks that anywhere. Rediscover it. hours well and truly entertained. 10
Free spirit Quaint, quirky and full of life, Kate Rothwell discovers the cultural melting pot that is Freiburg
recognition of artistic good humour can be seen and sensed throughout the city of Freiburg. Memorable examples include an artistic installation in the form of an oversized garden hose and tap, a set of stone toes with painted nails casually sticking up in the middle of a food market, a sculpture of a child hugging a fish and a cinematic graffiti montage with stars such as Marilyn Monroe portrayed alongside R2D2. Even the city’s theatre has a playful, creative addition to its exterior – a florescent sign on top of the grandiose building reads ‘Heart of the city’ one night; ‘Art of the city’ the next. The striking design of the Wiwilí Bridge is another standout piece of urban architecture that is often accentuated by brave locals sitting on top of the structure, a feat that is sometimes countered with a fine from the police. One of the city’s many canals is home to a crocodile casually sticking its cement head out of the water, but more a well-known water feature is the ‘Bächle’, a series of rivulets that run through the streets and are an obvious nightmare for anyone with small children or a childlike tendency to paddle. Keep your inner child amused by buying a toy boat to brave the waters with instead of being tempted to dip your foot in for a splash. Discordant with Freiburg’s many lighthearted artistic features is the ‘Säule der Toleranz’ or ‘Pillar of Tolerance’; a glowing column that changes colour during the evening to warn those congregating on the Augustinerplatz, one of the city’s main squares, that they should not make any noise by the time that the pillar glows red. How effective the small, fluorescent installation is on a warm summer’s evening however, is debatable. Freiburg’s rich history is indicated in its many well-preserved buildings, which have either survived extensive bombing during WWII or been carefully reconstructed. Two such examples are
the town gates; Martinstor and Schwabentor. The twenty-first century hallmark of a McDonalds logo adorns the former, but the latter leads to the forested hill known as ‘Schlossberg’, which was once the site of medieval castle but is now most often climbed by those who wish to ascend the many steps of its watchtower. Make sure to leave this visit for a less than windy day if you want to enjoy the view of the city. The ‘Bismarckturm’ or ‘Bismarcktower’, erected in honour of Otto von Bismarck, first Chancellor of Germany, is also nearby, but is currently not accessible to the public. A more central standout monument with a tower worth climbing is the ‘Münster’, a towering eleventh-century minster crafted from striking red sandstone that makes it stand out from cathedrals in neighbouring cities. If you’re not having lunch at one of the many diverse stalls in the gastronome’s dream that is the market hall or ‘Markthalle’, then the food market that takes place in the square surrounding the Münster, or ‘Münsterplatz’, is another great place to pick up a bite to eat. Another crimson-coloured sight on the square is the historical merchants’ hall, situated by the less visually striking but more intriguing town history museum, which is housed in what was originally the home of local artist Christian Wentzinger. Lovers of history, knowledge and art can make the most of the city’s five museums with a €4 day ticket. The Augustiner Museum houses an incredible array of liturgical items, including a stunning collection of stained glass, the carefully lit presentation of which showcases the pieces at their most spectacular. Its presentation of original stone figures from the Münster, suspended from high walls, is undeniably impressive. Even with the top floor of this large exhibition space currently being closed off, the Augustiner is without a doubt still the star of Freiburg’s museums. The Gallery of Modern Art is not exactly extensive but provides a compelling sample of twentieth century art. The archaeological museum houses a curious collection of artefacts from various centuries, with a dazzling assortment of jewellery and precious items making for the most remarkable part of the exhibition. Its setting however, in a picturesque, hilltop villa
surrounded by an equally scenic park, is what gives the museum an exceptionally quaint atmosphere. Mosaics found on footpaths add to the town’s historic atmosphere, indicating what trade was – and in some cases, still is – practised along the street. A jeweller is indicated by a diamond, a baker by a pretzel, etc. Another significant feature of the city is its historic university, which is over 550–years–old. A thriving student population ensures that student watering holes such as Stusi Bar are kept in business, while a locally-brewed beer at cosier pubs such as the Hausbrauerei Feierling is enjoyed by those seeking a more rustic, relaxed experience. Should you decide to leave the charms of the city itself, there is a vast wealth of nature to be discovered in the Black Forest, and the borders of France, Austria and even Switzerland are just a short train ride or two away. Freiburg offers the best of many worlds; a small, yet lively city nestled between mountainous beauty, and a crossroads of European culture. There is very little that this small corner of a vast country cannot offer.
Photographer: Kate Rothwell
REVIEWS Assassin’s Creed: Revelations
The most recent of Ubisoft’s annual instalments in the Assassin’s Creed franchise is certain to provoke mixed reactions. Hardcore fans will love Revelations, however those less enamoured with the series will be unable to overlook the game’s shortcomings. Revelations once again places you in control of Desmond Miles as he explores the memories of his ancestors Altair ibn-La’Ahad and Ezio Auditore, charting the conflict across centuries between the Assassins and the Templars. Following the character’s popularity in Assassin’s Creed 2 and Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood, Ezio Auditore returns to take centre stage in Revelations. Ezio’s adventure takes him through Renaissance Constantinople as he becomes embroiled in intrigues between the Ottomans and the Byzantines, and meets historical celebrities, such as Suleiman the Magnificent. Revelations brings to a conclusion the story arcs of both Ezio and Altair – presumably to make way for a new protagonist when Assassin’s Creed 3 is released at the end of this year. Before addressing the niggling aspects of the game, it is only fair to emphasise that, despite its flaws, Revelations is a very good game and is quite impressive in some respects. Clearly, great attention has been paid to the game’s visuals; cut scenes are highly
With the announcement of Halo 4, it seems logical to take stock of the roots of the franchise, and as such, a tenth anniversary edition of the patriarch of the first-person shooter has arrived. For those not in the know, Halo follows a super-soldier known as the “Master Chief” who crash lands on a ring-like planet known as a ‘Halo’, in the midst of a human-alien conflict. Combat Evolved is and will always be a landmark masterpiece of the FPS genre. The game blasted onto the scene as the killer app for the original Xbox, and not only legitimised the multiplayer FPS experience on consoles; it proved that the console FPS was the future of online play. This edition can be broken down into two parts, firstly a complete HD remake brought to us by 343 Industries, utilising brand new graphics engine (Saber3D, courtesy of Saber Interactive), to bring Halo: CE into a new decade, at least graphically. It’s clear that this has been a labour of love. While it is aesthetically stunning, criticism must be aimed at the form of the campaign itself, which has shown its age, particularly in repetitious corridors and sequences. In larger battles, the frame rate simply can’t keep up and some
Title: Assassin’s Creed: Revelations Publishers: Ubisoft Developers: Ubisoft Montreal Platforms: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Windows 7, OnLive Release Date: Out Now 12
detailed, and the environments are gorgeous whether in the wilderness of the Iranian mountains or among the bazaars and minarets of Constantinople. The game’s combat system is also praiseworthy. Combat is fluid, elegant and acrobatic, with aerial and zip-line takedowns being particularly satisfying. Ezio has an extensive armoury at his disposal and is able to despatch foes with concealed blades, poison darts, and many other weapons. Despite impressive combat and visuals, Revelations has a twofold problem: it doesn’t do enough to distinguish itself from its predecessors, and the new features that are included don’t work particularly well. The hook-blade is a useful addition (though hardly revolutionary), and while the ability to craft 150 different varieties of bombs is a good concept, you won’t find yourself using them too often. The tactical den defence sections also don’t gel with the rest of the game at all, as stealth action is replaced by clunky real-time strategy. Furthermore, the game’s plot is essentially rather basic – Ezio has to find five keys to open a giant door. Revelations certainly isn’t a bad game – the sections that work well, work very well – however, the sections that are bad are simply irritating. The game feels as if its development has suffered in favour of its forthcoming sequel, so it’s probably worth waiting until the end of the year for a more polished Assassin’s Creed title. by Steven Balbirnie
Combat Evolved Anniversary
Title: Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary Publishers: Microsoft Studios Developers: 343 Industries, Certain Affinity, Bungie Platforms: Xbox 360 Release Date: Out Now
textures are weak. An interesting idea is the ability to almost seamlessly switch between the old and new presentations, a showcase of how far video game graphics have come in ten years. The second aspect is the multiplayer experience that the franchise is famed for. Brought to life largely with the help of long-time Halo-partner studio, Certain Affinity, this online component of Anniversary is built on Halo: Reach’s excellent multiplayer mode and graphics engine and should feel immediately familiar to those who played it last year. Included maps have been retooled, and each map has a classic version as well as the enhanced version, leaving it up to you to play it as you see fit. All that said, this definitely is not an authentic remake of the Halo: Combat Evolved multiplayer experience for longtime fans looking to relive their original Halo LAN. A great amount of love and care went into creating Halo: CEA, and the new graphics engine, while not perfect, is an excellent addition to bring Halo players who missed out on the original ten years ago up to speed. Halo: CEA’s campaign shortcomings are fairly apparent, but with an open mind, many will be able to appreciate what was one of the greatest shooters to ever grace consoles. by Jack Walsh
With the voice-actor tending to be a forgotten yet vital component in modern game development, Rory Crean explores the double standard between gaming and film within the profession
here is an odd phenomenon that exists in the world of cinema: overdubbing. Most nonEnglish-speaking countries that play Englishspeaking films have their own celebrities, who are known not for their dashing looks or their not-soprivate affairs, but rather, for their voice. Take, for example, JeanPierre Michael. If you have ever been in a hotel in France and found yourself watching a film, you have quite likely heard this man’s voice. He has been the French voice actor for stars such as Johnny Depp, Ethan Hawke, Jude Law, Ben Affleck,
e c i o V e l b i s i v n I e Th Timothy Olyphant, Keanu Reeves as well as his number one source of business, Brad Pitt, and he is revered accordingly. Naturally, Michael has his own talents that merit public attention, but despite the media attention his stage and television work has garnered him, it is his film over-dubbing that has made him a celebrity. Now, we always like to look for common traits and features across varying media, but Jean-Pierre’s celebrity in the world of cinema provides a sharp contrast to the gaming industry. Game voice-actors are, for the most part, unknown. There are, of course, exceptions when film and TV stars cross over the threshold. Bethesda has a nasty habit of hiring big names like Patrick Stewart and Liam Neeson for the likes of Oblivion and Fallout 3, only to dispatch them minutes after their introduction. But beyond that, most game voice actors move from contract to contract, studio to studio and genre to genre without ever gaining any real notice. Take, for example, Steven Blum. Most of you won’t have heard of him, but you may have played Bulletstorm.
Epic Games and People Can Fly came together to create a tight, fun, first-person shooter experience that ended up costing Epic a chunk of change. But those details were, to the gamer, peripheral. We wanted to know where we’d heard the protagonist Grayson Hunt before. If you look at Blum’s voiceography you’ll see a huge list, most notably the characters Oghren from Dragon Age and Jack Cayman from MadWorld. Yes, Blum is the man whose trachea has more gravel in it than a mansion’s driveway. He’s the guy you call in when you want to convey utter badass-ery, yet few people outside of the industry could put a name to the voice. What about John DiMaggio? Why, he’s the voice of that obnoxious, yet lovable alcoholic machine Bender from the Futurama television series. He also happens to be the voice of Marcus Fenix in Epic’s Gears of War trilogy, and enjoyed an excellent turn as Smiling Jack in the classic Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines. DiMaggio is certainly a higher profile voice actor, and you may well have heard of him, but is that because of Futurama, or his contribution to the gaming world?
We seem to have a double standard whereby in TV and cinema, we revere directors, creators, writers and movie stars, but in gaming, you may recognise one developer from a studio of hundreds. We have a tendency to give all the kudos to the studio as a whole or worse, the owning corporation such as EA or Activision, rather than singling out the individuals who made the game great. Is The Artist so successful because of the producing company, the Weinstein Company, or the genius direction and performances showcased in the film itself? Perhaps it’s partly to do with the relative youth of the industry. There isn’t as rich a background in gaming as there is in film, music, art or television. Perhaps it’s the subtle elitism of theatre, film and art critics that won’t allow gaming’s ambassadors to grace the world stage. However, these are the teething problems of every new medium. It may also be due to the fact that gaming hasn’t translated all that well into any other media (two words: Resident Evil), but recent developments may change that. A few short years ago, Gore Verbinski (director of Rango and Pirates of the Caribbean) was flirting with the idea of a BioShock movie, which has now stalled in pre-production and
looks unlikely to ever make it to the big screen. However, the fervour that the idea of a BioShock film has proven that there is a market for a cinematic adaptation of popular gaming franchises, and the likes of Mass Effect and Uncharted seem like ideal candidates. Indeed, Uncharted may well be the exception to this “unknown celebrity” phenomenon. Regardless of whether you own a PS3 or not, you have most likely heard of Nathan Drake and his global shenanigans. You may also know the voice of Drake to be Nolan North (who also provided the voice of the cockney Penguin in Arkham Asylum). North has said in interviews that as the Uncharted franchise has developed, the developers have slowly moulded Drake to be more like North, both in his attitude and physical appearance. North, then, would be the ideal choice for the film, but instead Columbia has tried to cast everyone but him. North has, of course, spoken up, making the fair point that he too is an actor and knows Drake’s character inside out. Hopefully Columbia Pictures will come to their senses and rightfully choose North to portray the man that made Naughty Dog studios relevant again. North could well be the ambassador the industry needs to foray into another medium. The challenge now is to do it right, and prove that gaming celebrities are not just a pretty voice. 13
e are in the golden age of the geek. After decades of being the butt of high school movie jokes – laughing at their interest in games and lack of interest in matching attire – suddenly the geek is king. Games and technology have gone mainstream, and giant glasses and Pokémon references are not the preserve of the socially awkward but rather the socially pretentious. Our TV heroes have also gone the way of the geek; the tough, gruff “solve the problem with punching” protagonists have made way for the TV genius: someone who unravels the riddle and saves the world with intellectual might. Two of the highest rated shows in the UK feature such geek idols, and the geek behind the geeks is Steven Moffat, head writer of Doctor Who and co-creator of Sherlock. Doctor Who, for the uninitiated, is a show featuring an “eleven-hundred-and-three-year-old” alien who travels through space and time in a police box (called the TARDIS – Time and Relative Dimension in Space), fighting monsters and finding friends to take along with him, only ninety per cent of which have been very attractive women. Having run from 1963 to 1989, the show had been on a seemingly permanent hiatus until a reboot headed by Russell T. Davis began airing in 2005. A fan since childhood, Moffat jumped at the chance to write his childhood hero. “Back in 2004, when we were approaching that first series ... it felt sort of magical and strange that Doctor Who was coming back. It felt impossible that we were actually doing it and could go to the set and see the police box. It hadn’t been on for fifteen years; it was so incredibly exciting, and I remember sitting down for the first time and thinking ‘Bloody hell, I’m actually writing Doctor Who’. That never completely wears off, to be honest. I’m always very excited about writing Doctor Who, but it’s now harder for me to recapture the feeling of it being entirely a novelty. “It’s hard to remember Doctor Who as a show I wasn’t involved with, as opposed to a couple of words I’m having stapled into the middle of my name. It’s really hard to remember I just used to be watching, and will be again someday. That’s become odd. But very exciting, very, very exciting.” One cliché of Doctor Who, and both a point of ridicule by non-fans and fond nostalgia for those who watched as children, is the cheesy special effects and alien antagonists. The new series has a more impressive budget and use of CGI than the original, but the writers are keen to stick to their memory of the show. Unlike most British series, which have few episodes and a single writer, each episode of Doctor Who has a different writer, with Moffat writing key episodes and overseeing the storylines. This can lead to very different tones, everything from humorous to chilling. “Gareth Roberts, one of my fellow writers on Doctor Who, had a theory that you write the Doctor Who you remember.” Moffat explains. “He tended to remember the funny ones, so he writes funny Doctor
Matt Smith as The Doctor
“I do like the sort of weird sense of transgression of it being slightly wrong to have a television show whose mission statement is to petrify kids. Try pitching that and getting it made today!”
Jamie Bell as Tintin
Doctor Who, The Adventures of Tintin and Sherlock mastermind Steven Moffat talks to Emer Sugrue about writing, jokes, and terrifying children Who, and I remember just being terrified over it, so I tend to write the scary Doctor Who. Neither memory is more accurate; it’s all kind of nonsense, but I do like the sort of weird sense of transgression of it being slightly wrong to have a television show whose mission statement is to petrify kids. Try pitching that and getting it made today! “With Doctor Who, I’m thinking of how I can get people to be scared, I suppose. ‘What’s the monster this week? What’s the adventure? What’s the fastest way we can start the story? How soon can I get Matt Smith [the actor currently playing the Doctor] running?’ is probably the focus there. “Sherlock is different, because Mark [Gatiss, co-creator of Sherlock] and I sit around wondering which one are we going to do this year, which bits of the original haven’t been touched, and there’s quite a lot of Sherlock Holmes that hasn’t been touched. We’ve had considerable success just by mining the bits people don’t usually do ... I mean, we got such credit for having the first time we see Sherlock Holmes he’s flogging a corpse, and people said how amazing and clever we were but the truth is the first time Sherlock Holmes is mentioned in the first Sherlock Holmes story that’s exactly what he’s doing. We just nicked it from the original.” Though he started his writing career making children’s television shows with Press Gang, a series based around a school newspaper, Moffat has plenty of experience writing things aimed more at the adult market. He followed up the success of Press Gang with Joking Apart and Coupling, sitcoms about divorce, relationships and sex. However, he doesn’t feel there to be much difference in writing for different age groups. “I’ve never even thought about it. I really, really don’t, I don’t have to think about it, which possibly says something about my immaturity! “I think Sherlock is really loved by kids as well actually. I’m not absolutely certain that the Doctor Who audience and the Sherlock audience are as different as people might like to imagine. I was alarmed when they moved back the last episode to nine o’clock, because that’s slightly too late for kids to watch it, and while we don’t make it for them, it’s obviously more adult than Doctor Who. At the same time, I’m always careful not to include anything, you know, you can push the envelope a bit, but you don’t make it unwatchable for kids. There’s nothing my kids wouldn’t watch in it.”
Coupling is an exception to this rule. Featuring the classic sitcom lineup of three guys, three girls and a heap of misunderstandings, it is very much of the bawdy side of the genre. “The kids in Press Gang, my show years ago, were far more grown up than the ones in Coupling. It is very much in the adult camp, but compared to my children’s shows, so much more immature. “I love Coupling, but you’ve got more licence, I suppose, when you’re talking to adults, but if I had my time again, I think I would have made Coupling more mainstream, because there’s a lot of episodes that kids can’t watch. ‘The Man with Two Legs’ was a very funny episode, my son would love it, I’m sure, but it’s just a bit too naughty. With just a little bit more inventiveness and a little bit of cover phrasing you could make that show for a mainstream audience as opposed to a niche audience.” The lines are also often blurred between comedy and drama in Moffat’s works; a noted feature of his writing being the move between tense, emotional drama and tension-breaking jokes several times within an episode. “I honestly don’t change the approach very much at all. The difference is, when you’re doing a sitcom, you’re actually thinking ‘they’ve got to be laughing on this page and this page and this page’. I don’t think there’s any excuse really, unless you’re making people cry then you should be making them laugh. I wrote comedy before I officially wrote comedy, because Press Gang was always funny.” The dramatic elements can also increase the levels of humour. Comedy often comes from the subversion of expectation and the breaking of tension, allowing the two sides to play off against each other. “Comedy sits better in a drama; the way its sits in life really, but then successful comedies can come from dramatic elements. The line can be blurred, because comedy is an artificial distinction unless you’re actually talking about a comedian. If you’re talking about narrative comedy then it is just story telling.” Steven Moffat’s latest hit is Sherlock, a television adaptation of Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sher-
lock Holmes novels, whose second series recently aired to great acclaim. Sherlock sets itself apart from most adaptations with its setting in modern-day London. The show fully incorporates modern attitudes and technology, which Moffat feels is a natural progression for the original character of Holmes. “We just decided we were going to update him properly; he’d be a modern man, because he’s a modern man in the Victorian version; he’s always using newfangled things, like telegrams. He’s someone who appreciates and enjoys technology; he’s a bit of a science boffin, he’s a geek, he would do all those things. I just think it’s fun; I don’t think all the fantastic tech we’ve got limits the storytelling. I think you can use it in all sorts of ways.” Many people have commented on the similarities between the the Doctor and Sherlock, down to their respective series finales, in which both characters faked their deaths. “We always knew we were going to have to do Reichenbach, and yes, indeed, I did have the Doctor faking his own death – though by slightly more elaborate means! The problem is, I’m in charge of both shows, and what I can’t ever do is not do something in one show because I did it in the other. Ninety-nine per cent of the audience haven’t a clue who I am or know that I work on both of them, so you just ignore things like that. They are two swashbuckling geniuses; they’re always going to be doing similar things.” So what next for the man with the golden pen? Following the mind-blowing end of ‘The Reichenbach Fall’, the climactic episode of the latest series of Sherlock, it was revealed to much delight that a third series has been commissioned. There is also a seventh series of Doctor Who currently in production, so it seems there will be no rest for Moffat in the near future. “We just had our official day commencing pre-production on Doctor Who, so as for knowing when it’s actually going to be shown is a little bit optimistic. But we’ll definitely show it, and I’m pretty sure it will be the autumn.” Details of the upcoming series are vague, but it seems that the Doctor’s companions of the last two series, Amy Pond and Rory Williams, played by Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill, will be leaving the show. “I’m writing that right now – the big Rory and Amy heartbreaking finale. It will be quite heartbreaking,” Moffat teases.“I think you’ll be in trouble watching it.”
Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock Holmes and Martin Freeman as Doctor John Watson
REVIEWS Title: The Descendants Director: Alexander Payne Starring: George Clooney, Shailene Woodley, Judy Greer Release Date: Out Now
he only thing The Descendants has going against it, as it hits Irish theatres, is high expectations. Mercifully, if any film seems capable of standing up to such hype, it’s this one. Directed by Alexander Payne (Election, Sideways) and set in Hawaii, The Descendants tells the tale of lawyer Martin King (George Clooney) in the wake of a boating accident, which has left his wife Elizabeth (Patricia Hastie) in a terminal coma. Previously a distant, workaholic father, Martin is thrown into a situation where he must regularly boil over into frustrated venting at their take care of his young daughters. This initially comatose matriarch in jarringly blunt moments. limited premise is quickly expanded upon by a Their travels across the islands, informing those range of complex revelations, not least of which close to Elizabeth of her death, even provide is the discovery that Elizabeth had been having some darkly comic moments reminiscent of the an affair. Martin is also working to sell a huge director’s previous work. plot of land owned by his extended family, which As much as Clooney’s performance has warinitially prompts discussion of how Hawaii’s land ranted acclaim, it’s most certainly not the only should be treated, but soon devolves into a back- one worth noting. While he excels in a stoic role, ground catalyst for the main plot. expressing his character’s angst through intense The film’s principle achievement is how deftly brooding rather than in outbursts, Shailene it tackles the conflicting emotions that can come Woodley’s turn as his boarding school-confined from the death of an individual with whom one daughter Alex demonstrates a deft range, from had a complicated relationship. Instead of sen- adolescent tantrums to mature kindness. A spetimental schmaltz, there is a moving, if occa- cial mention must be given to Judy Greer, whose sionally unpleasant humanity at the core of the character’s encounter with Martin’s wife is argufilm. The family’s attempts to express their love ably the film’s best scene.
If there is any fault to be found here, it’s with The Descendant’s uncomfortable relationship with its setting. In his narration, Clooney’s character reflects on how perceptions of Hawaii are inaccurate and how the family are inextricably bound to the state’s history through a lineage of propertyowning ancestors. It seems to build up to a grand reflection on the island that never really occurs, the backdrop staying effectively perfunctory to the storyline, even if it does provide some gorgeous sights. However, enjoyed as a portrait of a dysfunctional family’s struggles, this is an exceptional film. In a Nutshell: An inspiringly human work with a tragic centre. by Cormac Duffy
fter a twelve-year absence from the big screen, the overblown Muppet stylecomes as a surprise to the viewer, and as Jason Segal throws himself into the all-singing, all-dancing, opening scenes it almost seems like a mockery. Yet it soon becomes clear that he is simply playing along with the classic Muppets trait of self-awareness; cheesy gags are swiftly followed by a self-referential quip, such as wry references to the film’s budget or the unrealistic amount of time it takes for characters to travel from one state to another. The ‘human leads’ are Gary (Segal) and Mary (Amy Adams), whose love
interest mainly pushes the classic ‘pay attention to your girlfriend’ moral, but also the cringe-worthy ‘all a girlfriend wants is to be proposed to’ assumption. The story opens with Gary, Mary and Gary’s Muppet fan (and puppet) brother, Walter, who discover on a trip to L.A. that the original Muppets theatre is dilapidated and in danger of being torn down by evil businessman Tex Richman (Chris Cooper). The human leads don’t take centre stage however, and it is the classic love story
between Miss Piggy and Kermit that Another rather touching aspect of proves to be of more interest. That the film is the portrayal of the Mupisn’t to say that Segal and Adams’ act- pets as friends who are no longer in ing skills are inferior to those of two contact and find it a little awkward felt-covered puppets, but somehow to reunite and work as a team again. there is a little more depth to the frog- The entire film plays on themes of pig dynamic, as Miss Piggy asserts her nostalgia, yearning for the good old independence and tells Kermit to ac- days of showbiz. Alongside this comes knowledge her as an individual and not a suprising thread of anti-capitalism just part of the group. Fear not howev- - Gonzo has become a businessman er, there are still plenty of laughs to be who has little time for his old companfound in the well-known inter-species ions, the evil archnemis is a corporate relationship. high-flyer and there is even a mention of the Muppets in the Economist. Title: The Muppets A further surprise is the extensive list Director: James Bobin of high-profile cameos that grace the Starring: Jason Segel, Amy Adams, Chris Cooper, Rashida Jones screen, which is impressive even by the Release Date: February 10th Muppets’ regular high standards. Fortunately none of the star appearances are given enough screen time to outdo the Muppets themselves, but they do add to the quality of the overall production. The Muppets are back, and kids and adults alike can expect to leave the cinema smiling. Once they grace the stage, you might just feel inclined to clap. In a Nutshell: If The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo left you disturbed, this is the perfectly heartwarming, giggle-inducing antidote.
by Kate Rothwell
In our Top Ten this week, George Morahan takes an unconventional look at the most overrated films of all time
Man on a Ledge
10. Bicycle Thieves (Ladri di biciclette) (1948) In post-war Italy, a poor man’s bike is stolen, and therefore, he cannot do his job. Consequently, the man steals a bike, gets caught and is ostracised by society. Big whoop, life is cruel. 9. Avatar (2009) No one can deny that Avatar looks pretty and has been incredibly successful (mainly due to those badass glasses you’d get with your ticket), but upon repeat viewing, one could easily assume that James Cameron spent a decade of his life trying to meld Amazonian Smurfs with An Inconvenient Truth. 8. Schindler’s List (1993) This one goes out to everyone who thinks they can make a Holocaust film and get an easy Oscar, but mainly to Spielberg (and his nonunion Mexican equivalent) for consistently exploiting Important Moments in Twentieth Century History for awards season glory.
Title: Man on a Ledge Director: Asger Leth Starring: Sam Worthington, Elizabeth Banks, Jamie Bell Release Date: February 3rd
an on a Ledge opens with the days when Steven Segal could Nick Cassidy (Sam just shoot something and get on Worthington) checking with the ass-kicking. Man on a Ledge into a fancy hotel under a false name, brings the concept of the mindless writing an apparent suicide note and action film back to contemporary then moving out onto the outside cinema. It is also very well paced window ledge, where he threatens to (never losing momentum once durjump. It is then revealed that he was ing the entire film), with the tension serving a long-term prison sentence kept at a high level throughout, and for an unknown crime. He escapes is gloriously entertaining. however, and sets a well-laid plan The part of the film that works into motion to prove his innocence. best, however, is the dialogue The main body of the film between Nick’s brother Joey follows Nick’s relationship with ( Jamie Bell) and his girlfriend, negotiator Detective Lydia Mercer Angie (Génesis Rodriguez). Both (Elizabeth Banks), a train-wreck of a characters bring comic relief and cop with her heart in the right place, the necessary eye-candy to the film, who attempts to talk him down off usually when together and in the the ledge. She quickly realises that middle of high-pressure situations. Cassidy isn’t suicidal, but will jump These two characters alone raise if he has to, and tries in earnest to the entertainment value of the film work out exactly why he’s on the enormously. ledge in the first place. Twists, fantastic action setThis is by no means a film wor- pieces, tales of corruption and even thy of an Oscar nomination. The a surprising undercurrent of antistory is filled with more holes than capitalism; say hello to the return of a Curly Wurly and some of the ac- the classic beat em’ up. tion sequences are more than a little eyebrow-raising, yet the film does In a Nutshell: If you want something many modern thrillers entertainment that does what fail to do – it gives us a decent thrill. it’s supposed to do, minus any It can be argued that films such as input from your brain, this is Inception and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy your film. Fun and refreshing. have given the thriller genre a more cerebral reputation of late; gone are by Michael O’Sullivan
Below: Harrison Ford as Rick Deckard
7. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004) One of the better if lesser-known moments in the sordid history of meddling Hollywood executives came in 2004, when Focus Features re-titled the Charlie Kaufman film Eternal Sunshine Out My Own Ass by Charlie Kaufman, however, they also thought it was appropriate for Jim Carrey to try ‘serious acting’ again, yeesh. 6. (500) Days of Summer (2009) Yes, Zooey Deschanel is adorable, and you could easily lose yourself in her eyes, and of course, Joseph Gordon Levitt is charm personified and has the dance moves to match, but nobody – and I mean nobody – ordered the double helping of twee with a side-order of Manic Pixie Dream Girl inversion. Oh, and keep off the furniture, you’re in IKEA for fuck’s sake. 5. 300 (2007) Granted, nobody this side of an IQ of fifty believes any of Zack Snyder’s works to be classics, but for many of this writer’s teenage class mates, laboured, larynx-shredding cries of “THIS IS SPARTA!” replaced punctuation in 2007, so it’s going on the list. That’ll show them. 4. The King’s Speech (2010) Statistics have shown The King’s Speech to be the most ‘meh’ film of all time. True story. 3. Raging Bull (1980) Frequently touted as a masterpiece already, Raging Bull seems to have undergone a critical renaissance of late. It’s difficult to see why as Scorsese’s turgid ode to paedophilia, boxing and Marlon Brando monologues is a bona fide snooze fest. 2. Citizen Kane (1941) A sled? A fucking sled?! 1. Blade Runner (1982) Some films are cult films for a reason. It’s not because they’re misunderstood by the mainstream or ahead of their time, but because they are mediocre. Blade Runner is one such film and it isn’t improved by its revered extended cuts. No, they house just as many delusions of grandeur and miserable shots of Harrison Ford as the original, nay, even more. Time to die. 17
Shall Hollywood tell you about my life...
ith the Oscars on the horizon, our cinemas are predictably awash with bait for the Academy’s consideration. However, there is one genre of film that is seemingly the most appealing of all: the biographical film, or biopic, as it is better known. Biopics have, in recent years, become a staple on the Best Picture and Best Actor/Actress nomination lists, and the film genre for which Oscar recognition is almost guaranteed. Last year, four of the ten nominees for Best Picture – The King’s Speech, The Fighter, The Social Network and 127 Hours – were biographical films, while Colin Firth was awarded Best Actor for his portrayal of King George VI. In the previous year, Sandra Bullock picked up her Best Actress
As Oscar season approaches, Dermot O’Rourke examines the pros and cons of a recent Academy favourite - the biopic their ideals is impersonated by a well-known actor, who, with a good make-up department and the appropriate weight adjustment, bears a striking resemblance to said person. Hollywood is overly focused on the presentation of the biographical subject and such films rely on closeups of the actor to convey the deep emotions of the character rather than give any kind of comprehensive study of the biographical subject, often leaving the productions without any real substance.
Condensing a person’s life into two hours of entertainment means that the biopic constructs characters with only a basis of selective set events. As a result, the biopic often serves more as a highlight reel of the subject’s life, rather than any kind of exploration of their influence or societal impact. This is no more apparent than in the recent Margaret Thatcher biopic, The Iron Lady. Margaret Thatcher was, undoubtedly, a divisive figure in British life during her time as Prime Minister, and the film never really takes a definitive standpoint “With films such as J. Edgar and The Iron Lady being on her politics, sailing through considered by the Academy this year, Hollywood many of her most important decisions and their consequences is being continually validated for producing in montage. mediocre biopics that prop up attention-gr abbing Furthermore, with movies such as The Iron Lady, the pre-existing lead performances” perceptions of the biographical Oscar for playing the evangelic surrogate mother The main trouble with biopics is that they subject must be considered before committing of American football player Michael Oher in The freely flit between the boundaries of fiction and their life story to film. Audiences, especially Blind Side, the film based on Oher’s teenage years. non-fiction. Despite using first-hand accounts, those who experienced the consequences of This is not to say that these films were real events and, sometimes, archival television Thatcher’s political rule, have a strong opinion necessarily unworthy of their Oscar nomination footage, biopics insist on fitting enigmatic and of her long before the lights go down, and it or their awards (although Sandra Bullock’s unique people from recent history into character is impossible for them not impose their own selection is, at least, highly debatable), but this archetypes and their lives into narrative perception onto Meryl Streep’s depiction of her trend indicates that Hollywood producers are conventions, so they can easily be consumed by on screen. becoming increasingly one-dimensional in their a mainstream audience. For instance, the recent In a similar way to the summer schedule attempts to grab the attention of Oscar voters. biopic J. Edgar, concerning J. Edgar Hoover, the being full of blockbuster adaptations of comic With biographical films becoming increasingly controversial founder of the FBI, deals with the books, the award season schedule is becoming prevalent on Oscar night and with no sign question of Hoover’s supposed homosexuality. increasingly saturated with biopics. In recent of their production rate slowing this year, it The inclusion of such questioning, despite its times, biographical films tend only to use preis a good moment to reflect on the biopic foundation being based purely on rumour, is existing material of subjects’ lives, in lieu of genre. With films such as J. Edgar and The Iron supposed to paradoxically create a more relatable any original content, and then shoehorn it into Lady being considered by the Academy this and ‘real’ character for the audience, thus a satisfyingly conventional narrative structure year, Hollywood is being continually validated allowing for close-ups of Leonardo DiCaprio to for the pleasure of the Academy. Ultimately, for producing mediocre biopics that prop up be encumbered with a false sense of meaning and Hollywood studios, with their apparent attention-grabbing lead performances. It seems feeling. This use of pure conjecture as fact in the motivation to reconstruct every semi-notable that all Hollywood biopics have found the film also prompts the question: to what extent person’s life on screen for the acquisition of formula for awards and have become rather are filmmakers allowed to stretch the details golden statuettes, are forgetting the most homogenous; a person with a unique talent of their subject’s life for the sake of standard important element of any biopic: the person or vision who must overcome opposition to narrative structure and Oscar glory? themselves. 18
Fatal Fourway What is the best
teen drama? Aoife’s on a roll as the Fourway reluctantly debate the best teen drama
Saved by the Bell
Buffy the Vampire Slayer
The OC was the teen drama that had its cake and ate it too. It was about beautiful people, living in elite neighbourhoods, viewing jobs and education as mere distractions from the day to-day toil of the ever-burgeoning scandal that was consuming their lives, but it also had Seth Cohen. Seth was a strange boy; he liked comic books, sailing and owned a toy horse called Captain Oates – he didn’t fit in. In other words, he was the perfect entry point for the less illustrious viewer and brought enough self-consciousness to the show to help us with our suspension of disbelief as drug overdoses, sexual experimentation and overly complex family trees became part and parcel of life in Orange County. Obviously, the show took a huge nosedive in its later seasons and, in retrospect, all Seth really did was say ‘graphic novel’ a few times to prove his geek credentials, but at the time, that didn’t matter – Seth was one of us and every dramatic or implausible cliff-hanger felt absolutely vital, even Marissa seemed more than just a pretty face who could barely read her lines in a convincing manner. Either way, The OC is the best teen drama, because it embraced its absurdity, but made it a bit more palpable to your average, boring teenager, who didn’t have a pill addiction or new sexual orientation every month.
While the boys may have scoffed at my choice of Grey’s Anatomy last issue, I still managed to cruise to victory in the polls once again because nobody cares about medicine and everybody cares about drama. If there is one thing Gossip Girl has going for it, it is drama, and it is the drama in ‘teen drama’ that we’re looking for. Before the end of the first series there had been an attempted suicide, an attempted rape, drug addiction, a threesome, an eating disorder, a pregnancy scare, a divorce and a proposal for marriage, not to mention lost virginities, a near-fatal accident, several incidents of breaking-and-entering and more blackmail than you thought possible. The drama is still on-going in Season Five. More than that however, Gossip Girl takes teen dramas into the twenty-first century, rather than just rehashing a format that’s been around since the dawn of time – it’s a show about a blog where teenagers stalk each other with smartphones, and it is almost solely watched on the internet by its viewers. As silly as the premise may sound, it still manages to act effectively as social satire, offering a better insight into the life of the uber-wealthy and class warfare than reality shows such as The Hills ever could. The fact that the characters are such caricatures makes it easy to guiltlessly indulge in. Also, the cast is the hottest on TV; it’s ridiculous.
Teen dramas are the worst type of shows on television. So there, Aoife, I said it. They’re even worse than the much maligned medical dramas discussed in the last round. All of them are Grey’s Anatomy minus the only semi-redeemable part – the medicine. Not only do all teen dramas have the glossiest of glossy actors – comically passing off as teenagers – the melodramatic storylines are just, well, really dull. However, if you are inclined for some teen drama action there is one show worth watching: Saved by the Bell. Not a teen drama, you say? More like a situation comedy with teens in a school and some relationship drama thrown in for good measure you say? Trying to win some votes with nostalgia you say? Well, they may be some valid points, but you would be wrong. Saved by the Bell has got it all: a group of close friends who are balls deep in both gossip and each other, and relationships that always end with some shocking revelations. Looking for a McHandsome with a sensitive side? AC Slater is your man – star athlete jock who is also a proficient dancer. And romance? Look no further than the Zack and Kelly will-they-won’t-they relationship that gripped an entire generation. Saved by the Bell may not have been the “standard” teen drama, like The OC or Gossip Girl, but there is really only one reason for that: it was actually entertaining.
You know what isn’t as good as Buffy the Vampire Slayer? Literally every other teen drama (with the possible exception of Saved By The Bell, which, to be fair, will probably get my support when this goes to a Facebook vote). Buffy the Vampire Slayer is the only legitimately funny, exciting, and psycologically taut teen drama, and it deserves your vote (please disregard what I just said about the excellent Zack Morris vehicle, and just go with me on this one). The genius of Buffy wasn’t just the witty, authentic teenage vernacular, but the subtle symbolism envisioned by creator Joss Whedon when pitching the original supernatural teen drama. Each monster, delivered weekly unto the denizens of Sunnydale High, represented a real world teenage ‘issue’, personified through the optics of a schlocky horror film. From the quest for physical perfection symbolised by a witchcraft-practising mother swapping bodies with her cheerleader daughter, or brimming teenage sexuality personified through a comehither biology teacher who also just happens to be a giant praying mantis. Sure, Buffy has its fair share of self-important monologues and brooding teenage angst, but at the very least, that same nonsense you’ll find in every teen drama is contrasted against giant sexy praying mantis women. Take that, Gossip Girl.
Go on the University Observer Facebook page and have your say; what is the best teen drama?
it’s me I’m CAthy I’ve come home now Irish singer-songwriter Cathy Davey chats to Aoife Valentine ahead of her residency at Whelan’s about conquering writer’s block and clearing her pipes
f there is one thing which is strikingly obvious throughout Otwo’s time speaking to Meteor Award winning singer-songwriter Cathy Davey, it is that she is extremely grounded. Humble and modest, yet quietly confident, it is clear that in the eight years since the release of her first EP, Come Over, she has found herself on much steadier footing than in the beginning. Where she was once terrified of performing on stage and uncomfortable with even being labelled as a ‘singer-songwriter’, she is now quick to admonish her own harshness: “I think that was just a rebellion against something which I didn’t really know anything about when I was twenty-two. I am a singer-songwriter and I wish I could go back in time and give my younger self a talking to.” The stage fright, however, is not something which she has conquered completely. “It comes and goes, because I haven’t gigged in quite a while. I think once you’re in the swing of it, it gets easier but now that I’ve been away for a while I know that it’s going to be pretty nervewrecking. I think at this stage in my career I may as well enjoy it as much as possible because you kind of get a sense of you only have one life and once that kicks in, you stop being worried about the same things as you do when you’re in your early twenties.” However, she does defiantly add: “But I think I can handle Whelan’s!” Whelan’s, rather than acting as a yardstick for how big the crowd can get before her nerves set in, is indeed the venue which Davey plans to call home for the next month, something which she hasn’t done since the release of her second album, Tales of Silversleeve. “I haven’t done a residency since the beginning of Silversleeve and this one’s a bit different because each night is 20
themed, so it’s a bit more work involved but I think I’m up to it.” Instead of playing three standard gigs, Davey has decided to limit such normality to the first night. She explains: “The second one is called ‘Songs That Scare Children’ and I did one of them before a couple of years ago. It’s songs like that which would make you have that feeling that you’re a kid, that you’re gonna have nightmares, but it’s thrilling all the same. The third gig is favourite songs of mine from years of yore and it’s just songs I love from the forties and fifties; a smoother night than the first night, the Cathy Davey gig.” It was during the period in which Davey laid out her plans for these themes that she was forced to look back on her debut album, and consider whether her openly harsh criticism of her work was really justified. “I started listening to the first album again, because I was considering doing some songs for the next show from Something Ilk and I realised that I had been very, very hard on myself and everyone involved probably. It’s the first album of someone who was very used to playing on their own and it was their first attempt at having some kind of presence or making their attitude known; it’s the voice of a younger person. The album sounds very nice sonically; it’s kind of teenager-y, but there’s something in there, so I’m gonna go easier on myself now.” The writing process has been something of struggle in the past for Davey, but she insists that it is something she has come to peace with by now. “I think everyone who writes or does anything where they have a certain amount of pressure on themselves to come up with something that is essentially self-gratifying then that pressure is so much more than anything anyone
else could put on you and it causes problems but I think after the second album I realised what it was and I haven’t seemed to let [writer’s block] cause as much trouble as it did in the past. I know its game!” However, there is still something of a break-in phase when she begins writing a new album. “You have to clear the pipes, and there’ll be a fairly long, annoying, period where everything I write is shit; then you eventually get to a stage where you find your feet again, and you’re writing things that are important to you.” Plans for a fourth album are well under way, and Davey is already back writing once more, but she is hopeful that she can do something a little bit different this time around. “I’m not sure if it’s going to be the same format as the last three. This is an art form where it’s dependent on how you’re received to evolve and I think if I’m to keep an eye on my incentives, I have to make sure that it’s interesting enough to drive itself so I’m not forcing it into shape. I’m writing and writing, but I want it to morph into something other than just the next album. I’m not sure what that is, I have a kind of idea but I would rather do and not say.” She remains mysterious when Otwo pushes for more details, but she does tell us: “I’m recording all the time and it’s all for me. It’s all selfish really, I’m just writing to enjoy it.” With progress continuously being made from her bedroom, where she records as she doesn’t feel comfortable in studios, we can but hope all will soon become clear. Cathy Davey plays Whelan’s on February 2nd, 9th and 16th. Tickets are priced at €22. The Nameless is out now.
Cynical optimist I
f ever an award is doled out for nicest man in metal, Paul Masvidal is a shoe-in. A gently spoken, warm character, the Cynic vocalist/guitarist is the type to make sure he individually shakes hands with each member of the crowd before going off-stage. After gracing an adoring, full capacity crowd in The Village with a blazing set, Masvidal and his musical other-half, drummer Sean Reinert, could be found hanging outside with fans, swapping stories, posing for photos, and signing more records than HMV sell in a week. When Otwo catch up with him, he is unwinding backstage before the show while Reinert is out searching for a good place to eat. We later discovered that as Otwo spoke to Masvidal, Reinert was across the road engaged in a disappointing experience with an Eddie Rockets burger. Welcome to Ireland. Masvidal and Reinert are the only two remaining original members of Cynic, who formed in Florida in the late 1980s, then a thriving hub of heavy metal and the epicentre of the nascent American death metal sound. “There was a real scene at the time,” Masdival recalls. “There were all these bands playing and everyone sounded different, which was kind of cool.” He contrasts the “extreme bands” such as Morbid Angel, Deicide and Obituary with Atheist and Cynic, fittingly lumping his own band in with arguably the first group to take a progressive, fusion approach to the template. The group cut a few demos, but were to show their real promise working with another band. In 1991, they cut their teeth, and made their name, playing on fellow Floridians Death’s seminal album Human, an undisputed touchstone of extreme metal due in no small way to the pair’s own virtuosity. When they finally unleashed their own debut, 1993’s Focus, the attention was on them. To this day, it’s a beloved classic, introducing brutal riffage to fusion instrumentations that incorporate jazz syncopation, world music, and the Masdival’s own vocoded vocals.
Yet it was fifteen years before the group would record again as Cynic, on 2008’s captivating return to form, Traced in Air. This long interval did not see the band drift apart of course. Reinert and Masdival worked together on other projects, notably cutting demos as Portal, as well as making two records as Æon Spoke, a project whose melodicism has fused into Cynic’s latest material. Masdival presents the two as a complimentary dialectic; Cynic representing futurism, Æon Spoke a tribute to roots. To him, everything they do shares a common tongue. “You can call it a different name, but it’s the same artist.” For all their collaborators, most notably regular recording bass player Sean Malone, the story of Cynic from their early days, through the numerous side projects, to now, is the story of the friendship between Reinert and Masdival, the band’s two constant members. Masdival humorously admits that he has effectively been in Cynic since elementa r y school, when a
mut u a l f r i e n d introduced the pair on the grounds that they were the only guitarist and drummer in the school. “I remember when he was introduced to me; we were in the cafeteria and Sean, who is a real jokester, you know, puts some pepper in his hand and then just blew it in my face.” This moment has set the tone for everything that has followed. “Our relationship hasn’t changed since. He’s still blowing pepper in my face every day.” Masdival comes across as pleased as he is baffled by their enduring friendship. “I can’t believe
Cynic frontman and progressive metal icon Paul Masvidal talks to Cormac Duffy about spirituality, side projects, and being in a band since elementary school
that we are here after this many years [and] still doing it, it’s kind of crazy. I don’t get it and I’m not going to try figure it out!” Talk turns to the act’s latest work, the Carbon Based Anatomy EP. In terms of the sounds it works with, it plots a fresh course to place heavier emphasis on the bands ambient and world music interests. “I think we’re just kind of documenting where we are, it’s not really a calculated thing,” Masvidal explains. “We’re just artists in process and this is where we happen to be now.” Such is the EP’s break from their back catalogue; were one to approach the EP unaware of its creators, there are only a few moments on it to warrant it being received as a metal record. Masvidal agrees, confessing that the idea of the genre is not one he pays much attention to. The artistic freedom that disavowing purism and its constraints has resulted in has made for some exceptional works. At its most adventurous, the new EP’s overture track ‘Amidst the Coals’ is centred on a traditional icaro; a healing song used by Amazonian tribes. The use of such a spiritual piece of music shows how Carbon Based Anatomy follows the lineage of its predecessors, with a lyrical focus on philosophical issues. Time and time again, it deftly deals with notions of mortality, the infinite, and humanity’s elusive role in it. A practicing Buddhist, Masvidal has always had an immense interest in the nature of reality. In his humble phrasing, he is just “trying to figure out what the hell’s going on here.” When
asked what spiritual aspects does he believe there to be to his music, he replies that “There are really so many unseen, esoteric components to music that are therapeutic. For us, this record is a lot about that, trying to get in there and work the heart a little, soften it up.” The EP suddenly became a personal issue for Masvidal. “I lost somebody over the summer, an old friend. There was a death theme there.” As we talk to Masvidal, it is just over a week before the tenth anniversary of the tragic, untimely passing of his old band mate, Death frontman Chuck Schuldiner. A towering, influential figure within the genre, he was a hero to legions of fans, and to Cynic a close friend. “He was like an older brother to us,” Masvidal recalls, “I knew him since I was really young, since high school.” Asked if he often reflects on his time with the band, he points to his experience writing the liner notes for the recent reissue of Human. “I kind of lived in it for a while, spent a few weeks thinking about all the time that I knew him.” Yet Masvidal seems to prefer to not dwell on the sadness of the past. Much like his belief in never looking back musically, his personal views are aimed squarely at the here and now. “I try and stay here,” as he puts it. It’s a wise mentality, and one that has enabled Cynic to continue to break boundaries, and as Masdival hints at a summer 2012 release for a new album, we can but hope it will do so once more. Carbon Based Anatomy is out now. Photographer: Luke Butt 21
averick Sabre isn’t the most traditional hip hop artist. Maverick, born Michael Stafford, in Hackney, London, moved to New Ross, County Wexford during his childhood. Maverick’s debut album Lonely Are the Brave is yet to be released, but the singer-rapper has been gathering a fan following and receiving critical acclaim for the past two years. In December 2010, Sabre featured on Professor Green’s single ‘Jungle’, which reached number thirty-one in the UK Singles Charts. Since then Maverick has released two singles of his own, ‘Let Me Go’ and ‘I Need,’ which have both reached the Top 20 in the UK. The multi-talented Maverick combines soul-singing, occasional rapping, and playing guitar on the album, as well as both using backing tracks and recording with a band, as he recently did during an appearance on Later… with Jools Holland. In order to achieve his unique sound on his
Maverick Philosopher English/Irish vocalist and rapper, Maverick Sabre, speaks to Evan O’Quigley about working with a major label, accents, and the Irish hip-hop scene
his hometown. So what is Irish hiphop exactly, and how is it distinct from the more widely known American and British rap scenes? Maverick believes the differences are not huge saying that, “It’s only different in size. The gigs are the same, the entertainment quality is the same, it’s just the size of the scene. It’s a smaller scene in Ireland, and it’s not massively recognised by the mainstream yet.” Maverick believes it is important for the young Irish rap artists to use their natural accent and speaking voice when performing. The artist explained why he always uses his natural half Wexford, half London accent. “It’s obviously quite hard for young people when their getting into it, it’s hard for them to get into the accent at the start. I was doing the American thing, then trying to sound like Dizzee Rascal for a while, and I think it’s hard to get the confidence, because it’s not supported
“The underground people judge more on music, in the mainstream they judge on a lot of other things. It is different”
latest record, Sabre used a blend of many different genres. “I blend, and I mix in every instrument I’ve ever heard really. There’s a mix of hip-hop, soul, folk, all mixed into one bundle. I’m hoping that’s what people like about it,” he tells Otwo. Maverick gets his varied musical tastes from a variety of influences, including his father, who brought the twenty-oneyear-old artist up on traditional Irish music, folk, as well as American rock and roll and soul music. Although Maverick has signed to Mercury Records, a major label, he does not feel it has impeded his creative ability in any way. “There’s a lot more opinions to deal with; I mean I’ve got to listen to forty other opinions, but the only pressure I put up with is the pressure I put on myself. I don’t really allow anyone else’s opinion to put too much pressure on me.” Maverick explains that a condition of his deal with the label was maintaining “one-hundred per cent artistic choice,” which allows him to make the final decision on anything musically. Sabre first released The Lost Words, a four-track EP with the label last year. Since moving to the mainstream, Maverick has felt there is a difference in audience reaction in general. “In the underground people judge more on music. In the mainstream, they judge on a lot of other things. It is different, but I want to push the music to a wider variety of people.” Before returning to London, his place of birth, Sabre often collaborated with Irish hip-hop artists in 22
by the mainstream. But at the end of the day, it needs to be real, because that’s what hip-hop is about; being real to your own emotions, and your own struggles. You need to represent yourself and your community fully, and you need to push that through with your own natural accent.” As well as different accents, Maverick has also noticed a considerable difference in audience reaction between Ireland and the UK. “Irish crowds are different, because everyone plays in London, so it’s not as special when acts come into town,” he remarks. “But when you go to Ireland, where you have less [hip-hop artists] coming, people appreciate it more.” Maverick’s main philosophy is that he believes artists should always be true to themselves. One word of advice that Maverick has for younger artists is not to be afraid to speak out on issues they feel are important. “I can’t speak for other artists but I think it’s important for me. I think it’s important for artists to have an opinion and voice that opinion, and for it to reflect somewhat in their music, because they’re the young generation and they need to be spoken for. Music is one of my biggest influences; music reflects what society goes through. I feel that, for artists who are in the industry now, for them not to speak about it is a bit disappointing, to be honest. But I can’t speak for anyone else, that’s just me.” Maverick Sabre plays The Academy on February 29th. Tickets priced at €19.90. His debut album, Lonely Are the Brave, is out February 6th.
album REVIEWS Maverick Sabre Mark Lanegan Band Lonely Are the Brave Blues Funeral B+
Craig Finn Clear Heart, Full Eyes B+
Soul rapper Maverick Sabre has been steadily building momentum, and with this debut, he should move out beyond the shadows of his collaborators, Professor Green and Chase & Status. Drawing on his turbulent childhood which started in Hackney and continued in Wexford, his first collection of self-penned tracks is both brutally opinionated and unnervingly honest, conjuring up the dilapidated underbelly of today’s Britain. On vocal highlight ‘No One’, a crisp, retro soul arrangement, Sabre delivers an engagingly feisty yet vulnerable style which echoes the artistry of Amy Winehouse. Single ‘Let Me Go’, the summery ‘Sometimes’, and hook-laden ‘Running Away’ provide much-needed uplifting moments, however. Maverick’s brutality comes across a touch heavy-handed on occasion, particularly on ‘Cold Game’, but ultimately, it is enduringly clear from this debut that Maverick Sabre is a fiercely independent artist. While pandering to one’s own musical whims doesn’t always pay off, here lies proof that sometimes it is a risk worth taking.
Blues Funeral is Lanegan’s first solo installment since 2004’s Bubblegum, but anyone familiar with his work with acts such as Queens of the Stone Age and The Gutter Twins will spot a grungy continuation in the material here. Fusing rock and soulful blues, opener and first single ‘The Gravedigger Song’ best personifies the artist’s attempt to mix different styles to create a unique musical sound, and it is a great start to the album. Unfortunately, the record begins to fall asunder from there, making listeners blatantly aware that it was written in a rush during recording, as Lanegan has admitted. With an annoying repetition of lyrics in ‘Grey Goes Black’ and an attempt to embrace the blues style a bit too much, beginning in ‘St. Louis Elegy’ and continuing to the end of the record, Blues Funeral will leave the listener sorely disappointed.
Upon hearing the The Hold Steady frontman’s long awaited solo debut, it is noticeable that the distraction of his band’s sound has vanished. Finn’s voice is now given free reign and his narrative lyrics have time to expand as he encounters the bleak beauty of his self-destruction and the solace that he eventually found in religion. Neither of these themes are sung with remorse or thankfulness, merely avid description. The appeal of tracks like ‘Honolulu Blues’ and ‘Rented Room’ is in their lasting power, still revealing new subtleties after multiple listens. With an easy-going sound, coupled with the loose musical accompaniment and set off by Finn’s American twang, it becomes rapidly reminiscent of classic Americana music. Although these influences are apparent in his voice, his style is remarkably fresh and thinking of a comparable peer is impossible.
Area 52 is a testament to the musical efforts of Mexican guitar duo and adopted Dubliners, Rodrigo Sanchez and Gabriela Quientero. The transition from busking on Grafton Street to recording an album accompanied by a Cuban orchestra a decade later is no mean feat. Looking at the track listing you might recognise these pieces from either 11:11 or their self-titled album; however the arrangements featured on Area 52 are a significant departure from the originals. The Cuban orchestra adds a salsa flare to the mixture of hard rock and flamenco played by Rodrigo y Gabriela, perfectly complimenting the duo’s superb guitar play. The accompanying trumpets on ‘Hanuman’ add emphasis at just the right points, ‘Ixtapa’ features a brilliant sitar interlude played by Anoushka Shankar, and the orchestra’s piano almost steals the show on ‘Santo Domingo’. This album gives a fresh twist to some established material.
In a Nutshell: Add the 'The Gravedigger's song' to your iPod, and forget the rest.
In a Nutshell: Rarely does an album this good name-check Jesus so often.
In a Nutshell: Truly inspired reinterpretations.
In a Nutshell: A revelation in soul. by Jack Walsh
by Ciara Andrews
Delorentos Little Sparks B+
Rodrigo y Gabriela Area 52 A
by Emily Mullen
by Steven Balbirnie
It is clear from Delorentos’ latest album that this Dublin quartet has found its feet and on this, their third album, the band shows a more confident side to themselves. Where You Can Make Sound felt like it was missing something, on this record, it is clear from the off that they are at the top of their game. The record opens strongly with two outstanding tracks, ‘Did We Ever Really Try?’ and ‘Bullet in a Gun’, which instantly capture the listener’s attention and keep them enthralled. There are, of course, some lesser moments. The title track itself is
disappointing in its inaccessibility, which coupled with the previous track ‘Right to Know’ causes a slight lag in the middle of the record. ‘Waited For You So Long’, a touching song clearly designed to pull on your heartstrings, and ‘Pace Yourself’, the standout track on the album, however, manage to steer it back in the right direction. Overall, it is a much stronger record than previous releases. In a Nutshell: Bigger, bolder and better than before. by Sara Holbrook 23
The duffington post Could all music journalism soon be reduced to the length of a tweet? Cormac Duffy looks at Spin’s revelatory Twitter reviews Let’s presume we’ve answered the “Does music need to be written about?” question with a yes. If you disagree yet you’re reading this column, it’s clear that you have very niche masochistic tendencies. More power to you, I suppose. Now here’s the next question; how much should be written about it? Do albums deserve full books expounding on their virtues and critiquing their flaws (As the 33 1/3 series has done brilliantly) or can it be done in something a short as a tweet? Spin magazine has removed the reviews section from its print edition to focus on a limited amount of online reviews, with most of its reviews now being done in the form of tweets from @SpinReviews. This marks the point where Twitter threatens to do to music journalism what it’s done to other forms of writing; forcing a norm of short, to-the-point sentences straight from a Hemingway fan’s wet dream. The scheme is the brainchild of Spin’s new editor Chris R. Weingarten, who is a firm believer that if it can’t be said in 140 characters, it isn’t worth saying. He even put his proverbial money where his literal mouth was, and in 2009, tweeted 1000 album reviews, a feat worthy of Atlas, were Atlas a laptop radiated uber-nerd. While it could be a marketing gimmick for a publication that’s the equivalent of that odd uncle you have that still thinks he’s “down with the kids”, maybe there is sense to it. As far as I’m concerned, the average music website seems to cover more content than the average person could in fact listen to without being some sort of socially isolated hipster Unabomber. A casual listen to a few samples from the unending glut of mixtapes, landfill indie and retro-maniacal flashes in the buzz pan reveals a fairly dirty secret; most of it is not worth writing that much about. If you’re going to cover bands that can be easily summed up in a short list of references, why allocate them any more than they need? Maybe it’s the job of music to warrant some ink being spilled about it, as it does more often than not. As nice as tweet reviews seem, I’ve yet to see someone argue the case that they could capture the sheer significance of something like Revolver or Discreet Music in such a condensed manner. Maybe I just hate to think my fortnightly ramblings would be better reduced to 140 character snippets like, “My thoughts on Spin’s tweet reviews? Coping mechanism for oversupply, unable to tackle greatness. Possibly a gimmick. 7/10.” I’ll hand it to them; it certainly is a lot less work.
mixtape Songs to get nailed to
Looking to industrial rock greats is a sure-fire way to bag yourself a sexy mixtape. Conor O’Nolan lists tunes for those tired of typical boudoir-friendly slow jams Nine Inch Nails – ‘Closer’ Featuring the romantic sentiments “You let me desecrate you,” and “You let me fuck you like an animal,” this is an essential track for some slightly heavyhanded loving. Strangely, this is the only track on this list that actually features a serious ridin’ groove. Nine Inch Nails – ‘The Great Below’ With a lyric like “I will take my place, in the great below,” this is a slow-burning track to add some romance. Alas, it is as clear that Trent is not so sure what he’s doing, singing “Will she come?” Learn from his mistakes and don’t be so shit in the sack. Nine Inch Nails – ‘Hurt’ Reznor’s ode to addiction is a recipe for some unfulfilling romance you’re probably going to regret. Put the CD on and let the needle tear a hole, feel that old familiar sting, try to kill it all away, and hope you don’t remember anything. Nine Inch Nails – ‘A Warm Place’ This beautiful and euphoric instrumental was obviously written while watching that delightful scene in American Pie. If this doesn’t get you in the mood, you probably shouldn’t have put on NIN in the bedroom. Nine Inch Nails – ‘Ruiner’ “How’d it get so hard? How’d it get so long?”. Need I go on? Nine Inch Nails – ‘The Great Destroyer’ Every alpha male wants a finishing move during sex, so how about crying out “I am the great destroyer!” before launching into some totally asynchronous boning? If she’s not ruined by the end of it, you’re doing it wrong. Bonus marks if each thrust is in time with the modular synth freakout.
Nine Inch Nails – ‘Capital G’ Despite what we’re told, this was definitely never intended as an antiBush (oh, the connotations!) anthem and is clearly a song to be listened to while pleasuring those of the fairer sex. Nine Inch Nails – ‘Fist Fuck’ Doesn’t the title say enough here? This seven-minute, totally incoherent remix of ‘Wish’ will leave you walking a bit like John Wayne if you make it to the end. Nine Inch Nails – ‘With Teeth’ The obvious way to spice up any bedroom encounter is a few slow chomps. That trudging low-end drone you hear is the obvious sonic representation of “Nom nom nom.” Nine Inch Nails – ‘Something I Can Never Have’ Are you one of the unfortunate souls known as members of the Sci-Fi society? This is the yearning, desolate, and most importantly, incredibly creepy soundtrack for you to listen to while you leer in windows at someone actually getting laid. Nine Inch Nails – ‘Into the Void’ This incredibly dirty slab of industrial funk is ideal for your long-awaited first journey into the unknown. Make sure to bring protection. Nine Inch Nails – ‘Head like a Hole’ Hearing Reznor inform us that we’re going to get what we deserve, it’s difficult to tell if it’s dirty talk or a violent threat. The sound bet is that it’s both.
Show Patrol 31 January
Andrew Stanley’s Comedy Mish Mash International Bar, Dublin - 9.00pm - €5.75
Dara O Briain - Vicar Street - 7.30pm - €28 Kina Grannis - The Academy – 7.00pm - €14.50
Cathy Davey - Whelan’s - 8.00pm - €21.50 Willie White Plus Guests Laughter Lounge - 8.30pm - €26
Gig of the Fortnight
Vicar Street - 7.30pm - €25 - February 11th
Neil Delamere, the illustrious Offaly comedian, returns to Vicar Street at the start of February. Well known for appearing on Republic of Telly and featured in Michael McIntyre’s Comedy Road Show last year, Delamere has more than made a name for himself. It is difficult not to like this comic as he brings out the humour in everyday Irish experiences while interacting with his audience in a very personable manner. This is a man who knows how to entertain. Left breathless by his own quickfire delivery, Delamere’s show is not one to miss.
Azealia Banks - Whelan’s – 8.00pm - €15
Garret Baker and the Random Nouns Whelan’s - 8.00pm - €10
Dropkick Murphys, Bouncing Souls Vicar Street - 7.30pm - €25.90 Jack Wise - Laughter Lounge - 8.30pm - €26
David O’ Doherty The Mill Theatre – 8.00pm - €16 Fred Cooke – Whelan’s – 8.00pm - €12.50 - €15
Rebecca Storm Olympia Theatre – 7.30pm - €27.90 Doc Scott The Twisted Pepper - 10.30pm - €11.95 Squarehead - Whelan’s - 8.00pm - €10
The Minutes - The Academy - 7.00pm - €12.50 Neil Delamere – Vicar Street - 7.30pm - €25
Van Morrison - The O2 - 8.00pm – €56 - €115 Andrew Maxwell - Vicar Street - 7.30pm - €25 Kerrang! Tour, New Found Glory and The Blackout - The Academy – 6.00pm - €26 Zoe Muth and the Lost High Rollers Whelan’s - 8.00pm - €14 The Outcasts The Button Factory - 7.30pm - €15
Jedward - Grand Canal Theatre - 6.30pm - €30 tUnE-yArDs The Button Factory – 7.30pm - €18.50
Melissa Etheridge - Olympia Theatre 7.00pm - €44 by Sara Holbrook
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Photographer: Robert Manning
Don’t stop, never give up A
An essential part of the soundtrack to nineties nostalgia, Kate Rothwell talks to S Club
n ashamedly starstruck Otwo meets Jo O’Meara and Bradley McIntosh in the less than glamorous setting of a dressing room-cum-bathroom in the UCD Student Bar. Times have changed for the pair, who make up little over a quarter of the band that so many UCD students will remember from hours spent singing into their hairbrushes, S Club 7. Although they started off as a septet, both admit that they have gotten used to performing by themselves, having spent the last couple of years often taking to the stage to relive old S Club hits, to the delight of nostalgic collegegoers across the UK and Ireland. However, they are still in contact with the other five members of the original line-up, occasionally even meeting for what Otwo imagines is a pretty hectic dinner. While Rachel, Hannah, Tina, Paul and Jon are busying themselves with solo careers, theatre performances and parenthood, O’Meara and McIntosh have been enjoying the intimacy of smaller venues than they were used to in their late-nineties heyday, as the latter explains. “It’s nice, it’s something that we never got to do when we were in the band, doing the big shows … the smallest we would ever do would probably be about eight to nine thousand.”
Any fans fervently wishing for a full reunion tour can continue to hold out a glimmer of hope but should still not expect an announcement any day soon, according to McIntosh. “I think every one of us would be open to it but even when we’ve met up we’ve not really talked about it. Who knows - we’ve not ruled it out.” Should the original septet reunite, they will have to compete with the next generation of pop stars, two of whom are in fact their own protégés – Rochelle Wiseman and Frankie Sandford of the Saturdays both started their careers as members of spin-off group S Club Juniors. While both O’Meara and McIntosh are proud of the girls’ success, O’Meara hasn’t quite come to terms with their maturity. “I can’t stand the fact that they’re grown up and they’re sexy girls now, because they’re our babies. I’m like, ‘put your boobs away, woman!’” The duo are well aware that Wiseman and Sandford are not the only ones who have grown up – so has their audience, who were originally, as McIntosh states, their “target market”. They might be in their early twenties now, but it won’t be too many years before few college students will have fond memories of growing up listening to ‘Don’t Stop Moving’, ‘Bring it all Back’ and ‘Reach’. McIntosh acknowledges
that their performances don’t have a long-term future, but also explains that that was never part of their plan. “We’ve been doing this for a couple of years now, and it’s been fun, but I think it’s getting to the point where you can only do it for so long … it kinda happened by accident anyway. I was doing a bit of DJing, and at the end I’d put on a few S Club songs, and then I pulled Jo in to do a couple of shows, and then, before we knew it, the agent was getting calls, and we were like ‘yeah, why not, we’ll do a few here and there.’” As well as accepting that the S Club revival does not promise longevity, the remaining members are also surprisingly accepting of the fact that the group’s music is openly labelled as ‘cheese’, as McIntosh confirms that “It’s the truth, innit? We are cheese … we’re from the cheese era,” and O’Meara glibly states that it’s “better than being shit, out and out shit, I suppose.” McIntosh goes on to point out the foolishness of pretending otherwise, “I think we’d look like idiots if we tried to justify that we weren’t cheese when we are. It’s like me trying to pretend I’m white when I’m black,” with O’Meara echoing “Or me black”. S Club impress Otwo with stories of nineties backstage band interaction, telling tales of how H from Steps would “sit in our room, cross his legs and have a chat.” O’Meara adds that his visits were also motivated by the use of their hair straighteners and emphasises her point with a fairly accurate impression of the Welsh pop star “Hallooo! Oh, are they plugged in?” We finish the interview in a haze of starstruck nostalgia, leaving S Club to take to the stage and prove that even in 2012, there still ain’t no party like an S Club party.
Solving the Financial Crisis Tired of the global economy’s woes, Cormac Duffy set out to save the day, creating history’s worst currency in the process
e all loathe the recession. With side-effects such as home foreclosures, rampant poverty and people thinking it’s acceptable to use the word ‘recessionista’, it’s by no measure a challenge to hate. Worst of all, the not-so-valiant efforts to save the economy have so far achieved less than the average student does when going online to “study”. Each day that the recession wears on, leaving bus prices slightly higher and our job prospects even lower, is a day of failure for the IMF and the ECB. Well to hell with those blathering bureaucrats, there’s only one three-letter word I trust to fix this crisis, and that’s moi. But what was to be done? The first and most obvious option to spring to mind was also the least feasible. The perfect panacea was travelling back to 2005 to tell everyone that just because the economist on the telly has a voice like a wounded meerkat and a face like an ill garden gnome, that doesn’t mean what he’s saying is redundant. Although, if the past was at all accessible, I probably could have just stopped bankers from making terrible investments as Financial Regulation Man – the world’s lamest superhero. [Um, do you not remember Observer Man from Issue 1? – Ed]
Photographer: Ciara Andrews
“As anyone who has ever studied the dismal science of economics will attest, an expansion of the money supply can resolve an economic crisis by causing several lines on a graph in your lecture slides to move” Largely, the problems seem to have obvious solutions. House prices are too low to deal with negative equity? Simple, just increase their value as you do with everything else: have celebrities sign them. Alas, much like communism or all-you-can-eat Chinese food, this was much better in theory than in practice. Aiming high, I spent hours lurking outside the Student Bar dressed in the fashionable style of Mr. Gordon Gekko, trying to get S Club 2 on board for the project. However, their confused reaction upon being invited for a drive to a neglected housing estate in Leitrim, in a car filled with magic markers, was hardly the warm reception I had anticipated, and plans were soon scrapped. It was time for the Hail Mary pass, something everyone else had been too scared to attempt; printing off enough money to pay back all of our debt. But what about rampant inflation, I hear you say? In fact, I don’t hear you say it, as like any good economist, I’ve already stuck my fingers in my ear and begun saying “la la la la la la”. I may not have had authority to make Euros, but I could always improvise. To break a very harsh truth, money doesn’t really exist. It’s a figment of our imagination. Once we accept that gaudily coloured paper with shit architecture on it has some monetary value, it does. When we print and use currency, we’re basically taking part in a massive Derren Brown hypnotism-
style scam, with more maths and less pizazz. It’s why certain Micronesian tribes use absurdly large rocks, prisoners use cigarettes and Copper Face Jack’s patrons use their own dignity. If I could make my own currency and convince people to accept it at an equal value to the Euro, I was set. Several hours of half-assed brainstorming birthed the well-intentioned, but clumsily named, Otworo. I needed €120,000,000,000 to meet Irish debt payments in full, and lacking any facilities for large scale printing, design, or minting, there was but one option: hand-drawn currency in very large increments. Our editor, in crudely sketched form, graced the one billion Otworo note, the only denomination. Where most notes have a watermarked embedding along the side, we were content to settle for a bit of the tin foil from a Dairy Milk bar. A few cheeky photocopies and I had enough Otworos to pay off our fair nation’s debt. Putting the cash (too strong a word?) in an envelope addressed to “Irish Government, Ireland, Europe”, I also included a detailed – definitely not rambling – letter explaining how, with my smarts and their endearingly vacuous personae, we could easily convince the international debt markets that this was legitimate repayment. Alas, the only contact I received was one threatening to place a restraining order on me against the entire Department of Finance. Sometimes genius just isn’t
appreciated in its time. I was beginning to worry that the cash was not worth the paper it was drawn on. With the government not cooperating, we took our Otworo to the free markets. As anyone who has ever studied the dismal science of economics will attest, an expansion of the money supply can resolve an economic crisis by causing several lines on a graph in your lecture slides to move. Extensive attempts to persuade the shops in UCD to accept it came to nothing. Brava offered a single chicken tender for a billion Otworos, most likely out of pity. We would have been content to accept the offer had we not been so concerned with people abusing arbitrage opportunities, and like the old saying goes, “Efficient exchange markets before fast food.” We chose to honour the currency ourselves, of course, but given that we sold nothing but papers, which are free anyway, that didn’t exactly add to the Otworo’s legitimacy. So I decided to leave it in the hands of the people. With the last billion left (several billion had been mistaken for rubbish and disposed), I let it fly from the roof of the Arts block for some lucky soul to find. Then they can deal with all the convincing. As you can tell by the fact that you’ve read this piece sitting in the same filthy, pathetic squalor you were last week, as opposed to reclining in a recently purchased solid gold Ferrari while a cokeaddled Chauffer drives you to badminton, the financial crisis has proved a much more difficult foe than one could ever imagine. Sure, our attempt to fix it was foolish and bizarre; some would even say it reflects on us having a serious lack of connection to reality, but, to be fair, we probably did slightly more than Fine Gael, and certainly 27 looked better doing so.
OTWO if you could create
a sabbatical position
what would it be?
Ordinary Level QUESTIONS FOR AND REGARDING
Fred Cooke 1) Fred Cooke studied in UCD. Any regrets?
“There should be an Everyday Banter on Campus Officer” Kathryn Broderick 2nd Year Science
situations due to drunken excitement. I wish I played it more cool looking back. Too many embarrassingNaomi and also got her number. The next day I texted called girl hot really this kissed I Year Third in When I was Naomi. Some craic last night shifting you in the her seven times and left five voice mails on her phone saying, 'Hi machine where I shifted you last night. Wanna meet up Student Bar. Great laugh. Anyway, I'm back beside the cigarette interest and played it cool. From what I hear she is again? I got Fosters tokens!' I wish I didn't show such immediate now living in Australia, engaged to a surfer called Chad.
2) Which convenience store does Fred Cooke buy his milk in? of them across the road from each other. Sometimes At the moment I buy my milk in Centra, Stoneybatter. There are two s on my way home I decide to get a Chinese, they sometime Then other. the in carton second a and I'll buy my milk in one, full carton of milk. a drinking them of front in there I'm as drink a need I if me never ask
3) At what angle is Fred Cooke’s new show ‘Tilted’ at?
of the show you will see the angle expand into full At the moment it's at an acute observational angle, but by the end this lady keeps grabbing my foot so she can pass gym, my at Like itself? overlap even might angle the rotation. Maybe cool for the moment. it play I'll sexual. it's think don't I lane. swimming the in out me
4) Fred Cooke is a musician. What is his party piece? play Meat Loaf and 'Fairy Tale of New York' on the Throughout the duration of Christmas, I constantly get asked to time. But I don't think my immediate family are ready piano. I can take requests on two plastic melodicas at the same for that yet. Hopefully next Christmas! Mom got an extension from the sitting room to the I can also Moonwalk. My family loves that one. Especially since The Moonwalk seems to go on forever. field. large the to on and garden, the to on conservatory that leads
“I think we should get an Officer for Comedy”
Luke McGahren 2nd Year Geography & Economics
5) Being from the town of Kells, County Meath, please state three fun facts about the Book of Kells.
1: This book's idea and creation all happened in Iona, Scotland. Trinity College Dublin until this very day. 2: It was stolen by the Vikings. The Vikings decided to leave it in games of pool in Kells. 3: On the way the Vikings decided to stop by for a few pints and Hence the name: 'The Book of Kells'.
6) Fred Cooke recently performed in Dubai. Why? Does he hate Ireland?
Since I've come home from Dubai I now have many I love Ireland but it never allowed me to have more than one wife.to do with the culture of the burqa, it's just that wives. Unfortunately you're not allowed to see them. It's nothing they're all in my head.
6) Facebook indicates that Fred Cooke is a fan of Ham Sandwich. What is Fred Cooke’s favorite type of sandwich?
Breasts, Loving and Texting me back! But don't My favorite sandwich is a BLT. Not the traditional BLT. My BLT involves intense. so be can people Some day. one in times seven text me back more than Sandwich more musically than digestively. I I used to love a ham sandwich in the eighties. Nowadays I love Ham in Dubai that they should bring the Irish rock band tried persuading the United Arab Emirates during my brief stay idea; only that the band's title would probably Ham Sandwich over to perform. They all agreed that it was a great ? cause offense. Maybe they should call themselves Vegetarian Sandwich
“Mountaineering Officer” Conor McGovern 1st Year Engineering
8) Does Fred Cooke have any upcoming performances that he would like to inform the students of UCD about? On the 10th February, I am performing my new show 'Tilted' in Whelan's. Tickets are now available on www.ticketmaster.ie or www.tickets.ie.
“An officer to make sure that the rest of them actually carry out their promises, and do the stuff they said they were going to do” Mark Stokes 3rd Year Economics & Politics
“A Vice President’s position, possibly. And I’d like to see more women in the SU, if possible” Hannah Turner 3rd Year Radiography
Voxpops: Eimear McGovern Photographer: Brian O’Leary