Issue 19 / August 9th / 2010
ito ria l
06 Fro nt
08 Ne w
s 16 P ro fi l
FEATURES 20 NZ CEleBZ 22 OTAGO CelEBZ 24 STEVEN GRAY
Schmack 30 - 41
CRITIQUE 42 - 53
54 Ba c
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eing a celebrity in New Zealand is like being a virgin at St Margaret’s – it’s not that hard and they’re, well, everywhere. This week we explore this country’s recent infatuation with the cult of celebrity, which is fuelled more than ever by the gossip pages in the Sunday papers. Apparently, these days it is like the single greatest thing ever to get ‘Spy’ed’ and wind up in the Herald on Sunday rubbing shoulders with the jewel-encrusted shoulders of the likes of Gilda Kirkpatrick and Julie Christie. Who? Yeah, we don’t know either … As part of this investigation, Thomas Redford spoke to former Good Morning host Steve Gray. Why not? The interview, on p26, turned out to be one of the single greatest and most salacious things I have ever read. Ever. Unfortunately, our lawyers agreed, and made us blank half the thing out. They like physically made us. I’m sorry. It’s still good though. (Although the views expressed in no way reflect those of Planet Media, Critic, or its employees). And if you’re worried that you're missing out on all the celeb action down in Dunedin, our profile writer Georgie Fenwicke proves that many Otago grads do in fact go on to take their place in the world of glitz, glamour, and professional fame. We also churn out some good scientists, authors, athletes, and talkback radio hosts: see p20. Georgie also went bananas over her interview with Florence from Florence and the Machine. There were interviews in toilets, op shops, and parties in the VIP rooms of Auckland nightclubs courtesy of a Critic media pass. Very rock ‘n’ roll. Read all about it on p16.
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Old o S
A man who was listed as the oldest living man in Tokyo actually died around 30 years ago, and has been found mummified in his bed. The man had shut himself in his home, declaring himself to be a living Buddha, and Tokyo police believe that his family may have been stealing his pension money.
t Man a F
An American man is using the lure of the Harry Potter Theme Park in an attempt to lose weight. The 300-pound porker is desperately trying to shed weight so he can go on the Forbidden Journey ride at the wizard-themed kiddy-trap. Fat+weird=winning combo.
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A former Miss USA has been arrested after nicking some moisturiser from a chemist. The former pageant princess claims the Olay products just “rolled into her purse,” but police are understandably suspicious: the same woman once claimed she was captured by the Sultan of Brunei and kept as his sex slave.
p l if t e r
In a HIST102 lecture: Girl 1: So, you know that guy I took home on Saturday? Girl 2: Yeah, what about him? Girl 1: Well, he came in my fucking hair! – From Overheard @ Uni of Otago
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18: Species available as animal crackers. 2500: Approximate number of left-handed people who are killed annually while using products designed for right-handed people. 1/30 million: Proportion of lobsters that are golden. 57: Number of sheets of toilet paper each person on average uses daily.
A sloppy American man caught a lucky break when he had his big toe nibbled off by his Jack Russell while he was pissed. The toe was so badly infected that doctors say if the man hadn’t come in when Kiko nibbled it off, he probably would have died.
hi c r
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The worst speeding ticket ever issued was made out to a man who decided to take his zippy Swedish Koenigsegg CCX for a jaunt, and got clocked doing 390kmph in a 120 zone. Hard one to sweet-talk your way out of that.
ssed UF O
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A Hong Kong man had to be cut free from a metal park bench in the middle of the night after he whacked his dick in a ventilation hole in the bench, and got trapped when he cranked a boner. Doctors say the man was fortunate to keep his schlong after the incident.
The British Government has just released secret files among which are sketches of a WWII UFO encounter and a letter that claims Winston Churchill ordered the extra-terrestrial encounter suppressed to avoid panic. The files also contain some crap about the Cold War, apparently, but that’s pretty tame compared to aliens.
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Apparently humans can get away with a mere two or three hours’ sleep a day, provided you sleep for only 20-30 minutes every four hours. This way you Health Scis can get all the REM sleep your body needs, and still have plenty of time to fret about exams. .
The Referendum from Hell continues to cause controversy, despite an independent arbitrator throwing out all objections to how it was run. Last Monday independent arbitrator Prof Paul Roth dismissed all the appeals that had been made. In total eight formal complaints were lodged (and rejected) against the referendum on the grounds of insufficient promotion of discussion and debate, biased promotion, inadequate referendum wording, and faulty referendum wording. Four of the complainants were then appealed to Roth. In his report, Roth noted “lack of intense student interest should not be equated with a failure to promote discussion and debate.” Roth also states that bias was understandable given the referendum had been put by OUSA itself. He further stated that “to accuse the OUSA Executive of having hoodwinked students or leading them by the nose is to underestimate the intelligence of the OUSA membership.” Roth states that he did not have jurisdiction to consider compliance with the Constitution, or whether the referendum was constitutionally binding. Despite the final outcome, in-fighting and finger-pointing continues to plague the Executive. OUSA President Harriet Geoghegan fingers Clubs and Socs Rep Dan Stride as the leader of the anti-referendum movement, a role Stride seems to accept. Stride says that much of kerfuffle stemmed from the improper process taken, rather than the actual content of the referendum. When asked her view on why the proceedings turned sour, Geoghegan said that the process was new and pressure was placed on the Executive from groups outside of the Exec. Although he was not present at the meeting, Geoghegan fingered Stride as the ringleader behind the “walkout,” claiming he perpetuated the assumption she was trying to do something malicious. Only a week before, Geoghegan had pointed the finger at both Queer Rep Ros MacKenzie and Stride, saying they were obstructing proceedings by speaking out so late. MacKenzie has reiterated numerous times that she felt “gagged” by
the convention of collective responsibility, and thought she was unable to speak out against the policy. Stride commented that collective responsibility is a convention that is something of a grey area. Meanwhile, controversy raged outside OUSA HQ. An email leaked from the Young Nats shows them urging National supporters to vote in the OUSA referendum: “It takes two minutes, and you’ll get rid of the socialist-dominated executive.” Even the right-wing Kiwiblog was excited by the changes, publishing a post entitled “well done OUSA.” Kyle Matthews, a member of the committee the reviewed the Constitution in 2000, maintains the referendum was a screwup. “I don’t think I have ever seen a more inept attempt to change the OUSA constitution.” Matthews is concerned that the referendum failed to implement constitutional changes, as the referendum questions didn’t specifically mention the constitution. Further he alleges the Executive never gave the standing committee that passed the proposal binding power to pass motions. Geoghegan poo-poos these claims, insisting OUSA was getting legal advice throughout the referendum. “You would have to be an idiot not to see it was a constitutional change,” she opines. The forgotten controversy of the whole debacle is the motion to move SGMs online, which Stride highlights as his main concern. Matthews and Stride worry that simple motions such as electing an auditor and honorary solicitor, may struggle to get quorum under the new online SGM policy. Despite the messy formal complaints, the walk-out, and the allegations of lying, bribery, and bias, Women’s Rep Shonelle Eastwood, who was one of the walkers, assured Critic that the Exec is not rife with scandal. “We’ve all sat down and talked about everything to get all our feelings from the past events out in the open.”
The University of Otago has formalised the new process that will govern those applying to the University for the first time next year. The new system will divide domestic applicants into those who gain Preferential Entry and those who will have to compete for places in the Competitive Entry pool. The changes are a response to growing pressure on domestic enrolment caps, which has led to the University having to carry increasing numbers of unfunded students. Students who achieve NCEA Level 2 with Merit or Excellence will gain Preferential Entry, along with people who secure places
in Residential Colleges affiliated with the University, and winners of University Scholarships. Under Preferential entry students will be guaranteed a place as long as the meet the minimum university entrance standard of 42 credits at NCEA Level 3. Students in the Competitive entry stream will be ranked on their academic results, and courses that are oversubscribed will take the best-performing students until the cap for that course is reached. Students who initially are placed in the Competitive Entry stream will be automatically transferred to the Preferential stream if their status changes. For example by being offered, and accepting, a place in a College, a student would automatically transfer into the Preferential stream. The new standards have led to concerns that some students who gain Preferential Entry will become academically de-motivated in Year 13. However, Vice-Chancellor (Academic and International) Professor Vernon Squire believes this is highly unlikely. “Students who are of such a calibre that they reach the Preferential Entry threshold in Year 12 are likely to be personally motivated to achieve to a high level for a many reasons other
than meeting a minimum standard to get to University … working hard in Year 13 they will also be positioning themselves to have a shot at winning scholarships, gaining a place in the Residential College of their choice.” Critic also questioned the University on the merits of allowing Preferential entry to those who gain a Residential College place. Since Colleges take non-academic factors into consideration it is technically possible that a person could gain a College place, and thus secure entry to the University, despite having worse academic qualifications than a person who misses out in the Competitive Entry stream. Professor Squire was again dismissive of such a possibility. “Residential Colleges are required to have academic merit as the primary consideration when accepting applicants … [but] while keeping academic merit as the central consideration – [Colleges can] take a somewhat broader view of what constitutes a high-calibre student.” Anyone wanting further information on the system is advised to contact the University. Contact details are at otago.ac.nz/services/liaison_office.html.
Harriet Geoghegan is seeking re-election to the role of OUSA President. At the time of printing last week Geoghegan was the only person to publicly announce their candidacy. If Geoghegan is re-elected, she will be the first person to serve a second term as President since Paul “The Governor” Gourlie in 1979-1980. Gourlie famously wore a suit and tie and carried a cane, and allegedly embezzled funds from OUSA to prop up his café, Governors. Geoghegan has unfinished business at OUSA and wishes to complete the implementation of the new Exec restructuring, as well as finishing other reviews. She says she has an advantage over other candidates, as she has connections around the University and Dunedin, and “won’t need to spend the first six months of the year learning the ropes and building relationships … Next year is an important year of change both within OUSA, the University and local and national government, and a year that needs someone with the knowledge and experience to get the best outcomes for students.” Clubs and Socs Rep Dan Stride says he is likely to run again, but is undecided as to which position. Currently Stride is in his
second year as Clubs and Socs Rep, which he says makes him the first person in 15 years to serve two years in a position. According to Stride, OUSA Presidents don’t tend to run for a second term. In part this is due to the full-time, low-pay nature of the job. Stride says that it is also due to campaign policy, which states that OUSA Executives who are running again can’t be in the OUSA office during the election period, lest their presence in the OUSA office is seen as an OUSA endorsement of the candidates. As a President’s hours are around 40 hours per week, a President running for a second term could find it challenging to continue their duties during this period. Geoghegan says she will cope with these difficulties by avoiding the main entrance and removing herself as an admin of the OUSA Facebook page. Nominations for the 2011 OUSA Executive positions opened last Monday 2 August and closed last Friday 6 August. Students could be nominated for any one of the ten Executive positions under the newly adopted structure. Voting will commence on 16 August and run until 19 August. Critic will have full coverage of the election
campaign and blurbs from all the nominees in next week’s issue. Get excited.
Monday “The Effect of Long Term Lithium Treatment on Renal Function” 1pm, Hercus d’Ath Lecture Theatre. Animal Law Week Campus Stall 10-2pm, Union Hall.
Tuesday “Yours for the Jubilee: The Prophetic Religion of the Abolitionists” 5.15pm, Archway 2. “Fur Farming and Regulation in New Zealand” 5pm, Seminar Room 4, 8th Floor Richardson Building.
Wednesday “Toxic Cyanobacteria in New Zealand: From Toxin Regulation to National Regulation” 12pm, Union Street Lecture Theatre. Earthlings Screening 8pm, Evison Lounge, Clubs and Socs Building.
The Proctor seemed to be having a bit of a slow week when I interviewed him, but as usual there were a couple of things exercising his mind: Firstly, there have been “three or four” assaults on campus recently. These have been of the indecent rather than violent variety, although we won’t be getting into gory details here. Campus Watch patrols in the relevant areas have been stepped up, and nothing has been reported since, but this is still a worry. The Proctor cautioned people against walking home alone at night and reiterated that Campus Watch are quite happy to escort anyone, anywhere, 24/7, if the need arises. Their number is 479 5000; if you don’t have any money on your phone, 0800 479 5000 will get you connected for free. Again with people leaving their doors unlocked. A recent theft from an improbably remote room in one of the colleges underlines the fact that hall monkeys are an unsentimental and cold-hearted breed who will happily turn on each other if the opportunity arises. In fact, it’s been fairly well established that everyone in your Hall is out to get you. They’re probably plotting
to get you right now. Our advice is go back to your room, without making eye contact with anybody, barricade yourself in, and hide under the bed until exams. Trust no one. The Proctor also really felt last week’s Letter-o’-the-Week shout-out and would like to extend a big wassup to the homie who wrote it. Peace out. (DISCLAIMER: all tragic white faux-ghetto slang in Proctology is the work of Critic staffers and has not been voiced by The Proctor himself. He much prefers to reference Kylie Minogue lyrics and Captain Planet).
There have been a number of things going missing from CAL labs recently. Most (not all) have been reunited with their owners after a look through the relevant CCTV footage, but in doing so Proctorial staff have discovered that the stuff has often been left by itself for as much as half an hour before being pinched, apparently having been left in place by people to reserve their seats while they nip out for coffee, lunch, booty-calls, et al. Don’t do that. It’s silly.
Thursday “Some Adaptive MCMC Algorithms” 11am, Room241, Science 2.
Friday Closing date for OUSA Blues/Golds Nomination “Midwifery in New Zealand: Government Policies, Provider Choice, and Health Outcomes” 3pm, Room CO5.20, Commerce Building. 12
The Proctors Office is to be reviewed in October as part of a routine University of Otago process. The University is required to review all of its administrative departments at least once every five to seven years. The Proctor’s Office will be put under what is called an ‘Administrative Review’. The Proctor’s Office is responsible for student discipline and the running of the Campus Watch service. It also liaises with Dunedin Police to ensure that misbehaving
students are appropriately dealt with. As part of this review, students can make submissions about their views on the office. OUSA President Harriet Geoghegan is urging all students to consider making a submission to the review panel. “All students can and should do a submission. First in writing – it can be anything from a one-liner to a thesis – and then they can speak to the panel.”
Despite the dramatic mudslinging of the week before, the Exec was determined to play happy families this week, and any remaining tension was almost undetectable to the untrained eye. At Welcom’s suggestion, OUSA passed a motion supporting efforts to reduce the harm caused by excessive alcohol consumption, inducing a number of pathetic guffaws and lame jokes about the weekend passed. Much to Critic’s surprise, the name change of the Blues and Golds awards was discussed at great length, only to be put aside for next meeting. Following a “dramatic” name change in 2008, where the name became ‘OUSA Blues and Golds’, the University of Otago has attempted to buy back their name on the award by offering to pay for a ritzy dinner. Steven was having none of it. “I’d like to see the colour of their money,” he said sternly. The Exec then considered the new Executive job descriptions, which were
considered to be acceptable. As a break from tradition, they decided not to rush the policy through (cough, cough), and rather to dwell on it for a little while. $2600 was then allocated from ‘Pathways’ to the Campaigns line, to encourage students to vote in the local elections. It was probably a good decision, because no one, including the Exec it seems, has a clue what Pathways is. The moolah will go to stickers, posters, and the wittily named ‘Rock en-roll’ event. OUSA now also officially endorses the campaign to keep neurosurgery in Dunedin. Finally, Health Sci Rep Dave is planning an interfaculty sports week, to feature a quiz night plus your run-of-the-mill P.E. class nightmares like rugby and dodge-ball. As well as being a spot of fun before the Health Scis are “shattered” by exams, the Exec see this as a chance to get publicity for OUSA. The consensus was to “shove it down their throats” and slap the OUSA logo on everything.
A young woman collapsed and suffered a seizure after apparently consuming Ecstasy at the White-Out gig featuring Minuit at the Union last Wednesday. An ambulance was called and the young woman was rushed to hospital. Concertgoers told Critic that many attending the gig had the appearance of having taken E, and
that the front few rows looked like “a crowd of zombies.” The gig was held at the Union Hall and OUSA Events were involved in hosting the event. Events Manager Vanessa Reddy told Critic that “OUSA just wants everyone to be safe and make sure they look after themselves.”
Critic Steals PM’s Cup
Animal Law Week
Critic’s Wellington correspondent pulled off a daring heist last week, gaining international media coverage after stealing Prime Minister John Key’s used coffee cup. Jackson Freeman took the cup after covering a talk Key gave to students at a Vic Uni hostel. In the talk Key said he was unhappy with the current interest-free loan scheme. Freeman listed the cup on TradeMe, telling bidders it was not washed “for all you weirdos out there.” The initial auction closed last Tuesday, but the item was re-listed after the winning bidder pulled out, and the new auction has a closing date of August 10.
The University of Otago’s first Animal Law Week is being held this week. The events are being run by the Student Animal Legal Defence Fund (SALDF), and aim to increase all students’ awareness about society’s treatment of animals. A number of interactive seminars will be presented by SALDF members and New Zealand’s top Animal Law professors, providing students and members of the public with an opportunity to learn more about topical issues affecting animals in New Zealand. Danielle Duffield, President of Otago SALDF, says “The presentations are not just for law students. Anyone who cares about animals would benefit from attending.” SALDF will also be running a stall in Union Hall from 10am-2pm Monday, giving away free magazines, stickers, and biodegradable pens.
ou’ll never believe me, but I’ll tell you anyway. I went to see Florence and the Machine live in Auckland. A friend had told me via some sort of Facebook link that they were coming back to New Zealand. After much to-ing and fro-ing, another friend and I decided to invest. It is the best $220 I have ever spent. Ever. Apparently, Critic credentials actually do count for something and I was able to arrange a fifteen-minute phone interview with Florence the afternoon before her concert, thanks to a very accommodating woman at Universal. But I am getting ahead of myself. We arrived in Auckland having flown out of Christchurch that afternoon. Brunch at Ponsonby’s Bambina ensued and thrift store shopping on K Road quickly followed. Some leather shoes in St Kevin’s arcade were in the process of convincing me to take them to a good home when we had our first encounter. I am always amazed at how a foreign accent can immediately set someone apart from the rest, let alone the head of flaming red hair that accompanied it when I turned around. After a nervous, polite nod of acknowledgement, my friend and I escaped from K Road by bus like a couple of lovestruck Justin Bieber fans and found the only possible distraction in Newmarket’s fashionable alleyways. My interview was scheduled for 1.45pm that afternoon and I planned to go back to use the office to conduct the interview. Alas, Ruby, Workshop, Kate Sylvester, and Moochi were too fun to ignore and it soon got to one o’clock. What were we to do? The decision was made to use a toilet, but to do so would require an entirely separate cubicle, one that was immune to the sound of flushing toilets and gossiping women. It was a commodity we soon discovered was in short supply as we evaluated our options in the Newmarket mall and Zarbo’s delicatessen. With heightened stress levels, we walked away from the main streets and encountered a polite rather austere bar and restaurant called Market Kitchen. The toilet, though dark and brooding, was perfect and within two minutes my phone was ringing. I set it down next to the flush button, put it on loud speaker and pressed record on the dictaphone. Florence Welch has a soft, polite, rather shy South London accent. She sounded a little tired and understandably so after I discovered that the previous day’s schedule had involved interviews from 7am to 5pm. Today had been less hectic and she had been able to enjoy Auckland a little. 16
“I have had a really nice time actually. I have been mooching around, hung out on Kay Street [sic] and trawled through the vintage stores. I am going to go over to Ponsonby [later] to see if I can find anything.” Let it be known that before each concert Florence goes to vintage stores to buy a costume for her performance. During this interview she reflected that she had “picked up a big black hat while I was there this morning.” Florence and the Machine arrived in New Zealand from a sell-out tour in Europe and its surrounds. Last month, they performed at Glastonbury on the other stage to the biggest crowd on record. “While I was up there I couldn’t see, there were just so many people and the sun was so bright. It’s really fun, but at the same time a lot of pressure ... I came off stage and had a kind of nervous breakdown.” Florence, whose voice has become a distinctive presence on our iPods and radios in recent months, describes her style as the result of experimentation: “I think I am a bit of a parrot. I grew up imitating musicals and lots of different styles so it took me a while to find out what sort of style was really me. It is still a work in progress.” But how did the opportunity to perform Candi Stratton’s dance number ‘You’ve Got the Love’ come about? “I think about two years ago when we were playing in a dance tent at a festival. We’re not a dance band so I thought on a whim in a friend’s kitchen that it might be fun to cover a dance song. ‘You’ve Got the Love’ was one of my favourite songs anyway so I called up my guitarist and said let’s see if we can do it. I remember when we played it as the last song in the rain-soaked festival in the dance tent, the feeling of the crowd was completely euphoric. But we only really thought we’d play it once and then it got a life of its own.” A life that has led to collaborations with fellow British band The XX. “We performed it with them at Glastonbury this year. It was interesting because I had to learn how to sing my vocals as if they were remixed.” And then, as if in a fairytale, my list of questions peters out and our conversation comes to an end. She hangs up; I turn off my Dictaphone and sit, feeling somewhat surreal, on the lid of the toilet. It is on the way to the concert that we see her again. True to her word she is crossing Ponsonby Road wearing the dark black hat she bought earlier that day, her flaming red hair (née Auburney-brown) blowing furiously in the wind. The concert, though somewhat impeded by a long ticket collection line, goes off with 18
a bang. The sound is excellent and Florence’s voice and accompanying band are as good live as they are in the recording studio. The rather polite crowd gets more excited as the numbers build and we soon bear witness to one of their new songs, ‘Strangeness and Charm’. Florence had explained earlier on in the day when asked what she was drawing on in creating her much anticipated second album that “One of the things I was inspired by were these two subatomic particles called Strangeness and Charm, I just thought that was a really human and sweet thing to call something so small. You can’t see them but you know that they exist because you can feel their effects.” A rocky number, it is sure to be a hit when it reaches the radio. ‘You’ve got the Love’ lived up to and exceeded even the highest expectations, while the show itself climaxed with an extended version of ‘Dog Days Are Over’. Town and a little bar called Cassette on Vulcan Lane soon followed. When we walked in, they were blasting Aretha and many a person was wearing op shop attire. Ordering a drink at the bar, my companion was the first to see her and it was only when she was ushered by a security guard or two into the VIP room that I myself encountered Florence Welch in the flesh. One or two polite enquiries made it known that a white wrist band was required to get into the VIP area. This proved to be a problem as we had few credentials on which to operate. The bar staff had no power and no authority and our hopes were dwindling. She was but a wall away ... then, somebody grabbed my shoulder and twisted me around. All was explained as we rocketed down the stairs: “I told her you were supposed to go backstage to take a photo but that they left before you could get there and that if I brought you down to her, could she give you a white band and she said, ‘YES! ‘ Come on!” Before I knew it I was introduced to Grace on the door and was being pushed back up the stairs towards the bouncer on the VIP room. He gave me a wry smile and let me pass. I don’t know what I was expecting to be behind the curtain, I just know that it wasn’t the sliver of a hallway cut through by tables that greeted me. A bottle of champagne sat in the middle of the table with four or five undrunken glasses bordering it. There were no more than ten, maybe fourteen people sitting on the elongated booth. Florence was in the middle wearing that same black hat; two British friends sat beside her, while a bunch of New Zealand who-g-whatsits
flittered excitedly around her. The chat from the little gay man to Florence’s immediate left was a little crass: “If I wasn’t gay I would fuck your cunt.” Squeal, clap. But all was interrupted with the arrival of Isabella Summers, keyboardist and songwriter extraordinaire and the equally outstanding and gentile drummer, Chris Hayden. Admittedly, I failed to recognise Mr. Hayden until he asked whether I was all right for a drink. “Yep, no, fine, all good,” I think was my reply, glass of champagne in hand. Florence had described her band earlier on in the day. “Yeah, they’re cool. They are pretty upbeat. They’re pretty relaxed people, all up for a good time, really friendly and yeah, they are up for exploring and wanting the best of everything.” She was right. Cue an Almost Famous moment as I found myself trying to make interesting chat with Summers and regarding, as if a fly on the wall, the happenings of a touring internationallyrecognised rock group who have performed with the likes of Dizzie, David Byrne, and Fat Boy Slim. I’m no name dropper, what? Dancing on seats, rounds of Jager shots, shrieks of excitement and enthusiasm abound – this is what takes place behind velvet curtains. In amongst these boisterous travelling companions and groupies, I was soon craving the presence of my own friends. A want of shared experience or something such like. There was no way I was leaving without introducing myself, however. And on the way out, I said goodbye to both Isa of Florence Robot/ Isa Machine (the band’s previous title) and Florence herself. She smiled graciously as I extrapolated my fandom, something she has probably heard far too many times before. “Big fan, loved the concert, thanks for the interview this afternoon, lovely to meet you, bye.” And with a quick shake of the hand, I was out. Naturally, we swapped the wristband around the three of us and the others took a turn in the VIP room, none of us knowing what to say. Silenced by our own feelings of awe. It was only an hour later that we also realised that the band also gave us access to the bar. Three lemon, lime and vodkas, four coronas and three gin and tonics later and we were having a great time. Cheers Florence for a great night! Georgie Fenwicke 19
elebrity in New Zealand is a weird thing. We subscribed to America’s world-conquering culture of celebrity worship, and then inevitably wanted to transpose the same devotion to homebred stars. But that’s difficult in a country of New Zealand’s size and humility. A country whose biggest celebrity has-been is Thingee, a country whose most famous Jew is Goldstein, and whose most notable celebrity makeover was performed on a sheep. Nonetheless, the deplorable culture of pursuing fame for fame’s sake has taken hold of people in parts of our humble land. Oliver Driver, actor, broadcaster, and director, attributes the rise of this type of celebrity to the Sunday paper social pages: “They’ve done a terrible, terrible thing to increasing [sic] that sort of culture … you go to a party now and people are desperate to be photographed, it’s like being famous now is just being seen at those places, or going to those parties. And because of that people think you’re a celebrity, rather than because you’ve done a film, or you’ve scored a try. “It’s a strange thing, when it becomes this huge kind of weird merry-go-round, where people are actually pursuing fame, and kind of view that as success, rather than as the result of success.” This type of hollow fame is bemoaned around the world. Writer Clive James probably bemoaned it best, in a 2004 essay, “if somebody does something they have a right to be somebody, but merely being somebody means nothing if being somebody is the only thing that somebody does.” This vapid cult of celebrity becomes particularly strange in New Zealand, because there are a couple of crucial ingredients absent in our native celebrity equation: inaccessibility and excessive wealth. Surely what’s behind celebrity obsession is the escapism offered by following the life of an almost otherworldly figure. A person whose
fame and requisite wealth allows them to live a lifestyle you couldn’t even imagine without the help of tabloid speculation. An individual who lives in a separate, magical world of ritz and glamour, which means a personal encounter would be quite impossible. It’s hard for you to devote yourself to the life of, say, Josh Kronfeld, when you keep seeing him jamming on the harmonica in Castle Street backyards. New Zealand is too small for the famous to live in an exclusive part of society. Driver: “99 percent of the New Zealand celebrities you could list have just enough money to get by. They’re just doing their shopping in the local supermarket, they don’t have a maid, their car’s on HP. I guess in this country celebrity doesn’t really equal wealth … I can’t imagine what George Clooney’s life is really like; I’m sure he jets around the Riviera all the time. But I can imagine exactly what every dude’s life on Shortland Street is like, because it’s exactly the same as yours.” So, what is life like or a celebrity in New Zealand? Are you treated as a friend or a fair-game dickhead? John “Horse” McLeod gained national fame when his 18-year stint in the SAS qualified him for Extreme Treasure Island. His crazed, larger-than-life persona won hearts and television spots; he hosted a few Celebrity Treasure Island series, gave advice to everyday New Zealanders alongside Charlotte Dawson on How’s Life, and made no sense and scared young children in one infamous appearance on Sportscafe. He describes his rise to fame: “To start with, it was chaos, and I thought ‘I’m glad I’m not Jonah Lomu.’ I adapted well I thought, and it made no difference to me that folk
recognised me … no tall poppy stuff comes my way, besides, that rubbish is water off a duck’s back to me.” Horse was elected to the New Plymouth District Council in 2007, and is running for mayor of the region this year. TV presenter and actress Shavaughn Ruakere has had mixed experiences. “Overall I’ve had a pretty good experience … People do often treat you like they know you which I understand. You show up in their living room every week so it makes sense.” Ruakere says reading poor reviews and personal attacks are the worst parts of fame. “Reading sucky stuff about yourself … I remember the first time I read some less than favourable things about myself online. I cried buckets and swore to never go on TV again. That was a few years back, and now I’m a bit more rhino about it all. It’s one of those really sad things though … even if you read ten things about you and nine of them are good, it’s that one bad thing you put your worldly focus on. Silly but true, must be the ego eh? Why don’t they like me? Whyyyyyy?” Driver has also had mostly pleasant experiences with being recognised and approached, but describes how a degree of false humility is always expected. “We live in
a country where if I do a show and someone comes up to me and goes ‘Hey man, you were really good in that show.’ If I go ‘Yeah thanks, I was really good,’ then they’ll go ‘Oh you weren’t that good bro, faaark,’ hahaha. People like to see people do well, they just don’t like people to admit that they’re doing well.” He also provides the best analogy of what life is like in New Zealand when you have a well-known face: “You know that thing where if you go to your local dairy every day, and because you go there every day the guy that runs it will give you a smile and let you off five cents short, or he’ll let you off for next time? I get that in every dairy. It’s a layer of civility and politeness.” America’s celebrity culture has swept across the world, engulfing New Zealand in the process. Obviously the most worrying part of this culture is that becoming famous for being famous is now a legitimate career option, a path treaded by the likes of John “Cocksy” Cocks and Aja Rock. But thankfully, New Zealand’s smallness not only allows people to realise that such pursuits are very silly indeed, but also means that this gross culture isn’t that much of a worry, and is in fact as harmless as Cocksy himself. 21
bottom of the world. unedin is a cit y at the ks sunshine. For the It is cold, wet, and lac aging population, most part, it has an injection of fresh excepting an annual owances. Granted, blood and student all Paykel, and a Cadbur y, Fisher & it is also home to lly speaking, in Mosgiel. Genera manufacturing hub e University fair to say that in th though, it would be is cit y and it s, we have built th of Otago’s 141 year itic, Georgie Celebrit y Issue of Cr has built us. In this wn characters me of the better-kno Fenwicke looks at so out to take before sending them the University shaped glory. of fame, riches, and their place in a world
rily mission was prima that synaptic trans . ius gen re Pu l. electrica chemical rather than ce en sci ng ati cin fas st One of Otago’s mo chie McIndoe, however, was Sir Ar ds, gra n ering plastic surgeo a doctor and pione rce Fo r Ai yal the Ro who worked for e Two. Over the cours ar W d orl W g durin ots pil d many young of the war he treate burns and injuries ere sev d who sustaine of itain. He was one in the Battle of Br be uld co ine sal t tha e the first to recognis g properties, after notin used for its healing ots pil se tho rates of the different healing sea and those who the in wn do e who cam his later years, he In came down on land. Medical and Research founded the Af rican g ts lis ta today Af rica’s leadin The experimen Foundation, which is you f sel din him ne He Du n. in tio ive anisa W hen you first arr health development org m se who far a tho er le: ov op k pe too of d an es encounter two typ migrated to Tanzania h se doing their healt study law and tho near Kilimanjaro. re e would you study he science year. W hat els ts some of the scientis The jocks when you consider an as hm Ot n zla Ma stereotypes, the ke Ta we’re dealing in Otago has shaped? If sia lay Ma in was born student is a rugbyan example. Othman intessential Otago qu n Pla bo lom Co on a Speight’s-drinking, but attended Otago playing/-watching, . 75 s 19 in cs ysi Ph in c a BS oting bloke. He sleep scholarship, earning stubbies- and jandals-t ne 81 and go 19 ys in da D on Ph a d te an t ple fas She ret urned to com in, eat s pies for break in first woman to do so to Gardies for a quiet interestingly was the by, would have gone is an es hm Ot y. tor ar his ernoon. But alas, tim the University’s 110 -ye jug on a Sunday aft for s or die ect car dir d the an is ns ay jea tod nging. Skinny ha a-c an ast rophysicist and are ace ll Sp tba Office for Outer m the North, foo the United Nations have been imported fro national sport, and . w na ne en Affairs in Vi has become the of nt de stu a o als rheez is where it’s at. Allan Wilson was the Octagon and Ba s thi d, hin be d lan me ho uld Marc Ellis, Anton science who left his For shame. W hat wo pioneer A . res sho can eri feld say? Am time in favour of Oliver, and Josh Kron ange, Wilson ch ary ion field and off, sports lut the evo of on Celebrities in the field ty rsi ive Un the at rk and tumble nexus of did much of his wo players are the rough e he for be t no t bu , ley Now a philosopher on of California, Berke our national identity. was he It . ago Ot ton Oliver was m fro c BS nta ngs environme l, An graduated with a thi all ”, ck clo lar cu the “mole the for ward pack in the who coined the idea of once the go -to man of n ma hu the of s gin ori ghlanders. A member a method of dating the All Black s and the Hi m a fro s ion tat in the 1990s, mu c eti ghlanders dream team Hi species through gen the of y all gic tra well for a career ter he died r positioned himself common ancestor. Af ive Ol for ed ist rtl sho , he was pleting a Bachelor of early at the age of 56 rugby after after com to n tio bu tri con his was erce degree in 20 02. the Nobel Prize, such PE in 1999 and Comm y. tor his n ma hu s become a critic of the the understanding of In recent years he ha here at sor fes Pro r farms in Central me for a John Eccles, position to build wind pro l be No the n wi nt on to dying for Bachelor of the University, also we Otago and began stu . ine d dic Me d an gy olo ity, Environment an Prize – one in Physi Science in Biodivers as a . d 08 20 rke in wo s ty cle rsi Ec ive o, Un gement at Oxford After World War Tw na Ma at o ch tw tea th to e going on Oliver flatted wi Professor here befor W hile in Dunedin, ty in 1952. A rsi ive Un l ny Brow n and Simon na To tio s, Na ck Australian fellow All Bla ed ver ed co dis he , de tra co -ow ned and found neurophysiologist by Maling. Notably, he
… Hal was off here in Dunedin rdh No ing eat of tional ... He got into pleasant most that fearless and unconven . I on ils W f Jef th llos, wi th his seniors and establishments, Ombre periodic difficult y wi ine Ad t fe ep wi exc his lly did rea ted f, as He went here himsel think was unapprecia n the Silver Ferns. d a lot of other tai an cap me to e lik on le nt op we pe o wh for s include me na ng he was rather rti ht spo ug le Other notab students who tho o wh d an n, de ed rtin Sn Nathan Twaddle, Ma inspiring.” Hodgkins Ellis, the penultimate is? Ell rc Ma get Sydney credit s the can for , ad he ure fig es ablishing rdi est Ga th r wi me scarfinian and for Fellowship at Otago chelor of Ba support a uld th wi sho 95 you t 19 graduated in “the notion tha t. en gem na Ma d tab s.” Es lished ting an Commerce in Marke New Zealand artist at ile wh rep ago rsity of Otago Ot An All Black and in 1962 by the Unive 1996 in e gu lea to give aid and d to he s University, he switc Council, its aim wa s. Then in ior arr vance their W ad the to in s ce ist taking his pla encourage art s wa t tha n tio era ce op lains, “It showed 1998, he set up a jui skills. As Sydney exp m fro d ire ret he ter if people were . Af to become Charlie’s what would happen d full rke wo he , 00 rtunit y.” Past 20 po in op professional sport given a fulltime tor. A role rec Di g Ball, Ralph tin rke rek Ma De e ie’s time as Charl fellows includ th wi hip ers rtn pa Smither, three on-air on Sports Café and an Hotere, and Michael de ma s ha e dg Ri ew tth enomenal effect fellow sports star Ma fig ures who had a ph the land in n me s ou to pursue a fam ion st Sydney’s decis Ellis one of the mo on d an s ine gaz women’s ma “T hey were ver y and a constant in the career as an artist – keep the door Sunday papers. supportive, they didn’t off ’, they said, shut and say, ‘Piss s te tis !’” ar The ‘Come in and watch the director of the art s through Bill Manhire, now With its patronage the s, hip ws llo Fe at Victoria kins the Burns and Hodg of Creative Writing with elf its s nd Otago in rou d de sur en University of Otago University, also att eed, the Ind y. major, he has vit sh ati gli cre En of an 1960s. Also a strong culture the t er, ph gra oto about the departmen ist and ph Central Otago art a little more to say , 70 ret 19 rga in Ma d d ate an du an rsm o gra Grahame Sydney, wh than Sydney: “A lan Ho , dable powers at the kins fellow in 1978 dg mi for Ho the the f re sel we l him lzie was Da s as ago Ot s his time at t. Margaret Dalziel wa although he describe top of the departmen at ve gre ha a to t d sn’ an wa air: “It a lesbian y, he also exciting.” Like Sydne a rather lacklustre aff rumoured to be both er, which was all ver y me but that was pp for e even Po rl ce ayb Ka en “M th : eri wi ago exp air Ot ty Universi had an aff to hips offered by g ws llo itin Fe wa s the wa of I e ... nc . lt kins Fellows People my ow n stupid fau highlights the importa the Burns and Hodg one of s of ibe ce scr sen de pre He the s e.” wa for me.” do something els more important tere were key friends lecturers, an English whare and Ralph Ho Tu ne study, Manhire “in the ir Ho e the g his most memorable lik rin du ire lived at home was an American o nh wh Ma , d ith an the publican.” y Sm ne al Syd “H Both teacher: where [his] father was Els eet Str led ay cal ttr er Ra int d in pa tel nt Ho ne Crow n closure of Gardies an married to a promi thought of the recent he at t wh tha ed d ask sai n ire he W wn, Manh e Cook shutting do e “b uld wo he t the possibility of Th tha t ned about Gardies, bu he was not too concer e for most of us. I tur fix l rea a s wa It . go ok Co e Th see upset to soling) Hone Tuwhare selling (or maybe con un co r ’d be em rem n eve when he thought he er one long evening over many jugs of be got a nun pregnant.”
e pretty outspoken ago has produced som The University of Ot rting variet y. Student and not just of the spo characters in its time, quite a loud and ed always involv ve ha din ne will Du in politics Harriet Geoghegan d who knows what an , wd cro us ero ist bo her predecessors. go on to achieve given include Bill English, ong the Otago alum Active politicians am and former resident r de be next Labour lea to d tte (pi ffe nli Cu David heyday, Bill was the Michael Laws. In his d an ), ton ng rri Ca of , an appointment which yn student association ions. Today, President of the Selw sm for powerful posit sia thu en his d lle fue no doubt l Party’s Minister of ances as the Nationa fin ’s try un co the ns he ru nd. It’s good to know y’s second in comma Ke n Joh d an ce an Fin e to good Bachelor of Commerc that he is putting his
use. By contrast Laws , who attended Aran a, has recently announced lot more laissez-faire. I mean the cit y active that he will not seek ly re- election as the Ma en couraged the students yor of W hanganui – to get out on the the ‘h’ apparently provin street s and have a good time.” As well g to be the final straw as . Rumour has it he is balancing his studie s with an internation not giv ing up the go at al entirely, however, wi rugby career, he als th suggestions that o held the prestigio he us will position himsel position of the Direc tor of Amenities durin f as Winston Peter s’ g deputy at the next ele Capping. “T his wa s … an appointme ction. He would giv nt e Rodney a run for his of the capping com mittee which gave the money at least. incumbent full con You might also be sur trol over all of the prised to know that three of our Governo alcohol that was ob r Generals attended thi tained, largely beer, in s prestigious instit ution fact, exclusively beer . Sir Anand Satyanand from Speight’s.” Aske d act ually went to Aquin whether any of the kegs fell off the tru as, believe it or not. ck However, after luckin on the way back, La idlaw admits, “Most g out in the first of health science year (an them went to the Stu dent Union, but one d his choice of Hall), or he ret urned to his ho two would mysteriousl metow n of Auck lan y find their way back d to complete a Law de to our flat.” Laidlaw went on to read histor gree at the university y there. This career mo and play rugby at Ox ve turned out to be ford, but when asked a good idea, as Sir An wh ich Un ive rsi ty he prefer red, rep and went on to becom lies, “I e a district court jud think Otago. Oxford ge and ultimately tak is not an easy place to e over from another Ot adjust to; you have go t to adjust to it ... Otago ago grad, Dame Silvia Cartw right, as the Go is much more free-w heeling.” vernor General. Dame Silvia, who graduate Other graduates have d with an LLB in 19 followed a similar 67, was a notable High journalistic tradition . Jim Morar, who wa Court Judge before s entering into Queen’s also with the Nationa ser vice, indeed she wa l Programme and sta s r the first woman to ser of Mucking In, once ha unted the Critic office ve in the position. In s 20 06, she took up a as Editor, as did the position as a trial jud political commentator ge on the United Nations Chris Trotter. Even TV3’s Samantha Ha Tribunal investigatin yes g war crimes in Cambod worked for Radio On e. ia. Additionally, Lord Arthur Porritt, also an ex- Selw ynite, was the eleventh Governor Ge The money-maker neral of New Zealand s and physician to the W hile the University has been operating for Queen. He began studying medicine in 141 years and is the old 1920 at Otago befor est tertiary education e going onto Oxford to instit ution in the country, teaching continue his studies. in In between he found accountanc y and bu time to represent Ne siness only began w in Zealand in the 1924 Pa 1912. Since then a nu ris Olympics, winning mber of key business a bronze in the 10 0-m people have graduate etre sprint. d from Otago and gone on to contribu te large sums to ou r GDP. Indeed, Austr The ellipsis brigad alasia’s richest man, e I was unsure where Graeme Hart, comple to slot Chris Laidlaw ted an MBA in 1988 into this article. He by outlining his strate has done so much gy for his then small : All Black, Rhodes business, the Rank Group. These days Scholar, Wellington he Regional Councillor is trying to corner the , High Commission packaging market by er to Zimbabwe, journali both horizontally an d vertically integrati st, author. You try to ng put that in a box. La operations across the idlaw studied History indust ry. at Otago, and has ma If you ha ve heard of Icebreak ny fond memories of er (and the place. Indeed, he no, it is not the dri nk that comes out of thought it necessar y to a mention that for all ke g), chances are you have those people who cla heard of Jeremy im to have been the fou Moon. Founder of the woollen clothing nders of the mi xed flatting tradition, he company, Moon had Dunedin may be cold, has the strongest. “In completed a Bachelo wet, and miserable bu r, it has played t 1962-3,” he says, “I Di plo ma , an d Ma home to some pretty ster’s of Commerce by went mi xed flatting int . It ere the sti ng seemed a rather go tim e people in its time. he finally finished od idea, I had lot s Don’t get me wrong, studying in 1994. of I contacts with butchers Now he runs a mu loathe the current ad lti-national cor porat and people who sold vertising campaign as ion fish, and the girls I that supplies New Ze mu ch as the next person – appa was flatting with we aland merino to stores rently, Otago re all seriously into co the world over. Notab can take the goth ou oking. So what bette ly, t of you. But this pla Ice bre ak er is also does r ce combination could you hiring, so if you are build a resilience of in the job market ch imagine?” body and mind, a eck strength out the careers page He describes Dunedin that will at the ver y lea for positions in Franc in the sixties as st put you in e, good stead “just as anarchic as Switzerland, the USA, for winters to come. it is now, [but] it wa an d Ca na da. sa 25
Steve Gray rose to national prominence amongst New Zealand’s dole-bludgers and stay-at-home parents when he landed a co-hosting role of TV ONE’s 9am-12pm Good Morning. A somewhat polarising personality, Gray was replaced on the show early last year under shadowy circumstances. Thomas Redford spoke to him about life as a celebrity in New Zealand and the nature of celebrity culture in this country.
Steve Gray Steve Gray: Kia ora Shortland Street Hospital, Marjorie Neilson speaking. Critic: Yeah hi, is that ah Steve? Yeah it is. Ah sorry, it’s Thomas Redford here from Critic. Yeah I know. Sweet. Shoot! Well thanks a lot for agreeing to the interview first of all Oh wait ‘til we’re finished, it might be shit. First maybe just a run-through of your career? You started as a film reviewer? No, I started doing video – it was so long ago, back on Bfm in the old, old days – yay bNet –and then I did that for a while and then I started doing The Wire on B which was 10-12, which was the political current events show and while I was doing that I was doing TV, and I got bumped up to doing gossip and film and DVD reviews and then I started hosting as well. And now I’m not, yeah … So yeah what happened? I read it was a sort of strange dismissal? About a year ago? Yeah, they didn’t renew the contract. They were kind of saying weird stuff and suddenly once the show finished I found out they were auditioning Hayden [Jones] to replace me, so the whole thing was kind of, sort of weird the way it happened, hmmm. Yeah, strange. And then to get right into it, the Rachel Glucina Tribute Page on Facebook ... [Rachel Glucina is the author of the Herald on Sunday’s social pages, Spy. A page dedicated to Glucina has been started on Facebook and features numerous derogatory comments towards Glucina by some of the big names spited in her pages.] It’s so nasty! Almost as nasty as she is. Yeah I figured, but I don’t really follow the Spy pages so … Yeah you shouldn’t. I make people read it
to me over the phone because I refuse to buy the Herald on Sunday. It sort of started ages ago with her, because she’s printed so many horrible stories about friends that were blatantly untrue, or little bits of reality, or it’s totally true but it’s stuff that they’re still dealing through. I had someone that was going through a marriage breakup and she started writing about that even though they were still trying to work it out. And she sort of announced in the papers that the whole marriage was totally on the rocks, which I find that like shut your fucking mouth woman, you have no idea what’s going on in people’s lives. But then all this stuff with Simon [Dallow] and Ali [Mau] just kind of dragged it out of the… The whole outing thing, that’s when the Rachel Glaucoma [sic] page started playing up. When her and Caroline LeeMing [sic] did the whole sort of ‘outing Ali Mau.’ Which was such a crock of shit because you know from what’s come out now, Simon was having affairs, which Ali had no idea about; their marriage broke down because of his infidelity. And then suddenly she’s putting it out there that it’s because Ali’s gone gay that the marriage has broken up, and that was obviously from the start nothing to do with it. So is this all stuff where she’s naming names? Yeah she does as well. I mean I was talking to Karl Urban last year about it, and he was so fucked off about the story that she did about him, because it was totally wrong. It was something like he makes the nanny carry the groceries or something, when there was something else totally going on at the time, but she just got these photos, and it was like she invented a story to go with them. And it was just like what the hell are you doing?
Well yeah I don’t how they get away with some of this stuff, because it’s not in the public domain but it’s just like yeah what do you do with it … And also the media are setting the agenda now. That whole Dave Fane celebrity roast thing – which was such a stupid idea, how do you roast people that buy ads on radio? It was bizarre anyway – but then that’s the idea of a roast; in a roast you say ‘nigger’ and ‘kyke’ and ‘Jew’ and you go totally over the top. Jesus I watched Sharon Osbourne’s roast the other day and it was appalling, they were talking about how she should tighten her cunt like she tightened her face and stuff. That’s the whole thing with roasts, they are full-on. It’s totally out of context. You’ve got her putting the stuff on the front page; they’re making stories out of things, which is not what the media should be doing. They should report things, not make them into a story and discuss them. I mean David Fane’s not a racist and he’s not anti-Semitic and he’s most definitely not homophobic. Yeah those Comedy Central roasts are brutal; half of them are just loose vagina jokes. Oh yeah that’s what a roast is, and just I don’t think any of that story had that in context of what a roast is like. Particularly the first story, it was really just everything that he’d said and shock horror, and people there weren’t shocked because that’s what a roast is like. There has been quite a movement recently, particularly in those Sunday papers, towards frontpage splashes about celebrity gossip. Is that quite a recent thing do you reckon? Yeah we only really got celebrities here when TV3 started, and then definitely, the last couple of years, it’s like the cult of personality has gone crazy now. That’s why on my blog, therealstevegray.com, I try to actually look at what people are reporting and say what’s actually going on and find
'The cult of personality has gone crazy now.'
I suppose it’s sort of, it’s offensive but too inane to bother taking legal action about?
out the real facts. Because there’s so much shit out there, especially when it’s your friends, it makes you crazy the crap that they print. Where do you think the obsession came from? Is it a market-driven thing, or are they trying to copy the overseas E! Channel-type market? I think some of it’s from overseas and I think suddenly now we have had actors that have done things like Lord of the Rings and Xena, that have gone worldwide; because they’re huge overseas a lot of those people. So part of it’s kind of our actors getting international recognition so we’re climbing onto that bandwagon, like taking an international view of them. But it’s like “Hello, we’re in fucking New Zealand,” we’re too laid back for that shit here. We shouldn’t be using overseas media manners with our celebs, they’re just fucking acting like people.
They don’t print stuff that actually really goes on. Really? Like what? The boozing and the drugging and the fucking. Everyone does it. It doesn’t matter if you’re famous or you live in fucking Dunedin, everyone gets pissed sometimes and everyone fucks and then everyone will get stoned. Yaknow: yeah, we’re having a party, let’s drop an E or whatever. It’s not like that’s the end of the world, but the media always have to do this anti kind of view on everything. They’re always so judgemental. I mean it’s like hello we’re not living in 1950s America.
'It doesn’t matter if I fuck you, I’m not going to inject talent up your arse or anything.'
Yes it’s like in New Zealand, we sort Yeah I guess it’s quite hypocritical. of have a strange relationship with Gawwwd yeah it’s ridiculous. I mean I celebrities; people buy those papers when used to serve at the Qantas Media Awards they have the big stories like Tony Veitch, in Auckland, I was a barman. I mean you they’re always the biggest stories on stuff. would see the stuff that they get into, and co.nz, but then do you think we’re also that was all the print journalists. sort of ashamed, we’re not sure if we deserve celebrities ..? there people in New 'I love gossip, I always Are I don’t know, because Zealand who have, it’s always been pursue fame actively? I love gossip, I always have, it’s always been want it? Well yeah something I’ve got off on.' Who something I’ve got you’ve got your Lisa off on. But when it’s my friends that I’m Lewises, who’s famous for streaking when reading about, it makes you kind of realise she had a bikini on, that’s not streaking how bad people that know Lindsay Lohan you dumbarses. John Tamihere and Willie must feel reading the shit on Perez Hilton. I Jackson; they love the sound of their own think they just forget the fact that these are voices. Hone Harawira, fuck, he’s never people. Who have children, who have lives, met a camera he’s said no to. And there and they don’t get paid enough to have this are people that think fame has a degree of shit written about them that’s written. worth but it doesn’t have worth because as I said we’re just all kiwis and we’re too Ha yeah, I guess that’s the big laconic for all that shit. thing in New Zealand. Totally. One thing I was thinking of putting in was a how-to guide to becoming a Do you think we’re we even big enough New Zealand celebrity … to have an A-list? Hmmm how would you do it quickly? Well Noooooooo. I mean where’s Salient? there’s also the element, people often get Where’s that? Dunedin? fame and infamy confused, they think because people might recognise them it’s I’m from Critic, in Dunedin, yeah. some kind of fame, but they’re recognising Right, well you’ve probably them and going “What a met Chris Matthews or so it’s not quite the 'The boozing and fuckwit” people like that. One same thing. So first you’ve got the drugging person’s celebrity is to decide if you want fame someone else’s drinking you want infamy. Because and the fucking. or buddy. And also I mean infamy’s pretty easy to get. journalism’s still shit here. Everyone does it.' 28 32
Yeah like what would you say is the … Quickest way to get fame?…Talent? You’ve really got to have talent. I used to have gay kids coming up to me in the gay bar going “I’ll fuck you if you make me famous.” And I’d be like well you’ve got to have some talent; it doesn’t matter if I fuck you, I’m not going to inject talent up your arse or anything. You’ve got to have something to start with that you can work with, that you can actually turn into something. Whether it’s in sports or writing or acting or directing, whatever, you’ve got to actually have some talent to start with on your own. I guess you can get fame for fame’s sake these days. Yeah I guess so … I always hate it when people come up to me at bars when I’d be shit-faced and go “You’re that guy on TV” and I’d be like “Yeah why did you even need to say that, you should have just come up and gone hey, and buy me a fucking drink,” I mean that’s more useful than any of that kind of shit. Fame doesn’t really have any worth; you’ve got to have something behind it, a career or something. Yeah, so on that topic, how would you describe your own experiences with fame in New Zealand? Well it’s interesting, I’d be out with my boyfriend and people would not even see him, in fact sometimes he’d get pushed out of the way, and that would fuck him off so much, because they’d want to get close to me or something as if it rubs off, or so you can go home and do the whole “Hey I met him,” or something, like what does that mean? Who cares? I’ve never got it because I’ve interviewed so many fucking famous people or whatever and they’re just people, they all shit the same, they all hurt and go through crap. There’s nothing that makes them different or whatever because they’re ‘famous’ in inverted commas. But yes it would always just be like “Why are you bringing this up now?” I’d be about to fuck people and they’d say “Hey you’re that guy off TV” and I’d be like “What the hell are you bringing that up for!?” It would just be bizarre. Was it quite a regular thing? People approaching you? Well, it was when I started hosting. When I was reviewing it was a lot easier because
people would just go “I love your reviews” and it’s like yeah sweet, cool, so you should, I give good advice. But then once I started hosting it was different, it did feel like people own you more, like they feel like they know you or something, and its like, you don’t know anything about me. Particularly in that kind of situation, where it’s just sooo fake; we’d have someone in our ear screaming at us if we did anything vaguely kind of human sometimes. So yeah it’s like I don’t know what they want or what they expect as well. Hmmm one thing people will always bring up in New Zealand is the tall poppy syndrome, did you experience any of that? Yeah … if you didn’t give people what they wanted, as in time or whatever, or recognition that they recognised you. Like big fucking deal, you watch morning TV, get a job, whoop dee doo. Then they could turn sour but I was always just a friend. And also when I was out in Auckland I was with drag queens, so they’d often times just be too terrified, because the girls would go “Faarkk off.” But no, never anything that got really bad. Never annoying, because usually people would go ‘oh I really enjoy your work.’ I guess if you were a dick, like if you were Michael Laws or something it would be different because there would be
people that hate your politics. But because I was doing stuff like reviewing and stuff it was always nice. An argument people will often bring up when famous people complain about media coverage, like Mike Hosking suing New Idea because they printed photos of his children … Oh yeah and now they’re bitching that he’s gone the other way and he’s selling his story to make money. Yeah it’s interesting, I know Mike, I don’t really want to talk about that. I would talk about the fact that they were saying that about Ali Mau, like when she was outed or whatever, people were like “Well fuck her she sold her stories to women mags, and made money,” and it’s well no she wasn’t she was under contract. In New Zealand their contracts would be something like you have to do a certain amount of publicity. So you’d actually be contracted to do stories for things and stuff. So yeah I don’t know whether I’ve seen pictures of her kids or not, but um yeah it’s an interesting thing. But then there are other things, like now he’s [Hosking] doing Breakfast on ZB so there’d be pressure from his management to get his name out there and get his face out there. Yaknow he’s replacing Holmes, who’s the biggest self-promoting cunt in the world. So he had to get up to that level as well. So I’m sure there’s also management pressure on Hosking to do it, to get that story out with him and Kate [Hawkesby], because he never really has before but now they are. But there are false rumours going around, and they really are to kill. Because New Zealand is a small country so rumours can fly around this place as quick as a flash, and now with the internet it’s even worse. Christ, have you been on the TradeMe boards? Oh, no. Go have a look at any of the TradeMe message boards about any of the New Zealand people and stuff; gawd, opinions are like arseholes, everyone’s got one. Really? Some people getting right into it? Ooooh yep, really full-on, it’s like fuuuck. [giggles] I saw Charlotte Dawson getting right into that Rachel Glucina page, bit of a beef there? Well yeah she said terrible stuff about her, Rachel was always writing about her, and it’s like Charlotte’s fantastic, she’s a really
lovely woman. And reading that stuff it fucked everyone off, because they sort of forget that we’re all friends, everyone knows each other in this industry, it’s so small in New Zealand. And so you actually do take it as a personal affront when you read something about a friend that 1) is incorrect, or 2) is just really cunty. And a lot of it was really horrible. Because that’s where are a lot of people might point to Charlotte Dawson and say she is someone who has really pursued fame … Yeah see I know her, so I’d never think that, I’ve known how hard she’s worked over the years, the really hard times and stuff. It’s like saying, by saying that you’re saying so what, when a newspaper did a story about her marriage breaking up, she broke up her marriage to get publicity? It’s ridiculous, no one does that. So that she chased publicity is just totally, totally wrong, she was just working at what she was doing. Yeah sure, okay. And the last question, if you were stranded on Celebrity Treasure Island, which three other New Zealand celebrities would you want to be stranded with? Glenn Osborne, because as he says on Code he can do everything. I love Glen Osborne he’s so fucking funny. Oh, Charlotte, because she’s fantastic fun. Oh I don’t know it would be weird. Probably Ponginator because then I’d get in good conversation. Who’s that, sorry? Brendan Pongia, because he’s a laugh, and you’d get a good conversation out of him. Definitely, definitely the Oz. Oh and someone hot; Logan Swann, oh no but he’s already done it, but he’s so hot! You’d need someone for eye candy. Oh, Sonny Bill Williams. Sonny Bill Williams. Because he sounds like such a freshie, I’d just want to see if he is, sounds like he’s just fresh from Samoa when he talks and I think that’s really cute. Sounds like a pretty well-resourced island. Yeah! Excellent. Everything? Yeah that’s it, thanks a lot for your time. Yep no worries. Hopefully you can use it. In accordance with legal advice, some parts of the transcript have been blacked out. The views expressed by Gray in the interview are his own genuine opinion and not shared by Critic or its employees. 29
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he 90 000+ classified US military documents released by Wikileaks last week have revealed a refreshingly honest if startlingly grisly picture of the realities on the ground in the ‘War on Terror’ in Afghanistan. Ubiquitous cover-ups of civilian deaths, extrajudicial assassination squads, the rise and rise of the Taliban … you name it, and if it’s illegal, inhumane, and inimical to the interests of the Afghani and American people alike, it’s there on Wikileaks in black and white. Nine years down the blood-splattered track, as Osama Bin Laden moves into the fat Elvis stage of his career in global terrorism in a warm little cave in Whereveristan, these documents provide us with a timely opportunity to return to a perennial question: what the fuck are New Zealand troops doing in Afghanistan? Insofar as they feel compelled to justify our presence there at all, our politicians have come up with some doozies … Paving the way to stable democracy: Roll me another one. The ruling Northern Alliance is a motley crew of warlords and religious fundamentalists, bankrolled by industrial-scale opium production and the CIA. It could barely maintain control of Kabul, let alone the country, without perpetual US support. Its dual mandates are an election marked by widespread fraud and the support of the powers that are illegally occupying the country. Afghanistan recently received the dubious distinction of being ranked the world’s second most corrupt country by Transparency International. Fighting global terrorism: US National Security Advisor Jim Jones recently declared that there are fewer than 100 al Qaeda members currently operating in Afghanistan. It seems that now might be the time for Obama to re-deploy the ‘Mission Accomplished’ banner that embarrassed Bush so badly in 2003. Except of course that al Qaeda still exists – its incentives to operate out of Afghanistan are just rather diminished. Terrorists no doubt continue to hatch their plots in Syria, Pakistan, Northern Africa, Hamburg, Paris, London … and their latest atrocity will always be accompanied by the same old cheaply-made home video explaining their motivation: they are protesting US occupations in the Middle East. Like, duh. Introducing and enforcing human rights: It would certainly be difficult to beat the Taliban at the game of flagrant human rights abuse, and the current US-backed regime does not quite manage it. Minor progress in this area will, however, be cold comfort for Afghanis who continue to receive the death penalty for converting from Islam, life sentences for cross-dressing, or imprisonment without trial and torture for suspected militancy. Supporting our allies: Okay, so this one actually rings true. But let’s be honest about the implications: our SAS troops are essentially hired thugs. The problem is that the US is behaving like a gambling addict who knows he’s losing but has already lost the holiday house and the kids’ college fund and can no longer afford to quit. If New Zealand wishes to be on the winning side of history, it ought to cut its losses and leave the US to it. 32
eeks like this don’t come often enough between elections. By now, Chris Carter will probably be gone from the Labour Party, and it’s certain that he signed the death warrant in his own handwriting. His attempt at bringing about a leadership change or getting back at Phil Goff for demoting him has completely backfired. Whatever he was trying to achieve, he took himself down at the same time and did it in the most childish way. Talking behind the leader’s back may be expected in politics, but denying it, kind of admitting it when caught red-handed, and then claiming he was glad it came out was just a futile attempt to spin his actions into something noble. This arrogant attempt at nobility has now led him to fall on his sword, and try to take Goff down with him whatever the cost. And it might just work, although not in time for the next election. Carter himself will face a tough fight if he thinks he can hold onto his electorate as an independent. Despite what some supportive vox pops on the street may say, few MPs are re-elected independent of their party. Voters will be put off by this internal mess and a former Labour MP speaking out against his own party. Any others within caucus who may have been plotting a tilt at the leadership before the election will have been sent scurrying. Another coup within the year before the election would be too dangerous for the Labour Party. The one thing Carter may have achieved is ensuring that Phil Goff will lead through the next election. But he has damaged the brand at the same time. He has made enough media appearances to make an idea start to stick in the voter’s minds: that Phil Goff is a loser, and even Labour thinks so. There are now a large number of quotes from a former Labour minister claiming Goff is unelectable. These will resurface next year, and it won’t be pretty. Goff has been failing since the very beginning. As a senior minister he was too involved in the government that got turfed out at the last election. He keeps saying (mostly) the right things, but as the preferred Prime Minister polls have consistently shown, he doesn’t have traction and isn’t gaining any. It’s one thing to debate potentially unpopular National Party policy during the term, but once the campaign starts, much greater focus moves onto the party leaders, and Goff is doing more to put people off Labour than bring them in. It’s awkward, but he’s been consistently losing a nation-wide popularity contest, and he’s not going to recover at this stage. The one good thing for Labour is that this gives them yet another term to bring the new faces to the front.
Harry: The main problem inherent in allowing celebrities to participate in political campaigns is the fact that celebrities cause voters to vote for a certain political party or candidate based on their like or dislike for the celebrity who is doing the endorsement. This obviously causes a whole raft of major issues, the main ones being the gaining of illegitimate votes for certain political parties and/ or candidates, and the negative ulterior motives behind celebrity endorsements. A celebrity who endorses a political campaign will always cause voters to vote for the celebrity rather than the politician. This can (in the worst-case scenario) mean that a politician or political party gets voted in not on their political aims and policies, but the calibre and popularity of the celebrities who endorsed them. When a celebrity gets involved, voters are far less likely to vote based on their own analysis of different political candidates. Take Robyn Malcolm (aka Cheryl West) who endorsed the Green party in the 2008 general election. This resulted in an almost two percent increase in votes for Green in 2008 (compared to the 2005 election). Obviously not all of this can be attributed to Malcolm’s endorsement of the Greens, but a lot of voters, particularly malleable younger voters, would have voted for Green because of Malcolm’s association. Celebrity endorsements sway political campaigns and totally undermine the whole election process. Do we want to risk getting a bad politician into power? No, of course not, but this is what happens every time a celebrity endorses a politician. The second major negative aspect of celebrity endorsements is the non-neutrality of them. Celebrities are often only endorsing political parties because they personally know the politician (which is unethical) or because they are benefiting by the endorsement in some way (which is downright illegal). It is very rare to see a celebrity endorsing a political party for purely selfless reasons. It should be obvious by now that celebrity endorsements distort the neutrality of political campaigning. There are far more instances of distorted voting and unethical endorsement reasons than otherwise, and for that reason the only option is to ban celebrity campaigning in politics.
Kurt: If you’re going to restrict freedom of speech, you better have a very good reason for it. My argument is that celebrities actually add value to politics, rather than harm it. Firstly, celebrities don’t have this nasty influence over elections that causes mass upheaval of the democratic process. There are many influences on how people vote in elections. Friends, family (how your parents have always voted is the prime example), trade unions, and politicians themselves all influence people’s decisions in one way or another, and I can’t see why celebrities are any different. Secondly, it increases voter participation. Most Western countries (especially the United States) have huge issues with low voter turnout. Low voter turnout is usually associated with people feeling uninterested or unimportant in the political process. Celebrities can help this by making politics interesting to people who would have otherwise have been disinterested. They also act as a role model for others to go out and vote come election time. Thirdly, it is true that a large number of people don’t have the time or interest to know the fine details about what’s going on in the world of politics. Celebrities can help bridge this information gap. This is because celebrities with whom people share values can indicate which candidates represent their views. Two notable examples in the United States were Oprah Winfrey’s endorsement of Barack Obama and Chuck Norris’ endorsement of Mike Huckabee. People who know these celebrities can more easily understand which politician represents their views. This means more people are likely to vote as they now feel more informed. Fourthly, liberty. Any person should be able to express their political beliefs in the democratic forum without the state banning them from doing so. It breaches a fundamental human right that all democratic societies respect. Finally, watch this: http://www.youtube.com MDUQW8LUMs8
Debatable is a column written by the Otago University Debating Society. They meet every Tuesday at 7pm in Commerce 2.20. 03 33
t seems a year can’t go by without the threat of another pandemic, each one promising to have a more devastating effect than the last. Bird flu. Swine flu. Bieber fever. And yet things never quite turn out to be as bad as expected; life inevitably goes on and we all brush it off as a bit of over-zealous media hype. In many ways, this is fair enough: it’s a well-known fact that our newsrooms are stuffed full of journalists practically falling over themselves for an opportunity to blow even the most mundane events into stories of epic proportion (I’m looking at you, Duncan Garner from 3 News), and I’m sure these pandemic scares offer them much-needed variety from the daily grind of thrusting cameras into grieving relatives’ faces and thinking of tasteless ways to introduce their next story. But just because our mainstream news is sliding towards forehead-slapping new lows doesn’t mean that a pandemic couldn’t still happen. Could it be that our jaded attitude towards an increasingly sensationalist media is blinding us to the fact that a killer virus could sweep the globe and kill us at literally any second?! Think about it: there could be a shifty-looking rotavirus charging up to your door right now, just waiting to get all up inside you and have a bit of how’s-your-father with your immune system. Then, of course, there is the small but very real possibly that a virus could spread through the human populace and turn its victims into brain-dead, flesh-eating monsters, creating a sort of zombie apocalypse. Perhaps what is most disturbing about this scenario is the number of people who are secretly looking forward to it happening: slightly unhinged folks who just can’t wait to load up on baseball bats and chainsaws and mow down some zombies for the good of humanity. But while the thought of taking down zombified versions of childhood bullies or Duncan Garner from 3 News may be tempting to some, I’m sure most of us can agree that a zombie-free future would be the more pleasant option. In short, we need to be vigilant about our health at all times. To help stave off any deadly infections, I would advise following these simple steps: 1) Wash your hands before, after, and during meals. 2) Always remember “five plus a day”: that’s five hours of sleep a night, plus an extra hour in case of emergencies. 3) Wear a protective facemask at all times to prevent the ingestion of flu germs, noxious gases, and solid foods. 4) Lather, rinse, spin, repeat. 5) Don’t get yourself wet, and, whatever you do, never feed yourself after midnight. If we stick to these steps then maybe these pandemic scares will become a thing of the past. Zombie-hunting enthusiasts will be forced to hang up their anticipatory shotguns, while the news media will continue their slide into the proverbial toilet unnoticed. We can only hope.
avid Skegg is yet to discover that the most profound philosophy that occurs at Otago Uni does not in fact take place in the philosophy department, it in fact takes place at Union Lawn at 4.20 pm. That’s right; this week, Matthew, I’m going to be a stoner. It’s a completely NORML thing to do these days. When dressing as a ‘smoky philosopher’, the best piece of advice I can give is wear bright and colourful clothing. Solid colours are good, but multi-coloured is even better! Tie-dyed shirts are ideal for portraying the ‘no one told me the sixties are over’ image. The added benefit of all the multi-coloured clothing is that it becomes a swirling nirvana of colours when you’re under the influence of cannabis. If you’re aiming for the hippy look, top off your outfit with a tie-dyed headband; otherwise follow the Dunedin standard and grow yourself a hearty mass of dreadlocks contained under a Rasta tam. Not only will these keep you warm, but if maintained correctly, they will serve as a terrarium of sorts for ants, lice, and even the occasional snack morsel. Great if you get lonely and/or hungry! The smoky philosopher is mellow. Very mellow. In fact, they’re so mellow that they even had a brand of biscuits named after the way in which they smoke (mellow puffs). So, stay relaxed at all times – life’s about contemplation, not aggravation. Even your speech should be relaxed; every word in your sentence is a leaf, gently floating on the soft breeze of your speech, making its way into the world to join the tree of global wisdom. On that note, if you want to be a smoky philosopher, you will require a significant amount of free time as even a simple conversation takes a great deal of time if you’re speaking in a truly relaxed fashion. Where possible, make sure to use words from the sixties in your speech. Things aren’t ‘cool’, they’re ‘groovy’; the party wasn’t just ‘good’, it ‘blew your mind’; the last bong wasn’t just epic, it was ‘radical’. Granted, not all stoners are hippies, but how can you not love a guy in a tie-dye shirt commenting on how groovy everything is? Now you’ve got the look and the attitude down, throw in some accessories to mix it up. Bongs are the obvious choice, but there are still lots of options. You’ve got the wizard bong if you want to go traditional, the apple bong if you’re feeling creative, or the gumboot if you’re in the mood for some kiwiana flavour. Finally, go and get yourself some circus gear. Juggling or diabolo work best as stilts tend to get a bit cumbersome. Not only does this give you that certain je ne sais quoi, but it also gives you a legitimate reason to hang out on union lawn at 4.20. If that’s not radical, I don’t know what is.
hile watching grown men wrestle each other over an oval shaped ball, has it ever occurred to you to ask: what is the point? When examined closely, modern professional sport seems to have little point to it at all. Noam Chomsky, the hero of the left when it comes to media matters, describes modern sport as being used by those in power to distract us lower people from what really matters, like them killing thousands of civilians in the Middle East. That’s a fairly cynical view of both sport and those who watch it. That idea may explain the reasoning behind sports like NASCAR and it’s no right-turn policy, but the idea that if you watch sport you don’t care about anything else is pretty ridiculous. In some ways you can see where Chomsky is coming from: with all the hype and over-analyzing that goes into sports these days it can be easy to get lost in the hyperbole that comes out of the mouths of the likes of Keith Quinn. Where the argument falls short, though, is with the mums and dads who get up every Saturday morning to take little Willy down to the park to see him put on his boots on, then make mud cakes in the corner of the field, and who continue to do it week after week. It is at the grass-roots level that the point of sport is made abundantly clear. Sport, or any type of physical competition, seems to be as natural as two lion cubs fighting each other in preparation for avoiding a poacher’s gunshot later in life. Sports can even serve as life lessons in today’s society. Take rugby for example – it’s okay if it’s not consensual so long as the ref doesn’t see you. The ugly side of sport always will be around, like the overpaid players, coaches, and the Otago Nuggets Cheerleaders, and there will always be nerds who hate it that the jock always gets the girl. Isn’t that the crux of the argument? Even if some ivory tower academic says sport doesn’t matter, out here in the real world it most certainly does. Huge Neanderthal men cry at the sight of their team losing – or alternatively, in England they just try and murder the other side. Whatever works best I’m not one to judge the way one man grieves. Maybe though we do take sport a little too seriously; with all the money that went into the Beijing Olympics, there are still people who live near the Olympic Stadium who think it’s a luxury their neighbour has a hole in the ground to shit in. And the constant dribble about some sort of party central makes me want to sit down and watch test cricket all day, listen to the docile tones of Richie Benuad, and get completely pissed off the main sponsor’s product of course.
Why Celebrities Shouldn’t Endorse Things 5. It can go horribly wrong. Celebrities are a bunch of
loose units and can knock out a business’s image faster than I change the channel when Shortland Street is on. We’ve all seen Mr. Family, a.k.a. Tiger Woods, go on a sexual escapade that would make Ron Jeremy raise an eyebrow, which embarrassed most of his sponsors. Chris Brown got the smack down from the ‘Got milk?’ campaign after he laid the smack down on Rihanna. Most of the time it’s not worth attaching a product to a celebrity for risk of the next drug/alcohol/sex/porn scandal. 4. They can’t do anything right. Al Gore is a massive fan of stopping climate change. Cooleo, me too. So he decided to hold a ‘Live Earth’ concert to raise awareness for climate change. Sweet, sounds good. Then he flew in around 150 artists from all over the world, pumping an estimated 31 500 tons of carbon emissions into the atmosphere in that single day. ... Wait...what the fuck? Damn you, Al Gore! Considering that the average American releases about 20 tons a year, that is an outrageous amount of emissions. Why didn’t you just burn down a rainforest and release a CD instead? It probably would have had less effect! 3. It usually doesn’t make sense. Okay, I guess it’s fair
enough to get the All Blacks to endorse Powerade or Kobe Byrant to endorse Nikes, but sometimes an advert can just leave you thinking “What. The. Fuck?” Take, for example, an ad I was linked to that was a part of an anti-crack campaign from the eighties. Have a guess who they used. Pee-wee Herman. That’s right, they used Pee-wee-fucking-Herman to convince people to say no to crack cocaine. I dunno if you’ve seen Pee-wee’s Playhouse but it’s rather terrifying to say the least and looks like it’s been produced by someone who either has snorted far too much crack for their own good and/or is clearly batshit insane. 2. It’s lazy. I don’t know about you, but I think getting
celebrities to endorse a product is fucking lazy. What’s wrong? Your marketing department isn’t clever enough to come with something sophisticated and witty? Do you seriously fucking think that I want your “Fujitsu air” because Stephen Fleming told me I should? I am unimpressed. Surely a person with a Marketing Degree must learn the skills to produce a creative and effective marketing campaign ... Never mind. 1. Holy shit. Sometimes words aren’t enough to describe
something. I rest my case, Your Honour.
Well, this feels weird. Over a week ago the ODT helped launch a campaign to keep neurosurgery in Dunedin. It saves lives, it’s important, and losing the department would be a disaster for the city. The ODT has been forceful about this and they have not let up, dedicating several front pages to the cause. Chat from them. For the most part, the newspaper is God-awful, but it’s encouraging to see the local rag actually getting behind an issue that is important and making people sit up and take notice. Like us, you won’t have read much of it. But the fact that they’re doing it … we respect that. Moving right along... Look here! Why won’t these people write letters to us?
have learned a lot of things over the last few weeks. One of those is that there is very little room for humour in student politics. I made a joke a few columns ago about limited entry. I apologise for that and would like to clarify that I do take the issue very seriously and am doing my best to ensure that the new system is as fair as possible. It was a shame, however, that the comment was taken out of context as it was in relation to people accusing me of having malicious intentions. I still stand by the sentiment that if anyone thinks I am making changes for malicious reasons or selfish gains then they are being somewhat narrowly focused. I also learned that as well as to employers, Facebook isn’t out of bounds for media (legally, unsure about morally). It’s a shame, really, because I make a lot of jokes on my personal Facebook page and those in the target audience are my friends who: a) understand that I am joking; and b) very often actually start the jokes. Another thing to add to the list is that when some people get really fixated on an idea they will do almost anything to get their way and often that involves perpetuating misconceptions. So, I will take this opportunity to clarify a few things: 1. There was no abuse of process throughout the OUSA referendum, despite allegations and reports throughout Critic and online. All complaints have been dismissed and the referendum upheld. This means the new structure will be implemented for 2011. 2. There was never any intention of reducing representation of any group (minority or otherwise). In fact, I strongly believe that representation will be strengthened with the new structure. We could have 100 different minority reps on the Executive but the reality is we gave adding extras a go and it didn’t work. If we don’t have a structure that enables people not just to be heard, but for people to take responsibility for acting on issues raised, then we aren’t going to get far. 3. While there may not be a designated Queer Rep or Women’s Rep etc on the core Executive, those positions will still exist and they will be well resourced. Some have expressed a fear that without constitutional assurance of specific representation it will be lost. However, Section 3 of the Constitution: ‘Objects of the Association’ states that OUSA is required: 3.1.3 To advocate for and protect its members. 3.1.4 To support and represent members of the Association in attaining their educational and academic goals. It is inherent in everything that we do (including all policies and our strategic plan) that we will represent everyone and be inclusive. “It’s the vibe of the thing.”* Therefore if OUSA is not representing all students and advocating for them, OUSA is not following the constitution and students have a right to pull the Executive up on it. * Oops, sorry … another joke. See The Castle.
ia ora whanau, Nga mihi nui kia koutou. Ko te wawata kei te pai haere koutou, e toru nga wiki kei te toi, a, ka hararei ano matou, pea? Only three weeks till mid-semester break, hang in there whanau. So, two weeks ago we had our Te Hokai, the Māori Ball, and what an event it was! We have a million or more people to thank, so we had better get started. Firstly we need to thank the OUSA Aquatic Centre / Rowing Club for the fantastic venue, and Sonya, Glenn, and the two boys that helped our during the evening. We would highly recommend the Rowing Club for any occasion. Next we have our suppliers BBQ-Bill for the awesome kai, Super Liquor Malcom Street for the liquor, (thank goodness we had a buy-back deal as there was a lot left), and Hire Pool for their accompanying bits and pieces that made the place look great. A big huge thanks goes out to our trio of amazing singers, Raniera, Rongo, and Wariz (whuuu matua two weeks in a row) and of course our DJ from South Bar, Jordan. Our photographer Amanda, sorry for being a camera hog, photos will be on our Facebook page ASAP. Now, the biggest thanks go out to our workers, our bar ladies – I hope you got all the experience you needed. The scare zone scarers – seriously, Bailey, you should apply for a job at Spookers! The ball committee, Te Rito and Ari, who needed to set up the night before when it only took us three hours – you’re amazing. But a special, special thanks go to Khan Murray, our BCom, Te Rito Kaiwhakahaere, funny guy who even cleaned up. You did the most amazing job, for which I and all the whānau are truely thankful. He mihi nui tenei kia koutou katoa mo te koutou mahi mo tenei po – tau ke. Moving on to the weekend just gone and the Poly-Sports day. Amazing effort by those who participated and a massive thank you to Rimutere and Ari for their organisation skills from this side. Mean BBQ Ari! TRM Panui: Candidates Hui – keep an eye on your emails for notification of the time and place to grill your 2011 Te Rito candidates. Kia pai to koutou wiki,
FROM A NUMBER CRUNCHER
Letter of the Week wins a $30 book voucher FROM, WELL, EVERYONE
Dear Critic, Is there any possible way oftaking the ‘take your place in the world’ advertisement off of television altogether? I’m actually close to strangling my boyfriend who is insistent on singing that FUCKING horrible song over and over again. I DON’T WANT TO TAKE MY PLACE IN THE WORLD. What’s with the Goth girl by the way? Does going to Otago make you into a Chad? Lots of Love, Jerky McBeefjerk ox
FROM A SARTORIALIST
Manaia by R. Tapiata
Dear Critic. An open letter to those who dress themselves: What’s with all the black? Walking around campus is a veritable sea of black and monochrome. I realize that statistically speaking some of you will be in a state of mourning or have a touch of the Kirwans but that doesn’t explain the majority. The Dunedin winter is cold and hard enough to endure without walking through a funeral procession every day. If you think it’s slimming, try some moderate cardio. It does a better job than black ever did and will leave you free to revel in any number of colours that the synthetic dye industry has blessed us with. To those few of you who already brandish colour proudly, thank you, you brighten the day. To the rest of you, ditch the black. You’re walking around in daylight so you can’t all be vampires, colour up, it won’t bite. Spectrally yours -Ham Lorgelly (P.S. I retract my statement if in fact you are all Daywalkers and no one told me)
Hey Critic, You wrote of facebook that “Students vote overwhelmingly ‘Yes’ to downsize Exec and move SGMs online.” The in Ben’s editorial you said the referendum was “overwhelmingly endorsed.” It seems to me that the results are not really overwhelming. The results show that there was a total of 1399 members voting on the referendum. A two-thirds majority (66.6%) is required for the referendum to pass. The results regarding the changes to the structure of the exec are as follows: No – 316 votes, Abstain – 73 votes, and Yes – 1010 votes. For the result to pass, assuming that 1399 is a stable voting population, the referendum required a minimum of 932 yes votes. The margin between the referendum, regarding structural changes, passing or not is merely 78 votes (or 5.6%). That’s not exactly overwhelming. Sincerely, Underwhelmed
FROM THE QUEER REP
Dear Ben, As the representative for queer students, I was concerned about a couple of points you made in your editorial. Firstly, minority groups expressed their opinions about the proposed structural changes way before the referendum results were announced. Both Harriet and I received emails from the queer student community before the referendum had even started. Maybe if you were at the forum you would have realised this. Also, the complaints were made during the referendum, not after the results were announced, and these complaints weren’t related to the changes but how the referendum was run. Secondly, there was more to the 2008 Queer Rep quorum debacle than the fact that quorum was called. Before an AGM begins, you’re meant to have quorum. Quorum was met on the initial count, however despite more people turning up throughout the meeting, and very few leaving, quorum wasn’t met at a later call! It was totally dodgy and personally, that’s what I and many others
were concerned about at the time. Nonetheless, all this talk about quorum is redundant because the five who walked out didn’t walk out to sabotage quorum. Your reporter, Julia Hollingsworth, clearly states the reasons why we did this. Regards 2010 Queer Rep
FROM A MINORITY STUDENT
As a minority student, I just want to take the time to say how disappointed I currently am in the downsizing of the exec. I applaud the action of the reps who walked out of the meeting (Imogen Roth, Travis Monk, Ros MacKenzie, Michael Anderson and Shonelle Eastwood) and Dan Stride. While I was one of the few that voted no for the changes, I am not against change, but for the rights of minorities to be represented at the top level. One of the reasons I came to this University was because of the student association’s ability to INCLUDE students from all aspects of life. Other tertiary student associations should look upon OUSA in shame for their EXCLUSION of minority groups. For those of you that are straight, white, middle class and/ or socially conservative, try putting yourself in the shoes of someone who faces discrimination every single day and who must fight for their rights as a human being to be respected, not laughed at. From a fellow minority student.
FROM A RELIGIOUS PERSON
Hi, I thought it was great that you guys did an issue on religion and raised awareness of the religions on campus. But it would be nice if, when looking at particular religions and the critique of them, it wasn’t just based on the acts of people claiming they were in the name of religion. Many of these acts have been due to man’s incorrect interpretation and corruption of religious texts. It would be good if religion could also be looked at as a whole and the spirit of unity it has established throughout the world. ‘The fundamental purpose animating the Faith of God and His Religion is to
safeguard the interests and promote the unity of the human race, and to foster the spirit of love and fellowship amongst men. Suffer it not to become a source of dissension and discord, of hate and enmity.’ A Fellow Student.
emphasising this, why don’t you write an article on who he actually is? His name is King Tuheitia. Get it right! Koina, Hauauru Rae
FROM OUR FOOD WRITER FROM ANOTHER RELIGIOUS PERSON
Dear Ed I must take Richard Nyhof to task by saying, “ that God is waiting for you to get in touch.” To quote C.S. Lewis: We talk about man’s (!) search for God. We may as well talk about the mouse’s search for the cat.” A good example is Paul’s dramatic conversion in the Bible. While my own conversion was nowhere as dramatic, I know God did indeed “chase me down the years.” Thankfully, I eventually decided he had my best interests at heart. In Jesus I have my true identity and the freedom to be the person I was created to be; warts and all. Lenore Hopkins
FROM THE AUTHOR OF THE GUIDE TO SPEAKING TE REO
Dear readers, Firstly, I would like to apologise. I am the author of the ‘Critic’s Easy Guide to the Essentials of Te Reo Maori’, and in that, the Ngati Porou dialect of ‘How are you?’ is ‘Kai te pehea koe?’ which is wrong. The preferred way to ask ‘how are you?’ in Ngati Porou, is either ‘Kai te aha koe?’ or ‘Kei te aha koe?’. For that, I am sorry. This is important because it is a dialect spoken by over 70,000 Maori, and it is central to who they are as Ngati Porou, and therefore it must be acknowledged. Secondly, I would like to complain about the ‘Bunch of Fives’ and attitudes towards the Maori King. I have no idea what the point was with asking that question, but it was extremely offensive. The Maori King is a descendent of a long line of prominent leaders who have fought for the survival of many New Zealand Maori and their rights. In fact, I wouldn’t exist without them, nor would my iwi. And so for the critic to highlight such ignorance is offensive. Yeah sure many non-Maori, even Maori, don’t know who the King is; but rather than
Dear Cookie Monster, Thank you for your letter and the ego boost. You will forever be remembered as my first ever (dare I say ‘fan’?) letter! It’s great to have positive feedback because there’s always the underlying fear that people just skip the column entirely. At the risk of being presumptuous, if you’re interested in reading more stuff and checking out more food pictures please visit http://feedthetien.blogspot. com This makes all the time, effort and money spent quite worth it. Oh yeah...I get to eat that stuff too.... ;) Geekily yours, Tien LETTERS POLICY Letters should be 200 words or less. The deadline is Tuesday at 5pm. Get them to us by putting them in the mailbox under the Union stairs, emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or posting them to us at PO Box 1436, Dunedin. All letters must include full contact details (name, street address and phone number), even if you don’t want these details printed. Letters of a serious nature addressing a specific group or individual will not be published under a pseudonym, except in extraordinary circumstances as negotiated with the Editor. Critic reserves the right to edit, abridge, or decline letters without explanation. We don’t fix the spelling or grammar in letters. If the letter writer looks stupid, it’s because they are.
DUNEDIN FILM SOCIETY SCREENING August 11 - Her Name is Sabine Revealing documentary by famous French film actress Sandrine Bonnaire about her autistic sister. Half-year student memberships now available ($30 for free admission to all 11 remaining films). See website for further information: dunedinfilmsociety.tripod.com BLUES AND GOLDS NOMINATIONS Do you know someone deserving of a sporting or cultural award? Nominations close for the annual Blues and Golds awards at 4pm on Thursday 13 August. Get your nominations in today!
STUDENTSOUL Cafe-style church service for students. Sunday 15 August 7pm at George Street School Hall. Speaker: Andrew Harrex. Contact Helen on 027 473 0042.
CRISIS MEETING For those who loved Kieran Mitchell, bless. God save his selfless soul. R.I.P.
NOTICES POLICY Notices must be fewer than 50 words in length and must be submitted to Critic by 5pm on Tuesday before you want it to run. You can get notices to us by emailing email@example.com or bringing them to the Critic office. We accept up to five notices a week from non-profit organisations and other student-related groups that aren’t looking to make a bit of dosh.
Critique Analyse this...
53 art 42
NZ Top 40
Saturday 6pm; repeat Tuesday 2pm C4
Monday 8:00pm TV3
Sticking out like an inflamed televisual thumb is the worst musical show to grace our screens since, well, I can’t recall a worse one. I’m talking of course about C4’s NZ Top 40. Frankly, I dislike being reminded, even subtly, of the terrible, ulcer-inducing state of popular ‘music’ in these wretched times. To have this sledgehammer of depression smashed into my egg-shell skull not once, not thrice, but 40 times is a bit too much to handle in one sitting! I hear what you’re thinking, and yes, of course I could change the channel. This is most emphatically not my point. Let us all then, as a team, forge ahead in search of it. Mush! I understand that they don’t play thirty-minute noise collages (or free-form jazz freakouts, thunderous drum festivals, psychedelic sound experiments or Mohammed Dali-style hip hop for that matter) on TV every week. They play the other stuff. The club music. The dance music. The ‘get our drinks spiked at the local trough alongside all the other piglets’ soundtrack. My position is that porridge is a perfectly acceptable foodstuff, as foodstuffs come and go – but attempt to shove it down my throat every week and there will be trouble. Severe trouble. Shit will get real. At the end of the day it doesn’t actually matter what I think, despite what your appreciation for my finely crafted sentences may tempt you into believing. Just because I like to listen to thirty-minute noise collages and the target demographic of C4 likes to listen to Jason Beiber or Justin Derulo or whoever the fuck ... this doesn’t mean all that much in the long run. I am this way, they are that way. Porridge is fine, in small doses. Noise collages are better than Justin Derulo – but not, probably, if you’re trying to spike someone’s drink. Television can’t teach you anything about music, basically, and no one can teach you about taste. However, it is possible to cram your perceptions with garbage until you acquiesce to it. (Spit on you so often that saliva starts to feel like rain.) That’s the Top 40: telling you that you like the same derivative music so much that you swallow it.
The latest cultural-societal abortion to be offered up to us via the televisual medium is Noise Control, a show so bad that it can be condensed faithfully into 350 words with ease. Basically, if you read this article you’ll both understand how terrible it is, and as an added bonus you won’t have to watch it ... ever. The show chronicles the exploits of a noise control officer who closely resembles a cuddly and approachable panda bear (and also looks much like our very own overpaid Campus Watch officers). He and a few others investigate noise complaints lodged by whining middle class snobs against all manner of drunken students, idiots, and inconsiderate arseholes. So you get the best of both worlds: drunk people making arses of themselves on national television, and bombastic neighbours talking shit. While this may seem appealing prima facie, the show quickly devolves into a listless formula, one that even a hucksterish ‘clairvoyant’ from Sensing Murder could see coming. The plot of each encounter can be summarised as follows: drunken, noisy behaviour; noise officer issues first complaint; well-lit interview with supercilious neighbour; more inebriated behaviour; police come down and seize the their stereo; they bitch about it. I’m not even being that dismissive, that’s how dull the show is. Why would we want to watch the most excruciatingly uneventful job, being performed by the dullest of bureaucratic civil servants, on a Monday night? Don’t we pay these people so that they can deal with drunken, lobotomised louts without us having to hear about it? It plays like five minutes of programming that’s been stretched and mutilated into 22 interminable minutes. It’s like a really monotonous and insipid Cops, without any of the violence, drug deals, or crack addicts. I’m not saying that that’s what it takes to make an entertaining show, but since Noise Control has nothing going for it in the way of human drama, it needs something. And of course, there’s also the creeping fear that they’ll turn up to your party some day in the future (if the show gets more ratings and a bigger area to prowl), catching you post-scrumpy-hands screaming badly-formed undergraduate ideologies into the camera. So stop the show while you can! Just don’t watch it!
Crackdown 2 is a sequel to Crackdown, one of the first sandbox games on the Xbox 360. Crackdown was an odd game in that few reviewers gave it better than average reviews, but it nevertheless appeared on their lists of personal favourites. This was largely due to its sandbox features, where the player is allowed to goof around as a police officer endowed with superpowers, destroying and killing whatever they want and eventually taking on several gangs in order to attack the big enchilada in charge of everything. (similar to Mercenaries for PS2, but as a cop with superpowers and far more goof-off power.) You may wonder, “WTF! This is a review of Crackdown 2, NOT its predecessor, so why the description of the first one?” This is simply to point out how disappointing the second one is in comparison. Where the original game was able to thrive despite repetitiveness, the sequel fails. The multiple gangs have been replaced by one, the missions remain repetitive, and many of the technical mechanics, such as climbing, remain troublesome. This is to say, some of the things that made the first game great in its own way have been omitted, and some mechanics that could have been improved have been ignored. This is not to say that Crackdown 2 is a bad game! The fuck-around aspect is just as appealing, and being able to play four-player co-op makes it even more fun (especially with some drinks). While the technical aspects of the game remain lacking, the key attributes that lead to the first one’s success remain intact (i.e. you can launch people, and crush them with huge object, or even their own estranged family members). Crackdown 2 is not a good game by traditional standards, but if you want to unleash some mayhem in a city, it’s a BLAST.
Time For Change Rangi Records / Border Music
Well, if you know anything about The Twitch, you will know they are experts at putting maximum attitude into everything they wave their wand at. This piece of pure Rock ‘n’ Roll magic is no exception. Just looking at the cover will bring you to your knees, stooped over in a frothing mess, shaking your stereo in anticipation of what’s to come. Within seconds you can tell The Twitch have stepped up their game. The sonic explosion of screaming guitars will leave your open jaw frothing on the ground and this is only the first song (which is only two minutes thirty!!). The sound is clean, tight, crisp and damn right sexy. One thing you notice throughout this well-rounded album is that The Twitch really know how to get the most out of a three-piece. Each member has their own distinctive vocal style that really shines during their respective lead tracks. Fleur is a cross between Joan Jett and Courtney Love, Josh sounds like Caleb Followill, and Jesus reminds me of Iggy Pop, or Lou Reed with a hint of Jim Morrison. This makes Time For Change a truly diverse album that never leaves you bored. Overall this is a very honest album that deals with a wide range of emotions without going soft. The decision to bring in Jimmy Christmas (The D4, Luger Boa) has made this tight band focus on the arrangements, making Time for Change a cohesive and well thought-out stonker.
his week I had the pleasure of hearing the track ‘Toilet Doorhandles’, an advance release from the Something Quartet’s forthcoming album. Just to fill you in, the Something Quartet are usually a Septet who squash half of Dunedin’s music scene into a band. Bugs is the lead music director of the project and he takes a very quotidian approach to song writing. I caught up with him for a soundbyte: “It’s a true story. You know when you go for a piss and then you finish and as you’re washing your hands, you see someone else walk out of the toilet without washing their hands, and then you go to leave but you have to grab the door handle (the one the other guy just put piss hands all over) to pull the door open to get out. Refuel is a classic example … Why don’t they just make push doors? It would be much better.” Having had time to ferment, the song is richer than its premise. The opening guitar line and the vocals are reminiscent of Nancy Sinatra’s ‘Bang Bang’. That’s a pretty great place to start. It’s also a little Cat Power-esque in all the right ways and from Sinatra the song graces us with the psychedelia that the Something Quartet enjoy. But the Something Quartet are educated musos, and after the preamble in psychedelia they swirl around to deliver aural salts and nutrients. Regardless of genre, this is fucking good and there’s no pretension here, it’s all play. The Something Quartet unassumingly and unconsciously present ‘Toilet Doorhandles’ as an aperitif to what should be one of the most anticipated local releases in 2010/2011 music round. Get in ahead of time and track down a copy of the Something Quartet’s debut, The Time I Made An Album. And make sure you see them at live shows. Close your eyes, stop thinking, and you will be rewarded.
think it’s time for another pasta recipe. This is the dish that I am most proud of, even though I am not sure that I have the right to be proud of something that isn’t an original idea. I watched Jamie Oliver make something like it on TV once so I just followed the basic rules and added/changed whatever I felt like. Also, it isn’t a particularly unusual or novel dish. It is, however, absolutely delicious and that is why it is my favourite thing to make whenever I feel the urge to impress friends or family. Everyone I’ve ever made this for has loved it and has asked me to make it for them again. I just love the rich, nutty taste that you get when you bite into lovely golden brown slices of sautéed garlic. Combine that with tasty, springy grilled prawns, the zing of chilli flakes, and the mellow, woody taste of shaved parmesan, and you have yourself a winner! Who cares about garlic breath when something tastes this amazing? Plus, as with everything else I cook, it is incredibly easy to throw together. Try it.
Chilli, Garlic & Prawn Vermicelli Ingredients: • Prawns • Anchovies (80g, bottled in olive oil) • Garlic (Thinly sliced. Lots. There’s no such thing as too much.) • Italian Herbs • Chilli Flakes • Vermicelli (or any pasta of your choice, IMO it goes best with vermicelli) • Salt and Olive Oil • Parmesan (shaved) Method: • Pat dry the prawns and marinate them in minced garlic (mince some of the slices), salt, and olive oil to coat. Mix well. • Boil water with salt and oil in pot to cook pasta. Monitor as you cook. • ‘Grill’ prawns in hot dry pan until golden on each side. Prawns cook quite quickly, so be careful not to overcook them. • Remove cooked prawns from pan and reduce the heat to medium. • Pour in all the oil from the bottle of anchovies (it is important to use the oil from the anchovies), then when the pan has cooled a little, add the anchovies too (if you add them immediately, the pan may still be too hot and they may burn). Add more olive oil if required. • Sauté anchovies for a while then toss in all the sliced garlic and sauté until soft and golden brown. Most of the anchovies will dissolve. • As soon as garlic slices start to brown, reduce heat to low. Add chilli flakes and Italian herbs and salt and mix well. You have to a bit more salt that you usually would, otherwise it will be bland. • Drain vermicelli, add to pan and toss well with other ingredients. Taste to see if it needs more salt. Add as necessary. • Serve topped with shaved parmesan. • Take one bite, widen your eyes and exclaim “OMG this is SO good!”, then gobble it up and go for seconds.
nother NZ International Film Festival has come and gone, and our film-watching stamina has been put to the test. For two-and-a-half weeks they’ve thrown eight or ten films per day at an enthusiastic public, eager for a break from the usual Hollywood fare. What was the result? Did you see as many as you had hoped? Were they up to par? Were there any surprises, or great disappointments? There was a strong documentary section, with the standouts being the comedic Exit Through The Gift Shop and American: The Bill Hicks Story. ETTGS, a story of a foolish videographer who becomes an overnight art wold sensation, spurred some interesting thoughts about whether or not the film was faked and what that even means. The Bill Hicks flick was a loving tribute to a true comedy hero which left behind a packed house full of smiling faces. Other notable docs that satisfied this reviewer were: Babies, who doesn’t love babies? *spoiler* The Mongolian baby steals the show; and Oceans, which raises the bar yet again for oceanic and underwater filmmaking. Two films I found disappointing were the much-overhyped Australian crime drama Animal Kingdom and the bland Spanish crime-romance-thriller 25 Carat. Someone told me I “didn’t get” AK because the Aussie cinema isn’t about having interesting characters or redeeming plots, good on ya mate! And after seeing so many good films at a festival such as this, 25 Carat was easy to spot as being shallow and rather un-compelling. But I’ve got to give it up for the hilarious homegrown Predicament, directed by Jason Stutter and starring Jemaine Clement. This beautifully-made dark comedy definitely held its own among some of the giants of world cinema, so make sure to check it out after its general release later this month. Until next year, NZIFF – we’re looking forward to what you’ll have for us.
Directed by Abbas Kiarostami NZIFF
Certified Copy is an enchanting reflection on the nature of art, relationships, marriage, and – in a wider sense – reality. James Miller (William Shimell) is a British academic who is in Tuscany promoting his new book, which is an exploration of the value of original artwork versus copies. While in Tuscany, he meets a French woman (Juliette Binoche) and they end up spending a day together. They walk, talk, drive, dine, and discuss the themes of his book. Why do we value something more because it is an original, even if a copy looks exactly the same? Is it our perception which changes the value of something? These ideas of originality and imitation are present throughout the film, in relation not only to art, but to real life. Early on in the film, Binoche and Shimell are mistaken for a married couple by a woman in a coffee shop. They play along, and end up playing along for the rest of the film. The funny thing is that it does not seem like they are pretending at all, in fact, they seem to have convinced themselves that they are a ‘copy’ of a ‘real’ husband and wife. Binoche’s versatility shines through in this film: she switches between French, Italian, and English effortlessly, and her performance is incredibly convincing. To some extent she reminded me of Julie Delphy in Before Sunset and Before Sunrise – acting, yet not seeming like she was acting at all. Despite the perhaps sometimes ‘middle-aged’ humour in the film, this is not just a film for old people. A thoughtprovoking, stirring and beautiful piece of cinema, definitely watch Certified Copy if you get the chance.
Directed by Robert Luketic Hoyts, Rialto
Kutcher and Heigl are back at it again in a slightly younger and lamer version of Knight And Day. Most audiences are not buying that a Kutcher-type character would be into a ‘young’, Heigl-type. And let’s face it, we learned how unfunny she was in Knocked Up, so hopefully this is the film that allows that lesson to sink in to full effect. But if you’re a sucker for this kind of cheesy action rom-com hijinks, then I say go for it. Jen (Heigl) vacations in France with her cool dad (Tom Selleck) and mother (Catherine O’Hara), as a way of recovering from a bad break up. She is wooed by the charming Spencer (Kutcher) and they become happily married. But after a few years of wedded bliss, Spencer’s true identity as a spy is revealed. I think this is supposed to be like a metaphor about people who bring baggage into relationships or something. But the writers of Killers took that idea to an extreme, making Spencer’s baggage people he has killed. The once happy couple is thrown into peril and turmoil, along with re-hashes of popular jokes from other successful rom-coms. So I know what you’re probably thinking: can they make it work? Not “can they make the film work?” that’s beside the point, but can Jen and Spen’ remain happily married? Will she have to get blood on her dainty, clumsy hands as suggested by the title: Killers? (note the plural.) To find out the answers you gotta get in the theater to see this mediocre, but somewhat entertaining film. Cemetery Junction
Directed by Ricky Gervais & Stephen Merchant Coming soon to DVD
Quite a surprise from the Gervais/Merchant team, this film actually wants to be taken seriously. You wonder if earnest is a good choice for these guys to make; after all, their success has been in comedy. Cemetary Junction is a coming-of-age story set in the seventies about a cute, young, idealistic chap, Freddie (Christian Cooke) from small-town Cemetery Junction. He hates his family’s working-class life, and dreams of becoming a rich life insurance salesman. His buddies are Bruce (Tom Hughes) and Snork (Jack Doolan). Bruce is a confident kid, offthe-rails, angry, nearing alcoholic; but he, too, believes he will do better than his father has before him, and in fact blames his father for all his problems. Snork is happily unaware of all this angst: he’s the ‘loveable freak’ of the film, the socially retarded guy who is more interested in vampire pornography than anything else. Freddie and Bruce seem to be on the way to disillusionment, but in steps enlightened young Julie (Felicity Jones) who suggests to Freddie there might be more of the world to see than Cemetery Junction. The creativity you’d expect from the creators is sadly lacking: none of these characters or their storylines are any different from the old formula. Something about the film does make it fun to watch, though. There’s a charming gawkiness to it, touches of real life that feel autobiographical. And there is the characteristic painful comedy we know and love, usually focused around Snork. There’s clever black humour, too, to help us swallow a bleak portrayal of working-class life. But, overall, the famed comic geniuses were, it feels, a bit lazy with this movie.
Emerging Products www.thebookseat.com University Bookshop
ven among gadget geeks, there is often some unease over reading accessories. They somehow seem to go one step too far: they’re too geeky. However, upon very brief reflection, one realises how very useful certain such accessories might be. The quintessential example of this, to my mind, is the Bookseat. As its name clearly suggests, it’s a seat for books; it holds books upright for hands-free reading, and it does so exceptionally well. There are lots and lots of book-holders on the market, of which the most familiar are probably those heavy metalframed things our mothers had for holding recipe books. Unfortunately, they aren’t much use for anything else, since they’re not built to allow easy page-turning. Plus, they’re not the most portable things in the world. Recently, however, there has been a proliferation of fancier collapsible plastic devices, which have the obvious upside of being extremely portable. However, they tend to be too light for large and/or heavy books (e.g., cookbooks), and page-turning is still a bit of a pain. I do think there’s a place for these mini-book-holders that can be conveniently carried around in a handbag or satchel despite their limitations, but I’m looking for something that can deal with a wide variety of books. The Bookseat is basically a modified beanbag – a faux suede bag, filled with polystyrene beads – designed to hold virtually any book up in virtually any context where people tend to read. As you may have gathered, my biggest complaint about book-holders is with how difficult pages are to turn when I’m using them. the Bookseat’s solution to this problem is wonderfully simple and elegant: there is a clear, Perspex page holder attached to the front of the Bookseat by a highquality elastic band and a plastic toggle. All I have to do is position the book on the Bookseat and adjust the toggle so the page holder holds the book open firmly, and whenever I want to turn the page, I just pull the plastic toggle down and flip. With some practice, this can be done with one hand! It’s really this innovation that makes the Bookseat great, I think. The elastic band and toggle system allows books to be held firmly, which is important if you’re not just using the Bookseat upright on a desk. Most book-holders can’t be used lying on their sides because in that position, the books just fall off the holders; this isn’t a problem with the Bookseat. The other (and more obvious) main feature of the Bookseat is its beanbag-like design, which allows it to “mould and shape” (their words, not mine; as an aside, isn’t “mould” an ugly word?) to a large variety of surfaces. The practical upshot of the Bookseat’s flexibility is that it will sit nicely on any armchair, your lap, and your bed; and it can be placed upright or on its side or at a convenient angle. The design comes at the cost of portability, of course, but it’s light enough that I don’t really mind taking it with me on longish trips. So, the Bookseat is a terrific book-holder. But why have a book-holder at all? The two key benefits of having a bookholder is that (a) it makes reading at a desk more comfortable, and (b) it allows the user to read hands-free. Like most students, I spend a lot of time reading books and papers, and my neck gets sore pretty quickly if I have the book lying flat on the desk (assuming that the book can stay open like that at all). So, I have to hold the book at an angle, often off the surface of the table. Not only does this fatigue my arms, it also makes note-taking very difficult. I have to put down the book, write or type, and pick it up again. This is especially awkward if I want to quote from the text. Book-holders – including the Bookseat – elevate and angle the book for more comfortable reading, and free one’s hands for note-taking (and eating and drinking and knitting, etc.). It’s a multi-tasker’s dream. Seriously, head out to the University Bookshop and buy a Bookseat.
Kelly Link Text Publishing
Second Nature: the Inner Lives of Animals
Jonathan Balcombe MacMillan
If you are looking for something short and bittersweet, this is the book for you. Pretty Monsters is a collection of short stories featuring everything from your childhood nightmares – werewolves, aliens, devils, ghosts, monsters – some pretty, some scary, some just trying to make their way in the world. All but the story from which the book takes its name have been published elsewhere at various times, meaning that each story paints a unique picture of a world that could nearly be our own. Shaun Tan’s illustrations, which appear in this edition paired with intriguing quotes from the stories, provide a nice interlude between the stories. Despite apparently being aimed at young adults, the book is surprisingly gripping, grim, and unselfconscious. Link’s deceptively straightforward narrative style is underpinned by sophisticated anthropological themes and social commentary. The stories eke out their own genre somewhere between fantasy, horror, and sci-fi, and range from the almost-too-believable to the bizarre. The collection kicks off with “Monster,” featuring that kid that every school has – the one who gets picked on – in his least favourite place, school camp. A campfire story becomes real, and children get eaten. Typical enough. Link’s bizarre imagination seeps through more strongly in “The Constable of Abal,” in which a girl who forgets that she is a girl finds that she has grown a penis – but this is the least of her identity problems. She has only the ghost in her pocket to confide in as she moves from town to town with her immoral mother. “The Surfer,” “Pretty Monsters,” and The Cinderella Game” all follow typical teenagers coping with typical teenage dramas, all with a supernatural twist. Little sisters, teenage crushes, and flu pandemics take on more sinister roles. They all leave you wanting a little bit more, wondering what will happen next, unsure of whether you are satisfied – but in a good way. Kelly Link sums up this feeling herself in “Pretty Monsters” “…whether you are a wolf or a girl. A girl or a monster or both…not everyone who reads a story feels the same way about how it ends.”
Second Nature is an engaging and inspiring must-read for everyone, from animal lovers to anthropocentric sceptics. The author, Jonathan Balcombe, is a biologist with a great body of knowledge about animal behaviour extracted from both scientific research and observations of people involved in the study of animals. The main aim of his book is to close the gap between humans and animals by means of powerful persuasion that the creatures we share our planet with (or, at least, the vertebrates) are sentient beings, capable of feeling pain and fear, but most importantly capable of taking pleasure in living their lives. The book is filled with a myriad of examples, at times quite incredible, of animal virtue, selflessness, various emotions, and of animals having the mental flexibility to solve problems. Have you heard of chickens that make the same choices as humans when it comes to picking the most aesthetically appealing human face? Or of a dolphin who copies the body language of his keeper in order to show dissatisfaction? Chimps can have a lasting sense of gratitude and defeat humans at short-term memory and spatial memory tasks; bats, dolphins, and elephants (along with other animals) practice midwifery, childcare assistance and the sharing of food with unrelated group members; male fish alter their aggressive behaviour depending on who’s watching and some fish can apparently distinguish between genres of music. This is just a spoonful of the extraordinary examples of animal behaviour described in this book. Personally I’ve already for some time been inclined to think of animals as intelligent in their own right, sentient beings with lives worth living. So when this book fell into my hands I was only too happy to find another somebody who shares this view, not to mention someone who writes compelling accounts to support it. I found Balcombe’s arguments insightful and his prose easy to read and follow. I suppose in any book review one is expected to include some criticism, but I can hardly think of any! The subject addressed is just too good and relevant to be picking on things. But if I were to be picky, well, it wouldn’t hurt if Balcombe was a bit tougher on the reader audience at times – that is my only complaint – because the problem of animal subordination is much too big and urgent to be softening the fact that we humans need awaken from that old, egocentric illusion of divinely-conferred superiority.
LTT Review: An Ordinary Story
Written by Abby Howells Directed by Martyn Roberts and Samuel Irwin Starring Rachel Chin, Alex Wilson, Abby Howells, Jacob McDowall, and Diane Pullham
Preview: Med Review
August 12 and 13 Teachers’ College Auditorium Tickets on sale for $10 at the door!
ny idiot can face a crisis – it’s day to day living that wears you out,” declares the apt Chekhov quote on the play’s handout. It does, in some ways, appropriately summarise the performance of this week’s LTT. It was not that it was exactly worn out, but it appeared that there was some significant intrinsic element missing from the play. What began with a strong and exciting opening scene (the narrator introducing us to the two couples that would be the subject of the play) slowly melted into dreaded, monotonous, and all-too common ‘talking heads’. There were many occasions where the actors just talked at each other, which for a play that already had a narrator, made the audience lose interest very quickly in the couples themselves. It seemed that Howells’ script too often lacked action and Roberts and Irwin’s direction called for sufficient imagination in order to resolve this problem. There were many beautiful moments in this performance, ranging from Wilson and his inability to understand certain social cues to Chin’s pointing and winking in excitement at the progression of each couple’s relationship. The other actors seemed to lack the energy that that Chin possessed, especially Howells, who wrote the play. All of the actors, however, were obviously passionate in some shape or form, but lacked the intensity of energy that makes a performance exceptional. This was a successful, amusing, entertaining, and thoughtprovoking performance. I liked the ideas that Howells explored within the text: how the ordinary is beautiful (for indeed, it is). I just wish she had teased these moments out a bit more to make a complete and fulfilling play. It is always the little things that have the most impact on our lives, and, indeed, this play is little and ordinary, which is its exact appeal.
Once a year a group of medical students get together to put on a show of, supposedly, epic proportions: Med Review. It’s a show designed to make you laugh, make you cringe, and make you lose confidence in the future of the New Zealand healthcare system. Brilliant. This year they have taken on the movie Grease, a film that is both current and poignant ... not. This year’s production crew, a team of self confessedly “hardworking doctors-to-be,” has spun a hilarious tale of a Health Science student falling in love with a Postgraduate student over the summer holidays. However, the innocent health sci student soon discovers that when the postgrad’s with his friends, he’s a bit of a dick (Who would have guessed?). Woven in with the overarching parody are shorter sketches, videos, songs, and dances that will leave your sides aching from laughter and your lungs gasping for air. Think the Capping Show, but with science-based humour ... and punch-lines.
The Vault Otago Museum
he word ‘camera’ in Latin means a vaulted room or chamber. New Zealand artist Neil Pardington uses the medium of photography to allow the public an inside peek into what museums and galleries hold in their storage. His images have a sharp focus and a sterile quality, as is often the nature of what he is photographing. The photographs combine the human curiosity for the unseen with seductive colour, crispness, and detail. For their recent exhibition the Otago Museum installed storage displays from their own collection, giving the Dunedin leg of the travelling exhibition a unique look. Carved wooden spears and paddles are shown on a wall storage grid, as well as drawers of insects and shelves of bottled foetuses. The technicalities involved in maintaining the museum collection are observed, such as tying the spears in place with unbleached cotton to avoid discolouring the wood, or wearing gloves to handle copper artefacts to prevent them from tarnishing. To gain access to these guarded spaces, Pardington dealt with a Public Relations team that usually allowed him access to the back rooms where the public cannot generally enter. Pardington deliberately focuses on natural history and objects such as Maori artefacts, as opposed to social culture and art history. His works display the doleful beauty of the museum objects and what can be described as the ecological tragedy of the numerous stuffed birds and animals stacked on their shelves. Some may find the works reminiscent of British artist Damian Hirst’s preserved animals such as sharks and cows, but Pardington does not create these things in the name of art; they are a form of the ‘readymade’, ready to be photographed and exposed into the public art world. The Vault effectively blurs the line between art and artefact. A troubling issue for museums and galleries is that they cannot put all their woks on display. It seems a paradox that museums acquire work to create a historical public collection that cannot always be seen by the public. Pardington’s photographs make it apparent that the public sees only a small portion of what the museum actually holds. He reveals what is hidden and how it is stored. By looking at what we choose to hold onto, we learn about ourselves.
we couldn't resist putting this in: