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Issue 24 / september 20th / 2010

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FEATURES 18 southern soliliquies 22 dinner with thomas 26 assorted peoms

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CRITIQUE 42 - 53

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Disclaimer: the views presented within this publication do not necessarily represent the views of the Editor, Planet Media, or OUSA. Press Council: people with a complaint against a newspaper should first complain in writing to the Editor and then, if not satisfied with the response, complain to the Press Council. Complaints should be addressed to the Secretary, PO Box 10-879 The Terrace, Wellington.

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Critic – Te Arohi

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he temptation to start this Editorial off with some starryeyed rhapsodising about New Zealand’s literary history is strong, but for your sake, I’m going to resist it. Let’s face it: we love our writerly types. We love their protest poetry. We love their off-putting insights into our nation’s psyche. We even love them when they hate us and run away to the UK and Europe first chance they get. In retrospect, some of us can even love the particular childhood trauma that comes from learning that Maurice Gee’s books aren’t all about plucky Kiwi kids having magical adventures. Poets and authors also have a particularly special position in small communities. Here in Dunedin, our literary culture is part of the city’s history. James K. Baxter’s A Small Ode on Mixed Flatting, written while he was the Burns Fellow, was a response to the University’s decision to ban the practise. And although I never met her myself, I know people who used to see Janet Frame around town. In how many other places can you see one of the country’s greatest living writers (well, she was then) on the bus and it be no big deal? Critic, too, has its place in this tradition, having been in the past been an avenue for local poets to have their work showcased. There hasn’t been a Poetry page this year, but I’m hoping that this issue will go some way towards making up for that: flip over to p27 to start reading a collection of poetry by local(ish) writers including Critic’s own Susan Smirk. For those more interested in prose than verse, we’ve also got three short stories: “Dinner with Thomas,” by Henry Feltham (p22), “The Moth-Collector’s Daughter,” by Ripley Patton (p26), and “Because We’re Living In A Material World,” by Simon Petrie (Soap Box, p31). Petrie may not be a local – in fact, he’s already taken the traditional career step of skipping the country – but he is the recipient of this year’s Sir Julius Vogel Award for Best New Talent, having published a ridiculous 54 short stories and poems in the past few years as well as a book, Rare Unsigned Copy: Tales of Rocketry, Ineptitude, and Giant Mutant Vegetables earlier this year. Sadly, that is about it for poetry and prose fiction at Critic this year – there’ll be the book reviews as usual, of course, but nothing else. If creative writing is your preferred method of procrastination during exam period, though, and are interested in getting your work out there, there are a few venues around the place that you can try: Prima Storia and Marrow Magazine and Otago’s Deep South are all Google-able, as is the award-winning Semaphore Magazine, which I run. If nothing else, I’m sure Ben won’t complain too much if you send in your Letters to the Editor in rhyming couplets.

PO Box 1436, Dunedin (03) 479 5335 critic@critic.co.nz www.critic.co.nz Editor in Chief:

Ben Thomson GUEST EDITOR:

Marie Hodgkinson Designer in Chief:

Gala Hesson Features Writers:

Susan Smirk Caitlyn O’ Fallon Thomas Redford Sub Editor:

Marie Hodgkinson Creative Director:

Dreke Verkuylen News Editor:

Gregor Whyte News Reporters:

Rory MacDonald Julia Hollingsworth Feature ILLUSTRATOR:

Tom Garden Music Editor:

Sam Valentine Film Editor:

Max Segal Books Editor:

Jonathan Jong TELEVISION EDITOR

Paul McMillan FOOD EDITOR

Tien-Yi Toh ART EDITOR

April Dell Performance Editor:

Jen Aitken And a substantial army of volunteers xoxo Advertising:

Kate Kidson Tim Couch Dave Eley Logan Valentine Ad. Designer:

Daniel Alexander PH: (03)4795361 kate@planetmedia.co.nz WWW. planetmedia.co.nz 05


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2: You are two times more likely to be killed by a vending machine than a shark. 5: Tonnes, weight of world’s largest chocolate bar. 90: Percentage of third marriages that end in divorce. 97 914: Species that have become extinct this year .

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A 17-year-old from the UK has been banned from the US for life after calling Barack Obama “a prick” in an email. The drunken teen was so infuriated by a documentary about 9/11 that he felt compelled to send an abusive and threatening email to the White House. Other passionate drunks can email Obama at president@whitehouse.gov.

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Guy walking dog near Willowbank Dairy: "I wish I had a period!" – From the Overheard @ Uni of Otago Facebook Page

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The Thai Government has been forced to apologise to hundreds of people who fled their homes after a false tsunami warning was issued. The Government blamed the warning on “faulty equipment,” which is sure to put everyone’s minds at ease.

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An American man impersonating a police officer got a little unlucky when the driver he pulled over happened to be a plainclothes detective. On learning the driver was an off-duty cop the impersonator fled the scene, but not before his number plate had been recorded. Whoops.


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Two British researchers from the University of Newcastle won an award for a groundbreaking paper that explored the effects of watching selected clips of the movie Star Wars on a locust’s brain. The study, which somehow got funding, didn’t really reveal anything all that exciting. Unfortunately.

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An amorous Brazilian couple had an unfortunate run-in with a cargo truck, after parking their car in the middle of a major freeway in dense fog in order to get it on. The couple, who were killed instantly, probably shouldn’t have been allowed to procreate anyway.

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If you tossed a coin 10 000 times heads would come up, on average, 4 950 times. That’s because the heads side of the coin is actually slightly heavier than the tails.

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A British law passed in 1845 made attempting to commit suicide a capital offence. The punishment? Death by hanging.

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It was discovered on a space mission that frogs can throw up their stomachs. The frog barfs up its stomach first, then uses its forearms to dig out all of the stomach’s contents, before swallowing the now emptied bag back down again.

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OUSA has finalised their 2011 Budget, which will be voted on by online referendum early next month. The proposed Budget was carried unanimously by an eleven-strong Exec amidst concerns about the constitutional changes made earlier in the year. The Exec voted against the contentious VSM contingency fund, deciding that it is unfair to penalise current students to benefit future students. As a result, student levies will rise by a mere $5.03 to $165.67 per student, in order to cover the rise in the Consumer Price Index (CPI). General Rep Imogen Roth and Finance and Services Officer James Meager opposed the rise, claiming that the levies should be kept the same. Clubs and Socs Rep Dan Stride was the sole remaining advocate of the contingency fund, stating, “Desperate times call for desperate measures.” At the Budget-setting meeting it became apparent that the Exec had accidentally changed the constitution so that a quorum of five percent of all the members of OUSA is required to pass the Budget, rather 08

than the intended one percent. The error occurred while Stride and President Harriet Geoghegan wrote the constitution, which was then uploaded, formatting errors and all, for students to vote on during the referendum. Meager and OUSA Secretary Donna Jones then undertook a “spell check” and “tidy up” of the messy constitution before registering it at the Registrar of Incorporated Societies. Meager says it was wrong to tidy up the formatting errors after the referendum, and that the version put to referendum should have been the version registered. Having spoken with the Incorporated Societies, Meager says that if OUSA sends in the original unformatted version, this will be registered in place of the currently registered document. OUSA is hoping that the messy constitution can be registered in place of the currently registered constitution, as otherwise OUSA has committed a breach of its own constitution. If this is the case, pleading substantive compliance with the constitution will not really be an option. The breach may need to be validated in a Student General Meeting, but, as the constitution stands, an SGM requires a quorum of 10 000 students. Meager told Critic that this will not really be an issue if the unformatted version of the constitution is accepted by Incorporated Societies. Ultimately, it was decided that the Exec would hold an online referendum as the new constitution states, and alter the mistakes in the constitution during the referendum. If quorum of five percent isn’t met on the online referendum, the 2011 Budget will, by default, be the same as the 2010 one. Meager is concerned about that possibility, as the 2010 Budget has a different division of levies, and very different Budget lines, leaving a situation that would be very inconvenient for the 2011 Executive. Meager is also concerned that, to a certain extent, the Exec has lost face with certain groups of people. “I think this is partly due to not being up-front about the mistakes made in the first place, and partly due to making the mistakes themselves.” Meager hopes that fronting up, admitting

the mistakes, and clearly stating what will happen next, will prevent the Exec from losing any more respect. Notably, the NZUSA line remains the same, with money budgeted for the 2011 fees. The Exec is withholding their decision on whether to remain in NZUSA until after the results of the select committee on the VSM bill are announced, and the national NZUSA conference takes place. During the conference they will reassess their decision based on how likely it is that NZUSA will make changes, and whether their policy on the length of notice needed to withdraw from NZUSA passes. The Student Support Centre line was increased by $4000 to provide for the instatement of a Queer Events Coordinator. Queer Rep Ros MacKenzie argued that social events for queer students on campus are hugely important, and that they are “not just a normal event.” She noted that UniQ, the group that currently organises Parfaits and coffeeQ, cannot get grants for food. Meager claimed MacKenzie was “pretty much circumventing the referendum results by essentially reinstating the Queer Rep role.” Harriet Geoghegan raised the floodgates argument, questioning: “How far do you go, what if we have Law students saying that SOULS need a paid position?” Ultimately the change was made, with seven Exec members voting for the position, one against, and four abstaining. Later in the meeting Welfare Rep Claire Jackson attempted to get on the bandwagon and support the addition of a postgraduate events coordinator. MacKenzie retorted: “If you think there’s a genuine need, it should be looked at, but don’t just say it because I said it.” Amongst the other lines discussed were the Postgraduate Rep budget, Planet Media, the Student Support Centre hardship fund, and the Major Capital Expenditure line, all of which were unaltered. Meager made a note of thanking General Manager Steven Alexander for his tireless hard work and effort, saying “This Association would be somewhat lost without people like him.”


The QS World University Rankings study has revealed how New Zealand universities fared in different subject areas. Auckland University once again topped the list for New Zealand in 38th place for the social sciences and management subject area, followed by Victoria University (111=), Otago University (140=), Canterbury University (152) and Waikato University (183=). In addition to that, three New Zealand institutions made the top 100 for life sciences and medicine. Otago was second (57) in New Zealand for the life sciences and medicine section behind Auckland (41), but ahead of Victoria (176=). Victoria was the only New Zealand university to improve its ranking from 2009, climbing up four places to 225th and placing fourth in the country. Otago dropped 10 from 125 to 135. The latest release from QS covered the top 300 institutions in five broad subject areas, in which New Zealand providers

showed a strong performance, particularly in the social sciences and management areas. Otago ranked third in New Zealand for arts and humanities (137=) and second in Natural Sciences (175=). QS World University Rankings subject tables are based on an academic survey completed by 15,050 academics, including 700 university leaders, who were asked to identify the universities producing the best research in their own field of knowledge and within their region of expertise. The overall rankings also take into account employer reputation, research strength and teaching and international commitment. Auckland University maintains its rank as the top tertiary provider in the country, coming first amongst New Zealand universities in each of the subject areas.

The OUSA rescue mission to the earthquakestricken Canterbury region was a roaring success, OUSA told Critic, with OUSA saying that Christchurch residents had told OUSA how wonderful it was that OUSA had taken time out of their busy schedule to bring them some free baked beans and half a bottle of H2GO. The rescue mission, estimated to have cost OUSA a grand total of $0 of Otago students’ money (since everything was donated), consisted of OUSA President Harriet Geoghegan, and some other people who aren’t as important. They drove to Christchurch in an OUSA van on the weekend, rocked up to Geoghegan’s sisters to sleep on the floor, and brought with

them much-needed supplies, including a few shovels they nicked from Property Services. The team then chipped in with four hours (slow down now) of helping to clean up St Albans, and also took a tour around the city to see the devastation. Apparently it was a little messy. Geoghegan told Critic that the University of Canterbury are being bastards and refusing to move exams back by a week, and that the University of Canterbury Students’ Association is in negotiations with the University to try to rectify this.

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Monday “The Effects of Intermittent and Continuous Hypoxia on Cerebral Vascular Function: A Few Twists in the Tale” 1pm, Hercus d’Ath Lecture Theatre

Tuesday “Up the Lift or up the Stairs? How Your Brain Encodes Effortful Decision Variables (And Why You Should Almost Always Take The Stairs)” 1pm, Room HC122 Hercus d’Ath Building.

Wednesday “Civic Responsibility – The Dunedin Housewives’ Association, 1930-1977” 1pm, Burns 5.

Thursday Otago University Golds Awards “Potential Biological Removal of Albatrosses and Petrels with Minimal Demographic Information” 11am, Room 241, Science III.

Friday OUSA Health Sci Games Stein 6pm, Captain Cook Tavern. “How Important are Omitted Variables, Censoring and Self-selection in Analysing High-School Academic Achievement?” 3pm, Room CO5.20, Commerce Building.

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Fourth-year University of Otago student Marie Hodgkinson has won a major New Zealand literary award for her online publication Semaphore Magazine. Semaphore won the Sir Julius Vogel Award for Best Production/ Publication, and narrowly missed out on the award for Best Collected Work. The Sir Julius Vogel Awards are named for a former New Zealand prime minister, who wrote what was probably this country’s first full-length science fiction novel in 1889, and exist to celebrate achievements in the science fiction, fantasy, and horror genres. Hodgkinson, who is in the final year of a combined BA(Hons) in English and Classics, started the magazine in her first year. Four year later it remains the only paying publication dedicated to short ‘speculative fiction’ (which encompasses fantasy, sci fi, and horror) in New Zealand. The magazine is published four times a year, usually featuring six stories, and receives funding through OUSA, allowing it to pay writers chosen for publication. A yearly anthology of the very best work is published in hard copy and sold via its website, although Hodgkinson is hopeful that it will also be picked

up by independent bookshops this year. Contributing writers have gone on to win several literary awards, with two contributors winning categories at the Sir Julius Vogel Awards. Ripley Patton won the Best Short Story award for “Corrigan’s Exchange,” which was published in Semaphore’s June 2009 issue, while Simon Petrie, whose short story “The Fridge Whisperer” will appear in this year’s anthology, received the Best New Talent Award. Hodgkinson told Critic that the stories received were usually of a high quality, although in the past she had occasionally received the odd ‘disturbing’ story featuring details more suited to the pages of Playboy. Nowadays a volunteer in England works as the ‘slush editor’, screening the submitted work to weed out sub-standard (and pornographic) pieces. Local writers are encouraged to submit their works to the magazine, with Hodgkinson saying that “its always great to read work by local talent.” Hodgkinson, who is the Critic sub-editor, and this week’s Guest Editor, will receive an impressive-looking trophy modelled by Weta Workshops for her win. The magazine is available free online at semaphoremagazine.com.


Ever been speed dating and thought, “Man, I wish job interviews were this awesome?” Frankly, you probably haven’t, but The Distiller, Dunedin’s ICT Business Cluster, has taken the idea of speed dating and applied it to Dunedin’s ever-growing IT Sector. The idea, created by web entrepreneur Francios Bondiguel, puts students interested in a career in the IT industry in a room with Dunedin businesses looking for young talent to join their teams. “We are a community of web entrepreneurs, and the idea was to create an environment where (potential) entrepreneurs can share their ideas and start from scratch.” They meet in a speed-dating-style arena, and the hopeful students pitch their skills and personality to members of the Dunedin business community. Candidates who

impress are then either asked back for a formal interview, or offered a position as an intern for the summer, a role that can pay up to four thousand dollars. The event reflects the increasing importance of networking in the IT industry, and the important role the field is playing in the twenty-first century. “There’s this stigma that computer science and stuff is for people with no life, but I think this is not true. We’ve seen massive successes with Facebook and Twitter are becoming supercool. And I think computer science is becoming more appealing.” Francios is concerned that Dunedin lacks the mechanisms to retain quality graduates, and hopes to remedy that through programmes like the Distiller. “Most people would rather go to

Auckland or Wellington to find a job that pays more, rather than stay in Dunedin. But I think there are so many opportunities here, and there are some companies who are doing really cool stuff.” The Distiller is into its second year, and is riding a wave of success after a productive inaugural year. The event managed to create 32 internships, 11 of which converted into some type of work placement at the end of summer. The upside was an expected GDP value creation of $745 000, which is particularly impressive considering the prevailing economic climate. The Distiller is running its ‘Sexy Summer Jobs’ mixer at 5pm in St David’s Lecture Theatre on Wednesday 22 September. For those who want more details head to thedistiller.org/summerjobs

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Last week’s Budget meeting was a demoralising, almost four-hour-long process that sapped Critic’s will to live. Much of the meeting was taken up with tediously assessing submissions and considering the disputed Budget lines. After all the blabbing a few meetings ago about a referendum to decide the future of OUSA’s membership with NZUSA, the Exec revisited the issue. James said that OUSA should stay true to their word and take it to the student body, but the others, in sneaky politician style, were unwilling. “There’s not enough time to educate students,” said Shonelle. “We should wait till after the NZUSA meeting,” said Dan. “Grumble grumble it was only a straw poll,” said Harriet (we’re paraphrasing). Weirdly enough, setting the ‘where-whatwhen’ of the SGM to pass the Budget took the longest, mostly because the Exec (well, Harriet and Dan, let’s be honest) had screwed up the constitution. James and Donna didn’t pick up on the silly mistakes during their “spell checking” process, of which James (stupidly) admitted, “none of it was done meticulously.” Accordingly, the constitution now requires a quorum of five percent of OUSA members to pass the Budget. As per usual, Dan took an extremist position, advocating a ‘vintage’ in-person SGM to decide the rules of the referendum, before holding the referendum itself. “We

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shouldn’t be voting before there are rules on voting,” he sagely opined. However, considering that another constitutional stuffup changed quorum at an SGM to 50 percent of the total membership, the Execcies were somewhat unwilling to agree with Dan’s vintage option. At around 7.30, the Execcies began subtly craning their heads towards the clock. Luckily, at 8.30, somebody produced a pottle of hummus, a stale French stick, and some chip crumbs to sustain the hungry masses. At least they’re being frugal with your money. Dan then pushed his “bottle buy back” funding request for the next Market Day, having already sneakily put the posters up prior to the meeting. Welfare Rep Claire noted that Dan and his buds are the only people to turn up to the bottle buy back, and accused him of running them for his own gain. At that, Dan got rather defensive, and noted that, at 10 cents per bottle “It’s not exactly a lucrative way to defraud the association.” Nonetheless, Dan pledged not to take part in the mysterious scheme. Harriet reported back on her outing to Christchurch, which she undertook with sidekick Steph and next year’s Finance Rep, Brad. Allegedly, despite all the reverse undie h8rs, the rather shaken Cantabrians were “stoked.”


The flat hunt is on in the domain of the firstyears, opening them up to a whole world of new shenanigans. A flat-to-be of five was sorting out their bond money one night and realised that they could make a bit more money if they put some on the tennis, so they decided to put it all on Djokovic to beat Federer in US Open Semi Final. That was fine and dandy, except then one of the flat-mates thought that they could make just a little bit more by putting a multi on. So, he chucked in one of the ‘top’ women who was only paying $1.10 to beat her opponent. Most of the other boys had gone to bed by now, and when they woke up they saw Djokovic had won. They were initially pretty stoked, not realising that the woman had lost, and taken all their bond money with her. Needless to saw a few harsh words were said, and the boys had to phone home asking for some more moolah. Apart from the potential to gamble away flat funds (put flat shop on black, eat like kings), the other flat-hunt-related knees-up tends to be the age-old tradition of the initiation. Freshers all around the city are being ordered to attend the initiation of the flat they have signed for next year where, upon arrival, they are put through a baptism of fire, being made to do all kinds of alcoholrelated stunts to amuse the (usually) secondyears pulling the strings. One unfortunate lad was put through a Castle Street initiation and made to bomb three bottles of Corban’s exquisite range of vino. On the crawl home, the lad couldn’t make it to a toilet, and dumptrucked while curled up in the fetal position on the pavement. Another initiate was chased down the street and forced to shelve a party pill. We heard this one a while back but since we had some extra space, and since it takes the piss out of Aquinas, we thought we’d share. The story starts with one sloppy madam at Arana, who came home from a night of boozing and decided to stop by her RA’s empty room. Taking in the orderly view the young lady decided the room could

be improved by taking everything out of the cupboards, dumping it on the floor, having a spew in the bathroom, and passing out on the RA’s bed. Her punishment?: being banished to the frozen gulag of Aquinas for a week. Apparently she begged to be expelled rather than trek up that hill seven times, but the authorities wanted to make an example

of her, so off to Aquinas she went. In less fecal/punishment related news, a girl/guy friendship has finally been taken to the next level at Hayward. The mates wanted a printed message of congratulations and so we obliged.


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Otago Graduates Win Major Film Award

Next Top Cock-up

University of Otago graduates Guy Ryan and Nick Holmes have won the Platinum Best Film Award at the 2010 Colorado International Film Festival. The pair produced the winning documentary Carving the Future in 2009, during the final year of their Masters in Science Communication degrees. The short film follows four young New Zealanders as they lead community-action projects to combat climate change and environmental degradation. Mr. Ryan told the Otago Daily Times that the award had come as a “total surprise” and provided “a huge confidence boost.” The film was also runner-up for Best New Zealand Film at May’s Reel Earth Film Festival in Palmerston North, and is also one of several documentaries shortlisted for the BBC’s Best Newcomer Award at Wildscreen, regarded as the world’s most prestigious wildlife and environmental film festival.

The judging of the OUSA Next Top Flat competition had to be postponed from Friday of last week to this Monday, after OUSA President Harriet Geoghegan inexplicably forgot to invite the judges to attend. The cock-up, which inconvenienced Critic for one, comes after Geoghegan won re-election to the role of President, and suggests that standards are slipping fast now that she’s definitely the big cheese for the second year running.

Psychology Building Opened The new University of Otago Psychology Department building was officially opened last Tuesday. Named after influential American psychologist William James, the $25-million, six-level complex features a new Clinical Psychology centre, and an innovative roof garden where rainwater is recycled. Department head Professor Bikey told the Otago Daily Times the new building provided a clear “front door” for visitors, as well as much needed space for the growing department. University Chancellor John Ward officially declared the new building open at Tuesday’s ceremony. Speaking to the Otago Daily Times, Vice-Chancellor Sir Professor David Skegg said he thought the impressive new complex suited the Otago Psychology Department, which in the 2006 Performance-Based Fund national assessment was shown to have more world-class researchers than any other New Zealand university department.

Lonely Planet Loves Us The newest edition of heavyweight travel guide Lonely Planet’s New Zealand edition has heaped praise on most of the country, and Dunedin didn’t miss out. The guide practically gushed when it reached our University town, writing that Dunedin has been “Long credited as New Zealand’s indie-music heartland and definitive student party town.” Towns that the guide shat on were Invercargill, Hamilton, and Palmerston North. Hah.

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Grahame Sydney’s paintings evoke the feeling of a high noon sun on your back. They draw you onto a deserted rural intersection, the cicadas chiming and the wind blowing through the grass. They cut the tops off the hills of Central Otago with crisp precision, the sky worthy of as much exploration as the valleys and fences below. These days, Sydney has moved away from his egg tempura work of old, preferring to capture Antarctica in all of its photographic glory and explore his region and people in a number of documentaries. You graduated from Otago University in 1969 with a Bachelor of Arts in English and Geography. How would describe student life in the ‘60s? It wasn’t a great University experience for me but that was my own stupid fault. I had my studio at home, you see, and I was a friend of my bedroom. All through University I painted whenever I had any spare time. I never lost the dream of being a painter. I was at University because my lovely father thought that there was no career for painters in New Zealand. And in the middle of the 1960s, he was pretty right. He said that he supported me in the dream but that he wanted me to have something to fall back on.

conservative and patient and thoughtful and boring. In recent years, you have branched into photography, capturing Antarctica in all of its magnificence. What inspired the change? The change towards being slightly serious behind photography was going to Antarctica and realising that there was no point having paint with you because it just freezes solid. Fortunately, I took a camera as well. Georgie Fenwicke For the complete interview, go to georgiefenwicke.wordpress.com

After going through teacher’s college in 1970 and a teaching stint at Cromwell District High School, you travelled to the UK and Europe for what seems to have been your OE. What did you get up to over there? I didn’t get up to anything, I got down to it ... I got depression. I was just gloomy the whole damn time. I was homesick. And that would explain your return to Central Otago in regard to the development of your painting style and subject matter? I was over there for eighteen months, I went there to be a painter. I went to England as all New Zealand painters tended to do then as there wasn’t even really an established dealer system [in New Zealand] back then, let alone an established notion that you should support New Zealand artists. But it began to change in ‘68-‘69 and picked up speed in 1971-‘72 and by the time I got back in 1974, it was starting to really roll. Who were the major figures in this development? The Hodgkins Fellowship at Otago was very important. The Hodgkins Fellowship – which I think started in 1965 before I started at varsity – and it suddenly showed what would happen if people were given a fulltime opportunity. I think that was pretty instrumental. The leading figures in my life when I was a student – for example, I was extremely inspired by Derek Ball – they were very supportive. They didn’t keep the door shut and say, “Piss off,” they said, “Come in and watch.” You employ the egg tempura method in many of your paintings. How did you go about learning that skill? I taught myself. No one was doing it here. It succeeded in that I got more attention than I probably deserved purely because the medium was fascinating for people – they didn’t know what it was. It has taken me a very long time to stop wishing I was someone else and to accept that I was like this, and that the ‘this’ that I am like is 17


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“Dunedin,” says local writer Sue Wootton, is “a fantastic place to be a writer. We have a great creative energy, often invisible to people who may not be directly involved. It’s often thought of as a very conservative place, where nothing is happening, but there is a lot going on in wee pockets!” Wootton describes her particular pocket as “a vigorous writing community.” The stunning natural landscape and the supportive community is seductive enough to have drawn a good number of successful writers to the area. Poet David Eggleton, who came down from Auckland, says “Dunedin’s size and sense of community, its particular identity and its relation to the hinterland of Te Wai Pounamu have all been important in my choice to live here.” Here in the haven of the Deep South, writers can be very independent. The downside of writing in Dunedin is its distance from the main centers of literary funding. “Theoretically these things are all very egalitarian,” says Sue, “but the radar doesn’t always extend this far south.” Nevertheless Dunedin does have its own distinctive literary heritage – most notably, the Robert Burns Fellowship.

THE BARD’S BEQUEST The Burns Fellowship is the oldest literary fellowship in the country. Charles Brasch, the initiator of the Fellowship, once wrote: “Part of a university’s proper business is to act as nurse to the arts, or, more exactly, to the imagination as it expresses itself in the arts and sciences. Imagination may flourish anywhere. But it should flourish as a matter of course in the university, for it is only through imaginative thinking that society grows, materially and intellectually.” Each year the Fellowship offers a selected writer one year of financial and professional support. Past Burns fellows have included such literary greats as Janet Frame, James K. Baxter, Hone Tuwhare, Witi Ihimaera, Roger Hall, Brian Turner, and Cilla McQueen. Sue Wootton says, “It’s a very important tradition for Dunedin, and the University. It’s a very proud thing to Sue Wootton: 2008 Burns Fellow have been a Burns fellow.” As an up-and-coming writer with only one book out so far, she says that receiving the Published works: Hourglass, Magnetic South Fellowship in 2008 was an immense encouragement to (poetry collections). her: “It’s so prestigious, when you look at the people who Coming up: Cloudcatcher (children’s book) have held it before you, you definitely feel as if you are in – launched this week, By Birdlight (poetry a literary line, and you are part of it.” collection) – to be published later this year. David Eggleton, who held the Burns fellowship All available at the UBS. in 1990, has a somewhat different view of Dunedin’s Favourite childhood book: Horton Hatches literary heritage. He says “while I am aware of the writers’ the Egg, by Dr. Seuss. tradition, I think in some ways it’s a bit kitsch or perhaps Current favourite book: The Master by opportunistic to imagine you have a literary heritage to Colm Toibin – a novel-length meditation live up to. I’d rather just do my own thing, follow my on Henry James’ inner world. own instincts.” But he does commend the way the Burns Literary Hero: If I had to name somebody Fellowship “is so strongly a link between town and gown, who continues to impress me, and to whom a symbol of community, but also with an element of I keep returning, among others, it would be ambiguity to it also [...] It’s a means to an end, one way of Wallace Stevens. encouraging literary production of a sophisticated kind” Favourite inspiring Dunedin location: Emma Neale, who both teaches creative writing Karitane. in poetry at Otago and is a published writer herself, Strangest place you have ever found highlights how valuable the Fellowship is for Dunedin’s inspiration: A fly endlessly circling a man’s creative community and student community, in the way it head at a poetry reading. brings new talent into the city. Neale, well familiar with Favourite words: “A poem is a very small the struggles of new or hopeful writers, says the fellowship thing. It is a tiny crucible. You work very “a very nurturing, fostering” thing. Eggleton and Wootton hard on your own to make something both note the practical benefits of having a fellowship portable, compact, but full of subtlety that allows a writer a year of time and space for writing which you feel condenses the whole world in a ‘collegial’ setting. Wootton says, “that year gave me into that space, then it is totally overlooked everything I needed to put in place the routines and the by that same world. Practitioners feel practices of being a writer.”

PEN TO PAPER TO PRINT According to Sue Wootton, every writer must find their own routine. She explains that she likes to dedicate specific time slots to writing, and that she tends to write rather slowly and revise a lot, often writing a poem out multiple

intensely, work very hard. and know the world barely cares.” – from an essay by Ruth Piddel. About her work: It’s been called ‘accessible’ but I’m not sure I agree. I used to handfeed my readers, but now I am a lot more willing to make them work for meaning. 19 17


times by hand before she is satisfied with how it looks. She laughingly notes, “I can spend an entire morning shifting commas!” With fiction, she says: “I never have a plot – I never really know, and I’m literally finding out with every sentence. I’d get bored if I knew what was going to happen! It makes it exhausting writing though, because you work a lot with archetypes, and metaphor, and symbol quite a lot, which is very hard. So something comes up, a person, a character, and you start to write that character, and you make all these associative jumps, and something nudges at you. You have to stop, and pause, and haul it up to the surface until you can see it yourself.” Like Wootton, Emma Neale tries to set aside some time in a regular, disciplined manner, to get to work on her writing. This must, of course, work around family commitments (Wootton has three children, and Neale has two) and usually around part time work as well. Wootton admits “You have to earn a living – and poetry will never be it. And neither will short stories ever be it. You try and get a job which doesn’t take all your head-space, but is not too mind-numbingly boring either.” Wootton herself had a successful physiotherapy practice, three children, and a mortgage before the pull back to her lifelong love of literature became too strong. “It was a leap of faith,” she says. “Your life works on you, and obviously a lot of material comes out through experiences you have had,” she says. Neale, who has a PhD in NZ Literature, explains that “Every writer has territory that they tend to work over and over. They have their own obsessions and preoccupations, which you could also say were their fortés.” From her own experience as a novelist, she notes that “It’s very difficult to escape yourself when you are writing.” Nevertheless, poetry is more than the outpouring of an artistic spirit. Wootton:“Poems David Eggleton: are artifacts. They are not autobiographical, although often 1990 Burns Fellow people will read them as if they are – I’ve got a horror of that! You are shaping them, you want to make something Published works: Fast Talker, Rhyming that stands alone, on its own terms.” Planet, Empty Orchestra and more (poetry Dave Eggleton also spoke about his creative processes. collections) He says: “I like to build soundscapes out of words and Coming up: Time of the Icebergs (poetry then travel along them in search of poetic epics, versifying collection) to be published October 2010. and poetasting. To this end I cover scraps of paper with Favourite childhood book: Marvel comics random spontaneous scribblings, much as the snail secretes and Walt Disney comics. a trail of slime to mark journeys through time. Eventually Current favourite book: I am currently these accumulate and are crafted into discrete subsets of re-reading The Collected Poems of James meaningful utterance. I’m the writer as artisan, a crafter and K. Baxter, arguably the oddest great New a maker of texts small and large to fit specific purposes.” Zealand poet ever to put pen to paper. A Eggleton says that his strategies of “satire, parody, poet of the bizarre: he thought he could virtuosity, excessive lyricism, the perverse application of overwalk on water, and drowned. zealous literary logic” can sometimes produce good results, Strangest place you have ever found and other times “epic failures.” But Neale commends such inspiration: Nothing stranger than the flexibility, saying “You need to stretch yourself as a writer mind, located somewhere within the one if it’s going to stay interesting to you, as well as to your hundred million neurotransmitters covered readership. It’s all a process of exploration and discovery.” by a membrane known as the brain. Editing is a really tough task, most writers will admit. Neale Literary Hero: One literary hero, or antisays that it can be very involved, since it involves looking at hero, is Percy Bysshe Shelley, the ultimate everything from semantics and syntax to character portraits. long-haired, pop-eyed Romantic bard. She also believes that a willingness to edit your own work I imagine him as a tall, gangly figure is often the difference between a ‘wannabe’ writer and swaying like a willow tree in a gale as he someone professionally pursuing the craft. She says, “It’s recites “Adonais” (“Peace, peace, he is the refining and the polishing which often really help you not dead, he doth not sleep … He hath discover the essence of what you are working on.” awakened from the dream of life…”) to a laudanum-befuddled throng. He was a poet reckless enough to be snuffed out in a thunderstorm in his late twenties while trying to ride a whirlwind across a lake, his shouted lines of defiance snatched away from him and flung into the abyss. Favourite words: Give me room to roam with Rumi in Rome, and rumours of rhumbas with rumbabas in Mogadishu. About his work: I am a poet of the paradox: just as all truth is subversive and all narratives are fictions or myths, so I’m a genre-bender, always on the lookout for revealing paradoxes.

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CREATIVE WRITING ON CAMPUS Emma Neale teaches the Creative Writing paper at Otago. This poetry paper is a limited-entry course, with only about 15 places available. While Neale enjoys teaching the course, she finds it very different from editing the work of established authors. “You are often dealing with people with quite a romantic and untutored way of looking at the form [...] you are kind of introducing them to the whole genre.” Her main instruction is that they read a lot – read widely and deeply. She says “What I have to say every year is ‘look, if you were a filmmaker, you would be expected to be watching other films. If you were a musician, you would


be listening to other practitioners’, yet people seem to have this attitude to poetry that it can just spring from the ‘heart’s fountain’ within and that you don’t have to learn much about technicalities and form and so on.” Despite the challenges, Neale says “when you have a young new talent come along who just has a really quirky, idiosyncratic way of writing about things, it’s just really exciting. Watching them take off is great.” Many of her past students have been published in magazines, newspapers, and literary journals. One burgeoning poet, Poppy Haynes, has just been awarded a mentorship with James Norcliffe through the New Zealand Society of Authors. “So things like that show that people are beginning to spread their wings,” says Neale.

ADVICE FROM THE EXPERTS What do you need to gain success as a writer? “Aptitude and fortitude,” says Sue Wootton. “Just keep on keeping on,” says David Eggleton. “Read and read and read!” says Emma Neale.” These three folk have all walked the hard and lonely road to literary success, and are willing to share what they have learnt. Wootton notes honestly that “You have to be willing to sit on your bum for large lengths of time. You have to Emma Neale: be self-disciplined – it’s hard work, it’s really hard work. PhD in NZ Literature, teaches the Otago It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my working career, Creative Writing paper for the least gain financially. It can be very exhausting. It Published works: Night Swimming, Little just feels like you are digging deep a lot. So sometimes you have to recognise when it’s time to take a replenishment Moon, Double Take, Relative Strangers (novels) holiday and just go and do some fun stuff instead, or Favourite childhood book: The Summer just go and have an experience ... go climb a mountain Birds – Penelope Farmer or something!” Current favourite book: “It’s always the In fact her advice to young writers is to “Have a life!” book that I’m reading!” She suggests you “Cultivate a curious attitude to the world. Favourite Inspiring Dunedin Location: Most beginning writers are writing about themselves which Highcliff Road, and the Peninsula is natural, and a very good thing to do – you get to know memorial. yourself very well through writing – but your writing will Strangest place you have ever found be more interesting probably, the more curious you are inspiration: Walking past an adult care about the world.” home for the intellectually handicapped. Emma Neale says that writers need a persistence and Literary Hero: I’ve got a PhD in literature a thick skin. They also need “A fascination for language. so I was looking quite intensely at the work A fascination for people and the strange psychological of Janet Frame and Katherine Mansfield, subterranean life that we have. An alertness to the world Fleur Adcock and Robert Hyde – their around you, in terms of how it feeds into all our senses. example of persisting with their craft And, particularly with poetry, an alertness to the music through all kinds of personal difficulties. of language. People who are always listening out for the unusual phrase, or the sonorous phrase, people who can see the strange little ironies that there are in everyday speech. And people who are really observant of other UPCOMING EVENTS people.” Her advice is to “read and read and read and read.” Upfront: Spotlighting She also strongly encourages young hopefuls “don’t think Women Poets that the time to write will come ‘one day’. You have to Dunedin Public Library make it now, if you really are keen to write. Be serious 7-9pm Oct 6 about it and live by that commitment. I don’t think there’s Fiona Farrell is the guest reader. The any shortcut to being a successful writer. It’s long, solitary, audience is open to both genders, and repetitive work. there will be an open mic for women. David Eggleton says “There are many kinds of writing, and many ways of getting your ‘writing’ out there. I am a Poetry Nights pluralist, a believer in multitudes and in impossible things Circadian Rhythm, as well as possible things: that is, I believe in the power of lower St Andrew Street. invention, and by extension self-invention.” His advice to aspiring writers is to “Create your own opportunities. Any 8pm Weds Evenings: Sept 22, writer worth his or her salt (of the sweat of the literary Oct 13, Oct 27, Oct 10 brow) will just keep on keeping on. So, more power to their “Each night has a guest poet and open writing arm; let the dust of ages deal with it.” mic. It’s really friendly. You get people who are reading for the first time, and trembling in their boots, and you get more established poets as well.” – Sue Wootton 21 17


T

he car swings heavily around the corners. I can feel its weight with every turn, migrating up through the steering wheel, a sense of connection that’s lost in newer, smoother cars. Each curve feels like a lift settling to the ground, but pulled sideways, towards the mountain on one side, or the ocean on the other, calm and flat today, bright with a light that seems to come as much from the water as the sun. The trip takes longer this way, but you miss this if you go by the highway; you arrive without knowing where you are. There’s a small red charm hanging from the rear-view mirror. I watch it swing back and forth in time with the car, until I’m driving without thinking. When the first houses appear it’s a surprise, and all at once I’m home. Low, brown and white weatherboard houses, cactus gardens and mown verges. The place looks nice, like a picture of itself. In a way it’s like a cow in a field, too, just there, chewing and uncurious. My mother would disagree though. She thinks the film has brought the town together, distinguished from New Plymouth proper by more than just rubbish collection and school zoning, now there’s a shining star in Oakura. Calls home are thematic:

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“How’s Tom?” “Oh. He’s fine. We saw him this morning.” She means that in the worst, most literal way. The bay window looks out across a paddock, onto Tom Cruise’s house. “He was talking on the phone.” “What? Outside, on a cell phone?” “A tiny one. We couldn’t even see it. I drew the curtains.” “Mmmm.” Pause. “Did you tell people, were they jealous?” “Oh, maybe a little bit; it’s all anyone talks to me about. But you should see it, dearest. He comes down to get his own milk. And he’s so lovely, he tries to tip at the caf’. He gets them to make up fruit salad and takes it home. Mary said he just can’t wait for kiwifruit season.” “Really.” Tom came over when he first arrived and I can see him, trolling about the house like a censer. He wanted to apologise for his helicopter’s noise and since then my mother has acted about him the way some priests can get about God. Except God isn’t coming over for dinner this evening. Still, my mother acts as if she were channelling his ghost, as though he can hear us when we’re talking about him. “Ma, he lives in Los Angeles.” “Yes, but he’s staying in O-aw-kra, dearest. And it’s us who made him so comfortable.” There’s a subtext here, which I’m scared goes something like: it’s O-awk-ra he means when he says Nu Zeelan. I say nothing and the silence fills with the ghost of Tom. At last she says, “He loves it here.” “That’s because he doesn’t have to live here,” I joke, and my mother let out a sort of quiet hiss that reminded me, for no reason I can explain, of flailing electrical cables. * As I walk up the path, though, I can see a difference. The wind is blowing a trace of leaves across the sky, accompanied by a faint susurrus, and it seems so cinematic that I can believe there’s a film being made nearby. The house looks almost like a set, and I remember the unpainted walls upstairs, the beams lodged against the shed to keep it from falling over. Neil’s face is calm as he opens the door, which isn’t like him, but he hugs me with his usual uncertainty, like he’d taken a course in it. He asks how school’s going, and smirks when I tell him it goes. My mother is sitting in the living room, staring out the window at Tom’s. She doesn’t hear me come in, and for a second I stand there, just inside the doorway, looking at Tom’s house. I haven’t seen it since he moved in and the additions have changed the way


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it looks – like several houses pushed together. I think there’s a gymnasium now. Looking around our living room, it seems bare, just some flowers and a family portrait to one side of the television. I slough onto the couch beside her. “Hey Ma.” She smiles, but her teeth don’t show, and it falls from her face. She doesn’t need to say, “He’s not coming.” “Ay?” “He can’t make it.” I throw an arm around her and she sighs. It’s very quiet, blocks of light lie at odd angles around the room and suddenly I’m glad he’s not coming. I’ve been driving for four hours, but dinner would have disturbed the peace of all this, kicked up dust with conversation I don’t feel like making. “Aw. What’d he say?” “That he was sorry.” “Well, it’ll be nice to hang out, just us.” “No … he’s sending … his double.” For a long moment my mouth moves up and down, jawing for lack of a better response. Then I’m laughing. “You’re joking? Did he think it’d be too dangerous or something?” She laughs, quietly. “He’s very busy, you know. Had to fly out to the set this evening. They’re near the end of filming.” There’s a pause while she smooths her skirt. “I hear they look quite alike.” More silence. I can hear Sally and Joss playing upstairs. My mother is looking out the window again and it’s just beginning to get dark. An expression I don’t recognise creeps onto her face, eyebrows crooked and lips pursed into something like a smile. She pats my leg, springs up and rushes into the kitchen, her exit echoed by the clatter of cookware. I stay on the couch for a few minutes, gazing out at Tom’s house, which is still in the sun, then head upstairs to see the little two. They leap up to greet me and return just as quickly to their game. Dolls and plastic figures are arranged on the floor between the beds, being narrated through their day’s strife. A poster of Tom leers down at them, a smile set like his jaw was on pistons. “Are you a Samurai?” Barbie asks Action Man, leaning in. “Yes,” replies Action Man, only slightly less squeakily than Barbie. “I have just come here. Where are the baddies?” “They’re over there,” Barbie points at a rag doll slumped against an up-ended Tonka truck. “They won’t let us dig a swimming pool …” I lie on Joss’s bed, feeling the strange weariness of driving, and flick through a book. It’s Baba Papa, a multi-coloured family of

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gelatinous splodges. Their house looks like a Barcelonian apartment block and every time they leave they have to change shape just to get out the door. They look like they enjoy it. The sky is book-leather blue when the doorbell rings. When we get downstairs there’s a man, in black jeans and jacket, smiling with my parents in the living room. He turns away from the window as the three of us come in. He does look like Tom Cruise – high cheekbones, dark straight hair, the same hydraulic smile. But there’s something not quite the same, like a machine that’s been put back together with a few parts still lying around. Introductions. I smile, and he smiles again. My parents smile and my mother pats Neil’s knee while he looks around the room as if he’s expecting someone else to come in. Before anyone else can say something, Joss asks: “Are you Tom Cruises’s stunt double?” “No.” “What are you then?” “His double.” “What’s that?” “It’s like a stunt double, but for scenes with no stunts.” “Oh. Why?” “So they can film two scenes at once, kiddo.” “Why?” “It’s quicker like that.” As my mother ushers us up to the table, Tom’s double is still answering Joss’ questions. “Yeah guy, the shots I’m in are pretty short. They have to be, but it can get a bit ridiculous,” he chuckles. His brow is creased, but his lips curl up at the edges. “But it’s a film, ya’know? The whole thing’s a farce.” The little two nod sagely. They’re fascinated by the idea that the camera can pass off this impostor as the real thing. They interrogate him steadily for as long as they’re allowed. He’s too busy answering their questions to acknowledge dinner when my mother brings it in, setting it amongst the candles, so that dinner has a slightly last supper feel about it. I’m half listening, half watching her watch him respond to the little two. My mother’s gaze never leaves Tom’s double. She speaks to the little two without looking at them, staking out the limits of their curiosity with offers of more salad and salt, while Neil slides business-like coughs into the pauses. “I actually trained for seminary, ya’know.” Looking at me: “Seriously, man. Only six months – I couldn’t handle the you are the few, the chosen thing. So I went to acting school, figured it was


pretty much the same.” A convoy of caterpillars arch across my family’s face. “You’ve got the script, timing … the powers that be. All that sh … stuff, ya’know?” We nod. Joss and Sally take their cue. I imagine wires connected to their chins, tugging a yes from above. Neil looks at my mother, and I wonder whether she’s offended, but there’s no sign of the broken-vase smile; it’s the real one, and the questions continue. I stare up at the blotch where my mother’s Ye must be born again plaque used to hang. It always seemed like a kitsch relic, but now there’s just a discoloured outline on the wall. I think of a girl who told me, a few days ago, how proud she was that she and her friends never talked about God anymore, had passed that earnest compulsion, proud of that same outline in her life. I’m wondering why I never thought to ask my mother about where that plaque came from, or where it went, when Tom’s double catches my attention. He’s animated, almost bumping up and down in his seat. “Yeah, he’s great. Consummate actor.” He laughs and small flecks of food snow the table. “I doubt his kids even know who he is.” Now my mother gets excited, wearing her pie-graph face, features focused on a point between her eyes, mouth lifting but not smiling. “He’s always seemed very sincere to me.” “Oh, yeah. Sorry. Don’t get me wrong. He’s sincere as anything. That’s what makes him such a great actor – he always means it.” My mother’s face unclenches; Neil rumbles thoughtfully. “Always means what?” Joss asks. “Everything.” More ‘Ohhhh’s.

moves to go. He thanks my mother and Neil, who barely respond, focused on the celebrity. I’m trying to watch Tom and say goodbye at the same time. I manage, “Uh, nice to …” and a wave. As Tom’s double leaves, his reflection passes across the window and Tom. And suddenly, with our neighbour beside his reflection, I can see what distinguishes the two – they look and move alike, dress alike, but it’s even more obvious than that – Tom is shorter. His double has to stoop to shake Sally’s hand when she offers it, but Tom can barely see in his own windows. Tom takes the phone away from his ear, looks at it. He stands there for a moment, lifts his head and stares into the night, towards us, his face in shadow – it’s hard to tell whether he can see us. Even if he does, I doubt he can tell we’re looking at him, but when he turns it’s a composed, almost self-conscious pivot. He nods to himself and stretches his arms. I hear our front door close and look up from the performance. Sally is trotting away from the table. My mother and Neil are still gazing out the window, the scene playing out in their glassy eyes. Joss seems to be thinking. Out the window, Tom is moving away. He scuffs something with his shoe, pauses and looks up. It’s a theatrical, catalogue-model gaze. He seems to be considering his house, as though it were a long way away. My mother lets out a long breath and Tom takes one careful step, followed by another. Somewhere there are electrical cables lying spent on the ground and, as he disappears inside, the credits begin to roll.

* The pause hangs in the air like a confession, straining the silence. We stare out the window, trying to avoid meeting each other’s gaze in its reflection. We all follow the same line, and there, in the slick of light that spills from his house, stands Tom. He’s got one hand to his ear, pacing back and forth, through bars of shadow, waving the other hand in a spastic greeting to the darkness. Sally and Joss giggle. We watch Tom parade up and down the side of his house, swinging his arm as if raising applause and I see that his double has the same manner, expansive, made for large rooms or waving from tarmac. The sense of watching some old chiaroscuro movie is eerie; the heavy back-lighting, our faces reflected faintly in the screen. Dinner is forgotten until Tom’s double mumbles “Well …” and

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they meant by stable, and what kinds of developments they were talking about awaiting, and refusing to You think you have problems, in the relationship

give them her parents’ new contact details if CERN

department? (And don’t deny it. Remember, I’ve heard

wouldn’t even have the decency to tell me what the

your five-lager laments, from back when I still had a

fuck had happened to Jo — and come to that, if she

to overcoming the difficulties they’ve been having in

social life to speak of.) For you, my poor, misbegotten,

was so goddamned fucking ‘stable’, and alert, then

synthesising antigold.)

woe-is-me friend, I have but two words:

how come they couldn’t just pass the phone to her,

Antimatter. Girlfriend.

let me talk to her myself?

There’ve been concessions too, obviously, on our part. Jo doesn’t really get out any more, ever.

Yes. Well may you raise those eyebrows. Well might

When they told me that, right now, they didn’t

She’s stuck in perpetuity in our cobbled-together

you purse those lips. Well ought you to just fold away

have a phone they could pass to her, safely, I hung up.

apartment, here on the old Chernobyl site (well,

that petty plaint and look embarrassedly aside, Mr.

Sort of. In a way that meant I didn’t have a phone I

where else would you put us?) Her involvement in

My-Partner-Still-Doesn’t-Get-Me. Try saying “I haven’t

could use, anymore, either.

her work at CERN is now possible only through

so much as dared to touch my girlfriend for the past

I’ve cooled my heels since that first intensely

telepresence and videoconferencing, and she is of

ten months, for fear of obliterating most of Kiev in

frightened night. They’ve tried their best to make

course as much research project in her own right

the vain quest for some honest human contact with

it right, I guess. CERN, I mean. Everything we

as she is active participant in the mysterious quest

the woman I love,” and see how you feel afterwards.

have, now, is at their behest, and somewhere within

for new particles. And I don’t get out much myself,

Try taking yet another call from her poor oblivious

the hierarchy there’s a (perpetually red-faced, I

nowadays, either. I’m stuck at home, reading. Trying

parents, stuck in Auckland wondering why, with

expect) budgetary manager in charge of funding,

to make a career change from horticulture to high-

her six-figure-Euro salary, their only daughter hasn’t

and explaining away, the elaborate particle-physics-

energy physics: it’s not without difficulty, but I feel a

bothered to visit them even once in the past year. Try

coverup that our relationship has become. They have

pressing need to understand as much as I can of my

convincing them, for the dozenth time, that you’re

well and truly bought our complicity, our silence.

beloved’s predicament.

not the overcontrolling manipulator who has in

Let’s face it, this apartment can’t be cheap, what with

And it is pressing. Antimilk turns too quickly.

some inexplicable and sinister fashion turned their

the antiplumbing (hot and cold running antiwater);

Antipaper doesn’t hold together properly, anticlothes

daughter against them. Try wondering, while you’re at

the antikitchenette provisioned with anticutlery,

wear out more rapidly. Antiperfume apparently fades

it, whether the antimilk in the antifridge has gone off

anticrockery, and too limited a range of antifood;

within minutes, even the more expensive fragrances

yet, and if it has, how you’re going to persuade CERN

the high-tech antigadgetry; the triple-redundancy

like Chanel Anti-Five. And most of the antigoldfish

to foot the decontamination bill this time. Try thinking

positricity generators in the antibasement (because

are dead, after just two or three short months.

about all the ways that the antimilk could go off ...

a power outage, even in this neck of the woods, is

You do the maths.

Try lying sleepless at night, cold-sweat-fevered,

simply not something to bear contemplation). We can

She’s aging faster than me. How much faster,

for eight solid nights after the one occasion when

view each other, through lead-glass shielding and the

I’m not yet sure, but I keep scanning her face, seen

she almost made the so-much-more-than-merely-fatal

Cherenkov-blue magnetic field that separates, forever

always through lead-glass and containment fields,

mistake of trying to flush an antitampon down the

until annihilation, the two halves of the apartment.

for wrinkles. I keep trying to search her hair for the

matter toilet.

We can talk to each other, through a fibre/antifibre-

proliferation of grey. And she knows it, too, of course.

It wasn’t always this way, of course. At the outset,

optics interface. We can watch TV together, sitting

My Jo’s a smart cookie, and tough. But she can’t beat

her baryons were as run-of-the-mill as anyone else’s,

each of us on our half of a drastically-partitioned

the Universe.

her quarks were as my quarks, and if she walked into

three-seater couch/anticouch combo, nestling against

And — well, what would you do? They can’t change

the room and sparks flew, then that was old-fashioned

cushions or anticushions as our polarised natures

her back. Nobody at CERN has any idea of a strategy

chemistry, not gamma radiation and leakage from the

dictate. We can share mealtimes, though we never

that will reset her, convert her back to matter; but

ultra-high-energy magnetic sheathing. (And there’s

get to so much as smell each other’s cooking. We

they do know the exact combination of events which

no denying it: nowadays she’s positively radiant, she

sleep, not side-by-side, but close enough to have

led to her, as they put it, ‘change in material status’.

glows, she scintillates. But CERN have assured us

some kind of eye contact. We can interact, after a

As I said, I’ve been reading up on particle physics.

they’re working on a better containment suit ...)

fashion. We can even visit each other’s domains,

I’ve got a train ticket, Kiev to Geneva. I’ve got a

Time was, in those early days before the accident,

provided the visitor wears a fantastically expensive

detailed set of instructions — Jo’s tried to talk me out

we’d get home of an evening, I’d ask her jokingly if

and ridiculously over-engineered ultra-high-voltage

of it, but she can see my mind’s made up (and come to

she’d collected any decent Large Hadrons today, she’d

containment skinsuit. We just can’t ever touch.

that, she’s always wanted kids anyway, the old nuclear

ask whether we still had the Pittosporum tubestock

That’s not to say we can’t have, uh, intimacy. (Or,

family thing I guess), and she’s triple-checked the

on special at my work. It was cosy. It was simple.

as my anti-Jo refers to it these days, ‘antimacy’.) I don’t

settings I’ll need. And I have a verbal commitment

And if there were complications, well, they were

think I need to paint any pictures about the kinds

from Hans (who was always the most sympathetic

simple complications. Because, back then, she was my

of technology that assist us in this endeavour, and,

colleague on her team) to do what’s needed, once I

Material Girl.

regardless, I’m not going to paint any of those pictures

get to the LHC. Scared? Holy fuck, yes, of course I’m

But you don’t, apparently, get to be the most junior

for you. (Some things, I hope, are private.) I’m sure the

scared. But I’m also all a-tingle with what I earnestly

member of the world’s most well-resourced particle

budget manager’s face was more reddened than usual

hope is excitement. I want to touch my Jo again.

physics research group without being expected to take

when he/she received the request for the necessary

a few risks. And, occasionally, twenty-seven kilometres

hardware and peripherals, and for a recurrent supply

of

of antilube. They threatened to baulk at that.

tunnelling,

even

precision-engineered

Swiss

It’s been long enough. I want to touch my Jo again. My anti-Jo. CERN won’t be happy, not by a million teravolts.

tunnelling, needs a little human-expert, hands-on

They did baulk at the, to my mind, perfectly

But two can live as cheaply as one. And, just as they’ve

maintenance. I can see that. They’d assured her that

reasonable request for an anticat, although they did,

bought our complicity, our silence has also bought

everything was offline, that they had every conceivable

by way of concession, supply Jo with an attractive

their cooperation. I hope.

safeguard in place against power surges. But—

little bowl of antigoldfish. And any idea of a wedding

But you’re probably wondering, given the need

Hardest phone call I ever took. I was, within five

is on hold, since Jo insists on an antidiamond ring.

for secrecy, why I’ve sent you the above, spilled

seconds into it, scared seven kinds of shitless. I kept

(The antidiamond itself is apparently not the issue —

these beans. Well, here’s the thing. You see, if you’re

yelling at them, kept asking them what they hell

carbon is easy — but CERN can’t, or won’t, commit

reading this ... 31


L

ast week I wrote about Gerry Brownlee’s Draft Energy Strategy in which he, despite the dangers of peak oil and climate change, still prioritises filthy, shitty fossil fuels. He’s like some loser dad at the track, betting all the family money on Fossil Fuels to come in first. Well, Fossil Fuels has been winning for centuries but the old horse is beginning to falter. Gerry plainly sees the world in black and white: you can have a free market, or not. There are no shades of grey, and green would just boggle his mind. You can have the free market, no government intervention, libertarian paradise of Somalia, or brutal, cronyism telling you the price for a loaf of bread Soviet Union. When Green MP Kennedy Graham asked Gerry in Parliament, “What kind of muppet are you? You say you want NZ to use 90 percent renewable energy by 2025 but what are you actually going to do about it?” (This actual words were slightly more distinguished– obviously) Gerry responded that we can’t influence investor decisions as that “would be possible only if we lived in a command and control-style economy.” (Verbatim. His response is just as stupid as it sounds – obviously.) Reaching aspirational energy goals does require government intervention to compensate for market failures, however. It’s interesting to watch the world’s major powers, the US and China, currently vying for future economic hegemony. In the former, the President is pretty much obliged to dry hump the Forbes Rich List while the latter is ... ‘communist’ ... but ... you know ... not. In any case, guess who is ‘leading the race to clean energy’. China is the world’s largest manufacturer of solar panels. “These efforts to dominate renewable energy technologies raise the prospect that the West may someday trade its dependence on oil from the Middle East for a reliance on solar panels, wind turbines, and other gear manufactured in China.” A CEO of the largest wind turbine corporation Vestas was quoted as saying “you have to move fast with the market.” Now we know where it is and where it ain’t. Greenpeace recently released a report worth a look: Energy [R] evolution: A Sustainable World Energy Outlook. It argues that globally by 2015 we could create up to 12.5 million green jobs rather that eight million business-as-usual jobs. Business-as-usual will double the cost of electricity by 2020. CO2 emissions could be more than 80 percent lower by 2050 – if we seriously engage in renewable technology. What we need is a role model. Mine is Costa Rica. Like New Zealand it has a population of over four million people and tourism is a major industry. It is the world’s happiest country. It’s also numero uno measured by well-being and environmental impact while NZ is 103rd on the Happy Planet Index. We spend shitloads of money on a tiny military; they have no military and spend money on better things. The best bit, they do in on renewables. Their goal: carbon neutrality by 2021. 32

Q

uestioning, even of a consensus, does not make anyone ignorant. Accepting everything presented as fact without any further enquiry into its sources and robustness does. Scepticism of the theory of anthropogenic global warming – that it is caused by humans – is not climate change denial, just as those who do subscribe to the theory are not alarmists, just people who have formed an opinion based on their view of the facts. Scepticism is a position that does not accept, but conversely does not reject out of hand, a proposition. Our society is better off for our sceptics in every field: they push those who claim a point to prove it to even higher standard, and ensure that all possibilities are canvassed fully. My scepticism of anthropogenic global warming is based mostly in the fact that not all possibilities have been considered, that many questions still remain outstanding, and that there is much still to be understood about other potential non-human causes of the current trending increase in global temperatures. Being a sceptic does not mean I reject the concept outright, but that I do not personally subscribe to the view that everything is ‘settled’. The theory that humans are making the planet warm cannot be proven to a certainty. But this is beside the point, as we do accept a lot of theories that are not proven. The bigger issue is the use of computer models that suggest an anthropogenic effect on increase in temperatures. Computer models are complex equations that use a number of factors to calculate what the temperature could be. The values used for the factors are based partially on data, partially on theory. But what about the factors that are simplified, the factors we don’t know about, or the assumptions we have to make? When you multiply a large number of uncertainties, you get a really big uncertainty. With such variability of input, it becomes important for people to understand that not every study is perfect. This explains some of the massive variation in how different models suggest the temperature will rise. Science works on the basis of questioning. Scientists write papers, and submit their methods for the very purpose of allowing others to go out, try to replicate them, or rip them apart. Peer-reviewed papers can be shown to be wrong; methods are challenged and biases are alleged. It’s not perfect, and in any area, whether it is considered ‘settled’ or not, new ideas and new theories keep coming up. So, should we turn off the lights, use public transport, and recycle what we can? Of course we should do everything that we can afford. The result may be justified, but basing public policy solely on ideas that are not fully understood and which are subject to constant question and revision is dubious. This applies to research from any discipline, scientific or social. Science alone cannot guide our legislation; our morals, aims, and public desires have a valid place, and so argument should be welcomed as a sign of healthy public process.


Kate: Let’s just admit it. We’re all a bit naughty. Within our minds, we have a fiendish drive to go where we’re not permitted, to see things to which we’re otherwise not privy, and to be the allseeing, all-knowing master of the universe. Now, imagine having something that gives you this backstage pass to life. Imagine having an Invisibility Cloak. There are so many reasons why an Invisibility Cloak is superior to a Nimbus 2000. The biggest is the opening up of otherwise impossible opportunities to go to exciting places and see extraordinary things. Things like seeing what’s beyond the ‘off-limits’ backstage ropes at concerts, or places like exotic tropical destinations merely a plane-ride away. One could even ghost into the offices of your favourite lecturer for kicks ... but that’s your option. But it’s better than that. The Cloak can save many a soul from the dreaded ‘awkward social situation.’ Personally, I don’t suffer from oh-my-God-did-that-really-just-happenplease-Earth-swallow-me-up-now syndrome, but I’ve heard it’s rather ... well ... awkward. Well, ladies and gentlemen, voila! Here’s your cure for any such situation – just one ‘swoosh!’ and the awkward is gone! Marvellous! Seen someone who deserves a good kick in the shins? Yessiree! Now this is debating, so I can’t make an argument without some sort of shameless slandering of the opposing argument. Thus I pose the definitive question – why the hell would you want a Nimbus? Apart from being rather old now (if you were to have any broom, you’d obviously have a Firebolt), there are a few problems with the Nimbus in the meteorological context of Dunedin. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but it tends to get a little nippy around here. If you’re in the habit of riding an unprotected – albeit gleaming – shaft of wood around anywhere, it’s not going to end well. But flying around Dunedin will be even worse. The facts are as clear as the Cloak in operation. It’s unique. It’s practical. It’s your key to voyage and voyeurism beyond the vacuity of excitement that is life without a Cloak. And how could you possibly [successfully] argue against alliteration and rhetoric like that?

Anicia: Comparing the Cloak of Invisibility with the Nimbus 2000 is comparing apples with oranges. I hate to crush anybody’s illusions, but a Cloak of Invisibility is actually not that handy. Let’s just imagine you fight against a basilisk. You put on your Cloak of Invisibility. The basilisk can still smell you. You die. If you have a Nimbus 2000, on the other hand, you fly away and come back with reinforcement. Or if you are chased by a bunch of Dementors, and you put on your Cloak of Invisibility – the Dementors sense you by your despair, so you die. But if you have a Nimbus 2000 on the other hand, you can fly away and come back with reinforcement. You face a death-eater with a magical eye, you put on your Cloak of Invisibility, the magical eye sees right through the cloak, you die … you get the point. And how many countless times has Harry fallen over that stupid Cloak and almost messed everything up? You wanna spy on somebody? You are probably better off hiding in a closet or under your bed. What would have happened if Harry didn’t have his broom when he had to face the Hungarian Horntail? The fourth book would’ve been the last and Rowling would have a lot less money. And anyway – you can’t win a Quidditch game with a Cloak of Invisibility! But in the end it’s not just about the plain survival factor. The Nimbus 2000 has more to offer. To quote some wizard wisdom: “It’s not just a broomstick, Harry. It’s a Nimbus 2000!” It is an object of prestige. It is the Porsche of all the broomsticks, a must-have. One last fact before my closing remarks. Majority rules, so I checked out Facebook. Guess what? Cloak of Invisibility vs. Nimbus 2000 – 37 to 3,124 ‘likes’. YUS! So, engage in some soul-searching and ask yourself: if you had the choice between feeling the wind in your face when you speed your broom through a sunny, blue-skied day, or sitting under a musty old cloak that your great-great-great granny used when the shower wasn’t invented yet … you wouldn’t hesitate a split second!

Debatable is a column written by the Otago University Debating Society. They meet every Tuesday at 7pm in Commerce 2.20. 03 33


The ODT got the big exclusive on an exciting new initiative recently. So big, exciting, and exclusivey that they hyped it up the night before the big reveal on the local TV news (which is conveniently owned by the same company). “A ‘Scarfie Card’ where students who [deep breath] behave earn, earn brownie points can, um, next year this ‘Scarfie Card’ will be launched and students can earn brownie points for rewards, so movie tickets and the like, so that’s pretty exciting for them isn’t it,” Associate Editor Barry Stewart explained. Isn’t it just. As expected, the following day’s paper was great:

How neat. I guess the SJS isn’t finding too much chicken-outfit work if students need to do work voluntarily to gain “rewards” that can be used with certain “sponsors.” Neither the interview nor ODT story said who these elusive sponsors are. Cute how the “reporters” always forget about who, what, when, why, and how when it suits them. Can you imagine how many people will start wanting work done if they don’t have to pay for it? We will literally be working for a boiled egg and cup of stale milk shortly. What else do you have in stall for us tomorrow, Barry? “And if it sounds to good to be true, it often is, well it is, too, good, to be true. So avoid it. We look at a couple of scams that are going around at Dunedin at the moment. So if someone invites you to do something and it sounds, well, that’s unbelievable, think twice.” Right. Actually, we’ll just leave it there. Sidenote: the interview is a hilarious case study in awkward television. Watch it for yourself here: http://bit.ly/d6bAD8 (skip to 25:00). 34


O

A slut

ver the past weeks, you may have noticed this column has had a distinct bias towards male stereotypes. So to throw the metaphorical spanner in the works, let’s look at a common female stereotype for a change. Herpes and Chlamydia are valiant diseases, but they can’t spread themselves on their own. Thankfully, there’s a group of women out there putting in a concerted effort to make sure everyone gets a taste of the crunchy goodness. This week, Matthew, I’m going to be a slut. Being a slut isn’t just about smoking pole; I mean, yeah, that’s a big part of it, but it’s more than that, it’s a lifestyle. It can be quite a balancing act sometimes, and I don’t just mean in the bedroom. Sluts need to be accessible and desirable at the same time. If they’re too accessible, they won’t present enough of a challenge and guys won’t be interested; yet if they’re not accessible enough, then guys won’t even give them a second look. First impressions are a biggie; you want to make sure you come across the right way. So lose the fucking puffer jacket! Most guys out there aren’t that keen on shagging someone that looks like the Michelin Man. You may as well try and pull whilst wearing a sleeping bag. Don’t worry about leaving something to the imagination, that’s for girls with class. And just in case there was any confusion on the subject, tights are not, and will never be, pants. Don’t be naive in thinking that they’re acceptable for town; the only place that tights are acceptable as pants is a camel toe exhibition. Sluts pick their hunting grounds with almost militaristic precision. Think about it, you can’t just go to any old sausage shop if you want a decent bit of bratwurst. Avoid bars such as Fever Club and Metro; those places are filled with cougars, and they don’t like it if you steal their prey. Stay out of the Octagon; the prices there are so high that if a guy can afford to go there, it’s likely he can afford a nice girlfriend as well, so you’ve got no chance. For acquiring a root, the Cook is always the best option. It has more people inside it than a girl who likes gangbangs. Start grinding your backside into a nice fresher on the dance floor and he’ll be yours before you can even say ‘premature ejaculation’. Flirt it up all you like, but do remember to put out in the end; getting labelled a ‘cocktease’ is like wearing a titanium chastity belt. It will put a serious damper on your skanking. Although if you’re heading anywhere near Monkey Bar, I would actually recommend the chastity belt, there is some stuff out there that you definitely don’t want to fuck around with. Hey, if you give it your best shot and still no luck, it’s okay to just head home. Try again another night. At least your Hall has central heating.

B

owls is a sport that usually throws up the image of Doris and Jim in their twilight years, having a roll down at the green and then a wee tipple at the end of the day. So the New Zealand bowling scene was rocked to its core recently when it was revealed that a former New Zealand representative had exposed his ‘old fella’ to his team mates. He felt that they had been playing like dicks, and I’m guessing he thought that showing his own dick would get the message through. This made such big news because he was handed a 10year ban from the sport for his indiscretion, which was recently overturned by a Bowls New Zealand committee for being a bit over the top. What is strange about the incident is that what he did in private affected him on the sporting field. If a sports star makes money of his public image then it is fair that what is done in their private life reflects on them personally. The problem I have is when criticism of private life takes over from sporting performances. Tiger Woods will go down in the history of sport as one of the best golfers there ever was. But he will also never be able to escape the fact he had a very adventurous private life, one not even his wife knew about. Is it really fair that he will have this black spot on his sporting record for the rest of his career? He did make millions from his image as a squeaky-clean sporting superstar, and after his extramarital affairs became public many of those sponsors that used that image jumped ship. Woods does owe much to his fans, but at the same time his skill and performance was all down to him and his incredible skill and focus. Those who were quick to call for his head were those who didn’t really care about Tiger Woods the golfer, but rather Tiger Woods the brand. Sporting stars will always have to face this type of criticism, mostly because it’s how many of them make their money through endorsements. Wayne Rooney, the star of the English football team, was recently outed again as a frequenter of prostitutes. While many were shocked that he could do that to his wife, he was still picked to play for the English football team, which is the way it should be. There are some incidents that can’t go unpunished, such as incidents as rape or racism: these might happen away from the field but such is the seriousness of these incidents they should reflect back onto the player on the sporting field. Sport stars will always be seen as role models, and will always make their livings of fans that adore them. If they do divulge into the world of sin they take the risk of being condemned, this should always be in the back of their mind

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Quirky Quotes from the Bible As you can tell by the way I write, clearly I’m not very literate. Hence why I decided to read stuff in the Bible. 5. Deuteronomy 25:11-12: “If two men, a man and his

countryman, are struggling together, and the wife of one comes near to deliver her husband from the hand of the one who is striking him, and puts out her hand and seizes his genitals, then you shall cut off her hand; you shall not show pity.” Is it just me or does the Bible not like women very much? To be fair, touching a man’s junk without permission is a big no-no. 4. Ezekiel 23:19-20: “Yet she increased her prostitution, remembering the days of her youth when she engaged in prostitution in the land of Egypt. She lusted after their genitals – as large as those of donkeys, and their seminal emission was as strong as that of stallions.” This could just as easily be mistaken for a movie plotline, about what happens to UniCol girls when they grow up. 3. Samuel 18:25-27: “Then Saul said, ‘Thus shall you say to David, ‘The king desires no bride-price except a hundred foreskins of the Philistines, that he may be avenged of the king’s enemies.’’ Now Saul thought to make David fall by the hand of the Philistines. And when his servants told David these words, it pleased David well to be the king’s son-in-law. Before the time had expired, David arose and went, along with his men, and killed two hundred of the Philistines. And David brought their foreskins, which were given in full number to the king, that he might become the king’s son-in-law. And Saul gave him his daughter Michal for a wife.” Um, yeah. I have a question. What the fuck are you meant to do with 100 foreskins? Turn them into finger puppets for some sort of twisted play? Even by my (low) standards – this is over the line. 2. Kings 2:23-24: “Then he went up from there to Bethel; and

as he was going up the road, some youths came from the city and mocked him, and said to him, ‘Go up, you baldhead! Go up, you baldhead!’ So he turned around and looked at them, and pronounced a curse on them in the name of the LORD. And two female bears came out of the woods and mauled forty-two of the youths.” Once again the Bible makes perfect sense. If you tease old, balding men you will be mauled by bears. Geez, it’s not like they grabbed his junk or anything ... 1. Deuteronomy 23:1: “No one whose testicles are crushed

or whose male organ is cut off shall enter the assembly of the Lord.” Oh my goodness. This breaks the only rule I have when writing. That is, never to put the words ‘crushed’ and ‘testicles’ in the same ... damn it! Look what you made me do! 36 32

S

THE BLACK EYED PEAS

o far we’ve looked at some pretty terrifying apocalyptic scenarios, but if you thought the idea of being instantly vaporised or crushed from above was bad, then wait ’til you hear this one. In fact, I hesitate to even call it a ‘scenario’ since it has already begun. I’m talking, of course, about the rise of apocalyptic noise collective Black Eyed Peas, a group that is single-mindedly determined to end life as we know it. The Peas’ plan, while brutally sadistic, has been nothing short of genius. They innocuously dropped themselves on an unsuspecting public in the late ’90s with their agreeable brand of backpacker hip-hop, fooling critics and music fans alike into thinking they were just another harmless quasi-underground collective. Then, in early 2003, the Black Eyed Peas suddenly added something called a ‘Fergie’ to their line-up and mutated without warning into slick dance-pop merchants. While those who were familiar with their earlier work started to become suspicious, the general public was unaware that anything was amiss, cramming the Peas’ pop confection down their throats as fast as they could. Once the Peas had their hooks into the general populace there was no turning back. Their first attempt at destroying humanity came in 2005, with their noxious release ‘My Humps’. While this abomination did flatten large chunks of Eastern Europe, it miraculously failed on a larger scale, despite multiple references to ‘lovely lady lumps’ and ‘milky milky cocoa puffs’. Undeterred, these insane shit-purveyors have tried again and again, with souldestroying semi-ballistic abominations such as ‘Boom Boom Pow’ and ‘I Gotta Feeling’. So far the world has stayed intact, but for how long? While it’s clear that the Black Eyed Peas are trying to kill us all, what’s not so obvious is why. However, one theory that has been gaining traction is that the Peas are actually the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, come to punish humanity for their terrible taste in music: will.i.am is war, Taboo is famine, apl.de.ap is pestilence and Fergie, naturally, is death. And also the horses. I tell you, one night very soon we will all be awoken by the sound of thundering hooves, burning flesh, and ultra-processed vocals, and we will peer out the window to see Fergie galloping overhead, framed by a blood-red sky, emitting a banshee-like screech so terrifying that you will wet your pants. So how can we stop the inevitable destruction of the world at the hands of the Black Eyed Peas? Well, the only option left is to destroy them and every second of ‘music’ they have ever produced. Yes, even their old stuff. I know that may sound a little extreme, but please keep in mind that these are not humans but mythical figures sent to reduce the Earth to a smouldering pile of rubble. It won’t be easy to take them down, but just remember this: “What you gonna do with all them breasts, all them breasts inside that shirt?” The Peas want us dead: it’s either them or us.


I

t’s student politics time again! Coming up on October 7 we will be holding a student forum to discuss motions put to the student body to vote on (online) between October 11 and October 14. A by-election for the Postgraduate Representative will also be held over those dates. So far, topics to be voted on include the 2011 OUSA Budget, OUSA’s stance on the Code of Conduct, the alcohol purchase age, and some further constitutional amendments. You all have the final say on the OUSA Budget. While we have debated it a few times as an Executive and taken submissions, you have the power to accept or reject the OUSA Budget and it is important you exercise that power. Student representative on University Council Victoria Nicholson is proposing to amend the wording of our stance on the Code of Conduct. Currently, we oppose it rather strongly. However, OUSA has exhausted just about all options to do anything about it (including a High Court trial) and the Code is being applied, arguably quite liberally. The real pickle for student reps on Council is that because we oppose it, we are not allowed to be on the appeals board and go in to bat for students who are being punished under the code. The University Council has made it clear that while OUSA opposes the Code, it is a conflict of interest to be on that board. Therefore it has been proposed to amend our wording to not accept/support/bow down to the University but be able to work constructively with the University to get the best outcomes for students. The alcohol purchasing age is another issue that needs to be revisited in light of the proposed legislation changes. Finally, during our last referendum on constitutional changes a draft version of the constitution was uploaded instead of a final version [insert “you f*cked up” chant here]. To date we have been bound to follow that draft but instead would quite like to follow the correct version and therefore would quite like your vote to amend that error. We’re sorry and we feel terrible! If you have any issues you would like to be discussed, please email them to the lovely Donna Jones, Secretary of OUSA (secretary@ousa.org.nz) by 12pm this Wednesday (22 September) so we can have a democratic online vote on your issues. We are also organising an on-campus, student-focused Mayoral debate on September 28, to be held in the Main Common Room at 12pm. Please submit questions beforehand by emailing them to ousa@ousa.org.nz. The best, most hard-hitting ones will be posed to candidates on the day. Watch this space for more information about how to vote, including lodging a special vote if you missed the cutoff for enrolment. It is important that you have your say and exercise your right to vote in OUSA elections, local body elections and OUSA referenda – it means you can complain about things with far more legitimacy later on!

K

ia Ora, During the semester break a group of Maori students attended the annual Huinga Hui, which was held in Wellington. The event brings all Maori university student associations together and includes Kapa Haka performances, sports, and public debates. The trip was an excellent experience for all with many memories and multiple laughs being shared. The 2011 Huinga will be held in Auckland during the same time frame and all Maori students are welcome to attend. Much aroha goes out to the residents of Christchurch: our thoughts are with you. A group of students are planning a relief concert similar to that of tsunami relief concert held last year. Please keep your eyes on emails and posters for dates and timing of this possible concert. A friendly reminder that Te Roopu Maori’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) will be held on Friday 1 October at 4.30pm in the Social Work Development building. Please come and attend as all are welcome to bring up concerns and possible improvements for 2011. Congratulations to all the students who ran in the half marathon on the weekend. Well done to Kendall Flutey, an upcoming young New Zealand athlete, who set a new record. As the university yeah comes to an end, and people start mauling the library to study for exams, Te Roopu Maori would like to remind students of some handy exam tips. Number 1: An all-nighter before an exam is a big NO! You need a good night’s rest so your brain can function during the examination period. Number 2: Make sure if you have a morning exam that you’re organised the night before. A common stuff-up for students is forgetting something important, like a calculator, and making whoever dropped you off run around the Commerce Building for half an hour trying to find your exam room, only to find that they have no way of communicating with you because you turned your phone off! Number 3: Get a study buddy who you know you won’t talk to every five minutes. If you need to, spend a couple of days sorting out what you are going to study for the exam. Write it all down then learn, learn, learn. Or if you are really flash, revise, revise, and recap. Number 4: Don’t stress. What you know is the only thing that matters. Try your best and answer every question asked, you never know your luck. Good luck and work hard!

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Letter of the Week wins a $30 book voucher THIS IS THE CRITERIA:

Dear Sir, I was disgusted that you decided to reward someone as arrogant and sadistic as the writer of the letter of the week in issue 23. Why such an inflammatory letter deserves money and recognition as something good is beyond me. What are the criteria for letter of the week? I would love to know. To address the author: Firstly, would you rather watching someone’s backyard be filled with stinking sewerage water on TV. for ten minutes or experience it yourself for multiple weeks? Would you rather watch someone else’s roof cave in on TV or come home from work or study to find the tarp you nailed down blown off and now rainwater is soaking your bedroom? You seem like the sort of person who would quite enjoy another person’s misery so why are you complaining? Secondly, if you are so skullfucked as to not realise by now that the 6 o’clock news does spend a ridiculous amount of time covering stories that do not warrant it, I am amazed you can summon the mental energy to type at all. Can you bear the stress of changing the channel or reading your news as a possible solution to your strife? Kindly go fuck yourself hater. P.S. Auckland has no personality at all. Yours sincerely, Matt Lynch. SHAME ON US!

Manaia by R. Tapiata

Sal Paradise, You are an insensitive jerk for suggesting that an earthquake that has devastated the lives of hundreds, if not thousands of people is a good thing. You speak of the bogans and the prostitutes, but what about the hardworking, contributing members of Christchurch who have lost their homes/ possessions/livelihood? And What about the children who have been scared out of their wits? Perhaps the excessive media coverage

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assumes that New Zealanders will actually give a shit about the people they call their nation and not be the self-obsessed society we tend to be. Obviously that was lost on you. I can only hope that something like this never happens to you... because I’m sure that then you would hold a different opinion. Yours Sincerely, Rebekah Mapson P.S Critic shame on you for publishing this as letter of the week. YES. HOW MANY PROSTITUTES GET MURDERED IN OTHER CITIES? GOOOOOD QUESTION.

Dear Editor and Sal Paradise. What the fuck are you talking about you delirious retard? Christchurch just suffered the country’s biggest natural disaster in 80 odd years. And only 11 days after the quake your complaining about too much media coverage. You have no compassion, you selfcentred fuck!! Some people, still unaware if their respective houses can be lived in, have no other point of contact apart from the media. I get the impression that you have something against Christchurch. With this in mind I assume your from Auckland, not the most criminally sound city in New Zealand. And when you say Christchurch is a shit hole, I reckon your saying that because you can’t find your way around because your too lazy and possibly unintelligent. Firstly, I would like to see how many prostitutes die in other major cities around New Zealand compared to Christchurch. Probably pretty close I reckon. Boy racers are a problem in every city, and I guess your just jealous Christchurch has such a strong hold on New Zealand rugby. At the moment. I understand where your coming from when talking about change in the city, but the aspects you touch on are again uneducated. When you state these “values and norms” that are so-called wrong I can only see this as an attack on New Zealand. Find some fucking patriotism in your heart!!! Your as bad as the looters at home. Disgruntled Christchurchonian Rufus

THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS WHEN SOMEONE WRITES A LETTER TO THE EDITOR AT 1AM ON A SUNDAY MORNING.

Dear Critic OUSA increasing student levies, squeezing us out of more money just in case the VSM is passed to ensure a longer existence for something that people don’t care about, FUCK THAT. I don’t use OUSA services; let the 15% who voted pay. 59% of the budget goes to Radio ONE and Critic, FUCK! I have an IPod and the 85th anniversary of Critic just showed how far down, this once great student paper has fallen. Critic is dumb, and if I want to see dumb shit I can use the net. Most don’t care, proven by our inaction. So stop trying to fleece us you fucking filthy thieves. You have done nothing for me since I have been here. And OUSA thinks they can lobby the government, they can’t even sort shit out here. Flats are still shit and overpriced. Design school, gone, Gardies, gone, representation, gone, student giving a fuck, gone, it’s over student body politics is dead. YOU OFFER LESS AND WANT TO CHARGE US MORE, JUST FUCK OFF AND DIED. Student Apathy Planet Media, the company that runs Critic and Radio 1, receives about five percent of OUSA’s Operational Budget. The vast majority of our funding comes from advertising. Jealous about your iPod, though – Ed. SMELLY PANTS.

I want to rant. People who don’t bathe should be shot. If your mate is at an estop please don’t stand 2 millimetres from me. Oh yeah, acquaintances don’t come up behind me and read my computer screen and then not take the hint when I start clicking off windows. If a customer is in the campus shop please don’t shove past them with your merchandise - it’s cramped and it’s hard to get out of the way with a very heavy bag on your shoulder. And the word excuse me might come in handy as we don’t have eyes in the back of our heads and might not know you are there. Sincerely Grouch


POWERFUL PRESENTATIONS: A STUDENT’S GUIDE TO POWERPOINT AND PUBLIC SPEAKING

IF OTHER PEOPLE ARE GETTING BORED OF THIS ALSO, LET US KNOW AND WE’LL MAKE THEM STOP.

Dear Critic. How can you class a blossoming relationship as ‘weeierd’. Especially when you are the medium by which we were brought together. And of course you’re invited to the reception. What’s your pleasure for the dinner option ? chicken or fish? That’s provided Miss Zara is no more a vegetarian than I am an American. with pre wedding jitters -Ham NOTED.

Dear Critic I don’t often find myself moved to write in to student mags, in fact this is the first time, but I couldn’t let last week’s ‘Women’s issue’ pass unremarked. Where should I start? How about the front cover – when I saw the clever visual pun ‘fish taco’ I could already guess at what I was going to find inside. After all – a Women’s issue that actually talks about women’s issues? Not surprisingly, I was regaled with a two-page spread on female serial killers, Bunch o’ Fives continuing the ever-popular taco theme and a smattering of mildly interesting, mildly relevant articles and columns. I mean, fish taco? Really? It’s not even funny – at best it’s a tired, old joke that died a long time ago and at worst it’s demeaning and insulting to women everywhere. Can’t we have a Women’s issue without undermining the very point of Women’s Week? Where are the articles focussing on important issues, such as sexual abuse, discrimination and feminism? Where are the interviews with local women who have achieved academic, corporate, artistic or political success? Why not write about inspirational women past and present, instead of serial killers? Women’s week is supposed to celebrate being a woman and highlight the important issues facing us – not perpetuate demeaning stereotypes and mocking derision. I write this NOT as a man-hating feminist, but as a woman who embraces positive thinking and cares about women’s rights. I think you can do better, Critic. Regards Proud to be female

It definitely was a controversial issue and there are a variety of opinions on how we did, ranging from "feminist propaganda" to "misogonystic". To see how the debate is playing out online, see: http://bit.ly/cak1Yt THESE TWO ARE JUST SO DARN CUTE.

Dear Harriet If you read my letter, you’d know that it was in response to -critic- reporting that you have been quietly supporting the 90-day bill on the NZUSA list. You may say that you neither support nor oppose the bill, and frankly, I doubt that anyone is going to get a straight answer out of you on that touchy subject. I know that you claim to be playing ‘devils advocate’ on the list, but my question is still why. Why should a student organisation even consider not opposing a bill that is unquestionably -bad- for students. Getting fired is -bad- for students. When you refrain from action to ‘see the statistics’ or claiming that your personal opinion doesn’t come into play, you are not being a responsible leader, you are avoiding an important issue. Why is OUSA not on the front lines alongside the unions in opposing this bill? Why is our president writing ‘devils advocate’ letters in support of the bill? These are important questions that need to be answered -publicly-, which is why I write on critic. James Gluck. P.S Critic, love the graphics on the budget there. Dear James, I have already clarified in these pages that OUSA has an external policy stance against the 90-day bill. We are currently preparing a submission against the bill and have been in contact with the Council of Trade Unions to assist with their postcard campaign. I have notified NZUSA of our policy stance for them to incorporate in any decision to make a submission. As much as you clearly love to disagree with me I really think you should let it go and accept we are on the same team on this issue, rather than staying stuck on petty electioneering for the sake of confrontation. Harriet Geoghegan OUSA President and therefore governed by OUSA external Policy

speaking A (FREE!!!) 1-hour seminar on PowerPoint and public r: speake Guest ns. o ati for effective university present Bradley Russell (VP OUSA 2011) WHERE: Commerce 316 WHEN: Friday, September 24 10:00am-11:00am; 12:00pm-1:00pm; 2:00pm-3:00pm So Spot prizes for those of you cool enough to come along! or! x-fact n o ati present your up don’t miss out on a chance to

PAGAN NETWORKING

Looking to restart a discussion/social group with those interested in Heathenry, Paganism, Wicca, Witchcraft, Druidry, Shamanism or other earth/nature based paths. Experience doesn’t matter, seekers are welcomed. Email interest to dunedinpagans@gmail.com DUNEDIN FILM SOCIETY SCREENING

The September 22 at 7.30 pm in Red Lecture Theatre – Back To ts Normandy – Nicholas Philibert revisi rural Normandy where he once made a film inspired by Foucault’s Moi, Pierre Reviere. No casuals. ThreeSee movie passes available for $25. n: matio infor er furth for the website dunedinfilmsociety.tripod.com

MUSIC BALL

Next Friday, 24 September, Forbury Park Raceway. Tickets $50 from the Music Department office in Sale/Black House. 1920s theme. Featuring Calde r Prescott’s Dixie Six. Open Bar beer wine and spirits. PreB all 6.30 at Allen Hall; free buses from Allen Hall 7.30pm, back to town 12.30am.

STUDENTS FOR ENVIRONMENTAL ACTION

l CarSEA is hosting Internationa ember Free Day on Wednesday Sept skip, le, cyc , walk e, Skat . 2010 22 Lawn train, or bus along to the Union and on Wednesday September 22 Carjoin SEA in celebrating World kfast brea ake panc Free ! Day Free to all those who use alternative r transport. Bike workshop and othe activities will be taking place 10am . Lawn Union the on 12pm

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Critique Analyse this...

43 GAMES

44 music

47 FOOD

48 BOOKS

50 FILM

52 PERFORMANCE

53 art

42


Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker

PSP

Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker is the newest addition to the long-running Metal Gear Solid series. It picks up events just after Metal Gear Solid 3 (the game that takes place earliest on the in-game timeline). In it, you play as Big Boss, who has recently forsaken the US military and is starting up his own private military corporation. The game has several aspects. The first is the campaign storyline, where you play numerous sneaking and combat missions with a full, classic Metal Gear Solid storyline (If you’ve played any of the MGS games, you know what that means. If not, enjoy). The second aspect of game-play is side missions, which give you experience and allow you to ‘recruit’ new soldiers or vehicles (that is, you forcefully extract them and then imprison them until they’ll work for you). The purpose of this is that the soldiers man your base where they can research new equipment for you, gather intelligence, and fight abroad for fame, experience, and to unlock more gear; vehicles captured can also serve that last purpose. The final aspect is building your own Metal Gear from parts taken from destroyed AI machines. All of the above aspects combine beautifully with some of the best graphics seen on the PSP to make an amazing gaming experience. I am a huge fan of the MGS series (and although it might seem blasphemous to some, I maintain that Sam Fisher could take out Big Boss or Solid Snake with a headshot from the shadows), and this is a worthy addition to the series, providing both spectacular game-play and an intriguing, complex storyline. If you own a PSP, I strongly recommend playing this as it is the best PSP game I have played so far. If you are a MGS fan and don’t own a PSP, I suggest getting buying one or borrowing a friend’s.

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Knives At Noon

Glitter Guts

Guards

Guards EP

Recorded late last year, Glitter Guts has been a long time coming for Knives At Noon and those of us eager to get our hands on it. It certainly does not disappoint, delivering a satisfying taste of the thundering pop-rock fusion which they term ‘doom pop’. The EP begins with the main single ‘Violins and Violence’, which quickly escalates into Knives at Noon’s characteristically foreboding synth pop. The mood spirals into a dazed and otherworldly outro reminiscent of Showbiz-era Muse. Listeners are then thrown into ‘Human Heart From Modern Art’, which exhibits spacey vocals and noticeably less synth, giving way to a welcome lead guitar to drive the song instead. The final chorus is perhaps the victim of too much volume balancing, and could have been a more explosive finish after the extended breakdown and towering buildup. Some struggle with ‘Licking Plastic’ in Knives’ live sets because its dance potential is limited in the verses. It fares much better on Glitter Guts. The song has such raw dynamics that it’s hard not to be suspended by the eerie heartbeat-driven verses and infected by the ironically poppy chorus. Couch’s drumming in this song is capital. ‘Thunderveins’ creates a Health-like atmospheric quality without sacrificing its punchy dance energy, similar to what the Klaxons achieved on their 2007 album. Volume balancing again slightly reduces the chorus and hook impact, but this remains one of the strongest songs on the EP. All the songs are simple in composition and in structure, but Knives At Noon has produced a cohesive and memorable EP packed with as much energy as their sonic live performances. Synth is sexy.

Following in the vein of recent success stories such as Wavves and Vivian Girls, Guards offer up a resoundingly . satisfying first release, combining 60’s pop with the low fi ‘shitgaze’ that is streaming out of the States. However, what this outfit has to separate themselves from the bandwagon hordes is stunningly hooky tracks such as opening track ‘Resolution of One’. With authentic organ motifs (think of any Zombies track), infectious melodies demanding constant redress and calm and rolling drums, the Guards EP is consistently gratifying. Furthermore, it is quite remarkable that such a convincing sixties aesthetic can be mastered by predominantly two contributors. Although much of the lyrical content is indecipherable the accompanying melodies are esteemed enough to be stand-alone, prevailing beyond an initial listen. Featuring Chairlift’s Caroline Polacheck and Cults, on ‘Trophy Queen’ and ‘Sail it Slow’ respectively, a psychedelic dimension is progressively introduced, providing driving rhythms and soundscape vibes. Again the conventional use of ‘ooos’ and ‘aaahs’ reflect the melodious sixties notion. The EP then resolves solely back to the duo’s tuneful and surf-style pop, gathering momentum with ‘Don’t Wake the Dead’ to fall into folk ballad ‘Crystal Truth’. With leanings towards The Arcade Fire the EP closes with the anthemic ‘I See It Coming’ leaving the listener sufficiently content in its wake. Though this release is simply emulating a popular and reputed genre the song writing is of a calibre amply pointing to the ‘Guards EP’ being one of the most worthwhile and invigorating releases this year. The Guards’ EP is available for free download from the bands bandcamp page: guards.bandcamp.com

Idiot Prayer

Live at Re:Fuel, 22 May 2010

After rapidly ascending into the Dunedin music ‘elite’, post-rock alternative new comers Idiot Prayer prove their might on this dirty fuzzed gem of a bootleg. Recorded direct to mini-disc during their support slot for Collapsing Cities at Refuel, Idiot Prayer display healthy doses of earth shaking muscle, while creating sonic landscapes that hold the attention of listener. Grounded by simply astonishing drummer Sam Brookland, whose sheer power behind the kit can be felt through the speakers, songs like ‘Sausage Spectrum’ sizzle with energy and bite. ‘Spectrums’ extended, driving intro finally giving way to a danceable mid section, once again featuring lead Brookland’s pounding drums. ‘Death of a Hippy’ follows, with a more overtly melodic structure allowing guitarist Tim “Tiddy” Smith to create an enveloping sound of layered fuzz, swirling around the listener. Here bassist David Ager proves solid and inventive, with his style reminiscent of Pixies’ bassist Kim Deal. His simple but catchy playing serves the song, rather than stealing the spotlight. Standout track ‘Beautiful’ is gradually built around a reflective guitar motif that slowly builds intensity via Brookland’s drums before once again subsiding as Smith tears his lungs on the emotional stirring single line of vocal: “How can your heart hurt, if it’s not attached to your body.” However for all its positives, the fact remains that this is still a bootleg. The nature of Idiot Prayer’s music also impacts the music’s quality, with heavy audio distortion occurring throughout: the mini disc is unable to cope with the band’s sheer volume. It’s ttill an enjoyable listen, though, and certainly enough motivation to get those interested to the next Idiot Prayer show. This recording, along with Idiot Prayer’s Radio One number-one single ‘Black Black Eyes’, can be download for free from idiotprayer.bandcamp.com

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LIVE REVIEW:

TOMMY III 9th September 2010 Re:Fuel

“Listening to HEALTH just to stay relevant, listening to Sleigh Bells just to stay relevant, listening to Best Coast just to stay relevant ... listening to Tommy Ill just for the hell of it ...” Expectations are interesting things. One’s expectations can virtually make or break an event before it has even happened. As I walked to Wellington-based rapper Tommy Ill’s show last Friday, I’ll be the first to admit I was filled with expectations and preconceptions. Thankfully for my own sake, with Tommy Ill, all expectations should be checked at the door. Not only does Ill dismiss or entirely ignore the stereotypical pitfalls of hip-hop, such as posturing and self-aggrandising, he takes a refreshingly interesting approach to his work, sampling everything from ‘50s pop to downbeat piano, with danceable and thoroughly enjoyable songs about headaches, heartache, and hangovers. From the outset, Ill’s live show is irresistibly fun. Sporting a ‘wolf mask’ and ably supported by his hype men, Ill bounces around the stage, enters the crowd, and even climbs atop the bar. Cheered on by a modest but extremely enthusiastic crowd (seriously, half these kids knew every word of every song) Ill’s enthusiasm easily captures the crowd and coverts any doubters. For this reviewer Tommy Ill proves a shining of example of where hip-hop in this country should be heading. Clever, self-depreciating songs with tight production and most importantly: FUN. 45


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J

udging by the lunch and dinner-time crowds, many have already discovered the good, reasonably-priced food and great service at Chopsticks 101 (380 George Street). The current proprietors have kept the menu they inherited from the previous owner, which comprised of generally Malaysian-Chinese food, but I would attribute their newfound popularity to their new menu, which features a long list of (what I assume are) favourite Taiwanese dishes. The first thing that I tried from the new menu was the crispy chicken leg with veges, which is a bit of a misnomer since the chicken isn’t actually crispy, but is delicious nonetheless. The chicken is saturated in a nice, savoury, mild, but distinct herbal flavour, drizzled with the same tasty sauce (every last drop of which I try to mop up with the rice) and accompanied well with blanched vegetables. It is now my favourite Chopsticks 101 dish, despite some other strong contenders. I also really enjoyed the pork spare ribs with orange sauce and vegetables, which tasted great, even though it was a little difficult and messy trying to get the meat off the bones. When I did, however, the meat was beautifully savoury and coated with a yummy, sweet, orangey sauce, which gave it a pleasant combination of savoury and sweet flavours. The crispy roasted pork belly with tofu in earthen pot is second on my favourite Chopstick 101 dishes list with tasty, savoury pork pieces, tofu, mushrooms, and vegetables soaked in delicious gravy, all in one scrumptious, hearty, satisfying one-pot meal. Again, the pork isn’t actually crispy, but it’s still good. Perhaps the nicest surprise of all was discovering that Chopsticks 101 serves decent sweet and sour pork, which is a bit of a mission to find in Dunedin, even though it is the one of the most common Chinese dishes. Now, I can just go to Chopsticks 101 for a quick and easy sweet and sour pork fix, instead of contemplating cooking it or going for a pricey, proper, three- or four-course Chinese dinner. There are several other items on the menu that I have been eyeing, like the stewed and roast duck dishes that I haven’t had a chance to try yet, because most of the time I just can’t resist ordering my usual favourites. Chopsticks 101 makes a great food haunt because, as mentioned at the start, not only is the food good and relatively cheap, but the staff are welcoming and friendly, which, altogether, makes it a rather pleasant place to patronise.

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Fountain Pen Reviews –

feat. Lamy Safari and Lamy Studio

About two years ago, I stumbled across a blog post written by Scot McKnight, a New Testament theologian whose book A Community Called Atonement I had just read and enjoyed. In this particular entry, McKnight argued that we should give up our disposable ballpoint pens for refillable fountain pens. McKnight mounted a two-pronged argument, providing both sustainability reasons and aesthetic reasons for preferring fountain pens over biros. In the first place, most biros have to be chucked once the ‘ink’ (McKnight calls it ‘gupe’; I tend to prefer ‘goop’) in them has been used up. Some of the more expensive pens are refillable, but even those require us to dispose of little empty tubes. Furthermore, most biros are so cheap and cheaply made that they often stop working or are misplaced (and replaced) long before the goop is gone. In contrast, my Parker 51 was made in the 1950s and still works perfectly. I refill it with ink, a (recyclable glass) three-ounce bottle of which can last me years. Secondly, no ballpoint pen I have ever come across glides across the page so effortlessly as any of my fountain pens. Even the entry-level Lamy Safari (more on which later) trumps the fancier disposable ballpoints and rollerballs on the market. And just as with turning and cleaning vinyl records, there is something charming about having to refill and clean a fountain pen. I used to hate writing; I used to bring my laptop to class to avoid having to take notes by hand. Now, armed with my small collection of pens, inks, and decent paper, I love jotting my ideas down and sending notes and letters off to people (and everyone enjoys receiving real mail, of course)! There are, broadly speaking, two options for those of you who want to give this fountain pen thing a try. You might look for a decent vintage pen on TradeMe, and if so I recommend getting a Parker 45 for under $50 or a Parker 51 for under $100. They’re both excellent writers – the 51 is legendary as a reliable workhorse pen – and are easily re-sellable if you decide they’re not for you. However, buying secondhand goods is always a risky enterprise, and fountain pen technology has moved on since these pens were designed. So, you might want to buy a new, entry-level gig instead, and if so you can’t do much better than the Lamy Safari ($40.50 at UBS, plus $6.90 for a converter).

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The Lamy Safari is a utilitarian pen, designed to be a reliable writing instrument that will last for decades. The plastic case – which comes in many different colours, including my favourite: the transparent Vista model – is robust, unlike those poncy resin-bodied (though admittedly beautiful) pens businessmen tend to have. $800 Mont Blanc pens might crack if you drop them, but these $40 Lamy pens won’t. The Safari also sports one of the best stainless steel nibs in production. They’re not as flexible and resistant to staining or corrosion as 14k gold nibs, but they perform remarkably well. (By the way, 18k gold nibs are a marketing ploy. They’re too soft to make good fountain pen nibs. Don’t be fooled.) Ink flow is smooth and writing is effortless, even with an extra fine (EF) nib. Left-handed folk like me will want to go with an EF or F nib, to decrease ink-drying time, though one eventually learns how to write in a way that avoids smudging. When that happens, you can move on to broader nibs, which are smoother still and can look better, if you know what you’re doing. For some, however, the Safari will be too ... cheap-looking and, more substantively, too light. For those who feel this way, I recommend the Lamy Studio, which is basically the Lamy Safari (same nib and all) in a better shell and with a very good weight and feel. Price-wise, it’s a considerable step up at $157.50 (at UBS, with a free converter), but the better body might be worth it to you, and the added cost might motivate you to be more careful with your pen. In either case, whether you opt for the Safari or its older brother, the Studio, you should then go ink shopping. The disposable cartridges that come with the pens are rubbish: they’re as environmentally unfriendly as the aforementioned biros and the ink is sub-par and mass-produced. Besides, having a beautiful trademark ink affords you a personal touch to whatever you write. As you might’ve guessed, I’m something of a Parker and Lamy fanboy. My four main pens are the Parker 45 (ca. 1970), Parker 51 (ca. 1950), Lamy Safari, and Lamy 2000; instead of going for the Studio, I went for Lamy’s flagship (which, by the way, is truly exceptional, but pretty expensive in New Zealand). However, there are many other brands and models out there, and not all of them are made to be wanky status symbols. Google is your friend as usual, but if you need more guidance, drop me a line or look up The Fountain Pen Network forum.

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The Sorcerer’s Apprentice

Directed by Jon Turteltaub Hoyts, Rialto

Walt Disney and Jerry Bruckheimer pair up once more to deliver another blockbuster. The Sorcerer’s Apprentice stars Nicolas Cage and Alfred Molina as two of Merlin’s three apprentices. Merlin is killed by his arch nemesis Morgana le Fay, who then gets trapped in a Babushka-type doll. With his dying breath Merlin imparts to Balthazar (Cage) that only one person will ever be able to defeat Morgana, and if Balthazar does not find them it will be the end of the world and all that jazz. Fast forward a thousand years or so to New York City and meet the hero David Stutler, played by Jay Baruchel. He first stumbles across the sorcerer by chance on another well-cluttered and insanely detailed set. Ten years later he is a physics guru with a rather annoying voice reminiscent of Jon Cryer from Two and a Half Men. This is a good movie to go and see if you have a couple of hours to spare. It includes a nod to the mop-and-broom scene from Fantasia to the classic music of Paul Dukas, with similarly disastrous results. Jon Turteltaub presents an entertaining but expected story that rolls through action scenes, cool special effects, and humorous one-liners leading to an altogether happy ending. It seems to set itself up for a sequel, but we’ll have to wait and see if the pointed old man shoes made it ‘classy’ enough.

I Am Love

Directed by Luca Guadagnino Rialto

Set amongst the awe-inspiring vistas and architecture of modern day Milan and the Italian countryside, I Am Love is a stunningly beautiful film. It tells the tale of the wealthy Recchi family, one of the proud remaining families of the capitalist industrial age. Emma (Tilda Swinton) is the Russian wife of Tancredi, heir to the Recchi business, and mother of three children. While surrounded by her her family and and living a luxurious lifestyle, Emma feels isolated and alone, and yearns for an escape. This escape arrives in the form of Antonio, a young chef, and they embark on a wild love affair … There is an incredible sense of intimacy and passion in this film. Guadagnino’s constant use of close-ups draws the viewer in and reveals the natural splendour of the subject material. The film showcases all things beautiful – in particular, nature, architecture, love, food and fashion. Coupled with a moving score by John Adams, it is a feast for the senses. Tilda Swinton’s acting is impressive, and her wardrobe in this film is enviable. I have never seen orange pants worn with such finesse. I Am Love is the most beautiful film I have seen all year. It also has a story line to match – the film charts tumultuous times for the Recchi family and is full of secrets and drama. If you still need convincing, this film was so good that half way through I already wanted to see it again. For me, like Tom Ford’s A Single Man, it is a piece of art that I want to look at again and again.

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The Runaways

Directed by Floria Sigismondi Rialto

The Runaways has got the two biggest young female names of today tagged onto it: Kristen Stewart, of Twilight fame, and Dakota Fanning, former cute kid actress – and there’s a lesbian relationship between them, so there’s something of appeal for everyone. What’s more, it’s based on a true story: the short-lived success of The Runaways, the first all-girl rock band to hit the big time. In 1975, teenaged glue-sniffing nobody Joan Jett (Stewart) manages to capture the interest of seedy record producer Kim Fowley (Michael Shannon) by telling him about her plan for an all-girl band. 15-year-old Cherie Currie (Fanning) is discovered by the producer and taken on as the singer and sex appeal. The band rockets to fame, and the group and their relationships are drastically affected as they are thrust into the sex, drugs and rock’n’roll lifestyle. Joan adapts as if she were born to be famous – Cherie finds it much harder to cope with. The two leads are brilliant. Kristen Stewart plays Joan as hard as nails, but with secret vulnerablity – and thankfully she’s never the slightest bit reminiscent of Bella. Dakota Fanning brings a naïveté that makes it impossible not to sympathise with her character. The film has faults: it’s a tad formulaic in places, and tends to skip over the transitional periods to get to the exciting stuff. But this impatience gives it a heady pace and along with its ‘70s soundtrack, makes the film a lot of fun. By the end, thanks in no small part to Stewart, you are completely invested in Joan Jett’s joy at her eventual success, and will possibly want to join in as she howls ‘Bad Reputation’ over the closing credits.

Despicable Me

Directed by Pierre Coffin and Chris Renaud Hoyts, Rialto

Steve Carrel is Gru, a cartoon super-villain afraid that he might be losing his touch to younger, more ambitious villains like the up and coming Vector, who upstaged the Gru by stealing an Egyptian pyramid and replacing it with an inflatable one. Gru decides he needs to up the ante so he and his hundreds of little Twinkie-shaped minions set their sights on the Moon, the plan being to shrink it and steal it. The only problem is the project is a little over budget, so they need to go to the Evil Bank and get a ‘villain-loan’. Also in the mix are three orphan girls, Margo, Ethel, and Agnes, who sell cookies for an evil orphanage lady. They dream of being adopted but are shocked to learn that their foster dad is none other than Gru. His plan is to exploit their cookie selling to gain access to Vector’s fortress, and steal the required shrink ray. But Gru finds out that being a good dad is a two-way street. Despicable Me is cute and the characters are charming. It’s not exactly in the same ballpark as recent Disney-Pixar epics like Wall-E, Up and Toy Story 3 but it’s well told and satisfying enough. There’s some clever, silly comedy and some real tenderness in there as well. Content-wise, it was a little on the light side. If they make a sequel I would recommend going for some higher stakes and more drama, but it was a good enough effort for now.

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LTT Review: The Cyclops

Written by Euripides Directed by Jimmy Currin Starring Dell McLeod, Jim Haven, Jo Bond, Kajsa Louw, Miriam Noonan, Cynthia Wun, Hana Aoake, Leah Carrell. and Hahna Briggs

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he programme for this show had twenty different fonts, which was largely pointless and quite distracting. This set the theme for what was to follow. Currin attempted to squeeze everything he possibly could into each moment, and the result was both under- and overwhelming. This ensured, to the show’s detriment, that everything dragged, even the curtain call. I commend him for his vision with this piece, though. Currin is never afraid to fully commit to his ideas. I am aware that he has been brewing this project for a while now and am delighted to see it fully realised. Currin spiced up this archaic tale with sparkly costumes and a disco ball which made it self-aware and gave it a semi slapstick quality. There were some definite laugh-out-loud moments. The satyrs’ energy carried this piece and while the actors’ commitment was varied, they had spark and enthusiasm. However, many of their sequences needed tidying and tightening. They functioned as a kind of chorus but both the audience and actors tired of them quickly, which could be the biggest clue that they were too long. It was also very difficult to tell if sections were choreographed or not. I appreciate their animalistic and bestial qualities, however I was desperate for some sharper, stronger more sequenced movements. I do not think Currin pushed this piece as far as it needed to go as a THEA 451 directing project. This project is an opportunity for the directing student to invest almost a year’s worth of intensive learning about the art of directing into a show. Simple things like the actors’ commitment to each other, projection, and variation simply fell to the wayside. If extravaganza was the overall effect that Currin was going for, he could have achieved this far more affectively by distilling, simplifying, or fragmenting the moments. The lighting had no synchronicity with any other theatrical element or the storyline. The long periods of darkness seemed totally unmotivated and ensured that the actors’ voices, movements, and direction were totally lost. The sound had wonderful components but had no specificity and also often out sync with the rest of the show. With the prior knowledge that this piece was to revolve around a volcano I was disappointed to see that this was represented by the bleachers, until they was lit from underneath and then I really liked it. It became a moment when the darkness combined with the pulsating red light was completely necessary. There were other moments that I really enjoyed. The comic shadow-puppetry gave the stage some depth and was a perfect way for the Polyphemos’ cannibalism to be shown without looking contrived. Additionally, Polyphemos scaling the volcano while dying with the world literally closing in was a nice image. Currin can be accredited as an entrepreneur, or even auteur in his directing; however, this time he let the project overwhelm him and subsequently his audience.

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FFFFFF: Introduced Birds

Blue Oyster Gallery Until October 2

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gonising tension, social discomfort, confusion, and a feeling of superseded isolation confront viewers in artist collective FFFFFF’s exhibition introduced birds at the Blue Oyster Gallery. Introduced birds is an interactive playground, the space is stimulated through the viewer’s movement and sound. However, interaction with these environments was only made clear by the accompanying text. As the viewer moves cautiously through the first space, the eerie, triangular form of a mountain appears. The ‘mountain’ terrain seems architectural, with a dome-like quality. This space was constructed carefully (and probably arduously) from vinyl records sliced into triangles. These fragments of discarded vinyl records fit seamlessly together in this beautiful formation of desolated, claustrophobic tension. A short distance from the cascading ‘mountain’ appears the remains of a record player’s arm. Upon touch the tip of the arm’s stylus is supposed to send out a bellowing sound from beneath the ‘mountain’. Disappointingly, this didn’t happen; it may have been broken at the opening by enthusiastic spectators. Clustering along beside the ‘mountain’ appeared three hollow geometric forms. These were incredibly shallow and designed to give viewers the opportunity to crawl inside. One of these forms induced a sensation of momentary fear within me. These pieces are the most claustrophobic environments imaginable. Crunching one’s feet upon and the smell of fresh soil, the viewer moves to the lower part of the gallery to the final space. At the opening I saw a performance by the artist creating a grid-like configuration, using a range of soil sourced from throughout the country. The artist appeared to be in ritualistic trance as she carefully spread each container of soil. The strata of a record player gently hummed, perhaps to inform her choices. Photographs of where the soil had been sourced were displayed on the walls surrounding her. The various soils had a wonderful aroma, yet appeared to be contaminated by the influence of man. There is something calming about the intoxicating smell and appearance of earth. It remains unknown as to how this piece relates to the other works in the exhibition. It’s problematic that in conception and application there is no obvious interconnectivity binding these works together as one cohesive exhibition.

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IF CHRIS CARTER FORGED passports

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ISSUE 24, 2010  

The Words Issue

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