Page 1

Grok#1_13_cover.indd 1

19/02/2013 2:16:29 AM



ISSUE #1 - 2013

Grok#1_13_cover.indd 2

19/02/2013 2:16:48 AM


ISSUE #1 2013 CONTACTS Editorial - 9266 2806 Advertising - 9266 2908 Email -

EDITOR - Scott Donaldson LAYOUT - Rozanna Johnson Grok exists for entertainment purposes only. The views expressed therein are not necessarily that of Curtin Student Guild.

CONTRIBUTORS Grok would not exist were it not for the generous donation of time and effort from it’s contributors, to whom we are eternally grateful. (in no particular order)

GROK #1 2013

GROK#1_2013.indd 1

Ashley Westwood Michael MacKenzie Matt Vassiliou Joseph Wong Yu Wing Jessica McGovern Rachel Neumann Anthony Pyle Connor White

Jon Solmundson Caitlin Goddard Storm Crow Ciaran Johns Athina Mallis Naomi Faye Stephanie Lyon Belinda Teh



19/02/2013 2:11:35 AM

GUILD EXEC PRESIDENT p: (08) 9266 2934 e: president@ EDUCATION VICE PRESIDENT p: (08) 9266 2920 e: educationvp@ ACTIVITIES VICE PRESIDENT p: (08) 9266 4578 e: activitiesvp@ GENERAL SECRETARY p: (08) 9266 2918 e: generalsec@

FACULTY REPS HEALTH SCIENCE FACULTY REP p: (08) 9266 3392 e: health@

epoch, even, for myself and everybody else who feels the need to make a (big) deal about the new year. The whole 2012 end-of-the-world hype is finally over, Chris Nolan finished his Batman trilogy (on a bum note, and don’t pretend it wasn’t), and PAYG parking has finally arrived on campus in the same way a fridge might spontaneously teleport into your face. Welcome everybody, to the new frontier.

INDIGENOUS DEPARTMENT p: (08) 9266 3150 e: indigenous@ INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS COMMITTEE p: (08) 9266 2910 e: isc@ QUEER DEPARTMENT p: (08) 9266 3385 e: sexuality@ WOMEN’S DEPARTMENT p: (08) 9266 3386 e: women@


So sit back, relax, and prepare yourself for not only the sledgehammer of justice and truth that is Grok 2013, but also the chocolate cake of absolute disillusionment that is semester one. Ed.

GROK #1 2013

GROK#1_2013.indd 2



p: (08) 9266 2900 e: grok@

GUILD ADVERTISING & EVENT ENQUIRIES p: (08) 9266 2908 e: advertising@


p: (08) 9266 2900 e: rec@

p: (08) 9266 4465 e: cupsacouncil@

The theme for this issue is ‘Circles,’ and it is filled with new and interesting opinions about said shape, reviews of stuff you’ve never heard of before, and plenty of news from people involved with something called “The Guild.” And in a first for Grok, and perhaps any issue of any publication in history, you, the reader, will read the word “circle” literally many, many times.

p: (08) 9266 2900 e: reception@

HUMANITIES FACULTY REP p: (08) 9266 2764 e: humanities@


Anyway. I’m Scott, and I’m here to help facilitate the documentation of Curtin 2013 in the culture-shaping behemoth of Grok. This year, I hope that our “writing” will inflict you with feelings of joy, fear, amusement, and rage - perhaps even all at the same time. And if that fails, I will, for a small fee, personally turn your copies of the magazine into funky paper aeroplanes.


p: (08) 9266 3087 e: clubs@


And so this also means another year of Curtin, and thus another year of Taverning, coffee swilling, lecture shunning, and, if it happens to fit nicely into the schedule, a wee bit of study too. I’m confident that it’s going to be a great year - apparently O-Day is going to be bigger and better than ever, so make sure to head down early if you want to gank as much free stuff as you can possibly get your grubby mitts on (I know I will). In addition, there’s a swanky new Engineering building down by the increasingly-pathetic-looking Department of Art for all of us to look at while we ask ourselves why we aren’t doing real degrees, and a new Law School for all of us to look at while we really ask ourselves why we aren’t doing real degrees. I’m looking forward to many an afternoon spent crying into half-finished academic essays about why Cyclops is one of the X-Men’s most underdeveloped characters (am I joking?).

THE SPOT/SPOTLIGHT TICKETS p: (08) 9266 1797 e: spot@

BUSINESS FACULTY REP p: (08) 9266 2764 e: business@

SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING FACULTY REP p: (08) 9266 3392 e: science@

Unlike the previous twenty-ish years of my life, I kind of get the feeling that 2013 is the start of a new era. A new

BOOKENDS (GUILD SECONDHAND BOOKSHOP) p: (08) 9266 2909 e: bookshop@


p: (08) 9266 2904 e: tavmanager@

All guild email suffixes are:


HEALTH CENTRE p: (08) 9266 7345 HOUSING p: (08) 9266 4430 INTERNATIONAL OFFICE p: (08) 9266 7331 PARKING p: (08) 9266 7116 PHYSIOTHERAPY CLINIC p: (08) 9266 1210 SCHOLARSHIPS p: (08) 9266 2992


p: (08) 9266 2900 e: reception@

p: (08) 9266 4444 Emergency dial 5 from any campus phone (24h) or 9266 5555



GUILD COPY & DESIGN p: (08) 9266 2925 e:

p: (08) 9266 3399


CURTIN CONCEPT p: (08) 9266 2828 e: concept@


IT WORKS COMPUTER REPAIRS & STORE p: (08) 9266 2902 e: itworks@

p: (08) 9266 7166

p: (08) 9266 3500 p: (08) 9266 9266



19/02/2013 2:11:36 AM

higher education, there needs to be increases in funding and resources too! This flows through to the campuses and we have seen course, staff, and funding cuts at universities across the country. Curtin, like every other university, is affected by federal funding priorities and the general drive to turn the education system into a business.

The Student Guild is here to provide representation, support, and advocacy for students, by students. All students are members of the guild and can enjoy the benefits, but don’t forget to activate your membership! We have campaigns, clubs and societies, collectives and a wonderful portfolio of events lined up. Social events for students will continue to grow this year with parties and alcohol-free activities, as well as music, movies, art, culture, quiz nights and more – Curtin has a diverse student population and there will be something for everyone. This year I want to encourage the active and participatory aspect of campus life. Campus culture has always been about making a difference, and with the federal and state elections taking place this year there will be debate, discussion, and plenty to get involved in. Students certainly have opinions, and we want to have something to say around questions of student rights, higher education, and social justice. While there is nothing inspiring coming out of parliament, there are many campaigns running and I encourage students to make their voices heard on the ground. Students currently face many issues such as course cuts, poverty, rising fees, overcrowded classes, and the unpopular Pay-As-You-Go parking system. Universities have faced federal funding cuts over many years, but at the same time student numbers have increased. While it is a good thing that more people can access

Another election issue that both major parties would, try-as-they-might, like to ignore is marriage equality! This vibrant campaign is set to continue this year with rallies that protest the discrimination and homophobia that is enshrined in Australian law. The campaign has been successful in building support for the issue and we need to keep the pressure up on the government. Come along to the next Equal Love WA rally at 1pm, Saturday May 11. It will be held in Stirling Gardens, corner of St George’s Tce and Barrack St and all supporters are welcome. We need to continue this fight for civil rights, regardless of who is in power. And finally, another important action that I encourage students to be a part of: protesting offshore processing at the Department of Immigration and Citizenship. Refugees have become a favourite scapegoat and political football in recent years, and this is likely to continue as both parties look to shift attention away from their own unpopularity by whipping up fear and racism. In the meantime, the incredible suffering of some of the world’s most vulnerable people, who have fled from war, torture and persecution, occurs at the hands of the Australian government. You can show your opposition by joining an action organised by the Refugee Rights Action Network: Friday March 15th, 12pm outside DIAC, 836 Wellington Street, West Perth. There is plenty more on offer and as I said earlier, there is an exciting year ahead! Uni is about more than attending classes, so drop by Building 106F to say hi and get involved.

GROK #1 2013

GROK#1_2013.indd 3

2 editorial / contacts 3 your guild pres 5 your vps 6 your faculty reps 7 student assist: tips for starting uni 8 club news 9 guild news / the goon bag 10 guild equity departments 12 asylym mythbusting 13 arts: take a break with grazia toderi 14 instant karma 16 be my friend? 18 an introduction to hooping 20 the mystery of male nipples 22 ghetto hoops and nike 24 merry-go-rounds 26 earthly circles 28 nostradamus’s undeserved internet fame and other things that totally spell doom for all of us 30 a slice of pi 32 life 34 approach with caution 35 creative: revolutions 36 the legend of freehanding 38 la trobe students stand up against university cuts 39 taking the wheel 40 deconstructing t-swift 41 creative: poetry 43 movie reviews 44 album reviews 45 gig review 46 game reviews

3 - editorial

Hi! Welcome to new students, and welcome back to everyone else. I’m Jess, a nursing student and your 2013 Guild Pres. I’m looking forward to an exciting year ahead for campus life and culture here at Curtin!

We need to take a stand and show that students oppose the neoliberal agenda of course cuts, fee increases, and deregulation of higher education – our education is not for profit! There will be a National Day of Action on Wednesday 27 March organised by the National Union of Students (NUS). Across the country students will take a stand, including on Bentley campus where we will be holding an action at midday. Details are to come, so check out the guild website!




19/02/2013 2:11:37 AM

Experiences that mean the world The Melbourne JD Law degree

Experiences that mean the world The Melbourne JD Law degree

GROK#1_2013.indd 4

19/02/2013 2:11:41 AM

Activities vice pres

education vice pres

To all first-years, welcome to Curtin, and for those old hands, welcome back! What is AVP I hear you

Hi Everyone For all the new students, welcome, and to everyone else, I hope that you have had a great semester break.

shauna upton

ask? Well it can stand for a multitude of things, including but not limited to: Amazing Very (Important) Person, Awesome Vixen Partier or, technically, Activities Vice President. I’m here to organise amazing parties, epic events, and ridiculous activities for all you guys to enjoy. So far 2013 is shaping up to be a good year, despite the new restrictions the University has placed on the tavern. As you may have heard, Wicked Wednesdays are no more, which does significantly shrink the size of my events portfolio, and pretty much puts a stop to all the amazing dress-up parties Curtin is renowned for. Don’t worry, though - as your elected party representative I am going to ensure we don’t go down without a fight. If you want more info regarding the many ways the university is trying to undermine the Guild and your on-campus reps, head to our website. But never fear! We still have plenty of things happening this year. Firstly, we’ve prepared the biggest and best O-Day ever (big call I know). With a line-up including Last Dinosaurs and Rainy Day Women playing on an all-ages stage, things are set to go off. We’ve also made sure that only the best stalls will be there to give you guys the biggest haul of free stuff you’ve ever nabbed from an O-Day. To round out O-Week, Start-Up Party will be held on Friday night, and it is set to be legendary. For the FIRST TIME EVER this event is toga themed, and Strange Talk will be flying in from over east to play what is sure to be an epic DJ set. Second week brings the biggest Tavern event of the year: Beach Bash. And heads up: an old favourite is returning after a two year hiatus, so be sure to get your tickets early! Adding to the mix is G-Music, which happens during common free time (Wednesdays 122) and all Curtin musicians are encouraged to apply. Add to the mix Humans versus Zombies, Easter Bash, DJ competitions and the End of Semester Bash amongst other things, and first semester is set to be a crazy, busy, awesome one. I hope you guys will enjoy all the events/ activities, but if you think something’s missing feel free to email me at activitiesvp@guild.

sam cavallaro

In my role as Education Vice President I will be taking care of issues around education, welfare, and equity. One of my aims this year is to stand up against the course cuts that have already started taking place at Curtin.

It’s not like the university is going bankrupt. The 2012 annual report has not yet been published, however in 2011 the university had an $81.4 million surplus and our Vice Chancellor Jeanette Hacket was paid $735,000 a year (not including bonuses). Not to mention the building of a new engineering pavilion and the proposed introduction of new medical and law schools. All indications point to the fact that the university is rolling in it. So why are we still being squeezed? When education is run for profit it is students who have to pay.

One of the solutions that the university may offer is the placement of students in an equivalent course somewhere else in Australia. The same problems face students here. Online learning is not for everyone and in many cases it is a poor substitute for a physical learning environment. For example, would you trust a surgeon who learnt how to give a heart transplant over Blackboard? Students who want a quality education should not be expected to uproot their whole life or pay to move to a different state just so they can continue to study a course. Similarly, the quality of education shouldn’t go downhill because the university has decided it doesn’t want to provide a course anymore. The university may be legally required to deliver you with your degree for the course you initially started studying, however they have ways of cutting courses while students are still enrolled in them. For example, a Politics student who had their course cut in their second semester could receive their degree after studying no other Politics units. What the university wants is more money. We can see that not just in the cuts to courses and funding, but also in the introduction of schemes like Pay As You Go Parking, the push for online learning, and the continuing fee increases. What we want as students is our right to a quality education. Fortunately, at least in the case of the course cuts, the damage has not been done in full just yet. We still have a fighting chance to save our courses.

Another problem is that a lot of students do not study full-time. Some do one or two units a semester as a part-time student while others only do three while still being classified as full-time. Students who aren’t full-time in the courses that are set to be phased out only have a few options. They may have to speed up their course by taking on more units per semester, find another place to study, or just not finish their course.

If you have any issues related to course cuts or restructuring, or any issues such as trouble gaining feedback, overcrowding of classrooms, discrimination or unfair treatment please contact me at educationvp@guild. Please also send me an email if you would like to get involved with the campaign to stop the cuts at Curtin, or check out the Facebook page CurtinUncut.

This is not fair on students. Balancing a job, family, a social life, and study can be tricky for some people depending on their

In Union Sam Cavallaro

There are literally hundreds of courses on the chopping block at the moment. 338 courses are set to be “phased out” when “all student issues are resolved.” Often this means that courses will be cut once there has been enough time for students who are studying full-time to finish their course, although this may not always be the case. There are many problems with this line of thinking. The university is cutting these courses because they are not bringing in enough revenue. This should not be a reason for the university to disadvantage students or to remove course diversity. Unfortunately for students, course cuts are just another part of the university’s neoliberal agenda and part of the push to privatize education and to run universities more and more like businesses.

GROK #1 2013

GROK#1_2013.indd 5

circumstances. Students with children might find it impossible to study full-time. Likewise, for students who can’t qualify for Centrelink or are just fed up with eating nothing but packet Mi Goreng, working ever more hours while trying to study is the only way to keep up with the rising cost of living.



19/02/2013 2:11:43 AM

Health Sciences - Audrey Gunawan Hello hello hello, my fellow Health Sciencers! Hope you all had a rocking holiday and are ready to get back to being nerds. In case you’re wondering who the heck I am, my name is Audrey (people call me Audz), and I like to meow at random. I am your awesome Health Science Faculty Rep and I’m here to handle your concerns regarding your studies. So please, I am begging you to call me (maybe?) at 9266 3392. Or drop in to building 106F and have chat with me about anything you like, just as long as you bring me some bubble tea (just kidding!). Another thing I want to say is this: please don’t fight over the microwave in the common room. We have 7 common rooms (one for each school) and most of them have 2 microwaves. You can cook your Mi goreng or heat up your lunch from Chilliz in peace. Sampai Jumpa (“see you” in Indonesian). Looking forward seeing your lovely faces this year. Cheers!

Science and Engineering - Fletcher Pym Dear Science and Engineering Students, The Basement has reopened! Like many of you, I cannot wait to get stuck into the new kebabs and our old favourite, chips and gravy. I hope to get enough student interest to help in getting some Space Invader tables put in the café to match the theme and to give you more procrastination options on campus. Watch this space for more info! As a point of interest to new students, the poles near the entrance to the Spatial Science Building are no longer greasy, but are now sticky. A close inspection by yours truly and our awesome Humanities Fac Rep, Cam Thorn, revealed that it is still advisable to stay clear. The eyeball we received from whom we presumed to be a professor in the Spatial Science Department shows they are still touchy about this area. You have been warned!

Ladies entering their first year in the department are also advised to familiarize themselves with toilet facilities in departmental buildings. There ais a chronic lack of female facilities in the faculty - something we hope to remedy this year. Good luck for the coming year and I hope to see many of you at the awesome events the guild has planned for you.

Business Fac Rep - Roshni Shah Hey guys! My name is Roshni, your Business Faculty Rep for 2013. To those returning to Curtin, welcome to y’all! Hope everyone has had a fantastic holiday and is ready to settle down with uni. I’m definitely sure it’s going to take me a while since I had the best holiday in Kenya and Bali. A big welcome also to all the newbies! Your first year should be most exciting with heaps of activities to get involved in and new friends to meet. As the Business Faculty Rep, I would recommend that you join one of the many clubs on campus. Like many of you, I am also an international student (I’m from Kenya), and the extra-curricular opportunities that Curtin and the Guild provide have given me many networking opportunities. Therefore, make sure you get involved with the Guild, a club, and other activities on campus. For those completing their studies this year, this is your last chance, so make the most of it! 2013 is looking like it will be a great year, with new initiatives, upgrades, and refurbishments in the Curtin Business School area located in building 407. And with O-Day and plenty of other events, the Guild is working to make this year better than ever, so make sure you check the Guild calendar for all upcoming dates.

Humanities Fac Rep - Cameron Thorn So, it’s my first Grok - what should I write? Well to start off I’d like to welcome back all the existing Curtin students - it’s another year at Curtin, and therefore another year of endless YouTube and Mi Goreng in the Abacus Labs. And welcome to all the new students! Make sure you get involved in a club: doing so will show you that there is so much more to uni than assignments and iLectures. Just thought I would update you on some of the happenings over the holidays. The biggest upset was Mitchell Johnson hitting the winning runs of Mike Hussey’s final Test - Mr. Cricket will be sorely missed. Equally upsetting was the loss of the School of Social Studies and Asian Languages. The University has thrown caution to the wind and cut loose the School due to budget reallocation, and I fear they may be revisiting this issue throughout the year. But even when strung up to die, the stalwart Humanities staff have reincarnated SSAL as a department within the School of Media, Culture and Creative Arts. I would also like to make all Humanities students aware of the Common Room in Building 209. If you go out the back entrance on the main level - next to the student services desk - towards building 208, there is a room on the left side of the staircase. Not unlike the “Room of Requirement” from Harry Potter, the common room is a place where you can hide from lecturers, tutors, Mrs. Norris, and plan your coup. Inside you will find a microwave, sink, couches, and a TV. I will be leaving goodies in there throughout the year so check in from time to time and see what is happening in and around Humanities. Until next time, may the force be with you. Peace xx

For all the Business students, I am here to represent your concerns and issues regarding your assessments, units, lectures or classes. Please don’t hesitate to drop an email, call, or pop in to see me in the office. See ya at the Tav!

Part of our jobs as Faculty Reps involves us going to the dreaded Student Disciplinary Panel. What follows is some advice handed down from generation to generation on how to make sure your name is never raised at one of these meetings. First year students may not know that residing in each of their computers is the mischievous

Copy and Paste Fairy. This cheeky little bugger makes you Copy and Paste things in places that don’t make sense. Example: “Shauna tried to play netball, however shwas not very good at it.” This is a common trick that the fairy will play on students throughout any stage of their degrees. Failure to correct this mistake will likely see you lose a mark or two and potentially land you in front of a disciplinary panel. The next trick the fairy likes to play is deleting things like quotation marks, http/:, .com, and, of course, the first letter and full stop of sentences. Failure to recognise these mistakes will almost certainly raise the eyebrows of lecturers and potentially land you in some very hot water! Our suggestion is to be extremely careful when copying and pasting late at night, GROK #1 2013

GROK#1_2013.indd 6


or after a few too many beers, as this is when the fairy is most likely to strike. The third and often most common trick this fairy plays on students is to edit Wikipedia pages. This is a common fairy pastime, to deliberately put in spelling errors, poor grammar and generally incorrect and outrageous faces into the pages. Failure by you to recognise these mistakes will likely see you in all sorts of trouble with your course coordinators. Should you wish not to run afoul of the fairies and their tricky antics, our advice is simple: DON’T COPY AND PASTE WHILST AT UNI. Kind regards, Your awesome Fac Reps

faculty reps

19/02/2013 2:11:43 AM

Student Assist Student Assist is the welfare department of the Curtin Student Guild. Simon, Juliana, Olivia, Jo-Ann and Jess are there to support all students, both postgrad and undergrad, with any personal, welfare, or academic issues. Their services are free for all Curtin students and cover things such as:

Leaves of Absence Assessment Appeals Appealing terminations Withdrawing or Changing Courses Finances Time management help Tenancy advice And more…

Deferral from Study Complaints and grievances Plagiarism and Academic Misconduct Discrimination and harassment Health and wellbeing issues Study skills advice Career and resume help

Student Assist is completely confidential and will help make your life at University that little bit easier. If you happen to find yourself in need of help, then drop by Guild Reception (Building 106F), or you can make an appointment at a time that is convenient to you. Call Reception on 9266 2900 or email

Some helpful advice from Student Assist Starting Uni

Starting University can be a scary time for both new students and their families. The first thing to remember is that YOU ARE NOT ALONE. Thousands of students will start university for the first time in 2013, so you’re about as far from being alone as anybody can get! Here are a few tips to help you start your University Experience:

Be Confident

You have earned your place at Curtin , so be confident that you belong here!

Be Prepared

Get to know how Curtin works and what will be expected of you in your first semester. A great way to do this is to participate in Orientation Week and attend all the central and school activities, including all of your Orientation lectures. Also tag along on one of the Guild’s Explore Campus tours for a fun and informal introduction to University life from fellow students.

Make sure you have everything that you think you are going to need for your first week of university. There is nothing worse than arriving at your first class without a pen (although it is a great way to meet new friends!).

Have a go

Part of the human learning experience is about learning what not to do. As with many things at Curtin, especially extra curricular tasks, you are better off having a go and getting it wrong than never trying in the first place.

Join a club or study group

University is about more than just attending classes. By joining an academic, sporting or social club you are guaranteed to get the most out of your time here.

Study Space

Ensure that you have a quiet ad uncluttered study space from week one. If you don’t have this space at home then get into the habit of regular study on campus.


Get to know your library. Join a library tour or just spend some time learning how the library works. Having a good understanding of the university library is a great way to ensure your success at university.

Know where to go for help

Student Assist at the Guild along with the student services centres are there to help you. If you have ay questions then these are the places to go, and if they can’t help you GROK #1 2013

GROK#1_2013.indd 7


straight away then they will put you in touch with someone who can. Check out the range of Fact sheets on display in reception or on the Guild web site.

Talk to people if you are having any problems Sometimes just talking about a problem at University will make life easier. A parent, friend or lecturer will provide a good starting point if you have any university related concerns and are not sure what to do. Remember that there are free counselling services on campus if required.

Have a great time

University can be tough, but it should be an enjoyable and fulfilling experience. If you are enjoying your studies, the time will fly by. If you’re feeling a little lost or have some questions you need answered then call Student Assist at the Guild. We are happy to answer any and all of your questions, no matter how big or small they may be! Curtin can be a difficult place to ‘get you head around’ so please call into the Guild for a friendly ear if you are unsure of what to do next or who you should speak to about any concerns you may have!

Student Assist Contacts call Reception on 9266 2900 or 1800 063 865 for country callers. email:

student assist

19/02/2013 2:11:43 AM

Learn, earn and give the gift of education.

Need some extra funds to help you through university? With StudyBooster you can get paid for achieving your academic goals. Try it out now! It’s free and easy to sign up.

GROK#1_2013.indd 8

aisec AIESEC membership and exchange applications are open to Curtin students! Are you interested in developing your leadership skills or going for international exchange? Are you looking for volunteer or internship opportunities? AIESEC is an international platform for young people to explore and develop their leadership potential in order for them to have a positive impact in society. We are present in over

113 countries and territories, and with over 86,000 members, AIESEC is the world’s largest youth-run organization. AIESEC Curtin was established in 19 87, and has since sent hundreds of Curtin students overseas for exchange opportunities. If that seems like something you could be interested in, then keep posted!

AIESEC FB page: AIESEC website:

Enactus Curtin University Hello everyone, Welcome to 2013! We are Enactus Curtin University. Enactus is an international non-for-profit organisation that encourages students, academics, and business leaders to work together to improve the quality of life of those within surrounding communities. This year Enactus Curtin University is here to make a difference! With almost 20 students working together under 3 different projects, we are here to take action! Student groups

that are based across Australia and around the world work hard in making a difference. Each year these groups come together to represent their teams at national competitions, and this year these competitions will be held in Sydney, and the international competition will be held in Cancun, Mexico! That’s pretty cool right? Well if this sounds like a student club you would like to be a part of or one you would like to contribute to, why not come and see us on O-Day or check out our website at

curtin sci fi & fantasy club Hello fellows, Curtin Sci Fi & Fantasy Club is gearing up for a big semester and we’d love to see you all there! For the booklovers among you, be sure to come along to our Book Club meet and greet on the 4th of March. There you can meet all the new members and take part in a discussion about JRR Tolkien’s The Hobbit and George RR Martin’s Game of Thrones. Check the posters around campus or our Facebook group page for more details.

more participating in Relay for Life, and will be having a ‘Thrones and Drones’ themed quiz night on the 22nd of March (details TBC).

Also coming up this semester, get ready to see a big CSFC presence around campus. We are once

Look for us on Facebook, at O-Day, or send us an email at Have a great first semester everyone!

Check us out every Wednesday between 12 – 2 at the Guild Courtyard for board games and lunchtime geekery, and be sure to keep an eye on our Facebook page for details about our Games Nights and fortnightly meet-ups with activities like bowling, movie nights, laser tag, and more.

19/02/2013 2:11:47 AM

Typically incompetent Gov. shuts campus Centrelink Curtin University used to hold the grand honour of being the only Australian university campus to have its own Centrelink. However, due to budget cuts (read: the government needs more hooker money or something like that) the amazingly lineless Centrelink has been torn from our grasp like candy from a baby. Needless to say, your good ol’ Guild tried to get them to stay by offering them free office space within our own offices, a chance to be Guild Gorilla for the day, and even the shirts off our backs, but no such luck.

the basement goes up a level The Basement refurb is legend-waitforitIhope you’renotlactoseintolerantbecausethenextwor disgoingtobe- dairy! No but seriously it is. I would never quote Barney Stinson unless it really truly deserved it. The home of greasy, guilt-laden food has received a complete overhaul and is now the Space Invaders-themed home of taste-amazingness. Head on down to the engineering building to check it out for yourselves!

Shit parking gets shitter

Uni imposes Footlooseesque Tav curfew

After years of fighting from the Guild, the university has finally managed to implement PAYG (Pathetically Awkward and (Y)useless Garbage) parking. Clearly they’re not massive fans of actually having students on campus. But fuck it, we pay how much to go here? Let’s try to continue to make the most of it, shit parking or no shit parking. Also, while we are all complaining about how much this completely useless parking system is depleting out weekly goon funds, spare a thought for our brothers (and sisters) with heavy contact hours. Those poor bastards are going to have to sell a kidney just to cover first semester.

If you’ve read the AVP’s rant in this edition then you’re probably full bottle on this. If you can’t be arsed reading it, here are the basics: no more Wicked Wednesdays, 9pm closing except for the events the lovely Tav manager has applied for, and the university is holding the fact they can get the Tav’s liquor license revoked over the Guild (and essentially students’) heads. Basically the university has become the fun police and has begun treating students like children. Who’s ever heard of a tavern having to apply to somebody to hold events? Ridiculous.

Massive course cuts… but we have a law degree now So the university is crying poor and cutting a butt-load of courses because of “low enrolment,” but at least Curtin can brag about its new law degree to the pretentious bastards over at UWA. Curtin students whose courses were cut may have been screwed over, but it’s all good, because we now have a law school! (Sarcasm intended). If you want info on specific courses, contact our Education Vice President or one of your lovely faculty reps.

So back in the day (circa 2006), every Grok edition used to include a short segment filled with goon facts and trivia. It was written by a gentlemen whose nickname was, in fact, Gooner. While the Guild no longer has any staff with such a nickname, the general consensus is that goon is just as relevant to students as ever. And so, the 2013 edition of Grok is proud to bring back ‘The Goon Bag.’


Fruity Lexia makes you sexier. Just trust us. It does.

GROK #1 2013

GROK#1_2013.indd 9


Ancient Guild bumper stickers Wandering the halls of the Guild offices you see many strange, scary and sometime plain awesome things….including bumpers stickers. Petition to bring them back, perhaps?


Empty goon bags filled with air make amazing pillows (this one’s for the first years).


The goon concept was invented in Australia. This makes us amazing.


Goon bags (full or empty) can make an awesome costume for an ABC (Anything But Clothes) party.


If you are stranded on a deserted island and your only possession is copious amounts of goon, you will be fine. Drink all the goon and then tie the empty blown up goon bags together with your back hair Jack Sparrow style to fashion yourself a raft.


19/02/2013 2:11:47 AM

queer department Khyl Hardy - Queer Officer International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHO) is fast approaching. May 17 celebrates the 1990 removal of homosexuality from the World Health Organisation’s catalogue of mental disorders. Every year, many LGTBIQ people and our supporters take May 17 as an opportunity to celebrate how far we’ve come, to spread awareness of continuing discrimination, and to get active in challenging that discrimination. As one of the Guild’s Queer Officers for 2013 and an activist in Equal Love WA - the marriage equality campaign group in Perth- I’ve been busy helping to organise a rally called for May 11th, the Saturday before IDAHO. Large numbers of Curtin students have been regularly attending the rallies since last year - a credit to the active support of the 2012 Queer Officers. Students have always been an integral component of any progressive campaign, and campaigns for LGBTIQ rights are no exception. Challenging discrimination on campus, after all, is difficult if not impossible without challenging discrimination in society at large - we can only do so much as campus activists when no less an institution than the government (and a supposedly progressive Labor government at that) continues to legitimise bigotry by refusing to grant LGTBIQ people equality in the highly valued and scrutinised institution of marriage. In partnership with the entire Guild, Queer Department, and my fellow Queer Officer Kat, I hope to continue and expand the impressive Curtin student turnout for the rallies for marriage equality this year. With the federal election announced for September, this is a particularly important time to be hitting the streets and making sure that politicians know that we will be doing everything we can to make opposition to marriage equality a political liability for both major parties.

Rally Details: Saturday, May 11th, 1pm Stirling Gardens, Cnr St George’s Terrace and Barrack Street Kat Alarkon - Queer Officer ‘Sup, queermos? Welcome to 2013! For those unfamiliar with the queer department, it’s a safe space on campus for people with diverse sexuality and/or gender and their allies. It’s a great place for people to hang out without having to worry about being ostracized on the basis of their sexuality and/ or gender. We’ve locked in dates for some social events this semester - how neat is that? Meet ‘n’ Greets are on the first Wednesday of each month during common free time (12pm-2pm). So that’s March 6, April 3, May 1 and June 5. Movie Nights will be held on March 27 and May 29 from 6pm-9pm. Both events take place at

the Queer Department. Mark your calendars and keep an eye out for our posters! International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHO) lands, as always, on the 17th of May - a day devoted to curing the world of bigotry usually through the distribution of baked goods and running a good ol’ fashioned sausage sizzle. Yummm. Also, this year’s Queer Conference will be taking place early in July somewhere in Sydney, and thanks to SSAF we’ll be able to send a few more delegates than what was previously fiscally possible. The finer details of this event are still being worked out by the organizing committee, but don’t worry, we’ll keep you posted. Comments? Issues? Queer-ies? Send us an email, give us a call, or better yet, brave through the doors of 106F and meet us Queer Officers and the rest of the collective. I promise, we don’t bite (unless you’re into that). Your (democratically elected) resident beanflicker, Kat

The Awards will promote social engagement and recognize the contribution made by individual students to the international student community or the broader WA community. Nominees for the awards should: Be an inspirational role model to their community with good academic standing. Have demonstrated an achievement or contribution that adds value to the community.

Indigenous Department 26th January: Survival Day

International Students Committee ( isc ) International Coffee Hour

International coffee hour is a weekly opportunity for international and local students to make new friends from different cultural backgrounds and to share their experiences of studying and living in Australia. Come and enjoy FREE coffee and snack anytime on Wednesdays between 12 and 1pm! The first coffee hour of the academic year will held on Wednesday, March 6.

Know Your Differences ISC wishes to develop the ‘’Know Your Differences’’ (KYD) initiative, a simple monthly article that explores cultural differences and offers cultural enlightenment in order to minimize intercultural clashes. KYD will make use of Grok magazine as a platform with both its own section and a spot on G-news. KYD in Grok will contain interesting content and will be supported by visual materials in order to augment the reader’s cultural knowledge.

ISC Day Trips ISC Sightseeing trips are single day events that take students bushwalking, canoeing, or on trips to local places of interest such as Penguin Island or wildlife parks. These trips help international students to make the most of their stay in the Perth area.

International Student of the Year Award

Contemporary second Australians have celebrated Australia Day on a national level since 1994, when the states unified their Anniversary days or Foundation days and changed their public holiday and ceremonies to the 26th of January. Invasion Day, the 26th of January 1788, is a day of sadness and mourning for first Australians. The High Court of Australia has overturned the concept of terra nullius (empty land) and declared that Australia was inhabited by a political and socially organized, civil nation of people. Therefore, the occupation of Australia is based on an illegal invasion and horrific acts of genocide and cruelty. Some first Australians believe the resistance is still proceeding in a cold war fashion. In today’s information revolution, ignorance is a choice Many contemporary Australians are holocaust and genocide deniers, and don’t want to know the true history of how Australia was illegally invaded and occupied. There have been many calls from social commentators to change the date of Australia Day so as to separate it from Invasion Day, which is recognised as a time of mourning for many Australians. Wattle day, the first of September, has significance to all Australians and all States, so why not then? To celebrate on a day of mourning is considered by many to be inappropriate and insensitive. Aboriginal Australians are still treated as second class citizens and the UN regularly complains to the Australian Government about a number of issues to do with Human Rights abuses. These complaints are usually met with

The Curtin International Student of the Year Awards 2013 is an exciting program that offers

GROK #1 2013

GROK#1_2013.indd 10

an opportunity to showcase the initiatives and achievements of international students at Curtin University. The program seeks to recognize international students and celebrate the outstanding contribution these individuals have made to Curtin.


19/02/2013 2:11:47 AM

lip service, misleading glossy brochures, and co-option of elites. Rarely does the money trickle down adequately to the social injustice it was supposed to correct. Survival day is celebrated by first Australians and increasing numbers of second Australians as a tribute to the fact that Aboriginal Australians have survived one of the most barbaric illegal invasions and occupations to have occurred in modern history. The invading colonisers intended to completely wipe out the first Australians - they were classed as fauna and wildlife until their citizenship was granted in 1967. It is also a time to call for action on issues of social injustice, as the gap in health and education is unacceptable. Aboriginal Australians have a lower life expectancy than the general Australia population. Educational outcomes for first Australians are also very poor. The Guild Survival Day Stall on the Perth Foreshore As usual it was a last minute race, underfunded and understaffed, but we made do. We had lots of pamphlets, papers, some craft materials and a video playing the SBS documentary First Australians. We had a wonderful warm reception from the many visitors to our stall, and all agreed that the gap in education is unacceptable. We have a good number of signatures as well. It was a delight to have about 50 children visit our stall throughout the day for craft; they clearly enjoyed it, and art always breaks down barriers. The following suggestions on closing the education gap was very well received by visitors to our stall: Tutors should be available for all Aboriginal students from primary school to post graduate. Improve Aboriginal Study Centres Degrees, so they are accepted and recognised by mainstream certified professional bodies. This will improve employment opportunities in the mainstream. The corollary will create many positive outcomes. Educational Centres need strong regulation and independent auditing on a regular basis. A council of mixed tribal elders on a rotating basis could oversee transparent modern management practises and have input into the curriculum, and be given full knowledge of funding arrangements. The deliberate Government policy of co-opting elites must stop. Co-option and its possible resultant corruption is a waste of resources and leads to poor outcomes in social justice. Next year we will hopefully have more volunteers from Curtin students of all backgrounds and be joined by those from other colleges and universities as well.

women’s department


Juliette Rose and Emily Kingsley - Women’s Officers

Marion Devé - cupsa president

This year we have two new women’s officers: Juliette Rose and Emily Kingsley! The Women’s Department is a section of the Guild’s Equity Department, which assists in the creation of equal rights for all students. The Women’s Department is always willing to help out with any problems you may be facing as a female or female identifying student. In 2013 we hope to unite, raise awareness, and celebrate women at Curtin in an active and empowering way. Some ways in which we plan to do this: Creating a women’s collective where women can come together and chat/hang informally, discuss women’s rights, and contribute to a variety of projects. The return of the Vagina Monologues to continue raising awareness of violence against women and girls. This will follow the successful inaugural show for the Women’s Department in 2012 that saw cross collaboration with students from UWA and Murdoch. A campaign against the cuts to the single parenting payments. The upholding of the anti-sexist policy created in 2012 that disallows sexist advertisement on campus. Fundraising events. Participation campaigns.




A blog and Facebook page. Movie nights discussions.





And more. The Women’s Department is located in Building 106F, and we want to make the office a safe space for exploration and growth. So if you want to have a chat, talk about something a little more serious, or just get involved, come say hi or send an email to us at women@guild.

My name is Marion Devé, and I am the CUPSA President for 2013. What is CUPSA, I hear you ask? Well, that’s very simple: CUPSA stands for Curtin University Particularly Splendid Assembly, naturally. Just kidding! CUPSA is the Curtin University Postgraduate Student Association. So if you’re a postgrad student, CUPSA is just what you’re looking for! The association was created in 1991 to provide the postgraduate body with a tailored support to suit its specific situation and issues. CUPSA is operated by motivated postgraduate students who understand what other postgrads can be going through, and are willing to help. CUPSA is committed to: Representing the interests of the postgrad community on several senior governing committees; Providing moral support and quality advice; Financially support postgraduate students by distributing 4 rounds of conference grants (international and domestic) and resource grants; Organising social events and workshops exclusively for postgraduates. You will receive a CUPSA newsletter 4 times a year, which contains the latest news and information of interest to you. If you want further interaction, Like us on Facebook for the most recent announcements and valuable updates. The CUPSA office is also open if you need to speak to a postgrad representative. It is located in building 106F, in the Equity Department Lounge. I wish you all the best for your studies in 2013.

mature age department Kate Farrell and Jodie Best - Mature Age Officers Hi to all the mature agers out there. Yeah, we know, we don’t like to think of ourselves as “mature” either, but we’ve decided it’s high time we embraced the label, especially since we are fronting the new Mature Age Student Department at the Guild this year. Life as a mature age student is best described as a juggling act, as outside commitments such as family and work mean life is hectic and at times challenging. Our job this year is to ensure there are adequate resources and support for mature age students on campus and to give mature age students a voice on the Guild Council. Mature age students are a significant cohort and it’s important that we feel we belong and that the university is listening to us. GROK #1 2013

GROK#1_2013.indd 11

Dear Postgraduate Students of Curtin University,


We want mature age students to have a positive university experience and to feel connected to other students on campus. One way we hope to make a difference is to provide regular coffee mornings and social events, so that we can all get together and combat the isolation that many of us feel when starting out at uni. Join our Facebook group ( to keep up to date with our events during the year. Drop by our office off the Guild Equity Space for a chat, or email or phone us with your suggestions as to how we can work to make life at uni better for our fellow mature agers. Kate and Jodie


19/02/2013 2:11:48 AM

A lot of lies are told about asylum seekers in this country. We hear that refugees who arrive by boat do so illegally - that they are selfish queue jumpers, not genuine refugees, and perhaps even pose a threat to Australian life. The government justifies its actions by pointing to Australia’s supposedly “generous” resettlement program, or by shrugging and saying that there is simply no way to deal with the “problem” other than by locking people up indefinitely. In reality, all this couldn’t be further from the truth.

For those who flee their home country and end up somewhere else, the prospects aren’t much better: the UNHCR estimates that in 2011, only 0.5 percent of the world’s refugee population had access to a “queue,” and that if you piled the world’s refugee population into this “queue,” even though most have no way of physically accessing it, the wait would be almost 200 years. A tiny percentage of the world’s asylum seekers, particularly those from Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, and Sri Lanka where there are no immigration offices, end up in countries like Indonesia and Malaysia. However, very few

to back to the country they have fled. But the vast majority of the world’s refugee population – over 15 million people – waits indefinitely in refugee camps with no hope of resettlement. Some have no option but to seek protection in countries like Australia that have signed the Refugee Convention.

Myth #3: Asylum Seekers are illegal It is in no way illegal to seek asylum under either Australian or international law. The rights of asylum seekers are protected by both the UN declaration of human rights and the United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees (CRSR). In fact, as a signatory to this refugee convention, Australia has an obligation to provide protection to people fleeing persecution regardless of how they get here, boats included. The convention itself states that:

Asylum Mythbusting Khyl Hardy - Queer Officer

Myth #1: There is no alternative to mandatory detention Australia is one of the few countries in the world which practices mandatory detention of asylum seeker boat arrivals, both adults and children. The policy was introduced in 1992 by the Keating Labor government. The current detention system comes at a great cost. It has resulted in severe mental and physical health problems in some detainees, with some even being driven to self-harm and suicide. The economic cost of the system is around $113,000 per asylum seeker - racking up around $2.5 billion dollars since 2000. Offshore processing ratchets up the costs even more. A humane alternative exists: housing asylum seekers in the community, where they have proper access to medical treatment and social services - a place where they are not imprisoned without charge or trial. This would cost a mere 10 percent of the amount currently spent keeping refugees imprisoned and would involve giving a new start to some of the world’s most vulnerable people.

Myth #2: “Boat people” are queue jumpers Another catchy label that the media like to throw around is “queue jumpers.” For the vast majority of asylum seekers, particularly those who arrive in Australia by boat, there is no queue. Asylum seekers often have no access to a queue or processing system in their home countries.

governments in this region are signatories to the refugee convention and so no resettlement options exist for the asylum seekers who arrive there. Refugees landing in these countries are often subject to neglect, abuse, torture, and imprisonment at the hands of the authorities. In Malaysia, corporal punishment of refugees is legal, and they are afforded very few rights. For many, the safest or the only option is to board a leaky boat to Australia. At no point in this arduous journey, taken by a few thousand refugees each year, is this mystical queue ever seen, let alone “jumped.” In fact, the UNHCR resettlement scheme, what the Australian government would refer to as the queue where the deserving refugees supposedly wait, is incredibly limited. Each year it settles less than 1 percent of the asylum applications it receives, mainly to Europe and Africa, while focusing mainly on voluntary repatriation of refugees

GROK #1 2013

GROK#1_2013.indd 12

“The Contracting States shall not impose penalties, on account of their illegal entry or presence, on refugees who, coming directly from a territory where their life or freedom was threatened in the sense of article 1, enter or are present in their territory without authorization.”


19/02/2013 2:11:48 AM

Refugees are not “illegal” even if they enter Australia with false documentation or have been forced to use “illegal channels” in order to escape persecution. The myth of “illegal boat people” is simply given traction by the government’s practice of mandatory imprisonment of anyone who dares arrive in Australia by boat.

Myth #4: Australia does more than its fair share The government says that the few thousand people who come here by boat are pushing their luck because we have previously been so charitable. But the facts, collected by the UNHCR, speak for themselves. In 2011 Australia ranked 71 for refugee intake compared to population size and 77 compared to GDP per capita (both ranks include people arriving by plane). In 2010 Australia accepted 0.03 percent of the world’s refugees, asylum seekers and displaced people. Eighty percent of the world’s refugees who are actually resettled find themselves in developing nations, not rich countries like Australia. Even then, America, Germany, Norway, Belgium, Turkey and the UK, along with 14 other industrialised countries, accepted more refugees per capita than Australia. It would take 134 years to fill the MCG with asylum seekers who have arrived in Australia by boat. In the 34 years between 1976 and 2010 - remembering that mandatory detention has only been government policy since 1992 - only 25,380 people have come to Australia seeking asylum by boat.

Take a Break with Grazia Toderi

As for Australia’s humanitarian intake, the government has a self-imposed annual cap of 13,700 refugees, which it insists must include boat arrivals. The government stokes up racism and border-security issues about “boat people” to justify keeping the number so low. This was demonstrated in a recent article in the Weekend Australian, in which Immigration Minister Chris Bowen complained that Labor is unable to increase the intake to 20,000 while boats continue to arrive.

The latest exhibition, a collection of work from Grazia Toderi, was brought in all the way from Italy to be displayed as part of the Perth cultural festival. I was lucky enough to attend the opening of the exhibition and trust me, it’s something you might want to check out. Heck, the US Consular was there, bodyguard and all. It’s some serious business art.

To find out more, or get involved in doing something to bust these myths and free the refugees, get in contact with Curtin Uni Refugee Rights Action Network.

Facebook: Curtin-University-Refugee-Rights-Action-Network/ Email:

Jon Solmundson

Being a part of Curtin University, it amazes me that some people haven’t taken a moment of downtime to check out the John Curtin Gallery. If you happen to fall into that group, allow me to give you an excuse to check it out.

Though you can take what you want from any piece of art, there’s no denying that the work on display is immediately enthralling and very original. “Rendezvous,” which is currently occupying the main gallery, has an undeniably hypnotic motion to it. The video is projected across a huge white wall, making it easy to sit down on the bench opposite and take a minute to just take it in. Two chunks of NASA’s Gemini rocket follow a slow spiral in opposite directions across a backdrop of classical architecture, sometimes moving in unison, but never completely lining up. It’s a striking contrast to say the least. Though hard to relate to immediately, hearing Grazia share fond memories of watching the Apollo moon landing on television begins to connect the dots. It’s the power of these images she saw as a child that seem to have given her such a passion for video. In fact, none of the six works are the old paint on canvas. Each one is projected onto a wall, composed of a unique combination of footage, GROK #1 2013

GROK#1_2013.indd 13

still images, and video filters. It produces something that appears to be very ethereal, but is composed of very grounded elements. That’s a feeling Grazia was able to explain when I spoke with her. “It’s about the light,” she said, commenting on the connection between the works on show. “The light of the projectors, the light that we create, and the natural light.” It’s easy to see what she means as, deeper into the gallery, images of the city lights at night and the sun catching on ocean spray sit within ten meters of each other. The other striking feature of the work is its duality, with four of the pieces sharing an “ocular” perspective, as Grazia calls it. As if viewed through a strangers eyes, the image is broken into two halves with brighter inner circles and a duller edge. Again Grazia provided insight for me. “It’s about the contrast in our lives - the two halves. On one hand we have the personal, and on the other this social reality. The view of the outsider.” So if you’re in the area, stop in and take a look. It’ll only take you a few minutes to look through the gallery, and Grazia assures me that the progress of the video isn’t important. It isn’t a film, you don’t have to watch it from start to finish. Just sit down, follow the movement and enjoy a single slow, quiet moment. I know we could all use it once in awhile.

You can check out Grazia’s exhibition from now until April 14. image: Grazia Toderi, Atlante Rosso, 2011, looped video projection, sound

13 arts

19/02/2013 2:11:49 AM

GROK #1 2013

GROK#1_2013.indd 14



19/02/2013 2:11:50 AM

Instant Karma Caitlin Goddard

“Do you believe in karma?” I was asked this question by a close friend a few weeks ago and was unsure how to answer. “Umm, yes, uh, no, wait what was the question again?” My friend rolled her eyes at me and I can’t say I blame her. The only concept of karma I knew was what I picked up from suffering through a few episodes of My Name is Earl. Do good stuff, and good stuff will happen to you, right? Well apparently, karma is a little bit more complicated than that. gives the following definition for the concept of karma: “For every event that occurs, there will follow another event whose existence was caused by the first and this second event will be pleasant or unpleasant according to whether its cause was beneficial or harmful to others or oneself.” So in simple terms, what goes around comes around. You reap what you sow. Karma comes from the Sanskrit word ‘karman,’ which means to act. It was originally prominent in Eastern religions such as Buddhism, Hinduism, and Sikhism. There are a number of notable differences in the way each of these religions views the concept of karma, however. Hindus believe the concept that good deeds create good karma and bad deeds create negative karma. The soul of the Hindu is trapped in a circle of birth and rebirth through the process of reincarnation. Hindus focus on creating good karma in each lifetime, in the hope their next lifetime will be more enjoyable or more successful. The ultimate goal of Hinduism is to achieve ‘moksha,’ or the end of reincarnation.

In contrast, Buddhists collect good karma throughout their lifetime (in the same way good deeds equal good karma and vice versa) and this is transferrable throughout their many reincarnations. The ultimate goal of a Buddhist is to achieve Nirvana by becoming passive throughout their reincarnations and following the eightfold path, a number of attributes which leads to Buddhists eventually understanding the truth of all things. Phew, well that was an awful lot to understand! Whilst learning more about Eastern religions is something interesting and fresh I’m still puzzled as to why and how the concept of karma has become so popular and somewhat entrenched within Western society. Not only is there a US TV show based on the idea, John Lennon wrote and released a song entitled “Instant Karma” in the 1970s and soccer coach Glenn Hoddle even lost his job in 1990 for making what were classed as derogatory comments about the concept of karma and reincarnation in relation to disabled people. Karma is even popular in the world of funky kid’s names. Karma appeared to be introduced to Western society by the Theosophical Society, which was founded in the US in the 1800s. Today the Theosophical Society defines karma as, “The Ultimate Law of the Universe, the source, origin and fount of all other laws which exist throughout Nature. Karma is the unerring law which adjusts effect to cause, on the physical, mental and spiritual planes of being.” Once again, that is some deep information to interpret. In my own way I see it as the basis of the cause and effect theory that many of us nowadays relate to the idea of karma. What happens in life, whether good or bad, will be balanced out in the future.

GROK #1 2013

GROK#1_2013.indd 15

Although I now know the meaning and origins of karma, whilst researching I was drawn to the thought that maybe the form of karma we tend to believe in now isn’t as positive as its Buddhist and Hindu counterparts.

Often when we hear the term karma it is within a negative context or has negative connotations, for example, “Don’t worry about it; karma will get them.” During my research, I found a forum contributor who feared that many people now speak of karma in a sense of revenge or glee that others will have misfortune fall upon them.

So is karma a good or a bad force? I think this a decision that everybody will make on their own. Do we have a run in with a stranger and maliciously hope that some misfortune befalls them later in the day? Or do we commit to being the best we can be and help others without expecting gratitude or payment? Personally I am guilty of thinking about both of these options, though I now know which one I will try harder to follow. I will finish with my new definition of karma from Tolku Thondup:

“Karma isn’t fate. Nor is it a punishment imposed on us by some external agent. We create our own karma. Karma is the result of the choices that we make every moment of every day.”


19/02/2013 2:11:50 AM

Be my Friend? Storm Crow

Not many of us realise that circles surround us in our everyday lives. Whether they’re apparent in our speech (as in to “go around in circles”), recognised globally as symbols for various organisations and events, or simply used in our classes for graphic examples, we define the shape in many different ways and regularly use its many meanings. That said, initially the idea of writing about circles seemed mundane and lacking in depth. I was only on day two of my research when I asked myself, “What the heck is so special about circles anyway?!” First I found a bunch of jargon about circumferences – I took a deep breath, because I was in it for the long haul, and I’m no mathematics enthusiast. After a few hours of browsing, I realised that from a social standpoint, the common undertone of the circle is so much more complex than I had originally thought. In turn I identified that a circle’s main objective when used here is to bring a sense of infinitive inclusion; in this case to bring everyone together in creating a sense of collective acceptance. Therefore the idea of a social circle is one way of interpreting such an ambiguous subject. This type of circle can be examined in the way of stereotypical standards which we must adhere to, in order to maintain a level of acceptance within a particular group. For you new Humanities kids out there, Making Meanings 103 actually taught me a lot – surprisingly! Society can be easily understood through structures, and it is within these

structures that multiple social circles can exist. They consist of leaders and followers - as primitive as that is, it’s true. I mean, who would want to defy the gorgeous Christian Grey? This dynamic implies that we are subservient and captivated by an admired superior, and so would rather walk in their shadow. This view not only obscures our ability to be unique and to express our own individuality, but also ensures that we follow who or what deems us fit to become part of certain circles. When looking at a paradigm of society, we can infer that those who are part of social circles will often follow the patterns and trends set by those circles’ leaders - either those from within the group, or popular figures. You could pretty much say that Britney Spears was my idol for the greater part of my teenage years and that Justin Timberlake was like my secret boyfriend. This somewhat suggests a hidden normality in the way we live our lives – often identified by spending time with people who like the same things, doing the same activities and talking about the same topics. (How unoriginal!) We all know that the first few days in a new environment are the fundamental backbone in securing our respective social futures. It is here that we are introduced to a new array of social circles - where every part of ourselves is presented for judgement. It is our hair colour, interest in music, our future endeavours, and career pathways that determine where we will be and who we will be associated with in life. The standards of a social circle are obscured to those outside it, so, like everybody else in society, we are to spin the dial and basically hope for the best. For you first year uni students, I bet it was only twelve months ago that you were dreaming up a life where you went on wild and crazy nights

GROK #1 2013

GROK#1_2013.indd 16

with new, interesting, out-there friends. Yes, that’s right, high school is now officially over and the big bad world is (according to the ‘pep’ talks given by your parents) finally at your feet. In high school you were thrown into a pool of kids who were of similar age and ability, and you would inevitably all become a part of one big circle. Oh, I remember the days when it was cool to call each other ‘BFF’s.’ You all advocated the Roxy or Billabong school bags and sported the infamous Volleys together, but now it’s a whole different ball game. University is a sanctuary where you will spend the next three to five years of your life, furthering yourself in a career which will require your blood, sweat and tears. (If Elle Woods could do it, so can you.) And sadly, it’s a Friday night and your friends ditched you at the last minute to work on their assignments (it’s okay, you can admit it, you’re lost and bored without them), and you’re home with your cat watching re-runs of the same Grey’s Anatomy episodes you saw the night before. There’s cold lasagne in the fridge with your name on it (which your mom cooked for you). HOW EXCITING! I’m guessing that right about now, you’re glaring at this very page astounded? Yes – we’ve all been there before (unfortunately)... I’m also betting that this isn’t the way you though the first year of university would go. This safe haven is a place where some of the students are older, wiser, and more experienced, and undeniably you feel like a small fish in a big pond. But on the bright side, you no longer have to worry about bullies, mean girls and the treacherous pranks which encompassed your teens (I could have sworn my life was a series of Glee episodes). But by now we have all learnt that having a social


19/02/2013 2:11:50 AM

circle is important and making friends, as we know, takes time, effort, and trust. The criterion dictated within these circles is evidently affected by the standards which popular figures create, with the likes of the Jersey Shore cast and their drunken antics, as well as Lindsey Lohan and her rebellious behaviour with drugs being reported on

platforms every day. We are subconsciously being influenced at a crucial time in our lives when some of us are still searching for our identity, self esteem, and/or social image. This leads us to challenge whether we are likeable enough to be accepted into these circles by the peers we spend the majority of our lives with because we do not mirror these images.



For students, whether in primary, secondary, or tertiary education, it is apparent that we are to check boxes if we wish to be a part of a social circle. We often doubt our own judgement and ask ourselves, “Am I pretty enough? Do I listen to the right music genre? Do I wear shorts that show my entire backside?” (You know who you are). All of these things cause us to mould ourselves as individuals. And if we do not make the standards needed for these groups, where do we fit in? Are we destined to spend the rest of our social lives both at uni and in the big bad world, in circles which cling to the outer margins of our (so called ‘accepting’) culture?

Ciao for now

More often than not, a large portion of students are plagued by those awkward and numbing thoughts in their first lecture (“Should I introduce myself first?”) – I know I was! Or even “Will she think my poster obsession of One Direction and Justin Bieber is juvenile and pathetic?” as my (now) friend once asked me. Maybe the fact that you still watch Dragon Ball Z on Sunday mornings with your ten year old brother worries you – will they think you’re cool enough? And this panic occurs in a space of thirty seconds, while a young girl sits beside you, blissfully unaware of all those crazy thoughts which are circling in that head of yours. But finally, you pluck up the courage to muffle a small hello, followed by a quick smile – and afterwards you ask yourself “What was so hard about that?” Oh, just about

GROK #1 2013

GROK#1_2013.indd 17


19/02/2013 2:11:54 AM

GROK #1 2013

GROK#1_2013.indd 18


19/02/2013 2:11:57 AM

There was a time when working out involved going for a run, lifting a few weights, and maybe even doing a bit of aerobics (if you were feeling adventurous). Nowadays it seems like there’s a new exercising craze every week. In a world where more than twelve million people practice Zumba and someone can find a Krav Maga instructor with relative ease, I thought it impossible to be surprised by what people are doing to stay fit. I was wrong. Shannie Skrzypkowiak has been ‘hooping’ for six years, and now runs workshops through her company, Soul Hula. She was inspired to

Hooping itself seems to have a number of subcultures within it. Renee has been hooping professionally for four years after spending eight months training with the China National Acrobatic Troupe, where her hooping skills were more tailored for use in a circus. “There’s a whole bunch of different hula hooping styles around the world. I’m Chinese and French trained, but there’s a whole different movement that is more towards the contact juggling style. There’s also the fire contingent as well and then of course you’ve got the high level rhythmic gymnastics, which is not so much twirling but more throwing and catching.” Hooping can trace its origins back to Ancient Egypt, where children would play with hoops made out of grape vines. In fact, a wide variety of cultures spread throughout the world played with hoops. The phrase “hula hooping”

able to share information and share videos via YouTube is how the new trend grew. People can be students, teachers and facilitators at the same time.” “The old hooping was born out of a capitalist idea, whereas the new hooping you don’t need to go to a school to learn it. You also don’t need to pay a lot of money to do it.” So why hooping? What does it offer its participants that a martial art or a prop free dance class doesn’t? Shannie’s workshops aim to “get people into hula hooping and having fun through getting fit. It’s almost like a self-fulfilling prophecy, if you look good, you feel good, and if you feel good you look good.” “The fact that you can spin a Hula Hoop anywhere means that it’s kind of like swimming, it can exercise any part of your body. You can do things like have the hula

An Introduction to Hooping Ciaran Johns

take up the sport at a burlesque show: “I went to a burlesque circus show and this woman walks on stage and she’s got sparkly hot pants and huge stilettos and then she started hula hooping, and I thought ‘Oh my God, I have to learn to do that!’” “I then found a class and started teaching myself via YouTube.” YouTube, it seems, is a perfect place to research the phenomenon. The site is filled with burlesque videos in which hooping is a common activity. Renee Pilkington, also known as Gail Force, works with Sugar Blue Burlesque by teaching her pupils how to hoop. She says, “It’s still quite a modern addition to burlesque. Burlesque is a strip tease, but not everyone wants to take their clothes off. Some people are more athletic or are much more comfortable doing other things and hula hooping is just a good extension and addition to that.”

comes from the traditional hula dancing carried out by the Hawaiians. Furthermore, hooping played a very important role in Native American culture, where hoops were used for storytelling. In the late fifties, Hula Hoops became heavily marketed throughout the western world, with over twenty-five million hoops sold in four months and competitions being held to test people’s hooping ability. Today, hoops are constructed in a way that suits the user’s needs, meaning they vary in terms of weight and material. For example, a heavy plastic hoop is best suited for fitness while cane and metal hoops can be used for show. According to Shannie, the resurgence of hooping in the twenty-first century can be put down to a number of different reasons, but maintains that the internet is a major cause: “The birth of the internet and being

GROK #1 2013

GROK#1_2013.indd 19

hoop go around your waist and put your hands above your head and that really exercises your core. You can also lie on your back and have the hula hoop going around your foot, so you it exercises your legs and your bum and your stomach.” In the last six years, the hooping scene in Perth has grown, and workshops like Shannie and Renee’s are bringing it into the mainstream once again. Will it prove to be as popular as Yoga or Zumba? No one knows. One thing is for certain though: the hooping community in Perth is a growing social circle.

For more information on Shannie’s workshops, visit her website For more information on Renee’s Workshops, visit her website and


19/02/2013 2:12:00 AM

The Mystery of Male Nipples Jon Solmundson

I love people watching. Judging somebody’s entire life based on a brief glance is a great and guilty pleasure of mine. I do this particularly

defensively when in clothing stores with my female friends, and somehow that one situation puts me right into full douchebag mode. I instantly start comparing myself to the other guys standing around awkwardly, and analyse their relationships. It’s in one of these situations that I notice a man with a particularly tight, thin shirt. It happens to be an extremely cold day. You do the math. I make a remark to my friend, who’s otherwise occupied with a rack of dresses. She takes a quick look over her shoulder and shrugs. “All guys have nipples.” This single absent-minded comment blows my mind wide open. Go on, take a minute to think about it. Why do men have nipples? No, really. Why? I like to consider myself a rather curious person, so it’s with some shame that I admit I never asked. That’s just the way things are. All people have nipples, just like all people have noses that point outwards or eyelids that close along a horizontal line. But I can hardly believe it, thinking about it now, because it just doesn’t make any sense. Males and females have a rather different set of equipment from the moment they’re born, but for tens of thousands of years nature has seen fit to deliver baby boys with nipples. That just seems like a catastrophically bad idea. If you’ll let me indulge in sensationalism ripped straight from the minds behind A Current Affair, I’d like to make a point. While markedly less common than in females, males can develop breast cancer. Although seemingly useless, man-tits are potentially deadly. It’s a bit like the appendix, or most of Australia’s landmass. So in horses, mice, and a selection of other mammals, the males dodge the burden of breasts completely, but why not humans? I did a little poking around, and the answer is even more confounding.

GROK #1 2013

GROK#1_2013.indd 20


19/02/2013 2:12:00 AM

To put it simply, we develop nipples before our cells have even decided to start making a male or female. They are so absolutely essential to reproductive success that evolution seems to have taken a ‘why not?’ approach. But it’s not just ‘why not pop some bits on everyone’s chest?’ it’s ‘why not let everyone lactate?’ The master of evolution himself, Charles Darwin, noted early humans probably encouraged both genders to breastfeed. The Descent of Man reads: “Long after the progenitors of the whole mammalian class had ceased to be androgynous, both sexes yielded milk, and thus nourished their young.”

a month of intensive nipple stimulation.” Juvenile humour aside, that particular detail is rather surprising. The way it works is to do with chemical response to the presence of a newborn near the breast, but it boils down to a simple truth. If you attempt to suckle a baby, at some point your body will make you able to. It doesn’t care whether you’re a man or a woman. If the baby needs milk, you’re going to deliver. Tales of this occurrence are all over the place, but Mr. Wijeratne’s takes the cake. The 38 year old Sri Lankan man tragically lost his wife through birth complications, but that left him alone with two infant daughters and no mother to feed them. For months he suckled both daughters, who remained healthy on his milk. And you can take a look for yourself, but he’s not exactly sporting a hefty pair of knockers.

If the magazines that litter the hairdresser’s reading table are any standard to judge by, breastfeeding appears to be a constant touchstone for social debate. Is it appropriate in public? To what age should it be encouraged? To what age tolerated? Is it necessary for a child’s psychological development? But nobody asks, “Why don’t we get men to do it?” Probably because they don’t realise men can. Of course there’s the slightly more unusual ways men can lactate. Witch’s Milk is a phenomenon that occurs when a newborn receives milk producing proteins during childbirth. It’s not enough to do any major damage, but it’s enough to make them dribble milk all over themselves for the next four weeks.

But more interesting than all these oddities of male lactation is the implication they have on how we understand people. Human society - Western society in particular is fundamentally patriarchal. Men are the ruling class. You can applaud the merits of growing gender equality all you want - and there’s no doubt it’s getting better - but to deny the separation of the sexes is beyond ignorant.

The even more awkward spontaneous lactation can occur in older men when they are subjected to extreme stress or starvation. The hormones get funny, testosterone levels fall and the body suddenly decides it’s time to be a real woman. Unfortunately the 55 year old man still has a penis and ends up more confused and ashamed than fulfilled as a mother.

Look at the English language: mankind will leave his mark on the world. Look at our creation myths: Eve was taken from the rib of Adam. It was internationally newsworthy that Australia elected a female Prime Minister, no matter her actual political value. Much of our society revolves around male as the naturally superior, the norm, the ‘default,’ and female as the other.

Then there’s induced male breastfeeding. In a rare moment for Wikipedia, the information is both hilarious and true: “Many men have been known to breastfeed their young after

And yet the nipples tell a very different story. Just a couple of little circles on the chest, but the only reason men have them is because they get them before their cells decide that

GROK #1 2013

GROK#1_2013.indd 21

they are male. Milk lines and breasts are not just a part of the female anatomy, but a part of the human anatomy. By birth we default to female, and then the hormones take over a bit later. Let me leave you with another anecdote. I was having a discussion with a group of friends about the way sport is covered. Unless you live under a rock in the Mariana Trench, you may have noticed that men’s sport receives a bit more air time than women’s. The few men I’ve ever heard argue that this should change were doing so for the promotion of beach volleyball, and I somehow doubt their intentions were entirely noble. Regardless, this discussion sparked a raging battle of the sexes. All of a sudden the (normally socially progressive) guys were screaming that women weren’t as physically capable, that men were just made superior athletes. The girls swung their own banner, retorting with insults and accusations regarding the mental capacity of the opposite sex. I really haven’t seen anything like it since primary school. But I do wonder what those guys would think had they known that - according to their nipples at least - they all started developing as women. Maybe a spot of breastfeeding would’ve awakened them to a little more compassion.


19/02/2013 2:12:01 AM

GROK #1 2013

GROK#1_2013.indd 22


19/02/2013 2:12:04 AM

Ghetto Hoops and Nike A try-hard’s guide to being the best baller you can be Athina Mallis

Sick and tired of being disrespected by troublesome street youths? Worn out by last season’s rags? Want to be seen looking like you have riches (even though we all know it’s a lie)? Then fear no longer,

fellow desperate non-baller, because here are the best tips from a straight out try-hard on how to be the best baller ever! For those who don’t know what a baller is, it can be one of two things: a basketball player, or, more prominently, a really cool, hip person associated with the ‘gangster’ and ‘swag’ lifestyle. And just a little heads up: Yolo is not accepted, ever. First things first, get some kicking kicks. The look begins from the ground up so you better get your ass down to the nearest shoe store and buy yourself some Air Jordans. Ballers do not wear Globe, Etnies, or surf brands. Wear them and you may as well have bought a skateboard and a flexifit to match. No cool kicks = no respect from fellow ballers. It’s as simple as that. The ballers of the world have a certain language and they use this to communicate with everyone, baller and non-baller. So if you aren’t lucky enough to be born with the baller genes then you will have no clue what they are saying. Phrases like “swag,” “thug lyf,” “dollar dollar bills,” and “gangsta” are commonly used amongst the ballers of society. If you don’t know what they are saying please don’t try to speak to them. They have no time for tomfoolery. Regardless of whether you’re a girl or boy baller you must have some sort of bling to go with your baller lifestyle. I’m not talking about a simple bracelet or a pair of gold studs - only non-ballers wear that kind of boring

crap. Ballers like to make statements through everything they wear, therefore baller jewellery must be big, bold and beautiful. So think of a few chunky gold chains with some dollar signs hanging off them, and maybe a marijuana leaf if you feel you want to connect with Wiz or Snoop. Rings of a baller are massive, gold, and studded with diamantes for extra class. They cover more than one finger and most of them are engraved with deep, inspirational statements such as “thug life” or “big money.” And ladies, the only earrings you can wear are gold ghetto hoops, the bigger, the better. If they have your name in running writing from one end to the other of the hoop, consider yourself one classy baller. Boys, earrings are diamond studs, and again, the bigger they are, the better.

Here is a little tip for the baller ladies: get a booty and show it off. The baller boys will eat that up. Literally. A soundtrack for ballers normally consists of ghetto beats from the masters such as Jay-Z, Kanye, Pusha-T, Kid Cudi, 2pac and Kendrick Lamar. T-pain and Jay Sean don’t ball hard enough, so play them and you will get criticised. One last piece of advice: try to have a basketball singlet ready on the go in case a spontaneous game of b-ball arises and you don’t want to dirty your brand new threads. Also, knowledge of players past and present is handy. Just knowing the names Kobe and Jordan will not get you anywhere. Trust me. I hope you wannabe ballers find this article really helpful and I’ll probably see y’all around the crib soon, my homie-g’s. Peace owt. Athdawg.

GROK #1 2013

GROK#1_2013.indd 23


19/02/2013 2:12:07 AM

And just like that, i was back at the start; my washing was clean and I was raring to go. GROK #1 2013

GROK#1_2013.indd 24



19/02/2013 2:12:10 AM

Travelling recently, my clothes needed a wash. I guess most people would see this as a chore - boring, a bit of a hassle. Me? I jumped at the chance to sit in a laundromat for an hour or more. There’s something about the process of it: a weird meditative state which I acquired during the cycle. As I watched various pieces of clothing fall while listening to the occasional tinkle caused by the button of my jeans, I began to feel calm. I liked the way the washing moved, the way it went around in circles. It was as if I was sitting in transit, arriving at a new beginning and it comforted me. The “end” light flashed, signalling my washing had finished. It was then that I realised another year was also coming to an end.

washing my clothes. I’m forced to sit and be happy. Ironically, it is in these moments where I feel I have broken We are shooting forward, racing to a target. We divulge in what the most ground, as if change grew isn’t up to scratch, what needs to be changed and what’s below from contentment. par in our lives. This seems to be our pattern and cycle. Often

holidays approach, they too are hidden away, listing their latest goals and aspirations.

though, despite these lucid dreams, we move in circles, riding a continuous merry-go-round, seeing the same sights, making the same mistakes, never changing what we want to change. We are blinded by this state of anticipation, waiting for the magical time where it all “begins.”

And just like that, i was back at the start; my washing was clean and I was raring to go.

In reality, a new start is never as easy as the end of a washing cycle. It doesn’t just happen overnight: it takes time, strength, circumstances, and preparation. It works in ways we are unaware of. This disappoints us - we want it now, and when it doesn’t come we subconsciously become complacent, accepting the pattern of our lives, circular and looping.

New beginnings are attractive because they promise things. They seduce us by pulling us towards our actual self, possibly affirming all that is positive in the world. As humans we like a starting line, a moment where we hear “Ready, set, go!” and that’s where it all begins. Even the biggest pessimists are drawn to renewal. As their much-resented grand

There seem to be two ways of being: endless repetition entangled with previous mistakes, or this far-fetched idea of a “new beginning” where everything should be different instantly. There is no middle ground, where now is ok, not perfect, but ok. I rarely hear anyone claim how happy they are right now, at this precise moment. Maybe this is why I find solace

GROK #1 2013

GROK#1_2013.indd 25

While riding this merr y-go-round, I realize there isn’t an easy way of getting off my familiar rusted horse and onto a new bedazzled one. The elusive “new me” is just that: elusive. I know there are things about myself I cannot change instantly and knowing this serves me well. I can reflect and change in due time, no “starting line,” just a continual merry-go-round; reflecting, improving, reflecting, improving, reflecting and improving. There is comfort in repetition and endearment in new beginnings, but to push the somewhat ill fitting metaphor of the laundry mat, my clothes may have been cleaned but they were still mine, old and familiar. Maybe that’s why I enjoy the laundry mat so much: it forces me to be at peace with the process, not just the result. And that’s really nice.


19/02/2013 2:12:10 AM

GROK #1 2013

GROK#1_2013.indd 26


19/02/2013 2:12:13 AM

Earthlings, I come in peace. For years I’ve been researching you and your home planet, and I’ve found something strange about the patterns of nature: everything is based on circles. Of all shapes, what is so special about this one? What is so wrong about the hendecagon? Apparently, your scientists have the answers. “Science” is a strange word, but whatever it is, it claims to prove the majority of the earth’s weather phenomena are controlled by the orbit and rotation of Earth. Cyclones, or hurricanes, rotate in a circular pattern. The inner spiralling winds flowing toward an area of low pressure rotate in different directions depending on their location. Centrifugal forces, caused by the earth’s rotation, cause the air to flow counter-clockwise in the northern hemisphere and clockwise in the southern hemisphere. Tornadoes are columns of air which rotate violently and pick up dirt and debris. To be identified as a tornado, the column of air must have contact with both the surface of the earth and the base of cloud cover. Like the cyclone, the spinning vortex of a tornado spins in response to the rotating air inside a storm front. However, the majority of the storm fronts that spawn tornadoes are too small to have their direction determined by the centrifugal forces of the earth’s rotation. Whirlpools are swirling bodies of water produced by the meeting of opposing currents. As water is pulled downward into the opening, water particles fight for the smaller space and push each other around. In a perfectly shaped funnel, this wouldn’t actually cause the water to spin. In nature,

GROK #1 2013

GROK#1_2013.indd 27

however, there are inconsistently shaped rocks and intrusions that cause the water to spin as it is forced away from the objects. And again, centrifugal force still plays a role in the direction of the spinning. But there is so much more circular phenomena that centrifugal force cannot explain. Why do goldfish swim in circles, even if their tank is rectangular? Why do dogs spin in circles chasing their tails? Why are many humans obsessed with events which consist of spherical objects being thrown or kicked around? You earth minions hold circles in such high regard. Gears and cogs rotate, operating machinery. Records and CDs spin in their players. There are mathematicians obsessed with radius, circumference, and the dreadful incalculable Pi. Circles symbolise unity and married couples wear wedding rings to symbolise their everlasting love. The letter ‘O.’ The Knights of the Round Table (didn’t they know that rectangular tables are much more functional and space-efficient?). Let’s not forget the ancient Mayans - while their 2012 prophecy was wrong, there’s no denying their calendar was round. Damn your obsession with circles - my brain hurts. There’s too much rotation here. I’m going to leave a crop circle on the first empty field I see (as a joke - my ship is a cube, obviously), before I leave in search of a solar system or a planet that is not so circular. Hopefully I’ll find a place with some sensible shapes.

Peace out,

Alien from another planet.


19/02/2013 2:12:16 AM

Nostradamus’s Underserved Internet Fame and Other Things that Totally Spell Doom for all of us Scott Donaldson

Michel de Nostredame, AKA Nostradamus, was an absolute boss. Throughout his 62 years, spanning between 1503 and 1566, the Frenchman got up in everybody’s grills with all sorts of thoroughly awesome prophecies about the end of the world, the most kickass of which were published in his book Les Propheties (the meaning of the title has, unfortunately, been lost in time). So this big Mayan calendar doomsday thing happened last year, and the internet, being the fragile post-breakup fifteen-year-old that it is, went batshit crazy over one of Nosty’s many prophecies after someone posted it to Reddit. It went like this:

else: if you make a thousand attempts to do something that’s really really really difficult (like get up before 10am or not think about going postal most of the time), you’re bound to be successful at least once. Just like Nostradamus and his totally obviously completely bullshit predictions. But it was so hard to resist. It was so cool, the quote. It fit perfectly - Korea, Gangnam Style, Youtube hits – it was the most poetic unpoetic thing ever. And even though I (try) to go for science over spirituality at all times, it was impossible not to check out Youtube every day for two weeks, waiting for the numbers to tick over and the world to end. And then it turned out that the Nostradamus quote was (quite probably) fake. Not because the world didn’t actually end, but because the original image that contained said quote cited the year of prophecy to be 1503 - when Nostradamus was less than a year old. So this means that one of the following was true: Nostradamus was a damn talented writer, the person who made the image got the date wrong, or, far more likely, it was just a hoax to get people like me to take the whole “ARMAGEDDON 2012 OMG” thing seriously.

“From the calm morning, the end will come, When of the dancing horse, the number of circles will be 9.” According to the web community, the first line was a reference to Korea, which is (apparently, thanks Wikipedia) known as ‘The Land of the Morning Calm.’ The term “Dancing horse” referred to little-known Korean pop singer Psy and his horse-riding-like dance move and its associated single, “Gangnam Style.” And at the time the quote was posted, the “Gangnam Style” music video on YouTube was well on its way to one billion views - a number with nine zeroes, or, depending on how much you care about semantics, nine circles. Like most, my jaw dropped and I dived headfirst into the viral machine, spreading the prophecy and its utterly obvious interpretation to whoever would listen. However. Most of Nostradamus’s prophecies are incredibly vague and/or tenuous, and he wrote so many of them that any sort of genuine link that can be found after five-hundred years of their being published must be - for anybody who prefers astronomy to astrology - moreor-less coincidental. It’s just like anything

But here’s the thing. Why would us forwardthinking future people take something of such BS so incredibly seriously? Nostradamus was a pretty good poet, I’ll give him that, but there’s nothing to suggest he – or anybody in the history of absolutely anything at all ever – had the capacity to accurately predict the future. So therefore, when it came out that the internet thing was “fake,” what difference did it actually make? The prophecy remained the same, only the context changed, and both contexts mean jack all because, as mentioned, it was all arse to begin with. And but so the point is we survived 2012 in spectacular fashion. Psy got his billion views, my Christmas was at least above average (Hot Fuzz on blu-ray and socks), and Wreck-It Ralph happened. But we’re not out of the fire yet. Here’s just a sample of some of the real, non-Gangnamrelated ways that humanity might meet its demise, prophecy or no prophecy: GROK #1 2013

GROK#1_2013.indd 28

Population decline:

Folks in developed nations (and Australia) are having less kids and buying more stuff. If these trends remain the same, we’ll be extinct in just under a thousand years. And believe it or not, there are people out there who are doing all they can to make this happen. The Voluntary Human Extinction Movement is made up of environmentalists who are calling for the rest of us to abstain from reproduction as a means to lessen and eventually end mankind’s impact on plants and shit. Just buy Hybrids, gawd.

First Contact:

Thanks to E.T, many romanticise the idea of being visited by extraterrestrial beings. But there are some, including myself, who don’t see things going down in typical Spielbergian fashion. Remember when you saw an ant for the first time? You didn’t try to open up a dialogue with the thing or offer it some cake - you just stepped on it, with glee. So imagine a race of beings who are infinitely more advanced than us arriving on Earth to be greeted by a bunch of stupid idiots who don’t even speak blurhtgdd. That’s right: splat.

Supervolcano: This one’s pretty selfexplanatory. And awesome.

But perhaps the most likely of all the possible extinction situations that I’m totally not looking at on Wikipedia right now is that we might die simply due to evolving into dumber beings. There’s a possibility that we may literally reach a point in our development wherein we cannot look after ourselves - and it’s something that doesn’t seem too farfetched, given humanity’s newfound obsession with constant entertainment and consumption. And what’s funny is that Nostradamus wrote a thing about it:

“From the placid mid-evening, the end will come When after the shamed man in yellow the number of people watching Nikki Minaj and Mariah Carey have a fake television fight will be greater than the population of the Netherlands and many other European nations, some of which will surprise and/or depress you.”


19/02/2013 2:12:17 AM

“From the calm morning, the end will come, When of the dancing horse, the number of circles will be 9.” GROK #1 2013

GROK#1_2013.indd 29


19/02/2013 2:12:20 AM

GROK #1 2013

GROK#1_2013.indd 30


19/02/2013 2:12:20 AM

A Slice of Pi

Some thoughts on circles and food Belinda Teh

All this deep and meaningful talk about circles and circular objects and what they mean is all very fascinating. The orbit of planets,

divine symmetry, crop circles, hula hoops, tambourines – plainly, these are things that the average educated person should be aware of.

But shift the focus to food, and one can see that circles have a much more immediate, tangible effect upon our lives. This is namely: what, how, and with whom we eat. However, the most obvious argument that springs up is that food of a circular shape can easily be made into any other shape, like a square or a rectangle. Although there are merits to this point of view, there is much to be said about how circles have the capacity to influence our eating habits in a way that other shapes and figures do not. Circles inherently import the notion of sharing, which is the very thing that makes eating such an enjoyable and sociable experience. Circular foods like pizza, pumpkin pie, birthday cake – these are all foods that are meant to be shared. The instinctive thing to do when presented with one of the above foods and a knife is to cut it from the centre to the perimeter, in equal parts. The perfect symmetry of a circle means that it is the easiest shape to divide into identical and accurate portions. Circular foods are meant to be placed in the centre of a table during a gathering to celebrate something, whether it be a birthday, Thanksgiving, or just a simple family gathering. And if none of those pansy examples relate to you, then just think of the way people share a state of progressive intoxication when playing Circle of Death. ‘Nuff said.

In addition, circular food is also easier to cook. In particular, one will often find that the most simple, quintessential food of each culture is made with the hands, and is therefore often circular in shape. Cookie dough, for example, is just rolled into a ball, squished onto a baking tray, and, after baking, emerges as a flat disc of deliciousness. Gulab jamun, one of my favourite Indian desserts, is similarly rolled between the palms then placed into a deep fryer to cook. Shanghai dumpling skins are flattened, filled with meat and soup, and then pinched closed to make a little sphere. With these traditional foods, there are no knives required to cut the food into other shapes – circles naturally arise, as they are the easiest shape to form with human hands. And even foods that start off as liquids, such pancakes and eggs, become circles thanks to gravity. When one cooks with circles, not only is it easier, but it also minimizes waste, as there are no leftover bits to throw away. And most importantly, because less preparation is required, less time is spent cooking and more time may be spent stuffing oneself with food, glorious food. There is one other significant way that circles are present here: at the table. In large restaurants - particularly Chinese restaurants - the biggest tables are always circular. The circular shape of a table better facilitates eating in a group. Traditionally, for the Chinese, a large pot of food would be cooked and shared amongst a group who would gather around it to eat together. This developed into the Chinese culture of sharing food in a group or a family, and this concept was transferred to a table setting. In most Chinese restaurants, sharing is also facilitated by a ‘Lazy Susan’

GROK #1 2013

GROK#1_2013.indd 31

(worst name for a piece of furniture I have ever heard), which is used to rotate dishes around the table. On a rectangular table, more prominent in Western cultures, there will be somebody sitting at the “head” of the table, which historically imported a form of hierarchy and status. Nowadays, circular tables are found in homes and restaurants of all cultures.

To share food with others is one of life’s greatest pleasures. And circles, in their own subtle way, allow us to do that with maximum effectiveness. This gives us more time and energy to focus on what really counts: enjoying good food in the company of the people around us.


19/02/2013 2:12:21 AM

It’s not often that one ponders life’s great questions, like “Who are we?” “Where are we from?” and my personal favourite, “Where are we going?” But

when we do, it’s quite easy to see life sliding into perspective; and yes, it can seem as if we’re insignificant beings on an insignificant blue ball, part of an insignificant solar system. We’ve progressed at a truly mind-boggling rate over the past century; even the change over the last decade is unfathomable. Yet, for all this progress, we haven’t cemented any notion of a place in the universe. We’ll start with the easiest ones, “Who are we?” and “Where are we from?” Well, all religious zeal aside, my version of the mostly accepted definition of the origin of life can be understood as ‘complex genetic mutations from simple organisms over countless years of natural selection.’ But don’t let me put you down; we Homo sapiens are entirely exceptional beings and the only forms of intelligent life that seem to exist in the known universe! But that doesn’t mean we aren’t alone, because you just can’t ignore the billions of galaxies containing hundreds of billions of stars and unthinkable numbers of planets right above our heads. The possibility of life beyond Earth cannot be ruled out. The unknown universe provides a blank canvas for both sceptics and the most tenacious theoretical physicists. The possibility of life outside of Earth is widely accepted to be a reality, at least on a hypothetical basis,

GROK #1 2013

GROK#1_2013.indd 32

considering the vast array of potentially habitable planets. Titan for example, Saturn’s largest moon, is a vast ball of ice which is not vastly dissimilar to Earth, with its dense atmosphere, stable bodies of liquid and volcano equivalents that wouldn’t seem too out of place on our home planet. Titan could conceivably sustain a form of life, although it would be a life inconceivably different from anything known to man. The fact remains: as far as composition goes, the chance of a planet sharing even more Earth-like characteristics than Titan seems excruciatingly likely. Nonetheless, the likelihood of an everadvancing world similar to our own remains remote. Popular cosmologist Carl Sagan dedicated much of his life investigating such possibilities, estimating the prospect of no more than six other intelligent civilizations with the technology to simply broadcast a message through the cosmos ever existing, and even less with the technology to travel across it. At present, the prospect of bumping into another species seems very slim. Theoretical Physicist Michio Kaku’s recent and wellpublicized observations through the use of the Kardeshev scale of civilization classification may shed some light onto the reasons why we’ve not heard anything from anyone or anything. (Aside from a spike in UFO sightings over the past two-or-so decades. For that, only The X-Files is to blame.) The Kardeshev scale breaks up the classification of civilizations into easily digestible categories: Type 0, Type I, Type II,


19/02/2013 2:12:22 AM

Type III and Type IV/Type V+ (meaning ‘TypeFour’ and ‘Type-Five & Beyond’). We as the human race are working our way towards the top end of the Type 0 civilization classification. We get the majority of our fuel through burning dead plants and prehistoric fish remains, we’re at constant war with ourselves over seemingly insignificant quarrels, and we’re destroying our environment day-by-day to boot, but our technology is advancing at an incredible rate.

Type I

civilization has evolved to a point A wherein it is able to harness all of the resources on the planet and contains a unified populace with no place for fundamentalist beliefs. Type I civilizations embrace interplanetary exploration within their solar system. Humans could potentially reach typeone status within as little as a one hundred year timeframe; it is only conflict of religion, unstable world economies and our inability to pursue sustainable energy alternatives that are holding us back.

Type II

civilizations utilize resources throughout their solar system and are able to explore and colonize outside of their resident solar system. We could potentially reach this stage within the next one thousand years.

Type III

civilizations could have access and control over multiple galaxies, and are able to harness the power of black holes. This status could be attainable between ten thousand and one hundred thousand years. Civilizations above the Type IV classification have the potential to explore beyond the realms of the known universe, harvesting energy from multiple supernovae across and beyond the universe. A type IV+ civilization could take hundreds of thousands, if not millions of years to develop and would be completely indestructible. To put the Kardeshev scale into reasonable perspective of its own, the universe is around 13.75 billion years old; the human race reached a level of anatomical modernity a mere 200,000 years ago and have only had the technology and resources to explore even the local solar system for little more than fifty years. There is no reason to rule out the possibility that messages could have been broadcast right past Earth at some point throughout time.

Say for example that 150,000 years ago an advanced civilization broadcasted a message to our little blue ball, and humans in their infancy were simply not advanced enough to receive it, thus giving the inquisitive civilization no reason to visit. There are billions upon billions of planets just in our known universe. Why waste precious time on primordial desert dwellers on some obscure blue planet? I’m being hopelessly romantic. Difficulties arise when a civilization attempts the transition between Type 0 and Type I. The transition would entail full exploration of the periodic table, which can be conceived to be a constant throughout the universe. A developing civilization would eventually stumble upon Element 92, or as you and I may know it, Uranium. A developed understanding of Uranium allows the user to alter its chemical composition and reach the p o w e r f u l l y unstable form of Enriched Uranium. Enriched Uranium, when used in a controlled reaction in a power station, can grant years upon years of power. When an uncontrolled cluster of Enriched Uranium is allowed to react as fast as it wants to react, you end up with a Chernobyl disaster. When Uranium is constructed for the sole purpose of use as weaponry, it is named ‘Weapons Grade Highly Enriched Uranium,’ or the snappy ‘U-235’ for short. With U-235 the user has the power to destroy a continent misuse could easily destroy the fabric of the civilization that discovered it.

Although we made it through the Cold War by the skin of our teeth, the rising of Middle-Eastern powers can be conceived as something of a concern. Western world leaders take it upon themselves to act as the police of the world, bestowing the ideals and customs of home onto rightly begrudging nations. Islamic extremists are doing little to humour the positive intent of the USA. 9/11, regardless of what conspiracy prevails, rests on the shoulders of several Middle-Eastern powers and although the US losses do not put a scratch on the total number of civilian casualties of US funded conflicts throughout the region, for the Americans, the damage is done. Trust between the East and West may take lifetimes to rebuild, and if this is the case, the world will remain at arms for the foreseeable future. Us humans are tough old things, so it’s not all bad news. We’ve made it this far; all we need to do now is just look to the stars, and think of ourselves not as different creatures scattered around the world, but of one race - the human race. It’s a big goal, but it’s not entirely unreachable. For this to happen, we’d have to abandon all of the secular ideologies of outdated and close-minded religions and at least learn to co-exist and not be so goddamned egotistical. It’s a tall order, but time goes on. Maybe somewhere in the universe creatures are emerging from a primordial soup that will one day make it to a stage of intelligence that will allow them to exist peacefully across the galaxy. Maybe one day, we can achieve that kind of stature. If we fail, the relentless circle of life continues. But we’re the next generation. We have the power to change, the power to develop and the power to progress out into the cosmos. I can’t wait.

Reason tells us there has to have been life, unintelligent or intelligent, somewhere else in the universe. Even the Mars Rover is throwing up potential signs of life on a cellular level, and that’s just on our closest neighbour. Perhaps the reason why no civilization has developed enough to contact us, or indeed formed a Star Wars-esque interstellar Galactic Republic/Empire, is because no civilization has ever been able to cross the difficult threshold between Type 0 and Type I. We may even be the first intelligent life forms ever to reach the stage of a Type I civilization. We’ve

GROK #1 2013

GROK#1_2013.indd 33

already discovered Element 92, and ever since Enola Gay demonstrated the power of low-level nuclear weaponry, the world has been teetering upon the brink of annihilation. Einstein famously wrote: “I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.”

I’ll leave you with Shakespeare:

“It is not in the stars to hold our destiny, but in ourselves.” image left: Ashley Westwood


19/02/2013 2:12:22 AM

If there’s one real honest passion I still possess after having completed my undergrad degree, it’s flipping other drivers off for navigating roundabouts incorrectly. Going through these objectively simple intersections can be tricky for some people, I get it. But some people just haven’t achieved the evolutionary traits required for following simple instructions and not being total cretins. There are literally three steps to correctly using a roundabout, so if you can’t follow them, then fuck you. But also, here’s how to do it.

Entering the roundabout: This is the first and simplest stage of roundabouting. You’re driving along a straight or nearly straight road, and suddenly you see a red and white sign with what looks like the recycling symbol tacked on the front. There are cars driving in quarter, half, or three quarter revolutions around an island of untrimmed council lawn. You are about to be roundabouting. The panic sets in. You have three indicator positions (left, off, right), and there are three possible directions you can go (left, straight, right). This is all too much what do you do? Well for one, stop panicking, because I am about to learn you right in the brain-hole. If you are turning left, use that sweet-ass left indicator. How about right? Right. And if you’re going straight, you guessed it, do not touch anything - for now, leave that bad boy switched off. As you approach the roundabout, slow down to a reasonable speed. ‘Reasonable’ is a subjective term, but then again, so is cunt. If there is a vehicle approaching from your right, do not drive onto the roundabout. If there is not, let out that clutch and accelerate.

how halfway through your roundabouting experience, and can begin making mental preparations for its most difficult step.

Exiting the roundabout: Holy shit! Holy shit! Where do I put my hands?! Based on my observations, this is what I can only assume most people are thinking during the final stage of roundabouting. Take that shaking ham-fist and wipe the sweat off your forehead. This is simple. Follow this simple instruction, and it’s in the bag. As you approach your desired exit, you’ll notice you’re going to have to maneuver your vehicle left, by turning the front wheels left, by turning the

steering wheel left. So how do you think you might indicate? If you answered anything other than “left,” give your license to your sixteenyear-old brother so he can get into nightclubs with it, because you do not have the moral or legal right to call yourself a certified Western Australian driver. If you answered “left,” then congratulations, you’ve managed to achieve something that literally every other driver was instructed to do for their practical driving assessment. Throw on that indicator, veer left, and head out into the world of knowledge, because you have successfully roundabouted.

Traversing the roundabout: I’m not going to go through turning mechanics in much detail, because I assume if you’ve read this far, you have basic motor skills (both kinds). So, basically, continue driving clockwise around the roundabout, making sure to stay in your own lane so as not to take big chunks out of vehicles on your inside/outside. You are now

GROK #1 2013

GROK#1_2013.indd 34


19/02/2013 2:12:23 AM

revolutions Matt Vassiliou

winter night is dark biting winds shriek through trees rattling skeletal forms

he falls before weathered feet, holly crown slips

beneath oaken roots young man wakes his hair amber waves; his robes brilliant emerald; his blade flashing gold

raised by young hands, the holly twines; twisting to oak circling his brow outside the doors, lustrous sun bathes gentle meadows snow cowers as trees emerge their curious branches poke upwards wreathed by leaves

he strides into snow muted footfalls sinking; in each a rose appears a castle looms grey stones ethereal evanescent in gloom the doors yawn wide darkness swallowing, he passes ivory doorway into cavernous halls crimson carpet lolls beneath him a king sits on marble throne spidersilk hair frames leathered face and glinting glare holly circles his brow rising, he draws silver sword

when he wakes summer day is bright sunrays burn searing his skin slashing his eyes he staggers careful steps each growing stronger becoming stomps under which earth plant root wither shrivel crumble

they clash blades clanging echoes stripping silence parry thrust dodge; mirrored steps a dance honed over time

flared nostrils snort ragged jets eyes alight he leers breath sweeping leaves that expire amiable hues drained

but the king falters silver sword drops from tired hand and golden blade pierces brittle chest

GROK #1 2013

GROK#1_2013.indd 35

old man slumbers broken but death does not come

forest centre oaken monolith soars from tangling roots cerulean tapestry draped above the sightless sentinel arms robed in vibrant green gnarled roots flee at his touch he slinks inside silent serpentile at oaken heart a thick dirt floor towering oak walls adorned with carved knots; faces; silhouettes in the middle on colossal throne lounges the king nectar-drunk old man slips behind silver sword in hand exposed throat sharp slash splits flesh freeing scarlet stream he steals away crown in hand outside the doors snow falls smothering grass the nights grow dark biting winds shriek through trees rattling skeletal forms beneath oaken roots young man wakes

35 creative

19/02/2013 2:12:24 AM

GROK #1 2013

GROK#1_2013.indd 36


19/02/2013 2:12:25 AM

The Legend of Freehanding Joseph Wong yu Wing

Every new student who enrols in Mr. Overwijk’s math class is told that he is the World Freehand Circle Drawing Champion. Not all of them believe. So in his first lesson, Mr. Overwijk walks to the blackboard, and flings his arms like a rotor blade to limber up. Then he flaps his hands to dry the blackboard and makes a few hops to loosen up further. Finally, he turns around and announces to the class, “One circle.” He stands next to the blackboard, swinging his drawing arm forwards, backwards, and forwards again. On his last swing, his hand glides across the blackboard slowly, leaving behind a thin white line. A perfect circle. In the viral video featuring his incredible ability, the students off-camera gasp after a pause of disbelief. It’s the same reaction you might have after seeing a friend skull a Corona through his nose. I replay the video and hit pause when Overwijk finishes his circle. I believed it humanly impossible to get something perfect without a machine, but the circle on the board is plain to see. I un-pause, and Mr. Overwijk shrugs and begins his math class. The quest for the perfect circle comes with its legends. A few hundred years ago, the Florentine artist Giotto was contacted to paint for Pope Boniface. At that time, Boniface had demanded that every Christian subject (almost everyone in Europe) were subject to the papacy and not royalty. Boniface commanded so much power that his enemies were emperors, kings, and political families.

Giotto met Boniface’s messenger, dipped his brush in red ink and painted a circle, telling the messenger to send the painting to the pope. The messenger, expecting a masterful sample of his work, angrily returned to the pope with the painting. Pope Boniface looked at it, understood the painting, and employed Giotto.

Boniface realized that the circle stood for perfection. Most medieval scholars believed that the circle represented divinity and eternity. The level of technical skill required to produce a circle that seemed so perfect was (and is) supreme. It’s possible to draw a circle by using a compass, tracing a circular object, or using fingers as a makeshift compass, but it’s far harder to draw a circle freehand. The story about Giotto is a lie, as only snippets of ancient text hint at its authenticity. Other legends state that the artist was actually Michelangelo, an artist so accomplished that he embarrassed Leonardo da Vinci with an insult directed at one of da Vinci’s sculptures. The stories mention that Michelangelo had

presented a simple circle, thus qualifying himself to paint the roof of the Sistine Chapel. Once again, the legend cannot be confirmed, and so it remains legend. In fact, only the finest artists of that period are tied to the legend of the freehand circle. Just like legend, Overwijk hadn’t really been ‘World Freehand Circle Drawing Champion.’ When the video of him became viral, he explained that he drew a perfect circle as a joke in the beginning of a new class. The students liked it and he began using it ever since. When asked by a reporter if he could arrange an actual competition, Overwijk said “Why not?” Thus the Freehand Circle Drawing Society began, and later, the First World Freehand Circle Drawing competition was held in Canada. Its video, available on YouTube, shows two blackboards side-by-side, illuminated by a spotlight. Contestants stand next to each other and draw circles. Some stand erect and use their arms as rotors, emulating Overwijk’s technique. Others bend over. Some end with a flourish and a short celebration. It seems that the best take their time, moving their arms steadily in a circle. In the end, Overwijk is declared winner. The competition raised 1,100 dollars in funds for cancer research with forty contestants participating, including children. Apparently, with enough practice, it’s possible to become good at drawing freehand circles. What’s really difficult however, is drawing an egg shape, freehand. So watch this space.

Image (left): watch?v=eAhfZUZiwSE

GROK #1 2013

GROK#1_2013.indd 37


19/02/2013 2:12:25 AM

La Trobe Students Stand Up Against University Cuts sam cavallaro - education vice president

Speaking at an awards night late last year, La Trobe University Vice Chancellor John Dewar praised the radical students of La Trobe’s past. Those students, who first began demonstrating over the quality of food they received in the university college dining rooms, turned La Trobe into one the most radical university campuses in the country. Yet despite his praising of the students of yester-year, when faced with student protests during his term as Vice Chancellor, Dewar has chosen to declare organising protests on campus a heinous crime. Three La Trobe students are under threat of expulsion from the university for their participation in a campaign to stop major cuts to their department. Midway through 2012, La Trobe University announced that they were cutting around 60% of Humanities and Social Science subjects and sacking 25% of faculty staff. This was an almost unprecedented attack on the rights of students and staff at La Trobe, but opposition to the cuts has been met with rampant hostility from university administration. During a demonstration on Open Day, a security guard physically assaulted a student. Students on campus were followed, filmed, photographed, and threatened by the University administration. Staff were told they were not allowed to participate in any demonstrations under threat of dismissal. The threats and violence were largely unsuccessful. Hundreds of students and

staff met, demonstrated, and occupied over the course of second semester 2012 to protest the gutting of their department in a campaign of civil disobedience. On one occasion, protesters, rightly enraged by attempts to sideline them and minimise their “disruption” of the University O-Day, chased the Vice Chancellor into his office from where he promptly escaped via - I kid you not - a secret tunnel. The protests have gained national media coverage, and consequently the sympathy and support of students all over the country facing similar cuts. Three of the student activists are being threatened with serious punishment, including expulsion from the university. Worse, the university is running their “trial” in a closed misconduct hearing in which they do not have even the most elementary rights. The only “allowance” made for the students is that they may bring along one friend for support - as long as this friend is not a lawyer, a law graduate, or even a law student.

Whoever wins at La Trobe, the showdown will set the stage for universities across the country. Major cuts are beginning to be carried out here at Curtin, and a campaign is already underway to put an end to the cuts at the University of Sydney. The La Trobe students are reclaiming the activist legacy of their university. They are reinvigorating student activism in Australia, and giving the rest of us a way forward for defending our education. And for that, they deserve our support.

The students have not given up though. Right now they are energetically campaigning against their treatment, asking students and other sympathisers to sign an online petition, pass motions of support

GROK #1 2013

GROK#1_2013.indd 38

in their student and trade unions, and do everything they can to demonstrate their opposition to the university officials’ rampage.


19/02/2013 2:12:25 AM

When I first started learning to drive, things didn’t exactly go well. I could not drive off the kerb and on to the actual road, and I would burst into tears at any given moment during a lesson. My instructor, being the blunt person he was, told me (after only 4 weeks of subjection to random-tear-bursting) that I was never going to pass my test. Considering he makes his living convincing people he can help them to do exactly that, I really must have been a lost cause. Now in my final year of uni and getting ready to hit up the big, bad world, I’ve come to the realisation I need this essential (but still very annoying) skill, so I’m trying all over again - and it’s still awful. “But driving is something everybody does! Stop whining, you whiny whiner!” I hear you say. (For the sake of this article, you, the reader, are a total dick with limited vocabulary.)


Our lifestyles often revolve around driving, despite the fact that many people are ill equipped for the task. To drive you need to have good hand eye coordination, an attentive eye, a sense of direction and quick decision making capabilities. I, and many other people, do not have any of these talents, but we persevere regardless. Only half of drivers will pass their test the first time round, so the not-so-great drivers are not a minority. Even if you do have the above skill set, do you really want to share the road with those who don’t? Like you said, total dick with poor vocabulary, everybody drives, and everybody is going to include a whole lot of fucking idiots who could kill you at any given moment. This brings me to my next point. Cars are treated like an everyday tool used for a boring chore, not like the giant, scary, onetonne killing machines they are. I doubt when cavemen invented the humble wheel some

6000 or so years ago, they foresaw it turning into what it would eventually become. And if they did, fuck you, cavemen! You know how many people die in car accidents every year in



roughly 1700 a year FYI.) Road accidents are not an unlikely occurrence. 187 people died last year on WA roads and nearly 3000 were seriously injured, yet a lot of drivers seem to think they are invincible and continue to do dangerous things like speed recklessly or text behind the wheel. The morbid truth is that we all have to die at some point, but most would rather not die prematurely in a terrible accident.

Putting aside the obvious risk of dieing every time you are in a vehicle, there are other less major factors that discourage me from driving. Firstly, there’s cost. You’ve got to buy the car, fill it with petrol, pay insurance, have it serviced, have it repaired, get roadside assistance, wash it, maybe detail it, wax it, paint it and then install your subwoofers and 20 inch rims if you’re so inclined (And you would be, since you’re a dick and all). Public transport can add up as well, but not to the same extent. Would you prefer for your journey from A to B to be a little shorter or to have extra dosh in the bank? Surely the lazy among us would rather have a shorter journey. As a lazy person I would honestly just prefer to work less and waste my money on good food rather than car insurance. Not driving allows me to do exactly that.

In your head you are totally asking, “Aren’t you still learning to drive a car though?” because even though you have no vocabulary, you are still intelligent enough to remember the opening paragraph of this article (and you’re still a dick who likes to prove people wrong). Well, yes. I’m on the verge of becoming an adult, and being a grown-up means a lot of people are going to be reliant on me. As much as I hate to admit it, driving is an important part of our lives and there comes a point where it is assumed everyone can do it. A lot of potentially awkward situations could arise in my future from my lack of driving knowledge, such as being stranded in an emergency situation and unable to drive to the hospital. Even having an employer look down on me when I cannot perform certain, simple tasks that involve driving. So here I am, submitting to the machine, and complaining about it the whole way there.

When my car-reliant friends learn that I don’t drive they often ask me, “How are you able to get anywhere?” Um, walking? They seems genuinely amazed that a half hour walk is a daily occurrence for me and not part of some arduous fitness regime. I’m hardly the fittest person on the planet, but at least I don’t shrink in revulsion at a little incidental exercise. Riding a bike is also another efficient, healthy and environmental way to travel. In the

GROK #1 2013

GROK#1_2013.indd 39

Netherlands, the ‘happiest’ country in the world in 2011, two thirds of all travel in cities was on a bike. As someone who has, contrary to the popular saying, forgotten how to ride a bike (further evidence I should not be behind the wheel of a car), I’m not an expert, and correlation does not equal causation, so I’m not saying riding a bike makes you happy. I’m just saying maybe not riding a bike will make you unhappy.


19/02/2013 2:12:27 AM

We’ve all done things in our lives for the sake of drama. And if you haven’t,

well, you must be a completely content and happy person in every single aspect of your blessed little life - good for you. But for us not-so-perfect ones, we’re a busy people. We don’t have time to continually re-watch The OC/Grey’s Anatomy, so we need to cook up a little drama for ourselves. Sometimes it involves forbidden sexy sex (forbidden!), or getting in an intense feud with someone for no reason, or both, maybe even at the same time. And sometimes it involves messing around with your own love life in order to write really good songs.

Yeah, you know who I’m talking about: Taylor Swift. That girl knows how to start a relationship, destroy it and then write a number one hit about it better than anybody. Don’t get me wrong, I love the T-Swift. Her music’s more catchy, less country this decade. I’ve never even been in a relationship (oh, woe is me) and I still find it completely empowering to sing along to “We are never ever getting back together” as loud as I possibly can in my car when it comes on the radio (and I am ALWAYS hoping that it will be played on the radio ALL THE TIME). But I do read trashy gossip stuff. I do. And I’m picking up on a pattern here. Tay-tay’s love life goes around and around in circles, like a relationship merry-go-round, but every time the ride stops, she kicks off the guy and gets a new one to ride that merry-go-round with her. And sometimes she chooses someone really lame, like John Mayer. Everyone knows that John Mayer is lame (yeah, in Bizarro World ed.). But still T-Swift goes for this guy, and it’s pretty obvious what’s going to happen. And then she writes a song about the experience.

and that’s great stuff when you want to write some songs. But just like any drama show, it gets old pretty quickly. Every person in the show has had relations (aw yeah) with every other person in the show, and not even one of them getting an abortion or getting into a car accident can bring that excitement back. But if Taylor’s taught us one positive thing, it’s this: she never ever gives up, which is admirable, and probably very profitable for her. But to be honest, if she knocked on my door and came in to my house to enjoy a hot beverage and gave me relationship advice for my non-existent relationship, I wouldn’t take it. I’d rather listen to someone who knows what’s going on. Someone called Huey Lewis (and The News. Don’t forget The News). Huey Lewis understands the Power of Love. If you don’t get that, go watch the first ten minutes of Back to the Future right now. Huey also knows that


T-Swift Rachel Neumann

There’s a lot to learn from Taylor’s mistakes. I could go through the ins and outs of all Taytay’s failed relationships, but I’m not going to do that. I don’t celebrity stalk to that extent. Instead, I’ll say this: sometimes cutting corners has its advantages. The girl’s had the relationship history of a sad wine drinking, bubble bath taking singleton in her late thirties,

there’s a lot more to life. He knows that going around in circles and cutting corners is not the way to be. He tells us it’s hip to be square. And although he might be considered as somewhat of a shape-ist, he’s right. Cutting corners can be easier, but it’s always better to cut the crap, and make conscious and responsible decisions about what you’re doing and why. That’s why it’s hip to be square. You have to choose which way you’re going to go - it’s not just an easy ride to back where you started. Is hooking up with that person a good idea? Maybe it’s not. Maybe you should just make the time to watch Desperate Housewives or something.

GROK #1 2013

GROK#1_2013.indd 40


19/02/2013 2:12:28 AM

neo-navajo Matt Vassiliou old coin drowning in a coca-cola sky each day cleaner shining brighter sometimes joining with stars cheshire smile born sometimes a half-wedge of cheese on a death-day platter but only when wolves dance is the coin clean gleaming torch in the dark for the lost

the international airport Michael MacKenzie the band is playing turbulence @ 4,200 feet while ring-bearer runways intersect trip up under staring eyes the task of appearing sincere in your vows to the baggage conveyor

GROK #1 2013

GROK#1_2013.indd 41



19/02/2013 2:12:28 AM

Lets Relay for change! Relay For Life Curtin University Get a team together for the Relay For Life Curtin University event. It’s 24 hours of fun which raises vital funds for Cancer Council research, education programs, and support services.

Edinburgh South Oval 20 & 21 April 2013 11am - 11am

Registration is easy! For more information email

GROK - 195 X 260.indd 1 GROK#1_2013.indd 42

Celebrate Remember Fight Back! Relay For Life Curtin University

31/01/2013 10:52:56 AM 19/02/2013 2:12:29 AM

movie REVIEWs into society after the breakdown of his marriage and his subsequent eight month stay in a mental health facility. His healing process is propelled when he meets Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence), a young widow and recovering sex addict.

Elles Reviewed by Jessica McGovern Elles is a European film directed by Malgorzata Szumowska. The film stars academy award winner Juliette Binoche as Anne, a middleaged Parisian mother and investigative reporter for Elle Magazine. Whilst doing research for an article on prostitution, she finds her bourgeois lifestyle challenged and her morals unsettled by two female students who have turned to sex work to support their studies. It is a sensual and voyeuristic exploration of female sexual identity and the conflicting ideas that surround it. The film is structured around one day in Anne’s life as she finishes her article and prepares for a dinner party for her husband’s boss. Much of the film consists of flashbacks to Anne’s interviews with the two girls, and the events they retell. This produces a very stark contrast between Anne’s own upper-class existence and the lives of the girls. Anne steps into her assignment expecting tales of despair and woe, but instead she finds sexual liberation and freedom. This is reflected in the film’s style, which initially contrasts the dark, grim lifestyle of sex workers to Anne’s extremely well lit and clean household. As the film progresses, the two styles slowly meld together. There are impressive performances from the entire cast. Binoche shines in her sensitive portrayal of the hypocritical and conflicted Anne. The students are given a lot of depth by their respective actresses, even though their stories are secondary to Anne’s. Any woman, it seems, can have a secret life as a prostitute, and any man can be a client.

Silver Linings Playbook reviewED by Jessica McGovern Silver Linings stars Bradley Cooper as Pat, a man with bipolar disorder trying to reintegrate

Both Cooper and Lawrence give great performances, and even though their characters are often not very likeable, the audience will still find themselves rooting for them. The dialogue and acting are very believable but there are moments when the plot feels slightly contrived. The pace is slow, but appropriate.

Silver Linings Playbook is a big player in this year’s award season, having been nominated for eight Oscars, and several Golden Globes, BAFTAS and SAG awards. While all the award nominations and critical acclaim seem to indicate the film is a life-changing piece of art, it doesn’t live up to its own hype. Nevertheless, it is still an enjoyable viewing experience.

django unchained REVIEWED BY Ashley Westwood Django Unchained is the latest offering from blood-spatter and gore enthusiast, Quentin Tarantino. It is essentially his take on one of the most controversial periods of America’s history, specifically the height of slavery throughout several states of the illustrious Deep South. Django is the story of an emancipated slave, Django (Jamie Foxx) who is purchased by German-born dentist-comebounty-hunter Dr. Shultz (Christoph Waltz) to help take down the illusive ‘Brittle Brothers,’ of whom only Django can identify. Django Unchained doesn’t really push the boundaries of modern film. From the moment it begins you know this is a movie in the classic Tarantino style. As always, the story is very well written and forms a cohesive plot. It is an original piece, albeit using elements from past pioneering film movements like neorealism and the Spaghetti Western. It seems to capture the same sort of vibe as Kill Bill and Inglorious Basterds with the extreme violence, witty dialogue and expert cinematography. You do feel very aware that this is a Quentin Tarantino film; it is not necessarily a bad thing, and if anything, Django cements the Tarantino style in history. My issue is, as much of a genius Tarantino is, he had the opportunity to do something different and groundbreaking with the storyline. Instead, he chose to stick with his ‘tried and tested’ formula and essentially play it safe with what he knows the audience GROK #1 2013


wants to see. He has still made a fantastic film but you get the feeling it could have been something so much more innovative. Putting all potential creative misgivings aside, the casting throughout the film is outstanding. Jamie Foxx is Django - it’s easily his best performance to date. Many critics have commented on his lack of enthusiasm, but I’m not willing to agree. Foxx manages to play Django very subtly: he stays more or less silent throughout the first act of the film (except for the hilariously tongue-in-cheek “Kill white-folk and get paid? What’s not to like?”). He manages to be serious, sincere while still acting as if he is a slave who knows his place in the world. In a sense, he’s not used to talking to white people, which explains his lack of dialogue; it suits his grim demeanour. But once he knows he can trust Dr. Shultz, he slips into the role of a smooth-talking, straight shooting badass. As always, Tarantino utilizes Christoph Waltz to the best of his abilities, but this time it’s Leonardo DiCaprio’s Monsieur Calvin Candie who steals the show. I’ve always been aware of the acting ability of DiCaprio; he even made Titanic vaguely watchable for those of us who are male. In Django, he is fabulous. His character is a satirical celebration of the idiocy and hypocrisy prevalent in the plantation owners; you could call it a ‘well deserved demonization.’ Monsieur Candie calls himself Monsieur to seem more intelligent and cultured to his socialite friends, yet he knows not a word of French. And he exacts swift and brutal revenge upon any who choose to cross his path - a true villain. As usual in Tarantino’s films, there is plenty of over-the-top violence, but it is mixed with humour so absurd it actually humanizes the villains in a way. A group of men on the verge of hunting down and ripping a man to shreds are squabbling like children, all because the masks their wives made keep falling down over their eyes, blocking their vision. The fact that these men are clearly evil, but are able to complain and argue about a benign issue amplifies the fact that they’re still human, still ‘more-or-less’ normal Southern folk. Tarantino lets your imagination do the legwork, and that is what is more frightening. The music used in Django is well placed and very well chosen. Nodding to the days of Sergio Leone, Tarantino uses some very atmospheric and powerful classical composure from the great Ennio Morricone. Alongside Ennio, there are modern tracks from RnB genius John Legend and a dash of 1970’s Folk Rock from Jim Croce and Johnny Cash. In typical Tarantino fashion, the seemingly illfitting genres of Rap and Soul also make an appearance, to great effect. Django Unchained is an excellent film. It may not diverge too far away from Tarantino’s existing formula, but the quality of the script, cinematography and score/soundtrack easily make up for any shortfalls in creativity. Django manages to be fun while still delivering a serious message about the atrocities of slavery.


6 AM GROK#1_2013.indd 43

19/02/2013 2:12:35 AM

ALBUM REVIEWS from their first album and...well, actually, that’s pretty much it - apart from that particular choice cut, there’s never really been anything I’ve much liked about their pseudo-math breakdowns, sounds-exactly-the-same-asevery-other-indie-vocalist-ever vocals and mostly excessive trumpety bits.

Sarah Blasko I Awake REVIEWED BY Rachel Neumann This album is pretty depressing and confusing, as though Sarah Blasko got lost in the woods after her emotionally abusive boyfriend killed a litter of Labrador puppies in front of her and then broke up with her. That’s probably not what she’s singing about, but the mixture of her floaty, soothing voice and the orchestral music makes you feel like you’re listening to it underwater, and it’s kind of hard to follow exactly what she’s singing about. I don’t recommend listening to it in the car on the way to the beach, unless you plan on drowning yourself. What’s interesting is that while the album is rather dark and emotional, it also seems quite nonchalant and dispassionate, and this in turn makes it honestly just kind of boring. This is a wallowing album, and if you’re not wallowing, you’ll probably just get bored and turn it off. This isn’t to say I didn’t enjoy some of songs; they’re moody, and you feel like you should be sitting on a shaggy rug in front of a fireplace drinking red wine, like you do every Thursday morning. Like I said, confusing.

In Holy Fire’s opening track, “Prelude,” drummer Jack Bevan introduces Foals fans to this thing called “not playing drums like a gimp,” which is something he and the rest of the band obviously didn’t know they could do until the Holy Fire writing sessions began. Shortly after, there’s even some heavy guitars playing a thing called “power chords.” Surprisingly, Foals are very, very good at both these things. By and large, the band have maintained the song structures present on their previous albums: fancy guitar riff, the song, epic jam. But in HL everything’s a little heavier and a little groovier, especially in the guitar department, and everything is backed up by some thankfully solid beats. No more horns, gaily hopping drums, or widdling in and around the 90th fret. And although Yannis’s voice is noticeably airy in comparison to the newfound heaviness, especially on “Inhaler,” it’s not a huge deal when so much of the focus has been shifted towards the music. And I guess that’s why I’m calling myself a Foals fan now.

This was the first time I’d ever heard the Dropkick Murphys, and - excuse the terrible pun here - I’m definitely kicking myself for it. Signed and Sealed in Blood is the Murphys’ 8th album since 1998, and while I’ve not listened any of the folk-punkers’ other releases, I think I might have to now. Many of the tracks on S&SB remind me of those old Irish ballads my grandfather would listen to, but with a solid slice of punk rock chucked in for good measure. I feel like this album would best be played on a summers day, with plenty of good drinks and some close friends.


REVIEWED BY Scott Donaldson I’ve listened to a lot of Foals, but I’ve never called myself a true fan of the indie rockers. Apart from choice cuts like “Heavy Water”

Sea of Bright Lights is the debut release from Adelaide indie rock band City Riots, and for the most part, it feels like an album that is pretty hard to commit to. Sure, there are some catchy riffs, fashionable reverb moments and whimsical vocals in there, but there seems to be something important missing. It’s a background album, and I don’t mean ‘background’ as in, “Oh, this album is great to play in the background whilst I’m doing something more interesting.” I mean ‘background’ as in, “This album is so boring I don’t think there’s anything I can do to improve

GROK #1 2013

GROK#1_2013.indd 44

Dropkick Murphys Signed and Sealed In Blood REVIEWED BY Anthony Pyle

City Riots Sea of Bright Lights

Foals Holy Fire

my life whilst listening to it.” The droning vocals and predictable hooks result in something more like sleep walking than dreamlike, which I assume was intended. “It’s Been A Long Time” is a diamond in the rough, though - the final track adds a bit of sexiness to this otherwise sleepy album. City of Riots seems to have lost something whilst recording Sea Of Bright Lights, which is a disappointment, because if they nurtured that little missing ingredient, this album could have been a lot different. Special, even.

Normally, I’d relate this sort of music to the kind which forces you to tap along on the steering wheel. Alas, I listened to this in my room, but couldn’t help swaying along like a madman anyway, while trying to sing along to the collection of songs which I’d never heard before. And I think that’s the real joy of punk rock - something which the Murphys have captured perfectly - the need to sing along, even if you don’t know the lyrics. This album has left a small place in my heart for the Dropkick Murphys.


19/02/2013 2:12:37 AM


Weezer Perth Arena, Jan 23 2013 REVIEWED BY Michael MacKenzie Since their 1994 debut, Weezer have been the lauded heroes of underdog rock. They’ve pumped out album after album, dividing old fans and bringing new ones in along the way. They gave us some of the iconic hits of the 90’s such as “Buddy Holly” and “Across the Sea,” and a few recent chart-toppers like “Pork & Beans” and “(If You’re Wondering If I Want You To) I Want You To.” So when I was asked to review the Perth leg of their Memories tour, I had to say yes. Supporting Weezer were two Australian acts: Ball Park Music and Cloud Control. Brisbane band Ball Park Music brought fast quips and noisy guitars, while Cloud Control slowed the atmosphere with dreamy Blue Mountains harmonies. Both bands were audibly thankful to Weezer for giving them the opportunity to play alongside their heroes.

After the support acts, three generations of Weezer fans pushed their way to the barrier in anticipation. There were sporadic cheers during soundcheck as singer Rivers Cuomo walked on and off stage to casually observe the procedures. When the band finally came on, they opened with their 2010 hit, “Memories.” As they worked backwards chronologically through their catalog, it was apparent that age had not affected any of the four members. They commanded the stage with the confidence and the “cool but not that cool” attitude they had been known for in the 90’s. After working backwards through hits such as “Perfect Situation,” “Beverly Hills,” and “El Scorcho,” they took a short break while a narrated slideshow of historic Weezer photos played. This was a nice sentiment, but several crowd members grew restless, with some heckling. After the intermission, the band came out re-outfitted in 90’s skate punk attire to play their iconic debut, The Blue Album, in full.

GROK #1 2013

GROK#1_2013.indd 45


Both the band and the crowd were visibly moved by this nostalgic visitation. The band was in perfect form: Rivers and Scott Shriner joked with each other while Brian Bell sent beams of light at the crowd with his mirrorplated Flying V. They were in top form all the way from “My Name is Jonas” to album closer “Only In Dreams.” After the set came to an end, the band returned for an encore to play “Island In The Sun,” an homage to deceased ex-Weezer bassist, Mikey Welsh. As the audience filtered out, there were tears from Gen Xers who had been following the band from the beginning, and from young teens who had discovered Weezer with the release of The Red Album but had still taken the time to listen all the way back to 1994.


19/02/2013 2:12:40 AM

GAME REVIEWS Kentucky Route Zero REVIEWED BY Jon Solmundson It’s not very often a game comes along that I can genuinely call ‘groundbreaking,’ but Kentucky Route Zero is one of these games. At its core, it’s just a simple point and click adventure. As an antique store delivery man, you set out on a journey to find the mysterious “Route Zero.” Fans of the genre will be thankful that Route Zero isn’t just another paint by numbers adventure following the old standbys that have been present since Monkey Island shipped on seven floppy discs. The game certainly has its work cut out for it, attempting to change three decades of convention. But it not only manages to break free, it delivers an alternative so compelling you have to wonder how no one thought of it before. Quickly dodging the whimsical cartoon atmosphere and wise-cracking protagonists that define its precursors, Route Zero drops you into an aggressive, angular landscape, shrouded in the lowlight of dusk. It’s confronting at first, but as the mystery builds, the setting begins to feel more and more like home. The backdrops become darker and weirder, following the haunting supernatural narrative, to a point where you’re basically snooping around in what seems like

Strike Suit Zero REVIEWED BY Jon Solmundson

I’m really tempted to start this review with a string of expletives followed by the words “Strike Suit Zero.” Professional standards prevent me from doing so, but believe me, I want to. SSZ is a game that is awesome in theory but flawed in execution. The theory: you are a transforming space-ship/space-robot thing and you kill all the bad dudes. The execution: screwing you up the ass with the rusty spoon of bad checkpoints, repetitive gameplay, and wild difficulty spikes.

a visual recreation of David Lynch’s mind. But it never stops looking impressive, and the quality of the writing makes you eager to press on. However, it’s very obviously a story first and a game second. On occasion, the entire game morphs into a text adventure, cutting out the eerie visuals completely. I thought these segments were fantastic, thanks in no small part to amazing writing and equally amazing sound design, but it’s not for everyone.

Proceedings are never halted by puzzles. The game simply poses questions, to which any response is considered valid. Every choice reveals a little more of our mysterious adventurer, and what his quest is. For people who love adventure games this kind of progress is incredible, and for $7 the first

And then there come the choices. Generally, most choice systems suffer in service of the game. When a starving man steals some bread, we really, as functional human beings, should probably just let him off. But if there’s a sack of gold and five evil points at stake, we’ll probably murder his entire extended family and leave him to the torturer. But Route Zero is not most games. It doesn’t care what you think. Your choices are not reflected on a scale or chart, or in what ending you get. One of your first choices is to name the dog sitting next to you. Nobody in the game cares which of the three names you pick,

episode is a steal. For those who hate it when games get story in the way of their shooting, steer clear. For everyone else, it’s a very well written, beautifully animated horror adventure that will take you a little over an hour and leave you hungry for the next episode.

The difficulty is inexcusable. This review is not a complete summation of the game because I could not get past the fifth mission. There are 13 stages, so that means I played less than half of the game. But dear lord, I tried.

ships before rocketing away at insane speed to narrowly avoid disaster.

My dog can vouch for me, sitting quietly by my side into the wee hours of the morning, watching the clock. Eight o’clock, nine o’clock, ten o’clock. We stop checking. We go to bed at four am because we can’t do it anymore. We sleep. I go to work, he sleeps more. When I get back to it, I’m confident. More failure ensues. That’s not to say I don’t make some progress. I get to the first and second checkpoints, but I don’t manage to reach the third and end up playing the same half hour of gameplay (and its same four types of enemy and same repeated objectives) dozens and dozens of times. It’s not like the game actually changes between missions either. That said, the combat itself is a joy to experience due to the fact that both you and the enemies are extremely fragile. Often you’ll find yourself wasting huge swathes of enemy

GROK #1 2013

GROK#1_2013.indd 46

but you might, and your understanding of the plot is informed by that decision.

It’s not a great looking game, but it’s got a style that fits well. Ships drag Tron-like ribbons behind them which are useful for enemy identification (both sides are high-speed grey triangle shape things) and give SSZ a striking visual presence. So there’s about fifteen minutes of SSZ where you’ve got it by the balls. The explosions are beautiful, trails of colour marking out your wake of terrible destruction. It’s tough, but smart piloting can get you out of anything. And I genuinely believe this until I reach the escort mission. Nope, I can’t do it anymore. FUCK ESCORT MISSIONS AND FUCK STRIKE SUIT ZERO. The last thing I want to do as a fragile but immensely powerful machine god is baby sit some fragile but slow-ass bombers. “There’s too many!” scream your virtual comrades as they go spinning into the black abyss for the twenty-seventh time. You break things. SSZ is sometimes really cool, no doubt about it, but I can’t even play half of it due to sheer difficulty. That’s just ass-backwards. So if you hate yourself, buy this game. Or save yourself twenty dollars and drive a kitchen knife through your hand instead.


19/02/2013 2:12:41 AM

GAME REVIEWS DmC: Devil May Cry Xbox 360, PS3, PC REVIEWED BY Connor White While the Devil May Cry franchise has always had modern anachronisms, this reboot is the first game to have its feet firmly planted in a modern setting. Dante, residing in a metropolis secretly controlled by demons, is contacted by an underground resistance group known as The Order and is drafted into dismantling the system of control. Being of demon blood himself, Dante is able to, with help, tackle his enemies in Limbo - a distorted, bloody version of the real world. Make no mistake, this game’s combat is a little slower and less fluid than previous iterations of the series for reasons that extend beyond frame rate. Attacks and jumps are generally slower for both Dante and his enemies, and you’re encouraged to use rolls instead of jumps to dodge enemy attacks, thereby taking you a bit further away from the action. Regardless of these changes, the combat is still easily better than many other beat ‘em up games. Chaining unique and stylish combos

Hitman HD Trilogy Xbox 360, PS3, PC REVIEWED BY Connor White There are only a few video game series’ which I would call acquired tastes, but in revisiting Agent 47’s past tales - Silent Assassin, Contracts, and Blood Money - I’ve found that Hitman fits right into the category. Hitman games are generally regarded as more realistic and deceptive than your average stealth ‘em up. The focus isn’t on outright concealment, but rather in hiding in plain sight. The key to achieving victory is by utilising disguises gleaned from civilians or henchmen and slowly making your way to your target. By and large, the franchise hasn’t really strayed from that system, and the three games found in this collection each embody the elements the franchise is well known for. The oldest game of the pack, Silent Assassin, is a bit of a mixed bag. Many of the levels are really well-designed and accommodate multiple paths and approaches well, but the mechanics are actually counter-intuitive to this - it’s an unnecessarily cruel game. Guards will brutally murder you and see through your disguise for the terrible crime of running a single step when you’re meant to walk. I understand that obvious haste is the quickest way to get caught, but it still feels ridiculous.

remains fun and flavoured, especially with a new weapon mechanic which allows the player to change Dante’s fighting style on the fly. This maintains a sense of flow in chaining attacks and combos together, even when having to be aware of many enemies at once. But that’s not to say there isn’t a tactical edge to the battles. Quickly thrown into the mix

are special enemies, such as flying enemies, enemies with physical or elemental shields, or enemies that can only be attacked from the front or back. ‘Special’ enemies have appeared before, but DmC really makes the most out of them, meaning every player will have to start thinking tactically at some point. Less can be said for the bosses, however - even on hard mode, only one of them poses a real challenge.

While the architecture of Limbo is visually striking, its internal logic is malformed and inconsistent. In some levels, what occurs in Limbo has an effect on the real world, whereas this rule may not apply in other parts of the game. If anything, this evidences the rocky development cycle, as does the writing, which can go from captivating to laughable almost instantaneously. While there’s a brilliantly tense and exciting level in which you don’t even fight for most of it, a line alluding to Dante getting lost in a building is nothing short of silly. That said, the final reveal both makes complete sense whilst coming right out of nowhere - a quality sadly missing from many recent video game ‘twists.’ Ninja Theory’s take isn’t flawless by any stretch, but that they manage here to transcend their old track record of having shaky gameplay to compensate for great production values is admirable. This new kid is worthy of being in the same company as his white-haired counterpart.

The overall level design can make up for this, because even the most obvious route is still rewarding. However, only the most patient of players will be able to finish most levels without just shooting everyone.

effective methods of killing, and the news report which pops up after every mission is an excellent way to both motivate the player and let them know what effect they’re having on the world.

The mechanics are definitely improved with Contracts - guards are not as shrewd and the stealth is more forgiving. Contracts is, thusly, a more wholesomely enjoyable game. The assassinations you take part in tend to be pretty elaborate, with some bordering on chaotic, such as the level where you have to intervene in a SWAT raid on a tanker holding a nuclear bomb - a bomb which you have to defuse yourself.

The Hitman series has always been anomalous, and while the protagonist and mood have always been very pronounced, the games themselves are unique and untouched to this day, for better or worse. Your enjoyment of the series is dependent on your tolerance for a slow burn and some malformed mechanics, but at the price point, it’s worth a look.

The final game in the pack is Blood Money - a game I’ve played through a number of times before. From a systems perspective, the mechanics and AI are easily the most robust and least foolhardy, behaving more like actual human beings than in the previous games. It’s weird that every level has a similar set-up (why do all CCTVs run on videotapes?) but the hits themselves make up for this and then some. There’s a focus on “accidental” kills like poisoning, falling stage props and drowning, which are probably the most satisfying and GROK #1 2013

GROK#1_2013.indd 47

As for the new younger Dante, I like him well enough aside from his swearing and sometimes unenthusiastic-sounding voice actor. His cheery, snarky attitude matches that of the old Dante, and his one-liners are Bond-like.



19/02/2013 2:12:42 AM

This is an 18+ event. Curtin ID and approved form of ID will be required at entry. Curtin University is a smoke free campus and will not be permitted. No Pass outs. Photos may be taken for Guild promotional material. Curtin Student Guild promotes responsible service of alcohol at all times.

GROK#1_2013.indd 48

19/02/2013 2:12:46 AM

00105_Dell_Ultrabook_Curtin_uni_205_270_Final_pnt.indd 1 Grok#1_13_cover.indd 3

25/01/13 11:38 AM 19/02/2013 2:17:04 AM

Big weekend. Pulled an all nighter. Can’t get into it. Whatever the deal is, nothing can kick-start your day like the full flavour and irresistible aroma of a SuperBarista Coffee by Braziliano. Available from Curtin Student Guild Catering outlets across campus.

Grok#1_13_cover.indd 4

19/02/2013 2:17:14 AM

Grok Issue #1 2013  
Grok Issue #1 2013  

Theme: Circle