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Issue 102 November 22
NOT QUITE A BITESIZE PIECE OF WISDOM The temptation to right the wrongs of life in this little editorial is increasing. Each issue has become a search to write something deep and meaningful, a bitesize piece of wisdom similar to that of the magically moral TV show Arthur. Those twenty minutes still blow my mind with their insights into life, and it’s with a deep sigh I resign to the fact I cannot compete. Still less appealing is to use this space merely to list all the fabulous articles crammed within this magazine. It seems pointless, for anyone who bothers to read this corner of the magazine (and to those few I am resoundingly grateful) are likely to have a good flick through anyway. So I return to the previous idea, and will thus base the remainder of this space on the realisation that came to me during the making of this particular issue. The realisation that I am a child of the politically correct era. It may lack the joyous life affirming morals of Arthur, but will with some hope be of some interest to those still reading. Whilst the final cover that lies in front of you may seemingly be controversial, the initial proposal was of a child injecting. I was horrified at the prospect; the visions of complaints from all manner of people pouring into my inbox filled me with dread, and the desire to not offend seemingly overwhelming. In hindsight, it was this reaction that horrifies me more than that mock up idea of a wee toddler with belt in hand, as after years of defending freedom of speech in its truest sense, I too find that societies constant pressure to be friendly and play nice has rubbed off on me. To say anything worth saying is likely at some point to oppose another's views, and said with passion, offers the potential to offend. At no point should the mere fact of upsetting someone prevent those words being said, as people are made of hardier stuff and it is in climate of impassioned diverse views that society flourishes. In the attitude of Voltaire, "I disapprove of what you said but I will defend to death your right to say it", and so whilst the cover is undoubtedly incredible, I am ashamed at my reasoning as to why it looks the way it does. Dom Kehat
I became interested in art through skateboarding and the whole “Do-It-Yourself ” movement that comes with it. I look to many of the “mission school” movement artists for inspiration. A key part of the aesthetic is the artists’ attention to general human concern, which is an element I try to bring across with my own work. Grant kindly designed our front cover for this issue. If you would like to see more of his work, head over to http://grantpeacockillustration.tumblr.com/
Quench Quickie Alas it is that time of year when the essays start mounting and you look for any activity that delays their completion. So for your procrastination pleasure we bring you the our favourite three vidoes on youtube. -Baby Monkey (Going Backwards on a pig) -Kitten riding Turtle -Jamaican Tour Guide
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Theâ€Š Drugsâ€Š Issue
According to the experts illegal drugs are more widely available and cheaper than ever. Jack Doran takes a closer look, and explains why he thinks the war on drugs in bound for failure
Contents An Introduction Interview: Professor David Nutt Interview: Angus MacQueen Interview: A Student Dealer An Argument for True Liberalism Portugal: A Case Study
FEATURES Drugs are a damaging force in society, few would deny it. It is an issue that invokes fierce debate, one that bears great significance for us all. The reactionary, moral self screams of the pain that is caused, calling on the legislature to keep the noctious pills, powders and plants from our streets. However, on the international stage an ever-greater number of politicians, activists, artists and scientists are presenting a new paradigm. Whilst mainstream media call for evertighter controls on these illicit substances, it seems that the prohibitionist stance is failing on many levels. Some experts estimate the amount of drugs seized in the UK to represent somewhere near one percent of those prepared for consumption. This figure needs some thought. One percent. If for one moment we forget the context, surely any policy, any initiative, any legislation with a success rate of one percent is an outstanding failure, and this failure is wide spread. We are failing the parents who lose their children to overdose, failing the young who suffer an illadvised education, failing the addicts who lack real support and instead are treated as criminals. In the process of compiling this feature, I spoke to a professor, a film-maker and a student drug dealer; the message was clear, in the war on drugs, the drugs are winning. Let us consider the most feared of them all, heroin. The opiate has all manner of frightful connotations; the image of the ‘junkie’ bent double, the depraved individual outside the train station, begging for thirty pence. But what is causing the pale skin, the rotten teeth and the eventual death of these addicts? The largest study into the effects of heroin was conducted in the 1920s, measuring the physiological and psychological changes amongst over 800 people. You may be surprised to hear the researchers found the substance to cause very little negative effect on either body or mind. The greatest harm in fact, was constipation. Further to this, anecdotal evidence suggests individuals have lived out healthy lives injecting prescribed quantities of opiates for lengthy periods. This brings about a pertinent question: if the substance itself is relatively harmless, what is it that drives the user to such bad health? Not only this, what is it that drives the user to a life of crime, to prostitution, to homelessness, to complete degradation? Could it be that the real root of this problem is in fact not the substance itself but the means by which users are forced to acquire it? Surely it is in fact our laws that result in the choice that the addicted are forced to make, to pay for rent, for a healthy meal, or to simply get another hit. Consider too, the polluted end product that the addicts intraveniously consume, infected needles passed around, with little idea of content or potency. In the developed world, the legislation condemning the use of drugs continues to bring all sorts of adverse effects, however, the damage does not stop there. In the coca fields of South America and the poppy plantations of Afghani-
stan, farmers continue to harvest the plants they have grown for generations. Barely earning enough to feed their families, they are forced to face the might of international drugs control agencies. Whilst the growers struggle to earn a living, the wealth falls directly in to the hands of the wrong people. The all-powerful cartels, waging wars, sacrificing lives. The terrorists, Al-Qaeda, funding devastation, destruction and repression. The governments of such countries are drastically undermined, the huge sums of money generated only serving to corrupt their fragile governments. With every shipment that crosses our shores undetected, lives are being lost. Last year, the chief drugs adviser Professor David Nutt spoke out against the ludicrous system of classification at large in the UK. He called for science to prevail and published a list of the twenty most harmful drugs. With alcohol featuring alongside heroin and cocaine in the top five, ecstasy could be found in the nether regions of the list. The result? He was fired. With the release of a new set of findings, as published alongside our interview, surely now is the time for logic and reason. Take heed of his succinct answers in our talk with Professor Nutt. Over Summer, revered filmmaker Angus MacQueen premiered his three-part series ‘Our Drugs War’ on Channel 4. It explored the failings of international prohibition, and examined the very real effects. The content was profound and shocking. I caught up with the director and put to him some burning questions. A different perspective comes from Gareth, a drug dealer studying at Cardiff University, the conversation with him presenting an interesting picture of consumption in this city. The themes of anti-prohibition may not be new to you. What seems to be lacking, however, are the answers. The legalization, taxation and sale of all drugs may seem a long way off, so be sure to read Alexi Gunner’s account of the situation in Portugal, where a policy of decimalization has been widely considered a success. Furthermore, take note of Dom Kehat’s liberalist perspective, as she asks if it is the right of the individual to take drugs. Sadly we haven’t the space here to examine the true depth and scale of this problem. Huge swathes of the case for decriminalisation are left unattended to. The alienation and criminalisation of young people, the shocking truths of the race and class dimensions that see one in five of black men in the US spend time behind bars. The problematic rise of ‘legal highs’, where a new, more harmful alternative arises each time another is banned. The disparity between drugs education and what our young learn in the playground, and the great confusion that ensues. You may not agree with the views expressed in the following pages, however, I only ask that you consider them critically, and realize that no longer are these the opinions of radical leftists but a serious call for informed debate. Jack Doran
Professor David Nutt
According to the experts illegal drugs are more widely available and cheaper than ever. Jack Doran takes a closer look, and explains why he thinks the war on drugs in bound for failure Professor Nutt has been key in the discussion surrounding the reclassification of recreational drugs. Through advocating a system founded on scientific research, he often finds himself at the heart of this controversial debate.
Most Harmful Co-authored by Professor David Nutt, a study published in the Lancet ranked 20 drugs on 16 measures of harm to users and wider society.
Alcohol Heroin Crack Methylamphetamine Cocaine Tobacco Amphetamine Cannabis GHB Benzodiazepines Ketamine Methodone Mephedrone Butane Anabolic Steriods Khat Ecstasy LSD Buprenorphine Mushrooms
In 2009 Professor David Nutt was sacked from his role as chairman of the Advisory Committee on the Misuse of Drugs after his criticisms of the government’s policies on cannabis were met by an infuriated response by then home secretary Alan Johnson. Moving on to form the Independent Scientific Committee on Drugs, Professor Nutt continues to take an important role in the scientific analysis of recreational drugs and lobbies government policies based on these grounds. Jack Doran interviews. JD: Professor Nutt, how do you view the current system of drug classification, and what are the broader implications? DN: The new scale of drug harms recently published by the Independent Scientific Committee on Drugs in the Lancet clearly shows the lack of correlation between the harms of drugs and their classification. A classification system based on the harms of drugs could help to do what the system is supposed to do – protect the public from the most harmful drugs. JD: Some suggest that the illegality of narcotics actually causes more harm than the substances themselves, do you think this is a fair analysis? DN: It is certainly true that the illegality of some drugs can push users into criminal circles and alienate them from health services. However, legality also has its drawbacks. You only have to look at the damage that alcohol and tobacco cause to see how dangerous legal drugs can be without proper controls. It is not a black and white issue. JD: When we read about your research, your findings, your statements to the press, the media tend to give us a confusing picture of your stance, what is your difinitive message to policy makers? DN: Policymakers are more than welcome to use our expertise to inform policy, however, the Independent Scientific Committee on Drugs’ primary purpose is to provide scientifically based, objective information on drugs to the public. JD: The emphasis within drugs policy discourse seems to have taken a turn towards so called 'legal highs'. Do you think this shift reflects a real change in the way young people are taking drugs? Are they as dangerous and
pervaisive as we are lead to believe by the press? DN: It is of course difficult to accurately measure drug use because of its illegality and the media’s tendency to inflate claims mean that stories should be taken with a pinch of salt. However, the use of legal highs is worrying because of how little is known about their effects on the user. JD: Some experts are of the opinion that these 'legal highs' are simply impossible to legislate against due to the ease with which similar alternatives can be found. Is this an accurate portrayal of the situation? DN: Absolutely - it is fairly easy for chemists to circumvent bans by tweaking the chemical structure of the substances they produce so simply banning each new one means that the government is constantly one step behind them. Criminalising users when little is known about a substance could also cause more harm than it prevents. That is not to say that ‘legal highs’ should not necessarily be controlled but rather, that alternative methods of reducing harms caused by them should be considered. JD: It seems that certain catalysts, such as your research, give rise to a great deal of discussion on the topic of drugs classification. This tends to blow over in a matter of days. Do you think there is any scope for meaningful discussion, and in turn, meaningful change? DN: I have received thousands of messages from members of the public in the year since I left the ACMD and what has struck me most about them is their level of understanding and interaction with the issues. Globally, there has been an opening up of the debate – Proposition 19 in California and decriminalisation in Portugal shows just how far we have come.
According to the experts illegal drugs are more widely available and cheaper than ever. Jack Doran takes a closer look, and explains why he thinks the war on drugs in bound for failure Documentary film-maker, writer and director Angus Macqueen has spent years examining the effects of drugs internationally. His recent offering, Our Drugs War explores the effects of current legislation.
Our Drugs War A three part series, Our Drugs War, looks at drugs and the effect both the substances and legislation have on society. From inner-city Edinburgh, to the streets of New York, right back to the source in the poppy fields of Afghanistan, the coherant throughout is that current drugs laws are not working for anyone. Angus Macqueen talks to Jack Doran.
FEATURES JD: Firstly Angus, the controversial theme of your groundbreaking films was the concept that the law surrounding drugs has grown more harmful than the substances themselves. Could you give us a brief explanation of this viewpoint? The series attempted to examine the effects of current policies, loosely summed up under the title of the 'War on Drugs', from our own streets all the way up the chain to the producing countries. My view is that at each level, the law enforcement approach has failed and that our authorities consistently fail to face up to this, and to the repercussions. If the purpose of drug prohibition is to protect our young people then I would argue they are failing completely. JD: Drug culture has clearly been a point of your concern for some years, what is it that drives your interest, and your filmmaking? I came to the issue through my series Cocaine, which was the product of a couple of years' work in Latin America. When I had finished the series, which was purely observational and left the audience to make up its own mind, I felt a certain need inside to express my own point of view, which had grown out of the making of the films. I am one of those rare breed who have never taken illegal drugs, and never felt the desire to. But I was aware that one of the problems of the drugs debate is how few people are willing to speak openly for fear of being attacked. JD: The 'Our Drugs War' films had a profound effect on my perceptions and opinions around the issue. Did you feel the series enjoyed a good response? It seems to have hit a moment. I am very gratified that it had an impact on you personally - it certainly seems to have forced reactions from viewers in general. When Channel 4 did a web chat immediately after the programme, there were 2000 questions sent in 60 minutes. That suggests a response. There is, I think, a real sense that what is happening at the moment is the worst of all worlds, though there is a way to go until that turns into real momentum for political action. JD: The discussion of drugs classification seems to have taken on a new lease of life, largely thanks to Professor Nutt; do you think there is growing scope for debate of alternative discourses on the matter? I think Professor Nutt, a respected scientist and apparently now "one of the most dangerous men in Britain", has performed a really useful job in raising difficult questions, even if not all agree with the answers he gives. His questioning of the present classification system is so patently correct - and I feel that correcting that is an important first step, because at present it is one
of the major reasons that the state's views of drugs are so discredited among children. JD: Legal highs were clearly a focus in the Everyone One's At It film. How do you view this trend affecting the discussion? Synthetic drugs merely make the whole task of prohibition more farcical. If we cannot prevent the importation of the old 'natural' drugs such as heroin, how in the world are we going to control the internet driven synthetic variety? And if we cannot control it, we should regulate it.... i.e. encourage the real scientific assessment of the harms and put ourselves in the position of being able to assess what is actually in them. JD: We seem to be presented with various reasons why the drugs laws aren't working. The answers don't seem as readily available. What do you view to be a progressive solution? At the heart of my position is that we have to tell the truth. At present there are too many lies and half-truths told about drugs and their effects. That is stage one. We need to do serious and long term research on the effect of drugs, combined with huge educational and health campaigns around those that are genuinely dangerous. (ie heroin, crack etc.)We must get away from a system that says that ecstasy is as dangerous as heroin; we have to get ourselves to the point that young people believe what they are told. Look how effective a generation of proper honest tobacco education has led to, as a society we now have largely agreed that if people want to kill themselves smoking, they can do it privately. An astonishing change in just one generation. JD: I'm of similar belief to yourself that radical reform needs to take place. What set of circumstances do you think would give rise to this? I don't know, it will take time. The US probably needs to move first and there are gentle signs that it might happen even with the failure of Californian Proposition 19 to legalise Cannabis. The seriousness of the war in Mexico spilling over the border may have some impact. But don't expect overnight change. Economics also helps. We cannot afford the failed law and order and prison regime that we now have. JD: How much faith do you have that this change will come about? I think things will change and I think it will take place in the foreseeable future. Angus MacQueen's Our Drugs War films are available on 4od.
It didn’t take long to get in touch Gareth*. A couple was arrested a while ago, but that was just for posof phone calls and favours called in, and I was to session. I’ve never been charged with intent [to According to the drugs are more widely available andout, cheaper thandealing ever. meet a third-year law experts student, illegal a friendly, presentsupply]”. Gareth, it turned had been able guyDoran - a student drug dealer. look, and explainssince in Year six years ago. I pressed him Jack takes a closer whyhehewas thinks the10,war on drugs in bound No dark alleys or squatted dens in sight, I met further; I wanted to know if the law played on his for failure Gareth in the Student’s Union. With a textbook mind. “It’s a massive consideration, it’s been a batunder his arm, he looked as any other might. He tle for the last couple of years but it’s pretty easy to spoke with a self-assured confidence, his answers just not think about.” were thoughtful. With no encouragement, Gareth turned to the Niceties aside, we began. He informed me he subject of Mephedrone, a substance he denounced sold two different substances to the students of as ‘horrible’. He talked of students with no experiCardiff. MDMA, the primary active ingredient in ence of taking drugs, consuming it in vast quanecstasy pills, an ‘upper’, and selling for £40 for a tities before the ban. The reason? He couldn’t pin gram. Ketamine, the notorious horse tranquilizer, it down, a combination of the legality, price and a ‘downer’, and £15 for the same quantity. availability. He expressed his concern at the stories I wanted to dig a little deeper into Gareth’s his- of children in schools using the potent powder. tory. He had no reservations in telling me of his The conversation turned to education, the means first experience taking drugs, smoking cannabis by which school-age children are learning about at the age of thirteen. As he grew older, he began drugs. Gareth was in no doubt, “scare tactics”. to experiment further, ecstasy, amphetamines and He expressed his concern at younger and younger a range of hallucinogenics. I was keen to learn children using intoxicants, inhibiting the develwhether our system of classification reflected the opments of their brains. He thought it necessary drugs that young people are taking, “No not at all”, to put fear in kids, to warn them off altogether. I Gareth explained, “in terms of selling, of course wondered if this method had proved successful it’s a consideration, but not for people who just use thusfar. the drugs”. He continued, “People base what drugs I wasn’t quite sure what to take away from this they take on personal research, it’s a social proc- encounter. From what I had been told, the system ess, based on peer advice and experience”. of classification was having little effect on what He had made it clear that the system of classi- drugs young people are choosing to take. Indeed, fication had little relevance in terms of advising the illegality of the substances seems to not be of the user of harm, but what of the legality, had he the recreational users concern. experienced any trouble with the police? “Yeah, I * Names Changed and Source Confidential
An Argument for true
No one: not scientists, politicians, policemen, dealers or users would claim the current laws on drugs are working. Within these individuals exist those who wish to reform the laws, and those more radical who wish to scrap them. Those who want to legalise drugs do so mainly for pragmatic reasonsand are on a sound footing with these claims. The reasoning behind the governments prohibition on drugs is in itself illogical- it "pushes people into lives of crime and poverty", whilst "drug dealing brings crime and violence to otherwise peaceful communities". Both reasons are consequences of the illegality of drugs, as opposed to the drugs themselves, and in this respect Angus Macqueen and others have my every support. There is however a more fundamental reason why drugs are illegal according to the government and this is because they "cause harm". It is here that I state an argument in favour of legalising drugs that most are unwilling to voice, and that is that we, as rational adults, have every right to harm ourselves. Freedom of choice, is at its most basic the freedom to make the wrong choice, and whilst some may view the use of drugs
as the wrong choice, that does not negate an individuals right to make such a decision. Mill defended our "liberty of tastes and pursuits...without impediment from our fellow creatures, so long as we do not harm them, even if they (think) our conduct, foolish, perverse or wrong", and 150 years later both government and the majority of the voting population seem to have forgotten the significance of this statement. The state is not there to define our morals, to force us into taking the path they view "right"- faith in our ability to make our own choices has been lost, and an increasing reliance on the state to tell us the manner in which to approach life is the consequence. Drugs may be dangerous to the individual, but so are all manner of things. As soon as you ask the government to protect us from ourselves and the choices you may (or may not) make, you inadvertently show a lack of trust in the ability of humans, and undermine the very meaning of freedom itself. Dom Kehat
Portugal In an attempt to curb the alarming number of deaths caused by drug abuse, Portugal saw the decriminalisation of prohibited drugs in 2001. But in the midst of a vigorous global clampdown on drug use and trafficking, has taking a step in the opposite direction proved successful? According to reports by the American libertarian think tank, the Cato Institute, the approach has indeed worked. Five years on, the number of drug related casualties fell from 400 to 290 annually. Since the implementation of the new policy, Portugal has had the lowest E.U rates of lifetime marijuana use amongst people over 15 years of age, as well as a significant drop in teenage heroin users. An individual will not face the might of the law if caught with up to ten days worth of supply. Should the stash exceed this amount, they are sent to a panel consisting of psychiatrists, social workers and legal advisers, where the drug taker’s fate is determined. This may be community service, a small fine, appropriate treatment or none of the above. About the same punishment for, lets say, speaking on your phone while driving. Since the radical change, the number of addicts registering for treatment and drug substitution programmes has quadrupled. The message from Portugal seems clear, it is wiser to encourage people to seek help instead of forcing them underground, where the problem continues to grow.
A Case y Stud .
While conservative forces in the country feared that Lisbon would become a new Amsterdam, a holiday resort for keen drug tourists, the statistics show that 95% of people caught with drugs are citizens of Portugal. Whilst the opposition can’t doubt the fact that the country’s new take on drug prevention is working, critics say they’re not convinced the policy is the only reason for the decrease, claiming that drug epidemics work in a ‘cyclical nature’. In other words, they’re saying drugs are getting out of fashion. Perhaps five years is a little short to get the whole picture, and there aren’t enough statistics to make a definite conclusion on the full outcome of decriminalising drugs. And perhaps Portugal is a country a little too small to be used as a blueprint for future solutions to defeating illegal drug problems in the rest of the world. But we do know that tightening drug enforcement is yet to work. It seems quite unlikely that Britain would consider adapting the same attitude towards illegal substances anytime soon. It’s still a sensitive matter, and our established beliefs are hard to break despite advances in research and methods that tell us liberation is the way forward.At least Portugal has shown us that the supposed apocalypse that comes with easing on the war on drugs is cancelled until further notice. Alexi Gunner
e Th a e o h r r a Di a i f a M
Gavin Jewkes relives his gastronomical nightmares in Mexico. This summer my friends and I embarked on a trip to Mexico and Guatemala. Funded by the U.S. Government and a sketchy sounding German pharmaceutical company, we were part of the final stages of a clinical trial, testing out a vaccine that supposedly combats the bacteria that cause traveller’s diarrhoea. Now, it may sound insane that we would subject our bodies to such medical interference, but when you consider that the carrot in front of our donkey-noses was a free trip to Central America and a cash reward of £1400 perhaps you can see why we went. Unfortunately for me the vaccine did not work. No way. Not at all. Adding to that embarrassment was the fact that we had been dubbed the 'diarrhoea mafia' by our fellow travelling compadres. It was great to be gallivanting about thinking that I had a chemically protected gut of iron, but the cruel reality was that I had been given the placebo and as such entered chronic diarrhoea-ville for much of my trip. Here are some Mexican foods to avoid if, like me, you’re not a big fan of malnutrition and whiling away the hours hovering over a longdrop when you're on holiday:
I noticed a live maggot burrowing its way through the filling. Thinking that this all added to the experience of eating a grub and insect taco, I thought nothing of just chewing that little chap right down. Upon finishing said taco I was informed that it was, in fact, a vegetable taco and that maggoty blighter was actually just crashing my vegetable filling’s party. Horrendous food poisoning ensued. Pulque Made from fermented cactus leaves, this Mexican tipple of choice is not for the faint hearted. We decided to leave ours for a few days just to really let it simmer, ferment and fizz to the max. Glad we did that. Days spent in bed clutching stomach = 2. Deep fried ants in chilli flakes These are severe. Please don’t eat them unless you are partial to a lodged exoskeleton in your oesophagus and a queasy feeling that lasts for hours. Remember, embracing culinary cultural differences is a must when you are away. Just be careful about any unwanted larvae in your lunch or spirits that have been brewed by a French hippie, who has set up shop beneath a cliff, in the middle of the jungle. Bon apetit.
Tacos I was eating what I believed to be a grub-filled taco when
Thanksgiving So Thanksgiving is basically pre-Christmas Christmas, right? Apparently not. This week Lydia Korol-Bluring talks us through what Thanksgiving is actually about. To us Brits, Thanksgiving is little more than the meal that Chandler refuses to eat and the time of year that Joey got a turkey stuck on his head in Friends. But having lived in America for two years, I was lucky enough to experience the renowned holiday firsthand. And there is certainly more to it than roast turkey and pumpkin pie. Thanksgiving is a harvest festival that essentially gives thanks for the harvest as well as everything else deserving of gratitude. Its exact history is a subject of debate, but the most widely recognised belief is that it first took place in Massachusetts in 1621. That year saw the colonised Pilgrims and Native American Indians sharing a feast on the Plymouth Plantation to celebrate a successful harvest after an extremely tough winter. Any excuse for a celebration should be justified, but this seems a pretty good one to me. My own personal memories of Thanksgiving take me back to making pumpkin cookies in home economics and putting on Pilgrim plays at school, but these are only
a small part of the holiday’s phenomenal grip on the nation. Parades are a key part of the day and are held in numerous cities all across the country. The largest and most notable is the annual Macy’s Parade that takes place in New York City and boasts huge and wonderful floats and balloons. This year Jack Black’s Kung Fu Panda is making an appearance as one of the headlining inflatables. The heart of Thanksgiving is however of course the meal. Naturally, harvest foods are usually prominent in the kitchen line up and most meals would be lost without turkey, yams, pumpkins and cranberries. My personal recommendation would be pumpkin cheesecake. Thanksgiving falls on the fourth Thursday of November and this year lies on the 25th. So why not join together with your flatmates and cook a scrummy meal? Or take a minute to think of a few things that you are thankful for.
Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious has to be more Hannah Van Den Bergh takes on than one word? the novel-in-a-month challenge. If you’re anything like me, no doubt you find it hard enough to get your three thousand word summative essay in on time, let alone write something engaging and cohesive. It will plague you for months beforehand, and take you hours to edit into something you’re happy to show to another living being. No doubt you’ll moan about timing and spend weeks on www.synonyms.com (because if it’s more than eight letters long it’s got to look intelligent, right?), and if you’re a Law student you’ll spend the month in the library, and learn to speak only in whispers. What I’m getting at is that the essay period can be a sobering (and if you don’t like your subject, a brain-numbing) experience, but we all have to get on and do it whether we like it or not. With frequent Facebook breaks it seems a little bit less burdensome, but are we not drawing that horrific word count out even longer? Maybe if you have an underlying passion for words it’s more enjoyable? Maybe if you’ve read the dictionary everything’s a bit easier? But that figure still stands in the way between you and the elusive academic cap you wish so willingly to throw into the air. So, tell me I’m crazy, but on November 1, I decided I’d write 50,000 words in no particular order, in the hope that somehow the result would be something readable and cohesive. Well, you're only twenty once! National Novel Writer’s Month (NaNoWriMo for short) is one of those weird and wonder-
ful celebrations of braininess. Moreover, it's a weird and wonderful antidote to laziness; with the seemingly endless word count hanging over my head and the fact I’ve told everyone I know, I cannot chicken out, or put it down to bad timing. Hospitalisation isn’t even an excuse... they have pens and paper in hospital. At least 50,000 words is the plan. To break it down to you, that’s approximately 11,669 words a week, or 1,667 words a day, or -and this really hurts my head- 1.2 words a minute every minute for the next month. Yikes. Fifty thousand words is the equivalent of 16.5 three thousand-word essays. But what’s the point? I don’t have an innate yearning to be at my computer every waking moment of the day, or become a mere memory of my friends who likely won’t see me for days on end. But (and it’s a big but), I do want to write a novel and I look forward to the smug look on my face at future artsy events where I can laugh at those who’ve taken longer than 30 days to produce their masterpiece. And, well, this is the perfect opportunity. It allows you to write who you want into where you want at any given minute you want. And the beauty of it is that this is only the first edit. Embrace your poor writing and just get it out of your brain. So quit looking scared, and overwhelmed because it never suited you. Just pick up a pen and say hello to your inner genius. email@example.com
Reviews... New Books
Andrew Taylor, The Anatomy of Ghosts In 1786, a ghost is said to be haunting Jerusalem College, Cambridge. John Holdsworth, author of 'The Anatomy of Ghosts' - a scathing account of why ghosts cannot actually exist – is hired to investigate. He glimpses a world of privilege and abuse and finds himself haunted; not only by the ghost of his dead wife but by others more sinister, and must find answers or the haunting will continue. New novel by acclaimed crime author Andrew Taylor, sets a flawless period atmosphere and plunges the reader into a world that is both intriguing and entertaining through brilliant attention to detail. The Anatomy of Ghosts offers a suspenseful and atmospheric read that is difficult to put down. Though not a ghost story per se, the text uses the paranormal to masterfully explore themes of loss, love and crime. Both plot and characterisation do, however, slip a little towards the end, resulting in a denouement that leaves the reader confused and somewhat unimpressed. Lovers of Lindsey Davis and P.C. Doherty will certainly enjoy this novel.
6/10 Catriona Camacho
Romy Wood, Bamboo Grove Eastern Visions is a diverse network of individuals, each with their own colourful tales. When bipolar sufferer Jessica joins the team, things change for the better and her dual nature brings both spontaneous and uplifting highs and disheartening, devastating lows. Her silent child, Yingyang, narrates some of the story through a remarkable and sometimes naïve perspective, documenting Jessica’s mood swings and the people whose lives she affects around her. A well-written novel with some interesting underlying messages about relationships, duty, poverty and love set against the juxtaposing backgrounds of England and Bangkok. However, the ending was a bit disappointing and didn’t exploit the closure that would have made the story a lasting and thought-provoking tale.
6/10 Jo Cawley
Older Favourites Linwood Barclay, Fear the Worst There’s nothing like a good thriller, is there? Settling in under the duvet with a nice cup of tea, being unable to switch off the light until the early hours… So fans be warned: Linwood Barclay’s latest is nothing like a good thriller. The premise goes like this: car salesman Tim Blake’s daughter doesn’t arrive home after her job in a motel, and it soon transpires that she didn’t work there at all. A series of tedious questions ensue: where is she? What was she hiding? (and does anyone care?) If you happen to have read any other Barclay novels, you’ll be forgiven for thinking ‘hang on a sec, this sounds familiar!’, which is probably because the plot is near-identical to those of his previous books minus the actual thrilling parts and the twists that made the others so readable. Take it back to the library and get a Harlan Coben out instead.
4/10 Alice Hughes
Joseph Heller, Catch-22 How can you buy eggs for 7 cents, sell them for 5 cents and still make a profit? Catch-22 does something which very few other books do: it creates insane, illogical, unconnected situations and knits them together seamlessly in a logical and sane fashion, constantly repeating itself and conditioning you to put a coherent story together, using punch lines as guide marks. Its purposely unorthodox attitude to language reminds me of The Hitchhiker's Guide, but I think this book is better. It’s better because the book is a critique on reasoning itself and it uses its advantage of being wacky to lead you into a false sense of security. This book literally contains an entire army of characters, none of them insignificant. Every character is well developed, particularly Yossarian, a Captain Bombardier who acts as a sort of guide to the book, appearing regularly to hold the story’s unpredictability together. It’s a fun and widely ranging, topical, character-development sandwich. So, if you want to learn how to become the best worst marketing executive, how to fly the most practical bombing line, twice, how to accidentally get to the rank of Major, or how to buy eggs for 7 cents, sell them for 5 cents and still make a profit, this is the book for you. That is, if you can get around the catch.
8/10 Luke Baker
Roger Deakin, Waterlog Very occasionally, a book comes along that is so good, it impels its reader to embark on a temporary crusade to implore everyone in their wake to read it too. For this reader, right now, that book is Waterlog by the late Roger Deakin; a meandering, bucolic account of his quest to explore and swim in the many and varied waterways of Britain. It is an invigorating and beautifully written paean to nature and freedom that will make you see this country with different eyes and feel downright clean. Wholesome, life-affirming, with lashings of afternoon tea and idyllic snapshots of our rainy isle; it’s simply wonderful. I defy anyone not to plunge themselves into the Taff immediately after reading it (in a strictly non-suicidal way, of course). Everyone should read this book.
9.5/10 Alice Hughes
Opposite: Blue cardigan £16, Vest £10
Men's knit wear to fight over 20
Baby, it's cold outside, and what better excuse to snuggle up in your boyfriend's cosy cardigans. Beware: this is men's knitwear you'll be fighting over.
Below: Red cardigan £16, Basketball vest £10, High tops £25. Opposite: Patterned Jumper £16
Styled by Lucy Trevallion and Gwennan Rees Photography by Chris Griffiths and Tom Armstrong Modelled by Migle Mikulenaite Hair and Makeup by Jessica Wretlind Clothes by Hobo's Special thanks to Ultimate Fitness Centre, Cardiff
The Fashion Social Network With cyber style bang on trend, Gwennan Rees asks what all the hype is about. Blogs, social networking sites, LOOKBOOKs... nowadays you don’t even need to step outside your door to be seen wearing the latest styles. All you need is a little technological knowhow and a trusty friend to take your photo et voila your fashion flourishes (as well as your fashion flops) could be seen by millions of people worldwide. With over 50,000 members, and one million unique hits per month, the popularity of LOOKBOOK.nu, a virtual fashion gallery, is clearly on the rise. Their aim is to be "the largest source of fashion inspiration from real people around the world". So it seems technology is at the forefront of a fashion revolution. No longer are we looking to fashion moguls to show us how to dress. People are trusting in their own fashion abilities and harnessing it as a way of self expression and inspiration for other internet users. Move over Kate Moss, there are 50,000 new kids on the block all with street style and artistically photographed ‘looks’. Users from all over the world can upload their ‘looks’ onto the LOOKBOOK.nu site. The LOOKBOOK community then scores the look with points, known as Hype to judge the outfit’s popularity. The more hype the look gets the higher up on the ‘Hot’ list the outfit goes. The most favoured outfits have been known to receive over 1000 hypes and 100 com-
ments after less than one day on the site, demonstrating the immense power of the internet. Although no negative comments are permitted on the site, the hype value of an outfit tells all about its status in the eyes of the community. So the site can become competitive and turn into a bit of a popularity contest. Hypes become a mode of approval from other internet users. They are much like a modern take on being whistled at in the street, which, let’s face it, we all get secretly pleased about. And so the site, naturally, can become addictive. Industry insiders have caught wind of these street style websites and have begun using them to scout models and stylists who they would like to work with. This makes it the ideal starting point for anyone who wants to work in the fashion industry to display their style. Yet, these sites can also be dangerous. As its name suggests, the whole nature of the site is voyeuristic, and who knows who may be watching. Remember to stay safe on the internet and not to divulge your personal information, even if someone is claiming to make all your dreams come true. By posting your image onto these websites you’re inviting people to judge you, so be prepared for the responses- they have much more of a sting when written in cyber ink.
The LookBook experiment... Leonie Roderick embarks on a fashion adventure into the realm of cyber space
Monday, 01 November 2010 After thinking long and hard, I’ve decided to put an outfit up on one of the most popular fashion websites on the internet, showcasing thousands and thousands of inspiring outfits, called LOOKBOOK.nu. I’m quite excited to join the ‘fashion in-crowd’, yet extremely apprehensive. After doing some research on the website I’ve come to the main conclusion that most people on there must be models or actors, and have more fashion sense in their small toe than I could ever dream of possessing. Oh dear.
Tuesday, 02 November 2010 Now the real work begins. What on earth am I going to wear?! I search through my wardrobe, trying to find a fashionable yet original outfit. I manage to scramble together my black wedges, a dress which I was planning on wearing to a wedding and my leather jacket to hopefully create a bit of an ‘edge’. After awkwardly getting my picture taken by my housemate (after all, I’m no Gisele Bündchen), I decide to put it on LOOKBOOK...here we go.
Wednesday, 03 November 2010 Getting publicity for my looks is a lot more difficult than I thought; it feels like my ordinary pictures are drowning in a sea of artistic photographs. Desperate times call for desperate measures; I need to start promoting my posted looks! I start linking the pictures to a few social networking sites like Twitter, Blogger and Facebook. I also discover that the people on LOOKBOOK are like a clique; everyone knows everyone, so I try to comment a lot on other people’s outfits to get them to have a look at mine. Hopefully this will start to pay off !
Thursday, 04 November 2010 Result! I finally start to rank in some comments and ‘hypes’ from other LOOKBOOK-users. They range from the simple ‘loving your dress!’ to the more original ‘love this rock ‘n roll chic outfit’. The main conclusion I can draw from this experiment is that it is extremely addictive, so try it at your own risk...
LARRY CLARK In light of this issue’s drug special, we have brought to you the groundbreaking, and somewhat controversial work of Larry Clark. Some may know him for his dark and disturbing low-budget film Kids (1995), in which Clark takes his viewer into the sinister depths of New York teenage life. Others may know him from Bully (2001), which offers an undiluted look at a group of bored, lifeless teens who can't quite decipher the real world from their own small social bubble. However, as well as being a highly reputed film director, Larry Clark is equally known within the world of visual art for four photo-essays published between 1971 and 1993. The first photo-essay of this series, ‘Tulsa’, appeared on bookshelves in 1971 and sparked immediate controversy across the United States, and ul-
timately across the globe. As you can see from his images dotted around the page, the graphic photographs exposed a disturbing and cynical side of middle class suburban life, one that had not previously been publicly displayed. It could in fact be argued that ‘Tulsa’ brought aspects of a lifestyle, previously considered social taboo, into the forefront of public discussion. With images showing youths enjoying drugs, sex and violence, ‘Tulsa’ shocked its audience into the realisation that immoral, and often criminal, activity could be found in even the most middle class and suburban of communities, not just the urban poor environments of popular belief. However, aside from the obvious shocking content of the imagery, ‘Tulsa’ appeared to present an extension of Clark’s life. The book opens with the quote:
“I was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma in January 1943. When I was sixteen I started shooting Valo. Valo was a nasal inhaler you could buy at the drugstore for a dollar with a tremendous amount of amphetamine in it. We would work up a shot and shoot it. I shot with my friends everyday through high school. When I was eighteen I left Tulsa and went to art school and studied photography. In 1963 I went back to Tulsa, and shot Valo, and took pictures for a few months.” This illustrates how ‘Tulsa’, along with his later publications, was a project very closely related to Clark’s life. The photographs were taken in three protracted series between 1963 and 1971, producing images with startling intimacy and emotional intensity. As shown in the above quote, this intimacy was largely due to the fact that Clarke was photographing his own circle of friends in their hometown. This
allowed Clark to photograph the activities of these people in a way in which no other photographer could possibly do: up-close and personal. The controversial and graphic content of the images is given a greater shock value through the intimate and close proximity which Clark was allowed to maintain with his subject. The raw and haunting feel of the images in 'Tulsa’ documents a generation of youths progressively overwhelmed by masochistic self-destruction, arguably brought on by the political discontent and perceived hopelessness of the time. Looking though Clark’s photographs, you can’t help but feel you are witness to a remarkable insight into an unexpected and overlooked drug culture, and they are as moving and disturbing today as when they were first released.
The theme for the next issue, (in true festive spirit) is 'Christmas.' Send your photos in to firstname.lastname@example.org for your last chance to see one of your images in print this term!
Synne Hathway wins the Portrait theme with this poignant image.
. .. D A O R B A S N O S PRI f
ir experiences o
ts share the Cardiff Studen foreign prisons.
Opium in Vietnam is a nasty business. Despite it being popular and easily available here since time immemorial, the penalties for using it are severe. Very severe . Often the farmers who supply you the drug are being paid by the police to act as informants, meaning there are hostile forces in place ready to catch out naively relaxed Westeners. If you are lucky you will end up in a city prison, where you're closer to outside support and regulations. However, if you are sent to an isolated countryside prison, things can get a little primitive. Without giving away too much vile detail, let's just say that one method the authorities use to diffuse 'fustration' in all- male rural prisons is to supply pigs: for about 50,000 Dong (about 1.50 GDP) you can get a male pig for about 15 mins; 100,000 Dong gets you a female pig. Double that again and you can get a 'good-looking' pig (whatever one of those is). After thirty years, who's to say what lengths you'd go to. Brewster Pius Craven
“Break the rules and you go to prison, break the prison rules and you go to Alcatraz.” Once home to America’s most notorious and gruesome criminals, Alcatraz now opens its doors to the innocent public who can wander through the high security prison. The island, located just off the coast of San Francisco, once held such prisoners as Al 'Scarface' Capone, 'The Birdman' Robert Stroud and George 'Machine Gun' Kelly. 'The Rock' held the worst of the worst and became legendary for its difficulty to escape from. None succeeded in making it to the mainland, but truly unbelievable stories are told of papier-mâché body doubles and ‘the battle of Alcatraz’ –in which 6 convicts held the guards hostage and took over the prison for 3 days. During the tour, you will hear recordings from former inmates and prison officers as you walk through the cellblock, describing the astounding events. It’s truly realistic with added sound effects so you can hear the inmates’ whispers and heckles in the background. Alcatraz even holds night tours where you can visit the psychiatric ward and enter the cells of the most soulless of murderers. The tour opens your senses to the brutalities of prison life and helps visitors understand the pitiful existence of its inmates. Rebecca White
Uganda is often thought of as being full to the brim with instability, poverty and corruption, and while all of this is true, it is also so much more. I lived there for 12 months and can honestly say I’ve never been anywhere so loud, smelly, chaotic, dusty, goat-filled, friendly, joyful and colourful, or so full of tea. Ugandans are the friendliest people I have ever met. There are so many of them that will invite you into their homes on the first meeting, cook you huge meals, introduce you to all their family (and when I say all, I mean all: second cousins twice removed included) and will ask nothing more of you than friendship (though there are a few sneaky buggers fishing for a visa). They’re also very honest people. I was teaching in a village secondary school, so faced with some of the country's frankest citizens – teenagers. Despite being a modest size ten I was often told how fat I was: on one occasion whilst walking with my students and discussing my size, we passed a cow tied to a bush on the side of the road. Hearing for at least 20 mins that white girls shouldn’t be so bulky I pointed to the cow and said “at least I’m not that big”. But, to my surprise, this was soon to be contested. Without any inhibition, one of the boys cycling past turned around and shouted to me “No, madam, you are more!”
Heather Arnold I cannot think of a better reason to drag yourself out of bed at 4am, other than to spend the day visiting the mighty Machu Picchu, a mountain-top archaeological site of the ancient Inca empire in Peru. Despite the overnight stay in the slightly dodgy purpose-built tourist town of Aguas Calientes, the early start and the scramble to the bus stop in order to be the first ones to make it up to the site for sunrise, I could not have wished for a more awe-inspiring day. Watching the site slowly being flooded with light as the sun peeped out from behind a nearby mountain was unforgettable, and, as if exploring the incredible ancient town isn’t enough, there is the added challenge of climbing Wayna Picchu, the mountain which overlooks the site. It wasn’t easy clambering up the steep, winding stone pathway, especially as the altitude enjoys slowing you down, but it was so worth it when I reached the top. Surrounded by green mountains, valleys, blue sky and white fluffy clouds as far as the eye can see, this is definitely the most breathtaking view I saw on my gap year. And seeing the site below now looking strangely small, you can sit for hours pondering the puzzle of how the Incas managed to build something so impressive, at such a height, all those years ago.
Prior to arriving in Frankfurt, I had visions of my au pair experience being similar to The Sound of Music; I would take my three German children to the mountainside , where they would sing in harmony while wearing clothes I had sewn from carpets. The reality is an au pair is an underpaid mother, taxi driver, doctor, cleaner, chef, mediator and relationship counsellor. Over six months I was expected to become all of these things at 18 years of age. Naturally I was exhausted after my six-month contract ended and I decided to pay two organisations, Contiki and TopDeck, to plan the next three months of my gap year. Over 12 weeks I saw 21 countries in Europe. From Santa Clause in the North Pole to a Ministry of Sound Greek Island festival, I experienced some of the most amazing things. After so much hedonism I decided a three-month volunteer program in Ghana would help me repent. I taught English during the week and on the weekends , I would either tour around the country or offer my help at an orphanage. Out of everything I did over the year the volunteering was the most addictive travel experience that I could recommend to those considering a gap year.
Christiana Courtright When I mention Madagascar to anyone, the first thought to pop into their heads generally is an image of singing lemurs and talking lions. And to be honest this was how I imagined it too, before I spent three incredible months there on my gap year. In fact Madagascar is so much more than just the movie. Itâ€™s not only a beautiful place, with its acres of rice fields, mountainous skyline and picturesque beaches, but the people are also ridiculously welcoming. The main reason for my visit was to volunteer at an orphanage just outside the capital city, Antananarivo, more commonly known by the Malagasy people as Tana. The children there age from 3 months to around 17 years old and during my stay I was involved in taking care of them and teaching them English in two classes every week. As well as this, a group of us refurbished a building to be used as a playroom for some of the younger children. Looking back, my time there was not only a lot of fun but also allowed me to be part of a completely different culture to ours here in the UK - an experience I would recommend to anyone!
PRIDE What happened when a homosexual, a bisexual and a lesbian went in search of your typical gay man?
A WORD WITH THE BOD... OK – for those of you who’ve been watching the X-Factor, just because Diva Fever may fulfil some of the clichés it doesn’t make them all true, and though I might have little in common with the average gay man I can certainly tell you that: • Not all gay men like dance music – and few actually fetishise Kylie. • Few gay men are promiscuous –in fact OK Cupid tells us that ‘2% of gay people have had 23% of the total reported gay sex’. In fact, the image is skewed by this small minority (you know who you are!). • Gay does not mean camp. Some gays are camp, some aren’t, and not everyone who is camp is gay. So don’t just accept the stereotypes. However, if you realise you’re recognising these traits in yourself, just go with the flow and be fabulous, darling. Kate Boddington
& SEE K SHUH-MYON-CHKO INTRODUCES.
It was my gay best friend who first taught me how to wear heels, the very same to whom I owe probably the most stunning make-up I own (and a haircut of a lifetime). So very clichéd, but so very life-saving too. Were I to come up with a list of some lifelong friends, the male half would be gay. My life is therefore clearly over-gayed, taking into account any statistical average of the population. Note the frequent use of the word ‘life’; my life would not be my life without them in it. Perhaps I'm getting a bit melodramatic with this self-reflection. I need to cut the self part here. This issue is about THEM; so very distinctive, wonderful and unique individuals, who never stop at just being gay. Anna Siemiaczko
WHAT THE HEC WONDERS IF HE’S HOMO ALONE When walking down the street, everyone likes to flatter themselves that people can identify them in one way or another. The image you’re trying to put across to others is important to your own self image. For example, I presume that it is blindingly obvious to anyone around me that I am an out-and-proud homosexual of the male genus. But is this true, or just another outlet for my ever-burgeoning narcissism? In short, what is 'gay'; what does it look like, and more importantly, why should you care? To take stock for a moment, people seem more likely to identify me as someone who ''could be'' Doctor Who. Looking in the mirror, it’s fair to say that this genetic malfunction of curly hair, velvet jacket and glasses on a slim but stubby male body does not scream 'gay' at all. But, perhaps we’re setting up a false dichotomy. Turn 360˚ in any gay bar and it’d be impossible to draw a single archetypal gay man. From scene-queens to emo-kids, from fake tan to full beards, whatever the tabloids may say there is absolutely no universal 'gay' way to look, dress or behave. In my opinion, this is a fantastic thing. In spite of society’s desire to neatly compartmentalise people (we all do it, I’m not judging), what I choose to do with whom is not the defining feature of my life. Even though in our (relatively) open, tolerant society, I can go to the pub, watch the rugby and play pool (badly) just like anyone else, why is there still that nagging little awareness that I’m gay in the back of my mind? Perhaps it comes down to the things we can’t do. In spite of leaps forward in legal rights for gay men, society seems less tolerant of some little acts. Who hasn’t stared, or just wondered, when they see two men holding hands walking down the street? When David Watkins set up the Same Sex Hand Holding campaign last year, he was pilloried by some gay men for encouraging other gay men to put themselves at risk of queer-bashing – from verbal abuse to beatings and knifings. It probably isn’t news to you that in this country today gay and bisexual men still cannot give blood- a law which many are fighting to repeal. However, living in Cardiff at the start of the 21st century, we are very fortunate. This is not Saudi Arabia or the handful of central African states in which holding hands in public, let alone kissing, is punished with imprisonment. Similarly, this is not the Britain of fifty years ago where homosexuality was seen as a crime and a sin. From rugby players to pop princesses, us gays are a diverse bunch. But, if there’s one thing that should unite all gay men, it’s self-respect, and the self-respect to ask the same of others. Hector Roddan
At the unveiling of the new gallery space in September Paul Loveluck (President of Amgueddfa Cymru) voiced his hope to create an independent gallery space for Wales right here in the heart of the Civic Centre. Such a plan would require relocating the Natural History and Science exhibits to other locations around the Cardiff area. This all sounds extremely glamorous but is an independent gallery space a good idea? Will it raise the profile of Art in Wales or will it obscure it? We put the question to two of our reviewers:
Should there be an independent gallery for Art here in the Civic Centre?
I was keen to revisit the National Museum and Gallery of Wales as it has recently undergone a major revamp. The galleries upstairs have now been divided into smaller, more specific spaces but this does not detract from the works displayed. One highlight is the French Impressionist and Post-Impressionist collection, most of which was left to Wales by Gwendoline and Margaret Davies. Star attractions include La Parisienne by Renoir and Van Gogh’s Rain, Auvers and my personal favourite is Monet’s colourful San Giorgio Maggiore by Twilight. A new feature of the galleries is a small exhibition dedicated to the Davies sisters, who amassed and subsequently bequeathed to the nation a vast collection of important works, including eight paintings by Monet. It seems appropriate that their foresight and generosity is now acknowledged alongside the art they gave us. Cardiff is very fortunate to have all this wonderful artwork on display, free of charge, in such a prominent position and it would be a shame to remove anything from this prime civic centre location. The art, together with the natural history and science exhibits in the National Museum and Gallery, form a popular family day out with something for everyone. This combination also
has the potential to introduce an amazing array of art to a wider audience, who might not normally visit an art gallery. Splitting up the different areas could make the art collections seem more exclusive or specialist and lead to fewer visitors overall. Although the exhibits are extensive it is also questionable whether there is enough material to justify two or more separate museums and the cost, especially after the recent facelift, would be considerable. The different aspects of the museum already have their own well-defined spaces and are presented in a logical, informative way. It is not as if Monet’s paintings are jumbled up with fossils and ancient helmets. Wales can be proud of its National Museum and Gallery as well as people like the Davies sisters who helped make it what it is. The scope and significance of its contents reflects Cardiff ’s capital status and with unique items on show there is no need to compete, in terms of museum size and numbers, with London and other bigger cities. When you have the largest Impressionist collection outside of France it does not really matter if there are dinosaurs downstairs. Laura Amey
The most inspiring gallery (and the most relevant to the new project) in the museum is The Power of Land: a gallery dedicated to the impressions that the Welsh landscape has left on artists throughout the ages. Wales has a cultural and national identity that allows for fresh and innovative collections such as The Power of Land to be created. With an even greater art space provided the possibilities for innovation would expand tremendously. The collection combines numerous genres of art and showcases them by their landscape rather than style or period. The museum wanted to position paintings of the same subject matter ‘side by side to show how places have inspired [artists] in different ways.’ Where else but the National Museum Cardiff would a visitor be able to see the vivid, oil painting Forest Cove, Cardigan Bay by John Brett in the same exhibition as Kyfin Williams’ Anglesey Cottage with Cattle? The National Museum Cardiff has the opportunity to become one of the major national stages for art outside of London and, with this new scheme in place, Wales would be able to build up an art portfolio worthy of world renown. This possibility has already been set in motion as Wales has gathered the largest Impressionist collection outside of
France: works by Monet, Van Gogh and Renoir can be found within the museum. Welsh Impressionism is also represented as the works of Welsh artist Kyfin Williams are spread throughout the building. One of his rare portrait pieces is among them. His representation of Sir Charles Evans (an important Welsh Figure himself) was donated personally by Williams and shows that there is artistic backing for a local art space here in Cardiff. The renovated art spaces are light, airy, and welcoming and display the pieces to their best potential. Care has also been taken to involve children in the appreciation of art. ‘Hands-on’ stations have been devised, such as the one surrounding the ‘Jenkins’ vase, where information about painting techniques and subject matter can be learned. It is my belief that the opportunity for Cardiff to launch itself onto the world art stage is an occasion not to be missed. The newly refurbished galleries in the National Museum Cardiff are a standing testament to the possible future success of an international and local art space: the National Museum Cardiff has proved itself a keen contender. Samantha Parker
The Breakin’ Convention headlined the Breaking the Bay festival at the WMC. Boasting live graffitti art, modern and hiphop dance, plus booming backstreet music, would it turn out to be the showstopping performance we had all been promised?
The Breakin’ Convention certainly left me broken in two. But why? The first half was packed with life and fun. The debut act Eruption, a group of Port Talbot preteens, lacked the technical skill of older acts but definitely made up for it with raw enthusiasm. Other standout acts included Trinity Warriors with their piece Scenes From A Life (which reminded me of the opening to West Side Story done B Boy style) and Parisian group Phase T, whose exuberant and dramatic performance – combined with breathtaking stunts – earned them a standing ovation they definitely deserved. This was an elevating and promising start which - unfortunately - was not equalled by the half to follow. The entire second half was occupied by French-German duo Sébastien and Raphael, whose surreal combination of BBoy and capoeira styles with stunts, video imagery, and lighting tricks was eerie and artistic but missed the fun of the earlier performances. If anything, it all seemed a little disjointed. I felt it would have benefitted from combining this professional and polished dance act with the energy of the younger and upcoming dancers. So I stand torn in two. I really admired the skill of the later acts but I missed the bursts of energy evident in the earlier performances. Overall: worth seeing, seriously enjoyable and definitely deserving of a bigger audience than it got but the second half was completely overshadowed by the first. Bethan Cable
CHECKMATE Chess the Musical, much like the game itself, is something of an acquired taste... An intense socio-political backdrop shows the superpowers, the USA and the USSR, clashing at the 1979 world chess championship. A clever combination of archive footage and on stage camera work provides the political undertones. It is however, the self indulgent, melodramatic love triangle between the leads that take centre stage in this production. The stars of this show are the company. The all singing, all dancing chorus also happen to provide the music, with double bassists kicking back on the floor and cellos being straddled from all kinds of compromising angles. Shona White may be something of a West End show stopper and she is truly sensational. But the company reserve the right to steal the standing ovation every time. Despite an emotionally charged plot, the production values were glitter stuffed and sensational with a streak of Strictly Come Dancing glamour. The chess piece costumes were nothing short of miniature masterpieces. It appears that
chess tournaments are also the perfect excuse to clad your male dancers in gold hot pants and have them dangle from poles. Absolutely no complaints there though. â€œOne Night in Bangkokâ€? was a fabulous opener to the better half of the production and an absolute guilty pleasure. Chess the Musical is performed with strategic musical skill across a chequered board stage with ostentatious precision and perfection. The name of the game is to put the audience under a powerful spell and by the end of the second half, they most definitely will submit. I think they call that checkmate. Kirsty Allen
Cardiff's New Theatre showcased Frank Vickery's latest play, Barkin, last week but would it be something to shout about?
If youâ€™re searching for a prickly, dark comedy look no more. Barkin adjoins humour to the implications of tattered relationships between parents and their children - in this case a mother and daughter - implies a sense of mystery from the outset. Is there more to this than meets the eye? So what works? The writing uses puns and irony to describe the stories of each character and is, as a result, utterly compelling. Vickery deserves credit for producing such a convincing and compelling plot. This is paralleled by the outstanding
performance of the actors and actresses. I was glued to my seat and totally convinced by portrayal of the family's dark and dysfunctional family secret. Spectacular, eerie and unforgettable: when you expect it all to end the story takes a dramatic turn. The director deserves hearty applause for doing such justice to the script. All in all a recommended watch. Zenia Diwen
And So I Watch You James Blake From Afar Buffalo Bar Clwb Ifor Bach Wed 24th November Fans of instrumental, post-rock, mathmatical riffery fun will be overjoyed to find rising Irish stars And So I Watch You From Afar making their presence known at Welsh Club on 24th November. Since their inception in 2005, 'Afar have released three EPs and in 2009 unleashed their self-titled debut album which was showered with plenty review-based praise. The band has already toured with a myriad of big names, including the likes of Them Crooked Vultures, 65daysofstatic, Oceansize and Clutch, so their appearance at Clwb could be one of the last opportunities to see the Belfast foursome's intense live show on a relatively small stage. With support from Tubelord and local hardcore heroes Samoans, 24th November looks set to please for those of a rockin', yet thoughtful, disposition.
Thurs 25th November On 25th November, Buffalo Bar plays host to the minimal postdubstep stylings of James Blake. With a degree in Popular Song from Goldsmiths, you can expect some quality compositions from the producer's diverse performance. Building on the acclaim heaped upon 2009's Air & Lack Thereof, May saw Blake unleash CMYK which Radio 1 DJ Nick Grimshaw called his record of the week. Further mainstream success was accrued in September with a cover of Feist's Limit to Your Love, named 'Hottest Record in the World' by Zane Lowe. Blake's effortlessly experimental stylings are demonstrated in his gospel and soul influenced approach to the dubstep genre, balancing the old with the contemporary. This unique sound is by no means lost on his enraptured audiences, as James Blake intends to prove to the crowds at Buffalo Bar.
The Globe Tues 30th November Just a quick clarification: Neil Buchanan, of Art Attack fame, is not, and never was, dead. And on November 30th he's intent on proving it to The Globe with his old-school heavy metal band, Marseille. Little known to the CITVconsuming masses, Neil wasn't always a renowned painter and architect. Before his penchant for Big Art Attacks, he served as axe-man on three albums with Marseille, one of the unsung heroes of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal in the late '70s and early '80s. The band reformed in 2009 and released Unfinished Business in September, their first album in over 25 years. Expect Marseille to demonstrate just how unfinished their business is with when they unleash their self-proclaimed 100% British kick-ass rock. If you like your metal heavy and your art attacked, this is the gig for you. Michael Brown
A rundown of some recent releases
Teeth of the Sea Your Mercury Rocket Recordings
7/10 After gaining critical success with their debut, Teeth of the Sea are back with their own brand of post-psych-rock. Clearly, the album is hard to link to a specific genre and the underlying theme is difficult to determine, although it is one of exploration and adventure (both musically and in the imagery it conjures). This is due to its experimental and varied nature. The Ambassador sounds like a 6 minute version of an early Metallica intro; a drone of noise with aggressive tomtom beatings. A.C.R.O.N.Y.M brings 70’s psych rock with distorted guitar riffs and screaming feedback together with early synths. Think Manfred Mann's Earth Band meets the intro of The Who’s Baba O’Riley. The title track is harrowingly progressive to the point where you just want it to be over. Other tracks are more ambient, void of drums and re-
gard for typical song structure. Even so, it strikes you as intelligent to the point of nodding respect; in the same way as you’d feel wrong bad mouthing Richard D. James for being too ‘out there’. However, the peaks of noise rock and ambient troughs are seldom uplifting. This is a melancholy journey, maybe to the depths of Middle Earth. Don’t expect to come out the other end ready to conquer life’s trials, instead prepare to be more disheartened by what lies before. Obviously this does not render it a bad album; it is worth it for a few seriously good songs but some leave you confused about where they are coming from and why. Pete Large
The Rubbergum E.P Vol.3 Mercury
8/10 Hailed by many as the British Kings Of Leon, Kassidy’s
third EP is a mixture of acoustic harmonies and foot-tapping beats. The Scottish band stormed many a stage during the summer’s festival season performing at places including Bestival, Oxygen, Latitude and Reading/Leeds, and their pure talent for creating great music is obvious with this brilliant album. Each track is better than the next, and Kassidy are echoing the recent trend of folk inspired music that became popular with the likes of Mumford & Sons and Two Door Cinema Club. Oh My God is an acoustic track with guitar-based verse that leads into a catchy chorus before leading the listener into a beautiful instrumental. That Old Song takes inspiration from old western based songs, which could be destructive, but Kassidy have found the perfect balance between the old and the new. Gamble Does The Gambler takes inspiration from Mumford and combines it with early KOL to create a beautiful autumn track. The final two tracks, The Next Move On and Heart round the album off nicely with two
upbeat and extremely catchy songs. Overall, The Rubbergum EP is a catchy album that fits perfectly into today’s market. Becky Bartlett
Twin Shadow Forget Terrible Records
9/10 For the purist it’s a horrible thought, but music lives just as much a trend-bound existence as any other fashion does. Synthesisers and accordions will come and go in exactly the same way that high-tops and waistcoats will, and while this is a fairly natural process, it can cause difficulty when determining what is actually good music and what is just hipster-induced drivel. At first glance Forget, the debut album from latest indie-press darling Twin Shadow, seems too slick and appropriate in the current musical climate for it to not fall into the latter category, but such conclusions are premature. For within what could be
seen as just pretentious 80s new wave mimicry there are some of the most melodious and astute tracks produced this year. The album begins fairly lackadaisically but seems to gain confidence as it progresses; elements of disco and even hints of dub-step start to creep in and as they do, a new and much fresher sound emerges. The second half of the album also establishes a context in which the earlier songs make more sense, allowing a far more rewarding second-listening experince. It’s the epitome of contemporary music, neatly merging established genres to create something compellingly different. Consistently melodic basslines underpin the whole affair as George Lewis Jr’s sleepy vocals stroll from song to song, climaxing in some gloriously catchy moments such as Tether Beat and Castle in the Snow. Whether Forget is subscribing to a trend or not, it probably doesn't matter, for here is an album that will endure the fickleness of fashion and will stand out as one of the finest debuts of 2010. Simon Roach
Yann Tiersen Dust Lane MUTE
6/10 Writing an album themed around mortality is never going to be the most buoyant of undertakings, but there are few words which can fully lineate the stodginess of Yann Tiersen’s sixth studio album, Dust Lane. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but there’s only so much anguished whispering one can endure over a single record, and when it constitutes as the primary vocal output as it does on Dust Lane, it can be a bit much. For those of us hardy enough to listen, however, there are some fairly powerful moments to be found; Dust Lane and Palestine in particular. And while there is still the odd lingering fiddle and harpsichord around, Tiersen has well and truly left the days of his Amélie soundtrack long behind him as he ventures into the world of prog rock. Dark though it may be, it’s definitely worth a listen. Simon Roach
MUSIC The Globe October 21st Rising like a Phoenix from the ashes, The Globe has valiantly fought against mounting degrees of consular pressure in previous months to maintain its status as an admirable competitor on Cardiff ’s live music circuit. Pre-empting the forthcoming release of Dancehall Valhalla, their first full length proper since 2008’s Mercury-Nominated Do You Like Rock Music?, British Sea Power passed through Cardiff bringing with them a healthy dose of good old fashioned pomp and circumstance. The Globe’s ever-so-opulent surroundings seemed the perfect environs for a band whose eccentricity is primarily articulated through their on-stage undertakings. Having missed the support act, (bad form I know), I was greeted by a stage beautifully lit and adorned with what can only be described as a forest. Ancient tobacco coloured flags bearing both naval and military insignias fluttered elegantly as the tentative audience scrambled to get their pre-gig headline beers in.
With a tangible penchant for the eccentric, BPS’s Hamilton (vocalist, guitarist and bassist) sauntered on-stage donned in full World War One flying regalia. A symbolic distillation of a band that is as much steeped in British military heritage as they are in British musical heritage. Much in the way the allied troops stormed the beaches at Normandy, BSP stormed their way into a whirlwind rendition of Carrion, setting the tone for the set that followed. Floating effortlessly between bucolic dreamy folk-pop and electrically charged Indie, BSP weave a rich tapestry of heraldry and heartbreak littered with the hits as well as a good ratio of new material. According to the crowd present, BSP have firmly engaged with the Radio 2 demographic. I am pretty sure I was one of, if not the youngest person there. There must be something about BSP to which the over 40's are drawn to like the sweet, sweet melodies played by the Pied Piper of Hamlyn. Both visually and musically BSP are a gloriously Technicolor treat for, as the turn out seems to suggest, the entire family to enjoy. Jon Berry
5/10 Manchester-based singer Daley is the latest act to collaborate with the Gorrilaz on their new single Doncamtic (all played out). An improvement on the duller efforts (anyone at Glastonbury would agree) of Plastic Beach, Doncamtic has a more upbeat disco sound with great use of retro synths. However, despite great vocals, this song lacks the appeal of the likes of Dare and Clint Eastwood, desperately lacking a base line and in the end never really taking off. Phillip Kenny
Young Guns Weight of the World Live Forever Records
8/10 Comparable to releases from Lostprophets or Funeral For A Friend, Young Guns' third single from their critically acclaimed debut album is an ambitious combination of instrumental muscle with a powerful chorus. The re-released single has been revamped a little resulting in a more rounded and compelling release; the crashing drums and powerful chords blend timelessly with Gustav Wood’s vocal to create a brilliant song. Live, this could be magnificent. Becky Bartlett
British Sea Power
Chase and Status Hypest Hype Ram Records
The past few months have seen Chase & Status rapidly rise to the top, becoming renowned for their successful collaborations with new rising stars. Hypest Hype, the latest release from their forthcoming album, definitely doesn’t fall short of their previous triumphs. Look past the irritating voice of Tempa T to unveil a raging masterpiece with some incredible drumming rhythms and thundering guitar chords. Lucy Richardson email@example.com
As mass produced, uninspired Urban music continues to dominate our charts, Matthew Collins takes a look at the development of the UK Urban scene and whether it has lost all integrity.
The history of British music is possibly the most diverse and exciting in the world. Focusing on just the last 60 years, from progressive rock to dubstep, the UK has been the birthplace of many unique genres and subgenres which have gone on to dominate charts worldwide and leave lasting impressions on countless artists. It has also produced some of the world’s best known and loved bands; The Beatles, The Clash, Iron Maiden, Sting, Oasis and The Prodigy, to name a few, and with them fashions and youth cultures which went on to dominate and define entire decades. Furthermore it would be impossible to argue that musical trends in the UK have not influenced those of America, whom many would single out as the other major exporter of music worldwide. Therefore, based on the worldwide impact and successes of initially underground genres such as punk, you would imagine that record companies in the UK would be eager to promote any rapidly growing movements in the UK’s underground music scene, wouldn’t they? New Year's Eve 1999, the eve of the Millennium, the perfect opportunity for a party and so it was apt that one of the most popular forms of music in the UK at that time was 2step, UK garage. Artists such as Artful Dodger, MJ Cole and Sweet Female Attitude were producing anthem after anthem, ideal for any party, anywhere. Then, in 2001, one particular UK garage act broke into the spotlight and showed everyone outside of the garage scene, and some within it, just where garage was heading. They were So Solid Crew and their violent lyrics over aggressive beats sent the media into frenzy. But they were just the tip of the iceberg. Out of the charts and beyond
the attention of critics, a new, angrier genre was developing, one created by late teens living in inner city London. A stark contrast to the cheery summertime anthems of 2step, this new breed of UK garage had a harsh, computerised, industrial sound to it, with lyrics detailing life for these teenagers and others in inner city areas across the UK, from knife fights to teenage pregnancies. This new offshoot of garage was darker and eventually became known as grime. Then 2003 saw the release of one of the first grime albums. Previously fans had been restricted to seeking out underground mixtapes, white label vinyl (often sold out of car boots) and recording sets on pirate radio stations such as Rinse FM, but finally one particularly promising grime artist had an official release. That album was Boy in da Corner, the mainstream’s cold introduction to Dizzee Rascal and the world he inhabited. It was greeted with universal acclaim gaining an average score of 92/100 on Metacritic.com, making it currently the 25th highest rated album of all time based on average review scores. With the success of Boy in da Corner, you could be forgiven for assuming that the big labels would have been keen to sign more of the talented, versatile MCs emerging out of the grime scene with their organic, relevant sound and socially aware lyrics which accurately portrayed a prevalent teen culture and the issues surrounding it. Yes; they swore repeatedly, yes; they regularly referred to drugs, guns and knives and yes; there were potential safety concerns at raves due to the rivalry between MCs and the areas of London where it was developing, but the same was true for American gangster rap. The difference, whilst existing rap labels in America backed gang-
Stephen King's classic fantasy epic The Dark Tower looks set for a LOTR stylee screen boot-up. Little more information has emerged except that Ron Howard is to direct. Thankfully the source material is better than the apopletically bad Da Vinci Code, but despite that literary and cinematical damp squib, Howard has directed character dramas, such as Frost/Nixon, so may prove a capable pair of hands if he can reign in his sometimes baggy emotive storytelling and stick to the pensieve drama of the above. In other inspirational news this week, Dick Van Dyke, he of Mary Poppins and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang fame (not to mention Diagnosis Murder), revealed that he was saved from certain death by porpoises. After floating out to sea on his surfboard, the cheery creatures pushed him back to shore. Yay for sea cows.
Quench is bouncing at the honey-filled sight of a Winnie the Pooh movie next spring! Although our initial sugar rush may be tempered if Disney choose to play with the classic charming Pooh formula which has proved cross generationally popular, the trailer suggests that it may well be sticking to the simplistic charm of the animated series. Apparently, Pooh looks for honey, Eeyore wants a tail and all the gang try and save Christopher. Yes, yes and one more lovely yes. One final fated cheesy movie word. The latest shots of Daniel Craig led Cowboys and Aliens is distinctly amusing. Post-Bond is always a tricky move and starring alongside a post-Kingdom of the Crystal crap H. Ford in a extraterrestial western surely won't help Craig's reputation. Wild Wild West may sue. LG
(...in which we
Despite the seemingly hackneyed down-and-out Boxer plot, the latest Mark Wahlberg vehicle The Fighter actually hints at an air of subtlety with Christian Bale looking for another peak in his seemingly oscillating movie career. He plays Wahlberg's half-crazed, half-depressed half-brother who is training him for a final world title shot, but it's the fractious and fragile relations between the two which looks to set this apart. Even though the trailer hints at a Stallone style ' YOU CAN CHANGE' plot, I Heart Huckabees director David O. Russell has a track record of set skirmishes (he allegedly had a punch up with George Clooney on Three Kings) so this could be a well charged set of performances from actors who frankly need knockout performances to prove their mettle. LG
praise, muse and lambast the latest previews.)
Realising you don’t Life after death, need drugs completely stoned The Magic Roundaout of your mind bout (2006)
Most of us remember The Magic Roundabout TV show from days past, some of us know the theme tune, but too few of us have seen the feature length version that came out in 2005. Admittedly it’s not a brilliant film, but if there was ever an advert for abstaining from drugs this is it. Why? Because watching this will make you feel like you’re already bound in a cage of drug induced hysteria anyway. You’ll see animals talk, trains fly, and a cow (Joanna Lumley) scream ‘stop, you’re churning my milk’ (Yuck). The anti-drugs message is even outlined by Dylan (Bill Nighy, hippy rabbit), who drones "It starts with some sweets ... and then you're on two bags a day" as the group of historical characters adventure to defeat frosty nega-Zebedee Zeebad. Watch it, and I’m confident it’ll make you think ‘maybe my mind doesn’t need expanding after all.’ Craig McDowall
Enter the Void (2010) Following an American junkie living in Tokyo together with his sister, Gaspar Noe takes you on an almost sickeningly colourful, hallucinatory drug trip, all shown from the main character’s eyes. As he's killed by police in a bar, we follow his soul as it exits his body and hovers over the pain and destruction that is the result of his death. Expect a rumbling baritone ambience fused with flickering light and lurid sights of fetish, near pornographic sex scenes, haunting memories and epileptic club sequences, that are so consistently intertwined that after a while it feels like your brain is going to involuntarily switch off. This maelstrom of visions is gradually built up to depict the last, brief, drug infused, out-of-body trip before the ultimate onset of death. Whether terrified, or mind-blown, entering the void won’t leave you unaltered. Alexi Gunner
Addiction and Aronofsky Requiem For a Dream (2000) Darren Aronofsky’s second feature film does not set out to glamorise drug use in any way shape or form, it is most certainly a film about the dark side of addiction. It tells the story of four people’s path to self destruction. The layabout son, his girlfriend ,and their friend doing anything from stealing to prostitution for their next hit perfectly mirrors the manipulation of the impressionable mother as she develops an unexpected addiction to somewhat suspect diet pills in what is effectively a film of desperation. It may sound like the same old story of drug based films but aided by Aronofsky’s unique visual style, including images of a rotting arm and hallucinations in a kitchen, and music that suits the epic scale of the film. You do not simply watch this film, you experience it and I can guarantee you’ll think twice the next time you go to the fridge. Morten Wright
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With animation blazing trails and making threats on the Best Picture Oscar like never before, Emily Kate Bater writes on the highlights and the low points in some of the most enduring cinema ever made. When Disney released Snow White and the Seven Dwarves some 77 years ago, it heralded animation as the newest form of expression in cinema. All of Hollywood flocked to get a piece of this vivid and fresh new art form, and animation was never considered the reserve of children’s stories. This is obvious in arguably one of Walt’s finest hours, Fantasia. While it may be the ballerina hippos and classic yarns that remain in the mind, Fantasia was the fruition of animators imaginations while listening to classical compositions, and was one of the most revolutionary pieces of animation ever made. But somewhere along the way, animation became the reserve of tiny humans and was abandoned by the good and the arty. In 2004 Disney announced its last traditionally drawn animation with Home on the Range, and at that point had no more in the works. From that moment on a seemingly never ending conveyor belt of digimated dross was thrown into our laps, from Over the Hedge to Shark Tale to Bee Movie. After a while these all melt into one indistinguishable film, filled with talking critters and syrupy morals for middle class kiddiewinks. It seems however that animation has found its feet once more. In amidst the plethora of the 3D swill that moviegoers are fed, animation has returned to its rightful place as an escape that promises beauty and pathos. Hand drawn animation never lost its way in the mind of Hayao Miyazaki. Ponyo was a stunningly
hand drawn and eccentric excursion into the mind of Japanese story telling, and the strangest imgining of The Little Mermaid ever. A beautiful story of a little girl’s loneliness and childhood romance, this brought attention back to the Japanese school of animation so highly regarded after Spirited Away and Howl's Moving Castle. In a similar vein was the spine tingling sequel to Belleville Rendezvous, Sylvain Chomet’s The Illusionist. Based on a screenplay written by Jacques Tati fifty years ago it could almost be classed as a silent film, but was impossibly heartbreaking in its narrative. The simply stunning scenes of Edinburgh in the 1950s intertwine with hilarious characterisation, with attention to detail hardly seen in modern cinema. Chomet's sweet naïveté and understated melancholia remind us of other odd couple fare such as Up and Wall-E, and has an equally wonderful score. With the battle between CGI and hand drawn art forms coming to an amicable impasse, the road has been opened for numerous other kinds of animation to spread its wings into the mainstream. Claymation has finally made the jump to features with the recent release of Mary & Max, and A Town Called Panic brought stop-motion animation joyously kicking and screaming from the realm of adverts (“Miiiiiilk, miiiiilk!”). While How To Train Your Dragon would have been a standout animation in any other year, but it really didn’t have much of
a chance when Pixar was preparing for its summer flourish. Toy Story 3 was a love letter to childhood and growing up, the pain and bittersweet experience of putting away childish things. It seems fitting that a series of films which trail blazed a now classic era of animation came to an end by surpassing anything that came before it. Though the fact TS3 became the highest grossing animation of all time doesn’t seem to cover its impact or artistic merit – its place in the psyche of cinema is forever ensured, and not because of the amount of money it made. Woody’s departure from Andy’s life is our generations equivalent of Christopher Robin leaving the Hundred Acre Wood, and is no less symbolic. It deals with themes that are the reserve of those who initially fell in love with Woody and Buzz, bringing animation yet again into the adult sphere and creating something that transcends generations. Pixar's ode to lost childhood and survival has not only captured the hearts of families but also
the attention of the Academy. There is serious speculation that for the first time an animation will pickup the Best Picture honour, an accolade previously out of the reach of other cartoon characters. If this did materialise, then we would undoubtedly see even more talent and money being poured into animation, surely a positive development. If we needed anymore proof that classic animation is back and here to stay, Disney returned this year with The Princess & The Frog, a New Orleans 1920s hued bluesy fare with musical numbers that sent us back to the halcyon days of Beauty and the Beast and Aladdin. It also featured its first African American princess, a breakthrough not to be understated. It seems animation has come full circle from its first tentative steps, and is all the better for it. It remains, even after all its mistakes and misguided ventures, the most enduring and visually satisfying medium in cinema today.
Mary and Max
9/10 The blurb for Mary and Max in Chapter’s programme promises a “dark but loveable tale” and it certainly lives up to this description. It is the animated story of two very different but similar pen friends who have a great impact on each other’s lonely lives. This ‘claymation’ is beautiful to look at, with pleasingly rounded noses and stubby fingers, and its visual quality is complemented by the soothing narrative tones of Barry Humphries (aka Dame Edna Everage). One of the most striking things about the film is its colour scheme; Mary’s world has a limited palette of browns while Max lives in grey hues, reflecting their sad and humdrum lives. The monotony is punctuated by small items of red: Mary’s tongue as she enjoys her condensed milk, her dishevelled mother’s lipstick, the woollen pom-poms she makes. It is one of these pom-poms that brings colour and a clear symbol of Mary into Max’s life. The darker moments of the film are not shied away from and with issues including alcoholism, suicide and mental illness it is definitely not another animation for children. Adults should love it; the attention to detail, the subtly humorous script and the sweet tragedy all combine to create a memorable tale of friendship and courage. Laura Amey firstname.lastname@example.org
The Arbor Dir: Clio Barnard Cast: Monica Dolan, Jimi Mistry, Christine Bottomley
7/10 The Arbor is a jarringly honest documentary about the late 1980s playwright Andrea Dunbar, and her family and life on the Buttershaw Estate. Using real testimonials from her children, the film exposes the fragile line between fact and fiction. Inspired by Dunbar’s original play ‘The Arbor’, written during her childhood, director Clio Barnard captures the struggles of living with her alcoholic father, controversially raising a child of mixed race and dealing with multiple violent relationships. However, her story is only part of the film, which also focuses on Dunbar's eldest daughter Lorraine and her downward spiral after the untimely death of her mother. Lorraine’s tragic story reflects the decaying state of community within the Buttershaw Estate. Unlike her other siblings, her memories of life with Dunbar provide a darker insight
into the family. Her bitter resentment towards her mother who she claims was responsible for her dissent into heroine addiction, prostitution and traumatic violent relationships. The film's realism is grounded in its use of original footage of Dunbar and the present day interviews with her children, breaking down the divide between the film and its audience, exposing them to a far deeper emotional attachment. The Arbor is however slightly let down through the ambiguous focal point which at times clumsily shifts between the life stories of Andrea Dunbar and Lorraine, resulting in a confused plotline. Ceri Payne
Let Me In Dir: Matt Reeves Cast: Kodi Smit-McPhee, Chloe Moretz, Richard Jenkins
Now this is a damned vampire movie! Sparkling staring contest champions need not apply. Directed by Matt Reeves (Cloverfield), Let Me In falls
somewhere between an American remake of Swedish 2008 cult hit Let the Right One In and an adaptation of the book that film was based on. Let's get one thing straight; this is a dark tale, with a brooding pace and a haunting atmosphere. It's been marketed as another throwaway “Creepy girl going somewhat apeshit” horror devoid of any tangible depth, but there's so much more here. This is one of those genre mixes, splicing together horror with a sweet romance that intertwines two young leads, one of which being a vampire, of course. Having child actors carry a film is up there with kicking a grizzly bear's nads in terms of potential disaster, but these kids are up to the task. The boy (Kodi Smit-McPhee) is appropriately awkward and hopelessly sympathetic, and the girl (Chloë Moretz) perfectly portrays the lonely, sullen quality you'd expect from her character. The whole film has a foreboding aura about it; a subplot with a particularly threatening bully is always on the mind, the need for human blood leads to some appropriately disturbing ‘incidents’ and the mounting tension developed by certain scenes are
incredible. The film also has its technical smarts; it's beautifully shot and backed by a chillingly minimalistic score. There's some unfortunate “Oh look, CGI” moments, but nothing film ruining. Never mind Team Edward, Let Me In treats the vampire mythos with the respect it deserves and delivers an unforgettable cinema experience. James Reid
Carlos Dir: Olivier Assayas Cast: Edgar Ramirez Alexander Scheer Nora von Waldstatten
Cut down from a 5 hour television mini-series, Olivier Assayas's sprawling biopic covers 20 years in the life of Ilich Sánchez (Ramírez), the Venezuelan terrorist who became known as Carlos the Jackal, including the OPEC raid in which sixty delegates from oil rich countries are taken hostage. As Carlos, Ramírez impresses throughout, changing his
weight and facial hair as much as his language (he's fluent in five). He has drawn comparisons with Cassel's portrayal of French criminal Mesrine and Del Toro's of Ché, but this seems to be based on the film sharing its name with its principle character. Soderbergh's Ché paints a revolutionary stretching beyond his reach for a cause he truly believes in; Carlos has his very credentials as a freedom fighter brought into question. He's without meaningful allegiance, truly career-motivated and drenched in vanity; the causes he fights for mean less to him than a sense of egotistical power he craves. This leaves you the choice of labelling him celebrity or murderer. Assaya seems to nudge us towards the former, almost trivialising the acts of terror he carries out. Yet it's because of this triviality that the film remains, for the better, amoral. Without politics behind it, the narrative can focus on the man without judging his actions. It's a difficult balancing act to present a criminal without glorifying his crimes, as can be seen with Bronson, or condoning endlessly. The film veers dangerously close, partic-
ularly earlier on, to glamorising Carlos, creating a charismatic, womanising freedom fighter, but is rescued in its latter stages when any notion of glory is completely erased. Also to its advantage is the film's ability to cover 20 years of society and war throughout the Middle-East, Europe and the Americas without at any point choosing sides. A scene where the delegates of the OPEC meeting are separated by Carlos with the labels of neutral, ally or enemy reduces years of political tensions and history into simplistic categories, highlighting the absurdity of international relations in the modern age. The film isn't flawless, though. A continuous niggle, which is at its worse towards the end where locations are flicked through as quickly as Ramírez juggles languages, is that we're missing some deeper characterisation from the five hours plus of footage the film is cut down from. You may be left wanting to know more of the man after the events at the OPEC raid. Despite its shortcomings, Carlos remains an epic piece of cinema. Pat Barclay
The Team Editor Dom Kehat
Executive Editor Sarah Powell
Sub Editor Matt Wright
Arts Katie Haylock and Kirsty Allen
Books Greg Rees
Fashion Gwennan Rees and Lucy Trevallion
Features Jack Doran, Claire Dibben and Jenny Pearce
LGBT+ Anna Siemiaczko and Kate Boddington
Film Lloyd Griffiths, Matt Ayres and Emily Kate Bater
Food Gav Jewkes, Jasmine Joynson and Melissa Parry
Music Michael Brown, Emma Wilford, Jon Berry and Simon Roach
Photos Chris Griffiths and Tom Armstrong
Travel Clare Baranowski and Simone Miche
Proof Reader Siân White. Emily Kneale, Joanna Cawley and Laura Amey
Ellie Goulding Great Hall November 12th
It is a Friday night and I’m surrounded by hundreds of screaming 14-year-olds; am I at a Justin Bieber concert? Nope, everyone is eagerly awaiting one of this year’s most popular UK acts, also known as Elena Jane Goulding. Or, to the public: Ellie Goulding. But before she actually comes on, we are delighted with two support acts; Sunday Girl and Bright Light Bright Light – both of which get a huge amount of support from the overly excited audience. So far a good start to the evening! When Ellie actually takes the stage, she starts off with one of her most popular songs called Under the Sheets. But it isn’t just her singing; it’s hundreds of people singing it right back at her, word for word. And this doesn’t change for the rest of the evening; most people seem to know every song. One of the other things I noticed was that her voice was remarkably strong throughout the set and sounds just as good as her recorded vocals. Furthermore, she showed that she is no onetrick pony and did a few drum solos during her set too. A song
which was particularly beautiful was called The End, written by an eighteen-year-old Ellie about her ex-boyfriend. The lyrics really sank in, creating a nostalgic atmosphere. But the highlight of the night has to be Starry Eyed, which was a great song to end the gig. Overall it was an amazing night; the atmosphere was incredible and I’m truly impressed by Ellie’s vocals. I think she might have found herself a new fan. Leonie Roderick
Alexisonfire Great Hall November 4th Emerging as an act distinguished by energetic youth, we all know that when they begin their set on the Solus stage, after 5 albums and years of touring, Alexisonfire have become a band that have matured, in both who they are and in their sound. As they delve into Born and Raised and its chorus chanting: “we’re no longer the kids we used to be”, never has it appeared so clear that they know who they are and where they stand. But unlike the slow death that so many of their contemporaries have suffered, the stron-
ger-than-ever liveliness present on stage and among the audience is a testament that Alexisonfire can still blow up a crowd like no one else. Their execution of songs ranging from their volatile yet vehement debut, to the more aggressive years of Watch Out! to songs off their latest Old Crows/Young Cardinals and Dog’s Blood presented an exploratory journey that was met with an equally enthusiastic response throughout the show. The band’s versatile sound was well exhibited and effectively balanced between heartfelt renditions such as Rough Hands to high powered outbursts such as 44. caliber love letter. The band’s touring schedule promoting their new album has more show dates than you can fit in a calendar, yet the band members maintain their bouncy and vibrant personae and as frontman George Pettit is about to jump in and hug the crowd he genuinely proclaims that “Cardiff, it’s been too long”. As the act finishes off with two of the perhaps biggest crowdpleasers, Accidents and Happiness by the Kilowatt, it becomes apparent that Alexisonfire have proved they’re still going strong and are happy to keep up their brilliance. Alexi Gunner
MUSIC ster rap, paving the way for 50Cent and countless others, was that labels associated with UK garage were afraid of media backlash and shunned grime artists, forcing them back underground to slowly continue building their own scene. Now it is 2010 and several artists who began in the grime scene and built up large followings have received the recognition they deserve from the labels, earning contracts and the promotion their talent deserves. But there is a catch. It seems that the labels are signing these artists on one condition; they leave behind everything which made them relevant and fresh. Gone are the socially aware lyrics and original beats to be replaced with the materialistic subject matter of diamond rings, constant bragging and relationship issues over uninteresting dance-infused pop-rap beats. Albums range from the bearable yet undeniably pop-rap of Tinchy Stryder’s Catch 22 to the catchy yet ultimately forgettable DiscOvery by Tinie Tempah. The biggest shame is that most fans of music agree that most current releases are uninspired, mass-produced and soulless. Yet despite dedicated YouTube channels GrimeDaily and SB.TV, which regularly upload new freestyles and independently released videos currently boasting a combined total of over 58 thousand subscribers and a total upload view of over 42 million, indicating the large following of real grime, the labels just aren’t prepared to give artists the chance they deserve. There is hope however – on November 1st, Devlin’s Bud Sweat and Beers dropped, the first true grime album since Boy in da Cor-
ner. It’s aggressive, in-your-face, brutally honest and deservedly well received. There are a couple of more chilled songs on there but they remain true to the sound and versatility that Devlin has exhibited during his rise through the grime scene since his 2006 independent release Tales From The Crypt, widely held as one of grime’s all time classics. Furthermore, with UK rapper Giggs signing a deal and showing no digression from the uncensored content for which he has become known on album Let Em Ave It, maybe record companies are starting to realise that giving these young artists their creative freedom is a good idea. One thing is certain, we as a generation do not want people to look back in 60 years time and say that the best we had to offer musically was what the labels currently promote; carbon copy manufactured pop acts and materialistic, shallow, self absorbed lyrics. As Giggs says on new track, Out There, “All the bullshit's gotta stop, my last album went hard they never wanted pop....you ain’t ever heard a verse where I’ve gone in soft” and that is the truth. Whether a fan of urban music or not, I’m sure as a fan of music in general you will agree that more artist originality and integrity is desperately needed. Whether it’s socially aware lyrics (Devlin - Community Outcast), raw intensity and energy (Ghetto - Does It Now) or deep and reflective content (Giggs Ft. The Streets - Slow Songs) there are many examples of songs which display how grime and UK rap are meaningful, musically varied and worthy of a place in Britain’s great musical history. So enough from me, go hear for yourself.
& The GLORY