TRAVELDEBATE SOFIE BOOKS D I G I TA L F O O D FA S H I O N G AY INTERVIEWS MUSICFILM F E A T U R E S GOINGOUT FINALWHIS TLE BLINDDATE CULTCL ASSICS VOY E U R A RT S
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contents : Issue 65 - 17th March 2008 DESERT ISLAND DUEL
[Insert Geordie accent here] Four explorers, one island. Who wins? You decide... No. wait, that’s wrong. We’ve decided. Kind of.
SON OF DAVE
“The others would quiver at the mere sight of Ben Fogle” VOYEUR - - - - - - - - - - - - p.04 DEBATE - - - - - - - - - - - - - p.06 SOFIE - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - p.07 FEATURES - - - - - - - - - - - p.08 GAY - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - p.12 FASHION - - - - - - - - - - - p.15 GOING OUT - - - - - - - - p.21 FOOD - - - - - - - - - - - - - - p.28
50s suit, interesting hat, a plethora of harmonicas and some down and dirty blues. Jim Finucane talks to the one and only Son of Dave.
BLIND DATE - - - - - - - - - - p.31 CULT CLASSICS - - - - - - - p.32 FINAL WHISTLE- - - - - - - p.33 BOOKS - - - - - - - - - - - - - p.35 DIGITAL - - - - - - - - - - - - - p.36 ARTS - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - p.38 MUSIC - - - - - - - - - - - - - - p.41 FILM - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - p.49
Editor Ben Bryant Executive Editor Amy Harrison Deputy Editor Sim Eckstein Assistant to the Editors Elaine Morgan Arts Amy Grier, Tasha Prest-Smith Blind Date Hazel Plush Books Tom Williams Cult Classics Gareth Mogg Debate Aisling Tempany Digital Dom Mukwamba-Sendall Fashion Jo Butler, Mary Parkes Features Gillian Couch, Chris Rogers, Jim Whiteley Film Sim Eckstein, Will Hitchins Food Kath Petty, Daniel Smith Gay Andy Tweddle Going Out Lucy Rowe, Amelia Thomas Interviews Michael Bateson-Hill, Lucinda Day, Annika Henderson Music Kyle Ellison, Francesca Jarvis, Si Truss Travel Jim Finucane, Kirsty Page Photography Sophie Pycroft, Ed Salter Proof Readers Sim Eckstein, Adam Woodward, Francessa Jarvis, Kath Petty
PHOTO: AMY HARRISON
ecently I’ve discovered that there are a few occasions in life when I’m a little distracted and not quite paying attention, the boundaries between the real and the virtual start to blur, and I find myself reaching for the undo button. On the occasional days when I decide to pick up a paint brush, a marker pen or a crayon and get creative, I tend to start scrawling on the canvas with gay abandon - not because I’m particularly confident, but because I know I can hit ctrl+z and erase all my errors. Except I can’t, because it’s real life. And, at times, when I make the occasional inappropriate comment mid-conversation, a neuron in my brain flickers for the edit->undo combo that will save the situation. Not only does this stop my flow, but it also makes me feel stupid and geeky. I didn’t ever think I’d be working with computers to the extent that they start interfering with everyday life, but ‘undo’ is a noble exception. I like the fact that it’s not even a button on most computers - probably part of that computer logic that says a button for people who make mistakes has no place in the irrefutable logic of the keyboard. It’s tucked away in a shortcut, as if it’s utterly inconsequential. And yet it has the ability to turn back time and erase every mistake you ever made. It’s just so easy to cover your tracks, to look back, to investigate every possibly avenue when you’re safe in the knowledge that everything you’ve ever done is tucked away in some electric wonderland. But who really wants this modern day time machine in real life? I’d spend years crafting days to perfection, and with no deadline to restrain me, that could be devastating. BB
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Queues, bouncers, and big, stupid clubs
A MASSIVE shout out to anybody who attended the completely random funk party on Miskin street last Saturday. I was was on my way back from a night out, when I heard drums pounding and saxes wailing right down to the SU. I found the house, walked in, and there, in the tiny front room, surrounded by about 40 students going crazy, was the tightest, funkiest party band I have seen all term. Who even needs a basement? Students: chuck your furniture in the bathroom, open up your front rooms and let’s get on the good foot.
+ homegrown, impromptu funk parties
e - shoppe r USB pole dancer. “THE BEST THING ABOUT HER IS THAT SHE WORKS FOR FREE” £19.99 www.deviltronics.com
S T Y L E
Amber Duval is on holiday.
DOS & DON’TS DO
IS THIS YOU?
Are you kicking back with a tipple in top new venue Ten Feet Tall...? If so, you’ve won a Juno Hamburger phone! Pop up to the gair rhydd office on the 4th floor to collect.
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‘It’s The Greatest TV Show Ever’
‘It’s on E4, It looks Rubbish!’
Skins. Everyone’s watching it, everyone’s talking about it. Apparently. Except everyone who hates it intensely
eople who go on about how rubbish Skins is, have clearly never actually bothered to watch the show. Whenever they say why they don’t like it, they always say ‘oh it’s just full of teenagers getting shitfaced and high.’ Skins is a show that suffers some unfair judgement because of the original trailers for the show, (the one with The Gossip’s Standing in the Way of Control). If those old whingers had actually watched the show they might have realised that it’s a proper drama. But no, they just stay in their cliques of moody cynics and never let loose about anything. OK, yeah, sometimes the campaigning for the show is a bit heavy-handed, and the background music a bit intrusive, sometimes trying to show off its music collection more than the drama. But this is real TV. This is a show that will be remembered in a few years time. It reflects the fashions, the sounds and the dilemmas of noughties youth life. It reflects it in a way that doesn’t patronise or preach like BBC shows like Grange Hill and Byker Grove once did (where are they now?) It’s important to remember that not every TV show has to be loved by everyone, and at least Skins stirs opinions. Good or bad, at least you know it’s on. Lara Edwards
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don’t like to dominate this page, but there just are sometimes things that incite so much rage in me that it’s impossible for me to stay silent. There are several things about this show that make me feel my brain is about to explode. Firstly there’s the fact that it’s on E4. Maybe it’s the fact that E4 won’t let you forget that Skins is on. They advertise it during every break, they advertise while you’re watching something else, it’s on the side of every bus, everywhere you turn. I’m amazed that E4 don’t just come into my room in the night and implant in into my brain. But then it’s worse. I’m scapegoated by society, by my friends, by my fellow students because I don’t watch it. Please, someone, explain why I should take an hour out of my busy day to watch something that doesn’t really appeal to me. My teenage years are long gone. I wouldn’t want to relive them either. Watching Skins would be like watching Teletubbies. Bright and bold, but possibly you’re not its target audience. Oh, and don’t even get me started on its dramatic qualities. Only on TV can someone be hit by a bus and suffer a coma and a bit of brain damage as opposed to being either a complete vegetable or completely dead! Aisling Tempany
n o s n i k n e Sofie J
Don’t you just hate all these pesky rhetorical questions? In politics and real life it pays to work out how big a role rhetoric and good old fashioned sparkling personality plays in success
hetoric, or the art of persuasion, is what could be described as a game of smoke and mirrors. Amongst truth, slightly bent truth, and powerful language stand all manner of silhouettes: public figures, the horrendously successful and those with the gift of the gab, amongst others. Although there is a marked difference between persuading someone to lend you a quid or let you into a club with your trainers on and persuading a nation to vote for you, the tactics can often be quite similar. Rhetoric is not a political phenomenon or mutually exclusive to the sport, but it does seem to be the extremely sharp double edged sword that politicians love to trifle with. In the field of politics a well constructed sentence can mean the difference between power and failure; popularity and hatred. Persuasion, power and popularity dominate all aspects of life whether it is in a friendship, a job or a family. When it comes to the political game, which so often seems to boils down to a glorified popularity contest, just how important is a person’s rhetorical presence? Over the last few months we have begun to learn more and more about the political candidates across the pond in America. It has been said that Barack Obama’s charm, charisma and intricate rhetoric is outshining Hilary Clintons steadfast traditional approach. So when it comes down to it can Barack ‘Yo! We’re on the same level! In racially homogenous America’ Obama really beat Hillary ‘I’m so reliable and forgiving, vote for me or I’ll cry’ Clinton with a few well placed emphasised words? The idea of an all guns blazing linguistic rhetoric seems to sit much more comfortably in the American political system with its big personalities, glowing signs and giant soft drinks than it does over here. Sometimes, however, the flashing bulbs of a well structured rhetorical speech do wash up on the shores of Britain. One blue-coloured, sour-flavoured-party do love a well
placed ass-saving speech, not least David ‘Hip’n’Street Wolf In Sheep’s Clothing’ Cameron and his greasy Inheritance Tax Assassin Side Sick George ‘The Worm Head’ Osborne. A Tory party conference speech that sent the party shooting up the polls is no mean feat, it is a curious one though, because all that really changed was faith, which isn’t always enough. The power of words is immense. It’s remarkable, unsettling and quite often takes us by surprise, leaving us blindsighted and sometimes too easily seduced. Clear rational thought is so easily glossed over with emotion and high spirits, the consequence of which may not be felt for some time. The crisis of the British working class during time of neo-liberal promises of economic stability and growth is evidence enough that trusting in high spirited promises can be a dangerous game. Granted, handing out goodies à la student democracy isn’t quite as tantalisingly breathtaking as “We will fight them on the beaches”, but the desired persuasive effect is not that far removed. There are of course moments of true passion and truth that shine through in an “I have a dream…” vein. It just doesn’t seem to be as easy to pick them out amongst the overwhelming flow and stench of constant bullshit. So maybe Obama’s passion is real and not just part of the game and he really could be the man to change America, there are certainly a lot of people who think his passion has been confused for deliberate rhetoric. Democracy and persuasion have become increasingly significant for the student body these last few weeks, so as wheelbarrows of persuasive ‘gifts’ are pushed out into the ‘crossroads of doom’ by various imaginary characters it’s time to look really hard, just for a moment, to see if we can see any rays of light. Anybody with the passion, the strength and the truth to back up those well constructed sentences. If not there’s always that RON fella, he’s a good egg.
Rhetoric: the extremely sharp double edged sword that politicians lov e to trifle with
April F features
For some it is a time of jovial, light-hearted frivolity. For others it is the cursed day of the year. As it fast approaches, Nicole Briggs and Meme Sgroi let you in on some dastardly and frankly, hilarious prank ideas
The right-handed burger
pril is approaching, so it’s time to release your mischievous inner child and well and truly get your pranking hats on. This is the one day of the year when it’s acceptable to plan and plot your socks off, all in the name of pranking. So you’d better watch your back! April Fools Day originated in France in 1582, when the Gregorian calendar which we use today was introduced in order to synchronise the seasons. King Charles established this new calendar which brought New Year’s day from March 25th to January 1st. This resulted in revellers who either disagreed with the changes or simply forgot about them, continuing to celebrate from March 25th until April 1st. Those party animals who refused to kiss goodbye to their annual 10-day mead-fuelled bender were subjected to trickery and tomfoolery. From that day onwards the butt of these pranks were mockingly referred to
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The left-handed burger
Then type on your own keyboard and watch their shock as your writing appears on their screen
as “poisson d’avril” or “April fish” the French equivalent to our “April fool”. Today pranksters can fool anyone and everyone, the only rule is you can’t do it after the clock strikes 12(pm). Otherwise you’ll be liable to receive this cutting and vicious putdown “April fools has gone past, and you’re the biggest fool at last”. How humiliating! Famous past pranksters include the BBC’s television programme Panaorama which in 1957 ran a report on the harvesting of a bumper crop of spaghetti from ‘spaghetti trees’ in Switzerland, which had
occurred due to mild winters and the virtual disappearance of the ‘spaghetti weevil’. Millions of viewers were duped because in 1950s Britain, spaghetti was considered an exotic delicacy and was rarely eaten. Consequently the BBC were inundated with callers asking how they could grow their own spaghetti trees to which they advised, “place a sprig of spaghetti in a tin of tomato sauce and hope for the best”. Other corporate con-artists include Burger King who in America, advertised the ‘Left- Handed Whopper’ which contained all the ingredients of a regular Whopper but with the condiments rotated 180 degrees to minimise mess for left-handed customers. Burger King workers received requests for the left-handed burgers and were surprised to find some customers specifically asking for the regular right-handed burgers! For those of us with a more meager prank budget, here’s a hot-list
Fools..! of our favourite hoaxes for those of you looking for a fleeting foray into the world of wind-ups:
Left-handed whopper which contained all the ingredients of a regular Whopper but with the condiments rotated 180 degrees to minimse mess
There are the well-known but rather unimaginative food-based capers such as refilling the sugar jar with salt, or sneakily dropping a strong mint into your housemates’ fizzy drink, to create a fizzing frothing mess. We tried this out on our friend who swears by diet coke as a hangover cure and the shock was too much for her fragile state of mind to deal with. She lay in her own diet coke puddle until late afternoon. If you’re looking to put a bit more effort into your tricks, here’s a
particularly inventive one which you can try out in the library. Choose two computers which are back to back (imagine if the screens weren’t there, then you would be facing the other person) then loosen the wires and swap the keyboards round, sit opposite and watch unsuspecting victims attempt to type and wonder why nothing is appearing. Then type on your own keyboard and watch their shock as your writing appears on their screen. We’re not sure how well third years traumatised by dissertation troubles will receive this hilarious joke so maybe its best to save tomfoolery for the home. A great one to play on a housemate who religiously dons jimjams before bed involves you trying your hand at a bit of cruel customising. Just get a needle and thread, sew up all the arms and legs and wait for the guaranteed fumbling around. With any luck this will end in a half-dressed tangled tumble to the floor! DIY duping may not take your fancy so check the internet as there are an array of sites selling pranking props. A best-selling favourite is the fake poo perfect for placing anywhere, especially in a freshly cleaned bath! If you really want to splash out there’s a variety of versions from wide-girthed logs to petit rabbit droppings. But beware of the tricks backfiring on yourself, we have heard reports of one unlucky gentleman who cunningly put clingfilm over the toilet seat ready for his housemates. Unfortunately,
after returning from a drunken night out, he forgot about this and ended up unwittingly wetting his tootsies with WKD scented urine. With that in mind, we’ll leave you with author Mark Twain’s incisive observation that: “April 1st is the day upon which we are reminded of what we are on the other three-hundred and sixty-four”. Profound.
GIFT OF THE GAG Housemate gone home for the Easter break? Amy Hall on how to make the best use of the time that they’re away The porn tricks This is the trick that just keeps on giving. It would work well with any themed pictures such as wildlife but for the shock factor you need a porn magazine. Choose some smaller images from the magazine and hide them round the room, some obvious, some not quite so obvious (the more imaginative, the better). For example, maybe one on the door as a warning of what is to follow, a few placed inside books, maybe one on the next months page of a calendar or on the inside door of a wardrobe. They will just keep finding them for days, possibly for months.
The newspaper trick You need a lot of time for this one...and newspaper. It’s quite simple just cover everything in newspaper. Books, DVDs, boxes, shampoo. How far you wish to take this is optional but the effect is maximised by as much as possible being covered. Don’t use tape or any kind of glueing substance – you do want them to able to use their stuff easily afterwards!
Computer hijack For this you need an irresponsible energy wasting housemate who leaves their computer on while they’re out. This may help get them out of that bad habit! Basically, just hijack, especially go for the screensaver, whatever disgusting or ridiculous image you can find. Then find a rather interesting video to play, preferably on a loop, and just leave it full screen. When they come back into their room they will get a nice shock.
Upside down photographs Subtle but effective, this really needs a housemate with lots of pictures on their wall. You know, drunken nights, travels round the world etc. You just need to turn them all upside down and stick them back on the wall. For it to work you need to put them back in exactly the same position. It could also work with other things such as book or DVD collections.
YOUR HOUSEMATES MUST POSSESS PATIENCE AND A SENSE OF HUMOUR. YOU MUST POSSESS HOUSEMATES THAT LEAVE THEIR DOORS UNLOCKED.
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Under the influence I
n a world where political correctness and manners clash against the ‘charming’ participants of glorious programming such as Ladette to Lady, what better relief can be found than that offered by the fabulous Jackass boys. In the true spirit of April Fools Day, these crazy cats make it their year-round endeavour to enact trickery and encourage foolishness on a grand scale. In fact, their most entertaining moments are those when the poor, unsuspecting public are submitted to shocks, embarrassment and general hilarity by Knoxville’s crew of miscreants. Take, for example, the memorable incident when Wee Man dresses up as a large traffic cone and places himself at the bottom of a Tokyo escalator, to the (painfully polite) bemusement of
the confused commuters, only to move at inappropriate moments to scare the daylights out of them. Or Party Boy’s theft of an innocent security guard’s hat while he proceeds to do his famous dance around a shop in nothing but his rather revealing leopard-print thong. But what I think is most important to remember at this point is the fact that the
Jackass boys are just having fun and getting away with it. Not many people would have the nerve to wear the prosthetic face of an old man and go on the rob in a small store, after bananas and other such (easily recognisable) items and challenge the owner with a shout of ‘is this how you treat an old man?’ as he tries to make off with the shopfront sign. Awesome television. So I think that we should take a leaf from the Jackass book on this April 1st, making the most of our opportunity to enact our most foolish pranks. Even if, like Johnny, you feel that ‘there’s not a whole lot of ways this can go right’, give it a go and you may well be surprised with the results. Or in jail. But either way you will have had a hilarious experience and perhaps an amusing tale for a friend’s wedding or your grandchildren (obviously editing may be required). And on that note, I’m off to find myself a leopard print thong and a certain tune… it kind of makes me feel… like I wanna party! Estelle Victory
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Death lesbian of the
Lesbian relationships - short term fling or long term love-thing? Carrie Leech investigates the legitimacy of Lesbian Bed Death
et’s get a few things straight; No, I am not a lipstick lesbian and therefore when I talk about the LBD, I am not referring to my “Little Black Dress”. Rather, the more sinister topic of Lesbian Bed Death. Imagine the following scene; a quiet night in at my girlfriend’s house when one of her veteran lesbian friends unleashed what was quite possibly one of the most horrific things I’d ever heard. The conversation quickly turned to sex and, with it, she uncovered the topic of lesbian bed death (aka LBD). LBD is the theory that suggests that all lesbian relationships, given enough time, eventually become merely platonic and marked by a distinct lack of sex. Now, I am not a novice lesbian, but I had never heard such an evil term before and my eyes flashed in terror at the future prospects of my sex life, or more to the point, the lack of it. Was it my curiosity or sheer panic that led me to investigate the subject further? Either way, a quick search on the old trusty Wikipedia revealed devastating “truths” about long-term lesbian relationships and the sexual activities within them. The authors of the 1983 book American Couples, Philip Blumstein and Pepper Schwartz, first referred to the phenomenon of LBD as a result of their findings indicating diminishment of sexual passion in lesbian relationships over time. Of course I’ve heard the rumours describing nights of cosy cuddles, a good book and enough cats running around to constitute a cattery, but to have them confirmed with such pessimistic predictions was somewhat unnerving. If this is all I have to look forward to with growing age I’m beginning to see
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the attraction of the serial monogamist’s outlook. Regular new partners, endless excitement and not a hint of LBD - as you’re never in a relationship long enough to experience that dissipation of intense passion you get when you first meet someone - suddenly becomes more appealing. Perhaps you heterosexuals and gay men out there shouldn’t be sitting so smugly, either. Surely this phenomenon cannot be unique to lesbians? Be warned, despite all the benefits of a long-term relationship, they appear to go hand in hand with Bed Death, whatever your sexual orientation. But fear not, where there’s a will there’s a way, and so may I refer all those lesbian long-termers out there to Felice New-
man’s website where the clear emphasis is on variety being the spice of life, with saucy suggestions abound. Among other criticisms of LBD are those relating to methodological issues concerning Blumstein and Schwartz’s research, upon which the devastating term was first coined. Lesbian feminist (does it surprise you?) scholar Marilyn Frye asked one crucial question –‘how often during the last year have you and your partner had sexual relations?’ The results emerged related to a maledefined measurement of sex
regarding discrete genital acts - a definition which is problematic to lesbian sex owing to the obvious lack of penis. Frye then goes on to argue that with this definition, although 85% of heterosexual couples have sex more frequently each month, the average duration of each ‘session’ was 8 minutes. In direct contrast, lesbians appear to have sex less often (bad news you may think, but wait for the good bit…) yet on average it can take at least 30 minutes. I guess it then becomes an argument of quality over quantity - I know what I’d rather have. So at least now I can tuck up at night with my book, my cat and my mug of cocoa safe in the knowledge that not only will I be having
longer sex in the future, but also should the ‘inevitable’ LBD descend upon my relationship that I shan’t be alone in my suffering. Relationships take hard graft, in all departments, for now though, I reckon I’m pretty LBD-free. On that note goodnight, and pleasant dreams…
FASHION: ITâ€™S WORTH MAKING
A SONG AND DANCE ABOUT
hen you think of any decade you can associate a particular item of clothing and a song, right? Music and fashion have always gone hand in hand, now perhaps more so than ever. From music icons like Gwen Stefani having her own clothing label, 50 cent teaming up with Reebok to launch a G-Unit inspired line to Keith Richards modelling for Louis Vuitton. All selling clothes on the back of their fame as music artists. Musicians inspire whole trends with an army of fans and followers imitating them, from Amy Winehouseâ€™s iconic beehive to the new romantic trend that sees boys make like Morrissey and quiff themselves up. Now however, models and those famous for their dress style rather than their musical abilities are taking over. Gone are the days when Kate Moss would strut onto the stage and sing with Pete and the rest of Babyshambles; models now favour creating their own tunes. Aggness Deyn is a regular on the runways as well as the DJ decks. And even Peaches Geldof is adding another string to her bow by trotting down the catwalk for PPQ last London fashion week in between her own DJ set, The Trash Pussies. It seems that fashion and music icons alike are blurring their boundaries and using their influences in one to develop in another. Leah Enyon
Kate Nashâ€™s style hints cheekily at the sophisticated glamour which radiated throughout the 50s. The red polka dot dress featured on the cover of her latest album displays her unique style and represents a boldness which can also be heard through the lyrics in her songs. She chooses outfits which accentuate her curves, proving she does not need to be a size zero to rock the fashion world. Kate also brings a clash of femininity and attitude to her outfits. At the Elle Style Awards 2008 she received the award in a black lacy three-quarter length top, with a knitted cream tulip skirt and accessorised with a black bow belt and black hairpiece. The black lace offered an edge of gothic vamp to the sleek, sophistication of the outfit, while the black hairpiece and side ponytail sneakily revealed the fun side of Kate. The dash of red nail varnish and smouldering black eye shadow completed the look. The uniqueness Kate Nash incorporates into her image lets her fans know that it is good to be quirky and to experiment with fashion from all different eras. Hannah Gurney
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When I think of the relationship between music and style, my thoughts are instantly drawn to the pint-sized pop princess that is Kylie Minogue. She is an inspiration to us all, constantly reinventing her style of both fashion and music simultaneously. From pop videos such as Can’t Get You Out Of My Head where the funky beats of the tune were made apparent in the retro and cosmic fashions adorned by her backing dancers, to the recently released 2 Hearts where the sultry vocals of Minogue were reflected in the sexy 1940s inspired get-ups she wore! The Aussie darling isn’t afraid to take risks and this is exactly what her fans admire her for. When she appeared on the X-Factor singing alongside Rhydian Roberts, her lace body-stocking was the star attraction, to poor Rhydian’s dismay. However, her influential style is entirely demonstrated in her Millennium hit Spinning Around, when she made the dreams of males around the country come true, by squeezing her now world-renowned derrière into the tiniest pair of gold hotpants ever known to man (which were in fact bought from a charity shop!). Soon after, clubs were filled with girls attempting to replicate the seductress’ style; hotpants were indeed selling out like hot cakes! This multi-talented fashionista is most definitely Wow, Wow, Wow! Sarah George
With a name like Lovefoxx, you expect nothing less than pure sexy fun and that is exactly what you get. This stunning lady holds the position of front vox in electro/nu-rave band CSS. Her style reflects the playful fun of her stage show; she dons anything from brightly coloured lycra leggings and hightop trainers to all in one sequined jumpsuits. Her makeup is surprisingly mute but there is no need for anything too lavish as her clothes do all the talking. Her style may not be one that can be pulled together for a trip to the shops but perfect for adding that bit more glamour on a night out. It will take a special sort of daring to pull on a skin-tight jumpsuit but fashion, much like nu-rave, is about having fun and taking risks. The all-in-one is going to be making a reappearance this summer so why not give it a go, you have nothing to lose. Mariam Bashorun
Photographer: Sophie Pycroft Model: Sophie Taylor-Moore, a singer/ songwriter based in Barry, catch her performing in & around Cardiff
Desert Island One island, four travellers...let the battle commence...
Ray Mears: What do I think of the idea that Ray Mears could one day be stuck on a desert island and how do I think he’d get off it? Well, there is one crucial flaw with that question; it really should be a case of what would the desert island do if it were stuck with Ray Mears than what Ray Mears would do. This quite simply is because he is a beast amongst men (in more ways than one), the sort of person who islands fear to have treading upon their humble sand. Ray Mears could quite easily colonise this island and its natives, creating a race of miniRays capable of global jungle domination. Using this superior race of miniRays he would be able to create a luxurious yet militaristic boat in order to centralise this global domination attempt (despite only having extremely limited resources revolving around palm trees, fashioning a complex propeller system based entirely around coconuts). He wouldn’t even have a need for friends in the form of a volleyball named Wilson; I mean, that’s just borderline psychotic. As long as he has a cameraman in tow, Ray Mears is a dominant being; a veritable double American fridge amongst small portable refrigerators you might say. Tom Barnett
Forget Palin, Mears and Grylls - whatevs. All of these so-called travellers would quiver at the mere sight of Benjamin Fogle. Despite being a relative newcomer to the scene, Benj would most definitely be the last man standing on our hypothetical isle. For a start, he’s pretty akin to island life after all that Castaway malarkey. After having to deal with vast amounts of eccentric Brits wailing at each other like uncontrollable banshees for a year on Taransay, he can deal with anything. Plus he does stuff now like climbing Mount Kilimanjaro with fat depressives looking for a new lease of live and such like. My housemate went up Killy in her gap year and said that there are birds up there that looked like dogs. If Fogle can handle these crazy hybrid creatures AND the depressives, he deserves a medal and status as the most hardcore traveller ever… and he’s ever so polite. Andrew Tweddle
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Being stranded on a desert island would not be an issue for this intrepid explorer. No, Bruce Parry would simply relish the opportunity. Having lived among some of the world’s most remote tribes in corners of the world barely known to man, this desert island does nothing to faze our Bruce. Six years in the Royal Marine Commandos, this guy is hard as nails; no physical challenge is too much for this fine specimen of a man. He’s no stranger to a hard existence having survived in some of the most inhospitable and inaccessible environments on this earth. Who needs gourmet cuisine and fresh water when you’ve got honey from the trees and the local brew to keep you going? So OK, maybe some of our other explorers could rustle up a meal from the limited resources available but they would crumble at the sight of a community of unknown and possible cannibalistically inclined locals. Not Monsieur Parry. He would integrate into their tribe no problem, just don a loincloth, partake in some coming of age ceremony and within a few hours he would be accepted as one of their own. Bruce could get off this island no probs, but to be honest, he probably wouldn’t want to. Kirsty Page
Michael Palin: OK, so I’m being a bit sneaky and defending two of our explorers, but Michael Palin simply couldn’t be left out of the running. This dude is a legend. Fact. Not only has he done some of the most amazing and challenging journeys on our fair earth, but he’s also one of the most endearingly lovely men around. Despite being far older than his fellow challengers, Palin brings with him a wealth of experience. He’s been around the world in 80 days, travelled from Pole to Pole and around the Pacific Rim, and tackled the mighty Sahara and the Himalayas. Michael’s seen and encountered pretty much every possibly scenario – if he’s survived a brush with Maoist rebels then life on this island is going to be a breeze. But aside from his huge backlog of travel experience, what gives Palin the edge is his quintessential English charm. He may not have the same panache as Parry when it comes to meeting the locals, but his gentlemanly charm and freshly pressed chinos can’t fail to impress them. A beautifully turned out traveller with the patience of a saint, Michael Palin would take it all in his stride and this desert island experience would just be one more adventure to add to his already incomprehensively long list of feats. Kirsty Page ILLUSTRATIONS: KEVIN LEWIS
The pink suitcase lugging Essex-girl S
arah stumbles off the ‘Fuck Bus’ – or the ‘Oz Experience’ coach as it’s sometimes known, still feeling the effects of last night’s antics at the gloriously cheesy ‘Cocomangas’ club. “It’s just like being back in Colchester,” she would yell to her mate Sophie as Stevie Wonder’s classic Sir
girls were exhibiting the whole time – genuinely shocked, as they were, that there’d be nowhere to plug in their hair straighteners! But Australia is different, so much better; who needs Buddhist temples anyway when they play such havoc with your tan lines, having to cover up all the time?
speaker. How she wishes she’d have kept a cool head now though after the high of Stevie’s soulful voice coaxed her closer and closer towards the arms of Gavin, the lad from Stoke. These last six hours down the coast, with Gav heard boasting across the coach, have not been enjoyable that is for sure. Not to worry, he’s going all the way to Melbourne thank God. At Sydney, the girls dismount from the bus and look on as their luggage, all five pieces, are dragged from the hold by ‘Asthmatic Bill’ as they’ve come to lovingly name their driver in the last few days. With the behemoth, bookcase-sized, fluorescent trolleys of destruction wheeling in their wake the girls set off towards the taxi rank to get to their new hostel for a well-deserved rest. It’s all a far cry from those treacherous few weeks in Thailand. The worst of it being that ill-fated two-day jungle trek they thought they’d have a bash at. Not only did they both ruin their Uggs, given to them by their parents as going away presents, on the first day of trek – insistent as they were that fleece was waterproof, but they also had to make do with only two types of blusher for the whole trip! And don’t mention the ‘super-frizz’ the
As the girls book into the ‘Jolly Swagman’ hostel they have a brief disagreement over whose turn (or rather whose father’s turn) it is to pay for the accommodation. Reluctantly, Sarah hands over her Platinum
Visa for safekeeping and they trundle off to their room. That night though, all is forgotten. High on life, and MC Hammer’s U Can’t Touch This the girls are dominating dance floor proceedings once again - “Give me the urban jungle any day,” yells Sarah with a triumphant grin.
yway when Who needs Buddhist temples an they play such havoc with your tan lines? Duke began to bellow from the
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Entertaining on a shoe-string... We’re back for another look at budget ways to keep yourself entertained in the capital
Katherine Roberts recommends this great opportunity to go ice skating in the Bay. Sessions cost about a fiver and skate hire is very cheap. This has got to be a fun way of entertaining your mates and maybe even getting a bit of exercise at the same time!
Chapter Arts Centre
Another place to go that offers free admission, the Arts Centre offers a funky cafe and bar, and is well known for serving up some good meals. But obviously, it’s all about the arts and there’s loads of stuff to entertain you. The gallery has always got new stuff going on and we’re certainly going to be having a look at some of the upcoming exhibitions ourselves. The in-house cinema is also worth a mention, offering both new and old films, and a good selection of films outside of the mainstream...and all for a couple of quid.
OK so museums might not really be your thing but the National Museum has got loads of different galleries for you to check out so you’re bound to find something that interests you. The current main exhibition is ‘Origins: In Search of Early Wales’ so why not go along and learn a few things? There’s some ‘Coffee Concerts’ going on every couple of Sunday mornings at the moment, which sound like they’re worth checking as as you can get a bit of culture, and they should be free if you’re in full-time education.
More Cardiff Bay entertainment you’ll find Hollywood Bowl in the Red Dragon Centre. You can get two games for £6 if you go Sunday to Thursday after 6pm.
Here’s one for those of you with cars...Ski Cardiff is only a short drive from Cathays, and it’s good to try something different! Students (remember your ID) can get an hour session for only £8, and of course skis are available for hire. Be aware though that you will need to have some experience - beginners are required to attend a paid training session before skiing.
Roath Park entre Chapter Arts C
For those of you who’ve never quite made it to that end of Cardiff, Paj Allen suggests you wander down to Roath Park on your Saturday afternoon. Just 50p will get you entrance to the tropical greenhouse, where you can check everything out and even feed the fish. Then grab yourself a bag of bird feed for about 20p and head down to the lake to feed the swans...
Jim Finucane tiptoed his way around screwdrivers, ducked under sparking, stray, live wires and fought his way through the wreckage that was an unfinished Cardiff venue, to talk to the lovely and somewhat crazy... Son of Dave
on of Dave, aka Benjamin Darvill, is an odd creature. Clad in 1950’s suit, shirt and Hollywood tie, with small penetrating eyes peering out from under his wide-brimmed hat, Darvill seems not only to be resurrecting the genre of the blues, but the blues as a way of life too. His philosophy is stripped-down and DIY; with nothing but a harmonica, foot pedal, a few shakers, and a couple of recording gizmos
unfinished venue, I find him in a boisterous mood with support band Tom Mansi and the Icebreakers. Tonight’s chaos, which saw the stage still to be constructed at 7.30pm, means that the gig is hours behind schedule, and Darvill and his disciples seem to have done the only sensible thing and got fairly liquored up. Laughing and swigging from a wine bottle, the scene is far from that envisaged of the lone troubadour and the solitude that comes
as a band” (the Icebreakers’ drummer refrains from chortling for the first time here). “I’m one guy so I can almost make a living at touring and playing shows, and then the record selling thing is just a crapshoot on the side”. Talking of records, I turn the attention to his new album 03, due out in April. Where as his last album, the critically acclaimed 02, was a predominantly raw-sounding record with low production values,
“Run towards the hills over the hill with the rest of the guitar playing lemmings” he has in his own words “brought the blues kicking and howling into the 21st century.” Personifying the eccentricity that one would expect from a man who exchanged the relative security of playing in successful Canadian folk-rock band Crash Test Dummies for the trials of life on the road alone, the man makes for an intimidating and unpredictable interviewee. He exhibits a deeply black humour throughout our time together, a stoic intensity, and the ‘don’t-give-a-fuck’ attitude more familiar of a wayward adolescent than a suited 40-something-year-old. Sat around an old wooden table in the upper echelons of an
with it. I ask him about life as ‘a one-man band’, whether he enjoys the tag, and the way of life. Staring into the mid-distance, as he does for the duration of the interview, he replies languidly, “It works for and against me doesn’t it? I don’t know if I should call myself a one-man band ‘cause on the one hand it conjures up Dick Van Dyke in Mary Poppins… which can’t be a good selling feature. But on the other hand, it’s sort of a universal phenomenon – the troubadour and the one-man band.” And the relative solitude? “It would be nice to afford to have a band, but Lord knows it’s hard to make ends meet if you travel around
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the new record sees a change in tact. Darvill jokes, albeit with unnerving intensity, “On 03 I’ve really injected myself with more silicone, full lip-stick, lip-liner, whorey underwear, it’s completely tarted up. When people put on a record they don’t want to hear a bar-room gig”. He pauses, “Unless they do want to hear a bar-room gig. But if they want that, then they can hear the first four songs of the last record. It’s a different art form isn’t it, than rocking a room full of people? You use a wider palate.” In classic blues tradition, Darvill’s songs concern the things in life that have been sung about since the days of Robert
interviews Johnson – drinking, fighting, and lovemaking. However, it would seem that even Darvill is not impenetrable to the realisations of modern-day society. Rather unexpectedly he reveals: “I added another category on for this record, which is about the evils and pit-falls of mass consumerism…doesn’t sound that catchy… but I combine it with the screwing songs so it ends up being listenable”, he adds wryly. Surprisingly, for someone so adverse to all that is conventional in the music industry, Son of Dave’s tour schedule shows an appearance at the infamous SXSW Festival – mecca of the indie-upstarts. “Lucky me! Run towards the hills…over the hill with the rest of the guitar-playing lemmings!” exclaims Darvill predictably at the mention of this. “Someone talked me into going there”, he says regrettably. I prompt for an explanation that is only delivered as an incoherent rambling. Whatever the reason, his views on the Festival are a little clearer: “Quite often they discover the next big thing, or at least they think that’s where they’re discovering it. They could have discovered it if they’d actually listened to the CDs that were mailed
to them, these business people. But, yeah, they prefer to do it in a great…big… orgy, gang way. They all pick at the same carcass - it’s beautiful. Beautiful, reciprocal carcasspicking arrangement.” Are their any bands at the moment you admire particularly? I ask hopefully. “I don’t keep up with upcoming bands no. I listen to old records, and occasionally come across someone else who’s playing on the same night that makes me smile.” At the mention of that he begins a long and elaborate monologue about an encounter he had at a festival in France where he shared the bill with Albert Hammond Jnr. of the Strokes. A case of mistaken identity with regards to the guitarist is embellished with lashings of selfdeprecation, toilet humour, and talk of drunken French men and asthma inhalers; much to my bemusement. A little exhausted and perturbed I pick my way through the rubble and back to the bar again. In a venue that looked liked a hurricane had hit it a few hours ago, I worry for how it will cope under the duress of this force of nature to come. Interview by: Jim Finucane
A COMIC RELIEF! In 2007 things really took off for Iranian comic Omid Djalili. With a television show under his belt and an imminent tour of the UK, Djalili speaks about his hopes for his tour and about his own unique style of comedy
n a sure sign that he has made it, Omid Djalili is now recognised wherever he goes. Since starring in BBC1’s hugely popular comedy series, The Omid Djalili Show, he is getting pats on the back whenever he walks down the street. In typical fashion, Omid turns his new-found acclaim into a joke. “I’ve whittled my audience down to 14 to 16-year-old Pakistani boys from Kingston-Upon-Thames”, he says with a smile. “I took my son bowling there recently, and these boys were chasing me all over the complex. When they saw me, they just couldn’t believe that I was there and lived locally. They were saying to me, ‘you’re our representative, man. You put forward a viewpoint that we’ve never seen before’.” What with all the interruptions, bowling proved pretty tricky for Omid that day! But despite what he says, the teenagers in Kingston are not Omid’s only fans - far from it. The comedian, who has just been given a second series by BBC1, is fast selling out major-league venues on his UK tour, which is coming to a theatre near you very soon.
People flock to see his stand-up, because he delivers it with such energetic panache and generates a rare warmth in his audiences. In addition, Omid is wowing the critics, who are almost crushing each other in the stampede to heap praises on him. The Observer comments that Omid “blows you away with a blizzard of gags,” while The Independent reckons that his show is “hilarious and painfully funny. Omid Djalili is unmissable.” Following transmission of The Omid Djalili Show The Times said, “He is a mover and a shaker,
“It shows that we’re so tolerant of other races, we’re able to make jokes about them in an affectionate way.” a master of accents, a genius of disguise and a hyperactive Iranian cherub all rolled into one.” The Guardian also recognised Omid’s huge comedic talent, saying: “Right now, the Iranian Djalili is probably
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one of the most subversive, let alone funniest, comedians around.” As if that weren’t enough accolades already, Omid has also received the royal seal of approval. He performed at Prince Charles’ last Christmas party, and afterwards the Prince of Wales came up to Omid and told him, “you’re not just a very funny comedian, you’re a very important one, too”. The 42-year-old British-Iranian is equally magnetic company in person. He is not one of those comedians who is funny on stage and miserable off it. He is just as hilarious drinking peppermint tea in a central London bar as he is in front of an audience of several thousand fans at the Hammersmith Apollo. It is a real treat to spend an hour in his company; it is like being granted a command performance, to an audience of one. Dressed casually in a grey jacket and scarf, black T-shirt and blue jeans, he explains what he will be focusing on during the tour. Omid outlines that his main topic will be what it means to be British. “I should have called the show ‘Look-
interviews ing for Britishness’”, muses the performer, a past winner of both the Time Out and EMMA Awards for Best Comedian. “That subject really intrigues me. I’m fascinated by the fact that I’m so British that I say ‘sorry’ when someone bumps into me. I’ve had that very British politeness instilled in me. We’re such a polite nation. And at the same time the country has the most dreadful football hooligans who get appallingly drunk and beat up foreigners. I’ve always been very interested in that dichotomy.” Omid, whose stand-up performances finishes with a wildly vigorous, impromptu belly dance, goes on to reveal that in the show he will also be discussing the benefits of living in such a multicultural society. “Most Britons under the age of 50 have been raised with people from different backgrounds all around them and are very comfortable with them. I remember using Serbo-Croat swearwords at school because one of my friends was Serbo-Croat. He still sends me filthy Serbo-Croat texts and I understand them all! “It shows that we’re so tolerant of other races, we’re able to make jokes about them in an affectionate way”, continues the comic, who is happily married with three children
and lives in West London. “I think that is a good thing.” A fiercely brave comedian, Omid will also be talking in his show about one of the touchiest possible subjects, suicide bombers. “I’ll be asking what terrorists really want and underlining the mistakes they have made”, muses the comic,
who gave a memorable performance on BBC1’s Live at the Apollo. “Crashing that car into Glasgow Airport, for instance, was a serious blunder. Trying to drive through revolving doors is never going to work is it? It’s basic physics!” A very small minority of people; “about one per cent of my audience”, have got the wrong end of the stick about Omid’s material. They have accused him of being offensive, but that is not his aim at all. He seeks to entertain, not upset. “My show deals with the big issues of today, and unfortunately, terrorism is one of them”, reflects the comedian, who
has also appeared in such movies as The Mummy, Gladiator, Anita and Me, Over the Hedge and Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End. “By joking about it, we go some way towards removing the fear about it. I’m not saying ‘I’m a great healer, I helped all these people get back on the Tube,” but I do think we need to talk about it. And in no way am I taking away from the tragedy of people who have suffered. I try to be very respectful and responsible in what I joke about, I’m often unsuccessful.” His choice of material is certainly very courageous. “Am I brave? Maybe it’s because I’m from the Middle East and understand a little bit about extremism and what drives people to do extreme things. I know that lot of it stems from an unshakable belief in the afterlife and above all from brainwashing.” Omid has the greatest respect for all religions - he never takes the rise out of faith, just out of bigots who practise it. However, he is clearly exasperated that some critics seem to forget that his business is comedy. He sighs that, “sometimes I think that the people who purport to be religious or secure in their faith are often quick to jump up and down in offence. My first thought with them is always, ‘lighten up’.” Finally, after being shut inside a BBC1 TV studio for many months, Omid emphasises how much he is relishing the prospect of performing in the live arena once again. “It’s the best buzz in the world”, beams the comedian, who garnered a big following on the other side of the Atlantic with a very well-regarded HBO special and a starring role opposite Whoopi Goldberg in the NBC sitcom, Whoopi. “After the success of the TV show, people asked me, ‘why do you still do stand-up?’ The answer is, nothing beats the sheer thrill of live comedy”. “The other night at a gig, a load of young girls shouted out, ‘you’ve got a very sexy body!’ I replied, ‘you’re a great advert for teenage binge drinking!’ Moments like that give you such a kick. When you hear three thousand people digging every single word you say and laughing hysterically, there is simply no better feeling.” Omid Djalili is on tour across the UK now!
Matt Johnson is a visual effects supervisor for Soho-based company Cinesite. He has worked on V for Vendetta, Eragon, and King Arthur. His latest project, The Golden Compass, has recently won both the BAFTA and Oscar for its digital effects work. He gets frank with Quench about the technical stuff, talking dogs, and why he won’t watch his own movies… What inspired you to join the industry? It’s kind of weird and a bit of a cliché but basically I first saw Star Wars when I was six, and like many people, I can vividly remember going to see the film. I sat there with my dad, and came out convinced I was either going to work in the film industry or become an astronaut. My parents were very encouraging, or perhaps indulgent. I was given a standard 8mm film camera when I was about seven and I started making little films from about then, making films with my Lego, making models and blowing them up, all that kind of thing.
You worked on V for Vendetta. I was surprised to learn that the domino-toppling sequence, which I thought was CGI, was actually real. Yeah, I was actually there when they filmed it, and I think they had a company from Belgium or Holland or somewhere like that that specialises in domino toppling. They
assembled all of these dominos and I think we did it twice. They did want to get the actor (Hugo Weaving) to actually knock the dominos over but he decided he couldn’t take the pressure so we ended up using a stuntman.
Do you think the human eye will always be able to tell the difference? Well, I supervised King Arthur, and that had at least 625 visual effects shots in it, but the idea was that they didn’t really want it to be a big visual effects film. Some of the reviews said it was great to have a blockbuster that didn’t have lots of VFX. There are moments in that film that are obviously visual effects but there is some other stuff. I had to give a talk, and I know this all sounds very glamorous, at this film festival in Monte Carlo, and it was me and a bunch of other visual effects supervisors and we all had to show a clip of work we had done, and quite a few of them didn’t realise that some of the shots were
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visual effects. It was shot in August in Ireland during the heat wave of 2003 and most of the time it was raining so every snowflake is CGI and the backgrounds are all ‘snowed up’ and CGI, as was the big frozen lake sequence; even the ground they are walking on is CGI. I think I prefer working on films where the audience hopefully won’t be aware of everything. If an audience goes to see Transformers, they expect it to be CGI but when you go see a film like Zodiac where you’re not expecting it to be a visual effects extravaganza, a lot of things, compositing and matte shots, can kind of slip under the radar.
Could you explain a bit more about your new project South of the Border? Sure, it’s essentially a film where…(brief pause)…well a shocking statistic I discovered the other day in TIME magazine was that the American public last year spent 35.9 billion dollars on their pets.
interviews Now I’ve been to LA quite a lot and you do see these Chihuahuas and things in elaborate outfits and Chanel dresses and jewellery and all that kind of stuff. So this film essentially reflects that. Drew Barrymore’s voicing Jamie Lee Curtis’ pampered Chihuahua and I can’t give too much
“It’s weird cos i went to film school... and I mainly enjoy films that don’t have many visual effects!” away but the film is titled South of the Border for various reasons, as she is taken out of her Beverley Hills lifestyle and goes, well, south of the border to Mexico, where she is helped by a German Shephard dog voiced by Andy Garcia. Piper Perabo’s doing a voice for it and there’s a whole bunch of other people. It’s one of those sort-of road movie-journey, movie-comedy movie things…with talking dogs!
Have you ever been tempted to just add a voiceover, rather than making their mouths move all the time? I think that’s something that should be brought back in, where it used to be like dogs talking to each other with just the voice. I think those kind of things should make a comeback (laughs). I’d be destitute, but I’d have more time.
Does it bother you when a project you’ve worked on receives a lacklustre critical response, such as Underdog or Eragon? It goes with the territory. Like I said earlier, most of the films I personally enjoy tend not to have digital effects, so you know what you’re getting into. I mean, a movie with a talking dog is never going to win the Academy Award for best picture; mind you, we’re working on a talking dog movie at the moment so maybe it will (smiles). The films that we tend to work on with digital effects tend to be ones that are better received by the general public than by the critics at large, so it’s rare but enjoyable when a film comes along that receives
both critical and box office success.
What is the most satisfying sequence you’ve worked on? I think for various reasons it is probably the ice battle in King Arthur because it really was a sequence that was made for visual
painful to watch and I’ll just switch them off (smiles).
Is the reason you get sick of seeing them because of the heavy workload involved? Yeah, it’s very, very hard to disengage your brain. I was at the BAFTAs and I wouldn’t say it was painful that’s too strong a word - but all the memories came flooding back, and I just thought I’d got over it and put it all behind me only to sit and have someone talk about it all over again. It’s just very hard to see something that you know so well, it’s nice to have a bit of separation. I suppose it’s a bit like writing an essay at college or something; once you’ve done it, you’ve done it, and the last thing you want to do is read it again.
“I haven’t even seen The Golden Compass yet!” effects. It was shot in Ireland in the summer and it just grew and grew, and at the time stuff like that hadn’t really been done. I think it was either Variety or The Hollywood Reporter that said it was one of the best cinematic fight sequences of history or something and it was just like, wow, you know, that there were these 275 shots done back-to-back, and literally everything involves visual effects. It sounds a bit poncey but when I was at the premiere of the movie, it got a round of applause at the end, and there was just a lot of stuff involved in making it work.
Which of your films have you enjoyed watching the most? It’s terrible, I can’t…it takes me a long time to sit and watch the movie and enjoy it. I haven’t seen The Golden Compass yet for example. I’ll probably give that another six months or so before I watch it. I like all of them for different reasons. V for Vendetta I quite enjoyed, and I was watching a bit of Shanghai Knights the other night on Sky Movies and that was quite a fun film to work on as well. As I say, it’s generally a case of them being on Sky movies and you’ll flick them on for five minutes and then it gets too
Have you ever clashed with directors or got frustrated with production teams who don’t understand visual effects? I think the thing about that is, they shouldn’t have to, as visual effects supervisor it is your job. If you’re doing your job properly you should be able to steer them and guide them towards what it is that they want, because at the end of the day you’re there to realise their vision and get it up on the screen.
Do you separate your VFX achievements from the quality of the film itself? Yeah I mean it is weird ‘cause I went to film school and I quite enjoy films that don’t have many visual effects in them! The trouble is working in the industry I do, in a way, spoil my love for effects cinema and also, in a way, being surprised. I am lucky enough to be a member of BAFTA and so get a lot of BAFTA screener DVDs at Christmas and so I will always leave the ones with lots of effects until last and sit and watch a non-effects movie with a decent story (laughs).
Interview: Ewen Hosie.
ardiff gleefully welcomed the opening of Roath Real Food Market on a beautiful summer-like morning on St. Davidâ€™s Day. Nestled behind the bustling Albany and City roads, which are laden with typical late night eateries and your regular, overpriced grocery stores, lay the shining gem of the Cardiff food scene; I walked towards the market to find a hub of excitement and wafts of fresh, local produce awaiting me. A 10-foot-tall Welsh lady dressed in traditional costume greeted me on my arrival, certainly a sight one does not see everyday, and hundreds of gleaming yellow daffodils glistening in the sunlight tempted passersby. It certainly was a rather surreal experience, especially considering I was fully awake at 9:30 on a Saturday morning. Now, it may not seem like a huge deal to many of you out there, but Cardiff foodies have been looking forward to this event with bated breath and mouths watering, myself in particular, for a while now. It was originally scheduled to open on 3rd November, but was postponed due to planning permission issues. Its sister project, the Riverside Real Food Market, which is situated on the bank of the River Taff opposite the Millennium Stadium and is held every Sunday, has been running successfully since 1998, and has won and been short listed for many national awards. The objective for Roath is to extend the success of Riverside, and provide the area with a market which sells healthy, local, fresh and affordable produce. Not only does it provide more local food in the Cardiff area, but for me is a lot less further to walk and does not involve an early wake-up for slightly hungover individuals on Sunday mornings. The opening of the Roath Real Food Market was a successful one; despite initial glitches on the day, a loss of power, and overhearing a few complaints from vegetarians that they were under-represented, attendees constantly swarmed over the stalls eagerly, and many stallholders remarked that they were not prepared for such a busy day and were quickly running out of produce. Steve Garrett, the chair of the market initiative, agreed that he thought the event had gone well and sang the praises of the initiative, â€œIt benefits everybody, the
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Photography: Natalia Popova Words: Kath Petty
Market Value C
environment,the local economy, people’s health and the small local businesses involved, everybody wins. Going to a supermarket is an endurance; coming here, browsing the stalls and talking to the locals, is an enjoyable experience.”
Of course, for students, there is always the issue of produce being a lot more expensive than your average cheaper supermarket would be, but as Steve Garrett was insistent on explaining, “not everything is expensive, stalls are going to be
more expensive than others, but it is not the case that all local food is going to unaffordable, much of it is very reasonable.” He added, “We’re just trying to make this place a nicer place to live.” And I think that has certainly been achieved.
Kate Duffield, a first time market-goer reviewed the opening of Roath Real Food Market and told us what she thought
hen I skipped down Albany Road in search of some tasty local cuisine Roath Market didn’t disappoint! The atmosphere is friendly and cute with a strong emphasis on the rustic. The hand-painted stall signs reflect the small scale origins of the produce, as all of the food on offer hails from small local farms, within one hundred miles of Cardiff. So in shopping there, not only are you being green but you are supporting local trade. Perhaps it is this that yields the strong sense of community that pervades this picturesque little market, where all of the stall owners are happy to chat and clearly proud of their produce. One charming gent painstakingly hand-makes all of the delectable treats on offer at ‘The Chocolate House’ stall – and I can personally vouch for the quality of his praline crèmes! In fact they are so good that almost everything was gone by midday – so it pays to be nippy. Another bonus is that the majority of what’s on offer is organic. One stall even boasts the world’s first organic whisky – which is surprisingly smooth for a hefty 46% vol. The same stall sells delicious award winning cheeses, including an oak-smoked one I particularly enjoyed. Roath Market also provides the opportunity for the typically unadventurous student to spice up their dinner times by introducing more interesting foodstuffs to their limited dining repertoire, with wild boar or venison, smoked salmon, scallops or clams. Or, if you fancy, some novelty products include beef jerky in flavours such as red wine, chilli, and Jack Daniels, and rather odd, flat sweets made entirely of fruit (they provide 4 of your 5-a-day, if
you’re lazy). Walking around the 25 or so stalls on offer, I noticed that there was something for everyone; you could stick to your weekly groceries at stalls selling fresh meat: lamb, chicken, beef and duck, as well as fresh organic vegetable stalls selling everything from potatoes to Savoy cabbage and curly kale. Or if you wanted to keep it simple you could hook up with fresh breads, homemade cakes, proper Welsh cheese and Mediterranean deli delights from the OliOli Olives stall. Oh, and if you get hungry while you’re there (and as we all know, it’s not advisable to go food shopping when you’re hungry) you would be well advised to sate your appetite with one of the scrumptious black beef, lamb or wild boar burgers. Or try some Middle Eastern Cuisine, or on-the-spot made pancakes. My black beef burger (a breed of quality, welsh cattle) was thick, juicy and tasty with none of the usual ‘bits of squirrel with additives’ vibe I tend to get while eating other, lesser takeaway burgers, which was nice. All in all Roath Market offers quality munch and a real sense of participation in your dining experience. There are tasters available for much of what’s being sold so you know exactly what you are getting, and the shopping experience is a whole lot more pleasant than shuffling wearily around Tesco. Situated in our student heartland, it’s a weekly event that shouldn’t be missed. The only downside is that the stuff doesn’t come cheap, so it isn’t the best for budget buyers (that’s all of us then). Even so, I would much rather spend a few pence more on something I know I will enjoy much more, and have enjoyed buying in the process. With food this good that’s what overdrafts are for!
Roath Real Food Market is held every Saturday from 9:30-1:00pm in the car park of MacKintosh Sports Club on the corner of Keppoch Street and Plasnewydd Place in Roath (just off City Road, across from The Gate arts centre).
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More than ever, hopeful British singles are flying the nest to investigate the fruits of far off lands. But is the grass really any greener on the other side? Rebecca Ganz investigates...
can’t lay all the blame on Anglo-Saxon masculinity. The elieve it or not, summer’s coming. All around, the fact is that this is a nation in which social advances merciless travel bug is raising its head, but can are treated like the plague. Any poor commuter makyou get more from three month’s backpacking ing eye contact on a bus is considered quite strange, than Delhi belly and a tan? and openly flirting with a stranger is seen as downright Around the World in 80 Dates, a non-fiction best-seller bizarre (unless, of course, vast quantities of alcohol by Jennifer Cox, tells of her worldwide dating advenhave been consumed, which justifies oh so many social tures. Incensed by the shortfalls of British men, the faux-pas). As soon as you leave British shores it is easy globetrotting wonder-woman went on 80 dates around to see that this sort of restraint of any form of sociabilthe world, searching tirelessly for the man of her ity is quite frankly a bit messed up. dreams. She roped in friends and work colleagues to Whether you are looking for a one-night stand, marset her up with any available bachelors, providing all riage material or something inbetween, there is a lot with meticulously specific criteria. Cox quit her to be said for widening the net and havjob, devoted all her time and resources to her ing a strategy, even if it is just to mission of a lifetime; planning her romantic hop on the Eurostar and spend head hunt around the world with military prea few days in stylish Parisian cision. Desperate? Maybe, but she ended cafés winking at the prettiest up with the trip of a lifetime; a weird and We can’t lay all the waiter/waitress. Just from my wonderful journey across Europe, Indochina, Australia and America. blame on Anglo-Saxon (rather limited gap-year style) personal experience, I can guaranNow, this love-finding strategy may masculinity... tee that overseas dalliances are seem cynical to many a die-hard believer most definitely the way forward. in the existence of true love, ‘the One’, Dancing the night away with the fate, and all that mushy stuff. But this most handsome man in the club is project was not borne out of a mere a lot of fun that I rarely experience at whim, but out of Cox’s ‘many years of frustrating and home, but was the most natural occurrence imaginable futile relationships with mediocre men’ who just hapin the Ecuadorian version of Blackpool. And you haven’t pened to fit into the life of a modern day career woman. As she points out, we Brits put up with the longest work- lived until, while volunteering as a teacher in the African bush, some guy you’ve never met before proposes to ing hours in Europe, suffer from a corresponding rate of you on your way to school. The travelling community is stress-related illnesses and more often than not meet notoriously open minded and accepting, so even if love our partners through work. This does not bode well for doesn’t blossom with a local, you can always take your anyone seeking a fulfilling relationship, be it with Mr/ chances on another backpacker. Ms ‘Right’ or Mr/Ms ‘Right Now’. She claims that the Aside from anything else, foreigners are generally majority of British people’s most meaningful relationship viewed with curiosity and interest rather than suspicion is with their jobs. And, let’s face it, even among people who don’t spend 14 hours a day in an office (i.e. us lot), everywhere but in the UK. Being foreign gives an air of mysteriousness and interest, so if you do consider finding a suitable mate is no easy task. Unless student dating a little further afield than the British Isles, exploit club meat markets are your idea of romantic bliss, of it, relax and see where it takes you. It took Ms. Cox on course. Cox argues that finding a mate of whatever description is far easier abroad, as men are more forward a round-the-world trip, although whether she found true and quite prone to chatting up women whenever the love is not for me to say. I wouldn’t want to spoil the opportunity arises. Italian stallions and French lovers end of the book for anyone! spring to mind, quite favourably I might add. But we
P H il o So BAt tl e (Philoso-battle: 1 a sustained fight between philosophical heavyweights. 2 a small, horned dinosaur from the Jurassic period - OED)
Quench takes a look at two of last centuries’ greatest philosophers
artre (1905-1980) was a leading French existentialist philosopher, playwright, critic, and novelist, cementing himself as one of the twentieth centuries greatest and most influential individuals. Primarily a philosopher, the focus of his work was on the conflict between oppressive and spiritually destructive conformity, whereby he challenged the cultural and social expectations of his upbringing. Sartre was once called the most talked about author of the twentieth century, and it is relatively easy to see why. With people such as
Nothing seemed true; I felt surrounded by cardboard scenery which could quickly be removed…
William Burroughs naming Sartre as an influence, his ideas transcended into the mainstream and were not simply the ramblings of a madman! When looking at Camus and Sartre together there are similarities in their writings and influences (Nietzsche, Dostoevsky). Sartre was considered the more intelligent of the two, and this was even admitted by Camus, yet Camus appeared to be the more impressive man. However, with two men of Sartre’s and Camus’ intellect, there was inevitably going to be conflict. Camus was more interested in voicing his opinion over freedom and nature, yet Sartre was more concerned with justice and history, which in my opinion were much more relevant and important in the contextual zeitgeist. Sartre’s major piece of work was Nausea, for which he was offered the Nobel Prize, which he declined. Written as a series of diary entries, the novel follows Antoine Roquentin; the character embodies the essence of Sartre’s existential angst, with the protagonist becoming convinced that he is unable to define himself, with his disgust toward existence forcing him into near insanity. As a novel, it may not live up to the style and brilliance of The Outsider by Camus, but in terms of its content, it possesses a different kind of brilliance. Gareth J. S. Mogg
lbert Camus (1913-1960) was the first African born recipient (and second youngest after Rudyard Kipling) of the Nobel Prize for Literature. Sartre has become in time the more famous figure, whilst Camus has unfairly been relegated to the status of an also-ran. The perhaps more talented figure was cut down in his prime while the other went on to greater and greater successes. In an attempt to analyse Camus you have to look at the philosopher as well as the novelist. I will say that, from a subjective viewpoint, I have always been drawn far more to the absurdist position of Camus over the existentialism of Sartre. I think that Camus is a better novelist then Sartre, and though the latter is a fantastic writer none of his works compare to Camus’. Even in translation the prose seems fluid and beautiful. Camus’ magnum opus The Outsider deals with the character of Meursault – it begins with his ambivalent reaction to his mother’s death and ends as he awaits execution for murder - an execution as much for his refusal to lie, a refusal to
In our society any man who doesn’t cry at his mother’s funeral is liable to be condemned to death
behave in a manner that society dictates. Camus once defined Meursault as ‘the only Christ we deserve’; I wonder if we even deserve him. The Plague deals with Camus later ideas of revolt: there his cast refuse to accept the inevitability of death in the face and fight to survive against the plague that is destroying their town. People’s reactions in the face of death have perhaps never better been expressed. Sartre and Camus wrote hoping not only to entertain to divert but to edify; but novels with only a didactic function are unlikely to impact the world. Camus united powerful ideas and a strong narrative to devastating effect. Joseph Allen
The Italian Job
Calzaghe and Maccarinelli are now worldwide boxing names. Matt Cutler traces the rise of Welsh boxing
or some people the extent of combining Welsh and Italian culture only goes as far as having a pint of beer with a pizza. However, the connection between the two may be in closer proximity than might be thought of. Recently Wales has boasted two world boxing champions whose heritage is instituted in the most unlikeliest of partnerships. BBC Sports Personality of the Year Joe Calzaghe and his compatriot Enzo Maccarinelli are two of Wales’ finest sports superstars and each have proud birthright that makes an improbable sporting story. Italian immigration to Wales took place throughout the 19th century and still occurs today. Most immigrants came from Southern Italy, and it is estimated that there are over 50,000 Welsh people with Italian heritage. The boxing duo are putting their dual-nationality in the headlines. Famous Italian immigrants include Luigi Casearini from the Gower area whose Italian ice cream shop called Joe’s Ice Cream has achieved local fame. However, Joe Calzaghe and Enzo Maccarinelli are names that are famous on a worldwide level, and their fame is evident of the pride Wales can take in multicultural society. Joe Calzaghe is the longest reigning title holder in any weight class in boxing, recently passing the ten year mark as the WBO super middleweight champion. In 2007, Calzaghe became BBC Sports Personality of the Year after he defeated Mikkel Kessler at the Millennium Stadium last November. Not only a legend in Wales, the ‘Italian Dragon’ has the prospect of his name written in boxing folklore at a global level. Calzaghe’s next fight is the much anticipated tie against Bernard Hopkins, who has claimed he would “never lose to a white man.” The Italian Dragon had a race card of his own to play, revealing he would have
liked the tie to be in New York rather than the arranged Las Vegas where his Italian heritage would secure him a rapturous reception. It is believed that Calzaghe wants to follow in the same footsteps of over famous boxers with an Italian heritage such as Rocky Marciano, the unbeaten fighter of the 1950s and the influence of the boxing film series Rocky. “I fancy a fight in Madison Square Garden, it’s a real Mecca for sport and my Italian heritage would go down well in New York. But my next fight is in Vegas and I’m pleased because I really have a feel for the place.” Maccarinelli was defeated in an all-British world cruiserweight title unification fight against David Haye 10 days ago, yet has had his profile boosted due to his links with Calzaghe. The ‘Big Mac’ has spoken of his pride of being Welsh-Italian, a keen supporter of Swansea City yet all too eager to support Italy in the football World Cup two years ago. The boxers owe a great amount to being Welsh. The support they get in the Valleys is second to none, and the fact that they have their genetic roots based elsewhere is a great celebration of Welsh society. And when not training for a fight, they love a beer with a pizza like anyone else.
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African Pyscho Alain Mabanckou (Serpent’s Tail)
his book truly lives up to its title, starting with the sentence: “I have decided to kill Germaine on December 29”, it tells us the story of the troubled Gregoire Nakobomayo. Gregoire’s life is everything but simple. He lives in Congo-Brazzaville, in a village called ‘He-WhoDrinks-Water-Is-An-Idiot’. Having had a difficult childhood as an orphan
who couldn’t fit in with any families who wanted to adopt him, he managed to establish himself a fairly decent life. The troubles of his childhood however, and the general mentality of his country, have made him into a very dark character. His great idol is a serial killer, Angoualima. Despite the fact that the latter killed himself, Gregoire seeks guidance from him by ‘speaking’ to him at his grave. His biggest dream is to become as famous as his mentor, which is one of the main reasons he decides to kill the girl. His previous smaller crimes did not give him the attention he is so badly craving for. The writer gives us a very cynical look on poverty, crime, media, and the Congolese society in general. The book is really disturbing, as sometimes it goes in a bit too
much detail. However, the very fluent language cascades upon you like heavy rain or waterfall, overtaking you, and leaving you powerless. You just have to keep on reading, no matter how gruesome it gets. The most gruesome parts however, are the descriptions of the main character’s thoughts, rather than his deeds. This book is definitely worth a read, as it is very interesting how the writer attempts to explain the behaviour of a psychopath. Not quite the easiest job in the world, but Alain Mabanckou succeeds in it pretty well; so well actually, that you start understanding the psychopath’s actions. Now that’s disturbing. Natalia Popova
The Book of Other People ed. Zadie Smith
s the inner cover of this anthology points out, “The Book of Other People is just that: a book of other people.” Collected here are 23 short stories by the cream of contemporary British and American writers, with the brief being focused on character. Each story introduces the reader to a new identity crafted by writers such as A.M. Homes, Zadie Smith and Andrew Shawn Greer. Editor Zadie Smith, who contributes the story Hanwell Snr, saw through this project from beginning to end and as per her account of the project in the book’s introduction takes great pride in letting the contributors enjoy complete freedom with their writing. This is reflected in the inclusion of a short comic strip by Chris Ware and more interestingly in the unconventional and somewhat experimental contribution by the usually simplistic Nick Hornby. His story, illustrated by Posy Simmonds
gives a meandering account of the life and works of a writer named J. Johnson told entirely through numerous short descriptions of the author as they appear in the covers of his novels. Another stand out contribution is Rhoda by Jonathan Safran Foer, a rambling monologue of a Jewish grandmother trying unsuccessfully to get her audience of one to have something to eat or drink whilst recounting the story of a recent heart scan. Managing to be touching yet somewhat annoying at the same time, the story reflects Foer’s earlier works but also points to the future for this still extremely young writer. Perhaps the strongest piece in the collection comes from film maker and short story writer Miranda July in Roy Spivey. It tells the story of a chance encounter between a Hollywood A-Lister and an ordinary woman on a plane which leads to a very brief and restrained love affair. Focusing on regret and the ‘what if
things had been different’ scenario that many people identify with, July here is both hilariously funny and tragically sad. All in all The Book of Other People is a success and with the profits from the book going to the charity 826 New York which helps young people develop creative writing skills this anthology is highly recommended as a rare example of top authors writing for free and also an expert exploration of character. Tom Williams
One Man’s Rant
oughly ten pounds. That's what Microsoft wants you to pay for Halo. Halo: Combat Evolved. The first Halo. Yeah, that one that's no doubt nestling nice and cosy on your shelf. Two pounds. That's what CEX down in town charged me for it. You may not know it but according to the Microsoft website: "Xbox LIVE is 5IVE". That's five years of fair quality broadband gaming in your Queen's English. To celebrate this glorious milestone of video-gaming heritage, the Redmond giant has deemed fit to fill out the wintering Live Marketplace
Fifa Street 3
DS, PS3, 360
enjoy a good game of football like anybody else, but never having played a FIFA Street game I did approach it with some apprehension. EA have a habit of repackaging their mass-produced games each year, with little more than slightly prettier graphics. FIFA Street 3 does look just like the second game of the series with a coat of HD paint. Perhaps I’m being a little harsh as I’m told there are a couple of gameplay tweaks. There is an online mode and new ‘Street Challenge’ mode where it is possible to unlock hidden teams and players, as well as the modes from previous games. On the subject of game play, I have to say I can’t quite formulate in my
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with a smattering of re-released original Xbox titles, wittily entitled ‘Xbox Originals’. So, for 1200 Marketplace points you can own a digital copy of a game anything up to seven years old. Lucky you! As a fair and objective writer I'm obliged to look at this issue with the strictest impartiality, and as such contemplate exactly what the benefits are of the ‘Originals’ scheme. Erm. Sorry, still thinking… The PR folk are trying to pass it off as a chance to play "fun games you missed the first time around". Perhaps they hope you'll forget that the
entirety of the Xbox's back-catalogue can be found in gaming outlets everywhere. Much cheaper. Much more collectable. Much less prone to dying with your 360 when that red ring of death pays a visit the day after your warranty expires. But hey, maybe I'm just being cynical. Or maybe I'm just pissed because for that price you could download something truly ‘Original’. I hear Space Giraffe's going cheap. Michael Jones
mind the approach they were going for. If it was challenging they were going for, then they failed, as it was just mildly frustrating. On the other hand if it was smooth and fast-paced, then okay. It is somewhat fitting the category. As team selection goes you choose a team of five players, which can either be from various ‘street’ teams or international teams - that contain all your favourite, well-known stars. At first it’s a little overbearing, all the tricks that you can do are compulsory to beat the computer. You can’t just win using your standard approach of good passing and making sure your players are in space. It just doesn’t work; you are forced to do the fancy tricks. I have to give credit where it’s due though, and the trick system doesn’t take too long to grasp, but don’t expect to be belting in those goals as quickly as your average football game. If you want the
type of football game where you can pull off a variety of moves, you’ll have hours of fun honing your skills and learning the repertoire. Don’t expect to be able to invite your mates round though; without them never having touched the game before, as it will be nothing short of pure frustration for them. Overall, the game looks all right and plays rather nicely. There is plenty to unlock and the online mode will keep the game from losing its appeal too quickly. It’s not a bad game, but certainly not that great either. One last little note; turning off the music should heighten enjoyment. Liam Charalmbous
digital Unreal Tournament 3 PS3, 360, PC
or gamers new to the Unreal Tournament series, the games main feature is the online multiplayer that is fast, fun and frantic. However, new gamers should opt for the single player campaign first, in order to get a taste of what the game is all about. It revolves around Reaper; a hired mercenary on a quest of death and destruction against The Necris, who have overrun his homeland. The visuals in the single player campaign and multiplayer offering are truly stunning. Gameplay doesn’t disappoint, with the action being intense, and with never a dull moment in sight. The single player campaign can be played through cooperatively with an online partner, which provides a nice edge. Although the campaign option provides the gamer with a great game experience, the multiplayer tournaments are where the game excels. OfArmy of Two PS3, 360
he plot for Army of Two must have been written in crayon before a P.E lesson - in the back of a maths textbook. I don’t know how else you could possibly explain a game that at best is massively ignorant and at its worst intentionally offensive and incendiary. Take protagonists Salem and Rios. No really, take them, they disgust me. Ex-army rangers who joined a private military corporation after a short stint in Somalia; they blunder through politically convoluted locations, boasting about how much of their earnings they’ve pissed away whilst reassuring each other that it doesn’t even matter because; “their war will never end”. They make their money through shooting droves of Al-qaeda bad guys, which in Iraq, for example, seems to be the entire population, all ham-fistedly rendered like 2D caricatures of suicide bomb-
fering several game modes including the classic Death Match and Capture the Flag. The multiplayer features a mode known as Warfare that has all the delights of Death Match, as well as the players trying to capture and defend several unlinked nodes spread throughout the map. It brings together all the elements of the single player campaign and transforms them into an epic multiplayer map that can host up to sixtyfour players online. The variety of vehicles on offer is brilliant. Necris and mercenary classes each have their own set of
vehicles, including the nightshade (a stealth like vehicle for surprising the enemy) and the hellbender (an armoured which lacks the stealth approach in favour of sheer destructive force). Midway have done a miraculous job in transforming this epic PC series into a must have title for the nextgen console. The multiplayer holds the real backbone of the game and gamers who enjoy the chaotic battles of Resistance Fall of Man or Team Fortress will not be disappointed. Phillip Norville
ers who run at you; arms flailing like evil, slightly camp cartoons. Didn’t Blackwater - a private military corporation - recently get banned from Iraq for massacring civilians? It’s almost like playing a Fox news bulletin justifying their actions. The crying shame is how competent a shooter this game can be. Best played in two-player cooperative lightly tactical, you work your way through linear levels using a system called aggro to fix and flank enemies. Essentially, it’s a tool the AI uses to deduce who the larger threat is on screen (always the one making the most things die or explode). Cause the largest ruckus and everyone will start shooting at you and stop concentrating on your comrade, allowing him to swagger around capping people unabated, until aggro figures
what he’s up to. Levels are inventive and well laid out, and the graphics are polished. Controls can be a bit of a let down. It seems the developers have purposely made shooting at close range impossible, to force you to embrace the aggro system. Which is fine when you’re playing with a mate who knows what he’s doing, but when you’re in single player and you’re AI controlled partner ups and leaves, then you find yourself surrounded by enemies with expert aim, who you can’t hit; it’s very frustrating. Army of Two is a fun game to play that constantly insults your intelligence, whilst simultaneously mishandling a volatile issue. If you can disengage your brain long enough to just shoot, and not ask questions, you’ll love it. If you can’t, you’ll probably just get quite pissed off. Dom MukwambaSendall
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Opera Matters Spring is the season for operas at the Wales Millennium Centre, Tom Milne (opera-virgin) was inspired to take a giant leap into the unknown
I HAVE NEVER...
icture the scene if you will, fellow students. Last week our very own arts editor took me to one side and dropped a bombshell. (warning: following dialogue authenticity questionable) “Tom, you’ve put it off for too long, write a piece for Quench. Cardiff… no the world needs this” Immediately images filled my head of rocking out for free to some live band in the Great Hall, laughing heartily at some hilarious stand up in CF10, or sinking my teeth into a new all-action Hollywood blockbuster at Cineworld etc. “Write 600 words on the opera.” Opera?! The aforementioned images were all suddenly shat on by a huge goofy Paul Potts and from the aftermath emerged a potential 3ish hours stuck in a room full of dusty old farts watching something I know absolutely nothing about. Even thoughts of Katherine Jenkins couldn’t make me feel better. “You’re halfway through 3rd year and your CV is average at best.” This was true, but I still wasn’t convinced. “You’ll get free press drinks.” Opera it was then. So a week later my girlfriend and I roll up to the impressive Millennium Centre to be greeted by stern faces saying we were apparently late and there was a ‘no late admissions’ policy. We were then promptly led upstairs like naughty school children
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BEEN TO AN OPERA
to sit at the back in a technical box until half time and told free drinks were out of the question. Not a great start but I rise above this injustice and focus my attentions on the stage below. Having never been to anything like this before I have precious little to base this on, but as it turned out The Magic Flute was alright. Sure, the theatre had more than its fair share of higher class couples in the later stages of life, and sure, they didn’t approve when I dropped my little ice cream spoon and proceeded to scramble about on hands and knees to retrieve it, arse crack on show. But I was expecting this. Fun Factory, it ain’t. What I wasn’t expecting however, was how simple the whole thing was to follow. Thankfully translated from Mozart’s 1791 German original into English with English and Welsh subtitles above the stage, it was easy even for an opera beginner like me to understand. The plot was textbook - handsome prince saves pretty damsel-indistress from the forces of evil before marrying her five minutes later, complete with comic sidekick, good versus evil and a magical weapon: aka the flute. All very happily-everafter, but still enjoyable enough due to a decent, yet simplistic set design that featured a giant lobster struggling to get through one minute and a flying bike moving across
the stage, E.T. stylee, the next. Costumes were impressive and all orchestra and actors involved gave polished performances, with the Queen of Night in particular having a set of lungs on her that could kick Miss Jenkins into touch. One thing I would say though is that it all kind of went on a bit. The dialogue was fine but after a while all that high pitched, high power singing got repetitive and on my nerves with even the final bows taking around five minutes. My advice: wait for the DVD version and play it double speed on your laptop for a Chipmunk/Benny Hill lovechild experience. Alternately, if you’re more of a hardened theatre-goer than me or simply fancy doing something a bit different then you could definitely do worse than a night at the opera and getting some culture down you. Ohhhh drink it up.
Regular opera-goer Emma Drake provides an introduction to the opera dahhhhling
pera has been popular in Western culture for centuries. Usually thought of as a snobbish art form, it mostly conjures up images of fat women in large dresses belting out a song of woe. But this is only one style of opera, with some of the other styles being much more accessible. Some of the most dramatic and arousing pieces that we hear today come operas. TV adverts for PlayStation 2, Estee Lauder, BT broadband all use opera pieces for their soundtracks. Opera became popular in Italy in the 16th century, and by the 17th century it had also spread to Germany, France and Britain, where each
country established their own style. The story lines were serious and overly dramatic. Mozart in the 18th century made a break through by taking some of the seriousness out of opera, composing the first comic operas, Don Giovanni and The Magic Flute. By the early 19th century, Italy had the monopoly on opera in Europe. Composers were writing ‘Grand opera’ in the Bel Canto style, meaning ‘beautiful singing’. Within this style, the Prima Donna’s aria is the main focus of the performance. Then in the mid-19th century, Germany started to rival Italy’s domination of the opera scene. Their most influential opera composer at this time was Wagner. He wrote the lon-
gest operas ever written. His Ring Cycle, made up of four operas, took fifteen hours to perform. Not for the faint hearted! The Italians stood up to Wagner’s rivalry, and reformed their opera style to suit the times. Operas became shorter and cheaper. The story lines, though still dramatic and far-fetched, were focused on everyday life of the lower classes, a prototype modern day soap opera. The 19th century saw opera spread to Russia and Bohemia, and a wider range of composers like Tchaikovsky and Dvoák. By the 20th century, opera became experimental and intensely political, mirroring the trend in the Arts in general.
TOP FIVE OPERAS 1. Falstaff, Verdi (Italian) A comic opera based on Shakespeare’s ‘The Merry Wives of Windsor’. 2. Porgy and Bess, Gershwin (American) For those that can’t bear the thought of classical music and reading subtitles. 3. Salome, Strauss (German) At one point Salome demands her lovers head on a
plate, and then passionately kisses it. Lovely. 4. The Magic Flute, Mozart (German) A traditional classical opera, with very pretty and colorful passages and a witty and easy-to-follow story line. 5. I Pagliacci, Leoncavallo (Italian) One of the shortest operas, the story line is pure drama.
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illing that void between the last Pigeon Detectives album and the next Pigeon Detectives album isn’t always an easy thing to do. Fortunately, however, The Pencils have arrived to draw their way onto a 2008 so full of amazing bands that I might not have time to play Keane on my radio show. Honestly, this is perhaps the best Stationary-Rock album since Thom Yorke’s solo debut The Eraser, even harking back to Beatles classic Rubber Soul. The best thing about this conventional indie four-piece is how they
don’t even need to meander from a basic format. Simply combining drums, bass and two guitars they manage to conjure some cacophony of Kooks-esque psychedelic jazz-blues-punk. It’s amazing. Taking over the airwaves for a long time to come, I’m personally recommending The Pencils for fans of Muse, Jack Johnson, David Bowie and Linkin Park. Quite the unlikely combination of influences for a single band, but if one thing is for sure it’s that they’re the new Arcade Fire and they’re cool aren’t they? Jo Whiley (not THE Jo Whiley)
Youthmovies are set to release their genre-evading album ‘Good Nature’ on March 17th. They chat to Quench’s Kyle Ellison about lazy journalists, leaving behind the guitar record and “jazz-emo”.
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intentions, it’s difficult not to laugh along as the band mentions one review describing them as “The bastard son of Battles and Babyshambles, crossed with Tool and the Arctic Monkeys”. Beneath the eight-minute jams and indulgent yet blissful song constructions, however, lie simple pop songs which Youthmovies are by no means ashamed of. At their most
accessible on single The Naughtiest Girl is a Monitor the band even reveal how they joked in the studio at the ‘Jo Whiley potential’ of the song, going on to admit “It’s nice for a band like us to be played on the radio, or have a video on MTV, but that’s never the agenda”. With the album being released today (March 17th) through Drowned in Sound Recordings, they describe how it feels almost the conclusion to six years of being in a band, although stressing, “It’s definitely not the result of six years work though, people think we’ve been writing these songs for two years and that’s not even close”. Even so, as Youthmovies make their first steps into commercial territory they show no signs of slowing down, hoping to complete their next album as early as next year in between their typically hectic touring schedule. “The next record will be where we really get to have fun, I think we’re all happy that we’ve made ‘the guitar record’ now, and we can go on to do new things”. And I, for one, can hardly wait.
Illustration: Mario Gambardella
If you’re a regular reader of these pages, or in fact the pages of just about any music magazine, then you’re undoubtedly familiar with Foals. Perhaps unknown to you, however, is how that band came to be; co-founded by Youthmovies guitarist and lead vocalist Andrew Mears who left the band on the brink of success. It’s a decision that might seem foolish in retrospect, however, upon listening to their first full-length album Good Nature and talking to the band in interview, the reasons become clear. Perhaps the disparity in success of the two bands stems partly from the difficulty to define and comdify Youthmovies’ distinctive sound, leaving journalists scrambling for the adjectives and genre titles which best capture their style. Trumpet and synth player Sam Scott jokes, “I think my favourite description of us was definitely jazz-emo”, something, Andrew adds, that can only really be interpreted as a bad thing. But a journalist’s need to label music will inevitably see the band awkwardly placed, and whilst this is usually done with the best of
Foals frontman, Yannis Philippakis on Dave Sitek, Antitdotes, and being a pop band. Interview: Francesca Jarvis Illustrations: Mario Gambardella
It would seem there’s a slight bit of stigma attached to Foals; I wouldn’t call it a backlash, not in the slightest, but there is a definite air of “prick” surrounding frontman Yannis. Therefore it was extremely satisfying to find out that this is all vicious music-myth, and that actually, he just really, really enjoys his music. Foals have come forward leaps and bounds in the past year, and with the release of their debut album, Antidotes, last week and with global domination apparently just round the corner if their tour dates are anything to go by, it would seem music has just witnessed the growth of something pretty special. “We played to 4 people the first time we played here” Yannis recalls, “4 paying customers and 3 guestlist, so there were like 7 people …nobody even stood up to watch us or anything, it was really demoralising”. A far cry from the life and times of contemporary Foals, who apparently have both the power and ability to sell out any show, including a headline slot at the Astoria this month. A gig which, at the time, the band had no inkling that would; “If it sells out, we’re gonna be thrilled.. we’ve played the Scala which is only a few hundred people less, but the Astoria is symbolic”. Antidotes prompted the collaboration of the band with seminal producer, Dave Sitek, who is perhaps most famous for his work with TV on the Radio, but with whom Foals appeared to have a tempestuous producing relationship; “He’s not interested in selling records, he really
couldn’t give a shit, and that’s why he mixed it to sound like it was underwater, and that’s why we had to remix it”. Yannis chuckles. “Our label tried to come in and listen and he basically kicked them and they had to fly back to England the next day. It was pretty fucking awkward actually. He was calling them motherfuckers and stuff.” Despite rejecting Sitek’s
production in the end, Yannis has publicly said the band have no regrets about working with the infamous producer. As a self-confessed “pop” band, debut album Antidotes has caused a stir among fans for leaving out popular singles such as Hummer. “Hummer and Mathletics are so artificial” He explains. “The intention with this album was to make something more organic and flowing. We did that (left them off the album) so that the fans would have more songs. I’m gonna show my mum this record and feel proud. It may be stupid, but I think it was brave of us to do it.” A bold and brave mood indeed, and with mainstream music failing to cause much of a stir in the Foals camp, the band are injecting some much needed life into the British music industry. “I’m not particularly excited about anything happening currently in the mainstream. Things like Linkin Park, I don’t understand how anybody could enjoy listening to that.” Quite. But it would seem that there are a fair few who enjoy listening to Yannis and his four math-rock inspired pals. It remains to be seen how both fans and critics respond to the five’s debut offering, but if the internet buzz is anything to go by, they shouldn’t have too much to worry about.
albums FOALS Antidotes
Transgressive cough syrup
t seems like many a Foal fan has been waiting an extraordinarily long time for the release of the band’s debut LP. After doing the rounds of the tour circuits over, and after many a catchy single, Antidotes finally is here. And jeez, is it worth the wait. The album is beautifully constructed, yet fascinatingly slow. The notable absence of single forerunners, Hummer and Mathletics paves the way for tracks such as Red Socks Pugie and the “remastered” versions of Olympic Airways and Balloons. And if anybody was worried that leaving Hummer off the record was a mistake, they are thankfully, hugely wrong. Without the pop-influenced razzle
dazzle of the songs that undoubtedly helped launch them, Foals have exposed themselves as a band with both hidden creativity and sensitivity. The album is less obvious, much more subtle and hugely secure in its own ability. Time seems to slow down and stop as it passes by all too quickly, leaving a huge sense of accomplishment as it does. As a self-confessed Foal-geek, it’s probably suffice to say I was willing this album to be amazing, and perhaps it almost exceeded my extremely high expectations by shying away from the style they have become so famous upon. There are still infectious tracks such as Cassius to ensure that not all danceability is lost, but this is not where the treasure lies. The brilliance in Antidotes lies in it’s ability to shatter the mould already laid out for them and come out the other side with something so much better. If Dave Sitek’s rejected production really did cause the band’s new -found sense of sound, then working with him was one of the best things they could have done. Undoubtedly one of the best debut albums to come out of alternative music in recent years, Antidotes is both wonderfully enchanting and, put quite simply - brilliant. 9/10 Francesca Jarvis
Pick he Of T
bucket o’ crabs
righton duo Blood Red Shoes have enjoyed a fair bit of acclaim so far, and its easy to see why. Debut album Box of Secrets boasts catchy riffs, pounding drums and vocals that even the most turgid amongst us can sing along to. The dual male/female vocals work really well and escape any clichés that might normally be associated with such a collaboration (it’s about the music, not romantic sentiments). If there’s one barb I have with this album it’s that it trails off slightly in the middle; admittedly it finishes
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strongly but there are a few forgettable tracks (Take the Weight in particular) which detract from the albums overall quality.
Vocals that even the most turgid amongst us can sing along to
BLOOD RED SHOES Box of Secrets
The band themselves say they don’t want to make predictable music, and predictable this definitely isn’t. It’s different, it’s pleasurable to listen to and more importantly is fun enough to endure several listens without grating at all. 8/10 Tom Barnett
MGMT Oracular Spectacular Columbia
Vwls r sht
aden with taut hooks and infectious melodies, Brooklyn’s intergalactic-wizards MGMT have delivered perhaps the best pop release of the year so far. Album opener Time to Pretend exemplifies the group’s style as big synths dance arm in arm with falsetto vocals singing ironic lyrics. Electric Feel shows a different side to the band, with a bassline scraped from the floor of a sleazy seventies disco; it’s irritable and contagious in equal measure. The record is a combination of immediately dance-able singles and softer electro tracks, all bound together by spacey production courtesy of David Fridmann (Mercury Rev). MGMT’s sound draws heavily from the past, taking elements of psychedelica, disco, and prog, yet the noise they create is resolutely of the now. Unfortunately, just after the halfway point the album goes downhill into songs which are dangerously flirting with filler. Nevertheless, Oracular Spectacular is a valiant attempt to produce something which is experimental and yet unashamedly mainstream. 8/10 Guy Ferneyhough
thats not a welsh accent...
n an era where much popular music is stage-managed and digitally mastered, I was a little sceptical when I first got Duffy’s album. Well that scepticism disappeared the further along I got in this wonderful debut. Packed full of soul and country influences the album does start unpromisingly with her lead single Rockferry and its doomsday opening piano rendition. As the song opens up however it improves into a classic movie style soundtrack. The real highlight of the album is definitely her voice, and it is not sold out by the variety back vocals, organs, and even trombones – it is just right throughout.
THEE SILVER MT ZION MEMORIAL OCHESTRA & TRA-LA-LA BAND 13 Blues for Thirteen Moons Constellation
what a ridiculous name
hirteen moons begins with 12 untitled tracks, each at only a few seconds long and featuring only a small amount of white noise. I guess the idea behind this is that the album now starts at track 13. Now correct me if I’m wrong but didn’t Korn do pretty much the same thing on their Follow The Leader album and wasn’t it just as much of a shit idea back then? It seems that when you’re band is led by Efrin Menuck, former mastermind of now disolved post-rock untouchables Godspeed You! Black Emperor, you can get away with this kind of thing.
The real highlight is the beautifully ironic Serious that uses its name to give it a light-hearted feel when actually listening the song. Hanging On Too Long is the perfect antidote to the only mediocre track Syrup and Honey and is a prelude to the electronica-fuelled hit single Mercy. Overall, for a debut album you could not ask for more from this well accomplished mixture of soul, country, and retro-pop that has the possibility of being the album of the year. It seems unlikely that this hometown Welsh singer will fall into the same trap of drugs, drink and scandal that has befallen Amy Winehouse. This album is not an Amy imitation, like some have assumed - it is unique in its own right. In Distant Dreamer the album finishes with an ensemble of percussion and leaves you hoping that she doesn’t sell out and keeps dreaming up music like this. Buy this album! You won’t be disappointed. 8/10 Jonathan Evans
The four proper tracks that make up 13 Moons (each track clocking in at around 15 minutes) are an odd kind of mixed bag containing a mixture of Menuck’s best and worst work to date. It’s another step away from his former GY!BE style. For one thing there are vocals almost constantly across the record, which is an odd choice as Menuck really can’t sing. Still at times his grating voice really works, most notably on the utterly beautiful Blind, Blind, Blind. Musically, while often repetitive this is some of the most exciting post-rock I’ve heard in years and when the guitar and cello kick in together three and a half minutes into opener 1,000,000 Died to Make this Sound it’s enough to send shivers up your spine. At times this is a challenging listen but in all honesty it really is worth it. 8/10 Si Truss
El PERRO DEL MAR
From the Valley To The Stars Memphis Recordings
othenburg’s Sarah Assbring (aka El Perro Del Mar) follows 2006’s critically acclaimed debut album with new album From the Valley to the Stars. With assistance from the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra, Assbring attempts, in her own words, “to make a collection of hymns, but in a pop costume”. Essentially this is a justified tagline for From the Valley to the Stars’ light and ethereal chamber-pop, and it’s in this respect that the album is a success. The record meanders along nicely from start to finish; it’s the easiest listen you’ll ever have. But this is, however, also where the album lacks. Too often, From the Valley to the Stars seems to float on by without leaving any significant impression. It’s pretty - beautiful at times - but with sixteen tracks and very little musical diversity, you can’t help but lump From the Valley to the Stars in with the rest of your background music. With Jose Gonzales, TV on the Radio and David Bowie amongst the ranks of El Perro Del Mar’s followers, we’ll be seeing a fair amount of Sarah Assbring as time goes by. And let’s hope we’ll see something with a little more substance. 6/10 Phil Guy
live live live live live live live live
s perhaps the only band to ever come from Middlesbrough ascend Barfly’s small cave-like stage the audience is particularly sparse; is skewed DIY indie-pop no longer a draw? Perhaps all the crowd left after hearing the support from Jason Soudah; I wasn’t sure anyone could make Daniel Powter look leftfield but he managed it and credit to him. Das Wanderlust soon jolt us out of our collective dejection with their unique brand of meandering shouty wrong-pop. They start playing and you think you know where they’re going but then they go off on a completely different tangent, and combined with their alterations in speed you are left with a disjointed sound that is fantastically peculiar. The gig is soured somewhat by a bunch of Geordie lads who take it upon themselves to add a layer of football chants to Das Wanderlust’s mix, but the band eventually win them over as well; unfortunately this results in comedy dancing, humbug! Guy Ferneyhough
The Fall Point
ith over fifty different lineups spanning decades of relentless recording and session work, it’s a wonder that things are still working In The Fall camp. Obviously it can get a little hit and miss once in a while – last year’s Reformation Post-TLC was a prime example – but tonight, everything seems perfectly composed and the new 2008 line-up seems, at least for the moment, fit and working with the notorious Mark E. Smith.
It’s still abrasive, it’s still guitar driven
Following several minutes of largely unlistenable introduction music, and a brief instrumental from Mark E. Smith’s seemingly immo-
Photo: Natalia Popova
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Das Wanderlust 01/03/08 Barfly
bile players, the man himself finally saunters on to the stage. Thus begins The Fall’s typical snarling, ranting routine featuring a host of new material from Imperial Wax Solvent – this year’s Fall offering, penned for release this coming April. Though a short and almost unrecognisable set list, it is played with cohesion and offers exactly what you’d expect from The Fall. It’s still abrasive, it’s still guitar-driven, and it’s definitely still passable. The band themselves are tight but almost entirely static - possibly for stark fear of losing their jobs on the spot - but nonetheless, it makes for a solid performance. They are joined halfway by ex-member Simon Archer as a second bassist for Reformation, which they follow with new track I’ve Been Duped, interestingly fronted by Mrs. Mark E. Smith on vocal duties. Although the new material previewed tonight offers nothing new in terms of musical direction for The Fall, it still sounds impressive – John Peel’s famous ‘always different, always the same’ quote has never seemed more appropriate. Twenty-seven albums already released and a new record on the way, and Mark E. Smith still doesn’t look like slowing up. Phil Guy
live live live live live live live live Tegan & Sara 03/03/08 Point
stumbled across these Canadian identical twins a few years back whilst indulging in an episode of the L word. I have been hooked to their angsty-alt-folk turned new-wave-post-punk ever since, so tripped over myself to get a ticket for this sold out gig. Unfortunately, much like their latest album The Con this gig was all a bit ‘blah’. Half way through the set it became apparent that I had bought tickets (OK begged for guest list) for a 20-minute gig with an hour of not very funny Canadian standup comedy stuck in the middle. I think there were cue cards that said ‘laugh now’ somewhere down the front amongst the panting horny lesbian pit but I was hanging out at the bar and kept missing them. It did pick up somewhere in the middle when they stopped talking long enough to play some three minute pop songs like Where does the Good Go and Walking with the Ghost from the far superior previous album So Jealous. The night’s highlight came as they played with the sweetly mellow I Know I Know I Know and I got to go home and listen to the rest of the album, which was far more satisfying than seeing them live. Sian Miguel
onight’s gig is hours late getting under way, and required the ad hoc resurrection of a stage on what is the venue’s first opening night proper. Not that this is of any concern to Son Of Dave aka lone troubadour Benjamin Darvill. He takes to his seat to raucous
applause, mumbles, grumbles about getting everyone dancing, then launches teeth first into his harmonica. Wires and sockets hang from the ceiling, and the floor really does shake as the crowd stomp and yell with the introduction of the beat as Darvill’s foot begins to slam the stage rhythmically.
the floor really does shake
Son of Dave Ten Feet Tall
Photos: Jameson Kergozou
irl fronted indie rock 3-piece based in Montreal? Yeah, Land of Talk pretty much follow the blueprint for indie success. To put them down as just another Metric soundalike, though, would be unfair. Their elegant and concise support set makes full use of Thekla’s superb acoustics and leaves me anticipating their forthcoming headline dates. With the scene quite perfectly set then, Menomena take to the stage full of magnificent instruments and begin their imaginative alt.pop performance. It’s the tracks from most recent album Friend and Foe that recieve the biggest cheers, but the earlier numbers are a better showcase of their exquisite range and depth. The driving rhythma and innovative percussion sounds set the tone of the music, but multi-instrumentalist Brent Knopf is most impressive showing incredible skill on keyboards, guitar, glockenspiel, MIDI samples and laptop. A performance such as this, that doesn’t lull or bore, is no everyday occurance. Menomena demonstrate a strong back-catalogue and remind me of one of my favorite albums from last year. A. Journalist
Recording and looping most often this drum beat, but also harmonica, beat-box vocals, as well as lyrics, adds the necessary variety and density to his sound to avoid simple repetition. During the encore Darvill steps it up a gear, hastens the beat, and stomps his foot furiously as he stands on his chair. In the raucous atmosphere old men are stumbling round drunkenly, young girls jiving, there are couples dancing, lads yelling, whistling, shouting – for a minute I’m not in Cardiff, this is the blues all right. Jim Finucane
L I S T I N G S 17/03 MONDAY 17th MARCH Beyond All Reason @ Barfly TUESDAY 18th MARCH Aesthetics Hip Hop Club Night @ Glo Bar WEDNESDAY 19th MARCH Ida Maria @ Barfly Hayseed Dixie @ The Point FRIDAY 20th MARCH Errors @ Clwb Mish Mash @ 10 Feet Tall SUNDAY 23rd MARCH As I Lay Daying @ Barfly Malcolm Middleton @ Glee Club
- 30/03 S I N G L E S
TUESDAY 25th MARCH Kling Klang @ Clwb Method Man Ft. Redman @ Bristol Academy Boyz 2 Men @ St David’s Hall
LAND OF TALK Speak To Me Bones One Little Indian
WEDNESDAY 26th MARCH The Long Blondes / Kid Acne @ Clwb Supertenis / Picture Books In Winter @ Buffalo Bar The Rifles @ The Point
Comparisons with Metric will be difficult to avoid, but the combination of rugged guitars and ballsy female vocal are executed flawlessly. With a subdued B-side that shows the band’s versatility, it’s safe to say that things are looking good for Land of Talk. 8/10 TV
THURSDAY 27th MARCH Hush The Many @ Barfly The Subways @ The Point SUNDAY 30th MARCH The Beat @ The Point
GIG PICK AN METHOD MAN Ft. REDM y em ad Ac g rlin Bristol Ca st important mber of perhaps the mo me a y da ery ev t no It’s h shores, but ist comes over to Britis ex to er ev ve cti lle co rap g-term partys. Bringing with him lon da se tho of e on is ay tod or Redman, tina Aguilera collaborat ris Ch g/ rin fsp Of d an r ne bir thday. ite special. Plus, it’s my this promises to be qu ELBOW Grounds For Divorce V2
Elbow’s latest offering starts with Guy Garvey whispering about drinking. It’s appropriate, as Grounds for Divorce has a woozy, dazed feel about it that builds on 2005’s expansive Leaders of the Free World. The Mancs even occasionally lurch into an a-typically thunderous thwack of a riff. The band sound relaxed and confident, and the rhythm section underpins it all with a sense of urgency. 9/10 JT
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FRANK TURNER Photosynthesis Xtra Mile
Frank Turner stubbornly sings “I will not grow up”. Featuring The Holloways, it’s a song I’m sure on first listen will be a festival classic if (scratch that; when) he hits the big time. Whilst maybe Mr Turner should save his voice by not shouting, Photosynthesis is musically first-rate, and lyrically… very agreeable, inspiring! I love it. 9/10 SB
THE MAYBES Talk About You Xtra Mile
MARVIN THE MARTIAN Superhero Universal
Liverpudlian indie five-piece The Maybes sound exactly like you’d imagine a band from Liverpool called The Maybes would. Melancholic lyrics sung wistfully over nice, inoffensive guitars is hardly an original formula but it’s hard to dislike something that’s so….nice. It’s indie-pop by numbers and it’s unlikely to set the world alight but it’s… err…nice enough. 6/10 OB
Brixton-based MC Marvin’s admission that “I can’t see through walls/I have enough trouble just going to tescos” is a refreshing slice of modesty in a genre quickly disappearing up its own arse. However, Marvin’s humorous lament of childhood superhero fantasy is annoyingly backed by a clunky, synthheavy tune that distracts from the lyrics and scuppers Marvin’s chances of saving hip-hop just yet, never mind the world. 7/10 OB
m l i F
The latest news, rumours and conjecture
CONSIDINE BUFFS UP FOR MEADOWS Film desk’s current favourite actor Paddy Considine is to direct his first full-length feature, Tyrannosaur, later this year. After winning Best Short Film for Dog Altogether at the BAFTAs he is set to continue life behind the camera and already has Peep Show’s Olivia Coleman cast in the lead role. It’s set to be a hard-hitting domestic abuse drama, but, claims Paddy, “there are bits and pieces in there that hopefully make it a little bit different”. Perhaps even more exciting is the news that Paddy will again team up with his partner in crime Shane Meadows to write and star in King of The Gypsies, a movie about a bare-knuckle boxer, based on a true story. Apparently Considine has to hit the gym five times a week to bulk up for the role. Sexxxxxaaay.
JIM CARREY TAKES A PAY CUT FOR CREDIBILITY Jason Reitman, director of Juno, is set to make a film starring Jim Carey for the laughably low budget of $13 million, an amount that would not normally be enough for Carrey’s paycheck. Pierre Pierre, will be a comedy about a French nihilist traveling from gay Paris to grim London. Apparently it is “politically incorrect”, but what does this mean we wonder? Jim Carey donning a necklace of onions and a beret? Hopefully we will see him in more low key mode (circa Eternal Sunshine), or perhaps even becoming a pregnant single mother à la Junior. I’m still undecided on Jason Reitman. Juno was undoubtedly wonderful but perhaps it was the script/ cast that really made the movie, and the direction itself was a little indie-flic painting by numbers. In my opinion his first feature Thank You For Smoking was average. This outing could make or break J. Reitman. DE NIRO, PACINO & ... 50 CENT? Perhaps the two most respected actors working today, Robert De Niro and Al Pacino, are set to work together again on Righteous Kill. Unlike in Michael Mann’s Heat, it seems that they will actually be in scenes at the same time as opposed to sharing one cup of coffee. The pair play cops hunting a killer who’s killing bad guys, moral ambiguity anyone? Looks like a veritable ethical rollercoaster of a movie, and what’s more, 50 Cent is cast. We can see the poster now. In fact, imagine the voice over in the trailer “(BOOMING VOICE) Finally, after years of waiting, the greatest actors of their generation come together in a veritable tour-de-force of cinema. De Niro, Pacino, Cent”
I’m fucking Matt Damon
t’s funny isn’t it how happy moments in movies make you cry so much more than sad ones? The main offenders for this have to be scenes in which families are reunited, or perhaps moments when couples finally come together when previously circumstances had conspired to keep them apart. Also reflective moments, the brutal realisation that life has to go on, and always will, despite the menial concerns of the lead characters. Melancholy is the word. Sadness just doesn’t cut it in the same way. Hmmm. BUT
So then kids, we have two tickets to give away to the Total Film Red Carpet preview (Odeon Cardiff, 19th March, 19:30). It’s going to be a pretty cool night, particularly for any film buffs out there. We’re expecting previews for almost all of the big summer blockbusters; and there’s a goody bag. Now that’s exciting. All you have to do is answer this simple question. Who plays Indiana Jones? a) Harrison Ford b) Harrison Renault c) Harrison “as far as I’m concerned he still is a carpenter” Answers on a postcard. Or alternatively bring them up to the office on 4th floor of the union. Make it snappy though!
(Matt Damon) http://youtube.com/ watch?v=wnVJZkDuVBM
LATEST RELEASES LATEST RELEASES LATEST RELEASES
DIARY OF THE DEAD Dir. George A. Romero Starring: Joshua Close, Michelle Morgan, Shawn Roberts. Out Now, 112 mins.
Synopsis: In this re-boot of Romero’s Dead series, a group of film students shooting their own horror movie suddenly hear the news that the dead are coming back to life. Before they know it they’re in the middle of a full-on zombie apocalypse, and director Jason (Close) keeps the camera rolling as they attempt to escape the flesh-eating hordes...
nyone would think that George A. Romero would be sick of zombies by now. But, no, even after four films featuring
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the living dead he’s returned with a fifth, Diary of the Dead. As ever, the rotting masses are as much a tool for Romero to communicate his satirical messages as they are objects of horror. This time around the media gets lampooned, as we follow a bunch of film students shooting the unfolding crisis firstperson with hand-held cameras. Romero’s subversive comments may have always been a little heavyhanded (commercialism in Dawn of the Dead, militarism in Day of the Dead), and Diary is no exception, but they always ring true. Even as the college kids fight for survival, we see through their eyes how the media are spinning the situation, and this contrast works all the more neatly with the first person viewpoint. The cast is largely made up of unknowns, creating an air of authenticity around the film. For the most part they do a good job, chewing through some of Romero’s more sketchy dialogue with a realness that adds to the documentary feel.
They’re all irritating and irresponsible in their own ways, but only enough to seem like real people, not horror movie caricatures. Especially prominent is the dry and cynical college professor that tags along for the ride, constantly swigging bourbon and spouting philosophy in a manner that suggests he’s seen all this shit before. As should be expected, the zombies themselves are suitably gross, as are the ways in which they and their victims are dispatched. It is a shame though that Romero opted for CGI blood and guts for the most part, as his earlier films pioneered in-camera special effects make up, and they still look far superior today. Not that it’s all grim. Romero weaves in some genuinely funny moments despite the horrifying events that are unfolding around the protagonists – notably a chance meeting with a mute Amish man called Samuel. Diary does have one potentially problematic flaw though; the fact is that it isn’t scary. Even if you are the
LATEST RELEASES LATEST RELEASES LATEST RELEASES film Kindergarten Cop and The Pacifier. It’s muscle-clad macho-man meets powder-puff princess. Although the film does have a strong moral mesDir: Andy Fickman Dir: Andy Fickman sage, it also draws upon that fondCast: Dwayne JohnCast: Dwayne Johnest of American past times; shameMadison Pettis, son,son, Madison Pettis, less product placement. We all Sedgwick KyraKyra Sedgwick know this has become a necessary mins evil within contemporary cinema, but OutOut now,now, 110110 mins after nearly two hours of unrelenting, flagrant endorsements, it does begin to grate somewhat. Relief arrives in the form of JohnSynopsis: NFL hotshot Joe Kingman’s son, whose comic timing and cha(Johnson) perfect bachelor life is risma help enhance his immense unexpectedly flipped upside-down likeability. However, his performance when he discovers he has an eight is let down by a particularly poor year old daughter from a short-lived supporting cast, most notably his ex-marriage. Now Kingman must onscreen daughter Peyton (Pettis). put his ego to one side and learn to Before you question my integrity become a father. for bashing the acting talents of a nine-year-old girl, I challenge you to find a more obnoxious and sickenrriving off the back of a ingly sweet child this year. Trust series of relatively successme, you won’t find one. With that ful action movies, The Game grievance aside, The Game Plan has Plan sees Dwayne Johnson (who just enough going for it to ensure has yet to shake his; “The Rock” it will be a relative hit with younger affix) take a somewhat predictable audiences, whilst a more than solid turn into the world of the fuzzy, performance in the lead role indifamily-friendly comedy. cates a promising future in family Essentially this is Disney refilms for Johnson. working a laboured yet assumingly Adam Woodward financially worthwhile plot akin to
THE GAME THE GAME PLAN PLAN
I’m the kind of person who keeps a copy of The Zombie Survival Guide by my bedside table just in case.
kind of person who, like me, keeps a copy of The Zombie Survival Guide by Max Brooks on their bedside table just in case, chances are you won’t find the ghouls in the movie particularly frightening. There seems to be so much potential for tension building and scares with the first person camera perspective, but it is never truly utilised, which is disappointing. The film does however raise some interesting questions about human nature, as we see main camera man and director Jason become increasingly more obsessed with documenting what is happening – to the extent that he keeps shooting the footage even when he should be helping his friends. As a whole, Diary is a worthy addition to Romero’s Dead canon. It might not reach the heights of his classics but it certainly shows an evolution in his film making from 1968’s Night of the Living Dead. Bloody good stuff. Andrew Swidenbank
HANNAH MONTANA/ MILEY CYRUS: BEST OF BOTH WORLDS CONCERT TOUR Dir: Bruce Hendricks Starring: Miley Cyrus, Billy Ray Cyrus, Jonas Brothers, Kenny Ortega Out Now, 74 mins
Synopsis: Miley Cyrus stars both as herself and as her American television character on her world tour ‘Best of Both Worlds’. Many of the clips are taken from Cyrus’ performance in Salt Lake City, Utah. The film is made up of concert clips as well as documentary style behind the scenes elements.
he problem with Hannah Montana is that you are constantly looking for a “hook” or some sort of plot. Now that would have been helpful. Basically the film was hardly a film at all, more a concert on a big screen. Instead of going
to the cinema to watch a concert, I would recommend just going to a concert to… watch a concert. The film is something that leaves you with ringing ears, as one man said within it, “I didn’t expect so much screaming” – which sums up the absurdity of the whole episode completely. The perhaps slightly more positive element (but still quite lame element) was the scene with men racing in high heels in order to win tickets to see the famous Cyrus/ Montana. Finally an important note to self (and for others who may strangely decide to go and see the film): remember to wear the 3D glasses they provide next time. I discovered that no, they are not promotional “toys” given to look at once you get back home… I understand now… all those double images didn’t result from poor quality filming, but just from a (cough) absence of wearing appropriate eyewear material. Whoops. Ruth Smith
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THE COTTAGE Dir. Paul Andrew Williams Starring: Andy Serkis, Reese Shearsmith, Jennifer Ellison. 93 mins.
Synopsis: When bungling brothers Peter (Shearsmith) and David (Serkis) foul up the kidnap of a seedy club owner’s daughter for a ransom, their problems are only just beginning. Happening across a seemingly abandoned farm in the country, they discover a horror that turns their night into a nightmare...
alancing out comedy and horror has always been a difficult task. Often the biggest risk is coming up short on one side. It’s to Paul Andrew Williams’ credit then that The Cottage manages to
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horrify and amuse in mostly equal measures. Reese Shearsmith and Andy Serkis are well suited to playing the film’s central characters, displaying a real chemistry as the brothers holding Tracey (the terrifyingly coarse Jennifer Ellison) hostage. Serkis and Shearsmith bounce their dialogue off each other convincingly as they bicker, while Ellison spends much of her time screaming obscenities in her harsh-as-sandpaper Scouse accent. Much of the opening 40 minutes of the film is used to build up their relationship as they hold up in a cottage, waiting for their ransom money. This leaves the latter half of the film to let the gore fly, as the trio discover a rather pissed off psychopathic farmer. And boy does it fly – enough to make even the most bloodthirsty cinema-goers wince. We’re talking spade decapitations and spine removal – the lot. Ironically enough it’s only when this whirlwind of bloody violence begins that the big laughs begin to
kick in. Not that it isn’t consistently funny – the banter between the central characters creates most of the comedy throughout – it’s just that the belly laughs come later. All this provides a pleasing odd audience reaction; a strange mixture of laughter and disgust. There are, however, some flaws that prevent The Cottage from getting the coveted 4-star seal of approval. First and foremost, Williams breaks a fundamental rule of horror by revealing the ‘bad guy’ far too quickly, sapping any potential tension away from the latter half of the movie. Secondly, some of the comedy and the plot in general feel uneven: a small sub-plot involving two Chinese assassins feels slightly tacked on. Overall though, The Cottage is very much a ‘does what it says on the tin’ sort of film. When the comedy hits its peak it’s very funny, and there’s enough claret spilt to please any horror fan. And, Christ, it’s much, much better than Severance. Andy Swidenbank
The Cottage will no doubt draw comparisons to Shaun of the Dead, how do you feel about that? Paul: Yeah, I think that’s always gonna be the case, basically films are always going to be compared to other films in that genre. I try not to do it myself. People will automatically place it in the same bracket, regardless of whether the story is the same or the style is the same. So, how do you go about successfully balancing out horror and comedy? Paul: All I can do is have a go. The rest is in the hands of the audience. So if people find it funny and scary then I guess those people will enjoy it. All I can do is have a go and let the audience decide. Reese: The tone was always at the forefront of our minds when we were working on it. I think I would tend to try to steer into being slightly more comedic and Paul would pull me back a bit. The role of Peter was actually written with you in mind Reese. How did that feel? Reese: It’s interesting to be given something and told it was written for you. It shouldn’t really be like that... you should as an actor have to ask to read parts. But to think Paul had writ-
Quench sends Andrew Swidenbank to have a chat with Reese Shearsmith and director ir Paul Andrew Willams about the e tur ven new horror/comedy ad The Cottage.
ten it very tailored to what he thought I could do with it... it’s flattering. Unlike your average teen slasher, the audience find themselves warming to David and Peter, despite their kidnap attempt. Reese: Yeah, it felt good, because you go on this journey with the characters. Despite how wrong it was to kidnap Jennifer, hopefully you’re rooting for us by the end. You’ve invested in our situation and us as people and that’s quite rare in normal horror, where you’re just part of the body-count. Speaking of horror, the blood begins to flow early on, climaxing with some impressively messy kills. Paul: Yeah, I mean, it was gory. A bit gory but a bit silly. The sort of gore that’s so stupid it couldn’t happen. Did anyone get queasy on set? Reese: Being part of it, I was kind of party to what they were doing with it. It didn’t really affect me. Though it is quite scary seeing decapitated heads lying around on set. The Cottage took some time to get made. Why was that? Paul: Basically I wrote it about 5 years ago but it was only after I made [the BAFTA nominated] London to Brighton that I got funding... people didn’t want to trust me! But once the film I made
did well it was much easier to get this one made. Still, the film was a relatively low budget affair. Did this affect the shoot? Reese: Well, it didn’t feel restricted. Time would be what you always want to buy more of. Low budget usually means you’ve got less time... it’s one of the reasons why we did long shots. But it’s as I imagined it reading it... I think it’s quite a rare thing. Jennifer Ellison’s character, Tracey, is almost as formidable as the psychotic Farmer. Reese: She was great, yeah. She was lovely to work with. There was lots of scary things that had to happen with me and Jennifer, like when she had to head-butt me... I had to trust her. The stuntman was like: ‘now you’ve got to be really careful, because I’ve seen noses really get broken...’ And what about Dave Legano, who played the Farmer. Is he as scary in real life? Paul: No he’s lovely... he’s a cage fighter. Surely that is scary? Paul: Well he is big. I wouldn’t want to be punched by him!
ichel Gondry is a relative fresh face on the film scene. Human Nature in 2001 was his first feature length film, however he is no stranger to the director’s chair. Having made a name for himself in the music video industry Gondry has created videos for artists like Bjork, Radiohead, Beck and the Rolling Stones. He has also done many short films and commercials. His talents lie in film directing and writing. His style is original and ingenuitive, trying out new ways to film scenes, hatching mad cap scenes, such as in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, in which he wanted to sink a car in a lake, letting it freeze over, and then turning the lights on via remote control. Gondry’s techniques are wide and varied, image manipulation and animation elements, which he brings to life vividly, are prevalent in his films, particularly in his 2006 film The Science of Sleep. Looking forward, I hope Gondry can come up with much more surreal comedy, DIY animation, exciting and inventive stories and absorbing films. Gondry’s surreal style has warmth and a heart. His clear talent is exciting and fresh and his career is set to continue for a
long time. KEY FILM: ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND (2004) Widely considered as Gondry’s break through film Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind was critically acclaimed as hit film. Featuring Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet, alongside Kirsten Dunst and Elijah Wood the film follows the story of a couple who undertake a procedure to erase each other from their memories after their relationship breaks down. However it is through this that they realise what they had in the first place. The film sees Gondry exhibit his surreal techniques and image manipulation to create a heart warming film about love and loss. The film won an Oscar and was put forward for many more nominations. MY FAVOURITE: THE SCIENCE OF SLEEP (2006) By far the best of Gondry’s films, The Science Of Sleep is a real expression of Gondry’s writing and directing talents. The film is packed with flair and artistic genius. The storyline is enjoyably whimsical and dreamy. You become instantly absorbed not only in the story but the dreams and the animation throughout. The film is quite simply a masterpiece and a triumph of cinematography. The film concerns Stephane, a man whose evocative, pulsating and exciting dreams permeate his
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everyday life. For me this film is an extension of Michel Gondry’s own imagination, written and directed by him there is a personal feel about the film. The dream sequences are captivating, fresh and inventive. A range of new skills and animation techniques are used to make this a truly original film. The style is off kilter and intriguing. If you like films like Being John Malcovich you will absolutely love this film, it can not be missed. It is an artistic tour-de-force and a stunning expression of Gondry’s work and talents. ONE TO MISS: HUMAN NATURE (2001) His first tentative toe into the murky film industry was a shaky one. Human Nature suffered at the hands of the critics and was not raved about. The film is about a surreal love triangle between a doctor, a naturist and a man raised as an ape. The film is a shaky one, but like all of his work is worth a watch. Gareth Ludkin
s a child, Martin Scorsese looked out his New York window and watched two drunks brawling with When My Dreamboat Comes Home by Fats Domino playing in the background and thought, “Why don’t they do that in films? A love scene with love music is just mediocre.” The marriage of music and images can be employed in dizzying ways, creating some glorious celluloid scenes. Here is the definitive five soundtrack moments. Mediocre they are not.
MEAN STREETS (1973) – JUMPIN’ JACK FLASH, THE ROLLING STONES Entering the bar in glorious slowmotion, bathed in blood-red light, struts rebellious Johnny Boy with a girl in each arm. This is cinema’s introduction to Robert De Niro in all his swaggering brilliance, choreographed by the maestro director, Martin Scorsese. Even the music is incendiary; hinting at the effect Johnny Boy and De Niro would have, with Jagger pouting ‘I was born in a cross-fire hurricane.’ Scorsese’s long awaited Oscar winning The Departed, also features one of the greatest actors of his time entering to a Rolling Stones tune. TRAINSPOTTING (1996) – PERFECT DAY, LOU REED Trainspotting’s arrival in ‘96 accompanied Britain’s new found confidence resulting from a rejuvenated music scene. But despite Britpop’s influence on the soundtrack, the song which steals the show was composed in 70’s New York. Lou Reed’s Perfect Day, on the surface a romantic song, hides a story of drug addition, “You made me forget myself, I thought I was someone else, someone good.” In the film attractive Scottish heroin addicts talk in Tarantino-esque dialogue, giv-
ing rise to the controversial heroin chic. However, Renton’s overdose is not glamorous, regardless of the scene’s dizzying brilliance. APOCALYPSE NOW (1979) – THE END, THE DOORS The Vietnam War will eternally be linked with Rock ‘n’ Roll, some of the greatest music emerged during this turbulent era. Unlike previous wars, the songs were not romanticising tales of honour, love and home. These songs were loud and raucous. No song is more suited to the war than The Doors The End which plays over the opening sequence of Francis Ford Coppola’s epic Apocalypse Now. As helicopters fly past a napalmed jungle the haunting guitar line floats in. Apocalypses Now plays out like a surreal bad trip making Jim Morrison’s musical ‘inside trip’ a perfect companion. The lyrics reflect themes of war, “desperately in need of some stranger’s hand in a desperate land,” and the particularly apt “the west is the best.” DO THE RIGHT THING (1989) – FIGHT THE POWER, PUBLIC ENEMY The title sequence to Spike Lee’s tale of racial tension in New York doesn’t take any prisoners. Like Rosie Perez’s ferociously angry
dancing and Public Enemy’s Fight The Power, this film is provocative, hot and in your face. ’Cause I’m Black and I’m proud, I’m ready and hyped plus I’m amped’. This anger continues in the gut of the film as the characters play out their lives in a hot summer. Racial tension exists in the myriad of characters, which culminates in a riot. Chuck D’s enraged yet eloquent lyrics were always from the heart, as was Spike Lee’s filmmaking. MILLER’S CROSSING (1990) – DANNY BOY The rich wordplay of the Coen brothers’ 1930s mob movie is shelved during this majestically choreographed shoot out. As mob boss Liam ‘Leo’ O’Bannon lies in bed listening to the Irish American anthem crackling from his gramophone, rival gang members move through the house, Tommy guns in hand. The track soars in the background as wood splinters, glass shatters and cars explode in the brutal battle. The song ends with the lyric “I’ll simply sleep in peace until you come to me.” Sadly for these hired goons, Leo O’Bannon wasn’t listening. Words - Colin Scott Images - Benjamin Phillips
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