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February 2001

THE OFFICIAL ENGLISH-LANGUAGE NEWSPAPER OF LOVE

Inside

http://seren.bangor.ac.uk

SU leases Barrels

G’day! p4

Yo! p8

Er... p10

BARRELS: It may be up at the far end of the High Street, but it’s now part of your Union.

Um. p13

Mmm... p16

Ooh! p16

D

o not adjust your set. The Students’ Union has taken control of former nightclub Barrels. It has obtained a twelve-month lease from the current owners, with a view to possible future purchase, in a deal that aims to expand the range of entertainments available to Bangor’s student population. The Union learnt in November that the club would shortly be available for lease and quietly entered into negotiations and investigations to establish the viability of taking it over. In Jan-

¤

uary the deal was closed, and the old pub now joins Time, the Main Bar, Jock’s Bar and the George Bar in offering a host of Union entertainments and events. Like these other venues, some nights at Barrels will be themed; Wednesdays, for example, are dedicated to eighties music, while the first Thursday of every month is a Clwb Cymru night. Also in common with the other venues, Barrels has a late license until 1am every Friday and Saturday. Admission is free and open to all members of the community, but Barrels

will be operated by Union staff and all profits will be returned to the Union. Located at the far end of the High Street from the Union Building, and traditionally seen as a ‘townie’ venue, Barrels might not appear to be a major asset to the Union. But, explained CCSO Will Kelly, the new venue not only provides more choice for students, it also brings money in to the Union. “The government is forcing ever-increasing financial demands onto students,” he confirmed, “and so the Union must turn to the

wider market to fund its services. Like Time, Barrels attracts business from the whole community, so students benefit both not only from the entertainments on offer but also from the revenue they bring into the Union.” Though Barrels will be run on similar principles to Time, the lease is the Union’s first wholly public venture. There are high hopes that, in the absence of governmental support, public money will enable the Union to maintain and improve upon its present level of services.

SUPER-SPECIAL VALENTINE’S DAY ISSUE!


2 SEREN February 2001

SCA Week

WHAT’S GOING ON

Free phone sir? B

igBlueSpot has struck a deal with BT to offer free mobiles to students. The offer includes a WAPenabled phone with free connection and delivery, and monthly billing on a contract tariff that offers, among other things, a

SCA Organiser Harriet Steele asks: how often do you do it?

S

ome people in Bangor do it up to four nights a week! Of course we are talking about voluntary work. Volunteers are often stereotyped as fluffy do-gooders that help old ladies across the road, and do the jobs that no one else will do—but in fact voluntary work is the nation’s second favourite pastime, with over 16,000 students volunteering across the UK. Volunteering is defined as ‘the commitment of time and energy freely given for the benefit of others, undertaken by choice and without concern for personal financial gain.’ Bangor Student Community Action is a voluntary group based in the Students’ Union, run

entirely by students, and coordinated by an elected Sabbatical Officer. The volunteers help out on a wide variety of projects within the local community with people who are disadvantaged; either socially, economically, or physically. This year is the United Nations’ International Year of Volunteers, and as part of that Student Community Action groups across the UK will be promoting and celebrating volunteering in Community Action Week (19th-25th February). At Bangor we are holding taster sessions of all our projects and referral projects during the week, as well as promoting our work in Amser/Time.

SCA Week Planned Timetable Monday 19th February 6pm-8.30pm Splodge Arts and crafts with 5-8 year old children. Meet SCA Office. 8pm-1am Time Cloakroom Get into Time free (and get a free drink!) while raising money for SCA. 8pm-1am SCA Night in Time Balloon drop, raffle, giveaways etc. Tuesday 20th February Arfon/Mind (Talk) 5.45pm-6.45pm Homework Club Give school children help and support with their homework. Meet SCA Office at 5pm. 6pm-8.30pm Splodge Arts and crafts with 5-8 year old children. Meet SCA Office. Wednesday 21st February 1pm-4pm Out and About Taking local older people out for the afternoon. Meet SCA Office. 5.30pm SCA Meeting

Come and find out more! Tea and biscuits provided. 7pm-10pm Bryn Y Neuadd Taking adults with learning difficulties to the pub. Meet SCA Office. 8pm-1am Time Cloakroom Get into Time free (and get a free drink!) while raising money for SCA. Thursday 22nd February Follow the Dragon! Details to be revealed... Friday 23rd February 3pm-4pm Riding for the Disabled Meet SCA Office at 2pm. 8pm-1am Time Cloakroom Get into Time free (and get a free drink!) while raising money for SCA. Saturday 24th February 8pm-1am Time Cloakroom Get into Time free (and get a free drink!) while raising money for SCA.

Why be an SCA volunteer? • Because you want to! • Because your mates want to, and they drag you along! • Because you want to do something nice for other people! • Because you want something to put on your CV! • Because you want a go on a bouncy castle! • Because you have done it before! • Because you want to make a difference! Whatever turns you on, I’m sure that Bangor SCA has something that you would enjoy doing at least once a week! “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed it is the only thing that ever has.”—Margaret Mead For more information, contact SCA Organiser Harriet Steele on the second floor of the Students’ Union, via email at harriets@undeb.bangor.ac.uk or on (01248) 388005

news@seren.bangor.ac.uk

not-to-be-sniffed-at seven pence per minute to other mobiles unlucky enough to be connected to BT Deathnet. You can even sign up if you already have a phone—they’re happy just to send you a SIM if you like.

All this, at least, is promised by their press release, but as Seren went to press www.bigbluespot.com didn’t seem to mention phones at all, only (bizarrely) free PCs. Maybe you’ll have more luck if you try again in a bit.

Picture perfect

A

re you enchanted by the natural world? If you reckon you can take a beautiful and evocative wildlife photo, why not enter the BG Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition? There are various categories, including ‘The Underwater World’, ‘Animal Portraits’ and ‘The World in Our Hands’. The prize money

amounts to over £15,000 and the winning prints will be published in a portfolio accompanying the November 2001 issue of BBC Wildlife Magazine. For more information and entry forms visit the website at www.nhm.ac.uk before 5th April 2001. Doing it after that date is no good.

Local opportunities for local people B

TCV Cymru is looking for Volunteer Officers. This is an excellent way to develop skills and can provide a sound foundation for a career in conservation. To become a Volunteer Officers you must be over 21 and have held a clean driving license for at least 2 years. Volunteer Officers can take on a variety of roles in addition to practical conservation: these include community liaison, woodland site management, publicity—and more!

BTCV also offers more general opportunities for volunteers to get involved, and is looking for people with an interest in the countryside or people who would like some hands-on experience of ecological or environmental work. No experience is necessary, with different schemes running on different days of the week. All you need is a packed lunch, waterproofs and sturdy boots. They will provide the tools, free tea, coffee and biscuits! If you’re interested, contact Agliki Politis on (01248) 354050 or write to BTCV Cymru, Bangor City Council, Fford Gwynedd, Bangor LL57 2DP.

Designer discounts I

t is a truth universally acknowledged that the government has overlooked the necessity of looking good at University. The meagre loans they provide us with barely allow us to raid the local charity shop, let alone splash out on that new pair of Levi’s.

But don’t despair! Help is at hand from Haburi—a ‘Virtual Factory Outlet’ whose website promises just the fillip to repair your wardrobe and street cred at a stroke. Their site offers a wide range of gear from to-die-for names including Calvin Klein, DKNY, Dolce & Gabbana, Hanes, Kangol and YSL at up to 70% off the recommended retail price. Everything is illustrated with a lush pho-

tograph (such as the one on the left), but should you still somehow manage to inadvertently order a duffer, you can return it within 14 days for a full refund. So, looks like the catalogue shopping has made it to the web. Visit www.haburi.com to order your cut-price designer clobber and your only problem will be finding somewhere in Bangor worth wearing it!

RECOMMENDED: Should you happen to be a 32D, Seren rather likes this Charnos body—reduced from £40 to £20 at Haburi!


news@seren.bangor.ac.uk

Elections approach

This year’s Students’ Union Elections are on Thursday 22nd March. CCSO Will Kelly explains why you should care.

Y

es, elections are once again upon us. Nearly a year has passed since the last poll. Many things in the Union have changed, some more noticeable than others (such as the reception area); but yet again it’s time to look forward to next year: a new Sabbatical team, and a new Executive Committee. Having said this, to judge by last year’s abysmal 10% voter turnout, 90% of students in Bangor don’t even seem to know what a Sabbatical Officer is. If they did, I think they would be much more likely to take an interest in the elections—and maybe even turn up to vote on that all-important day in March! So what is a Sabbatical Officer? A Sabbatical Officer is a student who has been elected to work fulltime for the Students’ Union. The University allows students to put their degrees ‘on hold’ whilst serving as Sabbatical Officers (hence the name), so candidates can stand for election at any point in their University careers. The six Sabbatical posts are: President, UMCB (Union of Welsh Students) President, CCSO (Communications, Clubs and Societies Officer), AU President, SCA (Student Community Action) Organiser and, last but not least, the Student Advice and Representation Officer. These six people are elected in a cross-campus ballot (more commonly known as an election) by students. Anyone who is a registered student in Bangor is allowed to stand for any post. What do Sabbatical Officers do? Each Officer is employed on a thirteen-month contract to carry out the duties set out in the constitution. A Sabbatical position carries two responsibilities. The first is to represent the interests of students within both the University (by sitting on University committees) and the local and national community. Secondly, each post

carries its own individual responsibilities—for example, the AU President is responsible for matters concerning AU clubs and societies. As any Sabbatical, or indeed ex-Sabbatical Officer will tell you, working as a Sabbatical Officer is a unique and rewarding opportunity to gain experience of full time work, as well as to initiate new ideas and play a part in improving the University experience for all students: Sabbatical Officers sit on the SU executive committee, which exists to promote students’ best interests. In order to provide fair representation, the Sabbatical officers work together with nonSabbatical Officers. These are students who volunteer their time to work in the Students’ Union, dealing with a wide range of issues from lesbian and gay rights through to national campaigns. In all there are twenty posts available, six Sabbatical and fourteen Non-Sabbatical. So how do I get involved? It’s not really all that hard. You don’t need any special qualifications; you don’t need any money; you don’t even need to know who the Prime Minister is (though it might help). All you need is some spare time to get up and find out what is available. Are you annoyed at the government for imposing tuition fees on every student? Are you annoyed that student grants are no longer available? Well, now is the time to get involved and get elected to do something about it, We are all at University to learn, so why not broaden your horizons? Let’s put it this way: YOU need student candidates to stand in YOUR elections to run YOUR Students Union. Its up to YOU. Nominations for Sabbatical and Non-Sabbatical candidates are open 19th-23rd February. Nomination forms and opportunities profiles are available in the General Office on the second floor of the Students’ Union.

WHAT’S GOING ON

SEREN February 2001 3

Stupid survey reveals blindingly obvious

M

ORI have published the findings of a ‘comprehensive’ student survey. The shocking news is that the worst aspect of student life is being broke and in massive debt. Remarkable. Among the other startling discoveries were that two-fifths of students were inexperienced at

domestic activities like cooking and ironing before they came to University (ie, when they lived with their parents); and, most surprisingly, that students spend most of their leisure time engaged in ‘student activities’, which includes such student-specific pursuits as ‘going to the pub’ and

‘watching TV.’ The survey was carried out on behalf of the UNITE group, a private company that specialises in providing student services. Seren wonders whether the money might have been better invested in student services than wasted on this worthless survey.

Welcome Week guides wanted D

o you remember when you first arrived in Bangor? Did you know where your room was? Did you know where the nearest pub was? The chances are that you didn’t, and neither did any of the other new students arriving on the same day. You will also probably remember, if you think hard enough, there were a small handful of very helpful 2nd and 3rd year students who may have given you some directions, or just

friendly advice. The Union now needs students to enlist as Welcome Week guides for next year’s freshers. If you are a friendly, outgoing and helpful sort of person, why not find out more about helping new students settle into University life? If you are interested and think you can help, contact the Students’ Union or email willk@undeb.bangor.ac.uk.

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still on the horizon?

s many second- and third-year students will be aware, the idea of a Bangor student radio station was born last year and almost immediately adopted by the Union. Named Storm FM, it initially met with great enthusiasm, as up to 200 people attended the weekly meetings. Even the University jumped on the bandwagon, giving the station a grant to buy equipment and licences. Finally, last Easter, after much work and preparation, the station was but a footstep from being launched, with just a few essential items to be purchased. A launch date was finally set... but at the last minute funding fell unexpectedly short. The station could not be launched on the planned date. A second launch date was set, but the damage was done. Storm FM had been burgeoning ahead at such a pace that, when the baton was dropped just inches from the finishing-tape, the project’s previously sky-high credibility could

only plummet. Worse, just when Storm’s legions of volunteers most needed reassuring and convincing that their time had not been wasted, the Executive Committee found itself beset by a series of trials and controversies (including the re-opening of nominations for last year’s SU elections), leaving it without the time to fully devote itself to rallying support for the station. Meetings continued, but dwindling attendances bore witness to the growing consensus that the impetus had been lost and Storm FM had died a quiet death. Yet there were a handful of dedicated students and staff who still believed in the station. These people—especially the studio technical manager—kept the project ticking over during the summer, and the studio has now been totally rewired for broadcast, with space left for the still-required equipment. The booking format of the studio has also been rearranged to accommodate live

broadcasting. Over the past two weeks, the Students’ Union has managed to secure funding from the Ffridd’ site JCR committee to purchase the remaining equipment. Soured relations have been repaired and we believe that it is now time to start once more to recruit volunteers for all those important tasks involved in launching a radio station. We have a licence to broadcast. We have a fully up-to-date studio dedicated to the radio station. We have expert technical staff to train students. We have a transmitter on the Ffridd’ site. All of this is just waiting to be used. All we need now are students to make the radio work. For all those involved last year—and of course those of you interested in finding out more— now is your chance to make a difference. Let’s make it work this time. For more information look out for forthcoming posters, or email stormfm@bangor.ac.uk.


THINGS TO SEE AND DO

4 SEREN February 2001

news@seren.bangor.ac.uk

RAG Week arrives again As another RAG Week, beckons, James Brownsell warns us what to expect...

I

t’s a phenomenon. Last year it was great, mad and wild (yes, at the same time). This year, expect the same, but worse. In addition to the usual RAG raids (so far £3,500 has been raised from seven events around the country), a special line up has been arranged for this year’s RAG Week. Valentine’s Day sees the annual ‘Singled Out’ contest, this year in Bangor’s classiest club, the Octagon. Then the gallivanting around the country resumes: Lampeter gets a ‘Mega-Raid’ to raise some cash for Ty-Hafan, a Welsh Children’s Hospice on February 17th; and then, a week later, it’s off to Leeds to raise some wonga for The Brain and Spine Foundation. RAG week this year falls in the same week as Union Elections, expect even more madness than usual. The week kicks off on Saturday March 17th with the now-traditional bungee jump-anyone mad enough to sign up can collect a sponsorship form from the SU

reception. The following day, the Main Arts Building gets to do its bit for charity as mad fund-raisers set out to raise cash by abseiling down it. The night Monday 19th sees extra excitement in the form of a £1,000 giveaway in Time and a tribute act. Tuesday sees a bona fide attempt to get into the Guinness Book of Records with the aid of up to 1,000 volunteers and a very, very large amount of beer. Wednesday night sees live music in Time from the ever-impressive, Radio 1-famed Lear and student band, ‘Charlie Brown,’ having hopefully recovered from their performance at the Rathbone/Reichel Christmas Ball. Not content with just one venue, RAG has also secured the Octagon again for ‘the Talentless Show,’ a talent show with an obvious difference. Confirmed appearances include some bloke singing for five-minutes whilst removing appropriate elements of clothing, but don’t let this scare you-it’s an open-mike evening, with

LAST YEAR: RAG 2000’s highly successful ‘Singled Out’ night. Expect more of the same. as many people as can fit in doing five minutes of absolutely anything, as long as it demands no talent whatsoever! Thursday is SU Election day, so go and vote! And after the excitement of election night, Friday

brings RAG’s sponsored firewalk, which should prove an interesting challenge. Come and have a go if you thing you’re hard enough, kind of thing: sponsor forms are available, again, from the Reception of the Union.

Finally, Saturday ends the week with a trip to Liverpool to collecting for the Healing Hands network. For more details, email rag@undeb.bangor.ac.uk or phone 07968 484866.

Rolf confirmed for Ball Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci rumoured for coveted support slot

E

nts has confirmed that Rolf Harris will be headlining this year’s Summer Ball on June 1st. Seren understands that Gorky’s Zyogtic Mynci have been approached to support Rolf, but as we went to press no confirmation had been received. While perhaps a more esoteric choice than last year’s Lightning Seeds, Rolf ’s appearance crowns an active year for Ents. Already this year has seen the controversial Mark and Lard concert and the high-profile Mansun gig, reviewed elsewhere in this issue, and other forthcoming events in Time include Midfield General (17th February), My Vitriol (21st February), Meat Loaf Tribute (26th February), Cream on Tour (20th March) and Atomic Kitten (24th March). In addition, it has been confirmed that the guest speaker at this year’s AU Dinner on 6th April will be irrepressible 80s TV japester Timmy Mallett.

COMING SOON: (clockwise from above) Rolf Harris, My Vitriol, Atomic Kitten, Meat Loaf and... ah.


ANALYSIS

analysis@seren.bangor.ac.uk

SEREN February 2001 5

Global Justice Conference Karl Sadil reports from the recent conference-with-a-conscience in Bangor

T

he Global Justice Conference ran from 9th to 10th February in Bangor and was organised by a coalition of campaign groups called Common Ground. It was held in the Main Arts Lecture Theatre, New Arts Reception, Hen Goleg, and Y Ffynnon at the Anglican Chaplaincy. The New Arts reception area hosted stalls by groups such as North Wales Organic Growers and Permaculture Group, Bangor SU Campaigns, Christian Aid, the Bangor Green Group, Earth First, People and Planet, Wales Trade Unionists, WWFN, United Nations Association, Amnesty International, Dimensions Healthfoods, Traidcraft, Undercurrents Foundation Wales, CAFOD, SPEAK (Christian group), Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg, Oxfam, Woodcraft Folk. The Main Arts Lecture Theatre was packed for all sessions on the Saturday. Catering was by Dimensions, Traidcraft, the Main Arts Bar, Hen Goleg Bar, and Y Ffynnon. The conference opened on Friday at Y Ffynnon with a film (This Is What Democracy Looks Like) of the Seattle riots against the World Trade Organization in 1999/2000. It featured footage of demonstrators being gassed, sprayed, dragged and beaten. Saturday’s evening films were by Undercurrents (one on the impact of sand dredging and one on the health risks of mobile phone masts, both in Swansea and Gower), and by Zoe Young (who was present to speak). Zoe Young, who made her film Suits and Savages: Why the World Bank won’t Save the World with Dylan Howitt, went to an indigenous (adivasi) village in southern India and interviewed the villagers about the Global Environment Facility project for a reserve which means they are evicted from their homes and banned from the forest. They have no access to healthcare, and cannot go into the forest for food and medicinal herbs. The film of the response of the GEF and World Bank in Washington and Delhi is 38 minutes long and available from inbox@consciouscinema.co.uk, costing £7 to students. The speakers at the conference included George Monbiot, environmentalist and philosopher who has had at least one of his books banned outside the UK (in Switzerland). It was on sale at the conference and quickly sold out. Monbiot talked about sustainable living in an overcrowded world. His

counterpoint speaker was Shan Ashton, who promoted Welsh lamb as a product from Welsh farms that will help improve the status of farmers. She mentioned that Safeway and

Torture is practised in 162 countries—out of 189 surveyed by Amnesty International. Tesco charge thousands of pounds to each of their suppliers (eg £20,000 per product line the store stocks) and also charge them for the stores’ charitable donations publicised in the media. Colin Hines spoke about ‘localization’ as an alternative to globalisation. His book, ‘Localization: A Global Manifesto’ is published by Earthscan (www.earthscan.co.uk) and costs £10.99. Angharad Tomos said that Wales has a long tradition of political radicalism. Another speaker was Caroline Lucas MEP. The most interesting speaker was possibly Professor John Lovering, whose talk ‘An ethical economy for Wales’ criticised the status quo and promoted alternative economic strategies. There were a number of workshops throughout the Saturday, held across College Road in Hen Goleg. The morning had 6 workshops: Anti-Torture (Amnesty International), Disarmament (UN Association), Sustainable Farming (WWFN), Nonviolent Direct Action (Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg), Poverty (Anti-Poverty Alliance Cymru), Trade (Christian Aid). The afternoon workshops were on Christianity (by SPEAK), Video Activism (Undercurrents), Brewery Fields action (Earth First) and Localisation (CAFOD), Fair Trade (People and Planet), Anti-Single Currency (Wales Trade Unionists Against The Single Currency). On Monday the 12th, there was an unrelated action on fair trade and the World Bank. At the Main Arts reception there was a fair trade stall organised by Traidcraft, and in the evening in Lecture Room 1 there was a Teach-In about why the World Bank and World Trade Organisation are unfair to the environment and to the people of the

Third World. On Saturday the 11th of February, at lunchtime, 20 to 50 protesters (the highlight event of the conference) made it through rain and wind to the clock in Bangor High Street for Bangor’s effort in Amnesty International’s third UK campaign against torture, called ‘Stamp Out Torture.’ Petitions and giant postcards were signed, and sent to Tony Blair and Rhodri Morgan. Torture is practised in over 162 countries of the world today, out of 189 surveyed by Amnesty International (AI) in 1999. However, the general public think that under 50 countries in the world still use torture. The UK has not fully ratified the Convention Against Torture. Two thirds of the world’s countries regularly employ torture against their own citizens. At least 6,000 UK asylum seekers per year are victims of torture. A root cause of torture is discrimination based on identity. People commonly targeted are women, blacks, gays and trans people, also political dissidents and religious minorities. In Afghanistan for example, the Taliban arrest and torture women who fail to conform to the sharia law. Amnesty International wants the UK to ratify the Convention Against Torture in full, and to stop selling torture equipment. The UK, say AI, must also get other countries to ratify the Convention. The UK still allows brokering agents to arrange sales of torture equipment. One example was Paines-Wessex, part of Alvis Arms, who in 1994 sold the Kenyan army teargas that was then used on student protesters in Nairobi who were gassed at close range in a church they were sheltering in. They were then dragged out and many were tortured or killed. The UK has also sold electroshock batons to Turkey. The police in Scotland are considering importing Taser dart guns from America, which can maim or kill people they are used on. Torturers and war criminals are rarely brought to justice.

Feeding Haiti from a basket A

research project at Bangor’s School of Agricultural and Forest Sciences (SAFS) has identified ways of improving farming in Haiti through low-technology, affordable and low-impact solutions. PhD student Terefe Lemma, studying Agriculture at SAFS, found that the storage of maize grain in sacks causes freezing, losses from rats and

weevils and plant diseases. Terefe suggests that using woven baskets to store grain will cause fewer losses over the winter. Changing the planting time to a few weeks earlier increased farmers’ yields. Professor Gareth Edwards-Jones supervised Mr Lemma’s project, which was funded (for the field research component) by CARE International. Mr

Lemma came from east Africa originally, and saw woven baskets being used when he was a child. The climate in Haiti and that in West Africa is different, so many traditional African ways of farming are unsuitable to Haiti. The poverty of Haitian farmers has led to the breakup of families and the dispersal of farming people to industrial areas.

AI wants an International Criminal Court (ICC). This needs 60 countries as signatories in order to be established. About 30 countries so far have signed up to this proposal so far. AI wants the UK to promote the ICC and to increase public knowledge of the treatment of refugees and of identity-based torture. AI is trying to get thousands of postcards calling for a ban on torture to be sent to the Prime Minister by the end of 2001. More information on is available at www.amnesty.org.uk.


AROUND THE SU

6 SEREN February 2001

Master yoga Morgan Melhuish introduces Dru Yoga

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ru Yoga—it might sound like something a long-haired hippy, lycra-clad athlete, or a broccoli-munching, health conscious freak would do. But believe me, it’s not! Sure, those types of people do go, but they are a minority. Most of the people that have joined the classes are just like you and me, ready for a laugh, ready to feel good, with a minimal amount of ‘ommm’-ing.

as you so nobody feels awkward. The leaders are very supportive, friendly and ready to answer any questions or help with anything that’s going on in your life. It’s good for you and fun. So, how can I get involved? There are sessions in the evening throughout the week. Pop into Dimensions Wholefood store on Holyhead road, Upper Bangor, to get more details or just turn up to a session. The Student Class is held at Hugh Owen Hall, on College Road Tuesday evenings from 7.30—9.00pm. Or phone Moon or Susan on 01248 602900/351562 (Dimensions). All you need is two pounds fifty, a rug or blanket, some loose, comfortable clothing and an open mind. So, leave the leotard at home and get all Dru Yoga’d up!

What does Dru Yoga involve? It’s basically a complete work-out—physically, emotionally and mentally. If you’re thinking about contorted limbs in positions called ‘the Lobotomy’ then relax. With Dru Yoga you always work within your own body’s limits. In my case that’s not very far, but I am certainly getting better!! After going to practically all of the sessions last term, I am definitely feeling the benefit. It might sound corny, but I really am more confident, self-assured and happy with myself. I get stressed less and have managed to levitate six inches from the ground. (Only joking about that last one!) At first I did feel a bit self-conscious, but everyone feels this at the same time. That’s the good thing: it doesn’t matter how you look, because Americans du Dru tu. It’s tru! Du yu? Etc. other people are doing the same thing

su@seren.bangor.ac.uk


BOOKS

culture@seren.bangor.ac.uk

Reading matters

SEREN February 2001 7

with

Seren’s regular round-up of books and other book-like items

154 High Street, Bangor Tel. (01248) 372057

Dangerous Parking by Stuart Browne

N

oah Arkwright is a successful filmmaker, a husband and father of two. He is also a recovering alcoholic with cancer. The book starts with Arkwright trying to make sense of his life during a journey in Greece, then cuts back and forth through his drink and drugs lifestyle to his domesticated present existence. The action hops between London, America and Africa as Noah’s life story unfolds.

The blurb on the back of this novel promises “the best book about alcoholism, sex, drugs, rock ‘n’ roll, love and death... ever.” The book does contain tales of alcoholism, sex, drugs, rock ‘n’ roll, love and death, but they have all been told before by countless authors, and were probably better written. The worst thing is that it’s not even clear if the author is trying to write a parody about boring, pretentious ex-druggies,

or is just a really bad writer. The central protagonist is an intensely unlikeable character. His tale is an indulgent meander down addiction alley, introducing us to people almost as uninteresting as himself. When he meets his future wife, Clare, you almost feel sorry for her, until she turns out to be equally as pretentious, arrogant and annoying as he is. Arkwright doesn’t tell us anything new about substance abuse.

He is, in essence, a deeply boring man, and his deliberately wild behaviour and ‘cool’ exterior just makes him ridiculous. His life with cancer does make the book more readable, as he then drops the act and lets the story unfold easily and naturally. But the style and tone of the book makes the rest of Noah���s story seem so grinding and foolish it doesn’t seem worth the effort to read it.

Midnight All Day by Hanif Kureshi

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idnight All Day is a collection of short stories by the renowned novelist and playwright Hanif Kureishi, containing accounts of loneliness, frustration and intoxication. The opening story concerns a married woman whose plans for a romantic rendezvous with her lover are thwarted when her husband decides

to accompany her. Others involve interracial relationships and social differences. The premise of a really good, startling collection doesn’t live up to its potential. The stories seem to have been written by a much more inexperienced writer. Some of the language is hopelessly trite—“… the table

of their love”, “… the relationship lacked velocity and a future.” Kureishi says nothing new—relationships are complicated, people are lonely, success is empty—and doesn’t even bother to package it in something original (a walk in a park, a visit home to an alcoholic mother). The stilted, jarring language would work if it

was attributed to the characters, but as every story has the same tone this simply implies poor writing. There are attempts at humour (where an unsuspecting husband and his wife’s lover have a drink together at a hotel bar) but the overwhelming feeling is scepticism of life, love and other people. Midnight All Day doesn’t

live up to Kureishi’s usual standard, and it’s apparent these stories were published because of reputation of their author, not because of their merit. Kureishi’s writing is usually accessible, readable and funny, and for a better introduction to his work, The Buddha of Suburbia is a great first novel and very much recommended.

What the Body Remembers by Shauna Singh Baldwin

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et during India’s struggle for independence from Britain in the 1930s and 40s, Shauna Singh Baldwin tells the story of Roop, the youngest daughter from a Sikh family in a small village. In a fiercely patriarchal society Roop struggles to tame her natural exuberance and conform to religious and familial expectations. The theme of oppression runs throughout the book—towards Indians by the British, between

India’s different religions (Sikh, Hindu and Muslim) and of women. Roop’s marriage, family and home serve as a means for showing the impression of wider political implications upon the individual. The juxtaposition of personal (Roop’s life), political (discussion of British and Indian leaders’ actions) and historical (accounts of real events) gives the book depth, richness and, through Singh Baldwin’s style, an intensely absorbing story.

The content veers from Roop’s mother’s death to her brother’s successful marriage, betrayal to trust, innocence to maturity. The main character is genuinely likeable because she has obvious vices and flaws, and because she makes mistakes and doesn’t do as she’s told. The image of the timid woman behind the veil is manipulated to show that the women men see ‘out of the corners of their eyes’ are just as ruthless,

angry and powerful. What the Body Remembers is a story of women and history on the same level as Jung Chang’s Wild Swans. An important and impressive work of literature from a different culture, the book is satisfying and accessible even to a reader with no prior knowledge of India’s background. It is a story about growth and change, with relevance to and resonance through all cultures.

Veronika Decides to Die by Paul Coelho Where is Slovenia? A stupid question, the protagonist in Paulo Coelho’s new book thinks, because “no one ever knows where Slovenia is”. She’s probably right (George W. Bush doesn’t know the difference between Slovenia and Slovakia), and in this seemingly anonymous country, Veronika decides to die. In a rational and logical manner she sets out her two simple justifications

for this; she will soon grow old (it’s downhill all the way), and she has no way of changing the world she lives in. Unfortunately, the attempt fails and Veronika ends up in a notorious psychiatric hospital with only a few days to live. Veronika’s life in these last days is an accelerated leap into her unconscious; a questioning of her attitudes and beliefs. Coelho stretches the reader’s

empathy with Veronika, attempting to use her as a symbol of human consciousness. In a mildly cliché, self-therapeutic way, Coelho believes humans can achieve similar successful self-realisation as Veronika does, to believe that “ … every moment in our lives is special and precious”. This view may seem idealistic to our cynical, British way of thinking, but the clear, genuine

content is refreshing in its sincerity and optimism. It is also an engaging consideration of the psychiatric profession, with other patients’ stories intermingling with Veronika’s to produce lucidity within seeming madness. The crux of the novel is an ingenious plot twist, which is unfortunately not ingenious enough. This doesn’t ruin the story, but a sharper or more

unrelenting ending could have given more strength to Veronika’s story, and affected the reader’s equilibrium a little more. Coelho, although flawed in his plot structure, has a mastery of language that makes his characters intelligent and likeable. A successful writer, Coelho has written many other novels with a similar upbeat basis, which are also worth reading.


MUSIC

8 SEREN February 2001

Papa crazy Infest by Papa Roach

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ormed in 1993, Papa Roach have released four LPs which have made little impact on the music industry. Their previous album, Old Friends from Young Years was played on American radio stations, but Infest is their first major label release. Their first LOVABLE HOOLIGANS? Or hateful single from it was released try-hard wasters? You decide. last week and has had considerable airplay on Radio One. The single ‘Last Resort’ Against The Machine’s Zack de la is typical of the mood of the Rocha, Coby’s rapping capabilities whole album—that is, suicidal and are mediocre at best. However his depressive. The songs cover a vocals on other tracks are pleasrange of issues including alcohol- ingly gruff. ism, domestic violence and the The hidden bonus track is a oppression of capitalism. seemingly out of place reggae song The album takes rock-rap back which actually works very well. to its New York roots. The heavy Perhaps this is a hint of what’s guitars are satisfying and the album to come from Papa Roach. Altohas a raw energy about it. The high gether the album is satisfying, if points are ‘Last Resort’ (if you’re not completely original. If you like not already bored of it), ‘Between the single, you’ll like the album, Angels and Insects’ and ‘Revenge,’ but don’t expect to be inspired. in which Coby Dick attempts to HHHII rap. Compared to the likes of Rage Angie Cranfield

Ridiculas

Back for the First Time by Ludacris

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his is the début album from Atlanta-based Chris Bridges, aka Ludacris. And what a début it is. With smooth vocals over raw beats, this guy really has what it takes to make it big. Having already worked with huge names like Timbaland and Jermaine Dupri, his potential is already being recognised. He is signed to Def Jam South recording, home to many of the top names in hip-hop, and is set to take on the world with his own production company. To get here, Chris worked his way up through the industry, attending open mic venues and eventually landing a job on a hiphop radio station. From then on there was no stopping him as he paraded his skills to record companies and fans alike. Back for the First Time is a rap album with a few twists. Ludacris manages to spice things up with his unique use of the English language and clever turns of phrase, which both amuse and impress. In fact, the track ‘Ho,’ which is derogatory to women, had me in fits of laughter because of the tragic puns he uses. A rap about the ‘Ho-zone layer’ cannot be taken seriously,

music@seren.bangor.ac.uk

Family values The Dynasty: Roc La Familia by Jay-Z

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he Jigga man’s back, and this time he wants you to meet his family. Beanie Sigel, Memphis Bleek and Amil are brought to the forefront of the rap industry in this official introduction, although you’ve probably already spotted them on Jay-Z’s previous albums. All three are talented rappers and will no doubt make large amounts of money. The album itself contains everything you would expect from Jay-Z—and nothing that you wouldn’t. Once again, Shawn Carter mingles the high and low points of gangsta life with a pinch of misogynism and the predictable ‘child vocal’ track. Whilst ‘Hard Knock Life’ was fresh and original, this third attempt (‘Soon You’ll Understand’) is rather pathetic. Maybe it’s about time he gave that up. Whilst Jay-Z’s rapping skills are still among the best, the tunes all sound scarily familiar. If you enjoy a good game of ‘guess the sample’ then this album will provide you with hours of entertainment. If not, and you already own his other albums, leave this one on the shelf.

CAN I GET A...? Third hit record? No. The only real high point is forthcoming single ‘I Just Wanna Love U (Give It 2 Me)’ which, if you can overlook the dodgy vocals that sound like Little Richard on helium, has a funky bassline and a nice flow. ‘Change That Game’ and ‘Parking Lot Pimpin’’ are also worth a listen. However, guest appearances by R. Kelly and Snoop are very disappointing and do little to increase the quality of this album. This album is nothing compared to the amazing success of

Vol 2: Hard Knock Life, which featured tunes like ‘Can I Get A …,’ which sits head and shoulders above the majority of gangsta rap tracks. The fact that Jay-Z released that previous album less than a year ago suggests that this album has been made in a hurry, and, as a result, quantity takes the place of quality. Whilst the new single is bound to do well, this album lacks substance and is truly a disappointing show. HHIII Angie Cranfield

Sweet corn Teenage Dirtbag by Wheatus

A He doesn’t look like a Chris. even by hardcore gangsta fans. All the tracks are fast, fun and flirty. ‘U Got a Problem’ is hard-hitting and classy, and the a capella ‘Mouthing Off ’ highlights just how talented this man is. The best track is, without a doubt, ‘What’s Your Fantasy’ featuring Shawna, who has appeared on Montell Jordan’s albums. It’s seriously sexy with a rough edge and a hint of humour. It’s refreshing to find a rap album that knows how to show you a good time and doesn’t take itself too seriously. Ludacris has real talent and his vocals are distinctive. Don’t be surprised if soon he’s the name on everyone’s lips. HHHHI Angie Cranfield

bunch of twenty-somethings producing a song about teenage angst and a geek who gets the girl. It shouldn’t work, but strangely it does. Appealing to the inner nerd in everyone, this amazingly catchy tune is one you’ll be humming for weeks. Kicking off with a mellow riff, you’d be forgiven for dismissing it as another pop band creation. But when the chorus kicks in the rough side of the New York boys really comes through. A beautifully harmonious mix of heavy guitars and bouncy beats, this tune crosses borders. Rich Leigh who plays bass for the band says “Wheatus is about crafting pop-rock songs with punk/street credibility.” With Brendan Brown’s distinctively whiney voice and the cheery lyrics, it is all too easy to imagine the band are teenage hopefuls with little experience. But Brendan has been writing songs since his teen years and has been involved in other band projects. Wheatus was born when he finally became tired of doing what producers told him to and enlisted a few friends and his younger brother, Peter, and started producing his own album in the basement of his parents’ house. The self-titled album is released shortly, but this single is a rarity, containing two other album tracks, in a time where naff remixes are all you can expect. The second track ‘I’d Never Write A Song

About You’ is a jingly tune that is definitely popbased. The lyrics are softer, but it’s still worth a listen. The other track, ‘Hey Mr Brown’ is heavier and will probably succeed ‘Teenage Dirtbag’ as your favourite track after the novelty wears off. And, if the songs alone aren’t enough to keep you happy, beg, steal or borrow a computer so you can enjoy the CD-ROM video for ‘Teenage Dirtbag.’ Brendan will keep any hot-blooded female rapt for hours, and there’s even a guest appearance by Mena Suvari for the guys. Whether Wheatus are a one hit wonder or go on to greater things, this single is a brilliant début. HHHHH Angie Cranfield

Everybody else is doing it, so why can’t they?


MUSIC

music@seren.bangor.ac.uk

SEREN February 2001 9

Electric Men (ho ho thud) David MacGowan saw Mansun in Time

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t’s been said that reviewing something that you like is the hardest thing a writer can do—but that’s rubbish. I could go on forever about the things I like; the colours they set off in your head, the tingles and echoes that ripple through you, the sheer physically instinctive joy of realizing that you like this, no, you love this. It’s certainly easier than talking about what you don’t like, where mostly all you can do is resort to childish similes and watch for the hound of Constructive Criticism sniffing your trail and nearly on your back. But what IS hard is when you experience something you like, and you know you like it, but at the same time knowing that it isn’t so much a genuine transmitter/ receiver thing (they send out, you like v. much), but more a suspension of your usual critical faculties; a sense of liking something because it was there just when you needed it. So take Mansun then (phwoar, and how I’d love to), and their live performance at Bangor University this October gone. Is there any way I could not have liked/loved/gone stark raving mad to this gig after having spent three years in a kind of cultural exile? Ents fare isn’t supposed to be of this stature, of this quality. Live music from a nationally known, chart-topping, Top-of-the-Pops-andeveryfink band? And a mad/bad/zad glamourpoprocknoise band at that? This sure isn’t Nowaysis! When the posters first appeared, scepticism was the only reaction.

This must be a prank, surely... but then no, the realization sunk in, and so the mostly indie (huuurghh, that word) massive (and for better or worse I include myself in that) queued outside Time with arms so pinched in disbelief that medics were on hand to give injections. It’s quite possible that Mansun could have played a set of Norwegian folk songs with Paul Draper on lead kazoo and I’d have still been utterly euphoric. When the lights went down and they, Mansun (Mansun!!), stalked onstage, the charge was one of stupidly exciting unreality. I screamed much louder than I would have done if I’d paid and travelled to see them in, say, Manchester. Or Leeds even. Banter may have been paltry, but what the hell—they played their songs, to us, with loud guitars and bish bang drums and huge ‘shheeeeoww’ lights and plinky faux-strings keyboards and everything! Opening with ‘Take It Easy Chicken’ for Damon’s sake, a crowd-pleaser or what? No doubt guitarist Chad, having been a student here for a year (doing Linguistics and leaving a virtual alcoholic, natch) sensed from the off our thirst, our hunger, our deep throbbing aching need for entertainment—so a largely singles-based set of songs was the order of the day. With their current third album they’ve restrained somewhat their more erratic impulses and gone for a more conventional pop sound, but when gems like ‘I Can Only Disappoint You’ and ‘Fool’ (débuted tonight in an orchestral flurry of

DOURPUSSES: Mansun adopt the classic Bangor attitude. pure-pop “ahh-ahh’ahhh’s”) are the result, then there’s no reason to moan. The more simple lyrics this time round are at least clearer and more audible—‘Comes As No Surprise’ is a straight narrative of tragic, doomed-to-loneliness youth,

cold and fragile and eerily, frighteningly beautiful. Mansun’s public image seems to be one of mad conflict, in both style and substance, but with this current set of songs they prove themselves to be consistent, single-minded and deter-

mined. The fact that they’re drop dead gorgeous is of course a bonus. No surprises, but Paul is the particular subject of my affections. Ah, Mansun, you came to Bangor and were great. You’ll always be ‘My Boys’ from now on!

You might as well be walking on the sun EMB checks out Fever by Starsailor

I

DOWN BUT NOT OUT: Starsailor take it to the streets.

f you haven’t heard of Starsailor by now then WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN? Even the Sun have touted them as the next big thing. They’re the current darlings of NME and highly acclaimed by music journalists everywhere. They’re one of the bands on the current NME tour and, if you are to believe the rumours, they’re coming to play in Bangor sometime soon. Woo hoo! This is a lot of publicity for a band yet to put out an album, for Fever is their first release. This three track EP seems to be merely a teaser, perhaps a ploy to keep interest high for when they finally bring out their début album. In fact, it’s worth pointing out what it says on the sleeve— these songs are demos and they might yet re-record them. With that in mind,

if you don’t buy it you may not be missing out on much in the long run. But what do they sound like? Well, I was pleasantly surprised. The production is a little raw, but the music shines through regardless, a little island of musical promise in this sea of mass-produced pop shite. The title track is less strong than the two b-sides, lacking some of the soul and energy of ‘Coming down’ or the slow groove of ‘Love is Here’. These are fairly stripped-down tunes and that’s part of the charm: drums, bass, acoustic guitar, vocals and rock organ. Yes, if you hate Hammond then look elsewhere, ‘cos these lads love their organ (snigger). Not being overly familiar with Tim Buckley, I’m not sure how much they’re ripping him off, but there’s a lot of potential in their music and, I hope, a lot to come. Keep an eye out for these. HHHHI


MOVIES

10 SEREN February 2001

movies@seren.bangor.ac.uk

A voice of clarity in the cinematic wilderness

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reetings you cinematic Bangor geniuses, you! Welcome to the Movie section. We’ve been gone a while, but let’s not talk about that. In the movie world, all eyes are turned towards the Oscars. In little over a month’s time, we’ll have another overlong, back-patting, hideously worthy mainstream tritefest. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate the Oscars, I just know they could be so much more than they are now. If you look down a list of past winners, the Academy’s blunders

are as sad and obvious as those aging drool-decorated perverts who infest the Octagon. Titanic and Forrest Gump spring readily to mind. It’s not just that the Oscars hand over the Best Picture honours to bags of wank, it’s that they completely ignore masterpieces. David Fincher’s Se7en went without recognition, as was his recent masterpiece Fight Club—in my eyes, the biggest and most foolhardy snub the Oscars have ever made. Granted, 1999 was a great year for

movies, but Fight Club whups the asses of American Beauty and The Sixth Sense. Great films like Magnolia, The Truman Show and Three Kings are pretty much ignored. Honouring American Beauty last year was a step in the right direction, but there’s a fucking long way to go. Just think: neither Hitchcock nor Kubrick ever won a directing Oscar. There’s something seriously wrong there. And the fact that Arnie is an Academy member speaks an encyclopaedia-type number of volumes.

Anyway, this year’s Oscars look like a close race. There was a lot of mumbling in the film community that “mumblemumble this year’s been crap mumblemumble don’t give an Oscar to anyone mumblemumble.” It seems it’ll be either Gladiator or Traffic. Last month’s Golden Globes favoured the former, which tends to be a decent yardstick. Expect Julia Roberts to win Best Actress, Russell Crowe or Tom Bloody Hanks for Actor and probably Steven Soderbergh for Director

(he has two nominations, for Erin Brockovich and Traffic, so he has a bit of an advantage). If the Academy is feeling arty then Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon may get a handful. Sincerely, I just don’t know what to expect these days. So, give it a look if you have Sky, or, like me, you can grab a wealthy friend for the evening. Steve Martin’s hosting this year; at least that’s an improvement on Crystal and Goldberg. Gnnnggggnnggghhh. Chris Chapman

Looking for Richard

Chris Chapman met Lord Dickie Attenborough—and asked the questions no-one else dared to

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umbling under its disjointed breath at the horrors of fivehour train journeys, Seren recently travelled the length and breadth of the country to, er, Leicester. And in that Leicester, there was a cinema, and in that cinema there was a premiere, and in that premiere there was a Richard Attenborough. Seren grabbed the silver-bearded, kudoscollecting director in a lovely old pub after the national premiere of his new film, Pierce Brosnan starrer Grey Owl. Though getting on a bit now, Dickie is utterly enthusiastic, utterly humble and (rather worryingly) utterly touchy-feely. He’s not a lovey-darling, but he has got a beard. Lord Richard, Grey Owl is yet another biopic for you after Gandhi, Shadowlands, etc. What’s the bloody appeal? I enjoy fact more than fiction. I don’t read a lot of fiction; I read biography and history. I believe in heroes and role models, you know. I’ve always felt that I wanted to somehow communicate my excitement about discovering them and what they stood for, what they fought for and what they fought against. Grey Owl is still searching for a US release date. How can you market this rather quiet film? Well, I can’t. That’s why I can’t sell this film in America—I cannot sell it at all! No-one wants to buy it! The guy at Warner Brothers actually said, “if you’d put some sex into that cabin, I’d buy that picture.” Or, “if Pierce really got involved in that fight with the guys in the store and smashed their faces in, I could sell it.” Violence has never really been a

part of your movies. Well, I am very concerned about the state of gratuitous violence in movies. I’m totally opposed to any sort of censorship, I don’t mean that. And I’m not particularly concerned about the pornography of sex, it seems to me that doesn’t do anyone any harm. But the pornography of violence is a different matter, and I am nervous about it—not because I think the imagery makes people rush out into the street to do it; but I’m concerned that we become inured to it. There is now, I think, a terrible susceptibility as far as a lot of companies are concerned, that if there is a sufficient extravagance of violence, it’s good at the box office. And so violence is injected, quite irrationally and improperly into a subject matter. Rumour has it, you began your career with your own Leicester Variety shows. Yes, it was in a church hall called St. Barnabus’ Hall that was burnt down in a fire about twenty years ago. Dave (Wildlife bro David of course) and I did it together. I wanted to do it because I’m a ham. Dave didn’t want to do it at all, but agreed to appear in it if the money went to the RSPCA! (chortles) Do you think as yourself more as an actor or as a director now? I love the movies. I just wanted to be an actor, that’s all I wanted to do. But I got fed up with being typecast. I’d play spivs like in Brighton Rock, or I’d be a quivering psychopath on the lower decks of Her Majesty’s navy, and I got fed up with this so I decided to go into production. One day, somebody gave me the biography of Mahatma Ghandi, and I was so bowled over by this

guy. And suddenly I wanted to direct. I didn’t want to direct per se, I wanted to direct that story. And I started from then on, and it took me twenty years to get the script, the actor and the money, and from then on I wanted to direct, not act. So, why do something like Jurassic Park? Well, I’d given up acting for about fifteen years, and I’d already known Steven. So it was Steven really, he came over and took me out to breakfast and asked if I would appear in Jurassic Park, that he couldn’t cast any of the other parts until he’d cast John Hammond. And from that, I was asked to do Miracle on 34th Street. Were you approached for Jurassic Park 3? No, no, no, enough’s enough. You’ve acted with many of cinema’s greatest icons. What was it like working with The Cooler King, Steve McQueen? Tremendous, tremendous. He was a marvellous guy. We started off in a rather delightful competitive situation between the Yanks and the British. And I remember, very early on, Steve said ‘Come out for a ride!’ Well, I knew a bit about Steve, but not as much as I know now— and he’d got this bloody great machine outside and he said ‘Get on the back!’ I have never hung onto anyone in my life as I hung onto Steve! ‘Cause I was determined. If I’d fallen off then the Brits would have taken it in the leg. But he became a very close friend of mine. I used to see him half a dozen times a year. But of course, he died of cancer as you know, and I miss him very much. I think of

Lord Dickie decides he has had enough of Seren’s questions. all the people I’ve worked with, including James Stewart and John Wayne, the person I really miss is Steve. Terrific, professional, wonderful actor. He’s almost more famous now than when he lived; dying young made him an icon. Absolutely, quite right. What about Anthony Hopkins? Are you close? Yes. He’s mad, he’s dotty, he’s a very private person. He doesn’t really enjoy all the flim-flam of the business. He prepares and works privately, he comes into work knowing pretty well what he wants to do.

He’s not good at rehearsal, he loves doing it all off the cuff. Sometimes he’ll rehearse a scene with the wrong dialogue because he doesn’t want to play the right dialogue too many times in case it gets stale. It is time for Dickie to leave, but Seren corners him for the most important question of all: Stout or bitter? Bitter. Every time? I think so. “Sorry,” interjects a member of Dickie’s entourage, “that really is all!” Seren grins mischievously, and scampers off into the night.


MOVIES

movies@seren.bangor.ac.uk

What Women Want

SEREN February 2001 11

Now showing at the Plaza Cinema

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ight, now I’ve learned my lesson over the years about getting into gender politics arguments. The glories of film reviewing are simply not worth that kind of pain. So let’s make this a kind of androgynous review shall we? I don’t know what women want at all. Nor, it would seem, does What Women Want. The plot is nicely gimmicky. Take Mel Gibson’s macho leading man persona, cover it in assorted women’s clothing, add a smattering of psychic girly-understanding shenanigans, mix with Oscar winning sweetie Helen Hunt and leave to… well, fester in a downtown red light district really. Advertising/ chauvinist monster, Nick Marshall (Mel) loses his promotion to business bitch Darcy McGuire (Hel), then somehow acquires the rather handy ability to read women’s minds. At first Mel does scared, then Mel does devious, then Mel does… oh God, you really don’t want to know. “But it’s a date movie! Don’t be too harsh!” I hear some of you Bangor vigilantes cry. Well shame on you. Shame on bloody you. It’s a self-consciously simple and crowdpleasing movie, granted. But even on its own terms it’s often very lacking. It’s not awful; it just could have been an awful lot… well… funnier. Mel does ably send himself up.

The scene in which he tries on lippy, tights and bra sent audience grins racing to lips, with chuckles escaping like Ginger the Chicken. The leg-waxing only added to this jailbreak. However, these gags are just so damn obvious, you end up feeling like a child laughing at a parent’s easy-going knock-knock jokes. You feel rather manipulated. Once we get past this bit of slapstick (and to be fair, the former Mad Max does ably end up looking like a respectable Jessie), we move onto the more interesting side of the movie. As Nick realises his clairvoyant jamminess, the jokes step up a gear with one or two nice oneliners and a good bit of ham from Gibbo. However, if you’ve seen that darling episode of Buffy where our stylish heroine realises she can read the minds of everyone in Sunnydale (leading to, you guessed it, much hilarity), then there are no would-be giggles here to even challenge it. What Women Want also boasts the most blatant example of product placement this reviewer has ever witnessed. The previous winners were Mr. Nice Guy (Jackie Chan fights while rolling on hundreds of Pepsi cans—gah!) and Mission To Mars (Dr. Pepper saves the ship, M&Ms are used to decipher the alien DNA patterns—gah!); but What Women Want beats this

X-Men

Available now to rent from Albin’s Video

HARD AS NAILS: Wolverine fights within his mind to decide whether to use the new toothpicks or not. Or something.

with a whole fifteen minute section in which Mel and Hel try to come up with a new advertising campaign for Nike (yes, Nike! As if they needed any more bloody publicity). This stunningly trite ordeal actually leads to Mel voicing a Nike advert to camera, asking us to marvel at just how beautiful and feministic his campaign is. In a parallel universe, HIDDEN GENDER: Mel Gibson waxes lyrical (only without the ‘lyrical’ part). after witnessing this display of corporate insulting fied on a giant blunt razor, by So to sum it up then, Mel is shite, I was seen fleeing the cinema the fact that they last twenty engaging, as is the enthusiasm that and was found two days later at minutes dispenses with humour the first two thirds of the film posthe bottom of the Menai Straits, and devotes itself to pure mouldy sesses. The direction is unobtrusive along with a pair of Nikes that I cheese. We get yet another Hol- and the supporting cast adequate. had stabbed into my own lungs. lywood helping of ‘daddy helps The gags are big and silly, yet Anyway, getting a bit too ranty his daughter have a great prom’ endearing enough to pass the time. there. It is true that many people bullshit, a tired and utterly con- The real problem lies in the script will find a lot of enjoyment in trived suicide subplot, and a boring and the very real sense that this this flick, and admittedly I am ‘finale’ that pretty much dispenses is a movie, not a picture of life being very harsh here. However, if with any ideas of the characters or a proper story, but a film that has I was frantically trying to remind that the film has built up. Helen been pieced together by committee myself of the film’s good inten- Hunt, though not bad in a simple with the aim of securing a decent tions towards the end, any change part for much of the running time, box office. It all feels so fake. And of opinion was well and truly poi- simply becomes a different person this is sadly the most laughable soned, stabbed, raped and cruci- in the final scene. thing about it. HHIII

H

ollywood remakes are very fashionable at the moment. This never guarentee a good film however—just think Avengers. Fortunately, some do pull it off; this time I’m thinking Mission: Impossible or Charlie’s Angels. So then, does this Hollywood version of the Marvel comic book adventures belong to the former or latter category? For those who don’t know the premise, the X-Men are a group of mutants, led by Professor Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart), who are fighting in the not too distant future for the unification of humans and mutants. Unfortunately this is a time when anything out of the ordinary is equally feared, loathed and treated by politicians with xenophobia (nothing like today at all). So, unsurprisingly a group of mutants, rightly pissed off at the humans, led by the misguided Magneto (Ian Mckellan), decide it’s time to have their revenge. Add a couple of stray mutants: Rogue (Anna Paquin) and Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) to the mix and you have your plot. The description above does not really do this film justice. The action moves along at breakneck speed through a series of well-conceived set pieces, including visually stunning fight scenes: many including impressive Matrix-style ‘Wire-Fu.’ The plot itself, while hardly more ingenious, does have enough substance to satisfy those interested in more than tight leather and high kicks; in particular the relationship between Xavier and Magneto is nicely laid out, and rather more cleverly paves the way as many sequels as can be stomached. Director Bryan Singer, who showed his mas-

tery with large casts in The Usual Suspects, achieves the same feat here, with both the evil and good mutants getting about equal screen time. For the most part, though the film focuses on the four key characters Magneto, Xavier, Wolverine and Rogue, all of whom are played excellently, with Jackman stealing the film totally with his gruff portrayal of the mystery-shrouded Alvinn Stardust look-alike. The supporting cast are also good, with Halle Berry, Famke Janssen and Rebecca Romjin-Stamos in particular standing out as the shape shifting Mystique. The weakest link is James Marsden’s instrumental Cyclops, who is frankly like a wet weekend in Skegness. We say the sooner Jean Grey (Janssen) has her way with Wolverine, the better. The film isn’t flawless, and when you actually think about the plot, it is quite silly and involves people melting. The final scene was also probably called ‘My Big Cheesy Sacrifice’ in the script, besides which a film about mutants who can shapeshift or fire electricity at each other won’t be to everybody’s taste. However, these are probably the same people who disliked Charlie’s Angels: both films have so much energy it seems to me impossible not to get caught up in all the fun. After Batman and Robin, X-Men has restored my faith in superhero movies: I heartily recommend it. But remember now we have to brace ourselves for a million sequels as well as Spiderman, Tomb Raider and Scooby Doo. I suggest seeing X-Men now before it gets buried under such releases, as it will probably remain the best. HHHHI James Dawson


MOVIES

12 SEREN February 2001

movies@seren.bangor.ac.uk

Memento at the Theatr Gwynedd A

moment of silence and reverence, good reader. Memento was the best film I witnessed in the year 2000—more intelligent than Gladiator and more fun that any of those wonky blockbusters. It’s on at the Theatr Gwynedd on the 24th and 25th of February, so make sure you bloody well go and see it! Guy Pierce plays Leonard Shelby, man with no long term memory. He remembers his life up until a car crash, but has not been able to form any new memories since then. Ten minutes is about all he can manage before forgetting everything he’s just been doing. The twist is that he’s looking for the man who killed his wife. The only way he can keep up with his investigation is by having the clues he’s discovered so far tattooed on his body. This includes carrying around a photo of his car with ‘my car’ written underneath so he can recognise it in the car park. That’s the basic pitch (phew), but this is wonderfully complicated further by the fact that not only is the

film told in these ten minute segments, but events also unfold in reverse: the film starts at the end and finishes at the beginning. Thus we have the same ignorance of what has preceded the present as Pierce does. Some may dismiss the premise as a gimmick, but it is far deeper than it seems. Raising questions about human personality (the phrase ‘a man is the sum of his memories’ kept hurtling around my head), it merits a million more meaningful pub conversations than The Sixth Sense. I really don’t want to give much away about the plot: you just need to watch the film for yourself to know what I mean. It can be a tad headache-inducing at times, but it is more than worth it, particularly with the pitch black comedy sprinkled across the story. You’ll scratch your head, you’ll laugh, and you’ll feel rather smug if you can keep up with it all. Good support is given by Matrix stars Carrie Ann Moss and Joe Pantolal-

GENIUS!

One Man’s heroic battle to discover the movies that are so bad, they are somehow... gooood.

Operation #1: Commando (1985)

A

fter having retired from his crack group of specially trained US marines, John Matrix (Arnold Schwarzenegger) has started a new life in the hills with his daughter, Jenny. His tranquil existence is disrupted when the other surviving members of his squad are murdered, inexplicably, one by one. General Kirby, Matrix’s former superior, informs him that he is the obvious next target. The crooks behind it all, led by Matrix’s former friend, Bennett, kidnap his daughter, and order Matrix to assassinate a political leader who stands in their way. Matrix must find a way to foil their diabolical plans and save his innocent child. Can one man make a difference?

offspring as if she were somebody else’s bag of potatoes! See Arnie and Jenny messing around with ice cream cones, laughing at each other’s silliness! See Arnie and Jenny stroking a cute little deer in front of painted scenery! DO YOU SEE? THEY ARE ENJOYING A PEACEFUL EXISTENCE WITHOUT A CARE IN THE WORLD! DO YOU UNDERSTAND? DO YOU? It is also disturbing to spot the credits of composer James Horner (Titanic), producer Joel Silver (The Matrix) and actor Dan Hedaya (The Usual Suspects). GENIUS!

3 ‘WHITE MALE, 6 FOOT 3!’

EIGHT STEPS TO GENIUS...

Arnie’s ego gets the better of him for this unfortunate quote. As the mall police flock to take him on, they fearfully describe the Austrian Oak as being something of a giant; of course, in reality, Arnold is a midget-tastic 5ft 8in! GENIUS!

1 BENNETT (PRAISE BE TO HIM)

4 SULLY: SUCH A NICE MAN

You might assume that Bennett, the most formidable of Arnie’s crack squad. thrown out because he ‘enjoyed the killing too much,’ would be one rock hard motherfucker. Wrong. Bennett is a camp, overweight, Australian Freddy Mercury lookalike with a weakness for chainmail string vests. ‘Matrix and I could kill all of your men in the blink of an eye!’ he snarls; in a perfect world, this man, with his kinky squeaky boots and Village People ‘tache, would be a Hollywood megastar and gay icon of massive proportions. His bizarre orgasmic groan as Matrix finally brings his limp-wristed reign to a ludicrous close cements his credentials as… GENIUS!

2 TITLE SEQUENCE FROM HELL

See Arnie carry wood! He’s a lumberjack and he’s OK! See Arnie apply his elite military training to spotting his daughter sneak up behind him! See Arnie lift up said

iono, but there is no need for flashy effects here. Granted, if you don’t give it a chance and your undivided attention, you will get hideously lost and probably hate it; but people like you are sick! Just make the effort. Please. Pop down and see it. It’s a postmodern Einstein of a movie that lives up to its name and rewards you with a whole lot to keep and cherish. Now, what was I doing? HHHHH

6 THE CARNAGE

Hot Shots Part Deux parodies the carnage of Robocop and Total Recall by showing a slaughter with a ‘body count’ at the corner of the screen. Commando, however plays it dead straight: Arnie literally kills upwards of 70 men on his own while standing bold as brass in the middle of a lawn. Seemingly every Eastern extra in Hollywood is shooting at him, yet he survives with barely a scratch on him. Look, he’d get shot in the head, OK!? Never has such a display of crap enemy fire been witnessed by the movie industry. Men are blown through the air, embarrassingly revealing the barely disguised spring boards that launched them, and bizarrely, the same moustached trooper seems to die upwards of seven times. GENIUS!

7 THE SHOWDOWN

Matrix vs Bennett! The King of Camp has the initial upper hand as he sleazily grabs hold of Arnie’s daughter; but cryptic genius Arnie overcomes Bennett’s advantage with some ingenious and subtle reverse psychological warfare: ‘You don’t wanna shoot me; you wanna stick dat knife in me and watch it twist. Let’s party, Bennett!’ Bennett loses

it big time, moving up to ham factor ten. ‘I don’t need the girl! I don’t need no gun! (cue limp-wristed ‘throw gun away’ action) I’m gonna kiiill yooouuu nooow!’ Knife fight follows, then fisticuffs, throughout which the two men are shown to have equal strength, despite Bennett’s sizeable girth. See the wonderful continuity errors! Bennett’s hand on Matrix’s neck – no, his chin! – no, neck! – chin! – neck! — it’s all over the place! Bennett is pushed into an electricity fence, screams and seems to be dead... but no! He comes straight back out of it with a punch, seemingly none the worse for his little shock. Arnie finally dispatches of his adversary though the genius of throwing a big pipe through his nemesis into the gas cylinder behind him. ‘Let off some steam, Bennett!’ Job done! Daughter safe! Back to paradise and tranquility! GENIUS!

8 THE LEGACY

But are we right to laugh at it? There is a slim chance that Commando may be (whisper it) tongue in cheek. A knowing mockery of Arnie’s screen persona? Is Bennett the only one in on the joke? Discuss. However, one thing is for certain: this film is… GENIUS!

Bennett’s sleazy, cocky henchman’s chat up technique consists of asking a girl for sex, and, if she refuses, calling her a ‘fucking whore.’ Nice. Matrix has to ‘let him go’ as poor old Sully is dropped from a big bad cliff. ‘You remember, Sully, when I said I’d kill you last?’ ‘Yeah Matrix! You did! You did!’ ‘I LIED.’ ‘Arrrrrrgggghhhhhh!’ GENIUS!

5 ‘FUCK YOU ASSHOLE!’

During Arnie’s big hotel-based fight with nasty hood Cook, they throw themselves into the next room, where a geeky bloke is having sex with a busty porn-star type. Said couple look shocked, scream a bit, and the fight goes on. Ah, Hollywood clichés. In the script’s most masterful moment, Cook points his gun at Arnie and cries ‘Fuck you, asshole!’ But, wait! No bullets left in gun! Arnie’s witty retort: ‘Fuck you, asshole!’ GENIUS!

BAD MAN BAD: Bennett horrifically tortures Arnie’s daughter.


GAMES

games@seren.bangor.ac.uk

SEREN February 2001 13

Rayman Revolution Out now for the PlayStation 2

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ayman has evolved. Rayman is now fully 3D. Rayman is still an abominable little sprit with no personality and some of the most annoying ‘pals’ in recent computer game history. This is quite a good 3D platform game though. The gameplay is fairly straightforward, which is nice, so you can get straight into it. The tutorial is a bit annoying in that it’s actually a part of the game so you have to wade through it when starting a new game. I can see that this might be a good idea if you are part of the illiterate new generation and can’t be bothered with looking at the booklet, but can’t it be a separate option? The platform stages are challenging but not

impossible, which is good, but the plot that links it all together is overly contrived and going from palce to place is time consuming, and, oh well, quite frankly, annoying. The graphics are good, as you’d expect from the PlayStation 2—a new benchmark perhaps, but some camera angles are extremely awkward, especially when you have a difficult jump to judge, and pissed us right off. A good game if you don’t mind the cutesy graphics, but perhaps too long for this attention span—you may find that you’ve lost interest by the time you’re half-way through. No better but no worse than good, this game does the job. Accept no other synonyms. HHHII EMB

DEEPER UNDERGROUND: The only revolution may be the graphics. And that weird-ass plum you find after you’ve been playing for about six hours.

Ms PacMan Maze Madness Out now for the PlayStation

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acMan? Cool. This’ll take me back—I have fond memories of the original PacMan on a ridiculously large Atari console back in the early eighties. But wait! This is different! This is 3D, with loads of little puzzles thrown in for good measure! This game’s graphics suggest that this is for children but I had a good laugh playing it. Okay, I was half cut,

but still this game will do the job for adult players too. The gameplay is entirely straightforward. In fact it’s almost boringly simple, but then so was the original PacMan, and that was so popular it came close to crippling Japan’s economy. Or am I thinking of Space Invaders? It remains close enough to the

original to satisfy fans, and the puzzles add enough variety to keep you interested, but there’s not enough of a victory at the end of each stage to justify repeated play. Good luck to you if you try to persevere right to the end, but I found watching children’s telly in my pants just that bit more rewarding. HHIII EMB

Shenmue

Chu Chu Rocket

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C

Out now for the Dreamcast awn. Shenmue claims to be a game do we want computer games to resemwhich emulates real life, while con- ble real life? We have plenty of that sort taining an RPG element. You control of thing anyway, we don’t need Sega Ryo (catchphrase: “Um”) whose father recreating it for us. Shenmue is interesthas just been murdered by a mysteri- ing at first, but having to kill time soon ous Chinese gang boss. The object is to gets frustrating. Just like real life, only a find said gang boss, and deal out venge- lot more boring. HIIII ance. Daniel Hartley This is done by talking to the many people who populate Ryo’s town, while learning moves for the fighting sections which come later. Mostly, however, it involves standing around waiting for shops to open, or, in the later stages of the game, moving crates from one warehouse to another when Ryo gets a job. No-one asked the following question when making this tedi- SHENMUE: I see. ous game: why the hell

Out now for the Dreamcast ats eat mice. That’s it. Fact of life. And the premise for this game. Of course, you have to save the mice from the cats and get them to the rockets before the cats get there. Yes, rockets. The mice are evacuating the planet, and the cats don’t want them to leave—they’re hungry. This is a puzzle game, like Lemmings only in bite size chunks. The mice run in straight lines, turning right when they hit a wall, so you should point them towards the rockets. The cats are equally stupid and they will follow your arrows as well but they are slower than the mice. That’s all you need to know. The puzzles start out ridiculously simple, but get harder and harder till you need to put down the drugs and actually give it some thought. The graphics are very simple—not living up to

MOUSE MANIA: About as maddening as computer games dare get without spurring you to violence. the Dreamcast’s full potential—but that’s okay as the puzzles are horribly addictive. And that’s just the one-player puzzle game. There are several multiplayer options: one to four players, teams and internet options. Oh yeah, and you can create your own puzzles! Challenge your friends! But be warned that each puzzle

takes up a lot of space on your memory thingy. Whether it’s a keeper depends on how long it’ll take you to work out how to do the harder puzzles. Perhaps worth renting rather than buying—if only there was somewhere in Bangor where you could rent Dreamcast games... HHHHI EMB


GAMES

14 SEREN February 2001

games@seren.bangor.ac.uk

Tekken Tag Tournament Out now for the PlayStation 2

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he hugely popular Tekken series goes next generation with the tongue-twisting TTT. All your favourite characters are here, and all of them still have about seven million moves that you have no hope of mastering (but certainly look impressive when the computer uses them on you). There is also the familiar impenetrable back-story, which this reviewer suspects is the result of the programmers being pretentious morons.

Rather than a sequel to Tekken 3, this is more of an enhanced version. It has characters from earlier Tekken games, better graphics and the Tag aspect (you can now choose two fighters for each bout and alternate getting their asses kicked). There are a few new moves, too, but other than that, TTT is identical to the earlier game. The Tekken series offers probably the best of all the fighting games available at the moment, and this is

the best version yet. However, it still suffers from the problems that the plagued earlier versions—for example, single player mode is only worth bothering with to unlock new characters with which to pummel your mates. If you own Tekken 3 you’re better off waiting for the fourth game proper than spending your hard-earned money on this re-hash. It’s a good game, but a little over-familiar. HHHII Daniel Hartley

STITCH THIS: Armor King and Jun Kazama, together at last in bloody, brutal combat.

Jungle Book Groove Party Out now for the PlayStation

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DANCE, PUPPETS, DANCE: You have to admit, it all looks fairly chipper.

o, no, no, NO you idiots. This is a bad idea and you have executed it shoddily. Hang your heads in shame, Disney, you money-mad fools. Jungle Book Groove Party is a poor imitation of such Japanese games as the genius Parappa the Rapper, except that instead of rapping, you (as Mowgli) have dancing competitions with various characters from the movie—Baloo, that tiger, that snake that used to freak me out when I was five, et cetera.

The plot of the game follows that of the film, and the songs Mowgli dances to are the ones from the soundtrack. The actual dancing is done in one of two ways. The one that looks slightly entertaining uses a mat on which you actually dance, but we weren’t sent a mat, so were forced to resort to the other, incredibly dull method of pressing buttons at the right time. The graphics and music for this game are ace if you like Disney films, but

sadly the rest of it sucks big time. The major problem is that it’s far too easy. It may be targeted at kids, but even on the hardest level it completely fails to hold the attention. This reviewer’s flatmate was so offended by the game that he felt the need to microwave the disc. It is now mounted on the living room wall, alongside the legend Disney Must Die: Think of the Children. Says more than a review ever could, really. HIIII Daniel Hartley

Jet Set Radio Out now for the Dreamcast

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eckless vandalism arrives in your living room in the form of hyperactive Japanese teenagers with futuristic, turbo-charged in-line skates and lots of spray paint. Jet Set Radio is set in a future where the only crime appears to be graffiti, and the police chase offenders with helicopters and tanks. The game is divided into missions, the object being to spray over the tags of rival skater gangs within the allotted time. There are slight variations on this

theme, but that’s the basic premise. As well as rival gangs, there’s the law to contend with, and they’re big fans of military hardware. All of this makes for a challenging (i.e. bastard-hard) gaming experience. Indeed, the insane difficulty curve is the major flaw of Jet Set Radio, especially when combined with its control system, which is far from intuitive and often plain infuriating. Still, the game is more addictive than Mini Eggs or heroin, and looks and

sounds amazing. The graphics resemble a Manga cartoon, and the soundtrack is a continual stream of hip-hop, techno, drum’n’bass and punk, adding to the high-adrenaline feel of the game. Jet Set Radio will have you hooked, but it will also have you tearing out your hair in frustration. It’s also the closest most of us will come to being a teenage delinquent, which rocks, obviously. HHHHI Daniel Hartley

MANIC: Flee! Flee! For the law is in hot pursuit, and this is Jet Set Radio, where anything can happen.

Aqua Aqua: Wetrix 2 W

ICE CUBE! Aqua Aqua offers the PlayStation 2 owner the chance to get wet and wild, but not in a good way.

hat’s with the people that make Japanese puzzle games? Aqua Aqua is in the same league as Vib Ribbon for out-and-out oddness and originality. Hallucinogenic drugs are suspected. As the name suggests, water plays a large part in Aqua Aqua. The idea is to create lakes and ensure that no water spills from the edge of the playing field. Lakes are created using uppers (which raise land) and downers (which—oh, you work it out). Water falls from the

Out now for the PlayStation 2

sky, and this has to be contained within your lakes. Add bombs, fireballs, ice cubes and volcano monsters into the mix, and things get frantic very quickly. Graphically, Aqua Aqua can’t be faulted, but for a PS2 game this is what you’d expect. In terms of gameplay it sucks. The control system is horrible and fiddly, and, since the map can’t be rotated, spotting leaks in your walls becomes almost impossible. A level seems to end pretty much on the whim

of the game, so there’s no sense of achievement, just relief that it’s finally over. Aqua Aqua is also ludicrously small: we count six levels, which is unacceptable on a puzzle game. Aqua Aqua is an example of original not necessarily meaning good. There’s a shortage of puzzle games for the PS2 at the moment, but it’s worth waiting for something decent to come out. Avoid this at all costs. HHIII Daniel Hartley


GAMES

games@seren.bangor.ac.uk

SEREN February 2001 15

Disney’s Aladdin in Nasia’s Revenge PlayStation

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od but Disney suck at this business. Don’t get me wrong, you can rely on them to turn out a decent animated film, but when it comes to videogames, they just bomb. Nasia’s Revenge is the worst thing Disney have ever released, even compared to Jungle Book Groove Party. Yeah, that bad. In this latest assault on the game-playing world, Uncle Walt’s corporate colossus has churned out a 3D platformer. Now, this genre is a tricky one, with far too many substandard games cluttering up a saturated market, but Nasia’s Revenge is so unplayable, so boring, so shit that it actually stands out. So what’s so bad about it? The graphics wouldn’t look out of place on a Megadrive, the control system is so unresponsive it makes the game virtually unplayable and any hint of originality in both plot and game play has been mercilessly stamped out. The voice acting also, to be blunt, sucks ass (although there’s no Robin Williams, so it’s not all traumatic). All in all, ewwww. IIIII Daniel Hartley

COMPETITION We have one copy of this soul-destroying shitfest to give away! Please take it. It’s a promo copy, and they’re quite rare you know. All you have to do is answer this simple question: if you had one wish, what would you wish for? The answer, which amuses, irritates or freaks us out the most wins. All decisions will be taken by a panel of impartial and sober judges (the section editor’s flatmates), and our decree is final. Send your wish to games@seren.bangor.ac.uk or drop a bit of paper off at the Seren office. By the way, we still have a copy of Chase The Express to give away from last term. Check our the October issue at http://seren.bangor.ac.uk for details.

ARABIAN SHITE: Disney’s Aladdin (not the one from the Scheherezade at all then) threatens something or other.

Quake 3: Arena Dreamcast

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hat tricky platform-to-platform conversion has caused both developers and gamers alike considerable headaches since the days of 8-bit computers. It’s a process that seems to throw out a bad game just about every time, mean-

FRAGGLE ROCK: Quake 3: Arena affords players a rare opportunity to shoot people in tunnels.

ing that titles that were fantastic on the PC seem to become unplayable on the PlayStation. So, how does the popular Quake series fare on the Dreamcast, away from its usual home on the PC? In terms of presentation, the console version of the game is identical to the computer incarnation, with smooth if not awe-inspiring graphics and excellent sound (which is as it should be on Sega’s console). Being work-shy and unprofessional, this reviewer has yet to play the game on-line, but Ineternet reports suggest that the Dreamcast’s arse of a modem makes this an extremely annoying experience, at least for we Brits. Another problem with the console version is attempting to play it with the controller, rather than the keyboard and mouse. Developers rarely manage to overcome this difficulty when designing first-person shooters for the consoles, and this is no exception. A flaw that the Dreamcast version shares with the PC is that the single player game is dull in the extreme. Unlike the first two instalments of Quake, there are no stages to progress through, merely a series of increasingly difficult fights with computer opponents. Of course, playing Quake 3 alone is totally missing the point of the game. It has been designed as a multiplayer, with “fragging” your friends now the ultimate post-pub and club experience. This reviewer finds it difficult to get excited about such mindless blasting, however, and while the Quake series is obviously catering for its many fans, the third instalment fails to offer anything very new. High gloss has never been much of a substitute for involving gameplay, and ultimately Quake 3 doesn’t really hold the attention for long. Fans of mindless violence will love it. For the rest of us, there’s Medal of Honor 2: Underground. HHHII Daniel Hartley


COMESTIBLES

16 SEREN February 2001

South Park’s Cookin’ C

ashing in on the enormous success of the television series, the creators of South Park have now launched their own food range, so fans can now watch the show whilst tucking in to such delights as ‘South Park Southern Style Chicken Dippers’ or ‘Chef ’s Stuffing Balls.’ Alternatively, if you’re looking for inspiration for that (um…) special Valentine’s meal, you can offer your beloved a large portion of ‘Chef ’s Love Sausage.’ If you’re so inclined. Apparently quick and easy to prepare, it should leave you with plenty of time to pursue your romantic interests—just make sure that it’s not you that looks quick and easy!

White & Milk Chocolate Nut Cookies T

his recipe makes absolutely divine cookies, ideal for sweet tooths [teeth?—Ed]. But be warned: you’ll be seriously buzzing from the sugar rush these cookies give you! If cookies aren’t so much your thing, try the dough with vanilla or chocolate ice-cream, because this is after all the gorgeous stuff you find in cookie dough ice-cream. For roughly 50 big cookies you will need: • 255g butter • 225g granulated sugar • 225g brown sugar • A few drops of vanilla essence • 3 eggs

• • • •

525g self raising flour A pinch of salt 100g chopped walnuts 375g chocolate chips (white and milk chocolate) • Baking paper

1 Line the baking tray with the paper. 2 Cream the butter with the sugars and the vanilla essence. 3 Beat in the eggs. 4 Fold in the sifted flour and salt with the nuts and chocolate chips. 5 Work a spoonful of mixture into a cookie and place on the tray. 6 Bake in the oven at 180°C / 350°F / Gas Mark 4 for 12-15 minutes on the middle rack. 7 Let the cookies cool on the baking tray for one minute, then place on a wire rack to finish cooling. You might want to start eating them straight away, ‘cause they’re nicest when freshly baked and not totally cooled—then they’re still all gooey!

COOKIES: For one month only Seren has agreed not to illustrate a cookie receipe with a picture of Cookie Monster.

lifestyle@seren.bangor.ac.uk

Speedy Nasi Goreng

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his Nasi Goreng recipe is quick to make (half an hour) and easy to cook—and unlike a Chinese takeaway you know what’s in it! To serve four people you will need: • 100g onions • 2 cloves garlic • 3 tbsp olive oil • 250g long grain rice • 500ml chicken broth (e.g. Oxo) • 1 ready-grilled chicken or 500g raw chicken strips • 120g canned prawn meat • 150g ham slices • 1 red pepper • 3 eggs • Mild curry powder • White pepper (you can use black if that’s all you’ve got) • Nutmeg • Finely chopped parsley (optional) 1 Peel the onions and garlic cloves, then slice the onions into thin rings. 2 Heat up the oil and fry the onions until transparent. 3 Squeeze the garlic through a garlic press (or find

some more inventive way to mush it up) and add to the onions. 4 Stir the rice in and keep on stirring until your arm goes lame and the rice becomes transparent. 5 Pour in the broth (that you have of course prepared according to the instructions). 6 Simmer uncovered at a high temperature for 8-10 minutes until you can see little bubbles appearing on the surface. 7 Cover and simmer at a low temp. for another 10-12 minutes, stirring occasionally 8 While the rice is happily bubbling away, either remove the chicken meat from the chicken or, if using raw meat, grill the chicken strips. Make sure the meat is not too thick or it will take ages to grill and be crispy only on the outside. 9 Drain the prawns. 10 Dice the ham. 11 Slice the pepper in half, remove the seeds and chop up finely. 12 Crack the eggs and whisk. 13 Add the chicken, prawns, ham and pepper to the rice. 14 Season with salt, pepper, curry and nutmeg. 15 Stir in the eggs and the parsley and allow to thicken at a low temperature. 16 Serve and eat!

Spinach Tortellini Dish A

cheap and fast meal. If spinach really isn’t your thing or some other veg is on offer, just use that for instance. Taste good too with broccoli instead. To feed four people you will need: • 500g tortellini • 600g frozen or fresh spinach • 100g onions • 2 cloves garlic • 1 tbsp butter • 400ml cream • Corn starch • Salt • White pepper • Nutmeg • 2 tbsp lemon juice 1 Cook the spinach in salt water. If using frozen spinach, bring to the boil first and then let the spinach defrost by cooking it at a medium temperature for 10-12 minutes. 2 Boil the tortellini in salt water until al dente. 3 Peel the onions and garlic cloves. Chop up the onions finely. 4 Melt the butter in a saucepan and fry the onions in it until transparent. 5 Squeeze the garlic through a garlic press and add to the onions. 6 Mix a bit of the cream with a teaspoonful of corn starch. 7 Add the rest of the cream to the onions and bring to the boil. 8 Stir in the corn starch mixture making sure there are no lumps and the starch has blended properly. 9 Drain the spinach and tortellini and stir into sauce. 10 Season with salt, pepper, nutmeg and lemon juice.


ANY OTHER BUSINESS

aob@seren.bangor.ac.uk

Horoscopes The month ahead with Anna Gramme

^

Aries

March 21st to April 19th

Venus in your sign means that you can expect huge benefits in love, money and personal popularity. The full moon adds lustre to affairs of the heart and creative potential, but forget the past before you can enjoy what the future has to offer.

_

Taurus

April 20th to May 20th

Say and do nothing until you are genuinely sure of your heart. Be wary of frustration at home or work, which could possibly affect your health. Around the 25th you are more in control but be aware of recent problems so as not to repeat past mistakes.

`

Gemini May 21st to June 21st

A confusing month. Use this time to look back or take a second look at an old matter you thought closed. You will uncover information that eluded you in the past. Be cautious under pressure and put things off until the 23rd if possible.

a

Cancer

June 22nd to July 22nd

A good month for sorting out your affairs. Make financial decisions now even if you don’t act until March. Do your paperwork, especially where cash is involved. An opportunity arises but demands a sacrifice: what do you have to lose?

d

Libra

September 23rd to October 23rd

You might not get quick results from your plans, but you will at least set the ball rolling. Prepare for happy news around the 4th. The 11th is ideal for romance and by the 25th your powers of attraction will be irresistible.

e

Scorpio

October 24th to November 21st

Irritations and aggression are unavoidable. The middle of the month is time to use your initiative and make a fresh start. Only take calculated risks and don’t leave anything to chance. From the 15th you are on a mission to make money but you could earn and spend quickly!

f

Sagittarius

November 22nd to December 21st

A promising period starts now and will last until September. Use this to your advantage in the things that matter most. The 19th-25th will present a test of character in the form of your own personal Achilles heel: you have been warned!

g h

c

i

July 23rd to August 22nd

Wipe the slate clean in a number of emotional, psychological and personal areas. Consider your options before taking a firm decision, but be sure that you are about to seek closure on issues that until now would not go away.

Virgo

August 23rd to September 22nd

This month and the next need you to be at your most fastidious. Most especially employment issues represent the biggest black spot. A relationship will be forged, but you must first divorce yourself from the past. Take one day at a time.

December 22nd to January 19th

Formidable financial stars mean you must make savings now if you want to sail through the rest of the year. Be sure you know where you stand. You could be in for a rude awakening—and an extraordinary surprise too…

b

Leo

Capricorn

Aquarius

January 20th to February 18th

Keep your options open. Upheaval and trauma will occur, but the turnout will be favourable if you are prepared. If not, expect frustrations and awkwardness. Your current life is a fraction of what you could have if you escaped routine.

Pisces

Feburary 19th to March 20th

You will be forced to think about decisions, but the New Moon gives you the strength you need to lose any emotional baggage. Although not the easiest month, you’ll realise how to find longlasting happiness and success.

T

create UN

ony Blair and chums did their bit and Holocaust Day went as planned. What an incredibly oafish concept. Kids today (he said, chewing on the end of his pipe) already give only the most token thought to WW1 come the day their teacher orders them to buy a poppy and write two pages on a Wilfred Owen poem of their ‘choice’. It is an annual ritual. The Holocaust—which is an even starker testament to humanity’s brutality due to its basis in pure xenophobia and with only the flimsiest attempts to halfheartedly disguise it as a matter of economics and territory— does not deserve to be reduced in the minds of future generations; but that is exactly what’s bound to happen. In an attempt to ‘remember,’ Holocaust Day if anything continues the Nineties’ reshaping and reimaging, becoming a version of the past (to wit, Schindler’s List)—and becomes a kind of forgetting. At college I was shocked to find people my age who had never heard of the whole thing, and the look on their faces as dear old teach sat the poor loves down and went through it all.... If Holocaust Day becomes just another ritual, just another date and event in the past. then that’s all these kids will remember. Some story from ancient history to be learnt by rote before they are allowed to rush out onto the playground, kick a football, get in fights, develop some deep malformed irrational hatred towards anyone different, become a politician, start a war, commit genocide... you know, that sort of thing.

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SEREN February 2001 17

rom one sort of ‘Never Again’ to another. Worry not, gentle reader, this time it’s nothing more than another whinge at a night out that went wrong. Eagle-eyed readers of last year (and Seren does seem to becoming a yearly event) may recall a visit to Trash that had me in tears and tatters thanks to the male pack mentality that drenched my beloved ‘Teen Spirit’ in a toxic cloud of testosterone. This time round it’s merely a banal mixture of embarrassment, a hangover, and the chaos that ensues when the love of your life gets chatted up by a (twirls moustache) mysterious stranger. Nights out, loud music and copious amounts (for me) of alcohol, and the spending of money that I don’t have in order to finance such activity, have all finally proved too much for my fragile frame to withstand. Goodbye Trash, goodnight drink, hello one gig a year, the John Peel show and comfy indoor footwear. What I find only faintly annoying about this, however, is the speed with which I’ve accepted this. I’m not shocked by it at all. This is because the age of the Pivotal Instant is gone. The Pivotal Instant, as somewhat jokily defined by that long-gone magazine Sun Zoom Spark, is (or was) “the moment when you suddenly realise that you are old.” Fine, except that our generation has such ‘Pivotal Instants’ about five times a week. The culture is so accelerated and youth-orientated, and so geared towards (yeuch) perfection and efficiency (the Nazism of pop and the catwalk), that is it any wonder we look at

ourselves and so often just feel plain past it? Just as technology comes with built-in obsolescence, the generation of people who first grew up with computers as a plaything – us – are effectively on the scrapheap every time we see a kid using his dad’s PC before they can actually talk. For them it’s not just second nature—it’s nature full-stop. So the speed at which our electronic and media-led/ obsessed lives flies past has us getting nostalgic about the eighties, the nineties, last week.... Nostalgia! In my punk days I’d have gobbed on anybody who even thought the word (alright, that’s a lie, I was strictly a Compulsion-gig and reading-Jon Savage kinda guy, but still, I’d have at least, I don’t know, glared at them or something). But it’s official—looking back is the new looking forward, kids are the new adults, Madonna is the new, er, Madonna, and staying in is... the same old growing old slowly and gracefully in the face of adversity.

I

f printing goes to plan, this issue should be out on Valentine’s Day. One of the best aspects in some areas of women’s magazines in recent years has been its insistence on promoting singledom in positive ways, contrary to the automatic “you gotta have a man!” of old. But this day of all days only makes a mockery of such insistences. The inherent arrogance of it as a cultural collective experience (and everyone experiences it, in some way) is incredible, as the noses of others are rubbed mercilessly in the apparent success and perfectness of the two-become-oners. A couples’ day exists only because it can exist—you couldn’t have a singles’ day because it would just consist of human life as it is ordinarily lived, the functioning of individual creatures. Couples, the vast majority of them in a feeble attempt at personality aggrandisement, therefore go and do the only thing they can which singles, as an obviously less visible non-group, cannot, which is to promote themselves as a couple, as two, a duo, a pair-bonded doubleheaded star-crossed love machine. Up until last year Valentine’s Day as a single was a genuinely hideous torment. Yes, romance and the conscious acknowledgement of it between couples is a good, wonderful thing and only an idiot p.c. extremist would claim otherwise. But to actually have a ‘Special Day’ which promotes this in superior contrast to singledom is offensive and stupid. It’s all very politically sound to be part of a couple, as the powers that be will almost always shine on you. What V.D. (ho ho) does is to effectively slag off any other human romantic activity or non-activity as substandard ‘lifestyle choices’. In reality, we are all of us in the same boat—confused, happy, sad, happy again, and struggling for some kind of control as the rough seas whip us onwards to some unknown destination. David O. MacGowan


EDITORIAL AND LETTERS

18 SEREN February 2001

“Where have you been all my life?” Seren’s Editor Darien Graham-Smith bites the bullet and explains.

H

ave you ever wondered what a Seren is? Well, ‘seren’ is a Welsh word, meaning ‘star.’ It’s also the official English-language newspaper of UWB Students’ Union, and you’re holding it in your hands right now. The slightly harder question is howcome it’s February, for fuck’s sake, and if you’re a first-year you probably haven’t even heard of it until now. To be honest, we’re probably more worried about this than you are. After all, you simply appear slightly underinformed, whereas it looks like we’re so stupendously incompetent it takes us five months to produce a newspaper. Most Uni-

versities would have managed at least four issues in that time. At my alma mater we managed to get one out every week—including the two weeks either side of term. Admittedly, Seren is only supposed to come out every month, but we’ve managed to miss even that target quite spectacularly. Many of you probably don’t particularly care what’s been going on with Seren during this time. This isn’t to say Bangor students are apathetic: that’s a regularly-repeated libel, but it’s based on a misconception. It’s true that Bangor students seem to take little interest in the

Ticket to ride? SIR—To get anything done in the Union these days appears to demand a stupid amount of time and energy. Simple things, like borrowing a minibus from the Union up to Top College. Unless one happens to be someone ‘important,’ paperwork needs to be completed in triplicate before the keys will be released. Given that we now have to get the mileage to something enormous each year, I find it rather strange we don’t make the buses easier to use. Desmond Llewelyn Seren Replies: Didn’t you die in a car crash last year? We’d have thought you of all people would recognise the importance of making it as hard as possible for lunatics like Bob Connerton to get their hands on motor vehicles.

Early closing SIR—Is it just me, or in the last two years, have the services that the Union offers been seriously eroded? Freddy’s used to be open in the evenings; Jock’s Bar used to be open on Monday and Tuesday nights, but these days, apparently someone seems to have decided what students want without asking us. Any chance of some services— longer shop hours and stuff? Alice Nutter Seren Replies: A good point. If anyone would care to respond we’ll publish replies next issue.

Students’ Union (as CCSO Will Kelly observes on page 2, around 10% of Bangor’s student population turned out to elect the present SU Executive). But this is because Bangor is a highly plural society and home to countless overlapping communities. Among its six thousand-plus students you will find as a broad cross-section of society as you can imagine: bubbly party people and surly goths; AU hacks and AIX hackers; people of all faiths and those of no faith; classical violinists and death-metal fiends; early-morning canoeists and late-night casanovas; hard-working scientists and dreadlocked drug-dealers. Small wonder that many of these diverse groups feels only a minor affiliation with the overarching Union which represents them all. Nevertheless, this very plurality is what makes Seren so important: it is every student’s most direct vehicle for reaching not just his or her own social group but the entire community. After all, we may divide ourselves up in a hundred ways, but we are all students. Practically all of us are affected by financial issues; by academic issues; by the simple fact of being young adults living away from home. Seren is the ideal forum for these issues that affect everyone. Moreover, Seren brings societies and activities to the attention of those who might

otherwise never hear of them— and so helps enrich the University experience for everyone. Perhaps you didn’t miss Seren. But if it had come out in September, who knows what you might have ended up doing and who you might have ended up meeting? So we believe that Seren is vital to students—which of course makes it all the more embarrassing that it’s been away for so long. The reasons are depressingly mundane. Over the summer the SU negotiated a new printing contract for Seren which seemed almost too good to be true: nearly twice as many copies would be printed for around two thirds of last year’s costs. The savings would be made by moving from a small, local printer to an industrial printing press that publishes several daily and weekly newspapers in Staffordshire and Derbyshire. Unfortunately, although their size enabled them to print Seren at greatly reduced cost, it also meant they were often extremely busy, and weren’t always available to help Seren make the necessary changes to its pre-press procedures. The result was that Seren wasn’t sent to print until mid-October—and even then it wasn’t, in the end, printed. We were sure we had set up our computer correctly, but their computer couldn’t read our pages. We

wordswordswords

send them all to letters@seren.bangor.ac.uk Well fair

editor@seren.bangor.ac.uk

SIR—I must thank the Welfare people for what they’ve done about the attacks on Glanrafon: it seems to have worked. I now feel slightly safer going home at night up the hill and it’s great that I can join my siblings in self-defence courses, as well as feeling reassured that there will be someone there to listen to what I have to say M. Harper

agree that no comittee should be able to veto the acts of one which outranks it. I accept Billigung but I am unsure that I can now carry out to my full ability what I have been elected to do. This matter will almost certainly be an issue at the next meeting of Senedd (20th Feb, 7.30 pm in the University Council Chamber), and if necessary it will go further. I will not have the Senedd undermined. Bob Connerton

Senedd censored?

Poor reception

SIR—On the assumption that more people read Seren than attend General Meetings, may I express my disappointment that in recent weeks the work that I do and has been severely hampered. I refer to the loss of autonomy regarding those areas of the Union’s website for which I am responsible. Previously, this section was updated as and when appropriate, but now I must prepare what I wish to upload on the preceding Monday and hope that the Exeuctive will like what I have to say. Without wishing to get on my ‘high horse,’ I must observe that the institution I represent (Senedd) is constitutionally superior to the Executive. I hope readers will

SIR—The sacking of Scratchy, Derrick and Barry last year doesn’t seem to have benefited students at all. Things keep going walkabout, and the Union’s opening hours have decreased. The receptionists do a valuable job, but in the old days we could be assured that as long as the building was open, we could get from one part of the Union to another. Also, when we had porters we didn’t have to keep borrowing and returning keys: Derrick would walk with you, bunch of keys in one hand, bollocks in the other, and open the relevant doors. It seems to me the conversion was a waste of time and cash. But who am I to complain? Richard Oakes

spent hours on the phone to their technical staff, but neither we nor they could identify the problem. Maybe you’d like to have a look at the issue and see if you can figure out what’s wrong with it—visit http://seren.bangor.ac.uk and click on the ‘October 2000’ link. There ensued a long period of unhelpful dialogue, during which progress on any front seemed impossible short of the SU simply attempting to wriggle out of the contract and return to Seren’s old publisher. After all, their service had cost more, but they were able to spare the time to help us with technical problems. However, shortly before such a move became inevitable, the publisher agreed to send a technician to set up our pre-press for us—and just six weeks later one actually came (it seems print technicians in Derby rarely have the time to visit Bangor). I watched the process closely, and I’m absolutely certain he didn’t do anything at all different to what we’d already tried a hundred times, but, perversely enough, it worked. And so, to cut a long story short, we’re being printed again. It may have taken a while, but better late than never, and other such platitudes. Over the coming months we’ll be working flat-out to make Seren worth the wait. Let me know what you think.

Christmas bluster Sir—Perhaps it is time for the Reichel & Rathbone Christmas Ball to metamorphose. Surely the fact that this year’s ball failed to sell its 500 tickets suggests that the current format has had its day? Couldn’t the SU either take the ball over or just aid in logistical management? Changing the venue of the ball would open the possibility of a later bar license—and increase capacity, which could provide better value for money. Perhaps the Union could help constructively for this year’s ball. Andrew Whiteside

Fondant fancy SIR—Your final year project is like trying to put a large cake in your mouth in one go. You can vaguely taste all the flavour, and it seemed like a good idea at the beginning, but now you’re feeling a bit sick. Yet, with lots more chewing you know it will go down eventually. Then, not so long later, like going to the bathroom, it comes back from the binders as a pile of shite. Yak Third-year Pyschology Seren Replies: Congratulations to Yak, who, with this thoughtful submission, has set a new world record for most letters published in consecutive issues of an English-language student newspaper.


Valentine... VALENTINE’S VALEDICTIONS

emb@seren.bangor.ac.uk

SEREN February 2001 19

please be my

¤

Dearest L, Be my valentine All my love, H xxx ¤ Dan, C u 2nite? Ems xxx ¤ Luv U Cathie Andrew

¤ Cari di Hefyd, Cathie / aka Sprout ¤ To Guppy Love U Gopher! ¤

Dewi with the patent leather shoes, Remember us, Octagon, July 2000? ¤ Frankie (Security) Do you remember me? ¤ Christina You make me go all tingly! Chris xxxx ¤ Chris, Can we try again…? Ade ¤ HONGEEEEEEEEEEE! Xxx ¤

To My Lancelot, You are my knight in shining armour, All my heart, Lady Guinevere xxx ¤ Leather boy seeks large chocolate bar for melty fun. Prefer Galaxy, Cadbury’s etc but all bars considered. ¤ To Emho, From your loving member of Stage Crew xxx ¤ NC I wanna love u but I’d better not touch... think of u always. Ed xxx ¤

To dearest Caem Love you dearly – be mine From??? X ¤

Sian, I see you baby... shaking that ass... ¤ My darling M, I love you, heart and soul. Will you marry me? Yours L xxx ¤ The D, You are the best! Be mine! Yours hopefully, Anna xxx ¤ Graham,

Will always be there for you. Mags ¤ Kev, What you do is always special to me. Luv Sarah xxx ¤ To the Ginger Birds, We still think Ginger’s best!! Lots of love, Ad and Matt xxx ¤ M, I screwed up. I admit it. Lets get back together. K xxx ¤ To Stage crew We all love you, really!

You’re fab.

¤

Cool Cat, I love you more! *purr* Your Kitten xxx ¤ Nikky, You’re my favourite secret! Buzz xxx ¤ Sidge Miss you. Wish we could be together all the time. Juice ¤ Dawsie, I’m going to spoil you rotten… N xxx ¤

Lonely hearts club rant

... while EMB speaks out on behalf of everyone who wasn’t expecting any cards this morning

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n those drunken four ay-em moments, when the street outside is almost deathly quiet, not a drunken student to be heard and the Late Stop hours from opening, I’ve pondered what my lonely hearts ad would read like. There’s been quite a few of these moments lately. It’s a tragic symptom of prolonged single life that you start to get desperate enough to draught a lonely hearts ad. Even if the draught exists only in your head. And the longer you stay single, the more polished the ad becomes. Eventually, you have an ad so nicely worded that it’ll be a crime to deny it form, and you write it down. Then you’re a heartbeat away from placing it in the Guardian’s Guide or, worse still, the local paper. Seren doesn’t have a lonely-hearts page, and to be honest, I’m quite glad it doesn’t—it means I get to keep some pride. Still, the writing of the ad intrigues me. Just how can you sum up all the good things about you in a few words? Then you realise that the trouble isn’t fitting it all in, it’s coming up with anything at all—or rather, coming up with something cool that’ll instantly attract beautiful women and compel them to reply. Let me give you an example: I write for Seren. That counts at least as a hobby, but Isn’t it just fucking sickening? there’s no way that

it can count as cool. For writing to have instant—remember it has to be instant—cool you have to either (a) be working on a novel, a credible kind of novel like the next On the Road or Fear and Loathing… or, (b) be a rock journalist. By the way, it has to be a rock journalist—real journalism is too much like hard work. The trouble with these ads is that you can’t list anything that defines you. Everyone puts ‘good sense of humour,’ regardless of whether they have or not. Don’t put your likes or dislikes, because it will sound like you’re nine years old again, being forced by a teacher to write to a German pen-pal in whom you have zero interest. “Hello. My name is Ian. My favourite food is chips and pizza and chocolate. I like listening to the music pop.” The grammar wasn’t intentionally bad: I was nine and didn’t speak German. I still don’t. Can it be that the only descriptors you’re left with are age and hair colour? If you’re particularly honest you might put something related to your weight, but doesn’t everyone in the world hear alarm bells on ‘cuddly’? It seems like your only chance to assert your personality is your taste in music. A disaster waiting to happen. I refuse to believe that you can pigeonhole musical taste. I wanted to put ‘indie kid,’ but then when the mood takes me, I’ll listen to Aphex Twin or John lee Hooker. I might play Marilyn Manson or Marvin Gaye. I will rush to point out that I won’t play Westlife or Robbie bastard Williams, but surely I am not a pure indie kid. Women, I’ve noticed, tend to go with one of two styles: strappy, thereby revealing flesh, or tight, to hint at the delectable curves beneath. Strange that those are the only options when they have such a wide variety of clothing options that the [male] mind boggles. Still, it’s an entire spectrum of fashion when compared to what men are wearing. The one thing I am not is a lager-drinking, Ben Sherman

shirt-wearing, overly-aggressive twat with short cropped hair (covered in gel for God knows why) and Kickers shoes. Maybe that’s where I’m going wrong; maybe I should throw out the personal ad and get myself a hair cut and some Brylcreem. I don’t know when exactly this became the social norm, but I find it quite horrifying. And the scariest thing is, women actually seem to go for it! Why? How can you girls even tell them apart? These men look unimaginative, mindless automatons. Is it possible to check your soul at the cloakroom? ‘Cause I think they have. Please lads, stop pretending to like Five and go listen to music made by guys with a dick. Look at the animal kingdom and see all these fabulous mating rituals—colourful plumage, intricate songs, dances, competitions where the largest nose wins rather than who can kick the other guy in the balls first—and then look at our fucking society and weep. Do we even have a ritual? Only I don’t think I know it, or at least I don’t know the male role. Should we stand still and wait for a girl to come over and choose us? That ain’t working. Women just won’t do that—I’ve had girls say things to me like, ‘you know, I had a real crush on you last year.’ What the fuck is that? Why didn’t you come over and say ‘hi’ then? Grab me when I go to the bar or something. Go caveman—twat me over the back of the head and take me home with you. I won’t fight. So are the Lonely Hearts the last honest way of finding love? Maybe desperation is really starting to kick in, but I’m starting to believe it. Maybe there is someone out there who’s right for me, but I know I won’t get a look in ‘till she decides to leave behind the full-size Ken dolls that she’s no doubt throwing herself at and come looking for a guy with a personality. In the meantime... genuine M, 22, 5’9”, writer/musician, ‘indie’ kid, GSOH, seeks enlightened girl for love and friendship. Email emb@seren.bangor.ac.uk.


LLOYD BUILDING THEATRE

Student drama under threat 20 SEREN February 2001

editor@seren.bangor.ac.uk

Plan to demolish Bangor’s only studio theatre B

angor’s dramatic societies face an uncertain future following confirmation from the Psychology Department that it intends to demolish the Lloyd Building Theatre to create office space. Though the theatre is owned by Psychology, it is in constant use by societies such as BEDS, Rostra and SODA. Its relatively small size and availability to students make it the perfect venue for the low-budget productions that are the lifeblood of student drama. If it is demolished, Bangor will lose its only studio theatre. Thespians will be left with the John Phillips Hall and the Theatr Gwynedd—both totally unsuited to the typical student show. “It’s simply not practical for us to use a venue such as the John Phillips Hall,” confirms BEDS Chairman Angie Cranfield, explaining that the sheer size of the venue (over three times that of the Lloyd Building Theatre) would dwarf her relatively small troupe of actors. Even major productions in the

John Phillips Hall are hindered by the hall’s limited availability, as it is also in demand for examinations, concerts and drama classes. The Theatr Gwynedd, meanwhile, presents its own obstacle: “As a member of SODA,” comments SU LGB Officer Chris Beadsmoore, “I know that to perform in the Theatr Gwynedd a society would need at least £3,500 in capital. This is hardly viable for most student dramatic groups.” It is clear that the loss of the Lloyd Building Theatre would be a disaster for student drama in Bangor—and that we would all lose out. One has only to observe the quality and popularity of recent performances in the theatre to recognise that it is a unique asset, and that student drama enriches the lives of far more than just those who put on the plays. We must remember that the theatre does not belong to the societies, and it is only the past kindness of the Psychology Department that has made possible the student drama scene

FINAL CURTAIN? Rostra’s recent production of Pravda is just one show that could never have been performed without the Lloyd Building Theatre. we now enjoy. But if we don’t want to lose it we must make ourselves heard. If you want the Psychology Department to reconsider, sign the letter below and deliver it to Seren. We will pass your letters on to the relevant authorities. If, on the other hand, you are happy to see student drama left without a home in Bangor, simply sit back and wait.

STUDENT REACTIONS “The theatre is absolutely vital to student drama in Bangor.” Julie Neild Rostra Chairman

“This conversion would cast major uncertainty over future productions.” Angie Cranfield BEDS Chairman

I believe the loss of the Lloyd Building Theatre would be a disaster for students and I urge the Psychology Department to reconsider plans for its conversion. Signed __________________________________ Course and Year __________________________

“Losing Lloyd would severely hamper any kind of amateur dramatics.” Chris Beadsmoore SODA, SU LGB Officer

“Without the theatre students would be deprived of the cultural experience that is an integral part of attending University.” Will Kelly SU Communications, Clubs & Societies


Seren - 162 - 2000-2001 - February 2001