College Tribune Entertainment Supplement
n e r si
VOLUME 20 - ISSUE 6 - 23RD JANUARY 2007
alth e H | n io h s Fa | ic s u M | s k o Film | Bo
The Immediate Mitch Alban Sugar Daddy
hard hitting the latest rocky offering reviewed
23rd January 2007
insiderd january 23
“It’s like a relationship. If you think about things when you fall in love, that’s when you mess it up, you know? The Immediate: Page 5
“In all my books, there is a person who was one way, gets changed and is redeemed. That’s the way I feel about life"
Mitch Albom: Page 6
Weird and wonderful Susan Cahill talks with Colin Meloy, lead singer of quirky alternative group ‘The Decemberists’ Colin Meloy is not your average singer/songwriter. A wonderfully creative and intelligent man, he masters tales deep within his imagination and brings them to life brilliantly through music. He delights in explaining this passion for music, “I think of song writing as one of the most un-selfconscious things, its something that happens on its own that I have no control over. For a long time I wrote only for myself, now I write for an audience too - an expanding one at that. I feel like I am driven to write songs, its natural - I just do it and I enjoy doing it”. Meloy fronts the five piece indiefolk alternative band ‘The Decemberists’. Their quirkiness and compelling music has meant the group have amassed great success within America’s indie circles and it seems The Decemberists are destined for much greater heights. The Decemberists cannot be described as anything but weird, quirky, alternative and absolutely unique. Their songs range from obscure tales about mariners to tales of bloody murder and it seems they are revolutionising the musical process by engaging in and accepting experimentation. These guys are no one hit wonders, they don’t strive to make big hits, they
simply make music they enjoy - and it works. Music lovers all over the globe have realised the potential and genius of their work, propelling the group into the limelight. Meloy laughs at the weird reference, “I like to think we’re weird, I don’t know if we’re that weird, there is definitely weirder out there,” he laughs. Vicar Street on February 3rd marks the bands first Irish date, something Meloy and his fellow band mates are looking forward to, “We are definitely looking forward to it. Its something we have wanted to do for a long time but it’s kind of prohibitive when you’re with a small record label and trying to save money, but we’re really excited to do it now”. The bands current album, The Crane Wife, is their first release on a major label, and Meloy describes the tale behind it, “The story comes from an old Japanese folk tale, a really beautiful and striking story, which we realised could make beautiful songs. We put that story to music, and tried not to be too abstract”. The lead singer goes on to reveal the origin for their distinctive name, “The name ‘The Decemberists’ is a nod to a revolutionary Russian group dating back to 1825, but it’s also something melancholy about the
month of December that seems to fit our music”. The decision to move from independent record label Kill Rock Stars was something that Meloy describes as feeling right. “It felt like the right time to move, our contract was up and the opportunity was there – it felt like a good risk to take”. Creating the new record on a mainstream label was a big jump, “essentially a lot more money was involved”, explains Meloy, “The bigger budget allowed more lee-
way to spend as much time as possible to record in a nice studio.” However, the move to Capitol has not hampered the dynamics of the group, and the lead man is quick to point that out. “Naturally they expect different, but there is the option to agree or disagree and they have been very hands off, allowing us to do what we wanted.” www.decemberists.com www.myspace.com/ thedecemberists
Building Bridges John O’Flynn catches up with Bill Carrothers before his up and coming Dublin gig with the Kevin Brady Trio
Do brand name labels influence style? Or is it more about individual taste? Page 9
Unnecessary the most fitting word to describe ‘Rocky Balboa’ Rocky Balboa: Page 11
The last time Bill Carrothers was in Ireland, he played a series of concerts with fellow jazz pianist Marc Copland. Despite enjoying his visit, he was shocked at the extortionate price of Guinness. “I just assumed it would be flowing in the streets, for free - It’s not, it’s more expensive in Ireland than it is here (In Michigan). Irish people should be able to drink their own beer for less money than an American can drink it.” Beers, ales and stouts are a subject that Carrothers is passionate about, with good reason. “That’s one of the things I do, I make beer here in my house, I make about a hundred gallons a year, but I can’t make Guinness because it’s nitrogen based. I make a lot of beer, and I drink a lot of beer. Jazz is just something to do when you run out of beer,” he adds. Bill Carrothers is 34 years old, currently living in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and has been playing the piano professionally for
twenty years. Despite hating piano lessons as a child, he has become a hero of the jazz scene, playing with many great names across America and Europe. This month, Bill will be coming back to Dublin to record and perform with the Dublin-based Kevin Brady Trio. “Kevin wrote me and asked if I wanted to come over and play sometime. It’s kind of a blind date. I’m really looking forward to it.” Although he has received much praise for his music, the years he spent living in the world’s jazz capital were difficult for him. “Where I live now is extremely rural, and I like it that way. New York is a great place to visit, just don’t live there. It was overwhelming to a hick like me. “I was about 26, not married, I didn’t have a girlfriend, and I was just feeling sorry for myself. One day I got so depressed, I climbed the outside of the Brooklyn Bridge, and was going to jump. “I was too much of a coward that day to do it, I still had a couple of things I needed to find out before I offered myself. But there are incredible musicians there.” Audiences around the world are grateful he chose to live. “Bridges seem to be a central theme in my life,” he continues, “I
proposed to my wife on a bridge in Paris, we got married on an old stone arch in Minneapolis. Bridges are a big deal for me. That’s the story behind my website, bridgeboymusic.com” Although many prolific musicians are shy and reserved, Bill defies this stereotype completely. He is refreshingly proud of his playing, which he says come very easily to him. “I’m a natural show-off, most guys don’t have the ability to have all this technique, and still be tasteful, but I’m one of those guys who does. I want to be a prodigious listener, to have all this music inside me, and for it to come out however it may. So, I encourage people to listen 90% of the time, and to play 10% of the time. I want to hear a really good story. “I prefer listening to practicing, I practice as little as possible. I don’t like my fingers to know what they’re doing; I like to keep them in a state of chaos. It keeps me a lot more honest, I have to come from my heart and concentrate on what I’m trying to say.” For more check out: www.carrothers.com www.bridgeboymusic.com
23rd January 2007
Everybody likes a sugardaddy
Daniel O’Neill speaks to Tim Hutton from Sugardaddy as they prepare to play the student bar at the end of the month
From writing music for Ian brown to playing trumpet for Lee Scratch Perry, Tim Hutton has been involved in many musical ventures, and his latest comes in the form of Sugardaddy, a musical duo also featuring Tom Findlay of Groove Armada. According to Tim, Sugardaddy’s debut album entitled ‘It’s Good to Get High With the Wife’ came about through his involvement with Groove Armada itself. “When I went on to do other stuff I maintained a working relationship with Tom (Findlay) and we started doing remixes for other people which kind of led into the album,” said the enthusiastic Englishman. “The album starts off with our shared love for early 80’s old school vibes and mixes in with more current slightly more rocky stuff distilled through us and everything we’re into. It’s nothing I can sum up in a very precise way.” Whatever way Hut-
ton wants to put it, however, the music speaks for itself. From the first track on the album to the last, ‘It’s Good to Get High With the Wife’ is an upbeat musical cocktail which takes the listener away into the sort of electro nirvana, which would make Vince Noir from the Mighty Boosh wet himself with joy. Hutton’s career in music began in the early 80’s playing drums and bass for The Mob and Zounds, on the anarchist punk label Crass Records. “When I was about 18 I was listening to people like The Stranglers, Magazine, post punk sort of stuff really. You kind of take music in when you’re younger and you listen to things quite obsessively again and again - you know it so well and you understand it right from the inside. I think it tends to influence what you do when you’re doing what you love.” A far cry from his post punk anarchist days, Hutton named Gnarls Barkley as his favourite act of 2006, but his choice of dream collaborators is different again. “It’s always a tough one. I would be tempted to say people like Bootsy or George Clinton.” The album features collaborations from people such as Platlife’s Jack Splash and Nottingham MC C - Monne, and ‘It’s Good
Atmospheric: Tim Hutton partners Tom Finlay (L) to play the Bar on Wednesday, the 31st
to Get High With the Wife’ is also notable in that it was only released on 12 inch and digital download through the Tunetribe.com website. “Mp3’s have meant that access to music is a lot easier although there is a lot of adjustment that will have to happen,” claimed
Hutton. “It’s not all good. I miss going through old vinyl and I think my question is whether it devalues the music at all, but generally I think that’s the kind of question you ask when you are struggling to adjust and I think once the process of adjustment happens [Mp3s] have got to be a good thing. “I think it was Tom who came up with the name for the album initially and we kind of put it on the back burner for awhile but then it resurfaced when we were mocking up artwork for the album.” Sugardaddy are playing in UCD on January 31 and it sounds like its set to be one gig you won’t want to miss this semester. “When people come and see the band, I think that’s where the whole thing makes sense. It adds an edge to the record and they’ll get a true picture of what we are trying to do, I’m very excited about the live gig.” Whether you’re an avid Groove Armada fan or just like to get funky, make sure to check out the gig. If its quality bares any comparison to that of the album, it is definitely a date to pencil into the college diary.
He’s Electric Erol Alkan brings his record bag to UCD this Wednesday for a night of electro-fuelled madness in the Student bar. Hugh Fowler catches up with the London-based DJ ahead of what promises to be one of the better Ents nights this year Erol Alkan began his DJing career by sneaking out of his house, playing for several hours in a nightclub where he would normally be too young to get in, then sneaking back home before his mum noticed he was gone. After ten years running his own night ‘Trash' in London, Alkan was named mixmag magazine's No. 1 DJ of 2006. Though most people would classify him as an electro DJ, Alkan is reluctant to allow himself be tied to a genre. “DJing is such a big thing that its almost like branding, very easily people will follow a trendy sound to get gigs. People say I play electro, but I don't hear what I play as electro. I play records which to my ears have a certain sensibility to them, whether they be made electronically or organically." Alkan has been known to drop ‘organic' indie tunes in among the electro sounds he is renowned for, but while some might see this approach as closer to a more mainstream sound, Alkan disagrees. “It depends how you do it. I was playing more mainstream music three years ago. It depends what you bring to it. I enjoy a lot of different types of music, and for me some things just sound like they fit. I think its harder to go out there and push your own envelope, to try mak-
ing things a bit different, to bring new elements in. I think it's braver to do that. “I consider myself fortunate enough to have open-minded people coming to hear me play, but that isn't inherent in everybody. I'm well
“Ultimately what I'm about is to lift people up, to elevate them, through what I think is good music. That's what I'm into, I don't really want to theorise about it" aware that I have people who understand what I do and I have my doubters, and I'm fine with that. “Ultimately what I'm about is to lift people up, to elevate them, through what I think is good music. That's what I'm into, I don't really want to theorise about it. “If people come to the gig to have a good time, to keep an open mind, and they're there to participate in an electric atmosphere where
everybody takes something positive from it then I can't split hairs to work out what I want from it." Alkan lists playing at 110th street in Galway as one of his highlights of 2006, alongside playing in front of 20,000 people on the main stage at the Benicassim festival in Spain. “I played the ol' vic down there and it was just one of the best nights I've ever experienced. I love playing the [temple bar] music centre as well. I don't necessarily like playing a bigger event than that. I prefer smaller gigs; they're a lot more fun, a lot more intense. I like being able to see the back of the room and being able to make the people at the back of the room dance like the people at the front." Erol Alkan's penchant for Irish crowds and smaller venues should make for a great night in the student bar, though we'll have to see if he's really able to make the student bar pool sharks drop their cues and start giving it socks like the wide-eyed punters at the front.
23rd January 2007
aural examinations brand new
the devil and god are raging inside me
Brand New quickly made a name for themselves with the release of the much-acclaimed ‘Deja Entendu' in 2003, that album proving to be one oasis in the vast desert that is emo. After a three-year hiatus, they have returned with The Devil and God are Raging Inside Me, a record that firmly shows their maturity as a band and throws off the shackles of emo. Opener ‘Sowing Season (Yeah)'
starts with a humble guitar sound whilst lead singer Jesse Lacey murmurs “I was losing all my friends" before the song explodes into a barrage of heavy distortion and crashing drums. This sets the tone for an album that is a much darker affair then any of their previous work and focuses on the introspective nature of Lacey; the album title telling you what to expect. Standout songs include the sombre ‘Jesus Christ' and the fast paced ‘The Archers Bows Have Broken'. Two instrumental tracks, ‘Welcome to Bangkok' and ‘Untitled', uphold the sense of anguish, the latter containing a guitar sound that would not be lost on a Godspeed You Black Emperor! record. Brand New have produced a very impressive album and one that is far ahead of any of their so-called contemporaries.
make this your own
Will the real Cooper Temple Clause please stand up? After three albums of wildly diverse output, it may be time to accept that the real CTC may in fact be the many-headed monster we see on this disc. Rarely has such a varied album been produced, which recalls so many different influences, and sounds so schizophrenic. While their earlier efforts, ‘See This Through And Leave' and ‘Kick Up The Fire' were mainly heavy and electronic respectively, ‘Make This Your Own' isn't ‘mainly' anything, and sounds fractured as a result. There's no great flow to the record, as the breakneck opening of ‘Damage' segues into the heavy ‘Homo Sapiens', and just when you're set for loud guitars they switch tack and throw in some electronic beats before kicking on from there. A couple of the songs sound forced, and the group seem most at ease when they keep it simple. ‘What Have You Gone And Done?', the acoustic ‘Take Comfort' and the aforementioned Damage providing the best moments. It ends on a fitting note with House Of Cards fading out on the mantra ‘I don't understand myself', over (typically) the first horn section of the album. The good outweighs the bad here, and there's enough interesting moments to provide the glue which keeps this house of cards from falling apart.
Cortisol are a contemporary jazz five-piece based in Dublin, made up of graduate students of New Park's Jazz programme. The band is composed of trombone, saxophone, piano, double bass and drums. Their first album, ‘Miscellaneous Meet' is mostly a collection of original music written by all five members, with the exception of arrangements of the Beatles' ‘Eleanor Rigby' and the traditional Spanish tune ‘Lasarena'. The album opens with two pieces by pianist Justin Carroll, the fast-paced ‘Cosmic P' and the gentle ‘Dot', built around a drifting piano line layered with trombone and saxophone. Trombonist Colm O'Hara's ‘No Contradiction' is a wonderfully curious piece with several contrasting sections: a humorous opening brings images of Hollywood cat-burglary, followed by a dark passage improvised by the whole band. Drummer Phil MacMullan then changes the pace, leading the group into a tight groove and a series of solos. Cortisol's members have written some great tunes for this record. Reed player Matt Berrill's latin-vibing ‘Jambo' is beautifully balanced, and bassist Andrew Csibi wrote the finest riff on the album with ‘Omar Motif'. These young musicians display great collective understanding when improvising, which must come from much time spent playing together.
cooper temple clause nnnpp
The Freemasons are a duo of DJ’s who’s speciality is converting soul songs into disco dance tracks. Up to now they seem to have been quite successful as the cover of their latest album states that they were
nominated for a Grammy. On this evidence that is an extraordinarily hard fact to fathom. This album is a double CD, 28 track guide to all that is horribly wrong about pop music today. It’s the kind of music you’ d expect to hear at 11pm on a tacky U16 disco d-floor or an equally tacky gay bar i.e. a monotonous repetition of disco beats, two chord key board riffs, ‘tching tching’ guitar licks, big mama soul singing and other such musical clichés that so typify this bland, boring and brainless genre. However one must remember that to critique this involves having to make the effort to actually listen to all of it with an analytical ear, something this music is definitely not designed for. No, it’s sole purpose is to attract drunk girls to fill the floors of plastic nightclubs. Totally forgettable; a one star if ever there was one. To the bin.
Wed Jan 24 Erol Alkan
UCD Student Bar
Thu Jan 25 Hugo Johnson & Rian Ryan Cajmere
Wed Jan 31 Sugardaddy Psapp
UCD Student Bar Whelans
Sugar Club Wax
Fri Jan 26 Air Traffic John Digweed Green Velvet Carlos Johnson
Thu Feb 1 Meteor Awards Clap Your Hands Say Yeah
Whelans Tripod TBMC Bleu Note
Fri Feb 2 Pussycat Dolls Tiefschwarz
Sat Jan 27 Messiah J & The Expert James Holden
Sun Jan 28 Lunasa, Dervish Plan B
Sat Feb 3 NME tour ft Klaxons Decemberists Ivan Smagghe The Hacker
Ambassador Vicar st Crawdaddy TBMC
Olympia The Village
Sat & Sun Nerina Pallot
Tue Jan 30 NME:The Automatic
Tue Feb 6 My Brightest Diamond
23rd January 2007
Immediate success Aidan Mac Guill catches up with Pete Toomey, Conor O’Brien and Dave Hedderman of The Immediate, and chats about their sudden rise to stardom ‘In Towers And Clouds’, The Immediate’s debut album, has just been short-listed for the Choice Music Prize Irish Album of the Year 2006. It caps an astonishingly successful year for the Dublin four-piece. They’ve also been nominated for the RTE 2fm Hope for 2007 Meteor Music Award. They headlined the 2fm 2moro 2our and the Hard Working Class Heroes Festival, along with performing a string of dates in the UK and Europe supporting the likes of Doves, The Flaming Lips, The Guillemots, and The Young Knives. Their album received uniformly gushing praise from critics, and having fulfilled their one album deal with Fantastic Plastic, record companies are queuing up to bag the boys for their next album. “It still hasn’t settled for me,” confides Hedderman, “All the information that’s gone in over the last year. I tried to make it settle but I couldn’t. “It sounds weird but I think it might be a bit of a waste of time. We should just go out and get totally wrecked, that’s probably the way to do it. “If you stop and think about it, you might lose the flow of something,” adds Conor O’Brien, “When you’re in a band you’re just doing it, you’re not thinking about it. When you write the best stuff is when you’re in a certain place, not thinking about it too much.” Hedderman explains, “It’s like a relationship. If you think about things when you fall in love, that’s when you mess it up, you know? You’re better off to let things slide and go with it.” O’Brien is wary of paying too much attention to critics, good or bad. “You have to not take any of
it seriously. All you take seriously is the point when your actually making it, and after that everything’s a joke, everything. If you start taking it seriously you’re an eejit.” The touring process is something that’s new to The Immediate, and they confess that they have undergone changes as a result. “We’ve just become
“It's like a relationship. If you think about things when you fall in love, that's when you mess it up, you know? You're better off to let things slide and go with it." more professional,” says Pete Toomey. “At one stage we were the amateur magicians. Now we’re like Paul Daniels. The 2fm tour, that stepped it up.” Hedderman goes on to say that the process wasn’t as much fun as you might imagine. “The adventure of it was kind of gone,” he says, “because you knew you were gonna be tucked away in a hotel every night, you know? It was very like, ‘Ok the bus is leaving now guys’. But I mean it was great, because we’d never had a taste of that before.” But there were no rock and roll antics, waking up on a bridge, covered in blood, handcuffed to a pram? “Yeah there was no, ‘My cock has fallen off’. It was just different. We’d never experienced it. Waking up every morning with our cocks still on us.”
myspace artist of the fortnight When it comes to music, combining different genres is a common a source of innovation, though if not done properly results vary from the mediocre to the truly terrible. Fortunately Jape manages to straddle the genres of indie and electro successfully, creating a fresh, unique style of sound. Jape is the solo venture of Richie Egan, energetic bass player of Irish instrumental rock group The Redneck Manifesto, though the jazz and metal influences of that outfit are definitely absent from Jape's well-crafted layers of synths and guitars. The pick of the tunes showcased on the website is ‘Floating', an ode to ecstasy of both the amorous and the amphetamine kind. What strikes you initially is the catchy melody of the chorus, accompanied by plucked guitar over an underlying synth drone. After several verses the drone changes unexpectedly as layers of soothing synth build up around the ‘floating' mantra of the chorus, with relentless shakers maintaining the driving rhythm inherent in all of the songs. Each of the tracks available on the site develop an extra dimension as the song progresses, such as the lengthy new order-esque instrumental section in ‘I Was A Man', and the synth solo at the end of ‘Gimme Some More'. Though Jape's style is more indie than electro, he definitely manages to harness the energy of electro in his sound. If you're a fan of either genre, this is most definitely worth a look.
The Irish music scene is notoriously bitchy and cliquey and the band agrees that this required some thick skin. “In a place this small, things can’t not be political, they can’t not be based on who knows who. “It’s just a big parlour game, and once you make something and put it into the middle of this parlour game, it is part of it. Once you realise that, and don’t get involved in that game, its all grand. “And you go on making something, and hopefully our next album will be much better, and its looking like it could be.” Hedderman explains they’re very excited about the new songs they’re working on. “It’s a lot better than the old stuff. There’s less fluff.” Toomey goes on to add, “They just flow better.” Things look bright for 2007 then. “We’re going over to Paris in March to play gigs and do radio stuff. The albums being released in France, Austria, Switzerland and Germany, so hopefully we’ll get there. I think definitely Electric Picnic as well. And we’ll do Glasgowbury (cult festival in Derry) again. That was cool. “We’re going to Texas as well in March.” The lads will be one of the main Irish attractions at the SXSW festival, where Hedderman explains they’ve already made an impression. “Our first trip there was good fun. We’re still paying the loans off. We drank a lot of free beer. And got some free jeans. One of the shows was a Levi’s party, and before the show they fitted us for new jeans. All I remember is the four of us standing there, twenty minutes before the show, with no pants on.”
Books 23rd January 2007
Redemption and c life is all about
Barra O Fianail meets Mitch Albom, author of ‘Tuesdays With Morrie’ and ‘Five Meet in Heaven’, and discusses life, the importance of hope and the potential fo On November 4th 1995, Morrie Schwartz, a former professor of sociology at Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts died of Lou Gehrig’s (ASL) disease. Big deal? A successful young sports journalist and former student of Morrie, Mitch Albom had watched it happen. Big deal. Although Morrie’s approach to his own impending death would eventually inspire millions of people and be depicted on screen by Jack Lemon in a movie produced by Oprah Winfrey, Albom’s intentions when he set about putting Morrie’s story on paper where less grand. “It was an accident in that ‘Tuesdays with Morrie’ was never supposed to be a book. I was just visiting this old dying professor, just for myself. Then on one of the visits, he told me that he was in debt very dearly because of his medical bills which he had no way of paying. “He was just telling me this, but I began to think that maybe I could help by writing something, maybe a magazine article. I went to try and find a publisher for the book and nobody wanted it, literally everybody turned me down.” He did find a publisher however and the advance from them was used to pay Morrie’s bills. And that was supposed to be that. No dice. “I wrote the book because I was obligated to write,” he explains. But in Albom’s depiction of Morrie, our increasingly materialistic world became a blueprint on how to die, and as Morrie had told Albom, “When you learn how to die, you learn how to live.” Albom explains that “pretty soon it became such a big thing that a good deal of my time was being devoted to talking about it or going and visiting hospice groups or ASL patients or Universities.” Albom was no longer a sports writer. Albom stumbles when asked if the changes were entirely welcome, he explains that he had been “ignorantly happy, I thought that that’s how life worked or was supposed to work. I mean I was working 95 hours a week, knocking myself out. Every-
thing was only about how successful I could be and I don’t know if I would describe that as happy. “But I didn’t know any better and so I probably just would have stayed right on that path because I was working with people who were doing the same thing, so none of us knew any better. And they’re all kind of still doing the same thing.” Albom seems proud of his work but
“In all my books, there is a person who was one way and who gets changed and is redeemed. That's the way I feel about life" it’s clear what it is gives him the most pleasure regarding the success, “I’m happy for Morrie, that he can teach so many people after he is gone. It’s like he’s got this big huge classroom every year.
“In America, they teach that book in the school systems, that one and ‘Five People You Meet in Heaven’ (Albom’s next book), so it’s kind of funny for me because ‘Five People’ was based on an old uncle of mine who was the complete opposite of Morrie. “He was a WW2 veteran. He dropped out of school in the 8th grade, he never even read a book, let alone have one inspired by him. And yet, now they are these two guys, one was a teacher and an academic, and one was just this rizzle tough guy, and both of them are now in the school-system teaching children. Even though they’re not here to see it.” Albom is involved in several charities in his home city of Detroit, another progression in his personal renaissance. He explains that he set up a charity called ‘Time to Help’ “because Morrie used to tease me and ask what I did for my community, and I’d say that if a charity comes knocking, I’d write a check.” Morrie expected more of Albom
however. “He guilted me, like he did on a lot of things and so I started that shortly after his death because I was doing a radio program and I thought if Morrie’s right and I can reach these people, I should use this radio program to try to galvanize them to come and do things. That’s how it began and its being running for nearly ten years now. “What we do is we announce on the radio each month, ‘ok the event this month is on such and such a date, we’re going to build a house, or deliver food to people etc’ and we get sometimes hundreds of people coming down to participate. “Our last project was a big Christmas party, which we do every year in a shelter for battered women and their kids. They have nothing and we bring four hundred plus people down there and everybody brings presents and Santa Claus stuff and we turn that place upside down. You wouldn’t even recognise it, and its been going on for seven years now and everybody knows the names of the people who have been there for a little bit and it’s nice you know. Morrie was right.” As a new born author, Albom explains that he was “kind of paralyzed after ‘Tuesdays with Morrie’ because I knew people would be comparing whatever I wrote next to it and I ended up finally just going so far opposite. From a true non-fiction account of a real person who was dying, to a fairy tale, which is basically what Five People is.” It took six years before Albom re-
"Books, at least ones that I write, should make you think after they're closed. Not hammer you over the head or change your life" leased ‘Five People you Meet in Heaven’ which tells of the death of a fair ground maintenance worker and the five people he meets on arriving in heaven who’s lives he had impacted in some unknown way.
Basically, Albom takes a guess at what heaven might be, something he explains comes from a story his uncle had told him but that isn’t to be taken literally. “It wasn’t a complete out of the blue guess but it was certainly meant to be a fable or a metaphor. I don’t know that it works like that, it wasn’t a non-fiction book, I didn’t do research on it.” Although this book differed greatly from ‘Tuesdays with Morrie’ in some ways, in others it showed an emerging trend in Albom’s writings. Both dealt in some way with death and both led to someone’s redemption. “In all my books, there is a person who was one way and who gets changed and is redeemed. That’s the way I feel about life, because I have to believe that people can change. You know I’ve had a big change in my life and if all that happened was that you made your mistakes and then you had to live with them and you could never be any better than the
mistakes you made, that w be good. “Where’s the hope in th the hope is that, even a he dies, finds out that he when he didn’t think he guy’s about to kill himself new book and he gets a his mother, the result of w wants to live again, and s
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hope in that. I like having ho end of stories, because I w myself.” The impact of Albom’s s becomes clear on his wor works are tinted with ho
Books 23rd January 2007
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spirituality rk, but his ope rather
than religious creed. No bible bashing here. “I believe that there is a soul and I believe that we go on after life here. I don’t know that there is a Jesus at the end of the tunnel or anything but I don’t want to believe that were put in the ground and the worms eat us, what kind of hope is that.” No surprise then that Albom’s latest work, ‘For One More Day’, involves a near death experience where a man who has lost his way, gets to spend one more day with his dead mother. The book aims to show us the things of real importance and value in our lives, such as our relationships with loved ones, but does so in the subtle form of an interesting narrative. When asked about the positive messages his works seem to hold, Albom lays the credit on familiar shoulders. “Well, as with most things, it comes back to Morrie. My sense of purpose when I wrote that book about him was that it wouldn’t be any good, and my time with him wouldn’t have been any good if I didn’t learn something from
it. So, when I wrote that book, I tried to do it in a way that when you finished it something stayed with you. “Books, at least ones that I write, should make you think after they’re closed. Not hammer you over the head or change your life or anything, but if I haven’t made you think about something afterwards, if I’ve just told a story and boom, you just put it aside, very interesting and goodbye, then I haven’t done what I should do. “In ‘For One More Day’, I talk about an echo, an echo being sound after the source is gone. Well in a certain way, I hope that’s what the books are. You know, after the books close there is still a sound in your head that resonates, if I’ve done a decent job.” In our world of South Parks and Jerry
Springers, books that bring a positive message are sure to be accused of sentimentality. An accusation Albom embraces. “I’m happy to be called sentimental. Most people are. I bet that there is somebody in your life whom you could take a little photograph out and it could get a tear in your eye, if it’s a child or a parent or grandparent. I bet your favourite movie is some movie that might make you cry or laugh. “So where did this criticism of sentimentality come from. Only from critics who seem to like the world dark and angry and miserable and they’re entitled to there opinion, but I don’t want to live in a world like that. “I’ve seen the end of life for a lot of people, not just for Morrie who I basically
watched die, but as a result of that I’ve met a lot of dying people and I’ve been with people in their last days and hours. I can tell you that nobody’s last words are ironic. Their last words are ‘I love you’ or ‘Don’t forget me’ or ‘Take care of the children’. “So in the moment in life when you are at your absolute purest, when there is no more sense in being pretentious, people are sentimental. What makes people think people aren’t like that at all other moments, inside they are.” When Albom talks about people and their attitudes, his voice is sad but never bitter. He sees a sick society that is heading in the wrong direction. “People are much too caught up in trying to be famous and trying to be rich, because that’s what they are taught, that you
don’t really count unless your rich and famous. “Now if you are rich or famous, people will write about every little thing that you do. You know, Paris Hilton sneezes, they write about it. Who is she? She’s done nothing, all she’s ever accomplished is to be rich and yet she’s everywhere, she gets paid to go to parties. They pay her to go to parties because they want her there so they can take pictures. I think that people are putting their efforts in the wrong places.” Albom, however, is no cynic. He sees good people who are making mistakes, not bad people. The hope that transcends his work is not lost on him, and his last words to me are filled with this hope. “I still believe in the good in people.”
23rd January 2007
Does detox work?
Confused about the range of Detox treatments out there and curious to know if they really work? Caitrina Cody tries out the latest products on the market In the aftermath of the festive season, most of us feel over-fed, over-indulged and ready for a fresh start. Having gorged ourselves on turkey, ham and Baileys, we wake from our Christmasinduced stupor to find that we have put on weight and that our livers are crying out for some rest and relaxation. Our treadmills lie covered in films of dust, our bicycles stand neglected in our garages and only our remote controls have received attention in the last few weeks. Many of us will attempt to solve our problems by writing down some new year’s resolutions - ‘Must do twenty push-ups every morning before breakfast’ and ‘must be nicer to my mother/father’ and leave it at that. However, for those determined to take more active steps towards personal well-being, the answer may be found in detoxification treatments which supposedly cleanse the body and liver of unwanted toxins which occur as a result of too much alcohol, caffeine, fried and junk food and lack of sleep. It’s wouldn’t be illogical therefore to assume that college students are quite toxic in general, as many of us exist on a diet of coffee, beer and chips and with only six hours of sleep at the most. Detox treatments have been all the rage recently, with many celebrities embarking on courses that range from the simple to the bizarre. These treatments include: being steamed through a wall of Alpine hay, algae body masques, lymphatic drainage, smoothie facials, swimming in ‘ozone-cleansed baths’, herbal enemas and mummification in linen that has been soaked in berries. All very entertaining, but do any of these wacky treatments work? Do they have any value other than the purely psychological? Many experts say no, that they are simply expensive fads, designed to appeal to those suffering from New Year’s guilt. According to experts, the body is already equipped to deal with toxins and a glass of water and a good night’s sleep is all anyone needs in order to feel refreshed.
One of the newest treatments available to consumers is the detox foot patch treatment. This involves attaching a small patch containing various organic compounds to the bottom of each of your feet overnight, for five nights. The concept is that the compounds which contain tree and bamboo extracts effectively draw out toxins through the pores of your feet using the principles of osmosis. Drawing on the healing art of Reflexology, the patch claims to relieve fatigue, joint pains, headaches, skin rashes and leave the user refreshed and purified. In the interests of science, I decided to test them out and discover whether there is any ben-
"It's wouldn't be illogical therefore to assume that college students are quite toxic in general, as many of us exist on a diet of coffee, beer and chips and with only six hours of sleep at the most" efit to the concept of detoxification. The treatment doesn’t involve avoiding meat, caffeine and sugar, things that I can’t do without and so seems effortless in comparison to most other grueling Detox therapies. But can something so easy really achieve anything? I decided to find out. A five-night course of Naturalife Chi Detox Patches costs e24.99 and is available in the Nourish health stores. The accompanying booklet explains the concept behind Reflexology - that all the organs of the body are linked to a certain part of the foot. By treating the feet, we can holistically treat our whole bodies. Sounds easy doesn’t it? And actually the process is quite effortless. I began the treatment in a cynical frame of mind, sure that the results would be questionable. The patches have a funny woody smell and are quite easy to apply. Having
a sore neck, I decided to concentrate on my big toe (the area that corresponds with the neck) for the first night. So by angling the rectangular patch I managed to cover that area plus the ball of my foot for basic Detox. I went to sleep with a pleasant tingly feeling in my feet, my patches covered with socks to stop them from moving around. The next morning, after nine hours, the patches were ready to come off. To my surprise, the patches were a browny grey colour when taken off. According to the booklet, black indicates a serious level of toxicity, while brown is moderate. So the good news is that I’m only moderately toxic. Confronted with such evidence, my faith in Detox foot patches was considerably elevated. However, other sceptics weren’t so sure. One theory put forward was that the contents of the patches was what was causing the brown seepage and that in contact with body heat it changed colour. That was quite plausible until I tested it out by placing it on my arm overnight- only to find the patch only very slightly discoloured the next morning. If body heat was responsible for the colour change and not accumulated toxins in the feet, then why did the patch on my arm stay white? More importantly, did I feel any better the next day? It’s actually hard to say. My head felt clearer, I felt more energised and in a really good mood - but was that because of the detox or was it simply a placebo effect? I have decided it doesn’t really matter. I feel better, whatever the reason and that’s good enough for me. For E24.99 I have purchased revitalisation and without any contact with alpine hay or algae facial scrubs. During the five-day course, the brown - grey colour of the patches lightened gradually to a cheerful-looking light grey, leaving me feeling less toxic and ready to face 2007. Just what I needed to for a good start to the year. For more information on Chi Detox Patches visit: www.naturalife.ie
siren Name. Caoimhe McCabe Faculty: B&L Year: 1st Do you wear labels? I do. Are they important to you? Yes, they are. What do you think this says about you? That I’m loaded! Describe your style: Mostly jeans and tops. How much do you spend per month on clothes? 200 euro Favourite item? Pumps Favourite shop? Miss Selfridge Would you ever judge someone by what they are wearing? Yes. I look at people and if they’re wearing something nice I compliment them. What are you wearing today? Uggs from Office, my trousers are
23rd January 2007
n i s ’ t a h W ? g a b r u yo Juicy from BT2, two Abercrombie tops, a scarf and a bag from a market in Spain.
Name Faculty: :CClive “Baby face ommerce ” Year: . . Do you3rd ear labels How imw 8/10 portant are? Ytes. hey to y What do ou? you? Ap you think this don’t wanpearance is says about importan to loo t t. I Descrikbelike a yak. Favourite your style: Ch Would shop: Zara arly. what thyeou ever judg.e someone time. y are wea from yYoouu girls lookrilinkg? Yes, all thbey e rock ch r shoes. icks
onnell Name. Jennifer O’D . ure ect hit Arc y. ult Fac Year. 1st. . Do you wear labels? Yes ? Yes. you to ant ort imp y Are the s about say s thi nk thi What do you person. you? That I’m an artistic ky, colourful, I Describe your style: Fun represents le sty My . els wear some lab Miu Miu, like I fashion as an art form. especially. ona cel Bar sta Chloe, Co nd per month How much do you speuro 0e -20 100 s? the on clo Barcelona skirt Favourite item? My Costa mas Tho wn Favourite shop? Bro someon e by what ge jud r eve you Would ents res rep It . Yes g? they are wearin t wear jus ple peo e how you are, like som but to me, , rm wa p kee to clothes it’s a statement. ay? Shoes, What are you wearing tod hts from tig , ere wh m fro don’t know ck top from bla ’s, BT Penneys, skirt from p. sho Top m fro per jum and Sisely
rested in labels te In ? u Yo To r te at M Do Brand Names ey? Alex Murphy, on m of te as w a e ’r or think they y investigate the h rp u M x li A d an y n Orla Ken ’re wearing. ey th at h w d an ts en views of UCD stud pus of UCD We set out upon the cam investian d min in with one aim les of its gation of the eclectic stye labels students. Do brand nammore about influence style? Or is it individual taste? three We chose three guys andulties fac girls from five differentthe m to here in UCD and asked of personal se sen own ir the ine def to think of style. Many students like al stateson per a as g hin clot their can be ment. For others, fashionis where this tor ica ind a status e. Expenfashion turns competitives be used sive labels can sometim impression to project a fashionable ary in order but are they truly necess to be stylish? stuLets find out what these dents think.
Name: Stephe Faculty: Arts. n Cullen Year: 1st. Do you wear la do I’m not aw bels? If I ever e of it! Are they impoar rt No, because ant to you? peoples name.they’re just important for thIt’s more fortable, clea em to be comWhat do you nthand that they fit. says about you?ink this care what I lo I don’t like. Describe yourok style: Random How much do yo month on clot u spend per only the occasihes? There’s month when onal maybe 50euroI do… Favourite item Favourite shop?? My hat. bula, near Te plTame Bar. Would you evm one by what ther judge someing? No, becausey are weare that’s stupid. What are you w Hat from Shaws earing today? in Portlaoise, with D scarf underneath, aa UC coat from
Name: Gillian Math ews Faculty: Ag. Sc ience. Year. 3rd. Do you we labels? Yes, because thar are good quality. Ralph Laeyuren mostly. Are they im nt to you? No! What do youpothrta this says about u?inIkwo uldn’t wear all labyo el s. am quite conscioI us I look, but s more of how about the qualityit’ nice to treat…yoanurdseit’s Describe your style:lf. Casual but tre grungy sometimes butndmy,ixe d. How much do u spend per monyo on clothes? 15 th 0euro Favourite ite0-m20 irts. Favourite shop?? Sk I really like Mang Would you o. someone byevwerhajut dge wearing? No finthey are itely not. What are you, de aring today? Skirt frowe m Esprit on Grafton Street, bo ots from Vienna, jacket from Gap, top from AWear, jum Mango and a scarpef. r from
Name. Niall Carrollure. Faculty: Architect Year: 1st. SomeDo you wear labels?er. lfig times Tommy Hi they to How important aret at all. you? Not very. No this says about you? What do you thinkrficial…hopefully! That I’m not supe le: I wear what I like Describe your styfashion dictates. rather than what u spend per month on How much do yo s. Maybe 50 euro. clothes? It dependlitary jacket. Favourite item? MiDiesel. Favourite shop? ge someWould you ever judare wearing? one by what theyd anything No! You can’t rea into that! ed aring today? A knitt What are you weMa from ns jea ck bla , xx jumper from TK silver high River Island, QuickShoes. tops from Wacky
23rd January 2007
Social commentary gone mad Barra O Fianail speaks to Holly White, the new star of RTE’s new drama ‘Dan and Becs’, about what the series is all about “My flight’s just been cancelled,” she confides. Not the ideal start to an interview but Holly White, who plays Becs in RTE’s new comedy drama, Dan and Becs, doesn’t seem to upset. This is the first noticeable difference between herself and the character she portrays. It would be typical of Becs to be seen in flood of tears at Heathrow airport, panicking on the phone to her Mommy. White is studying journalism in London, and sees herself as a student rather than an actress. Her role in Dan and Becs seems to have come about as much by chance as by any Hollywood ambitions. “Dave Coffey saw me in an ad,” she explains, “He needed a girl for this idea he had for a pilot and we both new each other from around Dalkey.” Coffey is the director of the series, as well as the actor who plays Dan. The show has been getting some negative press, which is nothing new. What is new is the way in which it is shot, in the form of video diaries, which deserves some respect. It moves things along quickly, lets the audience get to know it’s characters’ true selves, and provides ample opportunity for humour. As White explains, “The overall idea is a guy and a girl keeping a video diary and their different perspectives on things such as arguments.” The gaping inconsistencies in the perspectives of the two lovers are interesting. Becs sees Dan grabbing her hand firmly, but gently, and sweeping her to safety from a dangerous brawl, before sealing his affections with a tender kiss, while Dan might view such as little more than a cheeky score. The show’s website describes Becs as a “likeable, funny, very talkative and has an unhealthy obsession with relationship guides and self-help books.” This doesn’t do her justice
however. The cool thing about Becs is that she embodies the typical south side young lady. Miss 92 if you will, although White doesn’t quite agree. “Dan and Becs are not really meant to represent anyone. There just two characters that we hope people will find interesting. There are bits of them in everyone. We say they’ve been to (Club) 92, and a lot of people watching it will have been to 92 as well.” White herself, an enthusiastic student and arts lover, certainly seems to differ from her character. Although the young actor is endeared by her charming screen self, “I think she’s sweet but personality-wise we’re completely different.” White however, isn’t immune to the charms of Dan’s character and is quick to defend him. “Dan’s nice, he’s just a bit of a lad.” Indeed she could even see herself in a relationship with the guy, because “He’s funny, he’s confident, definitely.” Dan, however, does take the show somewhat away from D4, not being your typical jock, something that Becs loves him for and White can definitely recognise. “He’s not a jock at all, he’s a geek.” White seems well able to deal with criticism of her and the show also. “Overall we’re getting good feedback but some people don’t like it and there are blogs and things but we’re open to criticism. You can’t make something to make everybody happy but at the end of the day we’re proud of it. It’s not meant to be the best thing in the world and hopefully it’s not the worst.” If you haven’t seen the show, it’s definitely worth a look, if only for the fact that it is different to anything else out there, and you might see somebody you recognise. White also encourages her fans to interact with her directly through her bebo page, which you can find at posh-
Revolutionary Writer, Director and Hollywood Star, Emilio Estevez has excelled in creating a humorous, realistic and dramatic film about the fictional events leading up to the death of Senator Robert F. Kennedy in the Ambassador Hotel on June 6th 1968. From the outset, ‘Bobby’ grabs the viewer’s attention and manages to maintain it with a fast pace and compelling storyline. The film’s main theme is racism, and Estevez manages to handle the issue extremely delicately, in both a comic and dramatic manner. The film revolves around the lives of two-dozen people on the day of Robert Kennedy’s assassination, focusing on hotel employees, hotel guests and Kennedy’s staff. Estevez uses particular characters to provide humour, seperate from those who provide the drama. Estevez himself has a role in the film alongside Demie Moore. The two well-respected actors (generous to the striptease actor perhaps) play a married entertainment duo who are struggling with both their career and their marriage. Both characters are believable in their roles, and as a unit. Moore is perhaps a bit too believable as the drunken, washed up performer. Anthony Hopkins is also present, and, as always, steals the show in his role as the retired and lonely hotel doorman. He is teamed up with Harry Belafonte in the film, and this duo alone is reason enough to see the film. Estevez’s father Martin Sheen also stars in the movie alongside Helen Hunt as ho-
tel guests and the two provide mild comic relief as a typical married couple. It’s testament to the depth of the cast that actors of this calibre are playing supporting roles. Nick Cannon was also pleasantly surprising as one of Kennedy’s volunteers. Despite being associated with kids’ films and terrible television shows, Cannon’s performance was solid, passionate and better than many expected. Casting mistakes in ‘Bobby’ would be Elijah Wood and Lindsay Lohan who played a young couple about to be married in the Hotel. Wood’s acting was dull and stiff and still resembled Frodo Baggins. Lohan was the worst thing about the film, mostly because of her inability to act. Her cringe worthy presence was disturbing throughout the film. Unfortunate. Despite these two horrors, the cast is still what makes this film great, it also includes Christian Slater, Sharon Stone, William H. Macy, Laurence Fishburne, Heather Graham, Joshua Jackson and Mary Elizabeth Winstead, whose performances were award-winning. For those who love acting, it’s not to be missed. An interesting element of ‘Bobby’ is that the majority of the footage of Robert Kennedy himself was actual footage from 1968, which added realism and credibility to the film. The multiplicity of characters means your bound to love at least one, and love is good. Like this movie. Cian Taafe
23rd January 2007
A flick with a weak punch Unnecessary - the most fitting word to describe this sixth instalment of the Rocky saga, ‘Rocky Balboa’. Sure, it has its entertaining moments and everyone loves a predictable boxing match, but for anyone hoping for any surprise twists or hidden depths, look elsewhere. Produced sixteen years after Rocky V, fans were optimistic, certain that the trainwreck that the Rocky series had become with Rocky IV and V was about to be left behind. Surely this final adieu to the muchloved hero would be a masterpiece, a fitting walk into the sunset for the tired fighter from Philly. That is essentially what this film is all about and nothing more. Stallone has taken the most successful elements of the Rocky brand - like the montage shots of Rocky beating up sides of beef and running up the steps of the museum building - and combined them with some inspirational speeches about growing old. Topped off with a traditional fight in which Rocky appears to be losing badly before waking up and landing some predictable powerhouse punches. The movie is everything that a die-hard Rocky fan could ask for but as a stand-alone production, is sadly lacking in any real force or dramatic suspense. It is easy to imagine Stallone’s thought process during the creation of this movie. ‘Everyone loves Rocky. Everyone loves an underdog. If it’s not broken, don’t’ fix it’. And indeed he sticks to the Rocky formula like glue, the only major change being the ab-
Rocky Balboa nnppp
sence of Adrian in Rocky’s life. Rocky’s obsession with the memory of Adrian preoccupies the movie initially and there is a sense of desolation surrounding the ageing sports star. Two sub-plots involving Rocky’s cynical son and a potential new romance provide a sprinkling of drama but fail to give this essentially two-dimensional story any real depth. The most impressive thing about ‘Rocky Balboa’ is Stallone’s physique - at sixty-years old, he still impresses, immensely large and powerful. He’s also quite likeable and pitiable as a character, which helps to make the film watchable at least, if not gripping. We feel sorry for him in his new role at the beginning of the film, as a sort of blundering cartoon character, regaling his restaurant guests with stories of his past glories and sitting by Adrian’s grave in a deck-chair he keeps stashed in a nearby tree. He has clearly lost his way and when a computersimulated boxing match between Rocky and young contender Mason Dixon (real-life boxer Antonio Tarver) pronounces Rocky the winner, it is the wake-up call that he sorely needs. We then proceed naturally to the training process, which seems altogether too easy for a man of Rocky’s age. He accepts that he will not have the speed or stamina of his younger opponent and so in the words of
his trainer he will have to rely on ‘blunt force trauma’ to be his weapon of choice. There is some excitement in the run-up to the exhibition match, but is anyone watching the least bit doubtful of what will occur inside that ring? Are any of us the least bit worried about Rocky’s dignity in the face of a challenge by this young upstart? It’s probably fair to say he’ll acquit himself with flying colours in the end. Rocky’s new love interest is played by Irish actress Geraldine Hughes, a quiet barmaid who manages to distract Rocky from his mourning long enough to forge a bond with him. Nothing actually happens between them during the film but audiences are left with the implication that Rocky will find happiness and learn to move on from his bereavement. Ultimately, it’s a very quiet film. Subdued and technically stripped-down, the idea is that the film has returned to its roots as a low-budget independent production and yes, compared to Rocky V, its simplicity is refreshing. There are numerous shots of dimly lit Philadelphia Street corners and many pregnant pauses as Rocky considers life. However simplicity is not enough to validate a film and in the end, Stallone pushes no boundaries and surpasses no expectations. If you are a fan of the Rocky series you’ll obviously like this film - and if you’re not, you will join those who sincerely hope that Rocky Balboa can finally rest in peace. Forever.
Worth Considering For Your Consideration is the name of the latest film directed by Christopher Guest, best known for his role as creator of ‘This is Spinal Tap’. Whereas Guest’s last film ‘A Mighty Wind’ flunked in a Europe not yet ready for his strange mocumentary style humour, in a post Ricky Gervais world, ‘For Your Consideration’ will certainly seem more palatable to your standard Irish audience. The film, titled with a phrase usually used on film posters to promote films for Oscars, revolves around three actors (played by Catherine O’Hara, Parker Posey, and Harry Shearer) and their role in the creation of a zany film entitled ‘Home for Purim’. Although the film can at times seem like the endless comic ramblings of a director set on recreating the magic of his early hit, it features just enough witty one liners and crazy characterisations to keep the viewer tuned into its minimal plot. During the film, O’Hara plays actress Marilyn Hack who is best known for playing a blind prostitute in a film from the late 1980s and her fictional co-star played by Harry Shearer is best known to the public as the hot-dog wearing mascot for a kosher line of frankfurters. The film within the film’s plot centers on their daughter’s confession of her lesbianism as her mother gets nearer to death.
For your consideration
ately hoping for a change in their fortune. Due to Guest’s wonderful method of film making in which the script is left minimal and the use of improvisation made maximum, the viewer gets a chance to see the various actors in the film work in their own unique, uncontrived way. In an American film industry where comedy is usually planned out in an almost clinical, obvious fashion, Guest’s film is certainly refreshing. It’s certainly a film worth seeing on one of those hung-over, rainy days. If you want to go to the cinema and get thrills, excitement or brain-dead humour, go and see one of the large budget hyped up movies you’re used to. If, however, you like watching ‘The Extras’ or giggled throughout ‘Napoleon Dynamite’, you might as well give ‘For Your Consideration’ your consideration. Daniel O' Neill
As the filming continues, rumours begin to escalate that the stars of the film are going to be nominated for an Oscar, which leads to various amusing interviews and strange scenarios. It is at this point Ricky Gervais himself makes a cameo appearance as a studio executive claiming that the film is “a little too Jewish” and so ‘Home for Purim’ (Purim being a traditional Jewish holiday) becomes ‘Home for Thanksgiving’. Although the film appears as a sort of attack on the way in which the movie industry tends to work, it is the competitive business that is made a fool of, rather than the dreamers themselves. When watching the film, the viewer almost develops a love for the characters in the film, and Guest creates empathy within the viewer towards the naivety of the stars desper-
23rd January 2007
Changing Times The Leopard (in Italian ‘Il Gattopardo’), by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa, was first published in Italy in 1958, and instantly became a twentieth century classic. Set during the turbulent years in which Italy became unified, it deals with the death of the aristocracy, the imposition of opportunism over privilege, and the birth guiseppe tomasi di lampedusa of a new country. the leopard The story is told from the perspective of the Sicilian, Don Fabrizio Corbera, Prince of Salina, the embodiment of dignity and superiority, who is intelligent enough to realise that he and his family are members of a dying species. He watches as his family goes through the motions; they keep to themselves, maintaining distance and hauteur, engaging in behaviour suitable to their station, while around them republics are dissolved and formed in a flurry of revolutionary activity. Don Fabrizio’s sympathy for his nephew Tancredi - impulsive, opportunistic, handsome, a boy so different from his own son Paolo, - shows that he knows his proud, pampered children will not do well in the new Italy. There had been an unspoken agreement that Tancredi should wed his cousin, Don Fabrizio’s daughter Concetta, keeping the noble blood in the family. But Tancredi meets another girl, Angelica, whose superficial beauty disguises peasant roots, and a dishonest, capitalising father, which makes her a symbol of the plebification of the nobility. This marriage is one of commodity – Tancredi needs the money, and Angelica is provided with an entrance into upper class society. This opportunism is exactly what Don Fabrizio’s children lack. Concetta, despite her consuming love for Tancredi, never acts upon it, she is inhibited by her cold, hard pride. At the end of the book we find her an aged spinster, still living at home, taking care of her sisters, clinging on to the relics of her family’s past in the hopes of denying the inevitable truth: the superfluity of the aristocracy in unified Italy. Central to Don Fabrizio’s experience of the Risorgimento is the knowledge that while Sicily may belong physically to a unified Italy, the mindset and stubborn sense of superiority of the Sicilians will forbid it from becoming an actuality. Don Fabrizio explains that Sicily has been a colony too long to be gracefully absorbed into Italy. “This violence of landscape, this cruelty of climate, this continual tension in everything, and even these monuments of the past, magnificent yet incomprehensible because not built by us and yet standing around us like lovely mute ghosts; all those rulers who landed by main force from all directions, who were at once obeyed, soon detested and always misunderstood; their sole means of expression works of art we found enigmatic and taxes we found only too intelligible, and which they spent elsewhere. All these things have formed our character, which is thus conditioned by events outside our control as well as by a terrifying insularity of mind.” The symbolic leopard permeates the lyrical prose of Lampedusa’s novel; it is on the Salina coat of arms, and Don Fabrizio, as the head of the family, sees himself a leopard. He is an elegant creature, capable of strength and violence, but also able to retract his claws and show mercy. Next to him, others seem inferior, coarse and ungainly. All the while, Don Fabrizio is aware of the fact that being a leopard amongst jackals does him no good. His nobility has no function, his life is filled only with empty pleasures. With the death of customs and familiarity dies also the need for aristocracy. With practical, greedy people like Tancredi and Angelica ready to take the stage, who has any need for the sober elegance of the leopard? The tragic beauty of the novel is that Don Fabrizio is not only aware of his imminent decline, but that as it approaches, he welcomes it. It is the decent, aristocratic thing to do. Don Fabrizio wearily cedes his duties to Tancredi, and withdraws with his family, his proud, useless children, to dust and oblivion.
The grassroots of US history Simon Schama’s ‘Rough Crossings’ is a book that provides a fresh, deep understanding of the United States, its origins and its historic character, writes Alan Tully
Some historical books are written more to excite than educate, to tell in yet more vivid fashion, well-worn tales of good and evil. The classic example is the story of how democracy loving Americans threw off the stranglehold of British imperial tyranny. Sometimes though, these versions of history leave out the untold and far more complex stories of those who lose out. “Rough Crossings: Britain, the Slaves and the American Revolution” by Simon Schama, on the other hand, is a fascinating and illuminating book which accounts for the tales of American slaves during the American Revolution. By following the story of black American slaves, Schama draws a fresh picture of the War of Independence - a war taught to generations of American schoolchildren as a clear battle between right and wrong, even though life is rarely quite so simple. The British, largely to gain recruits in the war but also out of a sense of their own innate goodness, promised that slaves who fled their Patriot masters and fought for the crown would be granted land and freedom when the war ended. Tens of thousands from Virginia, Georgia and the Carolinas heeded the call. The surprising truth is that many blacks regarded the Americans, who claimed to be fighting for freedom, as the oppressors, and the monarchical British as the true fighters for freedom. While white Patriots rallied against their “enslavement” by the British, many were themselves enslavers. Patrick Henry’s slave, Ralph Henry, took literally his master’s exhortation to “Give me liberty
or give me death” - and ran away, as did so many others, toward the British lines and freedom. A quarter of South Carolina’s slave population, and a third of Georgia’s, left the plantations in the greatest exodus from bondage until emancipation. “To give this astounding fact its due means being obliged to tell the story of Anglo-American conflict, both during the revolution and after, in a freshly complicated way,” Schama writes. This is precisely what he does. It was, he reports, a conflict with three parties - the Americans, the British and the blacks. And it also became in the South, as the blacks fled the plantations, a war to preserve a social system, namely slavery. Schama makes no attempt to paint the British as saints. While they gave blacks official certificates of freedom and evacuated many of them to Nova Scotia at the war’s end, others blacks met more ghastly fates: Some, for example, stricken with smallpox, were off-loaded on an island and left to die. Others were distributed around American positions in hopes of infecting Patriot troops. The revolution takes up the first third of the book. Schama then continues to follow the fate of African-American loyalists, many of whom were relocated to Nova Scotia. There, discrimination and betrayal persisted. Some did get land, second-rate, rocky and far-flung though
it was. But many, unable to work it, became indentured servants, which was little better than re-enslavement. In 1792, fifteen ships carrying 1,196 people sailed from Halifax for Sierra Leone to establish the colony of Freetown - a utopian dream of British abolitionists that resulted, for many, in tragedy. Schama brings more than a fresh historical perspective to the story. His writing is vivid, his sense of place sublime, his eye for detail and description extraordinary. The book offers compelling portraits of a host of people, from the fiery and resolute Thomas Peters, the first real African-American political leader, who died in Sierra Leone, to Granville Sharp, the moralistic and eccentric British abolitionist who was the instigator of Sierra Leone’s first black settlement. Schama views them all, even the do-gooders, with a sceptical but gentle wit. Throwing this new light on the African-American experience and the American Revolution is more than just a matter of historical curiosity. The past is prologue; and there is such a thing as national character. Though Schama draws no connection with the present, his description of the Americans’ “posturing religiosity and their hollow cant of freedom” surely has echoes around the world today. Readers looking for the warmth of a familiar story well told should skip this book. But those desiring a fresher, deeper understanding of the United States, its origins and its historic character will find this wonderful volume essential, and very entertaining reading.