Two TRINITY NEWS
MASER by Aisling Deng
issue 10 29 Mar 2011
QUAINT NOTEPADS FOR WEEKEND PAGANS
Karl McDonald aving placed in my mouth sufficient bread for three minutes’ chewing, I withdrew my powers of sensual perception and retired into the privacy of my mind, my eyes assuming a vacant and preoccupied expression. I reflected on the subject of my spare-time editing activities. The reins are safely handed over to the eminently capable Alex Towers for next year and I’ve finished deleting semi-colons and exclamation marks for the final time. C’mere till I bore you at great length. The first editorial of the year was entitled ‘No Trivia’ in attempt to slip through some bravado by means of a Wu-Tang reference (and to imply that TN2 brings it to you “raw like cocaine straight from Bolivia”). Though we did wade fairly deeply into the waters of trivia pretty much constantly, I’m happy that we did some stuff no-one else was doing, in college media or otherwise, and presented it from the perspective of the Dublin university student rather than that of the person who wants to write for the Sunday papers when they grow up. This time last year I told then-Trinity News editor-elect Aoife Crowley that I wanted to do “smart writing about stupid shit and vice versa”. That’s pretty much a life motto by now. Jacques Derrida once humourlessly rebuffed an interviewer who ventured forth with a question about Seinfeld using deconstruction by saying that people should stop watching sitcoms and do their homework. But you can do both. And you probably do, maybe at the same time. So interviews with philosophers bumped shoulders with renderings of the Fade Street cast as the Sesame Street cast, and University Times editor Tom Lowe coldly but probably accurately called it Karl’s Fleeting Obsessions Fortnightly. Sorry Tom. But still, it’s hard not to get excited. It’s kind of mental to have the opportunity to put together a 28 page magazine every two weeks without any overly strenuous financial concerns or even a necessity to appeal to everyone. Who’s going to stop you? Magazines might be dropping in circulation, but this is a free one, and it’s cool to think that in some in-between times on a college day, a person you’ve never might and might never meet could be enjoying what you attempted to pass off as a legitimate publication. It’s been great working with everyone who’s contributed over the course of the year and finding space for the more surprising ideas various section editors had, and getting original visual stuff from illustrators and photographers has made up a lot of the personality the magazine had. So thanks to all those people, and to Aoife, Martin and Gearóid for making everything happen while I was stricken with the pangs on a dusty Bed-Stuy floor last summer. This issue’s cover feature is an interview with Maser, a man who communicates even more directly with the Dublin flaneur by writing, literally, on its walls. There’s also Matt and Kim, director Carmel Winters, Cloud Control and lots more stuff, including the regular sterling offerings of life analysis (via Oisín Murphy), telling you how to do stuff you probably never thought about trying to do (via Seán Mc Tiernan) and an existentialist sex column (via anonymous sex diarist). hope u enjoy. This issue’s cover feature is an interview with Maser, a man who communicates even more directly with the Dublin flaneur by writing, literally, on its walls. There’s also Matt and Kim, director Carmel Winters, Cloud Control and lots more stuff, including the regular sterling offerings of life analysis (via Oisín Murphy), telling you how to do stuff you probably never thought about trying to do (via Seán Mc Tiernan) and an existentialist sex column (via anonymous sex diarist). Hope you enjoy the issue, and do cool shit over the summer. And so the year’s iteration of TN2 is consigned to the Super 8 footage of memory. A thiarna bí ceansa ar Stringy Bob. Pile the logs. 2
Words: Karl McDonald, Photos: Peter Fingleton
on Conroy is a national institution. Anyone who grew up with The Den from the Zig-Zag-Zuppy-era up until the Socky era at some stage sat themselves down in front of the television and attempted to construct a recognisable animal from the instructions the venerable artist provided amiably from the screen. For some of us, it was as far as we got with ‘art’, blankfaced and disbelieving as we were when the circles on our sheet didn’t alchemise into a decent cartoon owl like Don’s did. Others probably found themselves on that page and decided to eventually go to NCAD and organise an event in the Bernard Shaw in the distant future in which Don Conroy would stand on a bench in the corner of the smoking area while hundreds of attentive onlookers pretended to be children again. Declan Hurley, Katie Lilga Mooney-Sheppard and Stéphane Béna Hanly were amongst the latter faction. One Facebook event page (and 886 pledged attendees) later, it was time for action. “I’ve ran a lot of nights in
ONE’S A LASH
the shaw and knew that this one was a bit special but i never thought it would be as big as it became. We were planning it quietly for quite a while so when we did announce it the massive reaction was great,” Hurley said. “There was a bit of concern about how things would go on the night. Especially about half an hour before Don arrived and the atmostphere in the Shaw was more insane than any gig i’d ever been too..” Don seemed amiable before he hit the stage, smiling his perma-smile while people approached him with platitudes. He seemed maybe a little embarrassed, but that’s probably fair given the circumstances. Apart from New Year’s Eve and the summer flea markets, the Shaw just basically does not get as busy as it was for Don. Was it, as cynics claimed, a damning indictment of the modern Irishman’s penchant for ironic detachment and nostalgia-based lols? Hipster irony gone mental? Or was it something pure, borne of genuine love for a giant of childhood? It’s difficult to fully tell, but it seems unfair on those who took up the prime positions with pen and pad to dismiss the whole thing. You can fake a lot of things, but innocence isn’t one of them. So with the place packed and buzzing and screens set up for those who couldn’t nab a place within eyeline,
“Was it, as cynics claimed, a damning indictment of the modern Irishman’s penchant for ironic detachment?”
Conroy stepped up. At this point I should point out that, because I decided never to hand-draw again after a teacher unnecessarily laughed at my poor rendering of a burning bush in a political cartoon in history class, I was not exactly front centre. And because I wasn’t front centre, I could only hear minor snippets of what was actually said. But from the back with a pint in hand, I laid myself open to the unique experience. It started something like this: - Don Conroy tells what is presumably a joke - Crowd laughs receptively. - Don Conroy sallies forth with another, slightlier more humorous joke. - Crowd laughs again with greater enthusiasm. - Don Conroy turns over his shoulder and, marker in hand, begins to draw. - Crowd reacts as if they’re in a packed football stadium and a goal has just been scored. From there, he’s away. People in their mid-20s sitting on the floor in a pub smoking area, drawing pictures of Dustin with blunting colouring pencils, oblivious to the world. Eating out of the palm of his hand. It’s quite a beautiful thing. 3
WANDERLIST #10 M USIC Sundays
Every day is not like Sunday. You don’t wake up on Tuesdays with your mouth tasting like a Sheffield coal mine, strips of your eyebrows mysteriously shaved, and a primordial urge to consume dead animals ASAP. As such, Sundays have their own distinct soundtrack, which sounds, usually, like this. Flying Lotus Kill Your Co-Workers A useful tool for forcing flashbacks of the night before that your conscience is trying to desperately to erase, FlyLo takes club music and makes it digestible over your morning fry. Come to terms with what you did. Finish your sausages. Bop your head. Lorn - None An Island Paper time! Get your Observer and reflect on columns of assuring words - no matter what you have done in the last 24 hours, somebody’s done worse. With knives. Unobtrusive, but nonetheless brain-massaging music is needed. Lorn is your Thai masseuse. Martha & the Vandellas - Your Love (Makes It All Worthwhile) Somnambulism is the easy option. But getting out on a Sunday for some cultural fulfillment will make you feel like a king. Any upbeat Motown music will get you back on your feet, but this song will squeeze on your shoes and tie your laces too. James Blake - I Only Know (What I Know Now) Back in the 90s, Sunday was Moby’s day. He actually owned the day. It was illegal to listen to anybody else. However, Moby is poor now, and had to auction the rights to Sunday away. James Blake went and bought it. Which is chill - he’ll keep you mellow without you needing to hear him every five minutes on a car ad. Low Motion Disco - Love Love Love You did it. It’s bedtime, and you haven’t gone at your own head with a hammer. Celebrate by listening to the most slow-burning but hugely gratifying thing you can. LMD make you wait 4 minutes before anything happens, but when it does. Well, when it does you’ll probably be asleep. But trust me. It’s deadly. Daniel Gray
TRINITYNEWS.IE E TC While you should certainly continue
to check out the melange of general online content of interest at our site, it seems appropriate to use this space to mention the Trinity News Archive site that launched last week at the Publications Alumni Dinner. The project of former Trinity News editor, TN2 designer and student Martin McKenna, the site has complete digital copies of the newspaper from 1953 to 1970, thanks to a donation by Colin Smythe. From the regular “A Woman’s Point Of View” column to the account of a ball cancelled because there were too many ligger, it’s genuinely really cool, and we’re not just saying that. trinitynewsarchive.com 4
I WANT TO SHARE DNA ART I N C OLLEGE
Double Helix by Brian King Outside the Genetics Building Brian King’s sculpture, Double Helix, was gifted to the college by Dr. Beate Schuler in 2003, and has come to be seen by many as one of the boundary markers of the Trinity campus, standing just inside the Lincoln Place gates to the college. It commemorates the discovery of the double helix structure of DNA in 1953, a monumental breakthrough in the study of genetics. The bronze sculpture takes the traditional coiling shape of the double helix, and morphs it into the form of a ring. The different shades of the metal meanwhile (caused by the exposure of the bronze to air) contrast in such a way as to emphasise the twisting profile of the artwork. The difficulty of achieving the complexity of this shape, and the skill with which the artist does so, are testament to King’s talents as a sculptor. Double Helix is probably the most fitting artwork on campus with which to finish the run of this column. Its subject matter and location call to mind the late, great geneticist Dr. George Dawson, whose valiant efforts during the 60’s and 70’s brought about the establishment of a Modern Art Collection here in Trinity. Without him, this column would not have been possible, and Trinity would undoubtedly be a much more boring place to study. Jennifer Duignam
I JUST WANNA BOOGIE WITH MARVIN FILM
Boogie Nights (1997) Poland To end this year’s selection of striking foreign film posters, we have one from the country whose posters originally inspired this feature. Why Poland in particular produces the most outlandishly stunning posters is a mystery. When Boogie Nights came out in 1997 most of the marketing was quite drab. Presumably the PR department were at a loss at how to sell a film about 1970s porn-stars. But it was the Polish designer Andrzej Krajewshi who jazzed things up for this one sheet. His colorful collage of 1920s art deco makes the cast of this superb drama look like the Muppets, but in a good way. Curiously it appears supporting actor Luiz Guzman is quite popular in Poland, as he gets top billing while star Mark Wahlberg is not even mentioned. Alex Towers
MAY CONTAIN TRACES OF: 29 March 2011
2 YES NO GAME SHOW Karl McDonald attends Draw With Don in the Bernard Shaw, which was pretty much like it sounds.
6 MATT VINYL Aisling Deng talks to Matt Johnson from Brooklyn fun pop duo Matt and Kim.
8 YOU COULD WIN A RABBIT Jennifer Duignam considers the history of illustration in children’s literature.
10 BLOG HOUSE Rose Ponsonby interviews three prominent Irish food bloggers about online food writing.
12 THE PLAY’S THE THING Jamie Leptien, Clara Kumagai and Edward Oliphand interview three new playwrights from the Abbey’s forthcoming season.
14 STYLE WARS Aisling Deng interviews elusive Irish graffiti artist Maser about life, art, Dublin and rain.
16 SNAPPA POW Alex Towers interviews Snap director Carmel Winters about her new film.
18 BLANKET OF CLOUD
BLUE AND YELLOW PURPLE PILLS FOOD Although the
management are keen to empathise that Happy Pills is very much not a head shop, the multi-coloured delight they provide is not exactly far removed from psychedlics. Happy Pills, located beside the Central Bank, sells sweets. But the sell sweets in a different way to your corner shop. Here when you enter the garishly illuminated décor you are encouraged to pick one of htree differnet sizes of medicine bottle and fill it with your selection of a whole galaxy of multicolured suckers, delighters, screamers, laughers and bon-bons. However if a bottle of sweets isn’t your thing they also offer milkshakes, speciality tea and coffee, sundaes, sodas and even those sugary American cereals they don’t sell in Ireland. Additionally the nice people who work there will virtually cater to your every desire- if you want to mash up a handful of jolly ranchers with several scoops of brown bread ice cream in a milkshake and slather the whole thing with imported american peanut butter- just say the word. Alex Towers
Catherine O’Keeffe interviews Australian band Cloud Control after their recent victory in the antipodean Mercury.
21 REVIEWS The Mountain Goats, Cavistons, Crysis 2, Werner Herzog and a bunch of other stuff are mercilessly withered/buoyantly endorsed by TN2’s writing staff.
26 THREESOMES WITH A FUCKING TRICERATOPS Oisín Murphy argues with Megan Nolan about pornography, which is awkward because they’re going out.
CONTRIBUTORS Editor: Karl McDonald. Deputy Editor/Editor-Elect: Alex Towers. Art: Jennifer Duignam, Catherine Gaffney. Books: Stuart Winchester, Kevin Breathnach. Fashion: Ana Kinsella, Aisling Deng. Film: Alex Towers, Mairéad Casey. Food: Sadhbh O’Brien, Rose Ponsonby. Games: Andy Kavanagh. Music: Gheorghe Rusu, Keith Grehan. Theatre: Jamie Leptien. TV: James Kelly, Michael Barry. Cover: Cáit Fahey Images: Peter Fingleton, Sadhbh O’Brien. Design: Gearóid O’Rourke, Martin McKenna. General assistance: Aoife Crowley. Fuelled by: cricket pitch awkwardness, taking a break from Lent, Smedia nominations, Pepsi Max. sitting on grass in the sun.
TN2 speaks to the eponymous Matt Johnson of Matt and Kim as they tour their third album, Sidewalks. The label ‘dance-punk’ has been liberally applied to your music. How would you personally describe your music? It refers to music you can dance to in a club or stage dive to. I would describe our music as something to have a sweaty dance party to. Why did you guys decide to start a band together? Well, we started the band with Kim having no idea how to play the drums and me playing the piano and totally started a band by accident. A friend of ours found out that we were trying to learn these instruments and made us play a show with them. We were armed with only three songs and had no name. So they simply called us by our names ‘Matt and Kim’. It sort of stuck and made sense. I’ve been in my share of four/five person bands and trying to get five dudes together at any given time to practice and have none of them be too hungover to operate seemed to be a problem. With the two of us, getting things done and making decisions is easier. When you have five people trying to write songs, everyone has a different idea of what songs should sound like, at the end you compromise so much that it gets watered down cos you’re trying to make everyone happy. That’s not how it’s like for all bands and when it all works it’s a special thing but for me being in a duo fits better. Offstage, you and Kim are in a relationship. Are the professional and personal sides 6
by Aisling Deng
separate? There basically is no separation. It’s 100% Matt and Kim. If we’re pissed off at each other for something that’s happening in the band we’re pissed off at each other going to bed at night. It’s the same thing. But we spend 25 hours a day working on this band... we’re never off the clock. How has your experience recording in a studio differed from a D.I.Y approach? When we recorded our first album in a studio in L.A. and we didn’t realise how long it took to record an album we were always asking people and guessed it would take a week. A week was far too little time to record an album and everything was rushed. For our second album, Grand, it was a different experience. Whatever time we wanted to try any shit that we wanted and it ended up that it worked out well except for the fact that we spent so much time trying to figure out how the hell you actually record something technically. So when it came to Sidewalks we had the money and time to work in a studio and however long we wanted. How did you choose Ben Allen as producer of Sidewalks? Well, it turned out that our manager knew Allen and we liked the stuff he’d done before like Gnarls Barkley’s Crazy in particular and Animal Collective’s Merriweather Post Pavilion.
And even with Christina Aguilera. We just wanted someone who had worked on different types of music and we don’t want to be pinned to a particular category. How do you vary the live sound from the studio version? I think of the two as very different formats. They’re different environments. It’s like looking at acting for theatre, TV and film... very subtle things characterise the performance on screen and on stage, dramatics are needed. In that way it’s quite similar. Add a tambourine to a part and it can change the course of a whole song when you’re recording. But on stage you gotta do dramatic things. Sometimes when we transfer our recorded songs live they end up much faster. What’s the scene like in Brooklyn? There’s not just one scene, there are several of which we’re a part of the D.I.Y one. I think that with so many people around doing creative things whether it’s photography, writing or music. It’s inspiring. People around you are trying to work really hard and that pulls everyone up and pushes them to strive to do better... There’s a track entitled ‘Grand’ on your debut, you named the previous album ‘Grand’ and the latest album is called ‘Sidewalk’, they all linking back to the streets. What has been your most memorable encounter on the streets of New York? We continue to live on Grand Street but we’re moving to another street in Brooklyn so it’ll be the end of our seven years there. It’s
funny, there’s a paper called the Village Voice in Brooklyn and we recently participated in a version of ‘Indie Cribs’ in our tiny apartment. That was a great memory to have and a kind of celebration of Grand Street for us. All the most memorable things that have happened to me are probably the bad ones. It was Halloween and we were walking to a friend of mines apartment. One of my two friends was dressed up as Mr. T, he had shaved the sides of his head, had the mohawk, chains etc. and these kids come up to us as we’re walking down the street and say ‘Yo throw ya wallet!’ Essentially they were trying to mug us and as we got to the front door, they just waited at the gate and repeatedly heckled ‘yo throw ya wallet!’ My friend was like ‘there are two things that piss me off about this situation: one you’re too lazy to come up here and properly rob me and two: you tried to rob Mr. T.’ And then we just walked inside. What is involved in the writing progress? When we’re going to record, we tape the bits and pieces we’ve come up with. Usually we start with some sort of beat we find inspiring and then I’ll try and run past all these little melodies and mix them together, see what fits and what doesn’t. At that point, Kim will say ‘I want to play everything twice as fast’. Lyrics always come last, it’s whatever the music feels like, it’ll tell us what the song should be like rather than have the notion ‘Oh I’m going to write a song about this’. It’s sort of the opposite way. The lyrics are hard, a lot of singers write the songs but for Kim and I it’s a joint process. How does the new record differ from the previous two? It’s evolved quite a lot. We were able to really give it a lot more focus than we could on our other albums. The important thing to remember is that we recorded our first album a year after we learned how to play our instruments in the first place. It’s a work in progress. The evolution has sort of progressed from one album to the next. While all of it sounds very Matt and Kim, our goal in the end has always remained the same, we wanna make music we
“THERE BASICALLY IS NO SEPARATION. IT’S 100% MATT AND KIM. IF WE’RE PISSED OFF AT EACH OTHER FOR SOMETHING HAPPENING IN THE BAND WE’RE PISSED OFF AT EACH OTHER GOING TO BED AT NIGHT.”
wanna hear. You can maybe just tell now that we’ve been playing music a little bit longer I guess. We’re still trying to keep it simple. We tried to stay like that during recording but it’s difficult. At times if there was too lush of a piano part or something, we’d stop and say WWMAKD (What Would Matt And Kim Do?) Matt and Kim would strip it back. The simplest answer is usually the best. Both of you attended art college. Do you guys have much creative input with regards the visual side of things? Yeah we started out doing everything ourselves, I mean from booking all of our own tours to me designing the t-shirts. I remember Kim burning the CDs in the back of a van whilst driving to shows. While things have now obviously evolved, in that we have partners, record labels, promotional managers, booking agents etc. We still want to be as involved with as much as we can possibly be. Kim still designs our album covers and I come up with the ideas for the music videos. The thing is, everything comes from us rather than a being whole bunch of different people’s ideas, not very Matt and Kim. We have a great team of people, we trust everyone and it fits well together. I don’t think bands should just give responsibility to put that weight on to other people. They should always have a hand in it. How did you get away with shooting ‘Lessons Learned’? Erykah Badu followed in your footsteps but caused some controversy. Well I think a part of that, for her was that she did her video in Texas, it’s a lot more conservative than New York City. I feel that in Times Square, when you watch the video you can tell who the tourists are, they had their cameras out and were shooting, whereas the locals were jaded like ‘Get out of my way, I’ve seen far crazier things’ We had a number of real cops, we shot five or six takes. The first half with our clothes on and the second without. Really every time we shot, a new set of police came up. You’re not supposed to be shooting in Time Square unless you have a permit and we had a pretty big camera, it was a small crew. But we had our producer standing with the camer person as we were walking. The paper work that we had gotten to shoot, we had a permit but it wasn’t totally legit in the sense that we couldn’t get a permit to shoot a music video but we had a permit for a web promotional video and we didn’t necessarily discuss everything we were going to shoot, you have describe what you’re going to shoot. I wrote: ‘Two tourists walk through Times Square, dressed inappropriately for the weather.’ That doesn’t have the whole truth but it generally says it. What’s been your favourite place to play? New York used to always have the number one rank cos it’s our hometown. Generally our best shows are just where people go the wildest. When we can see that, it really gets us excited. Now that its spread everywhere, even our show in London last night was sweaty. It’s really where people don’t worry if they get their clothes dirty.
TV DIARY #10
by James Kelly And so it comes to an end. We were just kidding ourselves when we said we would last forever. This is the last TV Diary of the year, and I am writing to you from Amsterdam. One thing I’ll tell you, Dutch TV is a bit strange. It just made me realise how blessed we are to speak English and not have to worry about subtitling and terrible voice overs. But you don’t come to Amsterdam to watch telly, that’s for sure. I want to take this opportunity to cast an eye over the forthcoming summer TV season, while looking at some of the best the last season had to offer. One show changed the face of Irish TV this year. One show broke new ground in story-telling, in drama, in excellence. Yes, that’s right, it’s Fade Street. Unfortunately for Fade Street, much of the momentum built up during the initial hype seems to have dissipated, and the time slot shuffle to the late night Monday night position, it looks like our dear Fade Street will not be long for this world. Maybe there’ll be a better future in Marbella? The stand out of British TV for me this past year has probably been Bedlam. It’s not particularly original, or inspiring but there’s something a little bit addictive about it. It looks like Bedlam will be returning in 2012, so keep an eye out for it. Skins deserves an honourable mention. US TV output is obviously much more extensive and diverse than Britain and Ireland, and this year there have been a few stand out shows. Top of the pile for me this year have been the fantastic The Walking Dead, Glee has bounced back to be one of the most interesting network shows and Dexter has been on top form. Summer shows will be starting en masse soon enough,, but until then both United States of Tara and Nurse Jackie are back on air - two fantastic shows. The big name summer show starting is Game of Thrones, starring Sean Bean. The summer staple True Blood will be returning for its fourth run, and I am sure the rabid True Blood fanbase will be all over this. Damages is back from the grave, and after a shaky second season, the third was better than ever. The Killing looks great, and of course Mad Men will be returning after the shock ending of last season. And so, that was your year in TV. The summer season is shaping up to be the best ever, so keep an eye out for shows over the coming months! 7
DON’T LET OUR YOUTH GO TO WASTE he illustration of children’s books is a field of art generally overlooked by modern commentators. Often considered of secondary importance to the text they accompany, these pictures are viewed by some critics as merely a visual description of what appears on the page. However, an enormous amount of artistic skill and aesthetic consideration goes into the creation of these images, which take the imagination of the writer and translate it to his audience in an understandable and recognisable format. I for one can’t separate the experience of reading a Roald Dahl book from that of viewing the wonderful illustrations created by Quentin Blake. The two elements go hand in hand, Blake’s artwork giving Dahl’s creations an identity and individualism, Dahl providing Blake with the source material for a whole host of original, creative images. Quentin Blake began drawing at a very young age, but his interest in children’s literature really developed during his 20’s, when he managed to persuade a friend of his, John Yeoman, to write a children’s book for him to illustrate. A Drink of Water was the result of their collaboration and acted as a spring board for Blake’s career in illustration, where he worked with such renowned authors as Russell Hoban, Michael Rosen and Joan Aiken. He went on to write his own children’s 8
book, Patrick, which he described as a protest of sorts. Frustrated at being thought of as purely a black and white artist, he developed Patrick as a means of proving his critics wrong and to give himself the opportunity to create coloured illustrations for the first time. Blake’s most successful partnership though was with Roald Dahl, who the artist says differed from other authors in that he “actually wanted the pictures – he didn’t like it if there weren’t enough.” The author was so enthusiastic about Blake’s images in fact, he made changes to the original story of The BFG after the artist expressed concerns over the title character’s costume. The BFG was originally supposed to wear a big leather apron and knee-high boots. On seeing Blake’s original artwork for the book, Dahl agreed that the boots were too dull and the apron to cumbersome to be realistic. So the pair worked together to develop a new image for
“ROALD DAHL ACTUALLY WANTED THE PICTURES – HE DIDN’T LIKE IT IF THERE WEREN’T ENOUGH.”
the BFG, ultimately arriving at the character we know and love so well today. Blake and Dahl worked together for 15 years until Dahl died in 1975, collaborating on a total of nineteen books. Blake has come to be thought of as a national treasure in Britain, largely thanks to this partnership. His style is somewhat sketchy at times, with broad washes of colour and shading, while his figures tend to be quite angular, almost jagged around the edges. In 1999, he was appointed the first ever Children’s Laureate, a post designed to boost the profile of children’s literature, and in 2002 he won the Hans Christian Andersen Award for Illustration, the highest international honour awarded to those who create children’s books. With his artworks Blake manages to tell stories without a single word, making him one of Britain’s most successful and best loved illustrators. Another greatly treasured English illustrator is Beatrix Potter, who was born on July 28th 1866. She was a shy, reserved child who sought solace in drawing, usually choosing to depict subjects from nature and the world around her in her early sketches. Her father had always been interested in art, and sometime brought the young Beatrix to exhibitions at the Royal Academy in London. This, alongside his friendships with prominent artists of the period, most notably the Pre-Raphaelite painter John Millais, had a strong influence on his daughter. She began drawing in earnest in her teens, illustrating the texts of her
favourite fairytales and creating paintings and sketches of local landscapes, until one day in 1893 she sent a letter to the a young boy, who was ill in bed at the time, that would change her career forever. The letter in question was addressed to Noel Moore, the five-year old son of one of Beatrix’s former governesses, who was suffering from scarlet fever. Potter wrote: “My dear Noel, I don’t know what to write to you, so I shall tell you a story about four little rabbits...” The tale that followed was Peter Rabbit, and was accompanied by a series of hand painted illustrations, creating a picture
“THE STORIES OF DR. SEUSS ARE FILLED WITH IMAGINARY BEASTS AND CREATURES, LEAVING THE ARTIST IN GEISEL HUGE ROOM TO USE HIS IMAGINATION”
letter of sorts. The success of the story with her young pen pal encouraged Beatrix to develop the story into a book, and to seek out a publisher. However, she was turned down by every firm she visited. So, using her entire savings, Potter decided to privately publish the tale herself, printing 250 copies with full colour illustrations just in time for Christmas. The books were a huge success, and the author had to print a further 200 less than two weeks later in order to meet demand. A publishing deal soon followed, resulting in a total of 23 books, all written and illustrated by the author. Beatrix’s charming collection of characters, including Jemima Duck, Mr. Tod, Mrs. Tittlemouse and the famous Peter Rabbit, has ensured her books remain eternally popular – The Tale of Peter Rabbit for example, has remained continuously in print since it was first published in 1902. Another author/illustrator whose work has proved immensely popular with numerous generations is that of American artist Ted Geisel, more commonly known as Dr. Seuss. Geisel made his name in advertising before becoming an author and illustrator of children’s literature. His first book – an ABC of fanciful creatures, plucked from his imagination – proved unpopular with publishers too, and Geisel never managed to print it. The second book he created, And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street was also something of a disaster until an old friend from college, who had just been appointed the juvenile editor
of Vanguard Press, agreed a deal with Geisel to publish his book. What followed was an extremely prolific career for the author, with over forty books written and illustrated under the pseudonym Dr. Seuss. The stories of Dr. Seuss are filled with imaginary beasts and creatures, with such elaborate names as the Flannel Winged Jay, the Jill-ikka-Jast and the Tizzle Topped Grouse, leaving the artist in Geisel huge room to use his imagination during the illustration process. The results are often a strange hybrid of features from a number of different animals and humans, and are always jam packed with originality. Two of his most famous characters, the Cat in the Hat and the Grinch, Geisel modelled after himself, with a number of his self-portraits in later years using images of both as representations of the author. The colour palette he usually uses consists of strong, primary colours, which create extremely striking images. As a result his art has come to typify the illustration of Children’s literature for many people, embodying the best the genre has to offer. As the works of these artists show, illustrating a children’s book is not merely the process of providing a visual description of the story; it is a highly artistic, original form of art which proves that just because an image is created for people with less height, less vocabulary, and a younger age does not make it any less a valid form of artistic expression. Jennifer Duignam 9
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EAT by Rose Ponsonby
he Irish ‘blogosphere’ is booming, and food blogs are springing up as fast burrito bars in Dublin. Some of Ireland’s top food bloggers offer their thoughts on the Irish food blog scene, how to make your blog a success, and whether blogging is essential for anyone hoping to make it journalism today. What inspired you to get into blogging and what did you aim for with your blog. Kristen: I started blogging in July 2009. I’d been reading food blogs for years and finally decided to throw my hat into the ring as well. My co-blogger, Kelly, and I both love to cook and wanted to share our favourite tried and tested recipes with other busy parents or people with hectic schedules who still want to get a tasty dinner on the table. Caroline: I first got interested in blogs around 2003, started blogging in 2005, while I was living in New Zealand. Peter: I was working as a journalist beforehand, as an editor with the food magazine at The Independent, and it was Jean O’Brien’s (co-founder of CheapEats) idea that we start a blog. We’ve been blogging for about two years now; we started the site in 2009. I suppose the reason we started was that we thought it would be a nice little side-project, we both really like food and we felt there was a gap in the market for something like [CheapEats]. How did you go about building up your contacts, online and in the ‘real’ world as such? Peter: I think one of the main things for any blogger to do is to become familiar with the blogging community in Ireland, as it’s quite small. We contacted other bloggers to let them know about the site, and we got people to do some guest posts for us. It does help to integrate yourself into the blogging community, introduce yourself to other bloggers, and to contact journalists who you think might be interested in what you have to say. Kristin: I wouldn’t say I’ve built up contacts, but rather have made friends, both in the virtual world and in the real world. The food blogging community is still relatively small
“THERE IS SO MUCH ENTHUSIASM FOR BLOGGING AND I’M CONSTANTLY IMPRESSED AT HOW FRIENDLY, WELCOMING AND GENEROUS THE COMMUNITY IS.”
and people have been able to meet face to face in the past year, which has further spurred the community’s growth. Caroline: It happened organically, from meeting people both online and in the real world. Did you find the experience of blogging and breaking into the industry challenging? Caroline: Bibliocook wasn’t very easy to set up initially. It was still early days for many blog platforms, there was no way of networking through Facebook and Twitter and few places to go for information on things like photographing food. I really enjoy blogging – there’s no point in doing it otherwise! - but in terms of the industry, you’re only as good as the last piece you’ve had published or broadcast. Peter: One of the main things for us was news of the site spreading by word of mouth, and we got quite a lot of interest from the press as well. We were mentioned in the Irish Times a couple of times and that saw our traffic increase. Most important though I think, is staying connected to the blogging community and letting them know about any new developments on the site. Are you impressed by the level of Irish food blogging as a whole? Peter: There has been a huge explosion in blogging of all sorts particularly in the past two or three years. And there’s lots of very good Irish food blogs out there. Donal Skehan is doing great things with his blog and he’s really shown how to use it as a platform to engage with a wider audience. I think what CheapEats has done is a little bit different because we’re the only food blog that I know of that really has food features, restaurant reviews, recipes, stuff about supermarkets, we’ve got a good mix of content. Other blogs may be very recipe or restaurant review focused. Kristin: Absolutely - there is so much enthusiasm for blogging and I’m constantly impressed at how friendly, welcoming and generous the community is. Caroline: Yes – there’s always plenty to read about, which wasn’t the way when I started off in 2005! I’ve been amazed and delighted at the growth of food blogging in Ireland but it was only when Donal Skehan of Good Mood Food, and Bord Bia organised a get together that I realised just how many people were out there. Favourite Irish food blogs? Kristin: The great thing about food blogs is that they’re all unique and have a different angle, so it’s hard to choose! I never miss a post by Bibliocook, Basketcase and Donal Skehan, three very different blogs. Caroline: DinnerduJour.com, naturally! The Daily Spud, I Can Has Cook, I Married an Irish Farmer Peter: Italian Foodies, Val’s Kitchen, Lily Higgins’ blog ‘Things I Make, Bake and Love’, and Sour Grapes for wine. How active is the Irish Food Bloggers Association and what is its main role?
Kristin: I see the IFBA’s main role as a place where all the food bloggers can discover and connect with each other and where information about meet-ups, events, etc. is as accessible as possible. Otherwise, we try to keep our finger on the pulse of the food blogging and foodie scene and keep people informed of foodie events, news, job openings and competitions as well as writing and photography tips. So far we have 200 members on the IFBA site itself, almost 500 Facebook fans and nearly 1,200 Twitter followers. I think things will only continue to get better and more exciting for the IFBA and food bloggers in Ireland! Is a blog a must have for any aspiring journalists? Peter: For me the journalism came before the blog, which I know is different to a lot of people. I think it’s almost essential now to have a blog if you want to become a journalist as there’s so much competition in the market now, particularly with the newspaper market shrinking and undergoing a lot of change. It gives you a chance to really specialize and get your teeth into a subject. I think blogs are a new training ground for journalism, and I think they’re a very effective one. Caroline: Writing is the most important thing, whether you do it on a blog or for a freesheet can often be irrelevant but I’ve found that Bibliocook does give me a place to showcase my work and keep it all together. Do you have any tips for breaking into the world of food journalism? Caroline: It’s not easy! I often spend more of my time pitching ideas than actually working. To be honest, I wouldn’t recommend it for anyone who hopes to make more than the minimum wage. It is best if you can combine writing/broadcasting about food with something else which may give you a more regular income. Peter: I think journalism is kind of a little bit vocational. I always think that if you want to get into something you should do it. It’s not like there are no jobs at all, it’s a bit tougher than it used to be, but that’s the same in every industry. I don’t think a [journalism] degree or masters is necessary, I never did one and I’m working full-time as a journalist.
Peter McGuire is co-founder of the CheapEats blog, and works as a freelance journalist. CheapEats focuses on eating well in Dublin while getting value for money. Caroline Hennessy is the woman behind Bibliocook, and co-founder of The Irish Food Bloggers Association. Ballymaloe trained, Caroline also works as a freelance journalist and broadcaster. Kristen Jensen is one half of the duo behind Dinner Du Jour, a blog which focuses on family cooking and is a finalist for Best Food/Drink Blog in the Irish Blog Awards 2011. Kristin is also the co-founder of The IFBA alongside Caroline Hennessy. 11
LET’S PLAY, RIGHT?
Three interviews with three playwrights at the Abbey 12
she is a fan, our conversation turned to one of her immediate concerns for contemporary theatre: its class status. “Theatre is sadly conservative in England and Ireland,” she said matter-of-factly. “It focuses a bit too much on classical realism, especially in England, and is also a very middleclass pursuit.” “The stigma, or prestige, whichever way you want to look at it, attached to going to theatre or opera is kind of double-edged, some people covet it, and some people absolutely reject it. I think it’s something we don’t take great care of. I don’ t know very many writers from working class backgrounds.” Class difficulties aside, Gregg is enthusiastic about theatre as a medium through which current issues might inspire discussion. “It’s quite exciting to see people becoming more politicized at the moment. I feel like the most powerful theatre has something to say and ideally it should say something that at least resonates, if it doesn’t directly address issues that we’re trying to understand today. Surely the point of most art is to hold up a question, to hold up humanity and explore that.”
could help remove the shrink-wrap. “It’s about censorship, and fictionalisation of young people, through the internet.” Edward Oliphand
There was no flash of divine inspiration to set Paul Mercier on the path to the Abbey, where he meets me with an air of slightly distracted energy. “I had never any intention or ambition to be in theatre. I fell into it. If there was any theatre or acting course, there was no way I was doing it. But what happened was I Like so many of the greats of Irish theatre, got involved in university drama, completely past and present, Nancy Harris was heavby accident. I was simply asked to do someily involved in the Players’ theatre. But if you thing and I did it. Now, it wasn’t great, but I were to look her up in the records of the socithought, Jesus, there’s something here. I can ety, you’ d find no writing credits to her name: do something with this.” “No, I didn’t write for Players’. I was too selfMercier certainly could do something with conscious. I was afraid of what people might “this”. The Abbey commissioned The East Pier think. I did lots of acting, some directing, and The Passing, both of which he has directed lights, anything really.” and both of which are currently running in Anyone who has ever feared fulfilling their alternation. He makes the transition from the potential will understand her reasons: “I UCD Drama Soc stage to the National Theatre think because I was a shit actor, I didn’t mind appear disarmingly straightforward, despite doing that, whereas I thought that writing the thirty years in between. “When I was your was something I could maybe do well, and so age,” he says with his soft-spoken vehemence, I shied away from it.” “the world was changing so fast and theatre The theatre world might have been robbed wasn’t reflecting that. And I thought, well, if of her writing talent altogether had Nancy not others aren’t doing it, well accidentally finished third I’m going to give a stab at year one module short, and it.” had to take on the playEasy. But Mercier writing option in fourth learned by doing, setting year to compensate. up his company Passion What she found there Machine in 1984 and gowas an invitation to write ing on to write and direct a in her own voice, free from dozen plays, several short the shackles of academic films and the TG4 series convention. When people Aifric. When he started reacted enthusiastically out, there was a similar to the readings of the onedearth in funding to the act play she finished the one facing artists now. “If course with, Nancy took I had submitted any of my the hint: “After I wrote the scripts, or asked for adfirst play, I knew that was vice, or looked for money, I what I wanted to do.” wouldn’t be talking to you No Romance, Harris’ now. If I had listened to first major production in the ‘No’ culture I couldn’t Ireland, was striking for have done it.” Mercier’s the frankness with which pragmatic experience is it faced up to some of soimpatiently simple. “I set ciety’s thorniest stigmas. up a company and started When I ask Nancy about making plays. And it had Clara Kumagai speaking to Paul Mercier in the Abbey. Photo by Maedhbh McHugh. the difficulties of presenting nothing to do with getting subjects such as cancer to an funding. It’s got to do with audience, she is as honest as the need to do something.” Gregg worries about how the arts might the play: “I never thought about how people For a man who earns his bread with drama, endorse an attitude of unengaged passivity: would react to it when I was writing it. SomeMercier certainly does not cultivate any of it “There s an insidious link between theatre times I’d worry that I’m putting too much of personally. “I am not a showman. And I am and TV and intellectual laziness. A lot of my myself on stage, or that it’ s too personal, but not a theatre person. You know more about problem with natural realism is that it’s not at in the end it was about being honest and truththeatre than I do. I had something I felt I want- all enlightening or challenging, and a lot of the ful to myself.” Nancy’ s bravery in believing in ed to say and that was the medium through time it’s very spoon-fed, and again a lot of that her own voice does not extend to solipsism: which I was going to do it. It’s got nothing to was down to production- led theatre, where she stresses again and again the importance do with me wanting to be in theatre, or want- people worry about how they might sell the of feedback for budding playwrights. ing to be in the Abbey. I’m only here ‘cause idea, what kind of genre it is, and it’ s all a bit The benefit of doing an MA in PlaywritI’ve got something to say. Or I think I do. Or shrink-wrapped.” ing in Birmingham, she says, was not to learn people think I do.” Clara Kumagai And how might we remove the shrink playwriting technique so much as to receive wrap? “I think it’s a cultural question. But it the encouragement and criticism of a dedineeds to come from the people who have the cated, experienced mentor: power, the big so-called movers and shakers, “If you can save up the money to do a in the theatre industry, taking more risks, course, do it. You need to follow your own Stacey Gregg is a young, Cambridge edu- pushing that higher up the agenda. Of course voice but equally you need people to tell you cated playwright from Belfast. Her new play, it’ s tough because they need to survive finan- what works and what doesn’t.” Whatever you Perve , opens in May at the Peacock Theatre. cially, but it’ s glorious when you see a big the- do, don’t settle for “shit actor” over “budding Last week I interviewed her by telephone. Af- atre taking a punt on something a bit risky.” playwright”. ter chatting about Louis MacNeice, of whom Perve, Gregg’s Abbey debut set for May, Jamie Leptien
PAINT A VULGAR PICTURE by Aisling Deng
ur fair city has got its very own Leonardo da Vinci, an artist who has worked through the dirt- and grime-greased streets, to bring about an Urban Renaissance with his ‘Maser Loves You’ campaign. Like da Vinci he is an intelligent innovator. From utilising traditional methods of cartoon like stencils to create his typography led designs to inventing tools such as a three-bike portable scaffolding. His blend of graffiti and pop art figuratively inspired by Roy Lichtenstein, which hints at Andy Warhol’s bold tones, is visually arresting. His heart is quite literally in the streets. Stemming from ‘Maser Loves You,’ the artist went on to collaborate with the singer Damien Dempsey on ‘They Are Us’, not only raising awareness but also €29,229 of much needed funds for the homeless. So how did you first get into graffiti? Drinking and smoking down the lanes like most teens. We started writing our names on the walls where we use to hang out, our ‘drinkin spots’ of sorts. I guess that’s the first marks I made. Starting noticing tags such as Rizm (who was my mate’s bigger brother) and other names like Fresh one, I realised then that there was more to this than a drunken scribble. What’s the process, from initial conception to final product, like? Depends on what you want to achieve. Obviously more complex pieces take much more thought/time, or like the They Are Us project, there was a style of sign writing that I needed to research and adhere to. Most good ideas come to me when I’m on the bus or just before I fall asleep, I got a few crackers last night! 14
How different is working on concrete from canvas? Difference would be like free range organic chicken to battery farmed chicken. What was your experience in art college like? Has it prepared you for what you’re doing now? I studied Fine Art, dropped out because I couldn’t palette it. Went back to being a kitchen porter, then became a comi-chief, realised I didn’t want to be an alcoholic, so returned to college to study Graphics. You don’t come out with any life skills but I got a better understanding of what I didn’t want to do. Can you elaborate on what ‘Maser Loves You’ and ‘Urban lover’ represent? My love for Dublin. When I was younger, me
“I HAVE THIS NEED TO PAINT AND TELL A STORY OF SORTS THROUGH IT. I CAN’T TELL YOU WHY, I JUST DO. WHY DID SONIA O’SULLIVAN KEEP RUNNING?”
and my mates would always be saying “can’t wait to get out of this kip.” With graffiti I got the opportunity to travel a lot. The more I did, the more I realised how much I missed this city. I’d be so homesick sometimes, I’d ring my girlfriend the second day of a three week trip dying to come back. I missed the creature comforts of this city. So I decided to tell people how I felt. I’ve met a lot of homeless over the years in Dublin. They’re the only heads who’d chill with me while I paint, guess they had fuck all else to do. I learned a lot from them, self-reflection and all, so a lot of it is a homage to them, to let them know that I’m thinking about them, that they aren’t on their own. What are the main obstacles/difficulties you’ve come across being a graffiti artist in Dublin? And in your opinion what are the challenges graffiti art faces? Biggest, honestly? The fuckin rain! You have a great spot on the corner of the Shaw. How did that come about? Is there a good market for graffiti writers in Ireland? I called into them, showed them a few flicks and started painting. They’re good guys, they understand. I created a commercial market for graffiti here because I needed to make money. I was sick of workin for someone else. The key to life is “to get get paid for what you love to do” – no matter now little it is! You’ve previously collaborated with the singer Damien Dempsey. What was that experience like? How do you approach a project with artists from different fields/ disciplines? You meet him in a pub and have a pint. Is that not how all good business deals go down? There was no envelopes this time though.
I had a basic idea, met up, explained and it grew from there. Damo is 200%. I’ve listened to Damo’s music for years so I felt like I already knew the fella. You’re a part of the TDA Klann, Foes Crew to name but a few. What’s the graffiti community like amongst writers in Ireland? You’re also affiliated with collectives such as Choice Cuts. How is graffiti art perceived within the visual art world? TDA Klann are like family, hence the name. Drinking buddies, flatmates, messers. Graffiti is what I do, it’s not a hobby, so every thing/ person/friend I meet or work with is affiliated with graffiti. Rizm works in Choice Cuts so there has always been a strong link between me and those guys. Graffiti has always been a part of the visual art world. Well, the ‘free’ visual art world, fellow peasants can enjoy it too. What strikes me about your work is the strong typography and identifiable characteristics such as the ‘drips’. What defines Maser? In your opinion, what makes your
work unique? I don’t really think about it. That would mean you’d have to waste your time looking back ‘why am I so unique?’ – it’d take an arrogant person to do that. I’d rather look forward to the day ahead. From your fifteen or so years as a graffiti writer, what has been the memory/experience that stands out the most? The oddest or the most rewarding... Before graffiti was ‘cool’, those were the best days. Just a few of us, all mates doing our thing. So back then the most rewarding stuff would be the most risk-taking stuff, paint at night, having to sleep rough just to get flicks when it’s bright, knowing that security are still looking for you. Good times. Now I channel my energy differently. Recently, the most rewarding would be giving the Dublin Simon Community 30k (from the sales of the They Are Us exhibition) to purchase a much needed medical van for the homeless. What projects are you currently working
“BIGGEST DIFFICULTY HONESTLY? THE FUCKING RAIN.” on? This is a bleedin’ project, you’ve fuckin loads of questions! Just working on a stop animation piece at the mo, besides from that trying to pay my rent like most of us. What gets you up in the morning and drives/motivates you? What has most recently inspired you? Everyone has their down days, sometimes it’s a struggle to stay positive. What drives me is the want for a better life, it keeps my eye on the ball. I have this need to paint and tell a story of sorts through it. I can’t tell you why, I just do. Why did Sonia O’Sullivan keep running?
SNAP BACK TO REALITY by Alex Towers
teenager steals a baby. In terms of premise it doesn’t seem very different to the numerous Hollywood thrillers like Gone Baby Gone and Taken. But Carmel Winter’s debut feature Snap is unlike any other thriller. In fact classifying it into particular genre is impossible. Winters herself describes it as a “forensic psychological drama/thriller” as she feels that while it functions as a thriller, the best aspects of the story actually come from your own interpretation. Unsurprisingly the kidnapping premise is only the beginning of a gradual reveal of more sinister forces at work. But what is surprising is the dark twisted family drama that Winters fashions from a number of different viewpoints with a steadily inexorable dread. The film follows the teenager’s mother years after the kidnapping as she invites a camera crew into her home to discuss her son’s crime and the national scandal it caused. But the film also tells the teenagers story, as he hides in his grandfather’s apartment and deals with the abducted infant. However these are only the sparse details of the initial set-up and the film soon expands 16
into something that will linger long after the credits. I spoke with the films director as Snap is released Irish cinemas. Although earning critical praise as well as taking the Best Irish Director and Best Irish Film awards at the Dublin Film Critics Circle awards, making the film was not an easy task. Where did the idea for Snap come from and then how did it develop into a film? There were really two things I did prior to writing the film that informed it. The first was a one-woman play and the second was a scenario I developed for trainee psychiatrists that dealt with the dynamic of a mother and son. It got such an interesting reaction that it transformed from there. So it had its origins in psychiatry? I don’t put a real division between psychiatry and drama. The origins of both coincide. Most decent novels will delve deeply into the human psyche as any human emotion. So while you might spend eighteen hours reading a novel you only have ninety minutes watching a film. So I wanted to go as deep with characters in the film as with a novel. I wanted the characters to stay with you and that dominos would set off a deeper resonance in your mind.
The film is told not in most conventional manner- how did you approach telling the story like this? Everything unspooled form the dynamic between the characters. I decided to follow an emotional chronology instead of an event chronology. I think that we live with the illusion that we’re constantly marching forward in time when in our inner life we’re always spinning back to past periods of our life. I think that there is a lot more emotional intelligence following that internal chronology than following a normal plot. While I have a great respect for plot I also have a suspicion- it can hold characters hostage. So how did this inform actually making the film? I’m someone who prepares within an inch of my life but then lets go. Having written the script as well meant I always knew where I was going. I think the acknowledgement to what I have done as a director was really done in the script. Was shooting in Cork something you felt integral to the film? I felt the film could have been shot anywhere. I actually tried to shave away any references
“I BROUGHT MY DOG LUCKY ONTO THE SET AND THEN ASKED TO WHOLE CREW TO DANCE THE HOKEY-POKEY...“ that placed it in Cork. I really thought the external environment of the film is just a translation of the psyche. The whole film takes place within people’s minds and the camerawork reflects this - shooting through mobile phones and such. It is a very claustrophobic and deliberately locked down space we created. I think the world of film is all about placebut the place of this film is in the mind. But setting the film in the mind means a lot of expectation was placed on the actors, which they certainly delivered. But how did working with the actors inform the film? The film was 90% done in casting. But I would
say that I work very obliquely with actors. One thing I was clear about is the tone, which I think a lot of Irish films confuse. So I really took the time to convey the tone of the film we were aiming for. An actor is reading tone from everything, even your voice and expression when you’re talking about the film. So I spoke about the film in very particular ways and reiterated the metaphors and imagery. But working with a baby must have been challenging to capturing the right aesthetic? He was the risk factor. So it was about preparation and predicting the unpredictable. But
“...THEN HE TODDLED INTO THE SCENE AND WE SHOT IT.” this is the opposite of how a film crew works. The first day he was very shy. So I brought my dog lucky on to the set and then asked to whole crew to dance the hokey-pokey. Then he toddled into the scene and we shot it. This is what we did every day from then on. He was one and half and had no concentration.
I planned on choosing the two year old but I liked the resemblance between him and the actor playing the teenager, which was crucial. My theory is that when you work very hard to get the right conditions, the perfect conditions land in your lap. And he landed in my lap. It seems to be a film that really hinges on personal interpretation, would you agree? That is completely it. Contained within the film is a multitude of interpretations. Groups of people have actually waited for me after screenings asking me to tell them who was right and wrong in their interpretation. But every one of them would be right in their own way. Some focused on the script, some on the subtext. Two women even had a wager on it that I was supposed to resolve, but I just said that both their readings were equally close. Was this personal interpretive experience something you always aimed for? I think if the film didn’t invite different interpretations then I would not have done my job. Contained within the film are characters that interpret events in different ways. So the idea of interpreting events in your own richer, personal way is crucial. My ambitions was that what was happening to the audience would mirror what is at stake for the characters. 17
CLOUD CONTROL by Catherine O’Keeffe
onsidering the isolation of Cloud Control’s native Blue Mountains, it’s perhaps not surprising that their music sounds like it recently emerged from a time capsule by way of an American Apparel store. As recent winners of the Australian Music Prize, the antipodean equivalent of the Mercury, they are currently embarking on a tour of Europe. TN2 calls guitarist/vocalist Alister Wright to discuss, amongst other things, daytime TV. How would you describe your music? Maybe I would say that we’re a rock ‘n’ roll band. We’ve got a classic bass, drums, guitar, keyboard setup. But then it gets different, cos all of us sing, so we’ve got a lot of harmonies. We listen to a lot of different music, from like, shoegaze, to electronica, hip hop, things like that. We’re rock ‘n roll, but our influences are wide-reaching. Are any of those influences particularly evident in your music? What I said before, but the thing that ties it together is that we always use old recording techniques. We record to tape, and we do it live. So that gives it a nostalgic kind of flavour, even if the arrangement is slightly more modern. I might just say we’re influenced by our friends’ bands over here in the Blue Mountains. Belles Will Ring, they recorded their album like that and we were really impressed with how they did it. Using those techniques just appeals to me, things like only a couple of microphones on the drum-kit, a mono drumkit instead of this deep, stereo thing with loads of panning. Is there a scene in the Blue Mountains as such? How big of a place is it? It’s pretty small, man. I don’t think there’s a scene, because if you’re a band in the Blue Mountains, you have to travel into Sydney to play. But there’s quite a few bands that have 18
come out of here. So there’s not really a scene, but there’s a lot of opportunity to make music. It’s a pretty quiet place, not a lot of things going on, but there’s lot of garages and we can jam in them. What about Sydney? Is there a scene there? How close-knit is it? There’s a lot of good bands, and it’s not a huge city, so you do get to know most of the people playing the same kind of music as you. Everyone’s really good friends. We’re great friends with everyone we’ve taken on tour, and we still hang out and go to parties and stuff like that when we’re in town. It’s pretty tight. Anyone you’d recommend? Yeah, for sure. I would say The Jezabels, you might have heard of them already. Seekae. Or Deep Sea Arcade. And all of those bands are coming over to the UK and Europe in the next year or so, probably worth checking that out. How big of a difference has winning the Australian Music Prize made to you? I’m not sure how much of a difference it’s made. I’ve only been in the country for [counting mentally] 24 hours? Less than 24 hours. I haven’t been back very long, so I don’t really know. A good thing about winning that was
“BLUE MOUNTAINS IS A PRETTY QUIET PLACE, NOT A LOT OF THINGS GOING ON, BUT THERE’S LOTS OF GARAGES AND WE CAN JAM IN THEM.”
the cash, ‘cause we’re all quite poor at the moment. Having a little bit of money when we come overseas would be really good. Apart from that, it’s a cool award, because it’s voted on by other artists, and it’s not really based on sales. Out of all the possible music awards we could win in Australia, it’s probably the only one we would feel honoured to win, or one of the only ones. Has the Internet made a big difference in getting your music, and other Australian bands, to a wider audience? Yeah, definitely. We came over and did a small tour of Europe just a couple of weeks ago, and there were a couple hundred people coming to all our shows, and we haven’t done much over there in terms of radio, or anything really. So it’s all just kinda from the Internet, which is great. What’s your writing process like? Writing the album, basically, I would go off somewhere, maybe like, Megalong Valley, which is where I wrote a few songs. Just be by myself and write demos, in the bush, have a good time like that. (laughs) A couple of songs I wrote in the city, too. I’d write a demo, record it, show it to the band and take it from there. The quintessential Australian question, Neighbours or Home and Away? (laughs) I don’t know! I’ve never watched them. That’s a good answer. You have them there, right? Have you seen both those shows? I mean, they’re pretty famous. They’re a staple of Irish television, yeah. A staple of Irish television? Oh, that’s amazing. I haven’t even watched them. I’d rather watch Black Books or Father Ted, that’s my kind of television.
THAT RUBBERBANDIT FLAVOUR The anonymous sex columnist
M ONDAY “Apple juice, eh?” I notice that she is drinking
apple juice. “Yep. Yummy.” She is so beautiful. I test the water, see if I can open up to her a little bit, share some vulnerability. “You know, apple juice is actually my favourite drink in the world. It really is. I absolutely love apple juice, but I can’t drink it. It gives me crippling stomach cramps.” She looks at me with her gorgeous eyes, but with a moking smile upon her lips. “Listen, I’m not joking. I can drink cider, Cidona or apple flavoured water by the pint with no ill effects, but apple juice destroys me. Seriously.” She thinks I’m joking. “Here, you can fuck right off if you’re just going to laugh about it. It’s my favourite fucking drink.” TU E SDAY I went to Boots today to get soluble Solpadeine.
Hardcore. New codeine laws mean that the pharmacist has to talk the ear off you before he or she gives you any nectar. You have to lie and say that it is for shin splints and that you only take them before you do football training. While idling out of the shop I saw flavoured condoms. Why would there be flavoured condoms? So it tastes nice? That is the only explanation I can think of. How rude. Imagine a bloke asked if he could cover your minge in cling film and strawberry lip balm before going down on you. Exactly. WEDNESDAY Minge cling film? Dental dams. And there
are flavoured dental dams to make cunnilingus and analingus more fun. Google it. I did. TH U RSDAY Wow, what an unlikely meeting. “Hi.” I squint
through the darkness of the train station. We exchange pleasantries and it emerges that she is a little drunk. I have booze in my bag. Lets have a city-bound Dart party. “Ha, you’re stuck talking to drunk me, I’d say you’re raging!” Not at all. I couldn’t be happier, even if you did laugh about the apple juice thing. She says that she might be stuck for a place to crash later, after whatever it is she’s doing. “You’re welcome to stay in mine.” It just slipped out. I didn’t mean it like that. “You know, if you’re stuck.” I added that too hastily. Unlikely as it is, what if she was into the previous offer? I have now sleazily mugged myself while forfeiting any possible benefits that the sleaze may have brought. I get home and drink more. FRIDAY “Have you ever tried
dissolving a Solpadeine in apple juice? That could be codeine/ apple goodness all in one?” Oh gorgeous, leftist, sexually reserved dream girl with endearing regional accent, if only girls like you existed in reality. Real life is very sad and lonely so I’m going to stop writing these sex diaries for a while.
“Imagine a bloke asked if he could cover your minge in cling film and strawberry lip balm before going down on you. Exactly.”
Rose Ponsonby & Sadhbh O’Brien
Your shoulders are aching, your eyes stinging, and to top it all off you think you’re catching the cold that the festy guy beside you in the library has. It’s that nightmare time of year again. The stress of essays, dissertations and exams is beginning to take its toll, not to mention the fact the post-Trinity Ball hangover-of-the-year is looming. Keeping up your strength and eating well is imperative for the successful Trinners student as we enter the final furlong before the joys of summer can be reached. The perfect antidote to study blues, chicken noodle soup is quick, cheap, easy, and seriously restorative. Oh, and did I mention, it tastes just like your grandma used to make, and to top it all off it’s low fat too. Booyah!
Sadhbh & Rose’s
CHICKEN NOODLE SOUP
2 celery sticks, diced 2 carrots, diced 25g butter Leaves from 1 sprig of thyme 1 bay leaf 2 skinless chicken breasts 1.3 litres chicken stock 1 sheet thin egg noodles Handful of fresh parsely, roughly chopped ½ a lemon Salt & Pepper 1. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan, then throw in the carrot, celery, thyme, bay leaf and a few grinds of salt and pepper. Put a lid (or a plate) on top of the pan and sweat gently for c.10 mins until the veg is softening, giving the occasional stir. 2. Next, place the chicken breasts on top of the veg and pour over the stock. Bring to a simmer, then put the lid back on. After c. 10 mins check if the chicken is cooked – it should be white the whole way through, not pink. If it is still pink, pop it back in for another few minutes. When the chicken is cooked, shred it up using two forks, then tip it back into the pan. 3. Now crumble in the noodles and simmer for c.4 mins until tender. 4. To finish just stir through the parsley, squeeze in the lemon and season to taste. A hunk of crusty bread wouldn’t go amiss either! You’ll feel better in no time! 19
ALL ETERNALS DECK
CAVE OF FORGOTTEN DREAMS Director: Werner Herzog
The Mountain Goats FILM My only prec-
M USIC For a mid-fi indie institution, singer-
songwriter John Darnielle likes metal. A lot. And while recording All Eternals Deck, The Mountain Goats first release on Merge, his fanboy dream came true. Former Morbid Angel guitarist and beautifully-conditionedbouffant-bearing Erik Ruton produced four tracks for him. Ruton, who has previously produced Cannibal Corpse (a particular favourite of Darnielle) and Goatwhore albums, delved into unfamiliar territory after having been emailed by Darnielle - an email which had been apparently inspired by a shared laugh with fellow Mountain Goat/Superchunk drummer/Twitter dreamboat Jon Wurster upon hearing the lyric “Cadaver-stuffed carcasses flood the land” in a Cannibal Corpse documentary. Unfortunately, the metalhead’s involvement has done little to make All Eternals anything more than standard indie-rock fare, or anything more than redundant. Thematically, at least, the Cannibal Corpse lyric isn’t that much of a departure to those of All Eternals Deck, with Goya’s Black Paintings and 70s occult horror movies being cited as influences (apparent on Damn These Vampires and Birth of Serpents). The album title itself is even a reference to tarot cards. All of this acts to imbue the record with a sense of dread, according to Darnielle, although this is entirely lyrical. Melodically it just meanders along, excepting the backing vocals on High Hawk Season,
which carry a sepulchral Gregorian chant quality. Even then, the sonorous vocals are underused and strike as being an afterthought. All Eternals Deck is followed by 2002’s All Hail West Texas in my iTunes, and as it flicks from one album to the next you can hear the way in which The Mountain Goats have developed, maybe even matured. Moving on from two minute snapshots of other people’s lives, Darnielle then took the confessional route, and now has melded that soul baring with a more abstract approach. As a whole, the record lacks that immediacy that his earlier work bore, an as such is less vital, less exciting a listen. At times, and I utterly loathe to say it, All Eternals sounds like a more pedestrian Decemberists record (The Autopsy Garland, Beautiful Gas Mask). Littered with clichés (“sleep like dead men” “I saved my own skin but lived to fight another day”, “live a long life if you’re lucky, hope it never ends”), the songs are forgettable and completely lack any force. Throughout his earlier records are scattered more than forty songs named with the ‘Going to...’ formula, a trope which he abandoned in his later work. Perhaps that’s the problem, The Mountain Goats no longer seem to go anywhere. The days of Darnielle hammering away on his guitar, proclaiming his lyrics are long gone, and sadly so. Catherine O’Keeffe
edent for Herzog being two of his non-documentary feature films and a handful of YouTube clips (most notably the brilliant Werner Herzog Reads Where’s Waldo), I had no based assumptions about his non-fiction directing style, apart from a faint idea about an existentialist, ever-probing narrative habit. This puzzled me as to how it would apply a 3D film about cave paintings, but it, inevitably, piqued my interest The backstory here is the discovery of the Chauvet Cave in France, an untouched time capsule of Paleolithic history and art it is literred with breathtaking depictions of animals, as well as various animal remains preserved by dripping stalactites. By far the oldest discovered hub of cave paintings in the world, it is also the most immaculate. More than a fascinating example of art, it is perhaps the genesis of art itself. Cave of Forgotten Dreams sets out to inform, but does so without the dull philosophy or scientific jargon. Herzog doesn’t just describe cave paintings, he celebrates and explores the lives of those who created them. . It’s hard to explain how exactly this existentialist spin works, but it does, and spectacularly so. The mesmerising use of 3D is surprisingly suited to the documentary format: the contours of the caves, which the artists used to add fluidity to their works, come to life on screen, every curve and notch. The interviews with various experts have humanity breathed into them; the 3D and Herzog’s off-kilter questions turns them from talking heads to palpable, real people. The film doesn’t just focus on the Chauvet Cave though, it extends to German sites which have produced the earliest examples of sculptures. These extra details add a further dimension (forgive the pun) to an already engaging narrative. Cave of Forgotten Dreams suffers a bit from Herzog’s intricate voiceovers, approaching self-parody in places, as the credits roll and we return to our 2D existence, a welcome reflection on our own mortality and inescapable place in a vast history sets in. Life-changing? Perhaps not, but it is certainly riveting. Gheorghe Rusu 21
CRYSIS 2 I Developer: Crytek
STILL IN LOVE WITH YOU Stephen’s Green Shopping Centre
ART If you have ever strolled past the statue
of Philip Lynott and wondered why it is there, visit Still In Love With You: The Philip Lynott Exhibition currently on display in the Creative Space of St. Stephen’s Green Shopping Centre. This detailed exhibition brings visitors on an intimate and fluid tour through the life and career of one of Ireland’s most iconic rock stars. As well as chronicling the rise of the great performer, song-writer and poet, Still In Love With You also provides tribute to the lasting legacy of Lynott’s work with contributions from likes of Bono and Damien Dempsey. Post cards, school reports and hand written poetry by the man himself are among the wealth of memorabilia included in the exhibition. Interactive computer screens allow visitors to turn the pages and examine in greater detail digitized copies of some of Lynott’s personal writings. Video recordings of some of Lynott’s performances and archival interview footage also capture the height of Lynott’s and Thin Lizzy’s fame. Those who visit Still In Love With You will walk away realising that the music of Philip Lynott is as relevant and entertaining today as it was back in the seventies and eighties.Although the exhibition displays a certain emotional gravitas towards the life and passing of Lynott it is careful to remain objective enough so that it can successfully celebrate his career and that all who visit can share and enjoy his music. The influence that this music has had on fellow artists is reflected in the portraits of Lynott adorning the walls of the exhibition. Each artist tries their best to capture just a fraction of the exuberance that Lynott always seemed to emit when he was in the public eye. Some of the photographs and portraits on display are for sale and provide the ultimate souvenir for any die-hard fan. The location of the exhibition couldn’t be more appropriate. St. Stephen’s Green Shopping Centre served as a location for one of Lynott’s music videos and the Creative Space of the top floor which the exhibition is held in, overlooks the city in which Lynott loved so much and will forever remain a legend. Eoin McAuley 22
GAMES PC gaming used to be a pretty big
deal. Admittedly, this was probably because when I was young owning a PC was, in itself, a pretty big deal and gaming was the most interesting thing you could do on it. Tomb Raider, Descent, Grim Fandango all helped to create the pixel-obsessed freak you see before you and they did it without looking very good at all. That was the problem with PC gaming; minimum-requirements. While most PCs now come with enough power to control small robot armies, 2007s Crysis dragged the PC vs Console debate back into the spotlight by being prettier than anything possible on consoles but tougher on the average PC than Steve Jobs with a sledgehammer. Thankfully, Crytek have gone multiplatform with its sequel Crysis 2, and us console-owners finally get to see what all the fuss was about. Boy, is there a lot of fuss. Mere minutes into Crysis 2 I was already more immersed in its world than any other game this year. The camera is tuned perfectly to your movements, possibly the best first-person visuals I’ve seen in a game since Mirrors Edge. The score is nothing short of breathtaking and by the time I got my first glimpse of the Nanosuit I was ready for action. With the words ‘It’ll be on you now, kid’, droning through its visor, I was itching for it. The controls are incredibly tight with the right amount of fluidity and friction, the
environments are stunning and genuinely seem bigger and more free than I’m sure they actually are. The nanosuit is the revelation I always suspected it to be, giving players a toolset diverse enough to let them create their own game. Equip the cloak, turning yourself temporarily invisible, and Crysis 2 becomes a sneak-emup. Sneaking not your style? Switch to armour mode and go in all guns blazing. I often found myself switching from cloak to armour when caught to avoid becoming a nanosuit-sundae. Unfortunately, it’s not without its faults and the frequent bugs and glitches make a strong case for its home-turf of PC. The bodies of nameless henchmen occasionally jitter or float in mid-air post-death and some textures completely lose their beauty up-close which is a real shame considering how gorgeous the game looks in action. Early on you unlock a trophy called ‘Can It Run Crysis?’, a self-referential gag was not lost on me. Crysis 2 is a far cry from Call of Duty and if anyone in the games industry has any sense it will have set the bar for future shooters. It is not, however, the paradigm-altering masterpiece its predeccesor was and anyone hoping for a faultless leap from PC to console will be a little let down. The PS3 can run Crysis 2. Whether it should or not is another matter. I for one am happy to see it try. Andy Kavanagh
CONQUERED CITY Victor Serge
There is a certain style of slim, dense old novel which the NYRB excels in returning to light not by review, but by republication. Written in 1931, Conquered City is one such novel. Expelled from the Party and arrested following Stalin’s 1928 rise to power, Serge’s novel is an attempt, “to rescue the true face of the Revolution from oblivion and legend.” Set in 1919 Petrograd, with the White Army approaching this city divested of food and fuel, this is a novel of “hard faces, bony noses, ashy complexions, soiled garments”. Men mate with women joylessly. Children emerge from tired wombs. They suck on flaccid breasts. Everybody wears a coat. Revolutionaries and counter-revolutionaries come and go in a matter of pages, reappearing only much later as faintly recognisable Russian jumbles of letters and character traits. Petrograd itself is the book’s protagonist, the Revolution its plot. Yet despite these abstractions, Conquered City is as compelling a piece of fiction as I’ve read for some time. In 1919, there was still hope for the young Revolution. But with the crisis of food shortage and criminality and with the Whites just nine miles outside the city, the idealists involved are privately plagued by doubts assuaged only by recourse to their own individual mantras:. The Revolution’s bright beginning excited Serge without blinding him to its gradual corruption and ultimate tragedy. He can therefore write great lines for those he disagrees with. A White terrorist, for instance, notices a red rag, “blackened to the color of old blood, the true color of their red.” Not all the best lines are saved for his enemies. Though this is an overtly political book, there is more poetry to it than agitprop. Trucks are filled with, “huge bouquets of black torsos with glowing heads”. Men are killed, “under the rigid gestures of already bare branches”. Serge is comparable to Zola in his unflinching depiction of squalor; to Joyce in his panoramic depiction of urban landscape; and to Lampedusa in his honest depiction of historical events from the inside. This is about my twenty-fifth book review for a student publication – it is also my last. How fortunate that it should be of such an incontrovertibly brilliant book. Kevin Breathnach BOOKS
CAVISTON’S Sandycove, Co. Dublin
FOOD With the days getting longer and sun-
nier and the end of classes growing tantalizingly nearer, the urge to be outside becomes almost overpowering. The cricket pitch starts to look more and more inviting, especially when you’re stuck in the library writing an essay. I’m here to advocate doing what I did yesterday: taking a few hours off and going for lunch and a walk by the seaside. Caviston’s Seafood Restaurant is easy to get to - just catch the DART to the Sandycove/Glasthule station. The total trip is about 20 minutes if you leave from Pearse Station. Once there, Caviston’s is only a few blocks down the main road from the DART station. The whole street is dotted with little al fresco dining areas and pubs - very cute. Caviston’s itself is divided into two separate buildings - an upscale food market and an attached organic seafood restaurant. The market is lovely, but unfortunately the artisan meats and cheeses therein are probable a little bit above most students’ budgets (they certainly were out of my price range). But it’s very nice to stroll around and smell the delicious scents of fresh-baked bread and fresh produce. Caviston’s Seafood Restaurant next door has an equally high standard. The 20 euro main courses seem expensive at first, but their current deal includes one of three different appetizers in your meal, making the price very reasonable. The restaurant itself is very
pleasant with wide windows overlooking the lazy street beyond and full-colour photographs of the harbour and its wildlife. The menu is very much seafood-based there were only one or two items that didn’t have some sort of seafood in them. This can polarise some people, so I must point out that this isn’t just any fish – this fish is all locallycaught, making it particularly tasty and environmentally conscious. The range to choose from is wide - everything from sardines to scallops to salmon. I opted for the mackerel appetiser with sweet chilli sauce, and a panfried haddock filet as the main course. All main courses are served with a large side salad and potatoes so it’s almost impossible to leave this place hungry. Both of my dishes were delicious - tender, simple, with no “fishy taste” to speak of. The sides, too, were hearty and well-cooked. There’s also an extensive wine list and very tempting array of desserts. But the best thing about Caviston’s, and what makes it especially appealing at this time of year, is just how close it is to the ocean. It is literally steps away from a lovely coastal walk, which against all odds was warm and clear, without a cloud in sight, when I visited (never wise to bank on this in Dublin of course). So, if like me you’re going a little stir- crazy these days, I recommend you take a break one afternoon over the next few weeks, and make your way to the seaside for lunch. Christina Newkirk
AFTERPARTY Leo Benedictius
BOOKS On the inside cover of Leo Benedic-
tus’ debut novel Afterparty is a rather bold statement. In big bold print appears the inscription “This book is different. You’ve really never read a book like this before” and as I read that I could feel my critical hackles rising. Oh, so I’ve never read a book like Afterparty? I’m an English major at Trinity College Dublin University, I’ll have you know. I have read every sort of thing ever. I was going to eviscerate this book. Leo Benedictus was going to rue the day that his book condescendingly told the book editor of TN2 his own business. So long story short, Afterparty is actually pretty good. I over-reacted a little bit and after gaining a little perspective (i.e. actually starting the book), found thatBenedictus is a totally capable and really pretty deft writer. Afterparty defies simple classification. It is entertaining and chock full of celebrity appearances. Simultaneously, there are some pretty serious meta-fictional games being played out outside the confines of the pop-lit narrative strand, in the form of the email exchanges between the base narrative’s author and his agent and then eventually, a character by the really very confusing name of Leo Benedictus. Most obviously, Afterparty is the story of Michael and Hugo, two people who could not, superficially at least, be any more different. Michael is socially awkward and pretty ugly. On the other hand, Hugo Marks is a worldfamous actor who is making his reappearance into society. As this particular strand of the novel unfolds then Hugo and Michael, through a combination of coincidence and common insecurities, come together. While this improbable friendship blossoms, Hugo’s wife Mellody aggressively pursues her own downward spiral, while an arrangement of side characters offer her a hand. 24
In itself, this is not a noteworthy story, not the sort of story that would havereviewers guaranteeing Afterparty a spot on the Man Booker shortlist. However, throughout the novel is woven the previously mentioned series of emails that profoundly complicate any straight up reading. It’s really pretty fun all things considered. On one level, it has the Bret Easton Ellisesque celebrity stamp of believability, without the associated need to kick Bret Easton Ellis in the shins for being so smug about it. Then on a totally different level, Afterparty has some pretty obvious postmodern meat on its bones. It’s metafiction for the mainstream. There are some shortcomings it should be noted. Benedictus’ prose is a bit gamey at times and some descriptions of things can cause a little cringe here or there. Of course, because there are so many different narrators flitting around it’s hard to tell if the clunky strings of adjecties are character-based or author-based, but at times they stand out so much as not to matter. Nevertheless though, Afterparty is a really enjoyable and satisfying read. It’s too intelligent to be a guilty pleasure, but sometimes it’s hard to tell. Stuart Winchester
so awesome when you realize that your pork belly (€12.50) is the size of a postage stamp, and that the so called mash it is perched upon tastes suspiciously like it was made with potato granules and splash of dish water. The Shebeen cheeseburger revives you momentarily, until you remember that you’re paying €11.50 for it and really you should have just gone to Rick’s down the road. Maybe they were just having a bad night, but for all its uber coolness dinner at Shebeen Chic left a lot to be desired. Rose Ponsonby
BELONG The Pains of Being Pure At Heart
SHEBEEN CHIC 4 South Great Georges Street, Dublin 2
M USIC There are no signs of difficult second
FOOD Shebeen Chic has bought into the
grungy, super alternative market big time. Half bar, half restaurant, on first impressions Shebeen seems as if it has it all – edgy tunes, wacky but charming interior design choices, laid back staff, all topped off by the fact that you can get stuck into a proper dinner such as pork belly and mash with a pint to wash it down with.Sounds great, but alack and alas, the charm very quickly begins to wear off. Laid back staff actually translates as staff who are surly and so ‘cool’ that they seem barely able to function on the same level as us boringly normal folk. The eclectic décor rapidly takes on shades of extreme pretension, those ‘vintage’ pieces of wood stuck to the wall don’t seem quite
album syndrome on Belong, The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart’s latest attempt to ease their way into the mainstream. Legend has it that lead singer Kip Berman was given his first guitar by his mum when he became a Nirvana obsessive at the tender age of thirteen. On the evidence of this album, it is certainly believable. Here, The Pains sound like Nirvana or The Smashing Pumpkins coated in a sugary haze of indie pop, in large part thanks to Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness producer Mark ‘Flood’ Ellis. Guitar distortion and heavy percussion mix with Berman’s ethereal voice to create a likeness to shoe-gazing bands of the late 80s and early 90s. The album is a mixed bag tempo-wise, perfectly ordered in a manner which punctuates and complements the music. Though they may be pure of heart, occasionally cheeky references in their lyrics suggest The Pains are not quite so pure of mind, as Berman observes in the title track: “we tried each other, let’s try another.” Cynics may complain that they have failed to go beyond their influence. It’s true to an extent - for example, the song Belong bears a striking resemblance to The Stone Roses’ Waterfall - but who has time to measure originality when the dreamy pop of The Pains is calling? Ollie Hamilton
GUILT Y PLE ASURES
GIVE AN OKAY IMPRESSION IF IN REALITY YOU CAN’T DEAL WITH PEOPLE by Seán Mc Tiernan
ONE Modulate your voice a lot. You can do this pretty
much at random, within reason, and it’ll work. Sounds both obvious and unlikely, but the important thing about this is and the rest of these tips is that people want to be liked and engaged with and so are more willing to go along with flimsy shit than usual. T WO Subject of conversation. Disagree with opinions you yourself actually hold. Judging tone and friendliness is far easier if you pretend to hate something you like. Then you know the funny reasons not to like it and be able to keep the conversation from becoming agressive. The more you like something the better this works. Expressing genuine opinions is too risky. THREE Jokes. You don’t want to be funny alone. A lot of socially awkward people mistake being funny for being liked. In actuality you end up being regarded as a clown or worse and could irritate the “normal” person you’re dealing with if they’ve always been told they’re a funny person. What you actually need to do, is make the other person feel funny. Thankfully, if you’ve spent years needily cultivating the ability to make people laugh, the skill is pretty easily transferrable. All you really have to do is take what the other person is saying and build your jokes around that, disguising them as explanations as to why the other person is funny. If the person is genuinely funny, laugh away but do not try to tag all of their jokes. If you’ve developed a over-relliance on humour you’ll think you’re helping by doing this. What you’re actually doing is turning conversations into a competition. Which they are, of course, but people can find it a bit tastelesss to make it that obvious. FOU R Eye Contact. Don’t keep making direct eye contact it at semi-timed intervals, you’ll just come across as someone who has read The Game and is trying to “lay some pipe, broseph” on whoever you’re taking to. This advice is about social acceptability. You can’t suddenly become a super confident social butterfly. Instead you’ve to put across the PG movie version of yourself: the cuddly awkward person. Avoid eye contact the way you usually do, you may even want to ham it up a bit, but very occasionally lock eyes with someone on a punchline of a joke. This is difficult but will give the impression you are co-conspirators and, as we’ve said, making people feel “in on the joke” is probably the most powerful feeling you can give them. FIVE Deflection. If you’re extremely socially awkward you’ll need to trivialise any obvious psychological problems you feel you might have by factoring in a brief story about being awkward on public transport. Everyone feels awkward on public transport, your problems wil just make your encounter a bit zanier. What everyone doesn’t do is weep outside a McDonalds because they are too afraid to go in. The crucial skill is knowing where the line is with stories like this.
“What you’re actually doing is turning conversations in a competition. Which they are, of course, but people can find if a bit tasteless to make it that obvious.”
Missed Connections by Ana Kinsella
“I saw you in lidl grocery store. We were paying for our groceries, you were in line behind us. We made eye contact a few times, but that was all. I’d love to get to know you.” Everyone’ s had one of those moments, right? Bored on a bus, staring at somebody much better looking, imagination getting out of hand and suddenly you’ re picturing your whole future life together. Then he gets off and you never see him again and you forget about it forever. Or do you? There are some people out there who seem to go straight home and leave cryptic messages on the likes of Craigslist and Gumtree aimed at getting the attention of that ‘ beautiful girl in the red coat on the Luas’ , ultimately to get a shot at that bizarre future concocted mentally during the journey. And for some reason I love reading them. I think it’ s the intrinsic level of heartache and loneliness in which one. It’ s easy for me to tell that the woman in the grocery queue at Lidl was probably actually wondering why the guy in front of her was staring at her so much. But he’ s living in the bare hope that what she felt there was chemistry, not creepiness. There’ s no logical reason why I should love reading Missed Connections so much. No part of me is secretly hoping that there’ ll be one left there for me “ you: tall awkward brunette in stupid glasses, reading a college newspaper on the Luas. Me: the tall mysterious hunky stranger eyeing you from across the carriage...” No thank you, I’ d find that perfectly weird and intrusive, but thanks all the same. In fact I spend more time reading the Missed Connections of much bigger and more cosmopolitan cities than this little one (a recent favourite from Brooklyn’ s women for women craigslist: “ i puked in your sink last night and i still feel like a monster. you have the sexiest smile, a super hot bod and killer sense of humor. and all i want is to be on you right now. lets hang tonight?” ) It’ s just a strange compulsion to peer into the lives of those hundreds of lonely and yet so optimistic souls. They’ re an inspiration to the more jaded among us to relax, to take more risks and above all, to believe in the power of love at first sight. At least, in glimpses across crowded public transport. 25
PORNO Oisín Murphy
In the throes of academic torment, our anti-hero columnist enlists the help of popular comedienne (and girlfriend) Megan Nolan to expedite the completion of his ninth and final back page.
ith the announcement of the new web domain ‘.xxx’, my attention (along with that of many others) has been drawn to the issue of the availability of pornography within the public domain, the suggestion that the move will lead to an online ‘red light district’ and the sociological influence of pornography, particularly with regard to the sexual development of our nations’ youth. ¹ What follows is a dialogue between myself and Megan Nolan, erstwhile comedian, UT Culture advice columnist, cashier and my girlfriend. Oisín: To nail my colours to the mast, I think that pornography gets a bad rap, as far as these things go. By ‘these things’, I mean the reactionary criticism which tends to gravitate to those more ‘transgressive’ outlets in popular culture, attaching more moral or behavioral influence to them than is appropriate. I don’t think that, as a parent, one ought to have any worries about your teenage son or daughter accessing pornography on the internet: it’s a question of equipping them with the necessary critical and moral faculties to process it in an appropriate and mature way, things which one develops throughout one’s childhood in any case. Megan: I would point out first that I don’t think criticism of pornography is reactionary, in the sense of the word implied above. Something which seems to be pervasively part of the formative sexuality of children in our society deserves attention. Although you may have made a considered decision that teenagers will suffer no ill effects from watching it, surely you can see why it is an issue of concern and interest? It seems unwise to make sweeping generalisations about porn, seeing as I don’t have extensive experience watching it, but I’m going to do it now anyway; any of it I have seen has been unpleasantly misogynistic. I don’t mean the more hardcore sadomasochistic side of it- I mean the fact that in this idealised fantasy, the woman’s role is to scream and moan outlandishly as the guy pumps away with no regard for what might make a real woman feel good. I mean calling the women whores and sluts, etc. It makes sense to me that we ought to be questioning why adult men need to see women in that position to get off, and why we ought to worry that children will learn to feel the same way. Oisín: Okay. I have watched an insane² amount of porn and I can broadly agree 26
“The purpose of pornography is to portray the transgressive, the extreme, the (culturally) unseen, for the purposes of sexual excitement that go beyond the strictly misogynistic.”
with the basic formula which your mainstream video will follow: woman is introduced, states her age, is ‘convinced’ to perform sexual favours of increasing intensity before the man (having perhaps performed oral sex on her for a bit) penetrates her from a variety of angles (maybe the anus will come into play) and finishes off by ejaculating in her face. I might boldly venture that this is not, for the majority of women, the ideal sex scenario. That said, I take issue with the assumption that this is, contrastingly, an ‘idealised fantasy’ for the man watching it, caressing his penis at home. The fundamental critical principle is the same, whether we’re talking about gangsta rap, explicitly violent action films or the ‘idealised’ love represented by popular romantic comedies: we have the ability to distinguish between performance and reality. The purpose of pornography is to portray the transgressive, the extreme, the (culturally) unseen, for the purposes of sexual excitement that go beyond the strictly misogynistic (indeed, I would not be so bold as to project any of the misogynistic qualities of the performance itself onto the viewer, necessarily) and enter a more broadly cultural domain of ‘impropriety’. On a basic level, a chain of supply and demand needs to be upheld; the debate cannot be restricted to pornography - indeed, in the grand scheme of things, pornography is ideologically peripheral and these videos can only be seen as a ‘symptom’ of something deeper in society. Megan: I agree that it can be seen as a symptom of an existing attitude, but I don’t know why that would make it any less worrying. A symptom of something profoundly wrong can be upsetting in and of itself. If the purpose of porn is to portray the unseen, and not to merely be titillating through misogyny, I doubt that images of harming women would have remained such a staple for so long. In the seventies, Hustler would print cartoons of such hilarious romps as a woman having her vagina drilled by a construction worker. The acceptance of such imagery and its filtering into mainstream culture robs women of their sexuality and their humanity. What do you think, Trinity? ¹ ‘our nations’ referring, of course, to the developed bloc of nations (‘The West’) in which Ireland comfortably resides, culturally if not financially. ² Look at this choice of words!
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