10th April 2012 Issue XII Volume XVIII
The Arts & Culture Supplement of the University Observer
OTWO talks to the Swedish chart-topper as he escapes across the Pacific rim
an ig ll Gi e Vinc g bad akin Creator of bre
â€œWe know we have sixteen more hours of story and the trick now is to fill those hours in the best, most satisfying way possibleâ€?
Also inside >>
| Magnetic Fiel
ds | Buzzcocks
| Telltale Games
contents Letter from the Editors
Page 3 – Regulars
Kate Rothwell finds bra-shopping quite a traumatic experience in Soapbox, while Aoife Valentine gives you an unquestionable measure of temperature in What’s Hot, What’s Not.
Page 4 – Spiritual & Gender-related Advice
Mittens and Dixon Coltrane are around again this issue to meet all your prediction and man’s man-ing needs.
Page 5 – What’s On
Chloé Duane gets to grips with the Festival of Irish Design at Project 51 as she speaks to the organisers and some of the artists featured.
Page 6 – Fashion
Fashion this week brings you everything you need to know to make you look suitably hot and sexy at the UCD Ball, or indeed, whatever festival takes your fancy this summer, while Sophie Lioe takes a look at the rights of underage models in the fashion industry.
Page 9 – Food
Aisling Daly shows you how feng shui principles can be used to make your dining experiences the best they can be, while Elaine Lavery shows you how to make your own ice-cream. Don’t mind the rain and, er, snow.
Page 10 – Travel
Travel discovers some of the wonders of the world to be found in Peru and China, while this issue’s Hidden Gem takes us to a revolving restaurant up a mountain in Switzerland.
Page 12 – Games & Technology
Conor O’Nolan and Steven Balbirnie take a look at Resident Evil: Operation Racoon City and Silent Hill: Downpour respectively, and we talk to the Telltale Games to get the skinny on the new Walking Dead game adaption.
Page 14 – Film & TV
Mirror, Mirror, Damsels in Distress, and Cop to the Future and Back III: No Subtitle Necessary are all very real films that get the once over in this issue, while Dermot O’Rourke examines Englishspeaking audiences’ apathy towards foreign-language films. We speak to Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan and the Fatal Foursome battle it out to find the best of the best this year.
Page 20 – Music
Magnetic Fields, Buzzcocks and Avicii are all looking lovely in Music this issue. Mixtape brings you the greatest of sixth year summer holiday hits; we review some of this fortnight’s biggest albums, and The Duffington Post gets all sentimental in the final instalment.
Page 25 – Special Features
Jon Hozier-Byrne chats to Maria Bamford, one of the best comedians of her generation, and one of the greatest female comedians of all-time.
Page 26 – Otwo Attempts
Forget One Direction, Boyz R Us have landed. If you weren’t bored of being told what makes you beautiful already, you definitely will be once you’ve taken one look at the Boyz. Totez heartthrobs.
Page 28 – Backpage Bants
The wonderful Glen Coco Experience took time out to take our Ordinary Level exam, while Tadhg Dolan goes looking for your worst UCD Ball experiences. 2
Issue 12 – A Full Measure of Good Feeling Rawr,
incredible job. You’ve produced some inspired features this year, as Welcome to the final issue of this well as your ever-hilarious entries volume of Otwo. We know, we in Fatal Fourway, which in itself know, we’re sad too, but control has been a strong addition to the yourselves! We know you’ve spent section. Also, you’re the soundest every second Tuesday eagerly anman in the world. ticipating the moment Otwo would Cormac, though many jokes hit campus so you could tear off have been made about your that annoying wrapper with serious hipster tendencies, your work is stuff written on it, and get to the consistently articulate, erudite, good bit, but it’s okay, we’ll be back and always a joy to read. We knew next semester, and until then, you the music section was safe in your can re-read Mittens’ predictions hands long before production as you please; they’ll probably still began on Issue One, and you have be just as accurate as they were the not let us down since. first time you read them. Conor O’Toole, you are a Before we sign off, we’d like to genius in every way. Thank you recognise the many people who have for putting up with our blatant made this volume of Otwo a reality. disregard for word counts, our Elaine, we know travel wasn’t really constant demands for you to your bag at the beginning of the year, italicise things, and for not crying and that your culinary genius is really when we asked you to design where your talents lie, but you have a flowchart. Otwo has looked embraced both whole-heartedly and amazing, and you’re a bit of a hero. it has really made Food and Travel Jon and Kate, you cannot comstand out this year. prehend how much your unwaverSophie, you truly have an eye for ing support has meant to us, both fashion; not only have your articles through every Kevin and in life proved thought-provoking and in general. Your trust, friendship entertaining, your shoots are never and wisdom have proved invaluless than beautiful. Yourself and able this year, and we’re incredibly Caoimhe make an incredible team grateful. Thank you for everything. and opening the email with the To anyone who has contributed photos every fortnight is something throughout the year, we have loved we’ve come to look forward to a having you. Without you, our huge amount. jobs would be considerably more Steven, though you have only difficult, and we are very grateful recently become Chief Games that you take the time to write Writer, you were exceeding all for us. To our readers, without reasonable expectations long you, this whole endeavour would before that. With your insightful be largely pointless. Whether you reviews and impressively read us cover to cover, or just flick knowledgeable features, you have to Mittens or Mixtape, we hope been integral to the progression of we have kept you entertained the games section, and we couldn’t throughout the year. Enjoy the last have done it without you. of our efforts, and Otwo will see Dermot, filling Jon’s shoes is you again in September. not an enviable task, not least with XOXO him watching over you from the Editor’s desk, but you’ve done an Aoife and George
i’m at bra-king poin
What’s hot and what’s not
What’s Hot TOMS Eyewear
Sick of the sight of lingerie departments, Kate Rothwell gets a few issues with bra shopping off her chest
TOMS, the company who established the ‘One for One’ movement, where you buy a pair of shoes and the company donates a pair to a child in the developing world, are now branching out into eyewear. The same business model applies to the sunglasses, except presumably being aware that sunglasses aren’t high on the wishlist of any child in the developing world, TOMS are instead offering eye-saving surgery, medical treatment or prescription glasses. Saving people’s sight in exchange for pretty things? Yes, please.
New Burger King Ad Campaign
Burger King seem to have quite an eccentric marketing team, and not always in a good way. The “It’ll blow your mind” ad with the not-subtle-at-all blow job innuendo was not wellreceived by anyone, particularly women, and it seems their latest campaign is trying to be cute enough to rectify that. It works; eyeshadow burger is amazing. You win, Burger King.
This is quite possibly the University Observer’s last production cycle spent in the Windowless Office of Doom, and we’ll miss this tiny, cramped, unbearably hot, airless little room quite a bit. Full of eighteen years worth of nonsense and junk we’ve acquired and had for so long that we don’t really know how it ever came to be anymore, plus the Macs that never get a break, not to mention the too large a team for such a small room, the two pityful fans do very little to help with how hot the office really is.
What’s Not USI Congress
Twitter feeds everywhere last week were clogged full of hacks updating from USI Congress as they tried to get #USI12 to trend. Shouting about the many seemingly pointless and irrelevant motions for a delegation of students to be debating, and patting each other virtually on the back as a prelude to the circle-jerk that seemed to be the galadinner, all to not even be able to vote to decide USI’s stance on fees? Anyone who thought class rep training was a waste of money should take a look at what goes on at Congress.
It would seem the world has decided it’s perfectly cool not to be entirely grossed out by the idea of snails crawling across their face, in a bid for amazing, youthful looking skin. We may have accepted the fish pedicure as not being as mental an idea as it first seemed, but snails can keep their wrinkle and scar healing slimy qualities; it’s still disgusting.
As the ultimate abuser of slang words, or words that just aren’t really words at all, and insisting they be printed as if they exist, as well as being the purveyor or hotness and notness, this writer is in a unique position and is able to declare that the word ‘tins’ is an abomination and is simply not a thing. Talk about the totez awky mo mo when you think you can just use it like it’s a thing. You can’t, not without being so Not right now. So there. by Aoife Valentine
ome might say that an article examining the irritating aspects of shopping for an item of women’s clothing is a little exclusionist, but I beg to differ. Plenty of men have issues with bra shopping – those who are dragged along on lingerie-related expeditions by misguided female friends or girlfriends, those who curse a girl’s purchase of a tightly fastened, three-hooked model, and those who take the illadvised plunge and decide to buy some sort of undergarment for their other half. You should know before you get to the point of saying to the sales assistant “About your size, maybe a bit bigger” that this is a poor way of showing your affection, but I digress. You would imagine that bra shopping would be something that women could revel in the ultimate femininity of, but sadly this is not often the case. After you’ve gotten past the mortifying experience of a disinterested fitter lassoing you with a measuring tape and declaring ‘One up in the back, one down in the front, that’s the way it goes’ you can rest assured that you won’t be feeling too full of the voluptuous joys of your gender. Now for the shopping itself. Forget trying to choose between the styles of ‘skanky’ and ‘granny lace’, first of all you need to ensure that the shop even bothers to stock your size. There are some sizes that those in the bra manufacturing industry have clearly conspired against, ensuring that anyone cursed with such sizes are doomed to pay upwards of thirty euro for a piece of clothing that covers approximately five per cent of their body, while those who happen to have grown into a more favourable size can pick up a bra for a fiver any day of the week in Penneys. You’d think that these restrictions might apply only to those at the extreme ends of the small to big boobs scale, but no – a small back size coupled with a large cup or vice versa will also ensure that you spend your underwear budget in Debenhams. Hopefully you didn’t plan on buying a bra more than once a year; these are long-term investments, presumably to be passed on to your children’s children. And just when you think you’ve found a soulmate for your chest – not luminous or overly lacy, not bound to make its presence known underneath a t-shirt – you pick it up and realise that it already seems to contain more padding than a real breast. From chicken fillets to foam, there are many ways to achieve your Wondercleavage. You’re actually quite happy with size, you say? You just want a plain, unpadded, unfussy undergarment? In that 3 case, give up now, and burn your bras.
Mystic Mittens’ feline fortunes Taurus
May 14th – June 21st Here, stop pretending that you will continue to read or write in any capacity this summer and save yourself a lot of guilt.
Before Mittens heads off on holiday for some feline fun, she’s here one last time to reveal her summer predictions
June 22nd – July 20th I foresee a few games of football, some lolling about on the beach, romances based on the mass consumption of 99s... Oh wait, no, there’s rain; lots and lots of rain. Disregard everything I just predicted, Gemini, and pack a brolly.
April 19th - May 13th
You should avoid the Balkans, i.e. yeast infection central, while InterRailing.
Dear Dixon, I’m hoping you can help a dame out. As the college year comes to an end and I’m expected to hop skip it into the real world for good, I’ve been feeling mighty blue. The smarts I picked up in the Physics department sure as hell haven’t prepared me for life, let alone a career. I need to make some bread quick smart, and right now the best I can hope for is to find me a daddy and shake my cans for a fistful of fives. What’s a poorly educated oddball to do? Yours, That girl from Wyclef Jean’s ‘Perfect Gentlemen’
Listen here, That Girl from Wyclef Jean’s ‘Perfect Gentleman’, Saying that long goodbye is never easy. Whether it’s goodbye to the detective life, like ‘Hounded’ in Issue XI, goodbye to your fledgling friendships, like ‘Ginger Ballz’ in Issue X, or even goodbye to a domineering dame, like ‘Jack’s Raging Bile Duct’, all the way back in Issue I – goodbyes are never easy. Saying that long, bittersweet goodbye to your adolescence, that’s a goodbye that sticks like molasses in your throat and stings like a thick, bitter smoke in your eyes. So, you have to drop the babydoll 4
September 17th – October 30th Best. Summer. Ever. You’ll meet a guy as he’s splashing around in the ocean and enjoy a whirlwind romance, before you transfer to his educational institute next semester and have to undergo a makeover to win his heart. Oh no, that’s Grease; that’s definitely Grease.
October 31st – November 23rd You’ll probably rewatch The OC at some point in lieu of beach-adjacent shenanigans and young person angst.
December 18th - January 20th Your holiday to some non-descript Greek/Spanish island will end in financial ruin and a miraculous boating accident.
January 21st – February 16th You’ll get a job and end up asking yourself ‘what summer?’
July 21st – August 10th Cancer. Man, that’s an unfortunate name.
August 11th – September 16th Once you get past these exams, the world will be your oyster. It’s a shame you’ll discover that nasty allergy you have to them in June.
November 24th – November 29th You have never, nor will you ever, tan. Your skin shade this summer lies somewhere between a rich fuchsia and danger red.
February 17th – March 11th You won’t get a job and find yourself with no money to fund your summer, and ask yourself ‘what summer’?
November 30th – December 17th
You will die. How? I don’t care.
March 12th – April 18th Watch out for European sex traffickers, not the most savoury of folk.
Leave your questions for the dashing detective on the Dixon Coltrane Facebook page
act, go out into the big bad, and see if you’ll sink or swim in the deep blue ocean of perpetual unemployment. But hey, don’t dampen those daisy cheeks, it ain’t all gone to hash in a Harlem hack house, not quite yet. Sure, everybody’s wallets are lighter than bulimic rice cakes, but that doesn’t mean you have to debase yourself for jiving Johns in gin-jam jizz joints; remember, just because you’re dancing go-go, that don’t make you a ho, no. Like Simba in the straight-to-video Lion King sequel, you have your pride. You say you’re an oddball who’s doomed to a life on the skank, but look at me; I’m an oddball, I’m a quite possibly time-travelling detective who writes advice columns for a student newspaper, and I’m riding a fat hog all the way to Moneytown, where the streets are paved with even fatter hogs. I’ll give you the same encouragement my doctor gave
Dixon Coltrane Real Men Smoke on Airplanes me after I finally got the all-clear for Hepatitis; “you can do it!” My best advice; give it a few months. Pin on your best diapers, and get out there. There are jobs out there to be had, and even if there isn’t the job you want open right now, hey, people have to die sometime. After all, your name is Hope, yo. If you still can’t get a job, it’s time to up sticks and blow this backwater. Maybe you can stay at my place in Moneytown until you find your feet. Saying goodbye is never easy. This
has been a long year of ups and downs, highs and lows, and shuffles to both the left and the right. I tip my lid to all the hardboiled dicks and dolled up dames who’ve written in to me this year; I’ve loved every letter, and every letter of every word. Just remember, be strong, be a man, and most of all, use frequent and inappropriate alliteration. If you ever need me, just whistle. You know how to whistle, don’t you? You just put your lips together, and blow a guy. That really is the rub, Dixon Coltrane
Festival of Irish Design
As a range of up-and-coming Irish designers display their innovative work in Project 51’s Festival of Irish Design, Chloé Duane gets an insight from the artists and organisers behind the exhibition
fter a weekend spent gorging yourself on Easter chocolate, you may want to sink your teeth into something a bit more substantial. So it is fitting that the Festival of Irish Design at Project 51, which showcases various types of Irish crafts, has now been Woodwork by Hugh Cummins extended to run through April. The festival is a celebration of Irish craft, with sixteen Irish designers being given the opportunity to showcase their work until College of Art and Design studyHe reflects on his time in UCD the end of the festival on April 30th. ing ceramics. Her ceramic cups, as one that was beneficial to him. Project 51, which was established based on the shape of polystyrene “Philosophy and Logic were my in 2011 and has been home to the disposable cups found in canteens disciplines, which I found very Festival since it opened on March across the world and thrown away helpful in getting back to the roots 3rd, is based on an international after one use without a second of things, getting back to origins model and has had great success thought, are her contribution to the of the way people thought about in its first year, with over eightyshowcase and provide a comment things and how things emerge over five applications for the sixteen on the disposable nature of society. time. So I suppose I am still doing spaces, according to festival director “Disposable cartons and disposable that but now with wood rather Eoin McDonnell. He goes on to cutlery have become a huge part than concepts.” He creates one-off say that the artists featured in the of our lives, and you just use them handcrafted decorative forms using exhibition are from “early twenties without thinking about it, so I have wood veneers and has continued to late fifties and a contain huge started to make some things that to explore the possibilities and broad variety of design styles.” The resemble them but weren’t quite boundaries of this innovative variety of goods available for view so disposable. They are cute little process, believing there is more to and purchase include handmade things that also make you think discover. “The range of work I am jewellery made of silk, cotton or slightly as you are using them about exploring is very new to the market. glass beads, fashion, ceramic goods, what you do throw away, and perPeople haven’t seen anything like it and wood furniture. The diverse haps how much.” before – they are finer pieces.” selection of items is sure to be the Another artist featuring in the Don’t be put off by the words highlight of the exhibition, ensuring festival is UCD alumnus Hugh ‘handmade’ or ‘Irish craft’ – even that the festival is perfect for young Cummins. He works with wood students can afford to purchase and old. “You will see people’s eyes to create exciting furniture pieces something from this exhibition. open wide; it’s such a broad range of including tables, decorative pieces Works start at just eleven euro with pieces … you can say there is someand lighting. “The platters that I Rachel Rothwell’s pieces and builds thing for everyone,” says McDonnell. have on display in Project 51 are up to pieces of jewellery, which all The festival allows designers of all pushing the boundaries of what can fall within the range of thirty-five to kinds to reach a larger audience and be done with thin slices of wood sixty euro. Some of the large designs progress in their own careers by doand they take their own shapes, as it will set you back a pretty penny but ing so. So for any art lovers out there, were, in the way that I hand mould with such special pieces on display, or anyone wanting to support Irish them.” they are well worth the splurge. craft, this is the ideal place for you to drop by. The pieces available are unique and one of a kind, created using organic materials. Some of the more unusual materials include the rodent bones and horsehair used by designer Daniela Cardillo, a recent NCAD graduate, who became involved in the festival after being approached by the Crafts Council of Ireland. She states that her pieces of jewellery are “not a reminder of death, but an alteration of it, through which I attempt to vitalise past life fragments. “The hair weaving technique stems from historic Victorian mourning jewellery, and the bones are first electro-formed then gold plated, each pieces encasing relics of a previous life.” One of the youngest designers in the showcase is Rachel Rothwell, a final year student of Limerick Ceramics by Rachel Rothwell Photographer: Caoimhe McDonnell
Jewellery by Daniela Cardillo
The Festival of Irish Design runs until April 30th, with the exhibition open from Tuesday to Saturday throughout the month at Project 51, 51 South William Street, Dublin 2.
field dressing Maria wears: Dress · €45 · A|wear Wellies · €19.99 · Aldo
Maria wears: Patterned top · €11.99 Dungarees · €32.99 Both · New Look
hether it’s the UCD Ball or some far-flung European beach festival, the time has finally come to whip out the shorts, grab your sunglasses, and throw yourself into that mosh pit. Here we have Otwo’s guide to festival dressing, and just because it’s going to get muddy doesn’t mean that you can forget about looking good enough to sneak into the VIP tent. Shorts are a festival essential, and denim always works, whether it’s distressed and tie-died or classic and clean-cut. Tried and tested by us all during those rainy Oxegens, they work whatever the weather and when teamed with some bright wellies, you’ll be prepared for whatever happens. Layers on top are essential for a sudden shower or to stop the sun from burning your skin while you’re too busy singing along to your favourite song. Keep your look slightly grungy and boyish to avoid looking too overdressed among the thousands of music-and-camping lovers, even if all you want is to find a plug for your hair straighteners. Oversized tee’s are super-versatile; just roll the sleeves up, or even cut them off to add a hint of rock’n’roll to your outfit. Then layer up with shirts and zippies to keep it casual and practical. If the stink of the portaloos and junkfood bingeing is too much, reclaim your femininity
with some bright accessories. Paint your nails rainbow colours, throw some glitter on your face and have a different pair of sunglasses for every Laura wears: day you’re there. All shapes and colours work well Denim top · €30 · A|wear at festivals, where really anything goes. Jewellery Skirt · €45 · A|wear is also an easy way to add a touch of glamour, so Boots · €29.99 · New Look stack the bracelets high and throw some bright necklaces over your festival lanyard. Bright colours and tribal patterns are a guaranteed hit at festivals; a hippy vibe is always rife wherever there’s a collection of people in the midst of tents and beer. Florals also work for a more girlie interpretation of festival fashion. Whether they’re printed on your shorts or coming out of your hair, anything with a floral print is instantly refreshing and pretty against a backdrop of mud and mayhem. Although a summer dress may seem like an unlikely inclusion in any festival wardrobe, the high street has some great versatile dresses that would definitely survive any festival. Easy to wear, and a cool alternative to shorts, cotton dresses in any number of popping colours and clashing patterns are available. Team with a denim jacket or an oversized shirt and any dress can be transformed into a festival favourite. So enough about what to wear – go grab a pint, catch your favourite band and enjoy! by Sophie Lioe
Models: Maria Whelan and Laura Brennan Photographer: Caoimhe McDonnell Stylist: Sophie Lioe
Laura wears: Neon shorts · €19.99 · New Look Aztec top · €14.99 · New Look Denim top · €30 · A|wear
A Model Example? In light of a few recent, controversial cases, Sophie Lioe explores the growing debate over models’ rights and the efforts to increase awareness of their existence
eing a fashion model is all ing store Urban Outfitters were about glamorous parties, being sued by the parents of a sixfree designer clothes and teen-year-old American model for not being able to help be- twenty-eight million dollars. Haiing beautiful, right? Un- ley Clauson is proving to be a bright beknownst to us mortals, the mod- new star in the industry, walking elling industry does in fact have a for the likes of Calvin Klein and Didark side. We’ve all heard about the ane Von Furstenberg. The images constant pressure to be skinny and that Clauson’s parents are suing the wrath of bitchy fashion world over, however, were taken when individuals, but we may not be so she was fifteen and are described familiar with stories of sexual har- in the lawsuit as “salacious”. The assment and the constant disregard photographer, Jason Lee Perry, for child labour laws. Modelling is was never given the permission to one of the most unregulated of all publish them, and so Urban Outfitemployment industries, meaning ters were never allowed to splay the there is a huge risk of vulnerable images across their t-shirts. The isyoung models being taken advan- sue of models’ rights comes to the tage of. It is for this reason that fore here – was she being taken fashion model Sara Ziff, aged twen- advantage of by big hitters in the ty-nine, who has been working in industry who were preying on her the industry since the age of four- vulnerability and using her lack of teen, has set up the Model Alliance, experience solely for the purpose of a unique workers’ rights union spe- getting that perfect image? cifically for the modelling industry. So why then did her parents Although there does seem to be a agree to the shoot and attend it; tendency to dismiss the problems surely they would have presented and rights of those who work in this their worries at the time and preexclusive and glamorous world as vented any images which they frivolous, in Ziff’s words, “There’s deem as inappropriate being made? nothing funny about a work force Whatever the reason for this, the that is overwhelmingly young, fe- age of the model involved is the male, and impoverished, working point in question; should there be for some of fashion’s wealthiest, more stringent guidelines when most powerful brands.” The power it comes to the age of models and imbalance here is strikingly clear. the editorials for which they are The announcement was made booked? Age limits have been introahead of New York Fashion Week duced by CFDA for fashion weeks in February and was endorsed by in order to protect the exploitation top models such as Coco Rocha and of underage workers; no one under Doutzen Kroes. The initiative is sixteen can walk in a runway show. supported by the Council of Fash- Coincidently enough, Clauson was ion Designers of America (CFDA) the subject of controversy in this and has been welcomed by industry regard after it was exposed that professionals across the world. she was walking in fashion week The establishment of the Model runway shows before her sixteenth Alliance came only a few months birthday; she was even walking at after news broke that the cloth- shows of the CFDA President Von 8 Furstenberg. An increase in the
stringency of guidelines and rules for the modelling industry has undoubtedly modernised the occupation and provided it with muchneeded regulation, but whether these rules will be honoured by companies and individuals is still in question, and it appears that perhaps the industry is only changing on a superficial level. The Model Alliance is a project not unlike the Model Sanctuary created by British supermodel Erin O’Connor in 2007 – a space set up for models during London Fashion Week. According to O’Connor, the project was set up “in response to concerns of model health and negative portrayals of the industry in some corners of the media, the initial aim of the Model Sanctuary was to increase access to health guidance and support and, in general, to benefit models in a way that will be useful to them during their
career in fashion.” Clearly, rights awareness is on the rise and an increasing amount of emphasis is being placed on the wellbeing and welfare of those involved in this high-pressure job. So while whether the Clauson family will win their court case against Urban Outfitters and Perry remains to be seen, the question of whether this is a models’ rights issue or merely a copyright war is still unanswerable. What is certain, however, is that the modelling industry is finally catching up in regard to employment rights. What is normally cast behind the flashing lights and mystique that goes with such a glamorised industry is now being brought into the spotlight, to the advantage of all those who could so easily slip through the cracks and find themselves at the bottom of one of the most extreme hierarchies in any creative industry.
The Feng Shui NOM of Food NOM NOM
with Elaine Lavery
Aisling Daly looks at how an old Chinese practice can team up with food to improve your quality of life
With summer fast approaching, Elaine Lavery talks ice cream, and why it’s better to make it yourself
From Swiss photographer and comedian Ursus Wehrli’s collection The Art of Tidying Up
eng shui, an ancient Chinese art and spiritual pursuit developed over 3,000 years ago, is the complex practice of organising your environment in order to bring about a positive balance of energy which will assure health and prosperity in life. The art of feng shui, however, need not be limited to rearranging the furniture in your bedroom or cleaning the rubbish off your desk. If you think about it, food and feng shui can go hand in hand, as you can apply it to the way you arrange your meals in order to enhance positive energy and well-being. Elemental balance, Yin and Yang balance, and Aromatherapy are all important aspects of both feng shui and food. Elemental balance in food can be achieved through the combination of colours, just as one may try to achieve elemental balance in a room with colour through feng shui. A plate full of food of the same colour can look pretty bland and can therefore create an air of negative energy, so a stir-fry made with different coloured peppers, tomatoes, and red onion would be a much better choice, and a sign of a healthy diet. You don’t have to eat the rainbow at every mealtime, but incorporating a little more colour and variety in your diet will go a long way towards boosting your feng shui. The concept of Yin and Yang can also apply to your diet. In Chinese philosophy, Yin and Yang describes how in the natural world, seemingly polar opposites are interconnected and therefore complement each other. The balance of these two opposites leads to a perfect balance of energy and is therefore an essential aspect of feng shui. In terms of food, Yin would be associated with milder flavours, while Yang would be associated with more robust flavours. Many
Chinese recipes available at your local takeaway are already aware of the significance of Yin and Yang. Sweet and sour, as well as strong flavoured dishes served with plain rice, are all examples that adhere to this type of balance. It is important to get the balance of flavours right in cooking these dishes, as a meal that is too spicy or too mild can endanger your balance of energy. However, Yin and Yang is not only relevant to the contrast of flavours; it can also be applied to the balance of soft foods with crunchy or crisp foods. A plate full of crunchy food could tire the mouth, while a plate full of nothing but soft or delicate food may be unfulfilling, so a balance of these two extremes can help your Feng Shui. It’s no wonder Tayto sandwiches taste like heaven. Aromatherapy is very important in the art of feng shui, since the sense of smell can be quite influential when it comes to enhancing you mood and subsequent air of positive energy. One of the many simple pleasures in life is the smell of delicious food cooking. Aromatic seasonings like garlic, pepper, scallions, ginger and chillies can be added to your meal at the beginning of the cooking process so they can both complement the flavours of the main ingredients and fill the kitchen with a pleasant aroma. These appealing smells rid the home of negative energy and fill them with positive energy. In ancient China, the kitchen was considered the heart of the home, and the incorporation of feng shui into your diet can turn your kitchen into a more inviting and pleasurable living space, as it fills it with the positive energy that will ultimately enhance your happiness and prosperity. Whether you believe in any of this or not, it can be agreed that these feng shui tips can make mealtimes a tastier and healthier experience.
y love affair with ice-cream started early. The first time I ever tasted some was under the Eiffel Tower at six months old. It is no surprise that given one taste, I grabbed the entire cone from my mother; human beings are evolutionally drawn towards sugary and fatty foods – the sugar for energy and the fat for insulation – a more efficient way to eat and survive when food was scarce. Who doesn’t love ice-cream? It is so fitting for so very many occasions: a Magnum after dinner, a Twister on a summer’s day, a 99 at the seaside. Like a lot of things, however, the best ice-cream is the icecream you make yourself. My advice is to follow a recipe, but ice-cream is simple to make. The first stage is to make a custard base with egg yolks, caster sugar and milk or cream. When that has cooled, move onto the second stage, where you add a pint or so of cream, depending on your quantities. The third stage is the freezing process. It is advantageous to own an ice-cream machine but not essential. You get the same results by pouring the mixture into a freeze-proof container, placing in the freezer and stirring once every hour for several hours until frozen solid. For plain vanilla, you incorporate the seeds of a vanilla pod at the first stage; for chocolate, you incorporate melted chocolate at the second stage and so on. Various recipes will give different directions. A particular favourite of mine is lemon ice-cream. It is quite different from sorbet in that it is both lusciously creamy and zingy all at once. However, if the above sounds like far too much hard work, there is an even easier way to make ice-cream. If you are a berry fan, just whizz the berries of your choice (strawberry, raspberry, blackberry) with lemon juice and icing sugar, add cream and freeze. There is no need to stir this mixture hourly, because thanks to the high sugar content it will not crystallise. Homemade ice-cream can accompany any dessert, but the real pleasure is in eating a big bowl of it all on its own. Vanilla and chocolate ice-cream are particularly fantastic jazzed up with homemade chocolate or caramel sauce (or both if you are really naughty), toasted nuts and whipped cream. Nom nom nom. 9
Piz Gloria RESTAURANT, SWITZERLAND
Leap on a cable car and hurry to this swivelling restaurant in the mountains, where you can indulge your inner spy, writes Caitríona O’Malley
hat is it like peering out at sunlicked vistas draped in snow whilst chomping on chicken and baby roast potatoes? Make haste to a cable car, try not to dwell on the vicious rocks below and get thee to the Piz Gloria revolving restaurant on the delightful Schilthorn summit in Switzerland, the land where bells tinkle on the necks of the cows. It’s just like Heidi. If you’ve spent a hilarious morning witnessing your friends skidding on ice in the fashion of a drunken Bambi, a hot meal in this bizarre place is very welcoming indeed. Fear not, however; this eatery does not hurtle around, but rather pivots at a relaxed pace, so there is no risk of a somersaulting stomach. This allows you to gulp in the majestic peaks at the same time as guzzling on food and sipping a drink. It also means that the surroundings alternate pleasantly between drops of sunshine and cooling shade, and you don’t grow weary from gazing at the same patch of snow for an hour. The area where the revolving restaurant is situated was the location for one of the less well-known James Bond films, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, in 1969, and they certainly capitalise on this, with the obligatory gift shop loaded with souvenirs nearby for when you have finished your grub. Before that, though, perhaps order a martini and polish some skis for a hasty getaway from a horde of ne’er-do-wells later on. Service is quite swift in the restaurant, so there will be no stomachs growling for too long. As mentioned already, this writer enjoyed a meal of chicken, potatoes and vegetables followed by what seems to be a favourite dessert in Switzerland: a bowl of custard, which comes as a tasty and refreshing splash of sweetness after a piping hot dinner with generous portions. Piz Gloria is in the Alps above Murren, and boasts a viewing walkway outside, just where the cable car stops. A marvellous and original place to grab a bite. 10
Much Peru About... Be brave and be bold, as a visit to Peru is not for the delicate or for the faint-hearted, writes Olivia Van Walleghem
vibrant orange as they bask on the rocky outcrops and soak up the midday sun while large groups of cormorants, boobies, and pelicans pass overhead. The National Reserve excursion takes you to a vast desert region, with magnificent views where you can gobble down delicious ‘ceviche’, a citrusbased tangy coastal fish dish. A visit to the Nazca lines is a must. After hefty urope is nothing if not accessible, Aus- negotiation, the most reasonable and informative tralia is the one-stop migration station, helicopter tour will take you across 500 square but what about South America? Brazil kilometres of arid rock, which encompasses and Argentina are well trodden by gap over 800 lines, 300 geometric figures and some year students, but Otwo decided to seventy animal and plant drawings. In the blaring step apart and visit South America’s third larg- midday sun you could be forgiven for thinking est country, Peru. From bargaining in bustling you are hallucinating, but the videos in the under-equipped train stations, to trekking up the departure lounge heighten your knowledge of the Colca Canyon with a three-toothed guide who origins and intricacies of the lines. had minimal English, at each turn it was a chalIn the south, Arequipa is Peru’s second largest lenge. Yet it could easily be a trip of a lifetime. city. The texture of the buildings, with white Immediacy, urgency, pressure? Not here. volcanic stonework, shroud the region with an Life is less demanding and more about the brass air of peacefulness against a backdrop of El Misti, tacks or simple necessities in life – the flavours a volcano that rises majestically from behind in the food, the colour in knitted jumpers, and the cathedral on the main square. A trip to the hats emblematic of the Incas, the ‘madreterra’ Colca Canyon is a must from here. With rough or mother earth. Peruvians are an incredibly terrain and sharp sudden inclines, it is nothing laidback and approachable people. A meagre like the well-mapped gentle saunters you might few ‘soles’ (the local currency) will go a long way be accustomed to if you are an occasional visitor once you are prepared to turn expectations into of the Wicklow mountains. acceptance. North again, the city of Cusco is the base Lima is the capital and a necessary, gentle point of the infamous Macchu Pichu. The Inca introduction. Buses were bulging, menus offered trail takes four days and three nights, arriving mounds of the local produce, and the streets on the final morning at this world wonder. Don’t hummed with the sound of differently pitched worry about having to carry food and water; in horns as people fervently signalled their right fact you don’t even need to know how to erect a of passage. Proceeding down the coast by bus, tent, as a team of local legends constantly races you’ll land in Pisco, which was once wracked by ahead to set up camp for lunch or for the night. an earthquake. The community spirit is palpable, A sense of shared accomplishment peppered with the local dogs and children happily joining with spectacular views and intimate exchanges you for an evening stroll, while on the main with the wildlife keeps you going. Nothing square the local guards and their dogs entertain, will prepare you for the final hike to reach the singing songs that emphasised their crucial role glorious summit and be suddenly free of the in protecting your neighbours. damp intervals and copious steps. You have a Las Islas Ballestas, accessible by a spectacular view over the empire, so to speak, as the sun rises ferry ride, showcases the three pronged majestically on the final morning – a dazzling and candelabra etched into one façade of the islands as triumphant feat with which to finish the trip of a well as sea lions ranging between dark grey and a lifetime.
Photographer: Olivia Van Walleghem
Photographer: Donna Doyle
Donna Doyle takes the trip of a lifetime to China’s capital and discovers a city and population far removed from that of the West
ontemporary Beijing is not a beautiful city by design. The dense capital is home to skyscraping apartments, factories and gargantuan chimneys that pollute the air as much as they do the scenery. However, it is the dichotomy that exists between the minimalist landmarks of postcultural revolution China and the traditional gems of the historical Empire that makes the city a visual spectacle. Home to a myriad of impeccably preserved attractions such as the Forbidden City, the Temple of Heaven, and the Summer Palace, the city is a history buff’s dream. The vast Tiananmen Square is located at the centre of the city the epicentre of an area of massive cultural significance. A Westerner can expect to attract a bewildered and native audience, many of whom
have not had the opportunity to meet a Caucasian person. Expect harmless pointing, staring and followers with cameras. Surrounding the Square, you will find a number of notable attractions worth a visit including the National Museum of China, Chairman Mao’s Mausoleum, and the Monument to the People’s Heroes. To the north of the Square is the entrance to the Forbidden City. A collection of 980 beautifully intricate buildings that boast traditional Chinese architecture comprises what was the imperial palace for over 500 years. It is worth enlisting the historical knowledge of a tour guide for your trip around the Palace. If you have not already arranged a reputable guide, be sure to haggle and agree upon a price at the entrance with one of the many opportunistic guides that will approach you at the gate.
For a more laidback experience, the Temple of Heaven is ideal: a beautiful collection of religious buildings that served as the Emperor’s place of prayer, dating back to 1406. The surrounding parks are bustling with activity, and give tourists the opportunity to mix with the natives and partake in public singing, mass outdoor aerobics-cum-dance classes, or to join them in a game of Jianzi (a folk sport played with a peculiar-looking feather ball). It would be unforgivable to visit Beijing and not devote a day to the Great Wall of China. A two-hour car journey from the centre of Beijing, the Mutiyanyu section of the Wall is recommended over other tourist-swamped sections. The excitement of the attraction is heightened by the novelty of a terrifying ski lift to the top of the mountain and the opportunity to toboggan down, following enough cultural intake and a top-notch profile picture. Otherwise, it’s just a big wall. The least terrifying way to get around Beijing is by taxi. Fares are inexpensive, and a half-hour journey should cost no more than sixty CNY (roughly six euro). The challenge to attain a taxi cannot, however, be underestimated. Many taxi drivers refuse to take Western tourists, so allow a good half an hour to
hail a taxi. Furthermore, make sure to have the name of your destinations written in script to present to the driver, as no amount of handgesturing hints at “the Northeast gate of the Forbidden City. Also I need an ATM on the way” will do the job. In general, eating out is in the city is cheap, and a traditional meal can be acquired for the guts of ten euro. For all your shopping and cheap Chinese tat needs, pay a visit to the Pearl Market at Hongqiao Lu. The indoor market boasts five floors crammed with more counterfeit Converse and grammatically incorrect t-shirts than you could shake a chopstick at. Exercise some gall, and haggle at every corner – offer no more than twenty to thirty per cent of the original asking price. The reward is a bucketful of bad quality, branded merchandise for a pittance. Far beyond the troublesome taxi journeys and the tourist traps, a trip to Beijing offers an experience like no other. To glimpse a culture so vastly different from our own is an eye-opening and rewarding experience. It is the hospitable people, the amazing cuisine, and its remarkable history that makes Beijing a charming metropolis that offers the trip of a lifetime. 11
REVIEWS RESIDENT EVIL: OPERATION RACCOON CITY
SILENT HILL: DOWNPOUR
When gameplay trailers of Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City made their way online, the game looked like it would be a refreshing supplement to Capcom’s longstanding zombie-infested world. In the initial campaign of this third-person shooter, you play as an Umbrella agent, tasked with destroying evidence relating to their involvement in the viral outbreak that destroyed Raccoon City. You’ll move through scenarios from Resident Evil 2 and 3, crossing paths with characters from these titles trying to escape the city, while being pitted against bosses that Umbrella have lost control of. The main problem with the game isn’t the incredibly dull plot tenuously linked to an already enormously convoluted storyline from the Resident Evil universe, but that it simply isn’t fun. The whole development of the project seems to have been rushed, which results in a game that is a complete chore to play. If you play offline, the already tedious storyline becomes arduous thanks to the atrocious ingame AI; you’ll spend more time reviving your teammates than actually being helped by them (on that note, the enemy AI isn’t any better; you’ll often see enemies casually running into a wall). On-
Silent Hill: Downpour is the eighth instalment in Konami’s psychological horror franchise, and it should help repair the damage which Homecoming did to the series’ reputation. Downpour follows the story of Murphy Pendleton, a convict being transferred to a maximum security prison only for his bus to crash, leaving him stranded in the nightmarish town of Silent Hill. Murphy is one of the most interesting and compelling protagonists to appear in Silent Hill; while not quite as complex as James, he certainly makes Harry and Henry look bland. The opening tutorial is a brutal affair, as your first taste of combat is for Murphy to stab to death an unarmed man in the prison showers. Murphy’s Otherworld is also among the most personalised of the series, replete with prison cells, gramophones tauntingly playing ‘Born Free’, and the Void, an entity doggedly pursuing Murphy, threatening to consume him. The transitions to the Otherworld are both cleverly enacted and visually amazing. Downpour encourages exploration rather than linearity, and intriguing side quests allow you to delve further into the tragic lives of the town’s inhabitants. Downpour also doesn’t simply try to ape its predecessors; rather than re-treading classic locations such as Brookhaven hospital or Midwich School, you explore an entirely new area of Silent Hill, a particular highlight being the hellish Devil’s Pit. The horror is well-paced with an
line co-op is marginally better, but connection with a full squad of teammates can take a frustratingly long time. The gameplay is simple, which is one of the game’s few assets. However, it doesn’t really help that you have only one goal in any given scenario: run into a room, shoot things, collect an item or destroy an item, then occasionally you run into a boss, who you’ll often end up fighting over and over again. The simplicity of the gameplay is also marred by the fact that the controls aren’t great; there will be times when you need to turn around and run away, but the game simply won’t allow you to. Similarly, the cover system occasionally just doesn’t work, so you end up getting shot, start bleeding, and a hoard of zombies begin running at you through no fault of your own. It is a poorly designed game. Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City was only ever going to be a title for hardcore fans of the series, but in all honesty, there’s really not much in it for its casual followers. The plot isn’t interesting; the gameplay is sluggish, and the only real challenge is committing enough time to suffer through the relatively short campaign. There is an online multiplayer, but if you own an Xbox 360, pick up Left 4 Dead, it’s a much better and much more fun game. If you only have a Title: Resident Evil: Operation PS3, just play anything else. Raccon City Publishers: Capcom by Conor O’Nolan Developers: Slant Six City Platforms: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Windows Release Date: Out Now
Title: Silent Hill: Downpour Publishers: Konami Developers: Konami Platforms: Xbox 360 Release Date: Out Now
atmosphere of foreboding being established gradually, building to the shocks and scares; rather than just throwing a steady stream of enemies at you. Daniel Licht has proven himself to be a worthy successor to series composer Akira Yamaoka; fashioning an atmospheric and unsettling score. The Bogeyman antagonist contains as much symbolism as Pyramid Head or the Butcher; and the introduction of Downpour’s rain dynamic is an ingenious feature as the intensity of the rain affects how numerous and vicious the monsters you encounter are, making the game more unpredictable. The only let-downs are poor facial animations and the lack of variety among the enemies you encounter. The game’s combat system has received some criticism, but this has been largely unfair. Downpour is a survival horror, not an action horror, and in a survival horror combat should be a little clunky and difficult, to emphasise the importance of flight rather than fight. Your inventory limits you to carrying only two weapons at a time and melee weapons degrade from use. This gives you a vulnerability sadly lacking in many other horror games. In Downpour you won’t be committing genocide like in Dead Space or Resident Evil 5; Murphy is an ordinary man with limitations, and the experience is all the better for it. Silent Hill: Downpour is the nearest thing to a true survival horror experience to be released by a large developer in recent years and for this fact alone it should be applauded. by Steven Balbirnie
Games GamesOTWO OTWO
TALKING ABOUT THE DEAD
Sean Vanaman, a leading designer at Telltale Games, talks to Steven Balbirnie about their adaptation of The Walking Dead, the importance of narrative, and digital distribution
ombies are everywhere in gaming Anyone familiar with Rick’s story knows that his farm. You’ll pair up with Glenn. And somethese days; whether in popular Georgia and its surrounding rural area plays thing we’re super excited about is that Lilly, franchises like Left 4 Dead and a huge role in the story, especially early on. In a lesser-known character from the comics, is Resident Evil, or in add-ons for our game though, you’ll be playing as Lee Ever- a main character in our group. If you’ve read titles as diverse as Red Dead Re- ett – a guy who was on his way to prison on the the books and know who the Governor is, you demption and Yakuza. So what can day of the outbreak. He struggles to survive be- might remember the woman who is essentialbe done in the zombie genre that hasn’t been fore running into an orphaned little girl named ly his right-hand. Well in the game, she’s part done before? The forthcoming adaptation of Clementine. The two, realising they are both of your crew.” The Walking Dead from Telltale Games seems without families now, link up and survive toThe Walking Dead is also unique when comto have the answer. gether. You’ll be going through the story as him pared with the rest of the zombie genre because The Walking Dead graphic novels and tel- and with her, making narrative choices as the it is a major title which will only be available evision series have become a massively popu- world crumbles.” via download and will be released as a series lar phenomenon, and it’s not hard to see why. These choices form a core dynamic in the of five episodes rather than a single title. VanaCreator Robert Kirkman has breathed new life game; according to Vanaman, “choice impacts man believes that the benefits of this format and into a genre that risked stagnation. Kirkman’s the story to varying degrees. Sometimes it de- approach outweigh the challenges. “The chalsuccess has been due to his focus on characters termines who is in your camp for the rest of lenges are just staying on schedule – you make and their relationships, rather than simply ac- the season. Other times it’s more ambiguous a promise for the game to be out and you have to tion or horror, and Telltale Games’ Sean Vana- and paints the picture of the type of guy you’ve hit it. And with a game as complex as The Walkman is keen to point out that this narrative chosen Lee to be.” Vanaman also states that “be- ing Dead it can be tricky. The benefits are huge focus will be at the heart of the videogame ad- cause Clementine is an eight-year-old girl, the – you get to hear the fans digest the story; you aptation; “I wouldn’t call this an action game. choices you make in the game begin to imprint get to see what’s working and not working. We The game is really more of a narrative horror on her, which should have some drastic impacts get to engage our fans on the forums and know adventure. You walk around environments ex- on the end of the game.” from the moment the first episode drops if the ploring and meeting characters, making diaWhile the game’s focus is on Lee and Clem- ending we have for the season will be satisfying, logue and story choices and then reacting with entine, it will remain faithful to the look and and if not, we can of course correct – but I have your gut (instead of a gun, usually) when death feel of the comic books; the comic’s writer, a hunch it will be.” is imminent. You’ll shoot zombies. You’ll axe Robert Kirkman, and artist, Charlie Adlard, Vanaman won’t be coaxed into revealing the their heads off. But the emphasis in the game have been involved in the design process. future of the franchise, but his indications are is narrative experience – it’s about navigating “Robert Kirkman has been really hands-on. He positive, “we have nothing to announce as per through a character story.” was incredibly receptive to my initial pitch of the future of The Walking Dead at Telltale but I Fans should be pleased that rather than cop- the story and has made sure the game and the can say I’ve written a story that can support it – ying the storyline of Rick Grimes in the comic writing feel like The Walking Dead. Charlie ac- and that’s pretty exciting.” books, Telltale are giving their audience an en- tually did the first piece of art for the game.” tirely new story, which compliments the main Vanaman reveals that players who’ve read the The first episode of The Walking Dead will be series while allowing the player to explore the comic books will also recognise plenty of fa- released on XBLA, PSN, PC, Mac, Steam and wider world of The Walking Dead. As Vanaman miliar faces in the game; “Right out of the gate iOS at the end of April. For more information on explains, “the game starts on day one of the you’ll meet Hershel and his son Shawn (alive Telltale’s pre-order contest visit www.telltalezombie outbreak in the comic books and takes this time! Not trapped in the barn as a zombie games.com/walkingdead/preorder-contest 13 place in and around Atlanta, GA and Macon, GA. as you might remember from the comics) on
This summer marks the beginning of the end for Breaking Bad; the series creator Vince Gilligan talks to George Morahan and Giles Brody about bringing one of America’s most acclaimed shows to its conclusion, and the ideas that are better left in the writers’ room. Warning: spoilers ahead
(l-r): Aaron Paul, Vince Gilligan and Bryan Cranston
The One Who Knocks An Interview with Vince Gilligan
ver four seasons and forty-six episodes, Breaking Bad has forged a reputation as one of American television’s greatest exports. The show, which follows cancer-stricken Walter White from his life as an emasculated chemistry teacher to his ever-tenuous position as a New Mexico meth lord, has proven to be a weekly master class in acting, cinematography and television writing, thanks to performances of a cast that includes Emmy winners Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul as Walter and his sidekick Jesse, the dazzling and innovative work of Director of Photography Michael Slovis, and the astounding patience of Vince Gilligan’s plotting. As a writer, Gilligan has proven to be meticulous and slavish in his commitment to the natural pacing of his story arcs, but just because he shows reverence in his writing, doesn’t mean everyone else will. “I’m a bit tired of the overuse of the word ‘like’; that’s a pet peeve of mine. Although having said that, Jesse Pinkman, on our show, uses ‘like’ all the time, and that’s very much on purpose, because he’s very much a man of his era. So even though I don’t care for that particularly, I feel we have to be accurate in his speech patterns.” Despite the critical mass it had reached on the other side of the pond, Breaking Bad has been largely banished to Netflix queues and filesharing websites in Ireland, in spite of Gilligan’s protests on a recent visit to Galway. “I’m willing to say this on the record: I’m very disappointed in our own studio for not getting this out there to places like Ireland and the UK, because I come here to Galway, and I see this wonderful room full of people, all of whom have seen the show ... I’m going to try to raise hell when I go back to California and try and change that. I don’t know 14
how much success I’ll have, but I’ll try.” Gilligan is probably used to obstacles in his path however. Indeed, it took years for Bad to make it to air. Having been a prominent writer for The X-Files in the late nineties, Gilligan would have to wait until 2008 for Breaking Bad’s first episode to be broadcast on AMC, the nascent American cable network that is also home to another critic-beloved upstart in the form of Mad Men. Even though Cranston has proven to be an inspired choice for one of TV’s most complex protagonists, network executives were sceptical of his casting. Their doubt looks foolish in hindsight, but it may have been understandable for them to question the hiring of the dad from Malcolm in the Middle to play a reckless, remorseless kingpin. Then again, Breaking Bad has been a show that doesn’t mind taking a few risks. Case and point: a scene from the show’s third season in which the head of a drug cartel informant, played by Machete’s Danny Trejo, is carried around the desert on the back of a tortoise, much to the morbid delight of some surrounding DEA agents – but even Gilligan had doubts about it at the time of conception. “When we came up with that scene we were so proud of ourselves that I said to everybody; ‘Let’s go to lunch early. We’ve really earned our money here. We’ve come up with this insane scene. We’ve got a severed head on a tortoise. It’s going to be such a shock to the audience; they’ve never seen anything like that before. I love it.’” It wasn’t long, however, before they started trying to push the scene further. “One of my writers, George Master, said ‘Okay, but you know what has to happen after that. Then the head should blow up,’ and even though I like to keep a safe writers’ room I had to say ‘George, for god’s sake, you’re gilding the lily there, man. We’ve
Fan art by Zack Wallenfang already got a human head on a tortoise; not everything has to blow up.’ But then I thought about it and I said ‘Dammit, he’s right. That’s the exact way to end the scene.’ It was at that point when it started to come together; ‘Just when you think you’ve seen everything, then one of the federalis should lean down to try and pick the head up but he realises it’s wired, it’s booby trapped, and boom!’ That was a wonderful moment of what had initially struck me as an over the top idea, but in fact turned out to truly make the scene.” Though keen to explore the genesis of the show, Gilligan cannot reveal what Season Five holds in store for Walt, Jesse and their evercomplicating alliance; “I’m looking forward to getting back into the writers’ room with my writers and putting answers to just that question, and many other questions that we have outstanding as to ... you know ... what the future of Breaking Bad will turn out to be,” he says. “We know we’re very fortunate to know when we’re going to end. We know we have sixteen more hours of story and the trick now is to fill those hours in the best, most satisfying way possible.”
Audery Tatou in Delicacy
e, as native English speakers in Ireland, are in a privileged position. Not only are we part of a diverse multinational economic community in which there is a free trans-cultural exchange of ideas, but our native language (albeit our official second language) is the dominant mode of communication in which those ideas are exchanged. Although it is not the language with the most speakers worldwide, English is now used as a ‘lingua franca’ in the global linguistic system, and current globalisation processes are reaffirming its position in the technology industries, in the flow of scientific knowledge, and especially in the global consumption of popular culture. Therefore, when it comes to international cinema, our unique position means we have open access to films that are not in our native tongue, but mass audiences always ditch the original, subtitled version in favour of the filtered Hollywood remake because they have bigger marketing campaigns; we are more familiar with the actors having seen them in magazines and on the internet, and, most pertinently, the dialogue is in English. But why do native Englishspeaking audiences have such an aversion to subtitles? The usual complaints about having to “read a film” and how subtitles break the illusion are invalid and are a demonstration of native English-speaking audiences’ complete unwillingness to engage in any way with a foreign language film, in much the same way we travel to a foreign country having not bothered to learn even a few words of the native language and then are frustrated when no one understands us speaking English a bit louder and slower. Subtitles are something that don’t seem to bother other cultures. For example, in China films often have two sets of subtitles, usually Mandarin
In the final film feature of the year, Dermot O’Rourke casts a critical eye over the relationship between Englishspeaking languages and foreign-language films
Lost in Translation
and Cantonese, for their foreign language films, and at international film festivals, such as Cannes, films are often projected with more than one set of subtitles to cater for the international audiences. Native English-speaking audiences are subtitle-phobic to the point of ignorance and it has, in recent times, allowed for the emergence of the needlessly large market of Hollywood remakes of foreign language films. Hollywood capitalises on the phenomenon by recycling stories from successful foreign language films – which by virtue of being successful abroad, have proven track records in attracting an audience – supplying them with a healthy budget, sticking in English speaking actors and generally giving the whole thing a sterile gloss. Take 2010’s horror film Let Me In, for example, a completely redundant remake of Tomas Alfredson’s brilliant 2008 Swedish film Let the Right One In. Let Me In relocated the story from the chilling isolation of
Lina Leandersson in Let the Right One In
Stockholm’s suburbs in the 1980s to for-shot remake of his masterpiece modern-day New Mexico. In solely Funny Games, albeit with it set in monetary terms, Let Me In was more America, with English-speaking acsuccessful and attracted a larger au- tors that cost three times what the dience than its far superior Swed- original did. Even recently, Icelanish counterpart. With its budget of dic director Blatasar Kormákur’s twenty million dollars (five times thriller Contraband starring Mark that of Let the Right One In) it man- Wahlberg is, in fact, a remake of a aged to take approximately eleven film called Reykjavík-Rotterdam in million dollars more than the origi- which Kormákur played the leading nal did at the box office. However, it role. is important to note that despite its The primary problem with Holsmaller budget and distribution Let lywood remaking foreign language the Right One In made a higher gross films is that the process is not just profit than Let Me In, which only a simple task of translating the diajust about broke even. logue and replanting the story in Moreover, the culture of remak- America. There are underlying culing foreign language films has led tural, language, and locality issues to foreign directors remaking their specific to its origin that means no own films for English-speaking au- film can just be directly extracted diences. Japanese director Takashi without fundamentally altering the Shimizu remade his 2002 horror core elements that made the film film Ju-on as The Grudge in 2004, great, and attracted a remake, in the starring Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s first place. Sarah Michelle Gellar and enjoyAmongst all this, there is a cening enormous success in the US tral question that still remains: in a and Europe. Even more pointlessly, time of unprecedented globalisation Michael Haneke brought out a shot- and independent international productions in film, what really constitutes a “foreign film”? Is Danny Boyle’s 2008 film Slumdog Millionaire, for example, with its setting, cast, and subject matter, an Indian film, or with its British director, financers, and (predominantly) English dialogue, a British film? Or is Irish-directed, Irish-cast, Belgianbased, English-financed thriller In Bruges an Irish film? It does appear that in the English-speaking West, certainly, that a film is deemed “foreign” not by the virtue of what it looks like, but what it sounds like. Yet what native English-speaking audiences must realise is that the real beauty of this medium is the universality of the language of cinema, and as such, that any really great film can be simply enjoyed by any audience, and in any language. 15
Damsels in Distress Title: Damsels in Distress Director: Whit Stillman Starring: Adam Brody, Analeigh Tipton, Greta Gerwig Release Date: April 27th
amsels in Distress is writer-director Whit Stillman’s first film since his 1998 feature, The Last Days of Disco. Stillman has emerged from his abstention with this wonderful campus comedy, full to the brim with feel-good antics. The first damsel we encounter is sophomore transfer student Lily (Analeigh Tipton) on her first day at the fictional Seven Oaks University. Opinionated Rose (Megalyn Echikunwoke), naïve Heather (Carrie MacLemore), and their painfully blunt leader Violet (Greta Gerwig) spot her from across the room and begin to bequeath a healthy dose of condescending advice to the sickly Lily. Although their interference is welcomed by Lily at the onset, it gradually becomes more and more apparent that she must distance herself from this messedup group. The Samaritan set, led by the wide-eyed Violet, run a suicide prevention centre amidst the arcadian grandeur of the University. The girls battle the suicide epidemic by dispensing generous
doses of doughnuts and offering tap-dancing lessons to the unfortunately unhappy students. The damsels, as characters, could be accused of being wholly unlikeable and altogether unrelatable to the viewer. They represent a contrived and unapproachable social sphere that we hope never to encounter – Tipton’s Lily is too weak and Gerwig’s Violet comes across as too disturbed to bare any recognition to real people. None of the damsels, nor indeed the fraternity brothers they are attempting to woo, are very appealing characters; although highly interesting individually in their own gruesome way, and positively entertaining when placed in the same space as one another. To say that this film has a story would be a generous statement. It has a wide variety of characters; these characters come with emotional baggage, but they forgot to pack a plot with them. It is altogether unclear as to where the ‘plot’ falters,
irror Mirror continues the throwback to myth and legend that is currently sweeping the ‘tween’ nation thanks to the Twilight series. The film is but one of two reimaginings of the classic Grimm fairy tale, Snow White, out this year, and attempts to modernise the story, but widely misses the mark. On reflection, the Kristen Stewart-led Snow White and the Huntsmen will not have a lot to live up to. The colourful film follows the basic criteria of the original “Once upon a time…” tale to which
perhaps as prematurely as when the advertisements began. Stillman still manages to affirm his reputation as the new Woody Allen with the beautiful rendering of this film. The camera work and quirky scene changes save it from becoming romcom garbage. While the script could have benefitted from more external input, Stillman’s dialogue is still entertaining to say the least. Despite the generous doses of humour the script is a meandering one; the focus of the film is, at times, indistinct and testing of the viewer’s patience. Though juxtaposing what is technically an annoyingly tortuous plot with a delightfully visual character portrayal, Damsels in Distress proves to be a surprisingly refreshing experience. In a Nutshell: Sharp, witty dialogue complete with a good helping of absurdity. by Emily Mullen Title: Mirror Mirror Director: Tarsem Singh Starring: Julia Roberts, Lily Collins, Armie Hammer Release Date: Out Now
everyone is familiar. Snow White (Lily Collins) is locked away by her evil stepmother ( Julia Roberts) as she fights to hold onto the title of ‘fairest of them all’ within the kingdom. The princess eventually escapes the clutches of the Queen’s bumbling henchman. Newly independent, she encounters the Prince (the face of the Winklevii himself, Armie Hammer), who is on his way to the castle and takes a shine to her. As she continues on her journey, she stumbles upon the seven dwarves who heroically attempt to win back her birthright and help the suffering people of the kingdom.
Mirror is imbued with some impressively Burtonesque cinematography, and the detailed costuming and set-design are also worthy of praise. However, the film lacks playfulness and never fully embraces how ludicrous it really is. Similarly, the characters come across as bland, with the extremities of their personae never being fully exploited. Singh plays it safe, and Mirror feels rudderless as a result. Roberts cannot be taken seriously as evil, by any stretch of the imagination. It has to be said that she is just too likeable for such a role. Her attempts at a cackle befitting a witch are unbearable and unbelievable. Snow White, despite her beauty, is unmemorable and for someone who has just turned eighteen, she has a much older demeanour. The prince certainly lacks in the charming department, and his meetings with the princess are extremely awkward. All three characters lack chemistry, and thus the entire film is dramatically flawed. The stars of the Mirror Mirror are the seven dwarves, who are repackaged with new, modern names and a more action-packed role. They produce many of the film’s killer lines and also provide some of the best acting, despite an Oscarwinner’s presence in the cast. In a Nutshell: The magic of the original tale is left out, but it is a technical achievement nonetheless. by Jordan McMahon
Cop to the Future & Back III: No Subtitle Necessary
h, yes. The series Title: Cop to the Future & Back III: No Subtitle Necessary some people said Director: David Reilly they couldn’t care Starring: Conor Barry, Cailbhe Doherty and Lionel Richie less about, and othRelease Date: Out Now ers said they really couldn’t care less about, is back once more for an inconceivable amount quadrovisual glory. Although tech- In a Nutshell: The most Jewish timeof brick-shitting amazement. The nology still limits David Reilly’s travelling badassery movies’ best known Jewish ex-cop, boundary-pushing brilliance in the you’ve seen in a tween time-traveller and taxidermy en- director’s chair he hasn’t forgotten thusiast Harvey Price is in the deep his roots, and there are obvious ref- drama since My Crowbar Mitzvah. end for the third installment in the erences to Blackula, Nude Nuns with Cop to the Future and Back series, and Big Guns, and Another Funny Movie by Dermot O’Rourke hardcore fanboys will most prob- Title peppered throughout. It is ably be disappointed – this one is also worth staying behind for the outstandingly mediocre, and the Bollywood-style credit sequence as Christian Bale as third one in a trilogy is usually the Veloci-Rapper insults each member Patrick Bateman in of the crew through – wouldn’t you shit one anyway. American Psycho Cop to the Future and Back III: No know it – the medium of rap, while Subtitle Necessary’s story is set in the Harvey lays down some tasty beats. years following the last of the Brit- The director also has a two-hour ish Prime Minister beat downs in long message at the end which can which a topless Harvey Price ran be best summarised as “You’re welabout yelling “Jive turkey!” at David come, World.” Placing this film in the pantheon Lloyd George while kicking him in the shins. It sees the detective’s of cinema history is difficult. Altomoustached infant son Jorge reu- gether it’s best to say this is the movnite with Veloci-Rapper (voiced by ie a Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and Cailbhe Doherty) as the pair travel Three Men and a Baby hybrid would through the space-time portal in have been if its cocaine-fuelled search of rogue detective Price and weekend bender went on a cocainefuelled weekend bender, got lost in his rabbit. But forget about the plot (be- Coppers because he couldn’t find cause the film sure does) and just his friends in the stupid place and sit back and enjoy the juggernaut was found a few days later face down of mind-blowing action, mild ho- in a puddle of his own vomit with a moeroticism and intense games of traffic cone on his head. Expect crazy golf in all their cinemaphoric with more moustached babies.
10. Patrick Bateman - American Psycho (2000) Über yuppie Bateman’s gleeful butchering of prostitutes and dogs alike is only eclipsed, in terms of repugnance, by his shameless touting of Heuy Lewis’ macabre oeuvre. 9. James Bond - Any James Bond film (‘62 - present) Taking misanthropy and misogyny to a new, almost ecclesiastical level, and equipped with exploding toothpaste and the charisma of a back issue of GQ, 007 has, we will gruntingly admit, demonstrated a certain altruism on some notable occasions. 8. Katsuro - The Human Centipede (2010) Critics will surely concur when we say that a sure-fire way to subvert the image of the classical hero is to portray him on all fours, defecating in the mouth of a squealing American tourist. 7. Raoul Duke - Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998) Based loosely on real-life antihero of journalism Hunter S. Thompson himself, acidsinged Duke and his similarly disposed attorney hurtle towards Las Vegas via Bat Country in the vain pursuit of a plot. 6. William Foster - Falling Down (1993) Throughout this sweaty explosion feast, Michael Douglas’s Foster raises questions about modern society; questions of which the pertinence is undermined somewhat, however, by his bazooka-brandishing delivery. Oh what, you’ve seriously never fantasised about shooting hole in the ceiling while queuing in a McDonalds? 5. Rentboy - Trainspotting (1996) Skag fiend Renton’s opium-addled philosophical slurrings add charm and colour to this masterpiece, as he leads us by the veins on a bleary, murky tour that encompasses Edinburgh’s darkest subcultures, Ewan McGregor’s flaccid penis, and the fragility of friendship. 4. ‘’Dirty’’ Harry Callahan - Dirty Harry (1971) He’s an unruly, right-wing cop who eats individual rights fried for breakfast, and who maintains that moving one’s mouth is sign of weakness, but dammit, chief, does he get the job done. Perhaps he means only to enlighten with his repeated suggestions of anal insertion. 3. Heathcliffe - Wuthering Heights (1939) As if you’ve never, when a certain damsel has proven unobtainable, considered endeavouring to tie the knot with her sister-in-law in order to piss her off. 2. Lester Burnham - American Beauty (1999) Even the devout pessimists among us will admit that when you find yourself lifting weights alone and stoned in your garage in order to persuade your daughter’s school friends to have sex with you, life has taken a murderous turn for the worst. 1. Humbert Humbert - Lolita (1962) Vladimir Nabokov’s erudite fille-fondler Humbert is the quintessential antihero. Narcissistic, condescending, and sexually eccentric, he is redeemed somewhat by his eloquence and earnestness in the most human of Kubrick’s films. by Stephen Connolly 17
OTWO Film & television
Best of the best In the very last Fatal Fourway of the year, the Foursome battle it out to settle the great debate, once and for all - of all of this year’s winning entries, what was the best of the best?
After my shocking landslide victory in the penultimate round that can only be described as “a shocking landslide victory” this is how the things look going into the final Fatal Fourway round:
So lads, we’ve come to the end. It’s been traumatic, and as the Foursome’s perennial loser I can only say it’s a relief. I’ve made some unpopular choices and been on the end of some truly brutal defeats, but I’ve staggered on. Granted, it’s not too much of an effort on my part to write 200 words every fortnight, but my demise is usually a foregone conclusion. I must cling dearly to my rare victories, and with The Wire I certainly have a good one. However, even as I write this, I know it will lose in the polls, but sure, The Wire is used to such treatment. Even the series’ creator, David Simon, has recently called The Wire’s fanbase “wearying”, saying that he now treats those who apply endless streams of superlatives to his magnum opus with “amused contempt”. It’s a great show, and the ratio of ink spilled about it to the amount of people who have watched it is gratuitously in favour of the former. I’m sorry for adding further column inches to the anthology of Wire fandom, but I had only one other option, and quite frankly I prefer The Wire to How I Met Your Mother in every way imaginable. So, I shall go down in a blaze of glory and with my dignity intact like Snoop, rather than be blindsided like Omar. “How my hair look, Mike?”
How time has passed – twelve issues in, and thirteen fourways later (including the obviously rigged Christmas special), and the scores are insanely close. Aoife is just half a win ahead of me, and Dermot half a win behind, with George trailing all the way back in Loserberg. A good solid win would have me rocking on top of the board at the end of the competition, so let’s make this last Fourway a good one. We all know why Firefly is great. It’s written and directed by Joss Whedon. It was cancelled long before its time. It has such a devoted fanbase that it broke the studio model and got a feature-length sequel made and released. It’s a show about space cowboys. You know how good people think their newborn child is? Firefly makes their newborn child look shit. So, rather than reiterate the merits of my personal favourite show ever, I will try to convey how important it is that Aoife doesn’t win, in the hope that all you charitable people will get on Facebook and vote for Firefly. You remember when the UCD Ball was cancelled last year? That was Aoife. That Samantha Brick article in the Daily Mail? Aoife, albeit under an assumed name. Kony? All Aoife. Aim to misbehave - don’t let her win.
For most of the year I have been subject to my floating half-head being placed on the far right of the page almost every issue, despite my relentless complaints about it. More importantly than that, I’ve been subject to constant ridicule for my Fourway choices, for my complete lack of cultural awareness, and for once saying Graham Linehan was ‘lame’. Despite all of that, according to Dermot’s lovely table, I have defeated you all, with my wit, charm, and amazing knack for convincing people that the shit I watch is definitely the best option. That or I’m actually more culturally aware than any of you truly are, which is, in all fairness, the most likely possibility. Linehan aside, running with any of my previous choices would almost definitely guarantee me yet another win, but only one stands out as being the obvious choice – Up. It is not only the greatest Pixar film of all time, but also a film that makes you the happiest human being, even though you’re crying like a baby. Whether you fall in love with Doug because he’s hiding under your porch, or the old man because he’s old and grumpy but actually a softie, or Russell because he just wants explorer badges and a friend, you’ve fallen in love and there will be no other choice for you. It may only like you temporarily, and you may smell like prunes, but SQUIRREL!
Name Glorious Victories Aoife ................................................. 4 Jon .................................................. 3½ Dermot ............................................. 3 George ............................................ 1½ Despite thinking Mean Girls could count as a Western, calling Graham Linehan “lame” in the Graham Linehan round and still really liking heroin, Aoife is on top and seemingly most in tune with the TV preferences of the college, although it’s probably more likely that she’s just the nicest and has the most friends. However, none of that will matter for this one, because Arrested Development is not only the best show I have written about this year, but one of the greatest TV shows of all time. With one of the smartest scripts ever committed to TV, the biggest range of ingenious characters, and moments from GOB such as “BEES?! BEADS?! We’ll see who brings in more honey,” you really can’t go wrong. The best part about it is that it’s making a return in 2013 with a new series and a movie. To say I am anticipating this would be the understatement of the year. Get on board! 18
Go on the University Observer Facebook page and have your say; what is the best thing of the best things ever?
Another Level A man of few words, Avicii speaks to Aoife Valentine as we trail him across continents to talk about being dubbed a ‘prodigy’, his relationship with David Guetta and that Leona Lewis song
vicii is not an easy man to get in touch with. As probably the youngest well-known electronic dance music (EDM) producer and DJ in the world right now, maybe Otwo should have seen this coming. Although it is not entirely unimaginable that his hectic schedule may have him tied to the DJ booth, a chase across continents for a chat was not what we saw on the cards. We narrowly missed him as he checked out of the Ritz in Taipei to play a gig and then jump on a plane to Australia, at which point he dropped completely off the radar, as pilots aren’t known to facilitate mid-air interviews. An hour after he lands in Sydney, Otwo finally reaches Tim Bergling, the man behind Avicii. After such a long journey, he could be forgiven for being more than a little cranky taking a late-night press call, but he didn’t seem remotely perturbed - then again, late nights are presumably something he’s very used to. Currently on tour, before he even made it to Taipei, he had, in the fortnight previous, played many shows between Miami and South Africa; playing a different club every night of the week is nothing new for the twenty-two-year-old sensation. “We’ve been touring America for about two years and even in that short amount of time, electronic music has just blown up; it gets bigger and bigger every day… I mean, Electric Daisy [Dance festival in America] has been around, I think, since 2000, but the amount of people going now – it’s remarkable.”
Undoubtedly, ‘Levels’ has brought Bergling considerable recognition, along with his earlier hits ‘Bromance’ and ‘Seek Bromance’, all of which have contributed in no small way to his listing in DJ Magazine as the sixth greatest DJ in the world at the moment. Their success, however, was not something he ever foresaw. “When I’m making music in general I never go in with an idea of making a hit ... I try to just make what I like – it’s really hard for me to know which tracks other people will like.” With such a rapid rise to fame, and the press constantly throwing the word ‘prodigy’ around, it would be understandable for Bergling to be feeling the pressure at this stage, but he assures us, “I’ve been working too hard to be overwhelmed. But I mean, I definitely get overwhelmed when I see that amount of people at a show … I understand it’s been a remarkable journey, but I can’t see myself as a prodigy.” He has been hugely involved in remixing tracks, most notably a recent high profile number for Madonna, but it is something he can make less and less time for as his success grows. “I used to do a lot of remixes but I’ve been doing way less than I used to. I don’t [approach a remix] in the same way I would my own track – I usually look for a vocal and try to build my own track around it.” Despite retreating somewhat from remixing, it is still something that Bergling feels is important for building good relationships and a sense of community between DJs. “It’s often a first point of collaboration between DJs. You say, ‘Okay, I’ll do a remix for you if you do a remix for me,’ so it’s a great way of getting to know new artists you didn’t know before.” He cites his own relationship with David Guetta – leading DJ and producer, sitting pretty at number one on the Top 100 DJs list – as being the perfect example of this. “I’ve been working with David a lot, with remixes and stuff. He just approached me and my manager about doing a track together and he already had some parts and that’s kind of what happened … He’s been supporting me a lot, so it was good to finally do something with him.”
Up until this point, Bergling has been keeping his answers more than concise, however when the topic of collaborations with pop singers comes up, it’s clear it is a touchy subject for him. “It can be quite difficult to get pop singers to sing without giving them a feature. Personally, I’m just trying to focus on doing my own thing with the music. I don’t really care if something is commercial. I just care about the music and that’s all that me and my manager have cared about from the start – we won’t do anything just for the sake of it, so we wouldn’t do a track with whoever just to make a track.” Perhaps his now resolved legal dispute with X Factor winner Leona Lewis has made him more wary of venturing into collaborations with pop stars, but it is an issue he wishes to remain mute about, saying only that, “I didn’t really do the track. I don’t know what I can and can’t say.” As a general rule however, he feels the growing trend of mixing pop and house music can only be positive. “For EDM, I think it’s phenomenal. It can reach many more people and make them aware of maybe more underground EDM music.” Legal disputes aside, refusing to comment on what to expect from his first arena tour beginning next month, and even more guarded when it came to his future plans, Bergling is still quite the mysterious man. “Right now I’m just trying to keep the rhythm of what I’ve been doing; keep working with my manager, keep the music. I mean I have a lot of upcoming music and a lot of upcoming stuff, it’s just I don’t know how much I can say.” Even hesitant to commit to the idea of a debut album, he only says, “I would love to have time to make an album. Right now there’s just no time for it, but hopefully sometime in the future, sure.” Before disappearing off into the night, he did happily confirm his excitement about getting back to this side of the globe. “I’m super looking forward to it. I’ve never been to Dublin, so it’s going to be a lot of fun.” Avicii plays The O2, Dublin on June 3rd. Tickets are priced at €45.40.
’m looking out at the largest brick Magnetic Fields frontman Stephin Merritt reluctantly talks to wall I’ve ever seen.” Stephin Merritt Conor O’Toole about his hatred for touring, and his orchestra is in Toronto. The Magnetic Fields mastermind sounds defeated. “I can go all the way up to the window and still see absolutely nothing but yellow brick wall. Well, pale ochre.” He is fifteen stops into the ‘Tour at the Bottom of the Sea’ and is ten stops away from Dublin. However, everywhere seems the same to him, reflecting, “Toronto is more all the same than everywhere else is.” Tomorrow Merritt will be in Montreal, hometown of Leonard Cohen, another North American accused of gloominess, who produces nothing but songs of love and humour. Merritt doesn’t seem too excited about visiting Dublin. “I don’t look forward to anything on tour. I just do what they tell me.” However, he admits to being a stereotypical ‘Irish American’. When asked where his ancestors hail from he answers, “I have no idea, as with most people; it’s part of the stereotype.” Well, at least it’s nice to be able to claim him as one of our own. The Magnetic Fields’ new album Love at the Bottom of the Sea is Merritt at his best, writing tragic and bizarre love songs infused with bone-dry wit. This includes ‘The Machine in Your Hand’, which finds Merritt wishing to be the mobile phone of his unrequited lover, and the lead single, ‘Andrew in Drag’, a lament for an unlikely crush; “A pity she does not exist, ‘tis shame he’s not a fag/The only girl I’ll ever love is Andrew in drag.” It’s been a minor hit, which Merritt seems minorly happy with. “The seveninch single sold out. I seem to be on a record label that seems to think it’s a good idea to have the single be a limited edition. So, eh, whatever.” Undoubtedly the band’s magnum opus was 1999’s 69 Love Songs which, over almost three hours, contains exactly what the cover promis- rest of the group have been keeping themselves es. Merritt isn’t precious about singing his own busy as well. “We travel with ten people. It songs, and allows a variety of voices to vocalise seems large when we have to get them all into his work. This, and the mix of synthesisers and vans. And one of them is a baby. And one of acoustic instruments, give the album an idiosyn- them is a nanny. The baby dances. A few days cratic and variable sound. This year’s release ago Shirley [the band’s autoharpist and vocalist] marks his first use of synthesisers since then. wrote a song called ‘Hookers and Blow’ and Following 69 Love Songs the Magnetic Fields they made a little video of it yesterday or the released i, Distortion, and Realism, which were day before. I imagine it’s on the blog. So you can concept albums in their own right. i’s tracks see the dancing baby.” all begin with an ‘I’, Distortion’s featured The last twenty years in music mean that distorted sound, and Realism was essentially the Merrit has an extensive back catalogue of music antithesis of that, an acoustic folk album. to draw from, so some songs from Love at the “I guess I’ve been pretty constrained in Bottom of the Sea may not get a live debut on this various ways for the last three records. It tour. His long career seems to have tired him hasn’t just been no synths, it’s been particular out somewhat and he does not appear to derive collections of instruments in order to make the much joy from playing any more. “Just because records cohere. This one has a sort of constraint we’re not playing it on this tour doesn’t mean in that everything is electrical. Other bands we won’t play it on another tour. Although as have constraints because they only have a few always, I’m saying that this must be the last tour instruments and they only know how to play a or I will kill myself.” few things. We have to impose our own because Presented with the thought that this will I have hundreds of instruments and we’re certainly be the last tour regardless, as a result, basically an orchestra.” Merritt coolly replies, “It keeps me from killMerritt’s love of obtuse acoustic instruments ing myself immediately, to say that I will just was the source of the most excited part of our kill myself later.” When Otwo asks him about chat. A picture of him wielding what appeared, the prospect of his management intentionally to our ignorant eye, to be a sort of lute appeared booking dates far into the future to prevent on the band’s blog recently. “It was a baroq-ulele! him from committing suicide, he pauses. “Just Sounds like a ukulele but looks like a baroque the thought of it is so depressing, I can’t answer instrument. To me it looks like a truncated oud.” the question.” In addition to oud shopping, Merritt has another hobby to keep himself occupied on The Magnetic Fields play the Olympia Theatre tour. “I compulsively look for what the local on April 28th. Tickets are priced from €27.90. 20 interesting real estate is, wherever we go.” The Love at the Bottom of the Sea is out now.
Ever Fallen in Love? Thirty-six years since the height of punk, Emily Mullen gets to grips with Buzzcock’s guitarist Stephen Diggle as he vents about all manner of things, from electronic music to Justin Bieber
uzzcocks, the seminal Manchester punk outfit, made their debut gig while supporting the Sex Pistols in 1976. They never had to carry the same weight of punk reverence as the Pistols or the Clash, but the Buzzcocks have been able to pick up the pieces from their 1981 split and hammer out a successful music career with remarkable ease. The band have just started recording their ninth studio album to date and are currently touring the world, between recordings sessions. Although their hairstyles offer pale imitations of their former glories, their surging energy for recording and performing seems to be defying the aging process better than their follicles. Punk is no longer reserved for the disaffected youth, in guitarist Stephen Diggle’s view, but instead for the reactivated aging punks of yesteryear. Diggle speaks of the new strains of punk in a disillusioned manner, describing how modern bands replicate their predecessors rather than emulate them; “Now it seems like we all wrote the play, and they found the script and they’re re-enacting it out. It’s like, what’s their fuckin’ ideas?” Diggle describes his surprise at his band’s longevity. “When we started we never thought it would last this long. We never realised that we would become this famous.” For such an enduring band, the sheer quantity of line-up changes has been immense. Directly after their first album was released, drummer John Mayer and lead guitarist Howard Devoto left to join other bands. Numerous other musicians have filled their vacated roles in the years following, but Diggle and vocalist Pete Shelley remain the band’s omnipresent members. Diggle says of his former band mate Devoto’s departure that “he wanted to do some other things, we didn’t know what he wanted and we obviously weren’t providing. He made the record and said ‘Now I’m leaving’; we were left thinking ‘Alright, we just got going, thanks mate!’ But we carried on, it was better really; in terms of the chemistry, we became closer as a band when he left.” Though having not seen Devoto in “twenty or thirty years”, the original line-up will be performing together in London, over the summer.
The live performance is, for Diggle, the most fundamental part of a musician’s role. Regardless of the quality of deliverance, the act of playing live and communicating with the audience is of the upmost importance. “If I play something wrong, no one gives a toss; life’s not perfect, so why do you have to play perfectly? It’s in sync with the human condition; it’s flawed as well.” The energy that this flawed performance can produce cannot be replicated through headphones or stereo speakers for Diggle; “Punk was made to be performed live and to be experienced.” The emotion that can be transferred from guitar to body is central to the entire experience. “With those songs, when they came out you had to rethink your whole consciousness about how you were listening to music and what it was doing. It wasn’t just simply entertainment; it had things in there to inspire. People could take the excitement of some of the lyrics away with them; even if they were a road sweeper they could hear those songs and sweep their roads differently from that point on.” Through this great exchange between audience and band, Diggle disregards the use of so-called ‘machine music’, arguing that such a intense exchange cannot be replicated if there are no instruments involved; “The testament is that people still come to see us, as a band which is a living organism. It‘s almost as if we are organic; we come out of the ground and we can play live and through this. Magic can be created from the living
thing. The clacking of guitars; it’s a whole different concept than making pure computer music.” He emphasises that “Everybody’s at that ‘get your song remixed’ lark, but you can do that with your big toe on a computer, just tap it.” The modern phenomenon of YouTube is also a bone of contention; he argues that “the internet has made music less precious really, at the touch of a button you can get a million things. It’s like eating a box of chocolates, and when you eat the box of chocolates you feel sick. In our day you had to go down to a record store and buy the thing. It might have been no good, but if you invested your time and money on the record, you appreciate the good in it, however marginal.” Diggle seems to have distanced himself from the punk rage that was stereotypically reserved for the British government, and has redirected this anger at the modern music industry. Stating in colourful language that “I’m sure that there’s a lot of kids out there that are feeling unrest and realising that they’ve been hoodwinked by the great corporate fucking weasels that control the music business.” The products of such an industry enraged him further. “They are the dead, the living dead, some of these kids look like their mums have ironed their underpants for them on the tour bus. It’s like ‘Fuck, when did the music world ever work like that?” Diggle went on voice rather bluntly that he “fucking hates Justin Bieber.” Presumably this hatred is not directed at Bieber as a person, but as a representative of a corporate industry Diggle has come to loath. When asked has he heard any inspirational music lately, he replied, “Not really, haven’t heard any recently, and I can’t really say Westlife. That’s for weddings and funerals, that stuff.” On a softer note, he reasoned that perhaps modern punk is not dead, but just not gaining any substantial recognition. “For those musicians who are off the wall different, it’s hard for those bands to get a deal. I feel sorry in a way that things are a lot tougher now.” Yet if modern punk musicians do exist, you can’t help but think that the Buzzcocks aren’t too interested in finding out about their whereabouts. Buzzcocks play the Academy on May 11th. Tickets are priced at €26.50.
album REVIEWS Of Monsters And Men Labrinth My Head is an Animal Electronic Earth
M. Ward A Wasteland Companion B+
Graham Coxon A&E
Icelandic indie-folk sextet, Of Monsters and Men’s debut album My Head is an Animal is a charming and consistently catchy effort. The band are like a slightly less polished Mumford and Sons, with less banjo, more brass, the gentler parts of Arcade Fire, and a female lead singer thrown into the mix. The album is chock-full of refreshingly creative hooks that keep the listener enthralled; you’ll be tapping your feet like someone with WillisEkbom disease. It is not without fault however. The group don’t cover any ground that other bands have not already covered, with some tracks being uncomfortably generic quirky folk-rock. They are a blissfully fun listen, but they’re just not particularly memorable. If softly sung indie-folk is your bag, this could well be one of your albums of the year, but if you want something with a bit more meat, give it a miss.
The question at stake here is whether Having mainly spent the last while as Labrinth can deliver and develop upon the the rugged foil to Zooey Deschanel’s fresh sonic pull that turned ‘Earthquake’ cuteness in She & Him, M. Ward into a certifiable crossover hit. Electronic is back on his own terms with his Earth has a definite sound, yet it frustrat- eighth record. In twelve tracks and as ingly fails to create songs that are genuinely many styles, he’s made a record sure memorable, despite some solid tunes. In the to reinstate him as the internet-era ballad ‘Beneath Your Beautiful’, Labrinth troubadour du jour. surprises with a mature, tender collaboraThe bookending numbers, ‘Clean tion with Emélie Sande. ‘Vultures’ also Slate’ and ‘Pure Joy’ are outstanding. provides an example of Labrinth’s talent, One a hopeful declaration of fresh and is a grower with an anthemic backing. starts, one a redemptive love song, they ‘Express Yourself’ is a fun reworking of each have a simplicity of melody and the classic song, and nicely blends soul and tender execution that unabashedly electronica while even managing to name aims for the heart-strings. check JLS. The sunshine pop of ‘Primitive Girl’ The unmistakable touch of Simon Cow- and the country hue ‘Sweetheart’ are ell can be heard in the mindless pop of relatively ham-fisted in a harmless songs such as ‘Treatment’, and the album way, leaving the equally sweet and as a whole leaves the impression of a seductive ‘I Get Ideas’ to balance commercial exercise, lacking the innova- liveliness and intimacy. Even the slow tion of Kanye’s comparable 808s and moments, like ‘Crawl After You’ and Heartbreak. It seems unlikely that ‘There’s A Key’, brim a level of emotion Labrinth is on course to become ‘King’ of that shows Ward putting all he has the UK’s urban music scene. into his craft.
Clearly baulking at thoughts of observing key signatures onstage with the band this summer, Graham Coxon’s eighth exhibit for Blur’s backstage ‘Who’s got the most side-projects then?’ contests is gleefully dissonant. It’s a meditation on neurosis and violence that, not forgetting Coxon’s pop credentials, obediently remains within sight of digestibility. Here, he shuns his more bluesy sensibilities, evoking instead that evergreen buzzword, Krautrock, leading to something resembling Iggy Pop’s The Idiot if advised by Ray Davies and Robert Fripp. Coxon’s celebrated guitar thumps and shrieks dominate throughout, and it’s not so much what he plays that entices, but how hawkishly he does so, best seen in ‘What’ll It Take’ and ‘Seven Naked Valleys’. Satisfying though this is, the album wearies eventually however, and one might feel somewhat disenchanted eight songs in with nothing matching the gory heights of past classics like ‘Jamie Thomas’ and ‘Freaking Out’.
In a Nutshell: Needs more cowbell.
In a Nutshell: Some solid tracks, but no barriers broken.
In a Nutshell: Blur’s sinister split personality thrashes unopposed with thrilling, if limited, results. by Stephen Connolly
by Conor O’Nolan
by Elizabeth Beecham
Boyz R Us Boyz R Us, Girls R U A++
In a Nutshell: Rootsy tunes with a tender heart. by Cormac Duffy
Smashing into the charts like a brick being thrown into the faces of their pre-teen fanbase, Boyz R Us have been setting fire to both the music world and one solitary member of their pre-teen fanbase. Yes, the Boyz are here, and they will blow your tiny, reptile mind. Imagine if John Lennon had sex with Justin Timberland, Sporty Spice, Yann Tiersan, House of Pain, and Jeff out of Community. Then imagine they all had weird babies. Then imagine they formed a boy band. Then add more excellence, and you’ve almost got you the Boyz.
The record starts strong with ‘Pump Up and Down My Hump Pump’, gains momentum with summer anthem ‘Hump on Your Lump Rump’, before dropping the tempo with the swirling vortex of ‘Gonna Trump Thumps with Your Crump Flump’. It is an Odysessian journey from baby-making grooves, to pregnancy-inducing shimmies. In A Nutshell: This is the audio equivelant of a caramel orgy. Album of this, or any year. by Jon Hozier-Byrne
mixtape Sixth Year Holiday Anthems With summer plans on everyone’s minds, Emily Longworth takes a look at the chooooons that will make your summer truly epic
Prodigy – ‘Take Me to the Hospital’ To be played directly after you attend a foam party in high heels, hosted by a club that has tiled floors. Alternatively, you may get into a fight with a native owing to your casual racism whilst inebriated. Luckily, either mishap will open up a whole new chapter of holiday misadventure to you – the A&E drinking game!
The Doors – ‘Alabama Song (Show Me the Way to the Next Whiskey Bar)’ Jim Morrison here acknowledges the universal truth that when one desires to be shown the way to the next whiskey bar, nothing – nothing – can deter or suppress the urge of this desire, apart from the actual production of a whiskey bar. Don’t leave anything to chance kids; just bring them to the damn whiskey bar.
The Dubliners – ‘Seven Drunken Nights’ It is true that every Irish person hates every other Irish person until they go abroad, at which point they share a profound and deep connection. Uniting them in their newfound harmony are the songs of the Dubliners. You won’t need to know any of the lyrics to sing along, an indistinguishable warbling will suffice.
Vengaboys – ‘We’re Going to Ibiza’ With all the mentions of Venga Airways and Vengabuses in their music, one could easily mistake the complete anthology of the Vengaboys to be the promotional efforts of Venga Corp. That’s until the chorus kicks in, and the marriage of steel drums with synths restores the true message of the song: they’re going to Ibiza.
Darude – ‘Sandstorm’ One of those filthy techno anthems that you can never remember the name of, but recognise ‘the way it goes’. Accordingly, you will bring your best shelf-stacking moves to the floor when you hear it playing on the booze cruise around Gran Canaria. Or maybe you won’t, because you’ll have passed out on a Spaniard. Divine Comedy – ‘Pop Singer’s Fear of the Pollen Count’ In one of the most jovially up-beat summer ballads ever written, Neil Hannon grapples with the burden of having hay fever - a harsh reality for so many Irish holiday-makers. Mickey Joe Hart – ‘We’ve Got the World’ Ireland’s former Eurovision hopeful has been off the radar since his appearance on RTÉ’s Celebrities Go Wild back in 2007, but when you arrive in Santa Ponsa ready for a week long piss-up, you’ll see that he’s been busy playing gigs in Shamrock’s Irish bar three nights a week. Without fail, he ends every set with this song.
Pyotr IlyichTchaikovsky – ‘Romeo and Juliet Fantasy Overture’ To celebrate never having to analyse the set works on the LC music curriculum ever again, throw on the full seventeenminute version of “Jack-off-ski’s” Fantasy Overture during pre-drinks. Drink every time the horn enters the piece. Primal Scream – ‘Loaded’ The opening statement ‘We wanna be free, and we wanna get loaded, and we wanna have a good time’ earns this song its place on this playlist, and the seven minutes of psychedelic-gospel euphoria makes for ideal listening while you steal a few cheeky afternoon cans by the family pool in your hotel. Pulp – ‘Sorted for E’s and Wizz’ The world’s greatest ode to illegal drugs is the definitive soundtrack to your accumulated holiday hangover. Especially relevant if you’ve chosen a music festival as your destination - just remember not to leave an important part of your brain out there, somewhere in a field in Hampshire.
The duffington post As tangential as ever and slightly more sentimental, Cormac Duffy considers how music makes the mundane epic Two existential queries of equal weight are plaguing my mind this fortnight. Firstly, can I escape the impending unemployment and general hopelessness that the graduate workplace and this column’s end present me? Secondly, how is the song Taylor Swift recorded for The Hunger Games taste-defyingly better than Arcade Fire’s contribution? Tragically, the topical ring-fence of this column means I’ll tackle the latter, and you’ll have to wait for my future autobiography, Will Criticise Music for Food, for the former’s solution. Songs now seem to be picked for blockbusters based on how epic they are, a quality measured in the recently quantified and definitely real S.I. units of Dragonforces. Arcade Fire’s ‘Abrahams Daughter’ is not actually a bad song. It’s functionally tense in a plodding Hans Zimmer way, but it misses the band’s strength. The orchestral Canucks made their name turning the mundane transcendent, whether it’s the thoughts that grasp your mind in the backseat of a car, or the wish to escape the drudgery of suburban life. When they spin an interpretation of a Biblical tale, it recalls a rainy afternoon in listening to Michael Bolton. Such is this inverse relationship of subject and grandeur, that their inevitable concept album about making a cup of tea will be the soundtrack to battling dragons on top of a volcano in space. In fact, a core purpose of music’s occasional epic nature is its ability to make our lives seem like more than the sum of their parts. It starts in the throes of adolescence. Hormones af lutter and intelligence at its lowest, all our minor woes feel like the alpha and omega and many reach for culture that validates that. Think the larger than life pomp of The Black Parade, or even the morose swooning The Shangri-Las perfected as the teen tragedy. As with The Hunger Games, it’s the obvious reason young adult novels offer a world where a heroic protagonist’s problems are the moody centre around which their world rotates. We don’t grow out of it, however. For every battle-metal record or post-rock saga, there’s a Titus Andronicus dragging humdrum recession angst through civil war analogy on The Monitor or Mumford & Sons’ ill-defined rallying cries. I do a lot of unfocused thinking about music, and one of the few things I’m sure of is that, used right, it helps the day to day seem a bit more special, and a bit more tolerable. Lists of concept albums about unemployment on a postcard please. 23
Show Patrol Tuesday 10th april
Andrew W.K. - The Academy - 8:00pm - €25 Mark Black & the Trips The Workman’s Club - 8:00pm - €8 Aidan Bishop - Workman’s Club - 8pm - €10
Gig of the Fortnight
Wednesday 11th March
Jay Brannan - The Button Factory - 8pm - €12.50
TOMMY TIERNAN POOt
Thursday 12th March
Vicar Street – Thursday 12th April – 8:30pm – €35
Big Country Olympia Theatre - 7:00pm - €31.10
Tommy Tiernan returns to Dublin on April 12th to perform in Vicar Street, taking his unapologetic and high-paced delivery (of jokes that make you both proud and embarrassed to be Irish at the same time) with him. Tiernan has been on the comedy scene for a long time and he still knows how to make his audiences laugh until they cry. He holds the record for the highest selling number of DVDs in Ireland, but the DVDs are, of course, nothing compared to the live shows. Tiernan is viewed by many as one of Ireland’s most controversial comedians, and as if to prove that we all love a little bit of controversy, tickets are selling seriously fast.
Tommy Tiernan, Poot Vicar Street - 8:30pm - €35
Friday 13th March
Wednesday 18th April
The Dandy Warhols - Vicar Street - 8pm - €29.50
thursday 19th April
Ryan Adams - Olympia Theatre - 7:30pm €44.05- €49.65
friday 20th April
Ryan Sheridan Olympia Theatre - 7:30pm - €20 Josh Howie - The Laughter Lounge Comedy Club - 8:30pm - €27.90 Cashier No 9 - Academy 2 - 11:00pm - €11.75
saturday 21st April
We Cut Corners - Whelan’s - 8.00pm - €10.00 Fionn Regan - Olympia Theatre – 7:00pm - €20.90 Sea Of Bees - The Academy 2 - 7:00pm - €14.50 Diversity – The O2 – 8:00pm - €33.50 - €43
Professor Green - Olympia Theatre - 7pm - €29 New Kids On the Block & Backstreet Boys The O2 - 7:30pm - €40 - €64.45 The Riptide Movement The Academy - 7:30pm - €10 Morgan Geist The Twisted Pepper - 10:30pm - €12
Sunday 15th April
saturday 22nd April
tuesday 17th April
saturday 24th April
Saturday 14th March
Deaf Havana - The Academy – 8:00pm - €16.50 Lostprophets - Olympia Theatre - 7:30pm - €26 Bic Runga - Olympia Theatre - 7:30pm - €22.90 Lemon Heads - The Academy - 7:30pm - €23
Don Williams Olympia Theatre - 8:00pm - €47.50 The Staves - The Sugar Club - 8:00pm - €13 by Sara Holbrook
It’s the maria Bamford! show
Ahead of her upcoming appearance on the new series of Louie, Jon Hozier-Byrne talks to comedy legend Maria Bamford about mental health, her biggest fears, and honesty in stand-up
aria Bamford is not an easy Art and Design), has cemented her place as one person to talk to. Not in person, of the most original and cerebral alternative of course, where her warm, high- comedians working today. pitched tones express nothing When asked about the remarkable achievement but support and love, not just in of having her series featured in the prestigious response to each question asked, but to Otwo for artistic institution, Bamford responds with a asking them. Rather, the difficulty in talking to casual familiarity that sets the tone for the rest the LA comic is in getting her on the phone in of the interview, seemingly having forgotten the the first place. After two hours of unanswered event, “Yes! I can’t remember exactly why, but phone calls, the stand-up savant finally responds, I know it was featured there. I couldn’t go, so I chatting nonchalantly while wandering around apologise because I don’t have clarity, it’s terrible Atlanta, Georgia on one of her many tours. that I don’t know exactly … That’s about my level A veteran of late night talk shows, international of business acumen, finding out about my own comedy festivals, and about every animated career. I’ll google it right after I talk to you, and show you might care to mention, Bamford shot start impressing myself.” to fame as the first female comic to have two Another career highlight, this time one she half-hour Comedy Central specials, as well remembers, is also on the horizon; an appearance as with her appearances on tour-turned-film- on the next series of the superb Louie. “I’m going turned-television series The Comedians of Comedy, to be on the Louis CK show, just one episode, so alongside Patton Oswalt, Brian Posehn, and that’ll be great. I’m really chuffed to be included.” Zach Galifianakis. This, coupled with her now When asked if she can give any hints as to the legendary series The Maria Bamford Show (which episode’s plot, she laughs, “I play somebody he was later featured in the New York Museum of hooks up with, surprise!”
Bamford’s comedy is one of true originality, perhaps best described as a cross between the erudite, family-orientated work of Woody Allen and a surrealist version of ex-Otwo cover feature Marc Maron, and freely explores the internal monologues, idiosyncrasies, and anxieties that make up the comedian herself, something she reflects on; “In terms of talking about something that you might want to keep private, because you think nobody else has experienced it, and then when you say it on stage and everybody laughs, you think ‘Oh, somebody else has experienced this’ ... that’s very thereapeutic, and it can be very calming to be on stage. It can be kind of relaxing.” Perhaps these anxieties were most eloquently vocalised in The Maria Bamford Show, which was set entirely in Bamford’s bedroom in her parent’s house, after her semi-autobiographical protagonist had a mental breakdown and was forced to leave Los Angeles and move back to her hometown of Duluth, Minnesota. “I wanted to be on the sitcom, or at least I thought I did,” says Bamford, “and then I thought, ‘I’ll make my own sitcom’, and the only idea I could come up with is my worst fear/greatest wish: what if I lost my mind, and had to move home with my parents? Almost every sitcom hinges on a plot of a fish out water, you know; ‘they were a wealthy urbanite, but now they’ve got to live in a cornfield’. It came with facing my fears of what that would be like. There are some mental health issues with my family, so that was a legitimate fear. It was also to connect with my family more, in a way where I would control exactly what they’re gonna say.” The single-camera shot, low–budget production proved a massive hit, and articulated a vulnerability to Bamford which endeared her to comedy audiences worldwide. When asked about the creative choice to make a show where she played every character, Bamford jokes, “It was just me and another guy, and we didn’t want to split the money three ways.” Mental health is an issue Bamford is passionate about, and is a topic she has, rightly or wrongly, become somewhat synonomous with. “You know, I’m a white lady, so I had an eating disorder when I was eighteen ... There’s still a lot of stigma around those issues and I feel I should talk about it on some level. Part of what makes things so hard is when people feel like they’re by themselves. But I don’t know, I’m kind of on the fence about it too, because I just like to write fart jokes as well, but those are equally feelings and take people out of isolation. A good joke about poo can really bring everyone together.” As for the sometimes seering, but always endearing honesty in her stand-up, Bamford reflects; “The whole reason for doing stand up, for me, is to say exactly what I believe, to stand my ground. Why else would I do this if I didn’t want to challenge myself to stand by what I think is true, even in front of a drunk crowd full of strangers – so why say anything less than exactly what I mean?” With that said, Bamford is quick to emphasise her enthusiasm for trying new ways of writing and shaping comedy, something she sums up somewhat beautifully; “As I get older, I would like to be open to new ways of creating things,” Bamford pauses, “I don’t know what that means, but I have been thinking about that. It probably involves a farm.” Otwo waits with baited breath. Maria Bamford’s album Unwanted Thoughts Syndrome is out now.
Forming a Boyband
Never mind One Direction, these lads are (the) absolute tits, writes George Morahan
like to think I have my finger telligence and wisdom. Granted, on the pulse of modern music, neither of those qualities are guarand if I had noticed one thing anteed panty-droppers, but Wes recently, it was this: boybands could still bring it. No boyband is are all the rage again. I knew truly complete without some casual that I couldn’t front a boyband – I gymnastics, so I enlisted Danny and don’t have the pout or the abs – but Cormac; both of whom, I was asall the hip, young things are lapping sured, could do flips in any and all them up, and I just had to get in on directions (but mainly backwards). the action. So I decided I would play To complete this dazzling quintet, puppet-master, managing my own I would need a bald one from the boyband, and to make this dream Wanted, a short one from JLS, a a reality I would need five lads with ‘Timberlake’ if you will, and Matt a cool, youthful edge, big dreams, would fit in nicely as the face of the and big personalities that could be group. curbed to my own will and easily reI had the lads in place, but their duced to one defining and market- bland names just wouldn’t cut it. able characteristic. Danny sounded sufficiently cool, I thought I had found them. Jack but there was no option but for would be the dark, sensitive soul Matt to become Chad, Cormac to who could set adolescent thighs become AJ, Jack to become Corey, a-quivering with his brooding and and for Wes to go as Wez – a subtle furrowed eyebrows, while Wes but important change. I would also would be the group’s beacon of in- need a name for these sure-to-be
teen sensations as a whole. Luckily, Matt had one: Boyz R Us. It was a great name, no doubt, but I was wary – rewarding Matt, when genetics had already done so much for him, could only be a bad move; one that would stoke his ego and encourage him to go solo before I had earned my millions – but the name just fitted perfectly, maybe too perfectly. I was pretty sure none of them could sing, and honestly, I didn’t need to find out. As long as they had slick moves, their voices didn’t matter. I roped in DanceSoc to whip my Boyz into shape, and after intense negotiations, I was able to secure them a choreographer. Mark was his name, and he was an expert in contemporary and hip-hop dance, or so I told the Boyz. In reality, Mark knew only Irish dance and agreed to help us out at the last minute after nobody else could be found. I wouldn’t mention this to the band; they needed to have faith in my leadership and moxie, and this bubble couldn’t be popped at any cost. Before they could achieve worldwide success, we’d need to take baby steps – we’d need a rehearsal space. After those blasted bureaucrats in Campus Services wouldn’t process my admittedly last-minute request, I took matters into my own hands. We found a space on the top floor of the Ag building and made it our own. Unfortunately, the lads didn’t want to practice; they wanted to stride around campus posing for photos. That’s all well and good, but in the words of Linford Christie: dedication is what you need. I could feel them slipping. Egos inflated with every picture taken; they’d be nursing expensive drug habits in no time, but damn did they look pretty. If nothing else, they could coast by on their looks alone.
Maybe I’d been too harsh on them. Maybe they didn’t need some cloying svengali figure with his trousers up to his armpits and gravity-defying hair that flew high above his armpits. Was I ever really needed? As I watched them posing by the lake, each Blue Steel impression better than the last, I felt a sense of calm wash over me and a resolution came to mind – even if they didn’t need me, I’d definitely still charge them as if they did and bully them into believing so. As long as they felt I was vital to the operation, I would be. It may have been their looks and charm that would bring them to the top, but my unrelenting mind games would plague their careers and bank balances. With all the photo ops finally taken care of, we made our way to the ‘studio’, and my delusions came crashing down around me. These lads had charisma by the bucketload, but they couldn’t dance for shit. They couldn’t even apply their own make-up, and to top it all off, they were starting to dispute my direction. Tensions were rising. The situation wasn’t helped by Mark, who generally seemed bemused and a little distressed by the situation. I needed all the help I could get in keeping this boyband together, but he was content to watch and question his life choices as the band succumbed to their own vanity. I envisioned a boyband that could combine the abilities and generally less rape-y elements of Chris Brown and Michael Flatley with their dancing prowess, but that was not going to be on the cards anytime soon. They could hardly even master the starting stance for an Irish dance, let alone the ‘V’ formation that would be integral to all of their most popular videos. We wrapped up; my dreams were in tatters, or so it seemed. We needed to get these guys a gig, so we could keep this thing alive. Pat de Brún saw more potential in the band than even I dared to. He declared them “one of Europe’s hottest up-and-coming bands” and was resolute in stating that Ents would be “prepared to break the bank” to have Boyz R Us headline the Ball this year. There was only one direction these Boyz were going in, and that was up. Boyz R Us, Girls R U is out now. I’m sure it’s available somewhere. If you can’t find it, drop by the office and I’ll burn you a copy.
Which boy is your soul mate?
Photographer: Conor O’Toole
Perfect first date
Take Aoife Valentine’s cool quiz and find out!
short walks on the quays
Would you prefer...
boppin’ on a dancefloor
a shot of vodka to the eye
You are... quirky
like your first kiss...
long walks on the beach
getting the luas
How do you picture your ideal man? dandy man
Fave type of Herdin’
sad finnish jazz
s in k w y ddl
at a picnic on killiney hill
Do you like short shorts?
Forever Alone 27
what was your Worst UCD Ball experience?
“Someone got sick over my shoes.”
Louise Duffy, Arts, 2nd year
“A friend of mine hit me in the face with his shoe.”
Cathal Walters, Engineering, 3rd Year
“I got wasted once and spent the entire Ball alone.”
Aoife Browne, Engineering, 3rd Year
“Some guy picked me up and he had an inflatable chair, and he just crowdsurfed me and I couldn’t find my friends after, it was just mad, and they threw the chair and a load of beer over me and it was good craic though, but y’know.” Leanne Caulfield, Law, 2nd year
“When it got cancelled.” Emily Gillmor Murphy, Arts, 3rd Year
Voxpops: Tadgh Dolan Photographer: George Morahan