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OTWO February 5th 2013 Issue VIII

Biffy Clyro

on taking risks and refusing to slum it anymore


Danny Baranowsky exclusively reveals album plans Shappi Khorsandi on her fear of television Otwo Attempts... pole dancing


Mystic Mittens’ Feline Fortunes


Virgo August 23rd - September 22nd You will venture to the recently refurbished restaurant only to be blinded by how white and new the place is, your eyes not used to seeing any part of the UCD campus not coloured a dull grey.

Page 2 – Regulars

Mystic Mittens whips up another batch of superstitious predictions, Stephen Bance gives us his insights on UCD Spotted, and What’s Hot and What’s Not perpetuates peer pressure in an unassuming way.

Page 4 – Hidden Gems

Aoife Loughran searches high and low to uncover some of Dublin’s more mysterious markets.

Page 5 – Games

Far Cry 3 and The Basement Collection are put to their paces in this fortnight’s games reviews, Niall Gosker breaks down the recent breaking down of games developer THQ, and Steven Balbirnie catches up with prolific computer games composer Danny Baranowsky.

Page 8 – Otwo Attempts

Lucy Montague-Moffatt shows us that you don’t need to be motivated to be fit with her foray into the sexually explicit world of pole dancing.

Page 8 – Film & Television

This is 40, Wreck It Ralph, and Hitchcock are all put under the scrutiny of an unforgiving gang of critics, the top Box Office failures are named and shamed in this fortnight’s Top Ten, and Casey Lehman investigates whether films based on computer games are inherently rubbish and why this trend might be changing.

Page 12 Feature

Otwo has the pleasure of speaking to two comedians in this fortnight’s special feature; Michael Winslow and Jason Byrne talk all things comedy.

Page 14 – Music

Interviews galore as Otwo asks the tough questions of Everything Everything and Dan Deacon, while the new releases of Delphic, Nosaj Thing, and The Joy Formidable are judged and graded accordingly.

Page 17 Comedy

The living humour factory that is Shappi Khorsandi gives Otwo the low-down on her recent goings on.

Page 18 Fashion

We show how skilfully introducing a splash of colour to a monochrome style makes all the difference, while Claudine Murphy reports on the Mecca of eccentric fashion that is Couture week.

Page 21 - Travel

Andrew McKewon tells us why we should give Hamburg a chance, while Denis Vaughan gives an update on what’s been going down in Beijing.


University Observer Volume XIX Issue VIII Telephone: (01) 716 3835/3837 Email:

Taurus April 20th - May 20th Mercury and Saturn are orbiting dangerously close to your inner field of sanctum this week. To prevent any irreparable damage, encase yourself in a fort of cardboard boxes and wrap your body in tinfoil. Wait until the next full moon, break an egg into a glass and drink the yolk. Do not question Mitten’s omniscience.

Scorpio October 23rd – Novermber 21st Your attempt at a ‘platinum week’ has depressingly run on longer than it should and the divide between class and partying begins to blur, a point you notice as you line up shots in the back of your Intro to Politics class. Sagittarius November 22nd - December 21st Once again you failed to sign up to any societies during Refreshers Week. Whatever, societies are overrated. The true achievement is a ‘platinum year’, at least according to you and the other overachievers doing shots at the back of class.

Gemini May 21st - June 20th Not to freak you out or anything, but this may be your last day on earth. Actually no, I’m pretty sure this is your last day on earth.

Capricorn December 22nd – Jan 19th You fought long and hard for longer opening hours for gym-going students and, finally, here they are. Not that you’re going to go, of course.

Cancer June 21st - July 22nd Never question the power of Mittens. Mittens is all seeing and all knowing. Bow before your God.

Aquarius January 20th – February 18th Your attempts to take advantage of the UCD pool will be thwarted by the hundreds of students passing by the giant windows and judging your ability. They only judge you as much as you’d judge them. Which is plenty.


July 23rd - August 22nd After two weeks embarking on a frenzied power trip, which involved stomping on the 1st floor library tables to the tune of ‘Ride of the Valkyries’, you will experience a new level of serenity fuelled primarily by Katie Melua CDs and a heavy dose of Valium.

Editor Emer Sugrue

Film Editor Casey Lehman

Deputy Editor Aoife Valentine

Television Editor Laura Bell

Art, Design & Technology Director Conor Kevin O’Nolan

Chief Stylist Sophie Lioe

Chief Designer Gary Kealy Otwo Editors Conor Luke Barry Anna Burzlaff Music Editor Emily Mullen


Aries March 21st – April 19th Today you will be sexually propositioned by an 80-year old man with an fascinatingly long beard, and eat a cheese sandwich. Will it be cheddar or will it be brie? Only time will tell.

Libra September 23rd – October 22nd After months of fretting that there is too much greenery in UCD you’ll be glad to discover that many trees have been chopped down, giving you a better view of the attractive base of the water tower.

Pisces February 19th– March 20th YIt’s an outrage that UCD has abolished passing by compensation and you’re going to write a well thought out letter of complaint. On second thoughts, actually passing Arts requires less effort.

Staff Writers Niall Gosker Emily Longworth Michael O’Sullivan Rebekah Rennick

Contributors Stephen Bance Games Editor Andrew Carolan Steven Balbirnie Eva Griffin Edward Kearns Chief Photographer Fiona Lynch Caoimhe Andrew McKewan McDonnell Claudine Murphy Shane Willoughby Chief Writers Aoife Loughnane Lucy Montague Denis Vaughan Moffatt Laura Woulfe Killian Woods

Special Thanks Guy, Colm, Orla and Rory at MCD Promotions, Laura, Chantal, Caroline and Amy at Universal, Ciaran at Warner Music, Fatal Oneway, the Les Mis Soundtrack, Darkest Hour, Malteaser Bunnies, Crème Egg Splats, and Tesco getting Cully & Sully ready meals again.



The first day of the Chinese New Year, and what will be the year of the snake, lands on February 10th, and miscellaneous merry-making for the Spring Festival will be taking place in Dublin city from the 8th to the 18th, mainly in the form of vaguely-worded, culturaldiversity-promoting commentary by media personalities, but there’ll also be a carnival with dragons, lion dances and exhibitions when Temple Bar becomes Chinatown for a day on the 10th.

GREAT HITCHCOCK RETROSPECTIVE AT IFI Part three of the Irish Film Institute’s season for celebrating the genius that embodies Alfred Hitchcock takes place from 2nd27th of February. It is assumed that all attendees have previously attended parts one and two of the festival, because that is how one achieves ‘coolness’, sources say. However, it is not necessary to be a Hitchcock fanatic/cool person to enjoy any of the special screenings.

FREE WIFI IN DUBLIN CITY Following in the footsteps of every other European city, Dublin City Council have now made broadband and wireless internet access free in the city centre. That said, Otwo could not access the aforementioned free WiFi when attempting to research it for this article. (accessed via Starbucks WiFi) give this advice for interested citizens: “Wireless refers to technology that enables two or more computers to communicate without network cabling”. You need not wonder anymore.


Last week it was announced that Rihanna’s new collection for River Island will be figuratively hitting the shelves as early as March. Many people have expressed concerns over this, as Rihanna, the undisputed queen of getting loaded and dancing in fields (and especially of getting loaded while dancing in fields) will be selling primarily to a demographic who enjoy getting loaded and dancing in fields. Consequently, field-drinking has become a hot trend for Spring 2013.

TRIAL-BASIS OF THE HOT DELI IN NEW SU SHOP The latest addition to UCD’s plethora of cosmopolitan eateries and diners is the Hot Deli in the new SU shop. However, as news comes of its trial-basis nature, students are left with the obligation to keep it alive through the excessive and sustained long-term purchasing of all the deli food in existence.


soapbox It may have provided us with hours of procrastination during exams but Stephen Bance is far from impressed by the infamous Facebook site During the Christmas exam period, the twin desires of procreation and procrastination that occupy a large chunk of the student body’s brain function gave birth to Spotted: UCD Library. Spotted: It was a Facebook page whereby library detainees could anonymously declare their sexual attraction to those amongst them deserving of their lust, often outlining the physical description of their charges, or their location within the library for authenticity and/or creepiness purposes. Overlooking the forays into outright stalking that occurred, the majority of material consisted of the type of sex jokes that even Katherine Lynch would find one dimensional: “To the sexy ginger boy with beautiful dark brown eyes on the second floor... I see you every day, working long and hard... Just like I think your willy would be like... and I’m not alone... #fanclub #sexyginger.” The whole enterprise had the same essential comedic philosophy as that school friend who used to etch crude langers into his copy book at the back of CSPE class. ‘Spotted’ was created to aid us in procrastinating, perfectly capitalising on our love of staring at the glistening blue and white waste-hole of Facebook over any type of productivity. The odd gem did sporadically pop up and perforate the deluge of cringeworthy potty humour that was on show. After a short while the page took on the form and role of an omnipresent pervert deity, foaming over each square inch of our over-exposed tangerine skin and over-wrought biceps. Although admittedly, the first 400 boob jokes were delightful; after some time, much like real boobs, they began to sag, wither and lapse into a comparatively baffling existence. This anger of course has nothing to do with the lack of recognition I received from that jeering html roll call, as I stalked the corridors daily, chest out, arse tanned, embalmed in Joop! in the hope that someone, anyone would notice me.


Despite this definite victory for public health and air quality, the ban on smoking outside the Newman has hurt the memory of our University’s founder. Reportedly, Cardinal J.H. Newman was partial to taking a break from sayin’ mass for an aul smoke himself, according to the criticisms of his contemporaries who had this to say about Newman’s teaching: “The young men are allowed to go out at all hours, to smoke, etc., and there has not been any fixed time for study.” Good lad, Newman.



Hidden Gems: Markets With Dublin playing host to a plethora of markets every weekend, Grainne Loughnane picks out the four most visit-worthy of the lot Temple Bar Book Market Temple Bar Square.

Blackrock Market 19A Main Street, Blackrock.

Small but select, Temple Bar Book Market is the place to go if you’re looking for stimulation for the eyes and the ears at the weekend. Rain, hail or shine, the Book Market offers true value for vintage reading and contrary to the name, there are also some great record and LP stands around if you’re ready for a good rummage. There’s always something a little bit special about pottering around Temple Bar once it’s been emptied of its Friday night drink bottles, which may be why the market opens at 11am rather than any earlier like other markets in the city. If you just can’t wait to get started reading after your visit, Café Irie is conveniently located just a stone’s throw away. The stall owners are not only really helpful, but have an obvious love for reading and music so they’re always open for a chat and recommendations. They also stock some collectible, rare and vintage titles, which means that getting lucky with a good find happens more often than at the usual market. As well as this, the prices are generally good, but if you find something that seems to be offering less than a bang for your buck, haggling is definitely worth a try.

Step aside Forbidden Planet, there’s a new haven for comic book lovers, and it’s hidden in Blackrock Market. Superhero Comics, while small, is definitely the most unique stand here and a well kept secret, with comic books, graphic novels, annuals, platform games, games consoles and other memorabilia to satisfy even the most devoted fans. Though it can be pricey, Blackrock Market houses some fairly unique stalls such as a beanbag stand and some particularly nice handmade cards and jewellery if you’re looking for a special gift and have a bit of extra cash to splash. Unfortunately though, as the stalls rotate regularly, the market can be hit and miss at times, so don’t expect to find bargains every time you visit. Semi-indoors and always decorated, it’s one of the most picturesque markets in Dublin and worth a visit even if just for a look, and though it’s a bit out from the city centre, Blackrock itself is lovely for a wander around too. Blink, however, and you’ll most definitely miss it. It may be just off the main street of Blackrock, but as it’s situated down a narrow laneway, Blackrock Market is definitely the most hidden of these markets. Even when you know where it is, it’s often necessary to be guided by your nose towards the curry stands down the lane.

Open 11am-6pm, every Saturday and Sunday

Dublin Flea Market The Co-op on Newmarket square, Dublin 8. Probably the least hidden of these hidden gems, Dublin Flea Market is one of the biggest and best around. Thankfully it only takes place on the last Sunday of every month, because otherwise we’d be living off crumbs forever; not due to the prices, but due to the sheer volume of bits and pieces that once you see, you absolutely have to have. From bikes to board games, kitsch to couture, you’re sure to find something that tickles your fancy, and even if you don’t, there are few people who can say no to the food stands. Their famous falafel comes especially recommended. Not only is there food and trinkets galore however, but also live bands, musicians and DJs to keep you entertained as you wander the stalls. The market takes place mostly indoors with some outdoor stalls too, so you don’t even need to worry too much about getting soaked on a rainy Sunday, and they rotate every month. While some items might seem more dubious than others (dolls’ heads and religious iconography anyone?), it’s rare that you’ll see anyone else wearing your jewellery or adorning your prints on their walls. Again, the prices are reasonable and as it’s on a Sunday, parking is free; though don’t forget that buses will run less frequently. Open 11am - 5pm, the last Sunday of every month


Open Fridays: 6.00pm - 9.00pm, Saturdays: 11am - 5.30pm, Sundays: 12pm - 5.30pm.

Fusion Sundays World Culture Market 12 Newmarket Square, Dublin 8. If you prefer markets to be more food oriented but are looking for something with a little more zing than your usual fruit and veg farmer’s market, look no further than Fusion Sundays World Culture Market at the Dublin Food Co-Op. There are no words to describe the array of foods that an empty student belly and an emptier student pocket will grumbled over at not being able to purchase and consume immediately. With stands from countries as varying as Greece, India, Catalonia, Egypt, Morocco and many more, it’s impossible not to find something to salivate over, and with so many different cultures present, there’s an amazing atmosphere around the whole area. The market isn’t terribly big, but there are also some good workshops during market hours, some of which are free, such as African drumming, Korean flute, and Italian dance if you feel like trying something new. Food is quite reasonably priced, but beware that if you buy anything by the kilo it may end up more expensive than you anticipated. A must for those who like to wander off the beaten track when it comes to food, but probably not for those whose stomach is bigger than their purse. Open from 11am - 5pm every second Sunday.






lways threading on the cusp of remarkable, Far Cr y’s previous instalments have always been beautiful if somewhat uneven experiences. Far Cry 3 is the robust monster that part 2 should have been: a callous, unforgiving and brutally beautiful open world shooter that reinvigorates a first person shooter zeitgeist defined by brown brand linear military shooters. Welcome to the world of Far Cry 3. You play as Jason, a seemingly wimpy spring-break, beer-bong p l ay i n g u n d e rg ra d u a t e - c u m relentless killer. His transformation from the former extreme seems altogether total and unanimously f a r- f e t c h e d , b u t g i v e n t h e omnipresent atmosphere of cut throat tension and organic fear that this world creates, Jason has to adapt or he will almost certainly die. The tropical island setting defines the experience and Ubisoft Montreal has created an open world with almost infinite layers of interaction and discovery. Like all good open world experiences, you are not tethered to a single objective solution to a problem. You approach everything in this world as you see fit. While pirates almost certainly represent the island’s most ominous threat to Jason, its wildlife, be it tigers in the long grass or sharks in the water, won’t be afraid to spill your blood either. The wildlife, much like the greater scenery, should always be approached with caution.

The freedom granted by Far Cry 3’s world is gloriously refreshing, not least because the game retains that core FPS feeling without ever really flirting with any other subgenre. It’s an incredibly accessible world. You can drive vehicles, mount jet skis, whisk through the air on hand gliders or simply trudge through the overgrowth on foot. The presentation is immense, from the rich and luscious Uncharted style visuals to the stylish urban meets jungle audio cues. It’s one of the best looking games of 2013. In addition, the storyline, coupled with some truly unique and memorable characters, really makes this a world worth sticking with for the duration of the campaign. It also resolves itself quite nicely too. Its plot is suitably satisfying, avoiding taboo clichés and taking narrative risks that really enhance the grittiness of the island experience. In addition to the impressive single-player campaign, Far Cry 3 also comes bundled with a standalone four player co-op mode complete with its very own story. You and three others will be tasked with hunting down a cruise ship now overrun by pirates. It’s not as freeform or as open world as the single player, but it’s a satisfying distraction from the solo campaign and certainly worthy of a couple of playthroughs. There’s also a more traditional multiplayer mode. Far Cry 3 is a must for shooter fans, a brutal adrenaline fuelled killride through the depths of tropical insanity. Avoid it at your peril. By Shane Willoughby Far Cry 3 - Title Ubisoft - Publishers Ubisoft Montreal - Developers PC, PS3, Xbox 360 - Platforms


he Basement Collection is a fascinating concept, collecting seven awardwinning flash games developed by Edmund McMillen prior to his creation of Super Meat Boy and The Binding of Isaac, this bundle gives you an insight into the early career of one of the most interesting figures in the modern games industry. The seven titles, plus two bonuses, vary widely by genre and dynamic, and they see McMillen collaborating with Jon McEntee, Florian Himsl, Tyler Glaiel, William Good, Eli Piilonen and Tommy Refenes. The traits that exemplify these games are that they have simple controls but require great reflexes, as well as their experimentation with game mechanics. The most outstanding game in this collection is Time Fcuk, a dark moody puzzle platformer which bends time and reality while being intriguingly philosophical. Aether is also notably praiseworthy. A game based around momentum and gravity that sees you on an adventure exploring outer space, Aether is a touchingly beautiful and magical experience that’s sure to bring out your inner child. Spewer is a heavily physics based platformer featuring an adorable main character and lots of vomit. Grey-Matter is the most addictive game in the bundle, an intensely frantic anti-shooter which will see you returning again and again to better your top score. Coil is an utterly bizarre yet mesmerising game based around the growth of an unborn child from the point of conception onwards. Triachnid, a spider sim, is the most difficult and awkward to

control out of the games in this collection, perhaps the least appealing component of the bundle. The original Meat Boy is the most recognisable part of The Basement Collection and while it shares the charm of its more famous successor, it is made unnecessarily difficult due to its lack of gamepad support, a shortcoming which hinders the control experience in more than one title in this otherwise wonderful collection. The collection’s aesthetic exemplifies McMillen’s style; its artwork is endearing and disturbing in equal measure with mad scientists observing smiling worms leaping through laboratories and rotund monsters floating through a universe of manic-depressive planets. The Basement Collection also has a fantastic soundtrack which perfectly captures the mood of the games. Danny Baranowsky and Justin Karpel in particular contribute impressive music to this collection; with Baranowsky’s catchy theme to Spewer evoking the game’s energetic and light-hearted nature, while Karpel’s theme for Time Fcuk encapsulates the game’s confusing and disorientating atmosphere. At €3.99 on Steam, this bundle is an absolute steal, containing not only the original games as they appeared on Newgrounds but a myriad of bonus content including extra chapters, concept art, creator interviews and alternate soundtracks. Such a price means that The Basement Collection is ideal for anyone that’s looking for an unusual and challenging gaming experience. By Steven Balbirnie

Title - The Basement Collection Publishers - Edmund McMillen Developers - Edmund McMillen, Tyler Glaiel Platforms - PC, Mac



R.I.P THQ (1989 – 2013)

With THQ filing for bankruptcy, Niall Gosker looks at the ramifications of the demise of one of the gaming industry’s major publishers


t came as no surprise when THQ rang in the New Year with the announcement that they were to auction off their intellectual properties (and the associated developers in certain cases) in an effort to save some financial face and appease creditors. This situation i s u n p re c e d e n t e d ; c e r t a i n l y Midway’s demise in 2009 bears many similarities although Warner Brothers bought the vast majority of assets in one single swoop rather than the piecemeal offering here. And while Midway were quite obviously on their way out, THQ managed to remain relevant despite their financial difficulties, owning some of the biggest franchises in gaming. Last year was a tumultuous one for the former developing and publishing giant, to say the least. The company had been in rough shape for some time already after a series of underperforming releases but it was the commercial disaster of their tablet based gamble ‘uDraw’ that ultimately proved to be the most fatal blow, sending them into a downward spiral which proved too difficult to recover from. By February of 2012, the uDraw GameTablet had been discontinued, just three months after its original release. Come March, THQ reported a net loss of $239.9M. Just a few months later, they made the rather questionable decision to turn over the UFC license to EA. Towards the end of last year bankruptcy was formally announced and so to the highest


bidder went THQ’s remaining assets. Saint’s Row is perhaps the most interesting of all the IPs in question, mainly because of its journey to stardom over the course of the generation and the hopeful position it now remains in following the release of the last game in the series. The initial entry in the franchise back in 2006 however, was met with an unenthusiastic shrug from most. It was viewed as little more than a poor imitator of Grand Theft Auto and as a mere stopgap before the arrival of the true next generational leap in open world urban crime simulators. The sequel seemed almost like a direct response to the deathly serious tone of GTA IV, opting instead for over the top insanity with a personality of its own, in stark contrast to the blandness of the original. Saint’s Row: The Third was the breakthrough, a wise evolution of the previous game’s genetics, in a way that finally saw the series find its own identity and sit comfortably with it. It was received well both critically and amongst the many new fans it attracted (it nearly beat out Skyrim for Giant Bomb’s Game of the Year 2011). Taking this into account, Volition, Inc. are appealing, making their acquisition by Koch Media for $22.3M a justified move. Koch Media’s games division, Deep Silver, have only really started to make a name for themselves following the release of 2011’s Dead Island. As a company wanting to build upon a foundation of quality they have only recently

been able to lay, Volition, Inc. seems like an ideal fit. Saint’s Row should be in safe hands. Sega managed to bag Relic Entertainment in what turned out to be most pricey acquisition of the auction at $26.6M. While no doubt a talented bunch, one has to wonder whether such a gargantuan upfront sum will actually reap any rewards; their flagship franchise, Company of Heroes is a rather unique proposition for modern publishers. Not only it is a deep strategy game, which haven’t traditionally lit up the charts, but it is also a PC exclusive, something which is becoming an increasing rarity. It is possible that Relic’s involvement with the Warhammer 40,000 licence led to an increased perception of value. Sega may not be on the cutting edge of development like they used to be but they have over the past couple of years managed to create a reputation for themselves as solid publishers. Such good relations will likely continue as Sega and Relic Entertainment look forward to the future. The promising South Park: The Stick of Truth remains locked in a legal dispute between THQ and South Park Digital Studios. Despite this, the sale of the publishing contract did go ahead at the auction, with Ubisoft emerging as victors with the sole $3.2M bid. Hopefully the game won’t fall into a terrible legal hell and will meet its planned Q1 release. On a more curious note, Ubisoft also walked away with THQ Montreal, a relatively

new studio founded in 2010, who had been working on one or more unannounced projects. Whether these projects will continue to be developed or swept aside for something completely new is currently unclear. The future of the WWE license, at the time of the writing, is still up in the air. It wasn’t part of the auction; initial rumours had suggested that EA may have secured it weeks prior but sources now point towards Take-Two. For a series desperately needing innovative and a new approach, anyone else getting to take a crack at it is a welcome idea. Vigil Games, the folks behind Darksiders were left out in the cold and failed to attract a buyer. This isn’t particularly surprising given the underwhelming sales performance of Darksiders II. And finally, Crytek purchased Homefront...for some reason. Unsurprisingly, it was the cheapest of the lot, going for only half a million dollars. Ultimately, is this shakeup and scattering of brands for better or for worse? It’s certainly always unpleasant to see hard working and talented individuals jobless, as many now are as a result of THQ’s dissolution. But there is there is reason for optimism too; such drastic changes in management w i l l a f f o rd d e ve l o p e r s n e w opportunities and a chance to rethink their strategies, hopefully resulting in a creative flourishing. With the next generation just around the corner, this comes at a very apt time indeed.

Keeping Composed


Danny Baranowsky talks to Steven Balbirnie about composing for games, working with Edmund McMillen and an exclusive announcement


a n n y B a r a n ow s k y is one of the most acclaimed composers working in indie games, his soundtracks to games such as Super Meat Boy and The Binding of Isaac having earned him well-deserved re c o g n i t i o n . A s Ba ra n ow s k y reveals it was clear from a young age that he had a keen interest in music, and more specifically video game music: “I grew up with Final Fantasy and Zelda and all that and I used to always leave the TV on and just listen to the sound track even when I wasn’t playing.” This interest however, only found an outlet years later, as Baranowsky explains: “Around 2000/2001, I found a place called OCReMix where they remix video game music and I got really into it and eventually I started doing remixes myself and I did that for a few years.” Baranowsky’s time spent remixing allowed him to develop and refine his unique style by experimenting with pieces such as an orchestral remix of Doom and “a Castlevania medley in the form of lounge jazz music” Baranowsky’s first major project was the soundtrack for Adam Atomic’s Canabalt, an experience which was somewhat a baptism of fire. “Canabalt was made in five days. I did the music I think on the fourth night, in like seven hours.” This was a very different experience from his next big venture, the soundtrack to the award-winning Super Meat Boy. “Super Meat Boy; I had an Alpha a

year before the game came out and I was just playing the Alpha to get a feel for it, and then they would just say ‘Here’s a screen shot of the salt factory I’m working on, do it okay?’ And since I knew how the game kind of played I could feel it out based on how the game feels.” This is indicative of Baranowsky’s approach to game music composition, generally. “Mostly I try to immerse myself as much as I can in it, just play a bunch of it if I can and look at it and just think about it a lot. And then at this point I kind of let the instinct take over. I’m not an over-thinker, I don’t sit down and rationalise everything. With Super Meat Boy I just had a lot of conversations with Edmund and if I can just hear the developer talk about it for an hour or two, usually by the end of that conversation I’m at least in the ball park, and then it’s helpful that I have guidance from the game developers and some of them give me a lot of leeway and some of them don’t; and I don’t even know which of those I’d prefer because they’re just completely different experiences.” Scoring the soundtracks to Canabalt and Super Meat Boy was also a significant change from the composition which Baranowsky had been doing for indie films. Baranowsky says that composing for films was “a lot more rigid in that they would complete the film, they would lock it and maybe sometimes there would be little changes but usually it’s like ‘Here’s a film, put music on it’.” This

exposure to the nature of cinematic composition helps to explain why Baranowsky favours composing for games; “Game music is a lot more interesting to me because you have to score to uncertainty. A video game is just a set of states that could be completely different every time and you have to write something that fits that situation, and that’s something that’s a lot more interesting than ‘Here is events, put music to them’.” Baranowsky’s impressive work on Super Meat Boy brought him wider attention and his previous experience with remixes came in useful when he was offered the chance to remix the original Cave Story soundtrack for the release of Cave Story 3D. While Baranowsky enjoyed this opportunity it came with some challenges. “I knew that doing Cave Story 3D, no matter how good I was, a lot of people were going to hate it because it wasn’t the original, because you always get that group of people who if you change the art, or the music, or anything in any way from the original because of their nostalgic attachment to it they’re going to hate it; so it was pretty stressful.” More recently he returned to collaborating with Super Meat Boy creator Edmund McMillen on the phenomenal indie hit, The Binding of Isaac. It is very clear from speaking to Baranowsky that he has a lot of respect for McMillen: “He is his own man. My impression of the way he works is the very last thing that ever comes into play is any kind of self-censorship.”

This mutual respect is very important to what has developed into an efficient collaborative dynamic. “You know at this point I just kind of know what he’s looking for from me so it’s really kind of streamlined, he just kind of says ‘here it is, go for it’ and if I need to make any changes it’s cool. But when you see the games he makes, who wouldn’t want to do the music for that?” The pair will be working together once again this year, though when asked about McMillen’s forthcoming titles, The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth and Super Meat Boy: The Game, Baranowsky can only reveal a little, “I don’t know what I’m allowed to say here. I guess I can say there will be new music in The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth. Super Meat Boy: The Game I think I’m going to have to pass; I think I’m going to have to check with Edmund on that.” He can however exclusively reveal that fans can look forward to hearing previously unreleased music from his substantial back catalogue. “I have like 30 or 40 tracks sitting around that never got released and I’m going to put together a B-sides album.” Regardless of what role he may play in McMillen’s forthcoming titles, it is certain that the release of a B-sides album will be a welcome announcement to the fans of this talented composer. You can find Danny Baranowsky’s music at http://dbsoundworks.



Otwo Attempts:

Pole Dancing Lucy Montague Moffatt takes an untraditional approach to her New Year Get-in-Gear regime, with sexy results...


am one of these stupid people who fully believes that there is secretly an easy way to get fit and healthy. I do not go for the whole ‘beauty is pain’ or ‘embrace the burn’ nonsense that so many six pack having super humans profess through out of breath gasps of apparent happiness. I have spent many an extended Google search trying to discover the effortless way to a rockin’ bod. Now, don’t get the wrong idea. I am not desperate enough to buy weird vibrating pads to stick on your least favourite lumps or stupid enough to believe that a really expensive diet pill, made mainly of caffeine, will solve all body woes. I do realise to get fit I literally have to exercise; the problem is that I find this hard due to the little voice in my brain. I am one of those people who has no drive; if it doesn’t feel good anymore I will stop and that is that. I will happily go for a jog, even in freezing cold weather, and be having a great time blasting Dj Casper’s ‘Casper Slide’, being one with nature and bus stops and stupid pedestrians that won’t get out of the way. However, the minute it feels a bit hard, the moment my brain thinks “No, I don’t like it anymore”, I will stop. This could happen at any time, from three miles down the road to five minutes into my jog. And, of course, I have to stop because I believe my brain, I believe that I am completely unable to go on or I will die. This sort of trust in my brain’s judgement is probably not very useful in situations such as this, when I am trying to push myself through a small amount of discomfort. But this can be very useful in other situations, for instance if an acquaintance was trying to convince me to get a tattoo on my face. So, I have been in search for an exercise activity that will make me healthy but that doesn’t make my brain have a crisis of confidence. After much research (one quick Google search) I found my answer. Or an answer that seemed to be the answer to the question I had been searching, which was ‘FUN. EXERCISE. DUBLIN.’ Pole fitness! It was perfect, and a beautiful, brave friend agreed to come with me. This was extra perfect since I have always ventured into the world of extracurricular activities alone, which can be daunting and possibly


dangerous if the activity happens to be night time forest orienteering or something similar. When my beautiful friend and I arrived at the venue we found that the earlier class had already been booked up and we joined a queue of a few other girls trying to decide whether to wait until the later 8pm class. My friend and I discussed the possibility of waiting until the next term in March to start, since 8pm seems a really late time to wait until every week. Suddenly, the instructor burst through the classroom double doors, wielding application forms and pens in her tight grasp. She was dressed in a tiny lycra t-shirt and shorts that I can only describe as pants, with her god-like, pole fitness honed body fully on display to all us mere mortals. There was no going back now. Even if we had to wait until 11pm, the pant shorts had spoken, and I handed over my €65. In the hour that we waited for the full class to be over we made friends with a really nice girl, which was lovely. Making new friends in the world is nice enough itself but making friends with people before they see you collapse into a pile of self-hate after attempting three push-ups is very useful as it makes you feel much less of a tool. It doesn’t help you look less of a tool, but by some miraculous miracle there were no mirrors in the classroom. The last sight I ever want to look upon is the sight my own reflection as I hurl myself around a pole open mouthed and red faced, resembling ice-cream melting down a metal bar on the bus. And on top of everything, it was fun, actual real fun. Not even pretend exercise fun, so much fun that when I was in physical pain, which I was from almost the first minute, my brain ignored it. Success! After a single class I have learned one spin and have decided that pole dancing is now going to be my new career. In a few months I am going to enter competitions and displays and basically climb any pole I see, ever. Maybe I will combine this talent with my stand-up act: five minutes of self-deprecating humour followed by five minutes of mind boggling pole acrobatics; it’s a winning combination! I’m not going to go so far as to say that I’ll drop out of college to pursue this new dream, but who knows how good I’ll be after my second class.

It Gets Better:


Video game movies from the ‘90s to now With the success Disney’s video game inspired Wreck-it-Ralph, Casey Lehman looks at the dark history of film adaptations of video games


ideo game movies have traditionally been cheap, schlocky, poorlywritten, poorly-acted messes that insult not only our intelligence as movie-goers, but the legacies of the often beloved gaming franchises they drag to the screen. Yet, they continue to get made, and few inexplicably make a profit. This all began in the mid-1990s on the heels of the tremendous failure of Super Mario Bros in 1994 (that would be the one with Bob Hoskins, John Leguizamo, and Dennis Hopper all being desperate for a paycheck). Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat (both 1995) somehow turned B-grade special effects, poor scripts, and even worse directing into huge box office receipts. The unfortunate consequence of the latter film’s success was that it launched the career of the laughably incompetent Paul W.S. Anderson. After a few critical and commercial disasters in the ‘90s, Anderson returned to video game adaptation in 2002 with Resident Evil. Unfortunately, he also returned to the formula that turned Mortal Kombat from one of the most-recognized pioneers in its genre in the video game world into a punchline featuring The Highlander and the hot teacher from the Adam Sandler flick Billy Madison. While not advocating slavish devotion to the source material for film adaptations (in spite of the constant grumbling of the Harry Potter and Hunger Games fandoms), Anderson’s script for Resident Evil completely ditched the most compelling elements that made the game a classic and watered it down into a criminally generic zombie thriller. Much the same as Mortal Kombat, Anderson was partly rescued from his own mediocrity by good special effects and the uniqueness of the monsters he inherited from the source material, and the film was able to gross over $100 million on a $33 million budget, also spawning four sequels to date.

Of course, no discussion of awful video game movies would be complete without mentioning this generation’s humourless version of Ed Wood, German “director” Uwe Boll. Helming such train wrecks as House of the Dead (2003), Alone in the Dark (2005), and BloodRayne (2006), Boll has shown that, in spite of what we’re taught in school, the phrase “winners never quit” can apply to losers too. Where to begin with him though? House of the Dead, much like Resident Evil had the year before, turned a unique, exciting game into a generic mess of a film, removing the Lovecraft-influenced monsters and plot that made House of the Dead on of the most successful arcade shooters of the 90s. Alone in the Dark was doomed from the moment Christian Slater and Tara Reid were cast in the lead roles. Nothing more needs to be said about that one. The vampire hunter flick BloodRayne re-defined the term “slumming” for most of its cast. Featuring Ben Kingsley (the same Ben Kingsley who won an Oscar in 1982 for his portrayal of Gandhi) as the King of the Vampires and Tarantino favourite Michael Madsen as an older, fat version of himself, BloodRayne made Blade 2 look like Citizen Kane. However, adapting a video game into a movie is no easy task. Perhaps the biggest difficulty in the process is the loss of what makes video games an attractive medium in the first place: interactivity. Since the cinema, by definition, cannot provide that, adaptations immediately lose their source material’s biggest selling point before a single frame is shot. Having said that, it’s also difficult to make a good movie when motivated by sheer greed. Uwe Boll is, again, the best (worst?) example of such behavior, turning the BloodRayne catastrophe into, believe it or not, a direct-to-DVD trilogy. That trilogy culminates with the mercifully short BloodRayne: The Third Reich that, as one might guess from its title, borrows the Nazi element from the second game

in the series, shoehorning its main character (played by Norwegian actress Natassia Malthe, who also appears in Anderson’s DOA: Dead or Alive adaptation) into World War II as vampires attempt to give Hitler immortality by injecting him with vampire blood. Boll’s artless, ham-fisted filmmaking made The Third Reich into the kind of flick the direct-to-DVD market was made for. In spite of this daunting history, a pair of recent films have shown that video games can be the basis, however indirectly, for movies you wouldn’t be ashamed to admit to having seen. Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz)’s 2010 film, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, is one such movie. Based not on a video game but on a graphic novel, Scott Pilgrim borrowed the boss-battle structure familiar to (hopefully) all gamers, as its titular character is required to defeat his new love interest’s “Seven Evil Exes” in order to win her heart. Though a box office failure, the film made an exceptionally strong showing with critics and its home video release, becoming one of the best-selling Blu-Rays in the lifetime of the young format. Disney’s latest animated feature, Wreck-It Ralph, has already been a massive critical and commercial success in America and is due to be released here in Ireland on the 8th of February. While its title character comes from a fictional video game known as Fix-It Felix Jr., the movie is littered with nostalgia-laden references to games as far back as Pong and Pac-Man, as well as more modern titles like the Metal Gear series and Final Fantasy VII. Present in WreckIt Ralph, for better or worse, is the “fun for the whole family” sentimentality that has been the hallmark of Disney movies for about a hundred years. High production values and a stellar voice cast, not to mention creative use of both familiar and invented games and characters, set it apart from the B-movie garbage that has tainted the public’s view of video game-based movies.



This is 40

REVIEWS Title: This Is 40 Director: Judd Apatow Starring: Paul Rudd, Leslie Mann, Megan Fox, Albert Brooks Release Date: February 14th


t seems that Judd Apatow is still trying to be funny, despite the fact that his last few releases have been anything but. In fact, This Is 40 can barely be sold as a comedy. Crucially, it simply isn’t as hilarious as it claims to be. After a while, Apatow realises this and decides to shift gears and make an attempt at turning it into a slightly serious family drama. Unsurprisingly, he fails at this too. Sold as the ‘spin-off sequel’ to the 2007 film Knocked Up, this haphazardly constructed follow-up focuses on the couple we saw in the background. Pete (Paul Rudd) and Debbie (Leslie Mann) are parents both on the cusp of turning 40 (the same week, how convenient). The two must navigate through problems commonly experienced by the archetypical, middle-class family, while trying desperately to make people laugh. The usual financial troubles, stagnant sex-life and moody teenagers serve to keep them occupied throughout. Oh, and there’s a half-naked Megan

Fox to contend with. How unfortunate. Apart from the aforementioned issues, the film possesses very little plot to speak of, barely even dealing with the troubles Pete and Debbie face. Instead, it stumbles aimlessly for an unbearable two hours and 14 minutes. It’s a huge commitment to sit through such a disjointed and unsatisfying ‘story’, one Otwo would not recommend anyone take up. Unless, of course, you’re looking for a severe form of self-torment. The core ingredients of this film are toilet humour (yes, farting) and sex jokes that aren’t even remotely funny. At best, it will make you cringe. The obvious absence of direction might be bearable if the main cast were in any way likeable. Again, this is not achieved. As a footnote, in the much better Knocked Up, Pete and Debbie manage to work well. As the focus of the audience’s attention, they’re simply irritating and detestable, with no redeeming

attributes. Even their offspring (Apatow’s real life spawn) are annoying. Ironically, it is the peripheral characters that provide the film’s sporadic comedic moments, both Chris O’ Dowd (as one of Pete’s bumbling employees) and Jason Segel (as Debbie’s pervy fitness trainer) successfully sneak in a few decent lines. Albert Brooks also elicits some chuckles as Pete’s mooching father.

Unfortunately, these flashes of wit are overshadowed by the remaining two hours of sheer, painful boredom. In a Nutshell: Truly the perfect choice for a Friday night in when you’re having trouble falling asleep. by Eva Griffin

Title: Wreck-It Ralph Director: Rich Moore Starring: John C. Reilly, Sarah Silverman, Jack McBrayer, Jane Lynch. Release Date: February 8th


t is not surprising that this little gem has been nominated for an Oscar. Director Rich Moore has created a refreshing and heart-warming tale, reminiscent of predecessor Toy Story in concept, yet modernised to relate to the everdeveloping computing age of today. What makes Wreck-It Ralph so visually appealing is how we are brought into three very aesthetically different game-worlds throughout the course of the movie. These worlds are connected to each other by the ‘Game Central Station’ which allows the characters to travel from one game to another. This simple device prevents the movie from


Wreck-It Ralph becoming disjointed, as protagonist Ralph journeys away from the safe confines of retro game Fix-it Felix, Jr. and into the dark and violent Hero’s Duty which mimics the harrowing settings of many of the games found in stores nationwide. Ralph is later plummeted into candy-coated racing game Sugar Rush which provides a direct contrast to Hero’s Duty. What results is a movie that is so visually interesting that it relies just as heavily on aesthetics as it does on storytelling. Director Rich Moore cleverly understands the importance of authenticity as, in addition to the many original characters, many

famous game icons also feature in the movie, engaging the viewers by providing a sense of familiarity. This is not only relevant to gamers, however, with even Pac-Man making an appearance. For adults, this is just another reminder of how effectively Disney has created a world that acts as a portal from real life; for children this makes the movie all the more believable. Yet what makes Disney movies so enjoyable for children and adults alike is the lovable characters and, in this regard, Wreck-It Ralph stays true to the Disney mould. Ralph, voiced by the equally lumbering but lovable John C. Reilly, is forced on his adventure by the desire to prove

his fellow-game characters that he, a ‘bad-guy’, is just as capable of winning a medal for heroism as ‘good-guy’ Fix-It Felix. While the moral is by no means revolutionary, it is easily relatable and creates the foundation for gentle-giant Ralph’s endearing character. By himself, Ralph is certainly charming, but it is the platonic bond between himself and Vanellope (Sarah Silverman) that makes this unlikely duo utterly captivating. Finally, as with most animation movies, humour is also a significant contributor to the warm reception of Wreck-It Ralph. Cleverly written, there are laugh inducing one-liners scattered throughout while the budding romance between Fix-it Felix and Sergeant Calhoun acts as a humorous sub-plot, providing a heart-warming escape from the intensity of the final scenes. In a Nutshell: A funny, fuzzy film set in a cinematographer’s utopia. by Tadgh Dolan



box office Failures 10. Rock of Ages (2012) Tom Cruise singing karaoke to 80s music for two hours may seem like a sure-fire box-office hit but this star-studded musical only made back $56 million of its $75 million budget. An excessively weak script leaning on hair metal hits just did not get the job done.


9. That’s My Boy (2012) Following the Razzie-encumbered Jack and Jill, Adam Sandler had a price to pay and he did it, both commercially and critically. Not-so-hilarious comedy with Andy Samberg made even less funny by its brusque treatment of sex between teachers and students.


iopics face some rather unique challenges. They straddle the line between fact and fiction, often blurring what is real and what isn’t in the name of entertainment. Some aim for meticulous accuracy, while others are simply content with being a good film in their own right. Hitchcock, as the name suggests, details the life and times of acclaimed director Alfred Hitchcock. It takes a single vertical slice of the great man’s time behind the camera and drills solely into that rather than opting for a broader approach. The period in question is likely the most significant portion of Hitchcock’s career; the run up to the 1960 release of the iconic horror film, Psycho. Anthony Hopkins is appropriately cast in the title role, embracing it with a great deal of vigour and a domineering screen presence. Helen Mirren co-stars as Alma Reville, the strong woman behind him. Like Hopkins, she gives a passionate performance, although the defining eccentricity with which Hitchcock is portrayed makes her character (and the entire rest of the cast) rather mundane and unmemorable almost by default. Scarlett Johansson and Jessica Biel do well too as Hitchcock’s leading women but truly Hopkins steals the acting limelight. Michael Stuhlbarg (of Boardwalk Empire fame) is a pleasant surprise as studio executive Lew Wasserman; nice to see Hollywood pay him some much deserved attention. Despite the film presenting a whimsical front, there is a dark sense of struggle throughout; not only in the difficult development of Psycho but also in its director, as he attempts to adopt the thinking of a murderer and confront the dark corners of his own mind and personality. Disappointingly, the film never really delves too deep into the psyche of Hitchcock, exploring it only on a more superficial level. Dialogue pops and crackles, as if it had been infused with a few sprinkles of Sorkin magic. And while skilfully shot, the cinematography never impresses as much as it could have, the style of the era rather wasted. Certainly the film is paced nicely, and clocking in at just an hour and half in length, it doesn’t outstay its welcome. As Hitchcock himself said, “what is drama but life with the dull bits cut out”. Ultimately, films are entertainment; whether that entertainment is in artistic merit, in the ability to touch and move an audience, or in simply presenting a spectacle. Hitchcock succeeds, to some extent, in each of these fields. Its historical accuracy doesn’t really matter because as a film, it is assuredly entertaining. In a Nutshell: While it doesn’t reach the heights it probably should, Hitchcock is still an absorbing and well executed motion picture. by Niall Gosker

8. Alexander (2004) Though it made a slim profit, Alexander was a complete bomb with critics. Not even the starstudded cast including Colin Farrell and Anthony Hopkins, and first class director Oliver Stone were enough to keep angry historians at bay.

Title: Hitchcock Director: Sacha Gervasi Starring: Anthony Hopkins, Helen Mirren, Scarlett Johansson Release Date: 8th February

7. The Green Lantern (2011) This $200 million budget flick may have taken in nearly a $20 million profit (which is not much for such a big production) but the image of hapless Ryan Reynolds in green tights will forever haunt the streak of superhero hits that have dominated cinemas in recent years. 6. The Alamo (2004) Earning back less than a quarter of its $100 million-plus budget, this film proves that going down the historical route is a risky business. Pales in comparison to even the average 1960 John Wayne original. 5. Gigli (2003) Earning only $7 million on a $54 million budget, Gigli failed commercially as well as critically, with reviews citing the lack of chemistry between Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez, in spite of their offscreen romantic involvement. 4. John Carter (2012) This Disney production brought in $280 million worldwide ($30 million in profit) but was considered a flop even by Disney. This film had been a long time in the works and could have been an epic but incompetent directing and even worse acting led to lukewarm critical reception. 3. Catwoman (2004) There’s not much to say about this film; all you must do is Youtube Halle Berry’s acceptance of the Razzie for Worst actress and refer to Michelle Pfeiffer or Anne Hathaway’s much better performances as the same character. 2. Son of the Mask (2005) From the outset, it was just a terrible, terrible idea. Today, it is remembered as a one star bonanza sequel to the masterpiece from years before. 1. The Postman (1997) One cannot help but feel sorry for Kevin Costner who earned himself a Worst Director and Worst Actor Razzie. Having said that, you might have a change of heart if you sit down and watch the near 3-hour longer feature which also won a welldeserved Worst Picture. by Andrew Carolan



B i ff y C ly r o


en Johnson along with his twin brother James, and Simon Neil have been playing music together since the mid ‘90s. In 1999, the first Biffy Clyro single was recorded and the band proceeded to spend the next eight or so years slowly climbing the ladder and garnering as much attention as a band who play strange progressive alt-rock can. Biffy Clyro’s rise to mainstream popularity was very slow. Prior to the release of their album Puzzle, Biffy were a band whose highest point of recognition was being on the cover of Kerrang! during a slow week for the magazine. Puzzle went on to garner universally positive reviews and the band were nominated for countless awards in 2007, including most bafflingly a couple of separate ‘Best Newcomer’ nominations despite it being their forth album. Biffy’s first proper foray into the mainstream was 2008’s single ‘Mountains’. The song instantly took over every music television channel that played remotely alternative music and it was not long before most pop orientated channels had it featured in their rotations. The single went on to sell 200,000 copies and was


eventually featured on their fifth album Only Revolutions. The band received even more attention the following year when X-Factor winner, Matt Cardle covered the song ‘Many of Horror’ which reached number one in the charts in England and Ireland. Not bad for a band who could barely fill Dublin’s Ambassador theatre only two years previously. Biffy’s latest album was released two weeks ago to their usual positive critical acclaim. Opposites is a double album, each CD having a different mood to the other. The first one, entitled The Sand at the Core of Our Bones is the darker and moodier of the two while the second disk, The Land at the End of Our Toes is slightly more cheerful lyrically. Ben Johnson, Biffy Clyro’s drummer, explained the band’s motivation to release a double album: “The double album concept is great if it’s done right, but it very rarely is. I feel that it’s often a very self indulgent meandering thing and quite often people will let the concept overtake the music and you end up with something that’s not that fun to listen to. We wanted to break that mould, make one that’s enjoyable to listen to, that isn’t too weighty and is just a collection of

20 really cool and strong songs. We’ve always felt restricted with a single album, because we always have a lot of songs left over. We always put a lot of effort into B-sides, a lot of them we feel deserve to be on an album, but for whatever reason we cant make them fit, maybe they stick out a bit to much for being too weird, but with the double we got to explore every corner of Biffy Clyro.” After completing their previous touring cycle, the band sat down to try and plan their next record: “We came off the road from Only Revolutions which had been a hefty two and a half years of touring, I think we had three or four songs, and that was kind of terrifying and then in the space of three months, Simon had written like 40-something songs.” These songs were then narrowed down to the 20 that appear on the album, as well as a number of other songs. Johnson explained: “We have 18 B-sides already mixed and recorded for the many singles that will come off the album.” The band, however, won’t be releasing these along with 18 singles, with Johnson laughing: “No, but that would be hilarious, only having two songs on the album that weren’t released as


Ahead of their Dublin arena show, drummer for Biffy Clyro, Ben Johnson, chats to Conor Kevin O’Nolan about the risks of a double album, and not being able to slum it anymore a single! We prefer for a single to be a bit more akin to an EP than just a single with a remix and a throw away live track. We’d rather make it a bit more like an EP.” The band recorded the album with their long time collaborator Garth Richardson who also produced Puzzle and Only Revolutions. Johnson explained how the band came to choose Richardson as their producer: “He had done two of our favourite records: Rage Against the Machine’s first record and Kerbdog’s On The Turn. We wanted our album to sound sonically somewhere in the middle of those two albums; the raw power of the Rage album and the Kerbdog record is so slick, it’s incredible and also really powerful.” This wasn’t a choice made in a rush, with Johnson having been obsessed with the Rage Against the Machine album for a number of years now. “When I was in college studying audio engineering, I had to write a thesis on the best recorded album of all time, and I did it on Rage and I did it on Garth so I wrote this big thesis on Garth and then ended up being his pal. It’s really strange.” Sticking with Richardson for what was ultimately four albums worth of material is unusual, but Johnson explained: “Historically, no one does a second album with Garth, they do one and they cant handle it any more. He has a certain way of working, he’s very meticulous, especially when it comes to guitars, he’s a real stickler for tuning, so recording guitar takes longer than you could ever imagine. Some bands can’t take it, the worth ethic that he has, but we’re also hard working guys, our parents were hard working and that’s how we were brought up, we like to work hard and I guess we weren’t put off and we were also really pleased with the result of Puzzle and Only.” When asked whether the band would want to work with him again, Johnson replied “No! That’s the short answer. We’re a fairly progressive band and we always try and keep moving forward in our career and I think it would be nice to inject someone new that’s got some really different ideas.” The band’s appreciation for Richardson’s work ethic is reflected in how they record. The band enter the studio with songs fully formed, having spent a week in a practice studio with Richardson perfecting their arrangements. “We usually enter the studio with the songs 99.9% there, we always spend a week in a practice room with Garth before we go in, and his main thing that he loves to do is take cymbals away, he loves to do that and it pisses me off. He listens in and makes sure all the drums and the bass are all locked down, listens to each part, what were doing and put in his tuppence worth, whether he things there’s needs to be any changes and we’ll either go ‘Yeah, great idea’ or we’ll go ‘Ah fuck off! Leave it alone we know what we’re doing’. We like to work really hard at home before we go away, that’s the sort of band we’re in. That’s what we were like in the past, we never had any money to throw around and waste so in that respect we didn’t want to spend any more time in the studio than we had to, so we always practised really hard. On our second album we did all the guitar bass and drums in one day. That’s how practiced we

tend to get before we head out.” Recording did take slightly longer than they initially expected, however. “I guess we didn’t take into account the fact that we were making a really ambitious double album, with almost every instrument in the world on it. All these things take time” In a time when albums are less and less emphasised and digital downloading lets people pick and choose songs as they go rather than buying the album in full, recording a double album seems like a risky choice, but Johnson has faith in the their fans: “All I can hope is that the kids these days have the patience for a double album. Most kids these days just listen to playlists so the idea of listening to one band for a full album is quite a commitment; for two albums of course even more so. It’s just a faith thing. We keep hearing back that it wasn’t a weighty listen, they got through it okay and it didn’t seem like a challenge to get through the two albums. We just have to hope that everyone feels that same way.” In reference to the band’s upcoming gig in the O2 in Dublin, Johnson said: ”It baffles me that we’ve even booked this venue. I don’t know who at any point ever said that we’d be able to fill an arena! It has been slow, we’ve been going for 17 years, nothing has ever really fallen in our laps, there hasn’t been any discernible leaps to us, I guess Puzzle was the biggest leap, but that goes hand in hand with a change of label and the gap there was between the third and forth record. I think during that time, we were spread by word of mouth and we just toured our asses off, we played every little gig we could. We played Limerick and stuff, went to all the wee nooks and crannies that we could, just like we did everywhere all over mainland UK. Back then we did over 200 little gigs in one year all of that out of the back of a little van.” Before Opposites was recorded, the band was on the verge of breaking up as a result of burn out from touring and Johnson having a drinking problem. The band are determined to keep themselves sane during their upcoming touring cycle, with Johnson explaining: “We always make sure we get showers and stuff, and it doesn’t sound like much but when you get to 30, you want to be clean after a gig. When you’re a bit younger, you’re happier with that, you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter as much, you sleep on the floor and your back’s okay. When you get older you need these luxuries just to make it possible, and you need things like a massage before or after the gig, you have to look after yourself, and all these things you thought you would never do and you thought were way too rockstar and ridiculous start becoming a reality.” The shift in touring mentality doesn’t end there however, with Johnson continuing: “Even on the next tour we might be fully ridiculous and get a personal trainer just to keep an eye on your health, when you’re out for that long you have to keep and eye on your health, and even saying that out loud makes me sound like a complete arsehole, the idea of a band doing that makes them sound like a bunch of dickheads that take themselves too seriously, but it’s just a necessity when there’s that much pressure on your shoulders.”

Biffy Clyro releasing a double album is a nice metaphor for how their career has progressed so far. They have come from very humble beginnings to headlining sold out arena tours, from being relative nobodies when it comes to the charts to penning songs that that sell hundreds of thousands of copies, and realistically, the band can only go further. Biffy Clyro play the O2 arena in Dublin on March 28th, with special guests City and Colour. Tickets are priced from €36.50 including booking fee. Opposites is out now.



Fresh faced from the release of Arc, Everything Everything’s Alex Robertshaw takes a break from packing his tour suitcase to chat to Emily Mullen about appealing to the masses, experimentation and setting the record straight with the media


Everything Everything

o one can deny that patronising, like “This is wrong. with untenable links, though Despite Robertshaw’s belief in the Everything Everything You shouldn’t be listening to that!’ d e l i b e ra t e l y f o rg e d , m a k i n g accessibility of the album in contrast are getting big; this I mean we are just a band after all.” little or no sense to the listener. to Man Alive, it does contain tracks repetitive name just During the interview Robertshaw A conscious effort was made that are so hooky and so melody seems to be, no pun made his intentions clear: he wished to be different, an exceedingly driven that the listener is engaged, intended, everywhere. From a to readdress the misunderstanding conscious one: “Our comfort zone not through the sheer scale of the million different flashing Spotify that many journalists have had about is trying to go against the grain and musicality but through the correct ads the country over, to bombarding the bands’ sophomore album. “We trying to be awkward. With our formation of all these different our radios with a succinct little don’t feel like we should be writing first album we were scared that styles. Is it wrong to expect a band cough cough, it is hard to escape the lots of different songs that sound the we were going to come across as to create an album full of these types mancunian foursome, and this year same, and you get a misjudgement ordinary, that were just going to of songs? Perhaps, but it would have they’re only set to get bigger. The in the press sometimes saying be writing songs that had already reinforced the bands argument a band are a part of the increasingly that we are confused or that been written before, and this time little more if their experimentation popular movement of alternative- we haven’t found ourselves or we just decided that we shouldn’t h a d b o r n e m o re s u c c e s s f u l pop, a rather evangelistic movement whatever, but that is just a complete be afraid of these tools that make results. Yet perhaps it was just an intent on spreading alternative miscomprehension. It’s completely songs great songs and we just inevitability that a project such as music, somehow disguised as pop, missing the point, missing our ignored all of those fears and just Arc should sound a little incoherent. to the ignorant masses, rather like point. We purposely went out there focused on the song writing and Complete with this rather a wolf in a sheep’s woolly jumper to do lots of different things. We on being precise and be less scatty dogmatic attempt to sound different, ethos. figured that that would be a far and to feel confident in playing the construction of overtly political This slightly blasé assertion is more exciting listen than listening less sometimes, and just letting the themes within the framework of one that Alex Robertshaw, the to one track and then a pile load of melody and the harmony do the those haphazard lyrics and an urge bands guitarist, surprisingly agrees more tracks that are just filler which work. So stepping outside of our to collect a diverse listenership, with: “Arc has definitely got the some people call albums. That comfort zone is probably stepping Everything Everything are quite accessibility hook that something. They we were missing on the “You get a misjudgement in the press sometimes saying that we are trying to make a first album and I think and though are confused or that we haven’t found ourselves or whatever, but difference, that it will continue slightly incoherent and to get more people on that is just a complete miscomprehension.” confused at times, their board because we tried variety is a welcome really hard to make it addition to our ad have that access point this time wasn’t the plan we didn’t set out to into our comfort zone. Trusting space and our radio waves. After all, round and hopefully if you have write a lot of songs that sound the our instincts more and trying to not as Robertshaw asserts: “It’s not like a feel around in the album there same, we wanted as many variables be afraid of treading on boundaries we’ve found ourselves, we are just is more depth there too. It’s just as possible. Let these ideas live and that we might have tread on before. exploring and that’s what’s exciting trying to get the balance right, and breathe a bit more.” I mean it’s okay to revisit stuff if it and that’s what makes us excited.” I think we’ve done it a lot better on Whatever assertions Robertshaw ends in a great song. We feel more this record. It’s always just dodgy, may make, there is no getting confident in our ability to write Ev e r y t h i n g Ev e r y t h i n g p l a y like you have something to say away from the fact that as a a song, and songs that people are Whelan’s on February 18th. Their but you don’t want to come across whole the album is incoherent, going to want to listen to.” new album Arc is out now.



From converted school buses to eccentric audience interaction, Rebekah Rennick chats to Dan Deacon about his new album America and why some couches are just more comfortable than others

Dan Deacon


o describe Dan Deacon in a few words is quite a difficult thing to do. This man requires sentences, paragraphs, even whole pages to unravel the layers of intricacies and surprises that comprise his being. From being described by some as the ‘Pied lies between each given track is Behind those big owl glasses did this dance contest and it was Piper of electronic dance music’, to one man’s own panoramic view lies more than just an electronic great, it kept everyone engaged. being brushed off by other critics of his mother country. Was this maestro, there is a musician To me, the most important thing as another generic hipster with album holding together Deacon’s with such integrity and love for was that it changed the focal point a synth machine and too many own experiences and observations melody it’d put others to shame. of the room,” explains Deacon. woolly jumpers; the articulate throughout the last few years, This interest truly materialised in “The music school aspect of my and loquacious Baltimore twang or was this assumption too Deacon’s work for Franics Ford brain really came out and I started of Deacon heard over the phone introspective? “It’s mainly a lot of Coppola in his movie Twixt. “It thinking more and more of what was allows for a comfortable transition experience, but also the book The was a very different but a unique achievable, looking at the audience Road by Cormac McCarthy. The experience. [Cappola] works in a as performers too, what were their into his alternate world. With such labels as “happy book really hit me quite profoundly really peculiar way and likes to test strengths and their weaknesses, hardcore techno” and when I first read it, right after and challenge people. I do as well, what can the space itself be full “contemporary classical” recording Bromst. I really got into so trying to apply that to his system with. It depends on how people erratically strung underneath the history of the United States, was crazy,” says Deacon. “It’s so perceive it, there’s a certain balance description boxes of Dan Deacon, and travelled constantly,” explains much more fun to write a more between individual and collective.” the categorisation of music has Deacon. “I really love the romance variable body of work. You run the Amongst his musings, Deacon taken a ridiculous turn in recent of travel, how time evaporates and risk of disenfranchising people, but tenaciously discusses the thoughts years. “I think every musician stores up when you’re on tour. you can’t get worried about that.” of the Apocalypse, which is a far cry hates being categorised but from his bubblegum world It’s like ‘Ah I wanna get up from this super, comfy, crazy, of synth. “The Apocalypse ultimately that’s how it’s gonna go,” sighs Deacon. need to be negative, pop music couch, but oh, that really beautiful caustic couch doesn’t “I have no idea what happy like Mad Max chasing us hardcore techno is. In my is lookin’ pretty good too.’ around. The Apocalypse mind, while I make music can be like entering an age with electronics I’m not out to You can look back on it, see it Deacon continues on by of oppression or people utilising replicate anything already out happening so quickly but still cling portraying his desire to try other people’s tools rather than there. Growing up listening to the onto a particular moment and let different pathways in possibly one living cohesively together. I want majority of pop music, especially it grow and stretch into a beautiful of the best similes ever spoken: “It’s people to be more cohesive in the melody based pop music, kind of landscape.” kind of like having a house with too future. Cohesive and sticky.” The genuine affection for simple many comfortable couches! It’s like drove me in that direction and Deacon’s music is a form of then I got really into texture and things like cherished moments met ‘Ah I wanna get up from this super, escapism, as the whomping beats tambre. My music taste can range whilst travelling are undeniable comfy, crazy, pop music couch, but swallow you up, and if you only from Aphex Twin to My Bloody in Deacon’s hearty laughter as he oh, that really beautiful caustic watch the grainy footage of his Valentine to The Talking Heads, but reflects on his recording process couch is lookin’ pretty good too.’ surreal NBC performance, you’ll what I genuinely love about those while on the road: “I write a lot You just wish you could pull these believe him when he says:“I bands, is that their ideas have been inside a computer so a lot of my couches all closer together, put think expectation is the death of stolen and opted but their style and writing goes straight in and stays your feet up on one and put your experience. Welcome me with an unique traits are inherently theirs, there. But all of the actual recording hand on the other!” open mind and go with the flow.” it’s very difficult to mistake another occurred in Baltimore. Sometimes Renowned for his audience Because, quite frankly, he’s a very band for those bands. I think that’s you’ll go back and revamp and try interaction and playing amongst strong tide to try and swim against. different things, but nine times out of the spectators themselves, Dan a trait I live by.” Last year saw Deacon unleash ten there’s two studios in my mind: Deacon’s live shows are something Dan Deacon plays Whelan’s, his third instalment, America, one is the computer and the other is of a kaleidoscope of beats, lights Dublin on February 9th. His most upon us. With such a powerful, the physical space and I’m trying to and euphoria. “The first time I recent album, America, is out now. sweeping and patriotic title, what embrace the physical studio more.” started playing with the crowd, we





Toro Y Moi Anything in Return

Nosaj Thing Home

The Joy Formidable Wolf’s Law

Delphic Collections

Grade: A-

Grade: C+

Grade: B+

Grade: D-

After the lauded Underneath the Pine and the unreprovable Freaking Out EP, Chaz Bundick of Toro Y Moi declared his ambition to make an album of the most sincere pop. Indeed, as a poptastic exposition of Bundick’s irrevocable charm, Anything in Return is exactly that. He has toned down the hazy psychedelia and loosened his grip of the reverb pedal. The resultant tracks are clearer cut and their melodies more finely tuned. Instrumentally, Anything in Return is whimsical as ever, but perhaps lacks the luscious density of previous Toro Y Moi work. The fizzing anticipation of the opener ‘Harm In Change’ gives way to the up-tempo and undeniably disco single ‘Say That’. The midsection of the album subsequently slumps a little into slow groove interludes with meandering synths. However, the euphoric ‘Cake’ and ‘Never Matter’ raise the energy once more so that the up-tempo numbers appear to bookend the record. Lyrically, this album reverts to the simpler and more readily accessible themes deemed fitting for a pop record. ‘Cake’, for example, could have penned for Beiber, yet, with his earnest delivery and crisp instrumentation, Bundick somehow carries it off. Ultimately Anything in Return is a wholly satisfying addition to the Toro Y Moi repertoire. With his rotund-framed retro glasses and muted, crooning falsetto, Bundick and his latest musical endeavour leave the listener in absolute certainty as to both his sincerity, and the power of pop.

Los Angeles producer, Nosaj Thing has followed up his debut album, Drift, with a sophomore effort that serves as a smooth segue into a sound that staves clear of his earlier dark dulcet tones. Home shifts towards a lighter electronic/hip-hop sound compared to earlier work, while still containing occasional hints of that darkness where he previously sought inspiration. This results in an album that is more downtempo than his earlier work and significantly less intense. The album’s standout track, ‘Eclipse/Blue’, is a perfect demonstration of Nosaj Thing’s digression. Chung has sought the lead vocalist of Blonde Redhead, Kazu Makino, to achieve a more sympathetic sound with very emotive lyrics. A similar effect is accomplished in the track ‘Try’, in which Chung collaborates with acclaimed electronica singer-songwriter Toro Y Moi. With a combination of apologetic lyrics and sustained beats, neither of which overpower each other, a balanced and seemingly effortless sound arises. The album finishes with ‘Light #3’, the third in a trilogy of mixes that originate from Drift. ‘Light #3’ fits in with the rest of the tracks’ tendency not to overwhelm and merely blend into the calm background developed by the tracks preceding it. Although this latest release represents a significant divergence from a style more prevalent on Drift, it opens Nosaj Thing to a wider audience to appreciate his latest work.

Wolf ’s Law is the second album by The Joy Formidable, a follow up to the Welsh trio’s well received 2011 début, The Big Roar. Wolf ’s Law marks an evolution in the band’s ambition and scope with the expansion to include orchestral and choral backing on some tracks, lending this new album a bolder and more grandiose feeling than its predecessor. Ritzy Bryan is on top form on this release with the songs built around showcasing the strength of her striking voice. Rhydian Dafydd provides solid backing on bass while Matt Thomas invigorates the songs through his heavy metal style of drumming. The opening track, ‘This Ladder is Ours’, tricks you into thinking it’s going to be quiet before exploding into a blistering electric guitar riff. This intensity is retained throughout the album, only slowing down for ‘Silent Treatment’, a calm and relaxing acoustic track which functions as an intermission between the frenetic songs that precede and follow it. ‘Silent Treatment’ is immediately followed by the anthemic ‘Maw Maw Song’, its up-tempo heavy guitar jarring the pace back into gear. The most beautiful piece on the entire album is the title track which is hidden after the end of ‘The Turnaround’; featuring bewitching piano and strings, ‘Wolf’s Law’ is a glorious celebration of life. While renowned for their stirring live performances, Wolf ’s Law proves that The Joy Formidable can also put together a high calibre record.

Delphic were the hottest new act on the scene in 2010, their debut racking up praise for the ease with which it blended electronic and soft rock. A pop powerhouse, the band went on to have a soldout tour which was named Best New UK Act at the EMA’s and have a song used to promote the Olympics. To say that Collections is much anticipated is an understatement. The music industry has waited with bated breath for the expected slices of pop gold to appear on their desks. At last the breath can be released; with a great big hefty sigh. Collections can be summed up in one word: boring. The opening track, ‘Of the Young’, fails to peak whatsoever and sets the listener up for the disappointments that are about to surface. The album sinks into repetitive beats and simplistic song construction more characteristic of elevator music than of pop. The only place in which even an ounce of inventiveness and progression appears is on the six-minute ‘Atlas’, where the band flirts with dubstep to produce a surprisingly memorable track. ‘Tears Before Bedtime’ could have been decent, with an eerie melody and interesting use of samples, but fails to rise above mediocrity, with Rick Boardman’s vocal histrionics simply grating at certain points of the song. ‘Memeo’ is similar, an upbeat track that hints at the party-like atmosphere of their début but just lacks the old catchy hook.

In a Nutshell: Hipster knowhow meets shiny happy pop.

In a Nutshell: Hitting an elevator shaft near you soon.

In a Nutshell: An enjoyable album from a band clearly growing in confidence.

In a Nutshell: A long 45 minutes that could be better spent vegetating.

by Fiona Lynch

by Killian Woods

by Steven Balbirnie

by Michael O’Sullivan


Shappi Khorsandi Shappi Khorsandi talks to Edward Kearns about the important things in life and why Twitter is one of them


here’s a quiet buzz in the Red Room as Shappi Khorsandi arrives. The Iranian-born English comedian is all smiles as she’s welcomed by the L&H. Khorsandi is about to receive the James Joyce Award, and is delighted to be appreciated. “I get really excited when students like me, because I remember being a student,” she says. “Young people are quite particular about what they like; they really think about what they like, and so it’s really nice to be acknowledged by people who are at that point in their lives where they have very strong opinions about things and they’re very, sort of, clear about the things they appreciate.” Khorsandi has enjoyed increasing success in comedy over the last decade, performing at comedy festivals from Edinburgh to Melbourne, and Kilkenny’s own Cat Laughs. Known for bursting the bubbles of cultural stereotypes, she remarks that while there isn’t a massive difference between Irish and English audiences, “Irish crowds are a bit more self-confident, if you see what I mean. Like, certain English crowds can be more reserved, and I find with audiences if they’re not very confident, they’re not as lively, but I think Irish people and Irish culture kind of lends itself quite a bit to being comfortable with somebody in front of them, y’know, clowning about. I think audiences differ the most from the days of the week rather than their nationality, like a Monday night audience is always very different to a Saturday night audience. The Monday night crowds are the ones that really, really want to come and see you. Saturday night they might have a choice of five people to go and see or things to do that night and they’ve chosen you, so the expectations of the crowd are different.” Saturday night shows would probably involve more drinking as well. “Yes. The audience too,” she quips, before breaking into a chuckle. “See? Always working.” Khorsandi has enjoyed a healthy career on television, featuring on Live at the Apollo, Michael McIntyre’s Comedy Roadshow, and Mock the Week, although she admits performing for the camera makes her much more nervous than a normal gig. “I find stand up on telly really daunting. Cause you’re aware that so many people are going to see it, and it is a live art, and some people are really good at getting themselves across as stand-ups on telly. I find it quite difficult. I prefer live about a million times more,” she says. “When I can see the whites of the audience’s eyes then I can really connect with them.”

Despite the publicity that television brings, she only gets recognised now and then. “My level of being recognised is when I’m recognised, nine out of ten people will think they recognise me from the school gates and perhaps I’m just a familiar face from when they drop their kid off, or they’ll think they were at school with me. And then one time out of ten someone will go ‘Ooh you’re that comedian.’ I’m at the level where it just makes the world a little bit friendlier. Strangers smile at me, that’s it.” It’s clear that Khorsandi cares deeply about performing, and fame is just a side-effect. While she studied theatre, she couldn’t imagine herself in any other career than comedy. “I always wanted to do it, it just took me 24 years to pluck up the courage to do it… It’s a hard thing to start; it’s a hard thing to admit that you want to do. I mean it’s a lot to say ‘I think I’m funny enough’, but it’s not that, it’s like a need. I think it’s like the priesthood, you have a calling. I didn’t want to do any other thing. And I think you need to feel that way about stand-up, cause it’s a hard business to be in, it’s hard to make a living out of it.” In line with her no-nonsense approach to work, she doesn’t use social networking for publicity like some of her contemporaries, but rather just simply as Shappi. “I am addicted to Twitter. It’s a way of procrastination, and you get a lot of warmth from people. But it has a dark side as well, when people are horrid to each other, that’s not the fun part of Twitter, and I’ve learned as it’s gone on just to keep personal stuff really out of it. If you do anything that remotely says your opinion about something you’ve got to be prepared for like a billion replies of people disagreeing with you, and it can take up your whole day. So, it’s really time-consuming. I guess it’s a good marketing tool, as they say, but I’m not really very funny on it … I think I’m just myself on it. You always know when I’ve got a boyfriend or not, because if I’m not going out with someone I’m on Twitter a lot more, so Twitter’s my boyfriend when I’m single, it’s just someone to tell stuff to in the middle of the night when I haven’t got anyone else to poke in the ribs.” Khorsandi comes across as very amicable, normal and down-to-earth. She bubbles with enthusiasm as she’s whisked off to the Fitzgerald Chamber, ready to engage in the mutual appreciation of an adored comedian and a favourite audience. This is not a larger-thanlife comedy personality, Khorsandi just makes people laugh, and enjoys the hell out of it.





rom the generation that gave us Twiggy, Mary Quant and Brigitte Bardot, the 1960’s changed the way the fashion industry works today. If you Google Image Moschino’s Spring/Summer 2013 collection you’ll feel like you’ve gone back in time: big, bold eyebrows, spider-like lashes and PVC galore. But Moschino did more than just recreate these looks; the 2013 collection brought it right up to date. Instead of Twiggy, we had Cara Delevigne strutting her stuff in extravagant make-up and bright primary colours. A new simplicity shone through, making the monochrome look more wearable than you might think. Although the thought of recreating a look from this era may sound daunting, trying out the monochrome trend is definitely doable.

It’s chic, simple and versatile; black and white doesn’t have to mean boring. An easy way to avoid the corporate look is by adding a pop of colour, whether that be with something neonbright or a more muted option is up to you. If you keep your entire outfit black and white apart from one item, the contrast will provide focus; a bright neon bag or a simple coloured t-shirt is all you need to complete this look. Monochrome also doesn’t have to mean you have to stick with block colours, mix it up a bit with stripes of the vertical or horizontal variety. With your makeup, giving a nod to the 1960’s gives you a green light to go all out; bright lips could also act as the one and only pop of colour in your outfit. Heavy brows and black and white eye makeup provide a good compliment to the rest of this look. White eyeliner on the

waterline of your eyes makes your eyes look bigger and thick black liner on the top of your lids provides definition. It’s also easy to avoid looking like you’re going to a fancy dress party by picking one element of this look to focus on. It’s easy to get caught up in the drama of catwalk shows and lose sight of how to interpret this look with your own sense of style. A maxi-skirt is an excellent example of an affordable statement piece with heaps of potential. Whether it’s a flattering plain black or striped for the more adventurous among us, there are endless ways to style this piece while paying homage to the Swinging Sixties. Bring it bang up to date with some bold, statement jewellery and simple colour blocking and you’ll never look at black and white the same way again.

Striped shirt: €10 Penneys / Black skirt: €9 Penneys / Shoes: €22 Penneys Photographer: Caoimhe Mc Donnell Make Up Artist: Kate Kelly Models: Fara Courtney and Christine Mangan Stylist: Sophie Lioe 18


Monochrome doesn’t necessarily have to mean monotonous. Sophie Lioe explains how to pop some colour into this trend

Zebra print dress: €59 The Harlequin Shoes: Model’s own Suitcases: Props

Fara (left) :Cross jumper: €16 Penneys/Blue belt: €19 The Harlequin/Levi jeans: €49 The Harlequin/Shoes: €13 Penneys Christine (right) : Sequined vest: €79 The Harlequin/Leather skirt: €49 The Harlequin/Pink bag: €11 Penneys/Shoes: €18 Penneys

T-shirt: €2.50 Penneys Men’s Skirt: €9 Penneys Shoes: as before



The future of Couture

In the wake of Haute Couture Week in Paris, Claudine Murphy asks whether this rich history of design has a future


aute Couture can be defined as the creation and making of high quality, custom–fitted clothing by the leading fashion houses of the world, made for individual clients, and tailored to perfection using the most expensive fabrics and made by the most experienced seamstresses. The term is often abbreviated to simply, ‘Couture’, with ‘Haute’ meaning expensive or high, and ‘Couture’ referring to dressmaking or needlework. ‘Haute Couture’ is a term strictly protected under French Law. The Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Paris determine which fashion houses are eligible to be ‘true haute couture houses’. For these houses or couture workshops, known as ‘ateliers’, to advertise their creations as such, they must abide by the stringent rules laid down in France. This alone will allow them to gain the privilege of advertising their creations as ‘Haute Couture’. A Parisian expert states that if a dressmakers were to use the term ‘Haute Couture’ without obtaining permission from the regulatory body, the Chambre Syndicale, he can be arrested. For example, a couture fashion house must create unique pieces designed to directly fit on a client’s body or on a dress form replicating hers, with a number of individual fittings being carried out on each client. They must have an atelier in Paris, with at least 20 full time employees, and the fashion house must present a minimum of two 25–piece collections to the Paris press each year. The peak of couture was during the pre-war period; following World War II, only a few original haute couturiers have remained, including Chanel, Dior, Givenchy, Stephane Rolland and Jean Paul Gaultier. ‘Corresponding members’ also exist. These are Versace, Valentino, Elie Saab and Giorgio Armani. ‘Haute Couture’ Week in Paris concluded this January, and provoked much discussion regarding the future of such unique, expensive fashions. Can it survive in an era where ‘ready to wear’ pieces are far more in demand than individually created designs? Can such expenses for couture fashions be afforded by consumers in the West, especially in an economic climate such as is present in 2013? In her Vanity Fair article, special correspondent Amy Fine Collins reviewed the much discussed current question that is: can haute couture survive the 21st century? Can many continue to afford such a luxury to enable these ateliers to continue their careful design and production? In 1965, The New York Times declared that: “Every ten years, the doctors assemble at the bedside of haute couture and announce that death is imminent.” In 2009, Collins discussed this “death knell” once again due to the demise of the “revered maison” of Lacroix, who filed for bankruptcy protection that year. However, Collins also stated how, in the same year, the superpower houses of haute couture in Paris


(Chanel and Dior) were reporting increases in sales of 20% and 35% respectively. Launching one’s designs as Couture appears also to be the best way for a designer to get noticed, as during couture shows, they are one of a limited number, usually 20, spread over four days. This is in stark contrast with the wellknown liveliness that surrounds ‘ready to wear’ fashion weeks, which involve over 100 designers showcasing their new collections over a nine day period. The history of ‘Haute Couture’ revolves almost entirely around the fashion capital that is Paris. One French professional is quoted in Collins’ article as stating that the “origins of Haute Couture, like champagne, and equally part of our DNA,” date back to the reign of Louis XIV, as the French Finance Minister of the 1660s ensured that France became the leading manufacturer of luxury goods such as silk. The founder of haute couture was in fact an English man, the designer Charles Fredrick Worth, who opened his store on the Rue de la Paix, Paris in 1858. Worth’s designs and innovations trickled down across Europe and into the new world. Napoleon’s third wife, Empress Eugenie posed as Worth’s ultimate mannequin, and his new creations such as ‘hoop skirts and bustles’ enabled the original haute couture atelier to last 100 years. ‘Haute Couture’ fashion has changed dramatically since entering the 21st century as fashion houses have had to adjust to the demands of the modern customer. The question posed is, can anyone still afford ‘Haute Couture’ creations in 2013? The financial crisis has inevitably changed society, and the desire for ‘ready to wear’ dresses sharply increased, as customers sought a more accessible type of clothing. Many designers have been forced to close their ‘Haute Couture’ ateliers, and focus solely on their ‘ready to wear’ collections. However, those remaining appear to have a steady, although smaller group of private clientele, who designers are ‘quietly dressing.’ Elie Saab has reported a large increase in clients coming from countries such as Russia, Turkey, Greece, and Ukraine, and states that the main occasion for which these designs are created is weddings. Karl Lagerfeld of Chanel, believes that ‘Haute Couture’ is strong and will remain so, stating that: “There is now a different kind of couture for what different circumstances permit. Luxury ready-to-wear is not so far from what couture used to be … The new couture clients are beautiful, young. We have Russians, Indians, Chinese, South Americans. Women from the Gulf countries don’t even come to Paris; the première flies the collections to them.” Lagerfeld’s description epitomises the new era of haute couture, as one which is currently strong and in demand. Haute Couture has evolved with its clients, but has not lost its magic touch, that which makes it so unique to its customers. As Lagerfeld himself says: “So long as the house of Chanel exists, Couture exists.”


Postcards from Abroad: Beijing As he packs his bags to take off on holiday, Denis Vaughan looks back at his first semester in Beijing


t doesn’t really feel like the end of a semester. After six months of living, working and studying in Beijing, you’d think I’d be getting that burst of satisfaction and relief that usually comes with the end of the exams. But there’s no sign of it of it yet and I’m saying this as I prepare to jet off to Bangkok in less than 24 hours. I think it’s because, as I tend to do, I’ve managed to leave everything to the last minute. Instead of celebrating the end of exams I’m running around in circles trying to prepare for a three week trip around south east Asia. The trip consists of three countries (Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam), eight hotels, two boat cruises, four sleeper trains and three bus journeys. As you can imagine that makes for one hefty to-do list to get through within 24 hours. Not an ideal situation when you haven’t even started packing. Looking back on the last semester I have a lot of mixed feelings. Sorry for the Erasmus cliché, but it’s definitely been one of the greatest experiences of my life. I know that I’ve benefited in so many different ways from being here. I’ve seen and done things that I might never have done otherwise, I’ve been to places that I might never

have been. I’ve met new people and experienced a different culture and all that comes with that. To be honest though, academically I’m pretty disappointed. I don’t think the quality of the Chinese classes at Renmin University were very good. I can genuinely say that two out of my five classes were a waste of my time. The classes themselves were difficult to take seriously also. Some classes never had homework and attendance was optional. My attendance was the best it’s ever been this year and I actually went to most of my classes but some students stopped coming after the mid-terms. It felt like the teachers didn’t really care that much if you showed up or not. Probably because they some of them genuinely didn’t. I have grown to love Beijing itself though. Even though the pollution is at its highest in ten years; even though the people are still spitting on the street; even though the fake alcohol is still causing me to die a slow and painful death every Sunday morning; even though I’m still teaching kids that sometimes make you want to bash your head (or in some cases their) against a wall and even though I’m still deprived of curry chips, I love it. I don’t think I could ever see myself living here permanently because of

the pollution and some other factors, but I wouldn’t rule it for the short-term. It has its beauty in its own smoggy, ill-mannered and over populated way. It’s hard to pick out a highlight of the semester. There’s been so many. But surprisingly, considering I’m abroad and the Chinese don’t celebrate western holidays, I have to say that I really enjoyed Christmas day here. Obviously it was a bit surreal being here for it, but the dinner was just as good as ever. The advantage of living off campus unlike all my classmates meant I had the luxury of a homemade dinner. Better yet, I didn’t have to venture out of my house into the well below sub-zero temperatures for the entire day. It was just a small group of people swapping presents and cracking open the booze in true Irish fashion. I was even given a Chinese version of Pokémon Silver because I’m cool and retro like that. It felt just like a normal Christmas day. It was the closest feeling to being home I’ve had since I got here. If I had to pick a low point I reckon flooding my apartment was probably up there. I suppose you could say that was a bit of an inconvenience. When your landlady tells you to not put clothes on the radiator, don’t just assume it’s because

she’s Chinese and she’s weird like that. Consider the fact that it might be because, like so many other items in China, your radiator is terrible quality and is liable to snap off your wall and spew oily water all over your house. As far as my Chinese goes I have to put my hands up and say I don’t think it’s as good as it could be. It’s not bad. I mean it has improved quite a bit, albeit at a slower pace than I would have liked. I can’t really complain though. You get as much out of a language as you put into it. The hardest thing for me was trying to find Chinese friends that were good to practice the language with. The problem is that most of the college students in Renmin all had really good English so you tend to end up speaking in English with them because it’s easier to communicate. I’ve promised myself that I’m going to push myself out of my comfort zone this semester though and break out of my English bubble. I don’t want to go back to Ireland feeling like I could have done better. In the meantime however it’s time for a long awaited holiday. September to January with only one week off is one seriously long semester. Thailand, here I come. Goodbye pollution, hello sunshine.



Hamburg As one of Germany’s most prosperous cities, Andrew McKeown explores the best that Hamburg has to offer


amburg, a city of cranes and chimneys, is the second largest city in Germany, and is home to Europe’s second largest port. An independent city state, Hamburg has always been home to adventurers, and you too could travel to Germany’s Gateway to the World. Founded as Hammaburg, a fortress, in 808 AD under the rule of Emperor Charlemagne, the ‘Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg’ is now one of the most affluent cities in Europe. It’s a hub of media, fashion and film production. So where should you go in the city? The Rathaus (City Hall) The Rathaus is one of the most ornate government buildings in Europe, and its Neo-Renaissance structure certainly rivals the monuments of Prussia. The whole façade is peppered with statues of Hamburger Kings (a delicious sounding title) and a constant vigil is kept by the not-so-friendly, wellarmed, jackbooted guards. While walking past them, one really hopes that the psychological evaluation for the police force is well implemented. Or that their pistol training is ridiculously bad. Tours are a bit pricey (€12), so unless you’re really interested in the socioeconomic and political structure of the state of Hamburg, it’s best just to enjoy the historical facade and then go for a coffee or a beer in the surrounding cafés and bars.


Brockbräu Bierhalle Sure, Germany is full of military history, and they were building empires when our ancestors were still arguing over whose wattle-anddaub hut was nicest, but we all know what you want: the beer and food. Hamburg is an unusual German city, in that it seems to want to be more Latin-European, and so sports more French and Italian restaurants than German style ones. If you want a good hearty German meal, head to Brockbräu’s. Good news: they also brew their own strong beers, providing you with a chance for you to teach your new German friends the word ‘Sláinte’. The Old Warehouse Region If you like walking alongside canals and down winding cobbled streets while feeling like a Wizard or a God, the old warehouse region is for you. The red bricked buildings used to contain spices and carpets from the exotic orient, but nowadays many of them contain cool bars and restaurants that are definitely worth a visit. It may be at this point of the trip that you realise how many bars you’ve gone to, and if you listen closely, you can actually hear your liver crying. Jungfernstieg & Shopping Centre The Jungfernstieg is a major shopping street in Hamburg and it’s sure to have most of the shops you’ll be looking for. It’s named after a bygone practice whereby the affluent families would go on walks

to show off their lovely, unwed daughters. If another rich family liked the look of one of these girls, and was rich enough to interest her father, a marriage match could always be made. Ah, young love. Boasting five floors, each 160m long, Europapassagen is the biggest shopping centre in the City. The Centre connects the Jungfernstieg with other important shopping streets. Many of your favourite well-known chains can be found on Mönckebergstraße alongside small boutiques, cafés, bistros and ice cream parlours. Some of the little cobbled stone alleys are reminiscent of Temple Bar, and are home to the most interesting independent small shops in the city. The Reeperbahn Also known in German as die sündige Meile, the Sinful mile, this street is located in the St. Pauli district of Hamburg. Lined with clubs, discos, bars, sex clubs and restaurants, this is a pretty interesting place to see. Prostitution is legal during certain hours of the day here. The majority of prostitutes stand directly across the road from Davidwache, one of the oldest police stations in the city, which is now advertised by a bright neon sign that reads “Polizei”. The whole area has a rich history, and it was a hub of theatre and music in the 1920s, 30s and 40s. The Beatles also played here, and John Lennon once said: “I might have been born in Liverpool, but I grew up in Hamburg.”

It’s a pretty seedy place, and it certainly wouldn’t be for everyone. Drug dealers, pimps and prostitutes with dead eyes all prowl the streets, and it’s not really the place you’d want to go if you’re on a nice romantic holiday. Unless you’re into dead eyes, abandoned theatres, drug deals and sexually transmitted diseases that is. St. MichaelisKirche (St. Michael’s Church) A symbol of Hamburg for many years, this Lutheran Church was built in the Rococco and Baroque style. Its crypt contains the tomb of Carl Philip Emanuel Bach, the son of J.S Bach, who was also a famous late Rococco/early classical era composer. The architecture is aweinspiring, and the organ is one of the finest in the world. Free concerts often occur in the church, so check out local guides. Some of the concerts are even ones composed by C.P.E Bach himself, for all you Baroque fans out there. Because we know there’s just so many of you gagging for a sonata or two. Hamburg is a beautiful city, but it might serve better as a stop on a trip around Germany rather than a stand-alone holiday. Nonetheless, the vibrant city is still expanding and improving, and is sure to be an even more exciting place over the next few years.


FATAL FOURWAY Films that least deserved to win an Oscar




Forrest Gump

Emer Sugrue

Aoife Valentine

Anna Burzlaff

Conor Luke Barry

Some Oscar winners may be undeserving due to poor acting, poor direction or just overall creative poverty. I chose Braveheart for a different reason: the wanton disregard for historical accuracy. Braveheart opens in 1280, over scenes kilt-wearing Scots, with the death of King Alexander III bringing unrest and an invasion by Edward I, King of England. A young William Wallace is playing around in a village like the poor bedraggled peasant he is, watching atrocities such as the local English lord exercising Ius Primae Noctis, his legal right to have first go on any comely local girls on their wedding night. Except, all of that is bollocks. King Alexander III died in 1286 to no unrest; Edward I didn’t claim the throne until 1296, one year before Wallace’s rebellion; Wallace was not a mud smeared peasant but a member of the Scottish aristocracy and Ius Primae Noctis has never happened. And no one wore kilts for three more centuries, and even when they did, they weren’t worn anything like they were in the film. One historian compared this to a “film about Colonial America showing the colonial men wearing 20th century business suits, but with the jackets worn back-to-front”. For the most part, I don’t have a problem with historical accuracy in films. Reality isn’t as exciting as fiction, and it makes sense to over-dramatise and compress events. But most of the inaccuracies in Braveheart are like the examples above; wrong not because it adds to the story, but simply because they couldn’t be arsed finding out what really happened. The film as a whole is disgustingly lazy and to reward this mess with an Oscar was a travesty of justice, particularly considering it was up against Apollo 13, Sense and Sensibility and Il Postino. I can only assume Mel Gibson used the money saved on a library card to bribe the judges.

The Academy have made many mistakes in their time. Every year, the list of nominees comes out and people grumble that a film didn’t make the list, or won’t win because of the Academy’s bias. Often those people are right, but none of that really applies to Avatar winning the Best Cinematography Award. The main problem with this win is the sheer lack of sense involved. It won for Best Cinematography, but I would say more than half of that film isn’t live action at all, and it’s a damn long film. Most of it is visual effects made possible by someone pushing a load of buttons, not true cinematography with cameras and angles and all of that. And Mauro Fiore won the award, but he definitely wasn’t responsible for all that button-pushing himself. In fact, my good friend Wikipedia tells me he only photographed 30% of the film. Ah here. Sure, it was visually stunning on the big screen, but watch it at home and it quickly loses a lot of what made it amazing. And if you totally took away all of the animation and effects, there’s really nothing special about the camerawork, or the film as a whole. It’s impossible to compare it then, to the other nominees like Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince or The Hurt Locker. Avatar almost entirely crumbles when you take away all the effects, actually. The story was nothing special. The relationship at the core of the film was like something you’d see in any old teen rom-com, and even the actual avatars weren’t that well imagined. The whole story is like some bizarre cross between Pocahontas and Star Trek, with not a whole lot added in between. Maybe next time the Academy won’t be so dazzled by the button pushing and forget what they’re actually trying to award, but Avatar definitely slipped through the cracks.

There is little as devastating as watching a once revered figure head topple from their place of veneration in your mind. A mother who’s caught secretly puffing on a cigarette lies at one end of the spectrum, while a once esteemed politician engaging in some brown envelop transfers may lie at the other. The Academy Awards bestowing 11 golden men on James Cameron’s sea-sick tale of a woman who was too selfish to share her float lies somewhere in the middle. While I am not the type to defend the sanguine sentimentalism of Good Will Hunting (I’m not even going to mention The Full Monty’s nomination because that was clearly someone just having a laugh), Curtis Hanson’s brilliantly crafted L.A. Confidential was surely the far more deserving Best Picture win. I’ve developed a simile to help explain what has happened here. James Cameron and his penchant for commercially successful films that employ fancy effects and partial nudity, to mask vapid characters and clichéd stories, is the school goodytwo-shoes of our tale. He has brown nosed his way into the warm lap of the Academy by way of an attractive cast and Kate Winslet managing to never change her facial expression. (There was also that scene where she stood on her toes, that must have won him a few points too.) One would have hoped that the Academy wouldn’t fall victim to such cheap tactics but like the desperate politician searching for a quick buck to pay for his fourth holiday home, the Academy is far from infallible. Having a once revered figure fall from dignity can often have devastating effects. It can erase your idealism and make you cynical. I myself have developed a deep dislike of cruise ships, I have also never seen Avatar. Oscars this is what you’ve done.

While it would be a stretch to call Forrest Gump a bad film, you would have to be the king of exaggeration to call it great. Like a rice cracker dipped into a glass of water, Gump is potentially the least offensive film the States has ever created since the Hollywood classic The American Flag Waving while a Man Stands Idle, which is actually a pretty apt description of Gump itself. It’s a film that pats itself on its ideological back with its sentimental version of the American dream, rewriting history to show that anybody can be a somebody. Which would be fine if it just existed and every conversation that started with “Do you remember Forrest Gump?” ended with someone else saying “No”. Instead its baffling six Oscars has cemented it as a masterstroke of film-making and in the process prevented the Best Picture Oscar from going to Pulp Fiction. Which is potentially fair enough. When was the last time you heard anyone talk about Pulp Fiction, apart from yesterday and every day before that? Still, to say this is a disappointment gives the Oscars too much credit. It’s not hugely surprising that the film that proclaims “Isn’t America dynamite?” won over a film that features a woman accidentally snorting heroin. The Oscars have their priorities. You’d just hope that picking the best film would be one of them.



What’s On: uCD Cinema

Week 3: 04/02/2013 - 08/02/2013 7 Pyschopaths









Life of Pi - 3D




Beasts of the Southern Wild

18:00 18:00

The Usual Suspects (Filmsoc) L.A Confidential (Filmsoc)


The Wild Bunch (Filmsoc)


Harry Potter and The Philosophers Stone (Sci-Fi)


Week 4: 11/02/2013 - 15/02/2013 Pitch Perfect What Richard Did


When Harry Met Sally (Filmsoc)







Hable con ella (Talk To Her) (Filmsoc)


A Knight’s Tale (Sci-Fi)


Tickets to 7 Psychopaths, Life of Pi are €5 for students and €6 for non students. (3D screenings may have a surcharge). Other screenings are €4.50 for students, €5.50 for non-students. Society screenings are free for members. Tickets for screenings are available at the student centre desk 30 minutes before the screening, 50¢ discount for Filmsoc members.





University Observer Vol XIX - Otwo Issue 8  

University Observer Vol XIX - Otwo Issue 8