VOL 83 EDITION 7
DASTARDLY DIRECTORS People suffer for art, but it’s not always the artist: Was your favourite director a complete arsehole? by
38 T H E
O P E N I N G
IS A LONG TIME
A Pelican writer looks back on twelve difficult months since his diagnosis of clinical depression
We examine music in sitcoms. What it says about the show and what it says about you!
A L E X
YE A R
G R I F F I N
18 CULTURAL CRINGE From failed critics to improprietous kickstarter funds, why has the obsession with
INSIDE 05 ED/PREZ 06 DATING W/ MARNIE: FANFIC 12 ROLLING STONES: JEWS ON REPENTANCE 22 UNIVERSAL MUSINGS
24 ANOTHER BRICK IN THE WALL: KNOW THYSELF, ARTS STUDENT 26 SPORTS SCIENCE 27 WHAT’S HAPPENING 46 HOWL: THE RETURN OF SHITPALM
S I M O N
D O N N E S
30 ALONE TOGETHER?: XIU XIU
44 REVIEWS: THE TIM AND ERIC AWESOME TOUR MELBOURNE, GREAT JOB!
08 GUILDFINGER: YOUR ONE-STOP OUT-A-DATE ELECTION BLOGGER 10 CARBON TAX: WHAT WILL BE AFFECTED WHEN JULIAR STRIKES
31 GALAPAGOS TWIST: TORTOISE TALK TO GRIFF 32 REVIEWS
42 PATRICK GALE: A PERFECTLY GOOD MAN
PELICAN VOL 83 EDITION 7
The Magazine About Nothing
CAMDEN WATTS Camden Watts is a local artist living in Perth and studying Arts/Law at the University of Western Australia. He currently resides in South Perth with a used light box. Hoping to one day marry his light box, he regularly campaigns for the Australian Parliament to recognise unions between men and inanimate objects. Camden believes the bill will probably be passed by 2014, expected to be a long time before they pass the one on gay marriage. If you would like to commission Camden for art he can be contacted @ email@example.com
Josh Chiat// Editor Alex Pond// Advertising Tersia Elliott// Advertising Viv Nguyen // Design Maya Halilovic // Design Camden Watts // Cover Alice Mepham// Film Editor Alex Griffin// Music Editor Lachlan Keeley//Arts Editor Yvonne Buresch// Books Editor Richard Ferguson// Politics Editor
Ena Tulic Camden Watts
Lachlan Keeley Zoe Kilbourn Alexandra Leonzini Zev Levi
The views expressed within are not the opinions of the UWA Student Guild or Pelican editorial staff, but of the individual writers and artists. And sometimes not even them. We take no responsibility for any perceived offence caused by one of our writers. If you wish to contact us you can send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Anyway, all year I’ve had nightmares about this guy. Because this guy represents you – those everyday students who put trust in me to do a job. And I constantly wonder if he is happy. This year, we opened the first ever independent food outlet at UWA – Rocketfuel. Everyone tells me this is a miraculous achievement, and I might say, getting a coffee shop in four months in a University that takes years to fix a window is no easy feat. But it is no miracle. The change needs to keep happening. Rocketfuel has been very successful. The outlet contributes about half as much revenue to the Guild in a month as the Refectory was forecast to do in a year, and it only employs students which is pretty cool. Welcome to another edition of Pelican.
But I feel like you deserve more.
You haven’t heard from me for a while, thanks to an impressive amount of censorship from the Guild Election Committee, which I guess means I have heaps of stuff to say.
So this year, I’ve engaged in a cataclysmic battle with Guild Catering. And I feel like I’ve lost. Every move I would make, someone in management would find a way to block it – we need a feasibility study, we need this or that document, we need another week to prepare it...
I’ve only got two months left as President, which is sad. To start, I’m going to do something unusual in this edition. I want to write a quick letter to a man named Dave. I remember him from a number of my Economics classes. When I ran for President last year, he helped me; he got all of his friends to come down and vote for me because he wanted
And in the interim I lost a lot of sleep and I invested a lot of time in a business that burns the Guild’s resources when they should be focussed on your education and welfare. I learnt that sometimes you need to take action yourself.
coffee, public nudity – until we eventually got onto rap music (a regular conversation given the booming soundsystem he keeps wired to the roof of his bedroom). I started talking about the Wale album The Mixtape About Nothing when it struck me: We can have a magazine about NOTHING. Hell, our writers lack direction as it is. Given our propensity towards bullshit it seemed like a natural fit.
Hi everyone, The idea for this theme came to me on a quiet night at the Scotsman. I was talking with a friend, less than a week out from a Writers’ Night, mining the depths of our knowledge for that special spark. By the time we’d had a few beers and gone back to his house the only decent themes we’d come up with were just variations of ones from earlier this year. Conversation took a few turns – women,
Within you’ll find writers working within what is simultaneously the most free and constraining theme they may ever have to deal with. It’s inspired the return of the fecally accomplished superhero ‘Shitpalm’, Seinfeld references abound, there are more bewildered musings than you know how to deal with and one of the greatest title-plates in the history of this magazine. The theme may seem to be a form of self-parody, a begrudging acceptance of the type of people who write for Pelican, do art for Pelican, read Pelican. But honestly, I wouldn’t trade the way we are for the world. Some people may wish we were more serious, that we reported month-old news, that we took student politics seriously or that we would start a tirade against the implementation of the SSAF.
On the bar refurbishment, I expect it completed in time for 2013. One cool thing we’d like to do is open it later next year on a couple of nights – so you can stay back for dinner and have predrinks before you hit Clubba. Or Venn, depending on your classiness. On universal lecture capture & download, I took my paper to Academic Council and the University agreed that, in principle, lecture capture should be universal, and that next year it would conduct a thorough investigation into implementing this. I’m not sure how likely this is, because I’m just not sure how much of a priority it will be. Anyway, to conclude: Dave, if you read this, I hope you’ve started to see a positive change start to touch this campus.
No. We have principles. I have principles. We maintain them. We write about nothing, we draw about nothing, we talk about nothing, because that minutiae makes up what life is. It’s what our lives are. It is, really, what your life is. Forget the big picture, the most important stuff that’ll happen to you in a day will be the little things: getting up in the morning, eating sandwiches, reading a cheap magazine. If these aren’t right; if your waiter has overcharged your bill, if you wait too long in a line, if your lecturer is boring you, if a conversation runs into dullness, you better damn kvetch about them. I know Larry David always will. I know I always will. Life is made up of a whole lot of nothing. And nothing else is important. (Slap bass) Ba Ba-dum Bom Bom Bom Bom/ Ba-dup bup bup bup bup…
Over the last few weeks, I’ve been negotiating with Subway in an attempt to bring them to campus for 2013. Can we do it? Definitely. Will we? If I can get a contract signed and approved in two months, that truly would be a miracle. While we’re at it, from October 9th you can expect to see Charlie’s Pizza on campus – they’re going to be undertaking a brief trial in the Ref Courtyard, so come down and check them out. The fight continues.
better food on campus, and he believed that I’d be able to bring this change.
Dating With Marnie
DATING WITH MARNIE ALLEN
A ROOM OF THEIR OWN: EROTIC FAN FICTION AND THE EMERGENCE OF A LITERARY CANON FOR PEOPLE WITH TOO MUCH TIME AND POOR LITERACY SKILLS
For some of us, the frustration at an unfulfilled fictional romance fosters a burgeoning desire to rewrite the stories and relieve the sexual tension that others, even perhaps the screenwriters and authors, fail to recognise. Along with the delights of dugong porn and instructions on how to make your own clam costume, the internet has provided us with an outlet for these desires. Below are a few excerpts from my own Fan Fiction work that are published in full in JSTOR, Harper’s Bazaar and the Journal of Business Ethics. The ongoing chemistry between long-term Ramsay street residents Susan Kennedy and Jarrod ‘Toadfish’ Rebecchi has kept us Neighbours devotees waiting with bated breath for their passion to finally be consummated in an explosive double episode. Any day now… *** Toadfish Rebecchi lapped up the sweet nectar trickling between Susan Kennedy’s milky beige thighs and felt her prominent pubic mound pulsating like a frenzied buck. ‘Toadfish’ she moaned. ‘Call me Jarrod’ said Mr Rebecchi, before taking a deep breath and plunging his mouth further into her smother box.
Illustrations by Alice Palmer and Ena Tulic
There was a knock on the door; Toadfish emerged from Susan’s love cave and threw a towel around his waist, opening the door enough to see Dan Fitzgerald looking at him inquisitively. Toadfish awkwardly indicated to Dan Fitzgerald that he had the company of a woman, to which Dan Fitzgerald offered him a congratulatory fist-pump. As he drew his hand to return the pump, Toadfish nearly dropped the towel he was clutching and let go of the door to retrieve it. The door swung open and Dan Fitzgerald glanced across the scene before him; his own mother-in-law, spread across the grey sateen sheets, her décolletage shimmering with sexual fluids. A look of horror cast over her face at having been caught betraying local GP and singer/ songwriter, Dr Karl Kennedy. ‘Susan, how could you?’ croaked Dan Fitzgerald, furrowing his brow in anger. ‘Oh Dan Fitzgerald, you mustn’t tell Dr Karl. Please Dan Fitzgerald!’ cried Susan, her bosom heaving furiously.
It suddenly dawned on Dan Fitzgerald that he had Susan at his mercy. ‘I won’t tell Dr Karl. But I want something in return’ Dan Fitzgerald said, a sinister smile creeping across his face as his package swelled beneath his jeans. *** Cinema novices and film buffs alike were united in utter astonishment at the thwarted romance between Dr Leonora Orantes and Sun Feng in the thrilling medical blockbuster Contagion. The blossoming union between these star-crossed epidemiologists failed to come to fruition by the time the credits rolled, but this love-bond was too strong to remain unfulfilled… *** Dr Leonora Orantes watched her captor Sun Feng drive away with the MEV-1 Vaccine he had held her at ransom for. She was relieved to be back with her colleague, but felt a strange restlessness as Sun Feng’s van faded into the distance. “Dr Orantes, how are you feeling? I’m so sorry for your ordeal, but you’ll be pleased to know that we gave Feng a placebo. Those bastards can’t break the rules and jump the queue like that.” “No!” cried Leonora, thinking of the children in Sun Feng’s village who were waiting to be protected against the deadly disease. “I must warn them!” she cried, and clambered into her colleague’s sedan, pushing him out of the way. She turned the keys in the ignition and sped off in the direction of the village. When she arrived she saw Sun Feng in the distance, triumphantly embracing members of his village to
the beat of a marimba. The village’s sagacious elders released 70 birds of paradise into the dusky evening sky. Confetti littered the ground as children ate papaya fruits and danced to the melodious piccolo and gentle percussion. She hated to put a dent in the celebrations but the safety of the villagers was at stake. ‘Sun!’ She cried urgently as she approached festivities.
Sun Feng saw her and pushed his way through the crowd, looking confused. ‘Sun, they gave you a placebo! The vaccine isn’t going to work! You must warn the villagers!’ Sun’s face went pale, and he closed his eyes in disappointment. Leonora watched this broken shell of an epidemiologist/tribal villager, waiting for him to speak. She couldn’t have been more surprised when she felt him press his firm, urgent groin against her pantsuit. ‘There’s no hope for my people anymore. I must perish with them. I want to spend my final days hammering your velvet powerhouse while you milk my tamil with your pompour. Be my Alaskan Firedragon, Leonora. Breathe the fire burning in your gushing lotus.” Leonora hesitated, then caressed the apex of Sun Feng’s shaolin sword and looked into his sharp, opaque eyes. He led her to his wig-wam and laid her body on the jute bed-mat on the floor, then circled her like a vulture anticipating the sweet, fragrant flesh of its prey.
ZEITGEIST The Four Pillars of Persia
Tom Reynolds (@tsareynolds)
As a teenager I watched Not Without My Daughter, which stars Sally Fields as a naïve all-American mum who’s tricked into moving to Iran with her husband and their daughter. Once there her exotic husband transforms from a mild-mannered surgical specialist into an wife-beating hothead. Poor Sally is locked up with her sociopathic in-laws until she’s able to escape thanks to some local smugglers (who then attempt to rape her). At the time I thought the lesson being taught was “don’t marry a Muslim or you’ll be forced to live in a country entirely populated by exclusively shitty actors”. Now I realise that Not Without My Daughter actually summarises what most Westerners think of Iran: a temperamental, violent, anti-Western and irrational country.
Iran’s been in the news this year because of their onagain off-again nuclear research. This engaging piece of international theatre stars the United Nations, America, and Israel. The plot is driven by a “will they or won’t they” tension about the prospect of Israel bombing Iran’s research facilities and features some interesting subplots about terrorism, the Holocaust, and the ghost of Saddam Hussein. There are also some cameos from amongst the Axis of Evil, who have contributed to world peace by smuggling missile technology and signing up for trade with the economically sanctioned Islamic Republic. Way to stick to the peaceniks, you guys! But how is it that we’ve got to this point? Why is Iran is so deeply offended by the existence of Israel that it is willing to sponsor international terrorists, endure crippling sanctions, and spend billions on nuclear research? Below are the four main theories Iran has used to explain their own behaviour.
Ideology Israel is a Jewish state occupying irredeemably Islamic lands. God said so. Iran doesn’t have a problem with Jews per se (Ayatollah Khomeni issued a fatwa protecting the Jews in Iran), but it’s unacceptable for a Jewish country to occupy Islamic lands. Anyway, maybe Germany could give up the Rhine Valley as an apology? Iran’s official proposal for ending this problem is for Israel to be dissolved and for the Palestinians to be allowed to democratically participate in the new country. In the mean time I guess Iran will just have to continue supplying training and weapons to their bros in Hezbollah until they can improve on the shitty range of the North Korean missile designs they purchased.
Politics Iran wants to be regional top dog. Unfortunately all the other governments in the region hate Iran a lot, but luckily they still hate Israel slightly more. Iran is ethnically Persian, while the rest of the Middle East is populated by Arabs. Attacking Israel is a convenient means of garnering support from regimes that are otherwise opposed to Iran religiously, ethnically and politically. For example, Iran champions the cause of Palestine, a popular issue in the Middle East, despite the broad support amongst Palestinians for Saddam Hussein during the Iran-Iraq War.
Economics Attacking Israel is a top notch distraction from the economic situation at home. Evidence: Iran’s economy is a dog-hole. There is terrible inflation, the price of housing has dramatically escalated, and sanctions are so severe there are even debates about the national security implications of showing hard-to-come-by consumer goods like roast chicken on TV. Not to History mention that corruption is rife and there’s a booming Israel only exists because of European guilt about the black market in heroin smuggling. Fermenting anger Holocaust and this gives the Israelis carte blanche against the Zionist overlords of the global economy backing from the West (for example look at their treatment of the Palestinians). This is totally unfair and soaks up domestic discontent and also rallies support anyway, the Holocaust wasn’t that bad. Israel is a proxy amongst other anti-Zionist states like oil-exporting Venezuela (Iran actually imports a lot of oil). for the Americans who have a history of supporting enemies of the Iranian government – like Saddam Hussein’s Iraq during the eight year Iran-Iraq War. As long as Israel exists the Middle East will continue So there you have it, the four primary excuses Iran uses to suffer from American and Western intervention to justify hating on Israel. in order to safeguard Israeli interests, like not being blown apart from Hezbollah’s missiles.
JAMES BOND’S GUILDFINGER Prince William ain’t got right if you ask me. If I were him, I would have voted STAR or Liberty AS THE BELL POLLS Posted September 21, 2012 So at the end of polling the results are out. A Victory 4 STAR! We never got to hear Ben Watsons Election Rap :(. Hes still number 1 to me though…the sexual tension during polling was electric… -Miss Moneypenny xox
THE GAME IS A FOOT: A POEM
BARNE YARD ANIMALS
Posted September 17
Posted September 13
Look out, look out they’re everywhere
Who IS Cameron Barnes? A little birdy told me that he is simply another pawn in a certain Interested Student’s chess game of liars and thieves. This reliable source also adds that on the day election results are announced, Barnes will pull off an elaborate synthetic body suit to reveal he is, in fact, Jeremy Cole. We here at Guildfinger are privy to many rumours and falsehoods, but this one is all too convincing.
There on bottom of Reid’s stairs They are on the oak lawn too They are out to get you You cannot run, you cannot hide You to try to your best to stay alive Tell all your friends, far and near
Stay watchful. Stay vigilant. Stay away from Reid café carbonara. -M xox
Beware, guild elections are here M xox
Illustrations by Maya Halilovic, Written by Kat Gillespie & Richard Ferguson
BUNNY FOR GUILD COUNCIL Posted September 6 Some interested students have been worried about the bunny mascot that STAR has used in their latest electioneering. Should innocent animals really be brought into UWA guild politics? Well, Guildfinger has heard from “the bunny’s mouth” so to speak. We received a letter from the STAR mascot bunny, Bugs McBarnesSTAR#1, telling us the whole and exclusive truth!!!! Dear Guildfinger, What’s up, doc? Many of your readers may be wondering whether I was forced into campaigning for STAR. This is a lie. I believe that only STAR can provide the cheap but high-quality carrots that UWA bunnies need to survive. We bunnies need a guild that will look out for bunnies, whether they can afford RocketCarrots or not. I also am frankly shocked at the bias Liberty holds towards the UWA duck community. From privatised duck-shitting areas to duckpartnership ceremonies on campus, Liberty and their master Ben “I am really a duck in a man suit” Watson have waged war on the bunnies of this campus by siding with our mortal enemies. I ask your readers to read between the lines and see Liberty for what they really are. Members of the Young Duck Party. Yours sincerely. Vote STAR, Bugs McBarnesSTAR#1 There you are. The truth. Now, you decide what’s true, dear reader. -Q xox
“WATS-ON” AROUND CAMPUS Posted August 26 IS BEN WATSON REALLY BEHIND “PROGRESSIVE VOICE”?
IS BEN WATSON REALLY BEHIND THE CAMPS FIASCO? IS BEN WATSON REALLY FRIENDS WITH MATT MCKENZIE?
IS BEN WATSON REALLY RUNNING FOR PRESIDENT? IS BET WATSON REALLY A REAL PERSON? IS BEN WATSON REALLY FUGITIVE JEDI MASTER, OBI-WAN WATSON? I don’t fucking know. -Q.
BENWATSONLOVER YOU are such a STAR blog, Why do you hate freedom?
GUILDFINGER Dear readers, we love Ben Watson and Liberty as much as the next guy. We do not discriminate. It just happens that we’re running with STAR on the ticket, is all. Love M and Q xox
THE NOMINEES! Posted August 24 At last, dear readers! The nominations have closed and we have a full list of said nominees for the 2013 Guild Council! However, this list is very long and we can’t be bothered posting it. So instead look at this picture of Ben Watson and Cam Barnes making out at the law ball. Our sources see all. -M xox
THE WAY WE WERE: A YEAR OF LIBERTY Posted August 15 We can’t help but dedicate an entry to the year that was – Everyone, including these interested students were shocked when Liberty won last year’s election. Who thought students were ever right-wing?! However, it happened and we have been living with this Liberty guild. Ever since. We at Guildfinger haven’t got much problem with the Liberty folk to be honest. All the men are hot and all the girls have good taste in clothing. Love it. However, there have been troubles along the way. From the chronic lack of frappes at Rocketfuel to Matt MacKenzie’s spelling errors in Guild News emails, this guild perhaps didn’t achieve all it set out to do. In terms of grading, let’s give Matt and the Liberty Crew a B for a good ol’ try. Now, it’s time to look to the future. It’s gorgeous Downton Abbey clone Ben Watson for Liberty and beautiful boy-next-door Cameron Barnes for STAR. Can Ben deliever all Liberty set to achieve and still maintain that fabulous hair-do? Can Cameron regain STAR’s former glory and still convince us STAR is not actually Young Labor? Who knows. Who can say. All these interested students know is: This is the sexiest Guild presidential election all the time. Stay True. Stay Vigiliant. Stay Guildfinger. -M and Q xox
THINGS THAT WILL BE AFFECTED BY THE CARBON TAX
We here at Pelican Magazine have been shocked and appalled at the evil machinations of Julia Gillard for quite some time. However we were not prepared for this vile woman’s ultimate weapon of mass destruction, her Death Star if you will: the Carbon Tax. Our elite team of Pelican writers collected as much evidence as they could about this Carbon Tax’ horrible effects on our nation, proof that Empress Gillard wishes to bring Australia to its knees. Many Pelican writers died to bring us this information
Touring musical acts affected The world’s top musical acts are forced to use Tupac Shakur-esque holograms to cut down carbon costs from touring. Now The Wombats’ live performances have even less depth than ever before!
Illustrations by Jessica Cockerill, Written by Richard Ferguson
Perth Zoo affected The Australian Government taxes the carbon from animals at $60 per shit. Perth Zoo releases its animal population into the Perth streets due to the zoo’s overbearing carbon costs as a result of animal flatulence.
UWA Law School affected The UWA Law School is closed down due to the high costs form the amounts of waste (read graduates) it produces. As a result, all graduates have now been quarantined in the Law Courtyard until they can probably disposed of efficiently.
McDonalds Fries affected Increased carbon costs mean that McDonalds is forced to make fries with real potatoes instead of the cholesterol they pump from Gina Rinehart’s bloodstream. As a result, Gina Rinehart sadly exploded in the middle of an Andrew Bolt interview due to a cholesterol overload.
THINGS THAT WILL not BE AFFECTED BY THE CARBON TAX
1. MALCOLM TURBULL Former Liberal leader Malcolm Turnbull survives the ravages of the carbon tax due to his ENORMOUS bundles of money. Turnbull’s speculative investments in Solar and Wind Energy companies finally pay off aer years of ridicule.
Illustrations by Oppa
One guy has a large one that he needs to pull in because he’s king of the stonecutters or something and the other guy mocks him because he only has a few little rocks to pick up. But this guy that mocks the other guy, see he spends forever trying to clean up all these little rocks, whereas the other guy just spends his lifetime trying to pull the big rock in. The one guy gets to make it in heaven with 40 virgins and the other guy spends the rest of eternity trying to clean up all these little rocks. Gabriel laughs in his face and orders circumcisions for all the goyim just cause. I think. Like I said, my memory is hazy. The story is a parable for the process of repenting that Jews go through at the end of each year, ten days from the start of our new year culminating in Yom Kippur – a day of remembrance where we fast and stand and pray a lot. This year’s process for repentance went, basically, like this: If anyone has a grievance they would like me to address they should send me a request through official avenues stating the action and reason for the apology they wish to receive. If God deems their grievance to be genuine and relays that information to me within a reasonable timeframe they can expect an apology to be delivered at some point between the 16th and 26th of this month along with a courtesy copy of the latest Jerusalem Post... Time is of the essence. That right there is a contract. Now, I don’t understand Hebrew, but I can read it, the way it sounds I mean. Which meant that for many years I would read the Hebrew part of my prayer book, unknowingly endorsing something immoral I don’t entirely believe in like asking God to smite the bodies of my enemies (read: Iran) or giving charity to the poor and sick. Awful. It’s also meant that I’ve stayed ignorant
So as it turns out I’m supposed to think of things I’ve done to people over the year. Here’s five occasions when I think I may have been in the wrong. 1.Took candy from a baby I was walking in King’s Park one day when I saw a grossly overweight woman pushing a baby in a pram. In its hand it was trying to grip a lollipop that its mother had given it in replacement for a pacifier. I snapped: I stole that coca-cola chup-a-chup, admonishing the mother for abusing her child before sticking it in my mouth citing my fast metabolism and adding, “judging by yourself your child won’t be so lucky.” Actually fuck it, I’m not apologising for that – I saved that kid’s goddamn life. 2.Called every student politician at UWA a very rude word “I voted one for Rajdeep and nothing for anyone else because the rest of you are all cunts!” Is what I was overheard saying by numerous UWA student politicians. And by overheard I mean screamed loudly in front of the entire cast of student reps at the close of polling, including both Presidential candidates. The conundrum here is that what I said was fundamentally true. Some of them will even admit it in open conversation, and the ones that don’t lack the self-awareness to distinguish reality from the tangential world that gets developed every year around election time. I’m not a totally staunch person, I stick my tail between my legs every now and then, but I’m sure as hell not going to apologise for being sincere. 3.Said mean things about Steve Jobs after he died Seriously though, he didn’t even donate most of his money to charity. He spent the end of his life in a pointless manic pursuit to get Samsung to pay for ‘stealing’ a patented product, assuming that he can place a monopoly on the concept of the smart phone.
4.Stole someone’s subscription the Australian Israel Review Here at the Pelican we have an unexplained subscription to the Australia Israel Review. No one knows who started it. Despite this I’ve never found the time to read it: While educating yourself on the nature of the conflict in Israel is something that most Jews do and should do in their lifetime, I’m preferring to stay ignorant for now. In fact I’ve read very little but sports news for several months now, such is the debilitating nature of my work. Come to think of it, it might have something to do with all of the other misdirected mail we’ve been receiving this year. When Israel finally attacks Iran, then I’ll have the urgency to really study up this subject, but before that happens I should probably tell Goodman, S. of Yokine that we’ve been getting their mail for the last few years. (Her son just made partner at a law firm in New York. Mazel Tov!) 5.Went to Air Nightclub At the end of a night where a group of friends (I have those, kind of) insisted on wearing suit jackets and drinking overpriced shots of whiskey we came around full circle and ended up at Air, a cold, sterile night club that keeps a plastic sheet over the edge of its balcony, presumably so that no one can jump to their death from the sheer horror of it all. Out of my element, furious about a two dollar charge to hold my suit on a rack only to be told when I removed it to go outside briefly that I would need to pay another two dollars for them to hold it again, I became overwhelmed with the whole place and walked around laughing for 15 minutes like I was a character in The Hour Glass Sanatorium. I’m sorry Josh – Never again.
The system works because it relies on others to tell me what I’ve done wrong. And no one ever does that to anyone unless their Jewish. And I don’t actually know all that many Jewish people so I thought I was off the hook.
He treated his wives pretty badly and his kids even worse. But then occasionally I would look down at my jittery malfunctioning ipod, or my brother’s longlife low-function macbook, and realise what great, often poorly constructed things that man produced for everyone. However, that doesn’t overrule the fact that he was kind of an arsehole, and dying of cancer doesn’t make you not the Locherbie Bomber (an extreme analogy but still), so no soup for Steve.
What I do remember is that there was this guy, oh wait, there were two guys. And the archangel Gabriel – I think it was Gabriel, though I don’t think that’s a particularly important part of the story more a quirky fact about the sort of judgmental fuck Gabriel was. Anyway Archangel comes up to them, says they gotta pick up some rocks they left in a field.
of many of the finer points of the prayers. One thing I stumbled upon this year was the requirement that I seek repentance for things that I think of myself. Which just completely blew my whole system apart.
There’s an old proverb that was told by a Rabbi of mine when I was younger. Or maybe it was at the Jewish Day School I frequented until I was ten years old. Or maybe I read it in a newsletter. Or maybe I heard it on an album by the Jews for Jesus collective. My memory is not good.
16 Illustrations by Matthew Goss
Music and sitcoms have an uneasy relationship, and fair ‘nuff. Sitcoms can’t fathom the awkward, constant relationship we have with music everyday; awkward in that it is near impossible to convey utterly what one means or feels about a song. It’s hard; incredible, immediate feelings become mute, dumb gestures, like waving your arms at a dartboard. Heck, friendships – even marriages – can form out of finding a kindred spirit with whom you share a vocabulary when it comes to music, and sharing a vocabulary amounts to little more than grappling across the same sheer rock face. The manner in which we relate to music – in subtle, personal, profound ways – is not the stuff the world of sitcoms is made of, all hawklike mother-in-laws and borderline intellectually disabled roommates. But Seinfeld ain’t your typical sitcom. I am running ahead of myself,
though, you’re pulling at my sleeve, the stove is burning etc – “how and why is it that you’re just saying Seinfeld has a deeper insight into the human relationship to music than X?” Oh, okay, no worries, I will start by talking about the theme so – MUSIC IN SEINFELD works to deepen and enrich characters and it works because it’s done in a fashion that is inherently timeless. BOW-BAP BAP BOW-BAH BUP BUP BAD DOW DOW DOW DUH Each sitcom has a theme; as Adorno will tell you in Composing for the Films, Hollywood detests music, but tosses it scraps to keep the kids distracted from the fact that popular entertainment is essentially bankrupt. Totally read that book you’ll have a good time obviously. Anyway, Cheers is better remembered for its theme than anything else,
and rightfully so; that maudlin thing is downright devastating after some crunchy Stellas and some crushing thoughts about an ex in the company of some friends and a sprawling moonstruck sky. The Friends theme is far more representative of the twenty two minutes that follow it; a gawping gallop of earnest inanity that rings as eerily chipper as Matt LeBlanc’s eternally dumbstruck grin. As far as theme/incidental music goes though, Seinfeld is frightening in terms of its representative power. Like a footstep or a gunshot, it is virtually impossible to describe without resorting to onomatopoeia, halfheartedly making bass noises knowing that you’re hitting like one note in seven. Everyone summons something different to mind about it. The key lesson to it is that it has not dated. Yes, a piece of music comprised of the most queasy components of 80s elevator jazz (conga beatboxing, synthesised slap bass, a brass hook that sounds like slipping on piss in a stairwell) has not dated. It is consummately timeless because it sounds almost outside of music itself. It is consummately ugly, absurd and completely selfsufficient. Acting as a framing device, Seinfeld becomes an utterly self-contained world. That theme signifies a certain loping, awkward, goofy charisma that the show delivers on; if you trust it once, you’ll trust it forever. They’ve got a foot in the door. Songs roll in. OH-WITCH-AY WOMAN References to music in sitcoms generally come in the form of instantly dated cultural references (hammy emotional climaxes or set pieces that run less as humour than ‘hey, Lisa Kudrow can play a guitar.’ Either that or shoehorning the 88 (who?- exactly) into a guest punchline in How I Met Your Mother or having Death Cab For Cutie play at the Bait Shop for Seth Cohen’s birthday (who?- exactly) (also I know The OC is not exactly a sitcom but I beseech you watch it now and don’t just cackle yourself silly right). From my research I’ve figured that there are about forty songs used or references across 178 episodes of Seinfeld. The only one written in the 90s came in the last episode, and formed perhaps the nadir of the whole series (man rank sentimentality and state of ’97 production values were not a good thing thank you Green Day’s ‘Good Riddance’). That misstep aside, Seinfeld’s musical referencing Seinology was aloof from pop culture. The songs used were completely rooted in what the memories and ideas
At once, this is a very particular world view – educated Jews of New York who grew up listening to opera and show tunes – and a world that isn’t held to a particular time. These are people – this authenticity, this immersive world of details flecking upon eachother until implicitly you know more about Jerry than you’ll remember: All of those CDs in his living room and he never plays a single one. This knowledge is what makes Seinfeld not just a show but an impassive cultural document; these are people living in a particular time, thinking in different ways, each separate but together, cohering. The complete out-of-touchness with the zeitgeist is something that repeats; Mr Pitt goes craaaazy trying to identify a song to win a radio competition, and Mr Steinbrenner can’t remember the nawme of ‘Heartbreaker’ by Pat Benatar. The theme of private fixations given awkward public airing (and the subsequent failure to get across to someone completely how you’re seeing the world) is precisely the difficulty with music, and it’s exactly the territory Seinfeld covers. It’s timeless – like the best art is – because the music referenced is related not to the contemporary zeitgeist as a means of making the thing accessible, but as a means of deepening characters and exposing interpersonal failures or successes, in the same way a Big Salad or goitre does. It rings with authenticity, of personal frames of memory and reference relating songs to the world and vice versa. Think Elaine trying to find an Our Song to replace ‘Desperado’ (you know...WITCHAY WOMAN) in her failing relationship, or George and his prospective girlfriend’s hostile father bonding over a theme from Les Miserables. Heck, think Elaine dancing; if nothing exhibits the futility of failing to communicate, it’s bad dancing. Everything happens on this level of individual failure and grasping; as such, music, through being married to the mundane is made mundane, another object of attention that blurs under focus, something that we can’t grasp in the daily welter; only floating in and out of consciousness and never settling.
When you enter the plain ol’ mean spiritedness of the crew, it just gets ridiculous; Jerry tells Elaine that Tolstoy’s War and Peace is called War, What is it Good For? Cue her singing ‘War’ to a cranky Russian author and her pager getting destroyed. Music creates a frame of reference that is shared, spooling endless jokes and references; think Jerry and George riffing on the Broadway number ‘Downtown’ in the diner, or Jerry singing the Bugs Bunny theme to piss off Elaine outside a theatre. George’s innate smugness is revealed by him eating popcorn listening to his own answering machine message repeat out. They use music to joke amongst themselves, showing more of themselves to us. This sense of there being an arcane, shared vocabulary of music is also picked up by It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia: DEE: Does he have any 80s? DENNIS: Doesn’t appear to. No, it seems like he’s got a bunch of goddamn dance mixes. Hang on, it’s all good, I got a Steve Winwood CD in my car. Music, in these sitcoms, is something (given a shared frame of reference) that enlivens conversation and brings people together; the glorious world of shittalking. It’s not just humour, great as George’s answering machine message is; for Seinfeld, music deepens the knowledge you have a person, to know which synapses are firing when they hear a song, or which thoughts make them think of a song. Just like the conversations you might have in waking life.
“ of some fundamentally uncool, unfussed dudes in their Thirties in the 90s were towards music. Their musical world is limited to opera, broadway, 70s AM radio and movie themes. These aren’t people who were keeping a finger on the pulse. ‘Manana’ turns up, for chrissake.
Since transcendence can’t be explained as easily as it comes, it comes out mangled. An apt metaphor comes when Newman, losing himself in belting ‘Three Times A Lady’, has his delivery van set on fire by Kramer. That joy he has is fleeting, and it’s difficult to imagine him telling anyone about what was distracting him from the road – we see these moments of self, but they don’t last and can’t be told.
18 Illustrations byCamden Watts
Simon Donnes Rants on Gaming ‘Culture’ Meet Anita Sarkeesian. She is a radical feminist who runs a Blog & video series known as FeministFrequency. It hosts a series created by her known as “Tropes vs Women”, which analyses depictions of women in the media. On May 17th of this year, Sarkeesian began a kickstarter dubbed “Tropes vs Women: Video Games”. It was to be a five part series detailing the five most common tropes women in games fall under.
For those unfamiliar with Kickstarter, it’s a service where one person proposes a project and a target budget. Others then pledge money towards helping that cause, sometimes with donation rewards based on the amount pledged. One important caveat of donating is that there is no upper limit – popular projects are able to be funded above and beyond the budget stated by the owner. Sarkeesian had an initial budget at $6000. By the end of the pledging period, she had amassed $158,917.
Perhaps unsurprisingly. given the state of the industry’s journalists and reporters, they flocked to Sarkeesian’s defence. Huge attention was given to the comments attacking Sarkeesian personally, with one commentator calling them a “misogynist horde”. Sarkeesian capitalised on this, and through her exposure throughout the media became far wider known – and far wider appealing. Hundreds flocked to her cause because of the initial attacks, and pledged their support. The vast majority of the money pledged was made after the first salvo, as if it was some sort of payback. Gamers had reared their ugly heads at the champion of women and now she was to have the last laugh. There no doubt exists blatant misogyny and personal attacks on Sarkeesian in the first salvo and the continuing shitstorm that has evolved since. However there also exists an awful lot of well-reasoned counter arguments to her points. For the most part, Anita seems totally clueless as to concepts such as parody, satire or deconstruction, and this has been demonstrated time and time again in the comment box and her own ineptitude at analytics. This is all conveniently swept under the rug with her totally arbitrary comment-approval system on Youtube and her gross generalisation of anyone who opposes her as being a sexist troll. Perhaps worst is that there is never a solution offered. Sarkeesian serves only as an over reactive halogen light, screaming “SEXISM” at anything involving gender. She never outlines improvements or ways the industry can change. Ultimately, her series will accomplish nothing, and her target market of fellow hardcore feminists can pat themselves on the back. To clarify, I’m not opposed to analysing games and perhaps growing as a medium, but what Sarkeesian has done is little more than read off of Tvtropes and Wikipedia on camera. What Sarkeesian has done is display that horrific state of modern gaming discussion, which has turned from arguments over control, technology and quality to a form of rank, inappropriate cultural discourse. Once, those involved with gaming journalism were the voice of a subculture, and paragons of skill – playing video games all day tends to make you fairly good at them. Then, with each passing year, each passing generation of hardware and consoles, the industry grew larger. Production costs sky-rocketed at the same time as the consumer became more savvy with the advent of the internet. Reviewers giving less than stellar scores could seriously hurt a game’s sales. In an age where a single serious flop could ruin a company financially, publishers wanted security. They happened upon a devious idea – only sending review copies of games before the official release to those establishments who have reviewed their previous
Unfortunately this system allows for no variation according to the quality of the game itself. The shit will be expected to be praised along with the gold, and suddenly what was an independent publication based around sorting the two has become another arm of the marketing machine. So, unable to voice opinions of games themselves, those in the world of games journalism find themselves commenting more and more on “gaming culture”. This is partly to take their minds off the pseudo-blackmail situation publishers have them in, and partially to get more hits on their website. Think College Humor or Cracked quality and let it fall through the floor a little, then you’re getting close. These “culture” articles are where the inner thoughts of the writers really run free. All of their self-importance, loathing, and shortfalls in talent are laid bare. The people who consider themselves ‘games journalists’ are, by and large, a bunch of talentless hacks. Unable to make it in the world of real journalism, they turned to their old hobby to catch them. They are obsessed with seeming “mature” and making gaming “grow up”. Games must be accepted as “art” to have value. In their world Games, and by extension, themselves, are the new kid at school trying to hang out with the established clique. On the other hand we have those not considered so much as game ‘journalists’ but rather ‘cultural commentators’. Much like their journalist counterparts, commentators are obsessed with being “mature”, epitomised once again in the “Games as Art” debate. In many ways, these guys are worse than the bought off hacks that make up the mainstream. Things like Extra Credits and Errant Signal are the poster boys – if you’ve read this far into this mess of an article, you likely know the type. One interesting aspect of the high-minded goals touted by these evangelists is their utter lack of cognition of the real world. Games are, for better and worse, a multimillion dollar industry now. While I am the first to tout the downfall of modern gaming, for critics to denounce companies for making mindless Call of Battlefield: Modern Gunfest knockoffs is insane – We all caused them. As technology developed and bigger games became possible, they were made. But with this growing scope, so too grew development time and cost. Being primarily commercial ventures, those games which were not financially successful did not set good precedents in terms of design and content. With modern games having production costs in the millions, not factoring in marketing, flops can level studios. When we as consumers bought the mindless run and guns pumped out instead of the more out-there title? We voted. For commentators to lament, say, the first person shooter, is to indirectly lament those who supported it. Both commentators and journalists are really just looking for acceptance. Not from gamers, but from all the older
media. They’re allowed to be art. Games aren’t. So they try and argue that it can be. Games as an art form is a point pushed by those attempting to validate their hobby. Art serves itself. Games serve purpose, that is, to entertain. Games entertain me, be that through laughter, tears or anger. This is not in any way somehow lesser than them being “art”.
This did not go down well with the internet. Within hours of the kickstarter’s video being posted to youtube, it had amassed hundreds upon hundreds of comments filled with hatred, bile and cynicism aimed at Sarkeesian and her project. Then the gaming media caught on.
products favourably. When the success of a gaming magazine/website rides on having a timely review (read: before the release of the title), it became dangerous to bite the hand. This is one of the main reasons behind the ‘score inflation’ seen in recent years regarding reviews – anything less than an 8/10 is seen as sub-par. One extreme example was the case of Jeff Gerstmann, a Gamespot reviewer who gave Kane and Lynch 2 a score of 6/10. After the publisher threatened to pull advertising money Gerstmann was fired.
When I say that I don’t believe games are art, that’s in no way devaluing the power games can have. But it is seen to be devaluing precisely because those who adhere to the “games as art” philosophy are caught once again in the playground, asking the cool kids if they’re big enough to go on the swings. To not care, to say that games are games and that the big kids can keep their swings, that is freedom.
There was to be no change in the style, format or anything else of the videos, the website or any other part related to FeministFrequency. Sure, she would be focusing entirely on video games, but unless you’re buying from EB games (Which you should never, ever do), a dozen or so games filled with good examples for the point you’re making and the consoles to play them on do not cost Six Grand. Nor do they cost $158 917, but more on that later.
MOOD INDIGO Richard Ferguson
Illustrations by Grace McKie
Since March, I have been taking medication for severe melancholic depression and anxiety disorder. I have also been paying regular visits to that old haunt of no-hopers and day-dreamers, the psychology clinic. So far, this lovely experience has led to me places where the human mind should never dare venture. I have broken down in public a couple of times, I have lost my appetite, I hardly sleep and I find it hard to talk to anyone longer than twenty minutes. Sometimes, just sometimes, I have a staring contest with the knives in the kitchen drawer, just to see if I’d ever have the balls to do it. Luckily for me, I have yet to find said balls. Depression, in its most severe form, is obviously not something that one just wakes up to have. Looking back through the photo-albums, I can probably trace the condition back to the age of three. There is a great distinction between the notion of depression and general grief. I believe that moments of sadness are a healthy part of the human experience and I stand by the old cliché that everyone should get their heart broken at
Coming to university was a very positive influence on me, gaining friends for life and a sense of belonging that had perhaps been evasive earlier. Still, the depression hung over me like a disapproving schoolmistress, looking at the below-average work of her anxious pupil. Whilst my first year at university was generally stressfree, it culminated in my eighteenth birthday party, an event that was personally catastrophic and led to a long, painful spiral. While most of the troubles that night were regular teenage fare, everything is extrapolated in a depressive state. FYI, the last thing you should ever say to a depressive character when they tell you they love you is “yeah, I don’t mind.” At last we reach the point where this little lost soul from Kansas met his Glinda, the UWA GP. After a period of destructive behaviour following October, my good friend Tom told me in simple terms that I had to see a doctor whether I liked it or not. I made an appointment at the medical centre, expecting some old man to simply recommend a good night’s sleep and plenty of exercise. Instead, I found myself taking a series of tests trying to gauge the extent of the illness. Errant nonsense I thought at first; this doctor was simply exaggerating the state of my mood. I went back after two weeks to get the results of the tests. I got the highest score for depression that a person can receive without suffering significant trauma such as abuse. Whilst I was hardly surprised by the results of the test, I was still pretty shaken by the revelations. It is hard enough to conceptualise one’s emotions but when you find out your very way of living is in fact the result of a long-standing mental illness it changes your perception
Before one started travelling on the yellow brick road of therapy, I had to ride a cyclone all the way to my proverbial Munchkinland – the UWA medical centre. As noted before, symptoms of depression and anxiety have been present since I was three years old. A sense of severe social anxiety led to me having absolutely no friends in primary school and I was often noted by adults around me for two things: being really quiet and crying a lot. I trundled through life with this sense of a black cloud and managed to control it as I got older, with high school being a generally positive experience and my social skills becoming a lot stronger.
of everything. For the next few weeks, I judged every little thought against the results of the test. Every slight disgruntlement and quiet moment of sadness became magnified and dissected by my anxiety-ridden mind. To be honest, I continue to do this to this day, trying in vain to stop the depression from completely crushing me. As I tried to get my head around the outcome of my visit to the doctors, she decided to throw me into treatment. From this point, I discovered my new best friends on this journey through mental illness: my psychologist and my medication. Having a psychologist is worryingly akin to having an imaginary friend. Both appear to exist in a world that is inaccessible to everyone else and it is socially uncomfortable to admit you have either. Alas, I have one and I must admit they have been a great help through this journey. At first my opinion of the psychologist and their world was not a positive one – “self-involved, patronising bullshit,” being my exact analysis of the profession and its worth. I wandered into the clinic, a sickeningly sterile place with whitewash walls, expecting the psychological equivalent of a dentist’s appointment, uncomfortable and expensive. A quiet, mild-mannered man, one you would rather expect running a post office than an expert on the human mind, trundled out of his office and shook my hand. Then I sat it down and it all came out – a typhoon of personal hatred, sadness and discomfort broke from my mouth and swept the room away. The catharsis generally associated with therapy is well-founded; I found myself telling this man things I wouldn’t dare tell my closest friends. With every session came a new epiphany, even if it had little effect outside our little bubble universe. However, there came a point where I considered abandoning it all – psychology is a discipline dedicated to finding the right questions rather than the answers. Self-reflection is dandy but hardly helpful when one is looking for a quick fix. Whilst I still ponder the usefulness of it all, therapy has been a generally positive experience for me. Medication has been a whole different story. Every night I take a little soluble tablet of anguish and sit in my room alone, waiting for the numbness to wear off. I was very hesitant to take the medication at first, fearing the many horror stories I had heard from friends and family – the nausea, the mood swings and the psychotic episodes. However, the doctors and the psychologists were all agreed: a little tablet-sized plug was needed to stop their hard work flushing away. At first, I was put on a low dosage. Whilst the effects of this drug were minimal at first, the effects became more apparent over a couple of weeks. There were the usual effects of drugs such as weightgain and a lower tolerance of alcohol. Its staple effect was drowsiness, to the point where I would begin to fall asleep on train-rides home yet was too exhausted to attempt sleep at night. This drowsiness began to pollute everything in my life. I found it hard to be motivated in classes to the point where I just stopped going to tutorials and I found work more and more difficult. The drowsiness hardly did wonders for my mood either. In retrospect, many friends have told me it was hard for them to not punch me, I was that unpleasant and grumpy. After a while, both the doctor and I agreed it was time to increase the dosage in order to tackle the depression more effectively.
least once. Depression is different; I don’t believe that a fear of stepping outside my bedroom door or an inability to cry because it is too damn hard is healthy. Whilst it took me a long time to understand the difference myself, the past year has at least given me a greater insight into both my own mind and the sick, sad world of the depressive.
That was a mistake. The doctor increased the dosage and I dutifully took what was required. The drowsiness departed but something else took its place – an overwhelming sense of paranoia and self-hatred. Every episode of depression and anxiety became magnified. Some days I simply refused to leave the house because I felt so miserable. Whilst I was no longer sleepy, I still struggled to sleep due to nightmares. Everything I feared about medication appeared to be coming true. I stuck with it, hoping my body was just trying to get used to a new dosage. Then the fortnight from hell happened. My friends Cathy and Hamish left Perth within two weeks of each other. Everyone in my friendship group was very sad to see them leave and their respective going-away parties were teary affairs. Everyone was obviously upset but I was beyond upset. Cathy’s going away party ended with me breaking down in Perth Train Station, wailing like I had attended a funeral and fighting every urge to jump on the tracks. As for Hamish’s do, I left after fifteen minutes. Those few minutes I was there, I spent trying to stop myself from crying in the Tav, hoping he wouldn’t notice that I was shaking. After they left, I couldn’t talk about them. I acted as if they had never existed and I found every mention of them devastating. This is when I started thinking of suicide. I don’t really know what came over me – I can safely assume I was certainly upset however, I don’t think it justified suicidal thoughts and public breakdowns. I went back to the doctor’s and asked to return to the old medication. Whilst I still feel some of the more extreme effects of that time, I have certainly been better off on the old medication. I am still pretty sick. In the past week of writing this, I have thought of suicide once, to the point of writing a note, and I’ve cried most nights. However, I believe that I can fight it and I can win. If you feel that you need help with mental illness, please see someone. You may try some things and they may not work for you. But for God’s sake, try. I am not at the end of this journey but my feet are firmly on the path and I intend to get better.
23 Older people almost always interrupt this – silent, passive aggressive baby boomers occupy the bus, their turgid aura intruding upon my personal space. They stand extremely close to you, exaggerate turns and whip you with glances whenever they know they’re in your peripheral. They want to sit down, but I ask: “Why should I let them?” Little do they realise that societies future literally sits next to them. Their interruption of ‘Song of the Deep’ is more detrimental than any standing societal rule of giving up seats for seniors. How can I cram standing up? Don’t they understand this? My University life’s descent into solipsism all started with Reid library. I’d be studying quietly when someone’s earphones became noticeably loud. At first I’d accept it, but as time went on and assignments built up, as I relied on Reid reserve and I began commenting on unit discussion boards, the noise grew louder. Jay-Z would be my demise into pessimistic crustiness.
O-Camp. UWA seemed great; good career prospects, all my friends were coming here, I treated O-Day like the Royal Show, grabbing as many useless things as possible. But my perspective changed as time went on. With each new email from some society I joined my patience wore down. With every doner kebab from Ararat’s my innocence was seemingly washed down in a greasy mess and nervously pooped out in a tiny cubicle somewhere in Reid because I impulsively stayed at uni to study with friends. I no longer bother with stop-chats; it’s not up to me to differentiate acquaintances from friends. I’m on my way to a tute I just remembered I had, or I’ve just had a tute and want to go home, regardless I’m not stopping to talk. Half the time I can tell they’re unsure whether to start conversation; I don’t mind if we don’t talk.
...I get annoyed when people sat next to me at lectures instead of a seat away. I’m a product of my University, I’m a future crusty old scholar, I’m a religious man and Larry David is my idol.
I’d feel uncomfortable when people spoke too closely. I’d hate it when people took too long to decide on food. I’ve formed negative opinions on washing my hands as it seemed offensive to my anatomy and I get annoyed when people sat next to me at lectures instead of a seat away. I’m a product of my University, I’m a future crusty old scholar, I’m a religious man and Larry David is my idol.
But there’s an unspoken sense that awkward conversation must be had, that we must discuss courses and whatever mutual friend brought us together. It’s agreed upon that the conversation must falter until either our lectures arrive, or in desperate situations we take up an imaginary subject so as to leave early. Although sometimes when this happens it runs the risk of a parallel disembarkment.
I only have a brief experience of university; fresh out of high school I was as innocent as you get pre
The risks are too high for me; I’d rather have a personal golf buggy, or just pose as a tradie or crazy
gardener and drive to classes, disregarding any other pedestrians. Maybe we should organize an underground walkway for men on missions like myself. Maybe I’d listen to guild councilors when they talk during lectures if they proposed this. Why even engage in small talk? Why blatantly prance around the true meaning of a conversation. Talking for the sake of talking is as redundant as an arts degree. Funny, as 80% of the time I’m talking for the sake of talking in my arts subjects. I don’t know what I’m talking about because some old man kicked me off my bus seat and screwed my aura. Why beat around the bush? I used to tolerate small talk. I chatted about school with people I didn’t like at parties because we’d both be left in a circle. I’d like unfunny posts and argue about unreplying to a pointless text with a girl not because I generally care she didn’t reply because of a lack of credit, but because I wished to court her. I avoid small talk like the plague, I always try to catch the latest bus available, so as to avoid any lingering before lectures. In 30 years time I can see myself lurking through Reid with bushy white hair and spectacles, hushing people and ‘researching’ for my thesis on case study applications in education. I’ll still be catching the bus to university and still be complaining about the 10-cent increase in fair. If I see an ignorant, greedy youth hogging a seat I’ll stand as close to him as I can and sigh heavily. I won’t ask him to leave because he should know himself, but if he offers his seat I’ll become offended and reassess my life. I’ll remind people the university is situated on Nyungar land. I’ll drink wine late at night and listen to Bach.
Comic on page 22 by Ena Tulic
Riding the bus to uni is usually a comfortable trip. More often than not it’s my weekly reading or tute preparation. A Year 12 study guide recommended I create a calm atmosphere when studying and I usually achieve this by hiding near the back and listening to whale calls.
Braille For The Emotionally confused giant
A true gonzo story about very little, if anything at all…
Illustrations by Arti Pillai
Location: The University of Western Australia, Arts Department Subject: A Philosophically Ambiguous Wall
At the university I attend, there is this…wall. This particular wall is a literal one, not a metaphor for my ‘intellectual entrapment’. Nor is it a figurative statement about some socio-economic barrier existing within academic institutions (whatever that may happen to mean), but a real wall of stone and cement. Upon its face (if a wall conceivably had a face) are inscribed, in capital letters, two simple English words that when put together inspire a semester long fluctuation of conflicting emotions:
Once, in the height of fleeting madness, when the cataclysmic forces of my insignificant existence had reached a point of breaking and I had found in a particular Arts Department hallway the straw that bludgeoned the camel mercilessly to death, I even occasioned a conversation with my limestone foe. It went as follows: “Who am I? Who am I?! Why do you even ask? In fact, who are you?!” I yelled at the wall.
“KNOW THYSELF” The wall said nothing. A commendable goal to be sure, but so plainly stated it can seem a little… indefinite, a little…wooly. At times during the course of a school day I would walk past this wall, which stands on a first floor landing between most of my lectures and a bridge leading off to the main library on campus – where many of the students go to check their Facebook accounts, stream a couple of YouTube clips and/or catch a bit of shuteye between classes. I might be thinking about…oh I don’t know: whether I can be bothered cooking that night, or the amount of marks I’d be willing to lose for that goddamned assignment correlated to how many days it’s already late by, or, (and I’m a man so let’s face it) breasts and all things breast related.
“Do you know the size and qualities of the bricks with which you yourself were built?” The wall said nothing. “I don’t see a tagline or a signature on you: “KNOW THYSELF” – sincerely God, or Fred Jones: chairman of the board, nothing!” And still the wall said nothing
It would likely be something far removed from musings over the nature of my existence. But then, as I round the corner to exit the department, those two simple words would proclaim themselves within the periphery of my vision and my casual stroll would turn sour with the appearance of a multitude of existential notions, all niggling and nagging at my consciousness. Suddenly my nonchalant little life would have, printed at the very end of its timeline, a giant question mark.
Don’t get me wrong, nine out of ten times I remain safe from the wall and its grandiose statement, free from the philosophical warfare of the outside world. On such encounters all I would see was a forced, masturbatory academic mission statement, simply squirming with pretention. I would smirk, as if the wall itself were ignorant and needed to bone up on its identity theory. Though every once in a while it would whisper after me, bullying my brain into the mental purgatory of self-analysis.
On good days, when I’ve felt particularly wily and self aware, I would smile inwardly and congratulate myself on being such an omniscient resident of my own brain-ship. On days of shipwreck I might walk past feeling reprimanded and spiteful, sometimes even moved to un-pleasantries like telling it to “fuck off” without thinking. Afterwards I’d realise the emptiness of directing such a sentiment at an object literally plastered to the ground, which naturally would lead to even greater feelings of incoherence. Other more in-between days might occasion more of a cautious ambling. Indeed, during times of emotional turbulence I have come to fear and respect this very superstitious writing on the wall.
“All you do is stand there; just constantly stand there, like some kind of…cosmic graffiti for the soul, telling me to judge myself!” I waited impatiently for a response. Even still, the wall said nothing, and even still I wait... Call me mad, I just might be, but before you do, consider yourself in my place. Consider your own wall, with its own capitalised inscription telling you to “KNOW THYSELF”. Pretend it was a wall in your school or workplace, your local park, your parole office. You find yourself walking by it three maybe four times a day, day by day, year by year, until each letter is a soft blow to the head. Like accidentally walking through a badly placed wind chime, bumping into each individual cylinder on the way, though when you get through it and the tinkering of the steel rods sound proudly, you are annoyed by the unpleasant circumstances occasioning its whimsical chatter. Consider this wall in front of you right now, constant as the stone that comprises it. Slowly grinding at the bone that comprises you, until one day you realise with a mad sort of chuckle, that perhaps now you really do know yourself a little better.
Still thinks he’s competing in a triathlon this weekend. Probably will under alias: Floyd Landis.
Sports Science Wise Guys, Eh? Chip Johnson When the 2006 Operacion Puerto scandal broke myself and Bill Marlo, in the spirit of bumbling amateur investigative journalists, made a bee-line for that year’s Tour De France, hoping to uncover the latest doping scandal. The whole affair was ruined by Marlo who, in an obnoxious gonzo-lite haze, attempted secretly to ride within the Peloton only to be spectacularly dropped on the flat in north France. Later that month Marlo attempted to save face in a friendly wager by trying to scale the Alpe D’Huez on a fixed-gear bike. We were forced to cut the whole expedition short as we took him home to specialist doctor for his crippling muscle cramps. Though we were dejected to leave France without any more evidence than when we got there, as it turned out Marlo’s obsessive compulsive behaviour wasn’t at all necessary. The interceding years have seen the sport of cycling publicly collapse upon itself in a mess of dramatic incidents, culminating in the capture of its most prominent figure Lance Armstrong, censured this year by the USADA for the abuse of erythroprotein, or EPO blood boosters for short.
IN THE OLD COUNTRY The tale of drug-use in cycling is a long one, and it isn’t simply the fault of the Texans, the Spaniards and the Luxembourgers. Like all of these organised conspiracies, the story starts in the old country: Forza Italia!
Illustration by Kate Prendergast
Say hello to Fausto Coppi. The winner of Le Tour two of the three times he entered, Coppi dominated cycling after World War II. One of his core contributions to the sport was his development of La Bomba, a drink made from alcohol, caffeine and oh let’s say, more than a pinch of amphetamines. His control over the peloton was such that few dared to touch him, a master of hiding the goods, only his rival boss Gino Bartali ever dared to discover the level of Coppi’s drug use. Bartali and Coppi called a ceasefire at one point during 1952’s Tour when they shared a drink bottle, though a rabid argument started soon after over who had offered the truce. Coppi through the bottle back in Bartali’s face screaming “ti parcheggio le mani in faccia!” while Bartali vowed to claim vengeance for the dishonour. Bartali’s response was to exhale publicly about Coppi’s drug-use, claiming that he regularly scoured Coppi’s room for illicit materials.
Armstrong has appealed to the Supreme Court to make trials unconstitutional.
Defy the rule of the Don Lance and you could find a Tour Lion in your bed.
However, in the spirit of their mob boss contemporaries, the cyclists had no fear of retribution. Coppi openly expressed pride in his doping, while the UCI, the body that administers cylcing’s rules and regulations, ignored the pleas of fans and political figures worldwide, consistently turning a blind eye, as former professional Paul Kimmage once alleged.
WELCOME TO THE RAT RACE The mob mentality associated with doping has continued into the modern age. Lance Armstrong, believed to have doped in as many as all of his career victories, has remained untouchable for a long time. His level of control over the behavior of the Peloton was astonishing, many of his tour victories in fact were handed to him after he promised to “whack” his closest competitors. His supremacy was so substantial that just like the Italians and French of old – Coppi, Anquetil – the UCI did as he said, rather than the other way around. In his trial so far Armstrong has been quick to cry foul over his supposed mistreatment. He arrived to the USADA charges with his public image in chains, only to leave with it unshackled by his refusal to contest the charges laid out by an “unconstitutional body”. Let’s run that play again. He has decided not to contest the charges laid against him. Which, in the terms of any court room anywhere would mean “has plead guilty”. Like a mob boss caught for the most obnoxious and public of crimes – drug trafficking, booze rackets, tax
evasion – he has simply decried the US justice system’s jurisdiction with the hope that an adoring public will fall to his side and campaign for his parole as he’s taken to jail.
IF THE SYSTEM’S BROKE FIXIN’ IT IS REAL EXPENSIVE The UCI, refusing to accept that the man responsible for their sport’s fame throughout the early 2000s is a cheat, have rushed to his side; probably because they are trying to clear their names of corruption. Did they turn a blind eye? How was it that despite all of the anecdotes provided by Armstrong’s tour-mates, the highly detailed visual images presented in numerous biographies and investigative articles, that he never tested positive for doping, yet his less adored competitors – who he powered off of the road – were all caught. Armstrong had the money to avoid capture, he had the gravitas, he had the organisation in the palm of his hands, like crooked policemen on two payrolls. For anyone saying that he has not been proven guilty of anything, that the trial is a witch-hunt, remember this: Refusing to fight a charge is, in any jurisdiction, tantamount to a guilty plea. Armstrong’s true Mafioso nature can only be observed through this, exclusive anecdote presented by an anonymous team-mate from 2001. The name of the snitch has been altered for their safety.
“Johnny, Johnny Carusso. Welcome to the team. We’re glad to have you here at US Postal, just wait here while I see if the don ain’t too busy, eh?” Johan Bruyneel, US Postal team director left the room in search of Lance. I looked around the waiting room, inside it were pictures of Lance in his previous tour victories. One of them featured Armstrong hugging a visibly uncomfortable UCI President Hein Verbruggen, Armstrong squeezing his shoulder tightly. Soon enough the don was there. He wanted me to his domestique – a lackey so to speak. I want him to know that I ain’t no stooge: I want to win, and cleanly, you know what I mean? So he says, “Johnny, you want to know how I win? I train hard, I never quit, I have all… eventualities accounted for. Did you hear about Marco?”
KITESURFING ASSOCIATION OF UWA The Kitesurfing Association of UWA (KAUWA) is coming out of winter hibernation and looking forward to meeting new members as well as catching up with old. We will soon be holding an introduction to kitesurfing day, this is an opportunity for those of you who are interested in taking up kitesurfing to have a hands on go with trainer kites and discuss options with professionals! For our past members and those just discovering the club, we will be holding a movie night and season opener party. As usual we will have many opportunities for social kitesurfing throughout the season and look-forward to having you on board. To receive more info, just join us on facebook. tinyURL.com/KAUWA
AGM on Friday 12th Oct at 1pm in Blakers Lecture Theatre (G18). Attend for the elections and free pizza! If you’re intrigued to learn more about who we are and what we do come along to our Chapter Night on Thurs 10th Oct for some fun, games and the judging of our Upcycling Competition. Plus, there will be a steady stream of PCs for Refugees build days and
“Yeah, Marco Pantani, little Guido. Seems the I-Talians have caught onto him. They’ve seen all that hood-rat crap and they don’t play nice no more. He’s being tried right now. That’s why you got to be clever bambino, capiche? Play the game or it plays you.”
UWA Photography Club Calling for Submissions Want your photographs displayed as part of an installation at a music and arts festival at the Fly By Night to be held in early December? Please contact Isobel at email@example.com for more info. MUSIC STUDENTS’ SOCIETY MSS Quiz Night - At the TAV: Tuesday 23rd October from 7:30pm.
“See that man over there. We ain’t got no problems with him. Let’s say one morning he wakes up to find a tour lion plush doll, just its head, the stuffing falling out all over the place. Makes a bit of a mess don’t it? We pay him the money, a little bit of fear and BAM! We control the race.”
A night of brain twisting trivia and hilarious games, with lots of prizes to be won.
All I could say was “Yes Don.” The personality controlled the room, the sport. All I could do was smile and go along for the ride”…
Composition Concert- 1st November
The fear, the hatred, the corruption: Calling Armstrong guilty isn’t “editorialising”. Cheats are cheats, and they deserve everything they receive.
Engineers Without Borders volunteers are preparing for 2013 with their
High School Outreach presentations!
Lance walked over to a bar fridge in the corner of the room. He opened the door to reveal a stash of EPO, good clean stuff, must have bought for a lot in the underground markets. “Now Marco’s problem, was that he was always a real schizo. Never played it right. You gotta know who you’re gonna play.” He pointed to the picture of Hein Verbruggen.
ENGINEERS WITHOUT BORDERS
Tickets, at the door: $10 MSS members, $15 non members. MSS - Annual General Meeting 2pm Thursday 25th October, Tunley Lecture Theatre.
Featuring new works by student composers Callaway Auditorium, 7:30pm. Tickets, at the door: FREE for MSS members, $10 for non members. MSS Annual Ball – 24th November at the Parmelia Hilton. More details at; https://www.facebook.com/ events/265158133602380/
ALONE, TOGETHER? Alex Griffin Talks to two bands hitting Perth this October, Starting with Xiu Xiu
Illustrations by Grace McKie
When people cohere around a song, a band, or a show, it’s never just the music that brings them together. After all, people milling around an’ pulling on 700mL Coopers at backyard gigs aren’t just hearing the songs; there’s a community of shared thoughts sitting around that pagoda. Radiohead fans are drawn together by pre-millennial anxiety (remember that?) and their inability to completely buy in to conspiracy theories; Kid Rock fans tend to bond over a shared love of shirtlessness, Wild Turkey and NASCAR. When it comes to Xiu Xiu, the common denominator is pain. For over a decade, across nine albums, Jamie Stewart and his collaborators have produced often thrilling experimental pop music that delves unflinchingly into the depths of abuse (self and otherwise) whilst retaining a gloriously empathetic centre. Imagine getting a hug from a dude who (despite the fact he is talking wild, fast and frightened) is glad he put the knife down. ‘Hi’ (which kicks off their newest and most accessible record, Always) testifies to this in words as fearless as they are friendly: If you are wasting your life/say hi/if you are alone tonight/say hi! Exactly. To produce such intense, involved art, you have to put your back into it, and Stewart is a dedicated guy, as he explains over the phone from California. “With the exception of my family, Xiu Xiu defines my existence. In some ways it’s good because I’m incredibly committed to trying to do my best, but I don’t think I have a very healthy perspective on being in the band.”
This intensity is derived from the power and the drama of his personal circumstances, which has informed all Xiu Xiu past and present. His motivation to explore the darker corners of the human psyche is always rooted in daily concerns, be it “something real in politics, or my life or my family’s life...which tend to be darker things. I’m interested in dark things because that has been my life’s dominant experience. Which probably makes me sound like a douchebag!” He laughs, but there’s a whole heap of self-doubt behind it. Despite the sustained success of the project since 2001’s stunningly weird debut Knife Play, surviving numerous direction and personnel changes, Stewart says that he’s still worried about fucking it all up. Commenting on the fact that he’s touring with a completely new band, he says that “I really hope we don’t suck.” The inclusive nature of a Xiu Xiu show is epitomised by how they’re going about this tour; online Stewart invited fans to vote for the set list that the band would take around the world. Unsurprisingly, the results led to what he describes as the darkest set list the band has had for a tour yet. “There are a heap of b-sides and songs we haven’t played for years. I was pretty surprised; there was a heap of songs that I guess had meant something to me but I hadn’t sensed a big reaction about, so it’s good that people out there like them.
Prior to Always coming out Xiu Xiu dropped a bombastic, jittery cover of Rihanna’s “Only Girl in the World”, which juxtaposed a string section and a desperate, breathy vocal with bizarre vocal samples (“we can make sandwiches!”). It seemed like a nod towards the dance-pop structures that Always went on to unpick and subvert, but, for Stewart, it wasn’t a deliberate move. “I wish I had a better story about how we did that, it just sorta happened subconsciously.” Minor detail it is, but it sums up how Xiu Xiu operates; putting your head down and working through whatever it is that’s muddling up your head. After all, the most important things that happen to you probably won’t even notice at the time. Xiu Xiu is about decomposing confusion into a glorious, mangled clarity; to experience it, get down to the This Is Nowhere festival here on campus at the Somerville Auditorium on the 14th of October.
GALAPAGOS JAZZ-ROCK Alex Griffin chats with Jeff Parker of the influential and everlasting Jazz-Rock giants Tortoise. long, the other guys get a little tetchy about playing the old stuff, but Parker doesn’t mind, since “we’re doing it for the crowds. It’s always brilliant to have people still reacting to these songs that have been around for fifteen plus years.”
I’d be pretty satisfied with a world that balanced on the sound of Tortoise; for twenty years, the Chicago band has masterfully shaped the history of modern experimental music (Morricone, Eno, Krautrock, the Doctor Who theme, Steve Reich) into spacious forms so intricate, intelligent and plain pleasurable that it successfully induced a generation of guitar-toting flannel-wearers to look outside the square and buy marimbas. In doing so, they helped snap the world out of post-Nirvana atavism into thinking about rock music in new and challenging ways.
Tortoise have strong, deep ties to the Chicago music scene they sprang from, with all five members being serial collaborators; drummer and producer John McEntire has been involved with everyone from Stereolab to The Red Krayola while also playing with The Sea and Cake, while Parker himself works as a jazz guitarist. With everyone so busy and spread out across the nation, it’s hard to pin Tortoise down together to work, but there is some progress being made towards the follow-up to 2009’s Beacons of Ancestorship. “We’ve been playing and jamming a bit, but it’s difficult at points to get everyone on the same page. But we all love playing in this band, so we find a way to work it out.”
The first time I heard ‘Djed’, it was like happening upon a landscape that bore no resemblance to anything I’d ever seen before; unlike how kids struggle and fail to avoid some form of anthropomorphism when they try to draw an unimaginable, foreign alien, Tortoise completely glided past the resemblance of anything prior for twenty glorious minutes. Lucky for us, they like coming to Australia, as guitarist Jeff Parker explains. “Last time I was here it was great; I got to see my friend Nels Cline [from Wilco] play at the same time we were here, and the gigs we played were great.” Considering the band has been around for so
They’ve also spent their entire career with influential Chicago label Thrill Jockey, about whom Parker is effusive in his praise. “They’ve been so great to work with over the years, especially Bettina [Richards, Thrill Jockey founder]. There has been so much support and work from them so we can just focus on making the music.” Parker works with the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians, a Chicago based group that works to advocate for the rights and conditions of jazz musicians, while the parlous state of the American
economy has made this a more pressing task. “One of my friends is now having to work as a guard at the art gallery because there just isn’t enough money in music at the moment; things are hard all round over here.” It’s this line between creative transcendence and ordinary mundanity that Tortoise constantly hovers on; five relaxed guys making complex, revelatory music. Tortoise and Xiu Xiu play This Is Nowhere at UWA’s Somerville Auditorium on Saturday October 14.
Illustrations by Alice Palmer
Now, Iroquois mythology has it that the world balances on a turtle’s back. I would have put it on a tortoise – I guess because they are bigger – but I guess if I want to play fast and loose with a creation myth then I should just come up with my own instead of messing around with someone else’s.
Deerhoof Breakup Song Polyvinyl For the uninitiated, Deerhoof are the quintessential art-rock band of our generation. Fusing disparate influences ranging from jazz to metal, the avantgarde four-piece have steadily built a reputation as one of the most idiosyncratic, uncompromising acts in music – a reputation helped along by a string of well received records and complimented by their joyous live show. However, as interesting and rewarding as their extensive back catalogue is, Deerhoof’s new record may just trump the lot. There are a tonne of highlights smashed into this record’s 30 minute duration; the squelchy ‘There’s That Grin’ sounds like a totally boss Kraftwerk song that never was, while closer ‘Fete a’Adieu’ is simply classic Deerhoof, combining their trademark slushy, disjointed guitars with an infectious mid tempo groove (not to mention one of the prettiest vocal performances that vocalist/bassist Satomi Matsuzaki has ever put to tape.) And just try and not smile when listening to lead single ‘The Trouble With Candyhands’, its Latin tango bop and happy-happy chorus making for a truly energising listen. While it’s not the kind of attribute that most arty weirdo-rock bands usually value, the key to Deerhoof’s success is their inherent accessibility. They’ve made a career out of making strange, chaotic music that, while often challenging, is as ear pleasing and danceable as any other indie pop record going around. ‘Breakup Song’ epitomises this characteristic; abrasive yet cuddly, strange yet welcoming and absolutely one of a kind, it is arguably the ultimate document of who this band is and what they do.
vol 81, ed 1
One Generation’s Tragedy is Another One’s Joke/Guildford Hotel Was An Inside Job Heartless Robot Water Temple were formed out of the ashes of Wind Waker, according to the internet (Zelda fans unite!), and you can hear the connection. But you know this music already, whether you saw Wind Waker or not. It is the sound of Perth on a summer evening when you’ve just gone through a break-up and you don’t give a fuck. You are at the Bakery, or maybe Hyde Park Hotel (but not recently) and life is shit and you and that cute boy or girl are pretending not to look at each other but you keep drinking and later you’ll go home by yourself anyway because that seems like the most appropriate ending for your tragic night. You let your head crash around as the distortion builds momentum, and then the band do something unexpected or subversive and you and everyone else stands still for three minutes while someone on stage noodles around with a staticky sample from a horror movie. Half the audience go outside and the band claims a victory. You love them because they don’t ask anyone to dance, but you wish they would ease up on the movie samples. Just as you are thinking about how much you hate/love/miss your ex the band breaks back into your head with some instrumental grime or maybe they get into a wilfully terrible song. It’s rollicking surf into sludge, all slight tempo changes and angularity. Sometimes it’s incredibly addictive. You order the cheapest beer and hate yourself and the bar-person is inexplicably nice to you.
The Vaccines Come of Age Columbia
Gallows’ third album was always going to be either hit or miss; it is rare that a band can lose its front man and come out the other side unscathed. However, this self titled effort is 11 tracks of great hardcore, which manages not only to break into new territory while paying homage to the early beginnings of the ‘angry’ genre.
From shamelessly requesting ‘Post Breakup Sex’ at Amps on a Friday night (Ed: Pelican Music does not endorse attending Amplifier Bar under any circumstances) to almost wetting myself with excitement when I saw them on the Southbound line-up, The Vaccines have been a long-standing favourite of mine.
The giant elephant in the room is the strikingly obvious vocal difference between cockney departee Frank Carter, and the Canadian throat of McNeill. While initially this stark contrast is disconcerting for returning fans, it definitely fades as you are pulled into a set of songs which are crafted with more direction and anger than previous efforts.
Following up their debut album (2010’s What Did You Expect From the Vaccines?), The Vaccines have released Come of Age. This album is literally the sound of youth speaking in its most depressive, whiny and self-pitying voice but, as a nearly 20yr old tacky, over-emotional teen, I can honestly say that I fucking love it.
The opener, ‘Victim Culture,’ sets the tone, with a disembodied voice proclaiming “do you think they’re out to get you...are you living off of pills?” Freedom, anarchy and the darker sides of society are all discussed (i.e. yelled at you) while distorted guitars, sludgy bass and heavy drums echo in the background. Before you have time to catch your breath, ‘Last June’ – an anti-authoritarian take on the London riots – has you screaming “You represent everything I hate” aimed squarely at the unjust actions of the police. ‘Outsider Art’ is the least abrasive song on the album, and will likely bring in hordes of crossover fans from punk rock, declaring an apocalyptic war cry: “the sun is exploding/we’re heading for war!”. Gallows have created a great hardcore album, with the punk ethos of the genre resonating loudly in the themes, presented with the music backing to match. Some of the more progressive tracks highlight where they may be headed, and the old school tracks where they have been. Fittingly for a self-titled album, Gallows redefines who Gallows are and where they are going.
But Come of Age isn’t just a generational album; it’s also decked out with some fantastic songs. The three tracks ‘No Hope,’ ‘I Always Knew’ and ‘Teenage Icon’ are awesome songs to kick off the album with, and they set the tone for the rest of it. My personal favourite, ‘Aftershave Ocean’, is an absolutely gorgeous tune, although the ‘imaginative’ metaphor somewhat eludes me. While the album overall is fantastic, a couple of songs on it are downright awful. ‘I Wish I Was a Girl’ is musically a great song, but at the same time fucking offensive on every level. Since when was, ‘life is easy when you’re easy on the eye’ and listing off designer brands ever an appropriate insight into the reality of being a female? Sorry, but you’ve fucked up with that one. Besides these two cock-ups, it still remains a great album and for all of those struggling to come of age and accept the dim reality of adulthood this is the stuff.
Something For Kate
How To Dress Well
Sell Your Soul To Science
The Mixtape About Nothing
It is always worrying when an anticipated album gets an unprecedented amount of hype before the release, because the big question inevitably arises: will the album live up to expectations? For the much lauded The xx, whose debut album received the Mercury prize, expectations have been very high. However, The xx have surpassed themselves and transcended the chatter to deliver a spectacular second album in Coexist.
Where do you start? As a teenager, I thought Something For Kate were the fucking shiz. They broke me away from my Powderfingery habits (Ed: Pelican Music does not endorse this either) and opened up for me a world where guitar music could be more than a swaggerladen rock ‘n roll rehash. They’ll always be special to me for that, and I still think highly of some of their early material with a regard which I think (hope) isn’t just pure nostalgia.
How to Dress Well (a.k.a. Tom Krell) is an ethereal R&B artist from Brooklyn, NY, and Total Loss is his second full length. Despite his relative youth, Total Loss is very cohesive thematically, conveying a deep sense of loneliness and depression.
Without the concept The Mixtape About Nothing wouldn’t be anywhere near as brilliant as it is. Not just the concept to structure the set around clips from Seinfeld – making it just about the only rap album to have skits that are actually funny – but also the concept of a self-reflexive look at the construction of a mixtape in the same way that Seinfeld’s fifth season is a commentary on the construction of a TV show.
All of the lyrics are captivating when brought to life with Oliver and Romy’s soft, hushed delivery, and you just can’t help but get hooked to the words and relate them to your own melancholic experience of heartbreak and love. ‘Our Love’ is a bewitching song that creates a lullaby ending to the album with its beautifully subtle guitar and bass intertwining with the eloquent vocals of Oliver and Romy singing in unison. However, ‘Missing’ is the incredible bombshell of the album. It begins with a repetitive sequence of drum beats which reflect Oliver’s ‘beating heart’, accompanied by the shy sounds of guitar and bass and the distant vocals of Romy reverberating through, appearing then disappearing. Suddenly it stops, and I assume I am waiting for the next song, but then…. Out of the dark quietness the guitar rifts come loudly penetrating towards me, shortly followed by the Oliver’s demanding vocals. It was so unexpected that I jumped in fright, and then quickly got shivers because The xx have done something very simple but delivered it with complete conviction and originality.
As you grow up and your tastes change, can you really expect a band to change with you? Should you? Despite the fact it’s been six years since their last LP, Leave Your Soul to Science is an album of quality and muck. Some songs work really well, but these songs owe a lot stylistically to other, popular ‘alt’ contemporaries such as The National or Conor Oberst. If you can get past this, there is stuff to like, but it seems telling here that they sound strongest when reading from someone else’s playbook. There is also a fair deal of mediocrity, including four or five songs which are entirely forgettable. Good lyrics are countered by ones which really miss the mark (a problem with many SFK albums, but arguably absent on Paul Dempsey’s solo release of 2009). The band has always walked transient lines= between pop and experimental, emotional and rational, social commentary and personal yearning, great and shit. Listening to them, you get the feeling that one day they’ll pull it all together and make something truly revelatory. They haven’t done it here.
Krell’s calling card is his distinctive falsetto, which has a characteristic echo that lends the record its slightly ghostly tone, though Total Loss is hardly as haunting as HTDW’s debut Love Remains. However, the extreme echo and the lo-fi recording effects deployed throughout do make it sound like the album was recorded in a toilet, which I found a little insulting to my ears. Yet, there are highlights; ‘Running Back’ successfully marries a groovy, bouncy bass backbone in a fashion that complements the distant vocals well. Also, ‘World I Need You Won’t Live Without You (Proem)’ was a really stirring orchestral string track. My first impressions were that it sounded like some really sappy, whiny R&B album with cheesy effects that just made it impossible to hear the music at the level of clarity I desired. However, I do think that Total Loss can work as an album if you work for it; it just took me some adjustment to become accustomed to the tunes as they are a little difficult to make out over the lo-fi and echo, which ultimately does complement the style of the music. Total Loss got under my skin negatively by clashing a little with my testosterone, but also positively because as a whole it is emotionally powerful.
I can’t find any faults, and I truly believe that anyone would struggle to not get attached to at least one song from Coexist.
There are the standards: ‘The cliché Lil Wayne Feature’, ‘The Freestyle’, trimmings from other songs (‘The Roots Song Wale Was On’), but if title jokes seem like shallow representations of the album’s theme, they really belie the depth of Wale’s selfawareness. The absolute high-point is ‘The Kramer’ – framed by Michael Richards’ infamous nightclub rant Wale comments intelligently on the reappropriation of language and black soul murder while using the ‘n-word’ so often that its use feels confronting to even the most hardened rap head. Wale’s 2009 major label debut was ruined by MOR pop beats, and more recently he’s been delivered RAWSE leftovers as an overblown sideman in Maybach Music Group, but the Go-Go derived beats here (largely provided by the mostly unheard of duo Best Kept Secret) are dense, propulsive and infused with the natural groove of most DMV funk. Even the productions feature bizarre selfreference; Curtis Mayfield’s ‘Short Eyes/Freak Freak Free Free Free’ appears as a sample in two tracks, one as a part of a sample of Jay-Z’s ‘American Gangster’ and another in ‘The Vacation From Ourselves’, the latter of which comments on trying to avoid living in the shadow of legends like Jay-Z. TMAN remains an important rap document by exchanging the amateur politics of most backpackers for a timely commentary on what making a mixtape meant in 2008. In the final analysis, the only answer Wale provided was “nothing.”
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What the Duck? Did you know the Guild is the campus partner for HERE&NOW12, the survey of new work by early career artists working in Western Australia currently showing at the Lawrence Wilson Art Gallery until 6 October 2012? For more info lwgallery.uwa.edu.au or facebook.com/lwgallery
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DO YOU DREAM OF GREATER THINGS? Become the Pelican Editor for 2013! Pelican editors are appointed by the UWA Student Guild and are required to put out eight editions of the student paper in 2013. You can get as creative as you want with it; here are some key objectives that you might like to consider: •
Getting students to pick up the magazine
Representing a variety of different viewpoints
Painting a picture of campus life in 2013
Getting people involved with Pelican
Your vision for the design of Pelican
Creating an intelligent, funny and readable final product
Editing Pelican can be done as a solo job or as a duo. If you intend to apply with a partner, please present strategies for how you will divide/share the workload and how you will handle creative differences.
A Candidate Must:
Your application must consist of
Have been a Guild member for two years (or as long as they have been at UWA)
Not have run in Guild Elections in the last two years
Things that should be adressed in your application:
An evident passion for student press and writing, and what they stand for
A strong vision for the content and design of your magazine
Ideas about ways to get writers involved retained and motivated
Demonstrated time management skills and strategies for meeting deadlines
Experience in writing, editing, art direction and co-ordination skills
A CV, to be emailed to Jenny, HR Officer at firstname.lastname@example.org by 5pm Thursday, October 25th 2012, and;
A physical application containing a portfolio of all relevant work, your vision for the magazine and, optionally, mock-ups of design for the magazine. To be handed into the Memberships and Communications Office by 5pm Monday, October 29th 2012
For more information contact Alex Pond, Memberships & Communications Manager at email@example.com, or pop by the Memberships and Communications Office, first floor of Guild Hall.
On The Road
Director PJ Hogan
Director Walter Salles
Director Wes Anderson
Starring Toni Collette, Anthony LaPaglia, Rebecca Gibney, Liev Schreiber
Starring Kristen Stewart, Sam Riley, Garrett Hedlund, Viggo Mortenson
Starring Bill Murray, Bruce Willis, Edward Norton, Frances McDormand
Way back in 1994 a small Australian film produced on a shoestring budget made a huge splash both at home and abroad. It launched the career of two of Australia’s most high profile film figures and was in no small way responsible for the boost in the nationwide sales of ABBA’s greatest hits. I’m talking about Muriel’s Wedding, the idiosyncratic gem that reminded us you’ve truly got it made if you can say your life is as fulfilling as ‘Dancing Queen’. Mental finds director PJ Hogan and actress Toni Collette teaming up again. Set in the costal town of Dolphin Head (seemingly the next suburb over from the Porpoise Spit of Muriel’s Wedding) the action concentrates upon the eccentric Moochmore family. Dad (Anthony LaPaglia) is a womanising career politician with little time for his family and manically depressed Mum (Rebecca Gibney) prances around impersonating Julie Andrews. As a result of this sad state of affairs, their five daughters are now all equally convinced that they have mental illness. Cue the arrival of Chaz (Toni Collete), a newcomer in town who transforms the lives of those around her as she imparts her unique brand of wisdom upon the Moochmore clan. What follows is utterly bizarre and made all the more interesting by the fact that the larger-than-life story is grounded in reality. Many of the film’s characters are lifted from Hogan’s own life and the director is openly candid about the often-uneasy issue of mental illness. However, despite its authentic inspiration, Mental feels a little too schizophrenic at times. Did I really need to see Toni Collette light her own fart on fire in order to commit arson? Don’t get me wrong; the film certainly has its moments, you’ll laugh and cringe, but there’s a clusterfuck of inane eccentricity to sift through.
Despite cinema’s long-running love affair with Kerouac’s seminal novel, Walter Salles’ latest attempt surely confirms that any adaptation will inevitably fall short of its source material. Realistically, there is no adequate substitute for the thrilling and galvanic voice that Kerouac developed. Perhaps, a boldly avant-garde approach could vaguely approximate this literary tale of wanderlust and self-discovery. Sadly, On The Road aint radical. Once bitten by previous failures, it plays it as safe as any Hollywood blockbuster going around. For all of Salles’ efforts, his otherwise impressive cinematography comes across as a hollow attempt to replicate Kerouac’s restless prose. The jazzband close-ups, dance sequences and drug-induced hazes smack of uneasy desperation. The jittery camera-work, frequent jump cuts and moody jazz score are all awfully transparent constructions, and as a result On The Road feels incredibly superficial. Then of course come the performances. No, Stewart isn’t as horrid as some reviewers would lead you to believe. She’s serviceable in her role and thankfully Salles doesn’t fall into the trap of rewriting her character as a romantic interest for the sake of narrative cohesion. Sam Riley puts in a respectable turn as Sal, but even his bright-eyed performance can’t save the protagonist from the underlying passivity of Salles’ script. Garret Hedlund brings an energetic quality to the impulsive Dean Moriarty, yet he can’t quite grasp the more intangible aspects of his character. Buscemi and Mortenson provide the serious acting chops the film is missing, but their respective appearances are far too short to generate much excitement. There are some crafty cultural references for beat devotees; however, this is probably the only real source of pleasure for the literary faithful. Ultimately, this latest reincarnation of On The Road is the final nail in the bloated cinematic coffin of this beat classic.
The tides have turned on the anointed darling of Indie cinema over the past few years. Wes Anderson, once the finest purveyor of contemporary Americana, now finds his work at the end of a critical tirade. Accused of stylistic posturing and forced whimsy, many have dismissed his work as self-indulgent. To be fair, these criticisms aren’t without basis, however they’re also horribly misguided. Don’t order a big ol’ plate of tofu and expect it to have the meaty texture of a steak. Or in other words, Anderson has never aspired to anything other than escapism and unpredictable fancy, so why judge him by a set of criteria that assumes he does? Critical debate aside, there is no denying that Moonrise Kingdom is a meticulously constructed film. Set on an island both temporally and physically cut off from the grown-up world around it (the action here takes place in 1965), the film follows the story of two twelve-yearolds who fall hopelessly in love. Determined to be together they make a secret pack and stow-away into the night whilst various authorities pursue them with comedic consequences. Yes, it’s hardly edgy material, but it’s finely wrought in its execution. The film is shot with a simple elegance, with various hues of yellow providing a gorgeous palate for Anderson to paint his action upon. Furthermore, every player in this microcosmic melodrama pulls his or her weight. I can’t stress how fucking awesome Murray, Willis and McDormand are. They’re even more of a delight to behold than newcomers Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward who portray smitten tweens Sam and Suzy. It might not be your cup of tea (or should that read twee?) but if you like your films with a nostalgic quality and a wonderful artificiality than step into your local cinema and quench your thirst. Haters gonna hate. Long live Emperor Wes!
Technically impressive, Mental is a hyperactive film that could do with a dash of subtlety.
The Expendables 2
Director Simon West
Director Jonathan Dayton & Valerie Faris
Director Kimble Rendall
Starring Denis Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Bruce Willis, Arnold Schwarzenegger
So, what started as a last hurrah for a bevy of Hollywood’s ageing action stars has now turned into a legitimate franchise. In The Expendables 2 your favourite arse-kicking dudes from the 80s and 90s are back for the ride, bringing their receding hairlines, sagging pectorals and enlarged prostates with them. There’s a plot, but it’s so threadbare and generic that it’s barely worth a mention. The narrative essentially functions to facilitate the introduction of one antiquated star to the next. The opening sequence in Nepal sets the scene for brutal adventure and steroidal machismo and the remainder of the film simply delivers on this bloodthirsty promise. There are no words quite adequate enough to describe the pleasure of seeing Schwarzenegger back on the big screen. All political misdemeanors are forgiven! Chuck Norris is fucking ridiculous in his brief cameo. He appears out of absolutely nowhere with no discernable motive, complete with his own spaghetti western soundtrack. It’s awesome. Willis has some self-deprecating fun with his role; he’s clearly above such pedestrian material but he’s prepared to enjoy himself anyway. As per the original, Stallone mumbles his way through all of his lines and his face appears to be slowly melting as the film progresses. Once again, Dolph Lundgren grimaces and grunts like it’s nobody’s business. And yes, there are cheesy self-parodying references a plenty. They even decide to swap signature catchphrases at one stage. FUCK YEAH. It’s unbelievably silly, entirely ham-fisted and a helluva lot of fun if you enter the cinema with the right mindset.
Starring Julian McMahon, Xavier Samuel, Sharni Vinson, Alex Russell.
Starring Paul Dano, Annette Bening, Antonio Banderas, Zoe Kazan
Ok, who hasn’t, at some point, entertained the fantasy of having a dream partner who complies with your every wish and whim? Sounds great, right? Well, give it a second thought and you might find it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. Unwavering obedience doesn’t exactly generate the most fruitful of relationships, well unless you’re into that kind of thing. Ruby Sparks addresses this moral quandary, following a young novelist Calvin (Paul Dano) and his struggles through writer’s block. He’s been suffering since he made his highly acclaimed debut at 19; not just on the literary front either, romantically things have been a little difficult too. Finally, after visiting his therapist (Elliot Gould), Calvin has a breakthrough, transforming the girl from his dreams, Ruby Sparks, into a fully rounded literary creation. A week later, to much surprise, he finds a living and breathing Ruby (Zoe Kazan) sitting on his couch and she’s prepared to be just as easily maneuvered as her fictional counterpart. Things are just a little too good to be true and things begin to unravel around our hero. The film comes from the same husband-wife team that brought us Little Miss Sunshine back in 2006 and the vibe is much the same. In fact, their attempt to actively invite the comparison to their former project grows a little tedious as the film wears on. Ruby Sparks is a little too whimsical and clever for its own good. It has the potential to be a great movie. Whilst at times it shows glimpses of sophistication and cinematic finesse it never quite reaches the heights you expect it to. Nonetheless, it’s still an engaging and ambitious film that refreshingly toys with themes and genre conventions. At the very least, it’s a thought-provoking concept to build a film around and that in itself makes it worthy of your time.
Just when you thought it was safe to go back to your cinema there comes a film that is so implausibly shit you wonder whether there’s much point in persevering with life. Bait 3D is so awful that it bypasses being enjoyably crap and becomes indefensibly horrendous. In fact, it’s probably an injustice to this magazine that we’re wasting column space on reviewing this aquatic disaster. Let’s not kid ourselves, that’s saying something; we already have horribly low standards as it is. Fuck it; I’m going down with this tainted ship. When a freak tsunami unexpectedly strikes a peaceful seaside community, a motley crew of survivors find themselves trapped together inside a semi-submerged supermarket. As they struggle to escape they find that they are not alone in their predicament. Oh yeah, you guessed it, a group of great-white sharks are also browsing up and down the aisles, looking for something particularly delicious, and preferably human to sink their teeth into. The survivors are picked off by these vicious creatures one-by-one in their panicked effort to avoid becoming fish food. Bait couldn’t come at a better time for our sharp-teethed friends, it’s not like they’ve had enough bad PR over the past few months. I’m surprised they found the time to munch on our Eastern state counterparts with all the terrorising in WA. This film could have been a kitsch throwback to the days of Australian exploitation flicks, but it isn’t. If you want cheap creature-on-the-loose thrills with an Australian flavour you’ll be best served casting your eye back over films such as Razorback; it’s like Jaws with a tail. Bait, on the other hand, retains the iffy special effects of its fishy predecessor yet somehow manages to lose all the suspense. An inherently stupid film aimed at an inherently stupid audience, approach with caution.
The visionary director: We hold them up on a pedestal but sometimes they’re not all they’re cracked up to be. In fact, sometimes they can be downright awful people. So, because I’m cynical and bier, and have a willingness to research this sort of shit, I’m here to shaer your illusions about some all-time greats.
Dial M for Mayhem: A Brief Study of Dodgy Directors Alice Mepham
Alfred Hitchcock You know the drill, right? Hitchcock is a cinematic genius. His pioneering thrillers did more to shape modern cinema than anything that had come before them and naturally actors were clamoring at the prospect of working with the Master of Suspense. Why wouldn’t they? Well, brilliance and reputation aside the guy could be a bit of dick. Actually, he could be a massive dick. He once infamously referred to his actors as ‘cattle’, a move that would undoubtedly raise the eyebrows of actors’ guilds today. Hitch is also remembered for his cruel practical jokes on set, which more often than not involved discovering his actor’s phobias, such as mice or spiders, and unleashing a box of them on his unsuspecting victims. Fairly rich from a man who repeatedly expressed a morbid phobia of eggs, yep that’s right eggs.
Illustrations by Kate Prendergast
However, Alfred often took things a little further, becoming increasingly difficult to work with. Particularly say, if you were a young and beautiful woman. Ok, maybe that’s a little too suggestive. He certainly wasn’t slashing or torturing his female leads, nonetheless their treatment off camera would still be considered deranged by normal standards. During the filming of The Birds, Hitchcock would have his crew throw live birds directly at leading lady, Tippi Hedren. If that in itself wasn’t horrific enough, Hitchcock felt he wasn’t getting the desired results and ordered his staff to physically tie the birds to Hedren, an ordeal that almost saw her lose an eye. To make matters worse, Hitch was apparently utterly infatuated with her. You know the kind of love where you pay people to stalk and sexually proposition the object of desire. Hedren wasn’t receptive (I can’t see why?) so Hitch decided to ruin her career, sabotaging any potential roles for the actress until she faded into obscurity. This sort of cruelty wasn’t a one-off either, whilst filming Rebecca the director informed Joan Fontaine that everyone on the film’s set hated her so as to get the proper paranoid performance he was hoping for. Whatever works I suppose…
That said it wasn’t particularly easy to work with Hitchcock as a Dude either. He once dared a cameraman to remain handcuffed to his camera on set for the night and, keen to impress, the poor guy agreed. Showing an unusual sympathy Hitch left him with a bottle of brandy to “pass the time”. Surprise, surprise the liquor was laced with laxatives and the unlucky bastard was covered in his own excrement when everybody arrived on set the following day. Sometimes you gotta take a lot of shit to make it in Hollywood.
Michael Curtiz He brought us The Adventures of Robin Hood, Yankee Doodle Dandy and above all else that timeless classic Casablanca. Michael Curtiz’s craft however wasn’t without its sacrifices. No, literally. The guy seemed genuinely unperturbed by the collateral damage of the filmmaking process. Perhaps that was why he was prolific and efficient, 173 films don’t just happen without a few hiccups along the way, (or, in Curtiz’s case, a few gory deaths). First there was Noah’s Ark (1928). Under serious duress from the studio and determined to complete the project on time, Curtiz decided to cut a few corners when it came to safety on set. A decision, that as it turns out, had some fairly serious consequences for crew and cast alike. When it came time to film the flood scenes Curtiz neglected to inform his extras that tons of water would be thrown upon them. You could perhaps forgive the man if it was a mere oversight, but no, it was a very conscious ‘artistic decision’. When cinematographer Hal Mohr asked what would happen to the scenes extras, Curtiz flippantly replied: “Oh, they’re going to have to take their chances.” Worse, when Mohr demonstrated that they could create the exact same effect with miniatures, Curtiz insisted on doing things ‘properly’. Death and destruction just aint the same if there’s no real death and destruction. Well, the man got what he was looking for. His leading lady caught pneumonia; his leading man broke two ribs; one man had a leg amputated and three extras drowned.
Less cool, however, was his insistence whilst shooting The Quiet Man that Wayne drag his opposite lady Maureen O’Hara through a field of sheep manure. Not only did his lead actress have to suffer the ignominy of being covered in shit, she also seriously injured her spine and later had to have vertebrae removed to correct the damage.
Stanley Kubrick We’ve all marveled at a Kubrick film at one point or another, it seems that almost every scene is delivered with precise vision. I wonder though, have you ever stopped to think how exactly Kubrick managed to create such meticulous beauty? I’ll give you a hint: it wasn’t very nice. We can all forgive perfectionism every now and then, especially in the name of art. Sometimes though you bypass diligence and head straight into obsessive-compulsive territory. Don’t fret though, you’re in good company, right Stanley?
Then there was Charge of the Light Brigade (1936). During the… errr… charge of the Light Brigade the trip-wire technique used to make the horses fall resulted in many broken pony necks, many broken pony legs and one big trip to the glue factory. Whilst star Errol Flynn was outraged by the whole ordeal, by all accounts Curtiz didn’t give a damn. The list goes on; in his autobiography Ronald Reagan recalls a particular incident when shooting the final scene of Santa Fe Trail (1940). Curtiz was arranging actors on the gallows when he kept gesturing at an elderly actor who played the minister to move further and further back. The man took one step too many backwards and fell off. There he lay with a broken leg writhing in pain whilst Curtiz looked on and with no emotion whatsoever turned to his assistant and hissed, “Get me another minister”. Ice cold baby, ice cold.
John Ford “My name is John Ford and I make Westerns,” our subject once famously declared. He certainly did and on an epic scale that is unrivalled amongst his contemporaries. From Stagecoach to The Searchers and 139 other films in-between, Ford captivated the imagination of American audiences on an unprecedented level, wining four Oscars along the way. Yet, there was much more to the man than his prolific output. For instance, it’s often forgotten that Ford portrayed a Klansman in D.W. Griffith’s incredibly racist film Birth of a Nation. Casual bigotry aside though, it is well documented that Ford had an infamously prickly disposition. After all, this was the only man who was able to make John Wayne cry. How, you may ask, can one unsettle such a shining paradigm of masculinity? Well, it’s pretty simple: you name and shame their cowardice in your films. Apparently disgusted by Wayne’s refusal to enlist in 1941, Ford made a very conscious decision to include every
The Shining (1980) was originally to be filmed within 17 weeks but our favourite auteur had other ideas. His fierce perfectionism saw the filming stretch out to over a year, largely as he insisted on reshooting every single scene ad nauseam. Remember that great scene where Shelley Duvall swings a baseball bat
His OCD reared its ugly head again whilst filming Eyes Wide Shut. He was shooting a totally inconsequential scene in which Sydney Pollack had to get up from his chair, walk across the room and open a door. Pretty simple for your average director. But Kubrick had other ideas, forcing the poor guy to repeat the action for two straight days, ‘cause you know it was really important to the film and whatnot. Finally, the guy acted more than a little arrogant by taking industry kudos that wasn’t rightfully his in the first place. Just ask Douglas Trumbull, the man who oversaw the special effects on 2001: A Space Odyssey. Whilst there’s no doubt that Kubrick supervised the special effects shots closely, he was by no means a practical craftsman. So, it rubs more than a few people the wrong way that he took full credit for special effects when accepting the associated Oscar. Don’t be a dick, Stan; we already know you’re awesome. They say that some people suffer for their art; it’s just not always the artist himself.
Moreover, Ford managed to embarrass a young Jean-luc Godard, who in his early career as a journalist asked the director “what brought you to Hollywood?” to which Ford promptly replied, “A train”. That’s pretty damn cool though and Godard is a bit of a wanker.
at a completely deranged Jack Nicholson? That little gem took 127 takes. A terrifying number that apparently holds the record for the most retakes of a single film scene with spoken word dialogue. According to those involved, the whole film was one hellish reshoot after the next. However it was worse for some than others – members of the crew have recalled how incredibly cruel Kubrick was to Duvall in order to cultivate a real performance of terror from her. Apparently there’s a shit-ton of behind-thescenes footage of Kubrick smiling and being cordial with other members of the cast, before turning his head and being a bastard to Duvall. The poor woman became so distressed that her hair actually fell out. To add insult to injury, for all of Kubrick’s vicious methodology and Duvall’s tears, she actually ended up receiving a Razzie nomination for her performance. OUCH.
actor’s former military rank in the credits to his film They Were Expendable (1945). Of course, Wayne the coward hadn’t served the national war cause and the surrounding credentials only served to highlight this fact; a move that the actor took as a real slap in the face.
Chasing the sun
Creepy & Maud Dianne Touchell
BEST BIT: The narration before the plot, characterisation, style and symbolism kick in.
I have 170 words but I only need eight: TWILIGHT FILMS FOR TEENAGE BOYS IN BOOK FORM. Baker’s second novel is a juvenile, one-dimensional story, whose only saving grace is a handful of semi-poignant one-liners interspersed throughout. Written in first person present tense, the verbal diarrhoea of Honda Civic, a twenty-something coke-head vampire hipster living in a city of gullible suckers, presents a dispassionate, unimaginative insight into his immature approach to meaning and responsibility when some vampire hunters stalk the night walkers (including friends Johnnie Walker and Krystal Meth) disrupting their routine of cocaine, clubbing and eating people. In Baker’s best attempt at engagement, several needless and horrific scenes are described in detached detail; one involving lines being snorted off a severed bloody hand. The book’s (half decent) premise is articulated 80 pages from the end, only to be left hanging in a shambles of a ‘conclusion.’
BEST BIT: The chapter titles. His begin with a literary quote; hers begin with a five-syllable phrase (her favourite number of syllables). It’s simple but unbelievably effective.
As a person from a dysfunctional family who hated high school, Creepy & Maud really spoke to me. And by ‘spoke to me’ I mean ‘made me cry like the bitch I am’. Young Adult, Schmadult!
WORST BIT: A play by play account of cunnilingus descending into cannibalism.
by Zev Levi: has some bloody good ideas when he doesn’t have to be responsible for them.
This is the book to give an unfocussed, distracted, arrogant, angry adolescent male to trick him into reading, i.e. me a decade ago.
We can all learn a thing from these two incredibly depressing yet somehow heart-warming teenagers. Sure, Maud (not her real name) is a trichotillomaniac (an obsessive hair puller), and Creepy (not his real name but a VERY apt nickname) possesses the social skills of a brick wall (that watches you through a window while you sleep), but they embody everything that make high school (and life) terrible, and, as such, are incredibly relatable. My favourite thing is the chapter title (explained above). Each chapter is from the point of view of either protagonists, so this stops it being confusing. A fantastic idea! This book may be aimed at people with brains smaller than ours (a.k.a high schoolers), but it’s blooming brilliant. It’s simple yet complicated, effective, clever, it made me cry, and is very enjoyable (though the ending left me somewhat conflicted). I say, read it. READ IT: while thanking the deity/scientist of your choice that you’re no longer in high school.
WORST BIT: Sometimes it’s too real, man. It’s too real!
by Alexandra Leonzini: believes a man’s soul and majesty are contained within his beard.
READ IT WITH: Braces, acne and way too much hair gel.
Creole Belle James Lee Burke
Fishing For Tiger Emily Maguire
BEST BIT: The setting herself. She’s a real beaut.
The breeziness and the balance.
7/10 Set in the modern Deep South of the US, Creole Belle is the most recent in a long line of anachronistic, atmospheric and solid neo-noir crime novels from Burke. Having read none of the previous titles turned out to be no issue, as all the important parts are weaved in within the first few chapters. You can skip them if you’ve read the previous one. Burke’s writing has me torn. On one hand he thinks he can be Hemingway and not use commas and not plan sentences and can extend a sentence beyond its natural life without any punctuation and expect the reader to follow. A pulpy detective story does not want its readers having to go back and re-read paragraphs. On the other hand the atmosphere is as thick as a Louisiana swamp, and though I’ve had no interest in the locale nor ever seen it, Burke makes you feel right at home in the weird and wacky world of Southern crime. READ IT WITH: A pot of shrimp gumbo and a stolen piece.
7.5/10 Four pages in, I was pretty sure I was going to hate this book. It turns out I was wrong. Emily Maguire writes with a lot of nuance, and she makes something quite thought-provoking and engaging from a plot which is fairly conventional (although the details are less so).
WORST BIT: Descriptions of an 80 year old supporting character shooting people and smoking weed.
by Simon Donnes: takes his detective work very seriously.
A 30-something Australian expat has been living in Vietnam since the breakdown of a violent marriage. Her friend’s 18 year-old son comes to stay and they (eventually) start getting it on – of course. See, sounds kinda terrible right? But it isn’t. The characters are very well written, flawed but unnervingly relatable. Issues of place, culture, language, femininity, domesticity, family and history are all deftly raised and explored without offering easy answers. The sex scenes are reasonably vivid, but they never become the sole focus of the book. I couldn’t quite buy the key relationship though – although a hefty portion of the book is spent leading up to its initiation. I guess I never felt like the attraction was internally explained, but that might just be me. It’s also a very easy read. READ IT WITH: A melancholic mood.
vol 81, ed 1
WORST BIT: Occasionally irritating descriptive language. Does sex always have to be “making love”?
by Connor Weightman: Connor Weightman would like to go to Vietnam one day, maybe.
BEST BIT: Dave Eggers
8/10 It’s kind of an odious task to have to approach critically a person who is not only a pretty gosh-darned talented author and editor, but also a Pretty Nice Guy in general: Dave Eggers being the P.N.G in question here. Just look at any issue of McSweeneys and try and argue against him being the ultimate sort of editorial impresario in existence today. Anyway, due to this whole awkward hero-worship situation I’ll default on the goodness/badness appraisal thing and just say this: A Hologram for the King is absorbing, and a whole lot of fun. The fact that it has these qualities is made even better by the fact that literally nothing happens for about 90% of the book. Arranging words pertaining to the nature of boredom seems to be a literal entertainment-cash-cow at this very moment in time, and I couldn’t be happier. I could go on and compare Hologram to a bunch of other really great books, even use the term Beckettesque, but that would probably make me a bad person. So: just read it, okay? Dave Eggers is a nice guy.
Mortality The whole sort of interminable ritual that the protagonist goes thru every day, travelling back and forth thru the UAE.s.
7.5/10 I had two problems with this book. Firstly, it was too short because Hitchens died before he finished it. Secondly, it covers the same ground that anyone who follows Hitchens will already be familiar with. This is essentially the unfinished conclusion to the essay that was Hitchens’ intellectual life.
WORST BIT: There’s not really any payoff at the end, but that’s probably the point.
My feeling throughout the book was one of dismay. Hitchens was often seen as a dick, but he was a damn fine dick and he never said anything that wasn’t elegantly argued and supported. This continues within the book, it is worth reading just to experience Hitchens’ enviable mastery of words and argument. To cut to the chase though, this is a sickness book, and it is called Mortality. There is a morbid curiosity in all of us; we wonder what goes through the head of the doomed – are there flickers of hope or is it all darkness? In this book a man who was arguably the best mind of the 21st century will give you a personal insight.
by Lachlan Keeley: Who came up with the smart idea that sim cards should expire? Way to make convenience even more inconvenient than ever.
READ IT WITH: Scotch, cognac, wine, and cigarettes.
BEST BIT: It feels like he is writing to you personally. That was his thing; well written.
WORST BIT: Should have been a whole lot longer (in a way this adds to it though.)
by Camden Watts: is an indignant argumentative type who respects people, but not always their ideas.
READ IT WITH: A nice, solid pile of spicy lo mein. None of that chow mein stuff – damn, Gina!
The School of Life: Volume 1 Alain de Botton
Trust Your Eyes BEST BIT:
BEST BIT: Linwood Barclay
Alleviation of middle class white Catholic guilt complex.
8.5/10 Though the publisher calls it one, this is not a self-help book. It is a book of practical philosophy. Alain de Botton is founder and chairman of The School of Life, a small shop in central London which concerns itself with helping people to live wisely and well. This book is the first volume of the more vital philosophies coming out of The School. “How to Think More about Sex” will have you suddenly accepting what once seemed so shameful. “How to Worry Less about Money” will have you fulfilling all your desires guilt free. “How to Thrive in the Digital Age” is interesting, but ultimately for luddites. That being said, this is the first time I have ever encountered philosophy this practical since a friend went vegan and turned me into a cow with her new-found powers. It has its problems, but it has few enough to be helpful. Regardless of the effect it has on you, this is required reading. You will feel more complete and everyone will notice. READ IT WITH: A lit pipe, a leather chair, a waistcoat and all your problems.
The use of the word cockamamie. Twice.
6.5/10 Thrillers usually aren’t my cup of tea but this one did have me engrossed, wanting to know what was going to happen next. It was interesting to see how the different characters (as diverse as a thirty-something schizophrenic guy who travels the world using a computer program a la Google maps, the bisexual wife of a prospective governor and an ex-Olympic gymnast turned assassin) linked together.
WORST BIT: Feeling like I was reading a religious text which I agreed with.
WORST BIT: When someone pees on a table.
However, when I finished it just felt like I’d read a book that had the pretext of the movie Rear Window and was a cross between The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time and the movie The Ides of March, with a bit of Jason Bourne thrown in for good measure. The concept of viewing a murder-in-progress via a computer program is intriguing in itself, if a little implausible. The twist and turns are what make this book and I would’ve given it a higher rating but then the ending happened.
by Daniel Yacoub: is a self-obsessed creature whose immaculate body serves only as a transport for his whopping brain.
A solid thriller for those who like that sort of thing. READ IT WITH: The soundtrack of your favourite thriller playing in the background.
- 10 -
by Aarushi Garg: smiles at complete strangers for their confused looks as they wonder how they know you.
A Hologram for the King
“My grandfather and great-grandfather were priests, and I think my parents probably hoped I’d be one as I’m the youngest son. I have this ambivalent relationship with religion – I’m in love with the culture of it. I love the music and the King James Bible and the buildings, but I’m very, very impatient with the way the Church of England particularly is so childish about sex and women… Hopeless, really. What really fascinates me is that in a secular age people clearly continue to need a priest. They like to know there’s someone there who can effectively do magic...Certainly in England it tends to come out at times of a scandal involving a priest. People are so gleeful about it in a way that shows they actually believe the priest should be good. I think we have this totemic, almost primitive need for it.” I ask Gale about Barnaby’s own totem – a small, worn volume of à Kempis which reappears throughout the book. “On one level, this book is very much a tribute to my own father,” Gale explains. “Although he was nothing like Barnaby, he was a deeply religious man. One of the things that came down from my father when he died were these mounds of books. A lot of the books were completely indigestible three-volume lives of Victorian archbishops – he was very interested in Church history. But then I came across this tiny little red book that turned out to be Thomas à Kempis, Imitation of Christ. There was a very moving little inscription at the front that made it clear it was given to him by a fellow soldier during the War. It fascinated me, partly because the book is so small, partly because the language is so direct and frank somehow.” Gale’s father was a prison governor, and for part of his childhood Gale lived at Wandsworth Prison. I ask if any early memories inspired the almost monastic prison scenes involving APGM’s Modest Carlsson, Barnaby’s
“I’m fascinated by how personalities are formed and deformed by circumstances…In some ways it [psychotherapy] is very close to the process a novelist uses. You’re working with how personalities are formed, and how they can be helped and saved from damage”. self-declared enemy. Gale explains he was too young for any lasting memories from jail, but that his prison background has left him with a lifelong interest in criminal justice. Modest, as it turns out, was inspired by a woman Gale used to know – “But apart from that, I will tell you nothing.” “I never take people wholesale”, Gale tells me, but like all novelists he draws inspiration from life. The woman in question sparked an interest in Narcissistic Personality Disorder. “I mentioned this particularly difficult woman I had to work with to a friend who is a psychologist who said, ‘Oh, that’s NPD!’ I looked it up on Google and this woman ticked all the boxes. I thought it would be an interesting base for a character – someone who had a weird sense of their own power and their own importance”.
Gale is currently working on a novel he describes as “a cross between Brokeback Mountain and E. M. Forster”; a historical novel based on a Gale family mystery. His great-grandfather “did something wrong” – something that was never revealed to Gale, but bad enough that his ancestor was forced to leave for Saskatchewan while his wife and child remained behind. It’s still early days, but he’s planning a research trip to Canada for a few weeks, and knows it’s going to be “a pretty gay novel”. “I always suspected he was gay, and that was the reason why his wife chose not to join him out there. It’s about time I did another gay novel.” APGM is considerably “straight” for Gale, but there’s an interesting examination of asexuality. One character spends thirty years in what Gale describes as “a sort of limbo”. “There are websites devoted to this – it’s basically a syndrome where people feel they have no sexuality at all. I wasn’t quite brave enough to stick with that, so I give her some love in the end – I’m too romantic to leave her in that sexless place.” It’s always been difficult growing up gay – certainly growing up gay thirty years ago – but Gale says he was “exceptionally lucky”. “I had five good friends who were all gay. We were all quite high achievers in our school, so we kind of held our own. Weirdly I had a normal adolescence – only when I went to university did I realise how lucky I was to have a simultaneous mental and sexual adolescence. I think for most gay and lesbian people they have a delayed adolescence in their twenties when they join the dots and come to terms with their sexuality.” University, too, was a success: “I got into Oxford, which is one of the best colleges to read English at. I did masses of acting there – Oxford has a really lively theatre and drama scene. I neglected my studies for the first few years in order to act as much as I could. It was a bit like going to drama school. Contrary to all my expectations it was the most unromantic and sexless time of my life. Quite uptight, certainly compared to boarding school.” It’s only natural that someone so invested in theatre would be drawn to scriptwriting. Gale has been commissioned to write an original drama series for the BBC, and he’s just finished the first episode. “They specifically asked me for something gay that’s historical.” “I’m doing three parallel stories – one set in the Second World War, one set in the 1980s, and one set now. They each in their separate ways look at what gay men want at different periods. So the first one is about having any kind of relationship at all, and the second is much more about the fight to have some dignity and legal rights. The final episode will be about trying to become parents and trying to adopt children.” Interconnectedness, apparent in works like Notes and APGM, shines through here too. Gale glosses over a couple of linking ideas – the baby in the first episode becomes the Tory MP in the second – and explains that the series is tied together by a recurring painting. It is this painting, Man in the Orange Shirt, which will give the series its title.
I noted that in Gale’s later works he uses a fragmented approach to form reminiscent of Forster. Was Maurice, Forster’s posthumous “gay” novel, an influence? “Oh, Maurice is a terrible book,” he laughs. “I have been revisiting Forster a lot – he was a passion of mine when I was a teenager and I’ve been really wary of getting back to him in case he isn’t as good as I’d remembered. He’s every bit as good as I’d remembered.” Gale has been rereading Forster especially for his next novel: he’s fascinated by “that Forsterian period when so many smug English certainties were about to be shaken up”. Stylistically, too, there are links between Gale and Forster. “He does write from multiple viewpoints sometimes, and I think like me he’s content to follow storylines that aren’t terribly dramatic. The drama is largely internal; it’s all to do with people’s emotional states rather than plot and what actually happens in their lives.” Gale is also inspired by “the authors who do the things I absolutely can’t do. I’m always fascinated by authors who can be very succinct. I’m a big fan of the Irish novelist Colm Tóibín – I think his books are amazing, particularly his short stories – and the South African writer Damon Galgut.” Lack of succinctness isn’t so bad, though; our conversation ran close to the half-hour mark, and every second was captivating.
The attendant priest, Barnaby Johnson, becomes the central figure of APGM. The clerical life is, Gale admits, “a hugely unfashionable theme for a novel”, but played a considerable role in his upbringing.
There’s an evident fascination with mental illness in Gale’s work – bipolar disorder in Notes, substance abuse and NPD in APGM. “If I hadn’t been a novelist, almost certainly by now I’d have been a psychotherapist”, he says. “I’m fascinated by how personalities are formed and deformed by circumstances…In some ways it’s very close to the process a novelist uses. You’re working with how personalities are formed, and how they can be helped and saved from damage”.
exactly, but a parallel book.”
Lachlan Keeley reviews the Tim & Eric Live Tour direct from Melbourne MR. SHOW
David Liebe-Hart’s sad-looking face gazes down at us upon from atop his gigantic blue turtleneck, informing us about how disappointed he is that he can’t make it to Australia for this tour. Then he warns us that “...there’s gonna be a lotta farts at the show tonight.” This is essentially the entire dynamic of the tour: a confusing mixture of sincerity and profanity. If you needed any more evidence, try and deduce just what the duo are trying to ‘get at’ when their first appearance on the stage involves them dancing endlessly while dressed in skin-coloured jumpsuits with two very, very large lumps that resemble some kind of mutilated genitalia attached to their groins – whilst yelling ‘diarrhoea’ over and over. There’s nothing to get: Tim & Eric are enjoyable simply for the weird audacity that lets them come up with this stuff in the first place.
There’s a shine in his eye that’s halfway hopeful, and so he walks right up to them and in a hushed voice whispers the gag that he’s been ruminating over for the last thirty minutes, at least, in his head, standing in line in the foyer to meet the two Americans everyone else is also here for. He thinks it’s a room full of people with the same sense of humour – and he may be right – but there are outliers he has not considered: it is also a room containing two performers who have just been sweating on stage under the bright lights for the last three hours and are still working even now, smiling and shaking hands and scrawling paraphernalia onto t-shirts and DVDs. Essentially, they are putting a lot of effort into still being nice, into not being exhausted by the act of being polite. But this is the point at which Tim Heidecker has decided he has had enough shit for one night – and after having sung about diarrhoea for about twenty minutes straight, can you blame him?
To further push the argument about nothing to get, one of Tim’s best characters is Casey, a half-retarded, half-plastic surgery disaster crooner who can’t actually sing, let alone do anything but stumble and shriek through the first few bars of a song and then attempt to flee to the toilet. Casey is such a horrible, repulsive character that he is actually killed off twice in the television series. But the strange thing is that he’s incredibly entertaining to watch – it’s hard to articulate just why this is, though it’s hopefully not some kind of weird analogue to torture porn or funniest home videos or anything like that. It’s just sort of like an accident, but a deliberate one in a safe environment where everybody knows exactly what is going on (unless they happen to be a uninitiated European tourist who made the unfortunate mistake of wandering into the theatre – big mistake). The grand finale of Casey’s set was to interrupt his song – I forget which, but it doesn’t really matter: they are pretty much all exactly the same but still equally hilarious, just like Wesley Willis – by projectile vomiting oatmeal all over a girl in the front row of the crowd. This made her very excited. Why this is, I can’t say, but I know I would have been excited had Casey vomited on me, too.
‘...how about I rip that stupid-looking thing out of the side of your nose, huh?’, he hisses, leaning so far forward that only those in close proximity (myself and Eric Wareheim, essentially) can make out what he is saying. Eric is either not paying attention, or just can’t bring himself to care. Probably this is something that happens a lot. Tim suddenly yells out for security to help him, under the duress that a man is ‘...sexually assaulting’ him. There are no sudden sweeping movements by the equally exhausted-looking security, though: just the immeasurably awkward silent tension shared between Tim Heidecker and the fan who thought it would be a good idea to ask him to sign his (the fan’s) testicles. There’s an inescapable ridiculousness lurking under the ostensible menace of that anecdote: just like the Tim & Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!, it’s nearly impossible to discern the true intent (or any intent, really) of most of their material. But right then, at that very moment when Tim was presented with the prospect of having a man’s hirsute balls whipped out in front of him, it may just be possible to claim that his response was 100% sincere.
An alcoholic dinosaur struggles to make it in the wild world of life insurance.