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Issue 9, 2015

How to Be a Dick About Your Food

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  • Inter-not: Piss-poor WiFi annoys everyone

  • Your lawyers will still be pretty good

  • Library says “it’s fine(s)!”

  • Eye On Exec

  • Wellington: “Hi, cycle lanes!”

  • Kelburn residents are Weir-ly pissed

  • #AcademicBored: Student reps slam “structural threat to academic integrity”

  • Features

  • loganbrown

    In Which Philip Eats Alone at Logan Brown

    Logan Brown: Better Than Double Brown?


  • babyfood

    In Which Sharon Eats Baby Food for a Week

    Despite being an incredibly lazy person, the one arena in my life where idleness has failed to reign is food. I see every meal as an opportunity for edible happiness and I delight in slow ambles down supermarket aisles and farmers’ markets picking out special ingredients, and returning home to lovingly transform them into dishes—the […]


  • superfood

    Superfoods: WTF are they and should you even bother?

    “Superfood” is a term regularly bandied about by health nuts and yoga mums, and seems to cover everything from blueberries to kimchi. We’ve all heard of kale and quinoa by now, but every other week a new, hard-to-pronounce product is being touted as the latest superfood of 2015. So, are superfoods just a fad? Are […]


  • loganbrown

    In Which Philip Eats Alone at Logan Brown

    Logan Brown: Better Than Double Brown?


  • babyfood

    In Which Sharon Eats Baby Food for a Week

    Despite being an incredibly lazy person, the one arena in my life where idleness has failed to reign is food. I see every meal as an opportunity for edible happiness and I delight in slow ambles down supermarket aisles and farmers’ markets picking out special ingredients, and returning home to lovingly transform them into dishes—the […]


  • superfood

    Superfoods: WTF are they and should you even bother?

    “Superfood” is a term regularly bandied about by health nuts and yoga mums, and seems to cover everything from blueberries to kimchi. We’ve all heard of kale and quinoa by now, but every other week a new, hard-to-pronounce product is being touted as the latest superfood of 2015. So, are superfoods just a fad? Are […]


  • Arts and Science

  • Passion Pit—Kindred


    Passion Pit has such a distinctive sound—whether you’re a fan or not, you can usually tell a Passion Pit song when you hear one. It’s a definite strength and yet sometimes it seems Michael Angelakos is struggling to break his own mould. Passion Pit has undoubtedly nailed the art of synthpop and emotional lyrics, but for the most part, Angelakos’ latest release sounds much the same as anything he’s done before.

    Kindred is Passion Pit’s third LP, following Manners in 2009 and Gossamer in 2012. Gossamer was a heavy album that dealt with suicide, drug abuse, domestic violence and a myriad of other dark subjects. In the press cycle surrounding its release, Angelakos revealed his struggles with bipolar disorder as being a pivotal part of the record. Angelakos didn’t hold back in his public examination of his own mental health—he alludes to his own suicide attempt in the track “Where We Belong”. Gossamer was an incredibly raw and emotional record, particularly for a sophomore effort. The emotional potency of Gossamer was always going to be a hard one to follow, and unfortunately Kindred doesn’t pull it off quite as well as I’d hoped.

    Kindred does, however, make it clear that Angelakos is now doing much better. The album opens with the explosive and upbeat “Lifted Up (1985)”. It’s the kind of track that Passion Pit does best, and it functions incredibly well as an opening track. It feels similar to songs like “Sleepyhead” and “Little Secrets” from Manners. The track is actually an ode to Angelakos’ wife, telling a story where she descends from heaven and he prevents her from returning: “1985 was a good year / The sky broke apart and you appeared / Dropped from the heavens, they call me a dreamer / I won’t lie, I knew you would belong here / Lifted off the ground / I took your hands and pulled you down.” There’s such an energetic earnestness to the track, it left me with high expectations for the rest of the album and I have to admit, I was a little bit disappointed.

    Religious references are prominent on Kindred. Angelakos makes heavy use of symbolism in his lyrics and employs several dichotomies, like light versus darkness. The majority of the album also serves as a love letter to his wife. “Whole Life Story” is one highlight from the album, where Angelakos sings a heartfelt apology to his wife with lyrics like “How could you forgive me when / Our life’s some story out for them to buy?” and “I’m sorry darling.” Another highlight is “Until We Can’t (Let’s Go)”. The track has a similar energy to “Carried Away” from Gossamer. “Looks Like Rain” strips the usual Passion Pit track back a little bit, with a slower melody and less synth. It’s lyrically interesting too, with the chorus “And I said, ‘Hey, looks like rain’ / Then you lifted your hands and prayed / ‘Go away, you can come back some other day’ / But they stayed and you soaked under all of the grey / And the rain washed all our cries and pleas away.”

    The first half of the album is great, but the closing tracks really let the rest down. “My Brother Taught Me How To Swim” initially sounds like something by Owl City. It redeems itself somewhat, but it’s definitely not one of the better tracks on Kindred. It’s also a big one in terms of religious imagery, following a similar kind of saviour/baptism theme to some of the earlier songs on the album. The final track “Ten Feet Tall (II)” is similarly disappointing—it doesn’t work quite as well as its predecessor “Ten Feet Tall (I)” and it sees Angelakos’ trademark falsetto being masked by garbled autotune for the first time on the album.

    Passion Pit has always made pop music that somehow demands your full attention and Kindred is no exception. The album is somewhat similar in sound to both Manners and Gossamer, and whilst lacking in some aspects, it certainly shows Angelakos’ progress lyrically. As always, Passion Pit is fun to listen to—it’s a great album on face value, but if you immerse yourself a little deeper it’s a really interesting and thought provoking record too. Ultimately, Kindred isn’t the huge success it could have been, but it’s not wholly a disappointment either.


  • Games to watch

    This games column has in past focussed first and foremost on reviews. The thing is, being a gamer isn’t just about playing games that are out; it’s also about getting unreasonably excited about games to come. This week I thought we’d spice things up and take a look at two of 2015’s biggest upcoming titles.

    The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt is out soon, releasing on May 19. Anyone familiar with the series will know that you play the role of a Witcher, Geralt. Witchers are monster hunting mutated humans who have, from a young age, been accustomed to toxins which grant superhuman powers. Geralt the Riv is a Witcher famed across the land for his many vanquished foes. The Wild Hunt will allow Geralt to explore as the Northern Kingdoms, a fantasy territory reportedly even bigger than Skyrim.

    The Witcher series enjoys a reputation for complex game mechanics, which can either serve or cripple a player. Preparing for battles beforehand with potions, using a series of magical powers called “signs”, and parrying enemy attacks, are all factors that need to be considered and then mastered if you want to have a hope in hell of surviving in this Scandinavian-esque fantasy world. The Witcher series is more than just common hack and slash fare.

    Whilst The Witcher series has a deep lore, developer CD Projekt Red wants to make it clear that gamers need not have played the first two games before jumping into Wild Hunt. “The game has a great introduction that will make them feel right at home,” said developer Marcin Iwinski in an interview with IGN. Previous games have also been notoriously difficult, but Iwinski says the focus here is on creating the best experience for the immersion of the player, “We don’t have the ambition to be a Demon’s Souls,” he said.

    Wild Hunt is sizing up to be one of the most gorgeous and expansive videogame experiences of the last decade. Screenshots currently available show jaw droppingly well realised environments. And you won’t be short on things to do in this world as CD Projekt Red has boasted that the game has well over a hundred hours of content.


    If you are a self-described Star Wars fanboy, then Star Wars Battlefront is your wet dream. Star Wars Celebration was held on the 16-19 April. Here everything from Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens to gameplay for Star Wars Battlefront was unveiled. An in-engine trailer of the game gave fans a taste of what taking on the role of a foot soldier from a galaxy far far away might feel like on current generation hardware.

    Battlefront is due to be released on 20 November in New Zealand, a month before The Force Awakens. It has been confirmed that on 8 December downloadable content called “The Battle of Jakku” will be released. This DLC will be set on the desert planet seen in the Force Awakens trailer. All this makes Battlefront the perfect complement to Star Wars VII’s release.

    Developer Dice has elected not to include campaign missions. Instead there will be a series of short bit-sized missions. These missions will be playable alone or with local or online co-op and feature iconic moments from the films. There will also be the opportunity to play as iconic characters like Darth Vader and Boba Fett. The trailer actually depicted Darth Vader force choking a clueless rebel, as well as Boba Fett using his jetpack.

    Dice has also announced that Battlefront will not touch on the events of the prequel trilogy (praise the Emperor). The game will focus on the world of the original trilogy. So we can all rejoice as X-Wings and Tie Fighters fly over an Endor battlefield swarming with ATATs (an ambitious scene brought to life at the unveiling). All dogfights will take place solely in orbit as Dice wishes to focus on the idea of “planetary warfare”. So it doesn’t seem like we’ll get to blow up the Death Star, but here’s hoping we’ll at least get to fly the Millenium Falcon!


  • Furious 7


    Furious 7 is, as its title suggests, the seventh film in the long-running series about street car racing; the series has now transcended to globetrotting with some street car racing, and the film is well aware of its own existence. It is entertaining on its own merits, and while largely devoid of realistic characterisation and drama, I was not expecting it to have either.

    The story is once again centred on the continuing exploits of Vin Diesel and company, who are this time the targets of a vengeful and omnipotent Jason Statham. Statham, whose ability to rapidly travel between different countries and maintain elusive behaviour throughout the narrative, would make Jason Bourne blush. His purpose throughout most of the set pieces in the film is to arrive unannounced, usually brandishing expensive vehicles or weaponry, and divert attention from whatever the scene was originally about. There is also a subplot about the kidnapping of a hacker and her ties to a surveillance system sought after by a terrorist organisation, who end up joining forces with Statham against the main characters. But the film can largely be boiled down to the main characters’ attempts to thwart Statham’s visitations while Diesel, Paul Walker and Michelle Rodriguez’s characters deal with their own personal conflicts.

    Where the film works is in the execution of its set pieces. One is set in the Caucasus Mountains and is helped by elaborate stunts, steady camerawork and editing that lasts longer than just a few brief flashes, allowing viewers to actually process what is happening and understand where each vehicle is. This is something that can become a problem in many action films of this ilk, but is thankfully avoided here. That is not to say that the car scenes are entirely practical: cars are parachuted into Azerbaijan and jump between high-rise buildings in Abu Dhabi, eliciting both eye-rolling and guilty pleasure. The fight choreography is also done well, as is to be expected of people like Statham, and gives variation to what otherwise may have become an overabundance of vehicular chases without much difference between one action scene to another.

    The film is best viewed as escapism, to a world in which overseas travel is quick and feasible, everyone owns at least more than one car, and people have the freedom to cause infrastructural damage in foreign countries without being extradited by the local authorities. Unfortunately, much of the film’s writing and humour is cringeworthy, usually consisting of characters reacting to events, reacting to Tyrese Gibson, or ribbing on Tyrese Gibson. At 137 minutes, the film also runs a bit long, particularly the final fight scene.

    It is impossible not to bring up the circumstances surrounding the passing of cast member Paul Walker, a subject that the film is ultimately treats respectfully. Walker’s character is given proper closure, thankfully not ending with him hanging from the back of a hot rod brandishing two Uzis before driving off a half-finished bridge while chewing three cigars and sipping a Corona at the same time.


  • X + Y


    I hate math. One of the best things about this film is that it’s not really about math.

    X + Y tells the story of Nathan (Asa Butterfield), a young boy with autism and synaesthesia who loses his father in a traumatic car crash, and, as the title suggests, is extraordinarily gifted at mathematics. The film loosely follows his journey to compete in the International Mathematics Olympiad (yes, that exists) but is more interested in how Nathan’s autism affects his relationships and perception of the world. As Nathan puts it: “I have lots of things to say, I’m just afraid to say them”, and X + Y aims to give him a voice. It’s the latest in a small spate of film releases interested in exploring illness or difference through textuality, because of film’s inherent ability to help audiences experience the unfamiliar.

    X + Y is interesting in this regard. It has none of the bluntness of Still Alice, none of the triteness of The Imitation Game, and ends up somewhere in the “sensitive portrayal” category. The key problem is that the filmmakers didn’t keep it simple—here are some of the messages they tried to use the film as a vehicle for:

    • Autism is hard for families to deal with.
    • You’re a dick if you bully people with autism (yes).
    • Inter-racial relationships are great.
    • Actually, relationships in general are great. Especially for young teenagers who will probably share a bed in a completely innocent way.
    • A strangely targeted dig at British-Chinese relations.
    • Car crashes! Highly traumatic!
    • Self-harm happens (this is never really addressed).
    • “Gifted people” should use their gifts, not play video games all day.

    Apologies, I’m becoming a little sardonic. But you see how this can become a problem. It means that instead of letting Nathan’s honest perspective shine, X + Y ends up in a bit of a mess trying to close up all the thematic threads. Along with this, director Morgan Matthews tries to slot in a bunch of traumatic memory sequences—it’s too much.

    If we leave all these divergent directions aside and focus on the main narrative, X + Y is a lovely, honest little film. It centres on character development, rather than relying on the “competition” as a narrative driver. The cast perform well, and we can develop significant empathy for the characters and their various struggles.

    I’d prefer the characters to progress individually, rather than so much in terms of relationships: for example, Nathan’s mother and father are directly oppositional as “terrible” and “perfect” parental figures, but at least they’re genuinely likeable. Nathan’s teacher (Rafe Spall) is a particular highlight, with his arsenal of dad jokes. In fact, if the characters were given a little more room to shine individually, it would really make the film. As it stands, X + Y is obsessed with heterosexual pairings, almost in a mathematical way. Just because the teacher and mother are both damaged, it doesn’t follow that they need each other. And who wants to see a clumsy love story between two twelve-year-olds that’s not Moonrise Kingdom? Matthews allows the freshness of the film to dissipate by resorting to these pairings, and the explanation that Nathan’s mother (Sally Hawkins) gives about love, “when somebody loves you, it adds value to you”, was rather cringeworthy: actual self-esteem, anyone?

    I’ve probably been far too negative so far: on the plus side for the film, there’s the joy of “muggles” being used as a descriptor with no further explanation. There’s the heartfelt simplicity of a Keaton Henson soundtrack. And there’s also style. Awkward flashbacks aside, the film has a really tidy visual aesthetic which may stem from Matthews’ documentary roots. As with many first-time feature directors, he wants to play with how childlike perception can be conveyed. The fun of this approach is at least quadrupled by Nathan’s synaesthesia, which is expressed through sequencing in shots and consistent use of patterning in the mise-en-scene. I loved this aspect of the film—it’s not overbearing and doesn’t force us into Nathan’s position, but invites us to engage with a different way of seeing the world that may trigger reminders outside the cinema’s walls. These invitations into Nathan’s world mean that everyday life ends up looking a little banal in comparison: for me, that’s part of the beauty of cinema.


  • Salient’s May reading list


    Heretic by Ayaan Hirsi

    From the author of bestselling Infidel and Nomad comes another polemic. Forgoing the autobiographical premise of her first two books, which shared her stories of physical abuse and faith in Islam, Ayaan Hirsi here sheds the private voice, and while critiquing the Islamic religion, promotes and suggests the changes that would stop the volatile politics of the religion. With specific references to the ISIS movement, Hirsi suggests many reformations and simplifies the argument: she is fighting for secular law and legislation to be valued above Shariah, the legislation derived from the Quran. Adamant that Islam is not a peaceful religion, she cites multiple militant passages in the Quran, and she is critical of Western cultural sensitivity surrounding many of the very real injustices. Heretic allows an intelligent and informed consideration of Islam, and is a brave critique of a vilified religion.


    The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
    Random House

    Filling the void of Gone Girl, this book promises another twisty thriller to grip you to the page, to satiate your appetite for an exhilarating thriller. With three different narrative perspectives being juggled, there is Rachel, whose alcoholism is mounting; Anna, Rachel’s ex Tom’s new wife; and Megan, the inhabitant of the house down the road from Anna and Tom, whom Rachel watches from afar on her daily train commute. With a gripping story of post-divorce jealousy, developing alcoholism, forgotten nights, and a missing person, this book promises to be a book that hooks you. Hawkins masters the unravelling of the narrative, one thread and one twist at a time, letting the tension build. Once you get on this ride, you won’t want to get off.


    Eat Like You Give a F*ck
    Thug Kitchen
    Rodale Books

    Released last year, this cookbook collects the best recipes of everyone’s favourite vegetable-based pseudo-aggressive website and bound as one badass mother of a cookbook. With their same philosophy at play, promoting the simplicity of vegetables, and the power of cooking them, these recipes are clear and come without any extra fuss. It’s healthy food without the waspy lady on the front who’s buying expensive rare ingredients and acting like it’s no big deal. The duo behind Thug Kitchen promotes raising your kitchen game, and upgrading to a healthier lifestyle, but with full sass and attitude. Their recipes are straightforward, and have great insights like saving pasta water for your sauce, and understandable explanations as to why. All delivered from a lil nugget of anger.


    Girl in a Band by Kim Gordon

    With her recognisable hair and familiar expression on the front cover, Kim Gordon presents her memoir. Gordon starts her memoir with the end of Sonic Youth. She describes the final time she took the stage with the band, her bandmate and ex-husband on with her, the atmosphere tense, and the audience knowing about their separation. Her husband had left her for another woman after several years of an affair.

    Gordon’s memoir develops a sense that the past of Sonic Youth is inseparable from the heartbreak she has lived through. As she writes, it seems she is organising her thoughts, a way to leave it behind. She goes back to her childhood, her brother’s mental breakdown, and her move to New York, her interaction with the art scene in the early 1980s. Meeting her future husband, and together forming one of the most important bands of the 1990s. They toured with Neil Young and were the band that paved the way for Nirvana and Dinosaur Jr. This promises wonderful insights for Sonic Youth fans, and is reminiscent of Patti Smith’s Just Kids.


  • A livetweet review of Te Papa’s eight new art collections

    3:34pm This building is so ugly

    3:35pm Why are there so many people here

    3:36pm Gettin into the lift it’s packed I feel like a sardine (in a can of sardines).

    3:36pm Everyone’s out of the lift!! Private lift!! First class baby!!!

    3:37pm Colleague says: I’ve already seen this…I think to myself: what a pretentious wanker.

    3:38pm Omg I am a wanker too the first art piece I see is flowers and I am pretty sure I have a poster of it in my room.

    3:39pm Wtf these flowers are entitled “consolation of philosophy” and drawn from old dead guy roman politician Boethius who died??????

    3:40pm Next art piece: me and colleague go “Mmm yum”

    3:40pm Oops photo is not of food, but hats

    3:40pm Forever mistaking hats for food

    3:41pm Btw we turned left into the gallery first

    3:41pm Hard to walk and tweet at same time

    3:42pm Approaching table with lots of children… performance art piece???

    3:42pm Colleague is v moved by the children

    3:42pm Now at magnetic poetry wall

    3:42pm We scare away a child

    3:43pm Here are some lines of poetry from the wall:

    3:43pm “Friend, your electric cloud is fizzing”

    3:43pm “See this moon their yellow teeth”

    3:44pm “There are fizzing hot butter”

    3:44pm “But that man could curl you spiral”

    3:45pm “Good bad now”

    3:45pm “Fragile dirt favourited your tweet” Live tweet art review is getting attention!! @tepapa

    3:46pm Now entering room of quilts

    3:47pm Actually lovin these quilts I want them all

    3:48pm Colleague and I remaining frighteningly silent… The quilts are acting upon us.

    3:51pm We partake in tepapas social media and wait for our photo to show on the tv

    3:51pm Doesn’t show, we must not have the tepapa look

    3:52pm Sink: spotted (by us and also by an artist…it has paint on it)

    3:53pm Looking at the sink and its paint splatters … we are both thinking “explosive diarrhoea”

    3:53pm Next to huge red and yellow semi circle … Nice.

    3:54pm Art piece says “enough is enough” … Deep.

    3:54pm This piece looks like three bloody dicks ???

    3:55pm Lots of statues with :O faces look pretty terrifying

    3:56pm Te papa art guards making me feel nervous (I’m not taking photos I swear!!!)

    3:57pm Screaming baby in background really adding to the art

    3:58pm Colleague and I both love a watercolour called “tongue cloud over London” what a classic

    3:59pm In front of some unoriginal mondrians…unoriginal originals…how original

    4:00pm Now looking at an oil painting called “goblin market”

    4:00pm Colleague asks “are you in this sharon”

    4:00pm ha ha very funny

    4:00pm #goblins

    4:01pm Colleague finds mouse in painting v cute, I find it terrifying

    4:01pm A lot of this art is terrifying

    4:02pm Now looking at a bronze sculpture of nymph and satyr getting it on…we just nod

    4:02pm Wish more men looked like goats

    4:03pm Looking at a painting called “brass bedstead”…two people looking very sick

    4:04pm Next painting is really spooky lots of people looking at one woman real suspiciously and sitting at table with unfinished watermelons

    4:05pm Colleague likes a statue’s haircut, contemplates taking photo of it to take to hairdresser

    4:07pm Hungry time to go home

    See how this micro-blogged review compares to your own experience: see the current Ngā Toi /Arts exhibition at Te Papa, Level 5 from now until October 2015


  • About the Author ()

    Salient is a magazine. Salient is a website. Salient is an institution founded in 1938 to cater to the whim and fancy of students of Victoria University. We are partly funded by VUWSA and partly by gold bullion that was discovered under a pile of old Salients from the 40's. Salient welcomes your participation in debate on all the issues that we present to you, and if you're a student of Victoria University then you're more than welcome to drop in and have tea and scones with the contributors of this little rag in our little hideaway that overlooks Wellington.

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