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Issue 9, 2016

Pleasure

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News

  • Oh Dairy Me

  • UC up in the clouds

  • Exam theft fail

  • Student allowances playing hard to get

  • Bunk bed gate: The ultimatum

  • Mayoral candidates weigh in on Karori Campus

  • How to buy a house in Wellington

  • Fun News

  • Trend report: Sweatshops still in vogue  

  • Beyoncé on campus!

  • “International students are NOT commodities”

  • Eye on the Exec

  • Democracy still works

  • Features

  • sarah batkin

    Talkin’ Bout a (Sexual) Revolution

    Sarah Batkin delved into the realm of sexual pleasure, and spoke to an expert about how we could all improve in communicating about, learning about, and having more pleasurable, sex.   1960 marked the beginning of the sexual revolution: the American FDA approved the first oral contraceptive pill, the Stonewall Riots heralded the inception of […]

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  • faith

    Public Enemy Number One

    The first time I smoked weed was also the first night I tried BZP, NOS, had my first kiss with my boyfriend to be for a few years, and helped my older brother blow up a neighbour’s mailbox. It was Guy Fawkes 2005, I was 15 and so high. I had the dry horrors like […]

    by

  • cam

    CHECK YOURSELF BEFORE YOU WRECK YOURSELF

    On a Saturday evening in January 2012, Adriana Buccianti was at her home in Melbourne when she received a phone call. It was from her son Daniel, who was at a music festival. “Mum, I have taken some very bad acid and everything is very odd here.” The next morning she received another phone call: […]

    by

  • games

    Guns, Cars, and Fights in Handjob Alley

    We made feature writer Finn spend four hours in that modern day hell hole—though once a world of pleasure and indulgence—a video game arcade. Here is the result.   In a concrete storage bunker tucked deep beneath commercial Wellington, a single uniformed employee patiently waits behind a counter. It’s quiet for now. Actually it’s not […]

    by

  • sarah batkin

    Talkin’ Bout a (Sexual) Revolution

    Sarah Batkin delved into the realm of sexual pleasure, and spoke to an expert about how we could all improve in communicating about, learning about, and having more pleasurable, sex.   1960 marked the beginning of the sexual revolution: the American FDA approved the first oral contraceptive pill, the Stonewall Riots heralded the inception of […]

    by

  • faith

    Public Enemy Number One

    The first time I smoked weed was also the first night I tried BZP, NOS, had my first kiss with my boyfriend to be for a few years, and helped my older brother blow up a neighbour’s mailbox. It was Guy Fawkes 2005, I was 15 and so high. I had the dry horrors like […]

    by

  • cam

    CHECK YOURSELF BEFORE YOU WRECK YOURSELF

    On a Saturday evening in January 2012, Adriana Buccianti was at her home in Melbourne when she received a phone call. It was from her son Daniel, who was at a music festival. “Mum, I have taken some very bad acid and everything is very odd here.” The next morning she received another phone call: […]

    by

  • games

    Guns, Cars, and Fights in Handjob Alley

    We made feature writer Finn spend four hours in that modern day hell hole—though once a world of pleasure and indulgence—a video game arcade. Here is the result.   In a concrete storage bunker tucked deep beneath commercial Wellington, a single uniformed employee patiently waits behind a counter. It’s quiet for now. Actually it’s not […]

    by

  • Arts and Science

  • What are we waiting for?

    I’ll admit it, I am obsessed. Irrationally so. To the point I have watched this entire video numerous times over: in an Auckland gallery, on a computer at work, at home, twice in Wellington, again as I write this.

    It’s the kind of gimmick that already exists on YouTube, shared alongside a “You won’t believe what happens when..!!” headline. Let’s see just how many rubber bands it takes to break a watermelon and film it from start to finish.* In Carr’s take on this watermelon tale, there’s no option for a quick result, no way to scroll down or skip to the end. Unless your timing is right, you just have to sit, wait, and see.

    The more you watch, the more is revealed, or the more you start to notice. The rhythm of the womens hands moving in and out of the frame, the sharp smack of each rubber bands’ release, juice starting to froth from small fissures in the fruits skin as the twisted rope of rubber clinches the mellon a waist. I was seduced by the slowly bubbling and dripping moisture, in all its high-definition glory. What could have been just another absurd experiment is rendered suggestive through these details. Young and female, the hands with their slick red nails offer a preview of the fruit’s flesh. Their gestures aim not to end in consumption, but in rupture—achieving the impossible through sheer repetition.

    After waiting ten minutes, twenty, perhaps half an hour, what does this eventual climax satisfy? Is it the childish pleasure of watching two familiar materials being forced into a strange encounter, or do the signs of fruit and flesh, the buildup and release, culminate as something more erotic? Violence is palatable when acted out on a piece of fruit. Or is it a crowd mentality….???

    Whatever desires, innocent or otherwise, Carr’s Watermelon tests the nuances of time, performance, and material transformation. It creates a space of bodily exchange and empathy, hooking us in until the inevitable end. Carr is a master of slow delivery and drawn out spectacle, positing tension as both an inevitable result on screen and an uncomfortable part of our own anticipation.

    The end is worth the wait.

     

    Steve Carr’s Watermelon, is on show at City Gallery as part of the group exhibition Bullet Time, with work by Daniel Crooks, Eadweard Muybridge (1830–1904), and Harold Edgerton (1903–90). On until June 10.

     

    Whats On

     

    Jay Hutchinson, turn left at the end of the drive

    May 12–June 4

     

    Enjoy Public Art Gallery

    1/147 Cuba St

    www.enjoy.org.nz

    Opening: May 11, 5:30pm, all welcome

     

    Kate Lepper, DEAD BUG LIVE

    May 7–May 28

     

    Toi Poneke Arts Center

    61–69 Abel Smith St

     

     

    *The answer is 311.

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  • RuPaul’s Drag Race, Season Eight

    ★★★★★

    Start your engines! The pit crew is at the ready and the library is open, it’s time to get sickening with RuPaul’s Drag Race. A show you could be excused for not knowing about, but not forgiven for ignoring—no tea, no shade, no pink lemonade, squirrelfriend!

    The brainchild of famous drag queen and self-proclaimed “supermodel of the world” RuPaul Charles, RuPaul’s Drag Race is a competition to find America’s next drag superstar and have a hell of a good time along the way. Overloaded with bright colours and double entendres, the show is a camp thrill ride that will surprise you with how deep it can be beneath its contoured exterior. Branded in her image, and with a soundtrack from her discography (available now on iTunes!), the show is a celebration of RuPaul and the path she has paved for young drag queens, but with an appropriate amount of tongue in cheek that holds it back from entering Tyra Banks levels of deranged narcissism. Full of messy queens, Heathers, Boogers, escándalo, hog bodies and back rolls (?!), it’s impossible to fully explain without sitting you down to watch an episode so you can see the romper room fuckery for yourself (and understand what I’m saying).

    As a competitive reality show, it combines all the best qualities of reality classics like America’s Next Top Model, Project Runway, American Idol, but takes it to the next level and beyond, with every challenge on Drag Race requiring a multitude of talents. Queens often have to sew and design an entire outfit, choreograph a dance, write songs and skits, on top of all the effort required to get into full drag—makeup, wigs, padding, and not least of all tucking—just for one episode. If their outfits and performances don’t leave RuPaul and her panel of judges gagging, the two bottom queens must battle it out in the incredibly epic Lipsync for Your Life (look up “Carmen and Raja lipsync” and thank me later), after which they will either stay or sashay away. Glue that wig down, practice your death drops, and stop relying on that bo-dy lest you end up going back to Party City where you belong.

    Currently in its eight season, RuPaul’s Drag Race is going from strength to strength. There is an amazing line up this year, with comedy queens to fishy queens to a Vegas Britney Spears impersonator. The outfits are sickening and the faces are beat for the gawds. Standouts include Kim Chi, a Korean make up artist who beautifully serves anime princess realness; Bob the Drag Queen, a stand up comic from New York quick to read a bitch for filth; and Chi Chi DeVayne, a former gang member from Louisiana who has straight up made me cry with her powerful lipsyncs.

    If you haven’t seen RuPaul’s Drag Race before all I can say is that you have been missing out completely, you have been deprived of pure joy in television form. Drag Race is my happy place. It’s simply the most creative, entertaining, and endearing show on air. It’s hard not to smile at puppet show roasts, or a musical homage to John Waters, or even a runway of drag queen Hello Kitties. Everyone involved puts their all into it in a dazzling display of charisma, uniqueness, nerve, and talent. Hilarious, inspiring, and frequently moving, Drag Race challenges you to live your life authentically. It preaches self-love and encourages embracing your differences (despite the amount of shade thrown). At the end of the day: if you can’t love yourself how in the hell are you gonna love somebody else? Can I get an amen up in here?

     

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  • A Trial: “It’s Plaintiff to see”

    A Trial, devised by Jo Randerson, Maria Williams, Joel Baxendale, Karin McCracken, and Anya Tate-Manning, transformed the dome stage at BATS into a courtroom. With Justice Jody Ranzerson bringing the New Zealand High Court to this beloved theatre space, for five nights, the public was given an opportunity to see a defamation case that TVNZ had brought against an unnamed defendant. The case investigated the TVNZ Kiwi survey and questioned whether it was a useful measure of national identity, or simply encouraged racism as the unnamed defendant suggested.

    On each of the five nights, more of the trial was revealed and played out similarly to a ‘court-room’ drama. I would’ve liked to have attended every night, and seen how A Trial developed and reached a verdict. However when I went they managed to draw the audience in through a satirical depiction of the modern justice system, and were clear in setting up characters and their statuses within the room. I viewed the show on a Tuesday (the second night of A Trial): lawyers Mr Beckensdael and Miss Rizmackon examined two witnesses regarding the survey, one being David Farrar—creator of Kiwiblog. The witnesses seemed to be following a script provided, or like David Farrar were genuinely saying what they believe and know. This added veracity to A Trial, through the presentation of real evidence in front of a real jury selected from the Wellington public—it was not only comedic but authentic.

    From a wider perspective, A Trial emphasised how lawyers ‘perform’ in courtrooms. Trials always seem performative; from the moment the judge enters and everyone rises, to the lawyers dramatising evidence to the jury to state their case and point. This was a key reason that the show was created, and Karin McCrackin and Joel Baxendale portrayed contrasting lawyers. Joel being the “boring” Plaintiff, ensuring all facts are heard even when they have very little relevance, and Karin being the “sharp-witted” Defence, serious and aggressive.

    The producer Jo Randerson, a highly valued theatre practitioner and judge for A Trial, showed the audience just how little judges are required in courtrooms. As she sat centre stage of the Dome, in her grand cardboard stand (designed by Nick Zwart and Meg Rollandi) she was visible to all audience members. Trying to be subtle, she expressed many emotions judges undoubtedly consider throughout the trial: from boredom to critiquing the lawyers, Justice Jody Ranzerson fell asleep with her travel pillow, craved some chips, and even started blowing bubbles. Her quips sought to distract the audience as the lawyers spoke, and caused me to question whether the information from the lawyers was necessary.

    Courtney T. Aker (Williams) as the court taker, and Jacqui Strongarm (Tate-Manning) as member of the press, performed their roles entertainingly, through Courtney eating an apple behind her clipboard and only occasionally court taking, and Jacqui’s incessant need to take pictures even though it was forbidden. These moments added to the parody and illustrated how intrusive the media can be.  

    Overall, A Trial was an authentic and interesting piece of theatre, revealing the performative nature of courtrooms and how old fashioned the modern justice system is. A Trial is now over, and I can now confirm that the jury decided the unnamed Defence was not guilty for defamation. I hope the cast presents another case for theatre-goers to engage with.

    What’s on this week?

    Comedy Festival continues this week with improv and comedy coming out of our ears! Between the assignments that are due and tests to study for, go and enjoy what it has to offer!

     

    On at BATS:

    Taking Off the Bird Suit

    May 10–14, at 6.30pm

    Look at Me

    May 10–14, at 7.00pm

    It Goes On

    May 10–14, at 9.00pm

    50 Minutes Plus Laughs

    May 12–14, at 8.30pm

     

    On at Circa Theatre:

    Promise and Promiscuity

    May 3–21, at 7.30pm

     

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  • Record Collecting: Unknown Pleasures

    What was once the forbidden fruit of middle aged balding men has been reclaimed by the youth. Like baggy granddad sweaters or socks and sandals, vinyl is again an official fad (even though it never actually went away, just took a short hiatus). Records never stopped being made and never stopped being bought. In this new era, music consumption has reached an apex. Streaming is ubiquitous in today’s society, and anyone can release a track online and gain an audience. With issues of royalties and dodgy contracts running rampant in today’s music industry, vinyl has come back to fill the void between creator and consumer.

    I have wanted to collect records ever since I saw my first White Stripes LP. I bought it before I had a record player and it sat in my closet for three years until I saved up enough to buy one. Explaining my love for PVC frisbees with grooves is difficult. It’s the mystique. How does it play? Why does it sound better? I never did get the answers, I was too busy looking for my next Death Grips record.

    Vinyl is digging through the hip hop section after a long day. It’s finding out that Modest Mouse is reissuing their first LP. It’s your first colour record and your hundredth.  It’s spinning your favorite song on a Tuesday and your sad jam on a Sunday evening. It’s late night spins and sleep-ins. Record collecting is the way you as a consumer and a fan show your appreciation of album and artist. In return, you get the highest audio quality and an experience you can share—nothing compares to a few drinks at a listening party for the new Parquet Courts record.

    Vinyl is a social listening experience. In an age of solitary electronics and noise cancelling headphones, it’s nice to share every once in awhile. With vinyl’s steady increase in popularity, and artist’s newfound eagerness to press albums, now is the time to enter the vinyl world. Don’t worry though, we’ve got your back. Here are the major keys of starting a record collection.

     

    Turntables—Don’t Ever Play Yourself

     

    First things first, you need a turntable. This is the biggest barrier between you and success. Studylink doesn’t want you to win, going into record collecting with $6.50 isn’t going to cut it. However a common mistake is thinking you need to start with a $2000 deck and speakers the size of a small car. I recommend the middle of the spectrum; here are a few suggestions:

    Audio Technica AT LP 120 USB: $690–$750

    This turntable is an all around champ at this price point. I would know, it was my first. It can be used as a DJ turntable, and comes with a built in preamp that lets it plug in and play into any stereo with standard red and white RCA cables. You can’t go wrong with this one.

    Pro-ject Debut Carbon: $680–$700

    Around the same price as the Audio Technica, but with some omitted features. This turntable is more for those interested in aesthetics. Want to impress a certain someone in your life with your keen eye for interior design? This is the turntable for you. Want to take artsy Instagram pics to make you seem cultured? Again, the turntable for you. With a colour to suit the décor of every student-flat, it’s the artist’s choice.

    Grandmother’s old turntable: Free

    Feeling lucky? Attics and garages are fantastic hiding spots for turntables. If beloved granny doesn’t, bets are she’ll know someone who has one they are looking to get rid of. Plus, you never call anymore. She misses you. Go humour her and have some tea. You might come out with a sick vintage deck. The only side note is repairs can be costly, if it’s in several dust-covered pieces it might be worth reconsidering.

     

    Speakers and Preamps: New Noise

     

    So you got the deck, congratulations. Next up are the speakers and preamp. Turntables run differently to your average audio plug in, they need a phono input. Why? Because modern styli and phono cartridges give a very low level output signal of the order of a few millivolts which the circuitry amplifies and equalizes… basically, because it just does.

    If you started with an Audio Technica or a turntable with a built in preamp, you get to skip this step and plug straight into any stereo. However do not despair if you have a turntable without a preamp, most 80s and 90s era receivers came with this input as standard. Trade Me is your friend in this regard, ask sellers if it has a phono input on the back and snag a deal. If you have an absolute beast of a stereo that you must absolutely use, there are options for you too. You can purchase an external preamp. These do all the work, cost about $150, and allow you to plug your turntable into the stereo of choice.

     

    The Records: Dream House

     

    You made it. Your turntable is turning and your receiver is receiving. Time to buy some wax. With the perks of modern technology, vinyl shopping can be done from the comfort of your bedroom. Amazon, eBay, and to a lesser extent Trade Me, make it easy to find and buy the records you want at a good price. Now that’s all fine and dandy, but record collecting is all about community. It’s time to get out of the house and hit the pavement. Wellington has some fantastic record stores! I worked at Real Groovy Records in Auckland and if I’ve learned anything it’s that great record stores are few and far between, so cherish the ones you find. In Wellington there are three main spots:

    Slowboat Records

    Looking for classics? This is where you are going to find them. Just save a few hours to do some major digging, and score a second-hand gem.

    Rough Peel Music

    The spiritual successor to Real Groovy Wellington, here is where you’re going to find your punk, hip hop, and new indie releases. They have Death Grips too, so that’s a ten in my book.

    Death Ray Records

    Both? Both is good. Check their Facebook page for some of the up and coming restocks and beef up that collection. Plus the store is aesthetic heaven.

     

    Record Care and Storage: Dance Yrself Clean

     

    There’s no point having records if you don’t look after them (duh). Here’s a few tips to keep them spinning:

    1. Buy a record brush. Dust sucks, you’re going to need it. Brush before and after playing for the best results.
    2. Record Sleeves. $20 for 100+ sleeves is a small price to pay for protected records.
    3. Store records upright, never stack them. Warped records don’t play too well, keep them straight. When your collection starts getting hefty it might be wise to invest in some shelves!
    4. Heat warps records, keep your turntable and collection somewhere out of direct sunlight. Also make sure it’s on a flat surface.

    Finally, have fun with it. A record at the end of a long week is such a great pick-me-up. Buy your favourites, show them off, and happy listening! Soon you too will be buying Beastwars records instead of beers. See you all next Record Store Day.

     

    by

  • Loved

    ★★★

    Developer & Publisher: Alexander Ocias

    Platform: Browser-based, playable at ocias.com, kongregate.com, jayisgames.com.

     

    Prepare to have your self-esteem lowered by Loved, a short, arcade-style adventure game that unabashedly sets out to frustrate and verbally abuse players. The game was conceived and developed by Alexander Ocias, an artist and graphic designer. Loved was constructed in Ocias’ spare time over the course of half a year. It is a game that is difficult and equally harsh in its criticism.

    The browser-based game rides on the laurels of The Stanley Parable, a first-person interactive that flirts with the concept of meta-narration, and bridges the gap between reality and the game-world. The game experience becomes more enjoyable the more you irritate the narrator. The Stanley Parable was a huge success in indie circles, causing a flux of independent gamers familiar in code to start developing spin-offs. Loved appears to be one of these, but it takes the narrative aspect of The Stanley Parable to a new extreme.

    “Are you a man or a woman?” The game asks as you begin. No matter your answer, the narrative contradicts and infantilizes you. Instead of “no, you are a man,” for example, the game replies “no, you are a boy.” It’s an immediate assertion of superiority over the player, setting the stage for subsequent emotional abuse. Loved treats the player like an aristocrat might treat street scum. “Go and touch the statue, and I will forgive you” it says, even if you have yet to disobey.

    To begin with, all scoutable land is black. Your character pops up and down like a traditional nintendo character, a black little totoro against a swath of white. It reminds me a little of Limbo’s design, where the player must navigate the silhouette of a little boy through a dangerously brutal, 2D landscape; which, like in Loved, is bleak and featureless except for the silhouettes of upcoming deadly barriers. In Loved these obstacles are essentially spikes and moving boulders made from rocks, so meeting your demise is a lot less creative.

    Like with The Stanley Parable, to disobey orders reaps rewards but in a very different way. You’re treated like an insubordinate child. Your failure to comply is “disgusting” and “disappointing,” and just like that parent who thinks you’re an utter waste of space, it tells you “you will fail.” Loved brings back every kid’s worst nightmare, failure in the eyes of their parent.

    Yet the more you disobey, the more colorful the world becomes. Little square pixels dance about as you progress. Quickly, the light show begins to corrupt that distinct world of black and white. The spikes and moving rock-squares are covered with large red spots, so that it’s possible to keep going, but then it’s easier to get confused if you’re travelling quickly. In some ways, this emphasizes Loved’s underlying premise. In order to experience the beauty of life, you have to break away from the rigid “black-and-white” perspective of your parent(s). It means that the world is not as conceptually distinct, but there are more possibilities. In one of my playthroughs, I somehow managed to scale up the squares of colors I had generated through my failures. It was probably a glitch, but it certainly put the paradigm in perspective.

    If you’re looking for a pleasure-filled adventure it may be better to choose The Stanley Parable over Loved. Still, if you’re looking for a game that will make you laugh simply out of wry humor, it may be the ticket. Just remember that despite its harsh words, the game only wants the best for you.

     

    by

  • The Jungle Book

    ★★★★★

    Director: Jon Favreau

     

    We’ll start by saying that we grew up watching Walt Disney’s 1967 The Jungle Book every other week, so Jon Favreau had some big shoes to fill. The film follows the narrative of Rudyard Kipling’s 1894 novel, but breathes new life into the series, turning it into a fun, thoughtful, and at times slightly scary adventure for adults and children alike.   

    Through a combination of incredible CGI, great choices in matching actors voices to the loveable characters, and some impressive acting from newcomer Neel Sethi as Mowgli, Favreau has hit the mark in this 2016 remake.

    Mowgli, a man-cub raised by wolves, decides to leave the pack after receiving threats from the jungle tyrant Shere Khan (fantastically voiced by Idris Elba): a fearsome tiger with a disfigured face after a run-in with man’s “red flower” (fire). He sets off with Bagheera (voiced by Ben Kingsley)—his strict, but kind father figure—on a journey that is as much about self-discovery as it is about evading the dangers of the jungle. Along the way, Mowgli makes friends with the loveable bear Baloo (Bill Murray) who encourages him that his human ‘tricks’ should be embraced, and might just be the “bare necessities” of human life in the jungle.

    One of the most noteworthy scenes of the film is Mowgli’s encounter with the king of the jungle—King Louie. Voiced by none other than Christopher Walken, King Louie brings a Italian mobster styled flavour to the role, channeling something simialar to Al Pacino’s The Godfather. His humorous jokes are as short lived as his temper, and after discovering that Mowgli cannot summon the ‘red flower’ he embarks on a destructive rampage, resulting in the destruction of his empire and Mowgli, Bagheera, and Baloo’s narrow escape.

    The Jungle Book is definitely a must see.

    by

  • The Boss

    Director: Ben Falcone

     

    The only thing this movie is the boss of, is not letting me see it for free.

    It’s not particularly offensive or anything, but it’s yet another unfunny, terrible American comedy confined to a single city location—boy does it let you know that it’s set in Chicago.

    Melissa McCarthy stars as Michelle Darnell, a successful businesswoman whose profound lack of empathy and questionable financial practices land her in prison. Following this crippling blow, she remains determined to bounce back, using her skills to commercialize her former assistant’s homemade brownie club (you read it right) while also acknowledging the strengths of relationships with people.

    It’s a shame that the latter never really came through, as McCarthy’s character lacks any real likeable features throughout the film.

    Granted, it is established early on that she is brought up in a nunnery and has no real family, but in terms of the narrative, this is a poor attempt at encouraging the audience to empathize with her.

    The jokes on her character’s part are an interesting mix of both ‘falling down’ and liberal usage of the word “fuck” towards other characters—often within earshot of children. Things like logic and general plausibility take a back seat when we consider that although Darnell is supposedly down in the muck and basically living on another person’s couch, she remarkably has the time to change expensive costumes between each scene. The movie basically disregards the idea of voluntary work and service, as Darnell not only assimilates a collection of Girl Guides into her corporate “brownie outlet”, but also leads them to fight on the streets with the Girl Guides group she took them from in the first place. In short, skip.

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  • Tickled

    ★★★★★

    Directors: David Farrier and Dylan Reeve

     

    In the lobby of the Embassy theatre sits a reclining leather chair, similar to what you’d find in a hairdressers. Attached to the arms and footrest, however, are manacles for ankles and wrists. Perfect for administering an unwanted haircut, perhaps. Or, in a more sinister twist, for holding somebody captive while you tickle them, mercilessly.

    The chair is a fitting addition for the night of Friday April 22nd, when the Embassy hosted the Wellington premiere of documentary Tickled, in conjunction with the New Zealand International Film Festival’s Autumn Events programme. The project of former Nightline heartthrob and pop-culture journalist David Farrier, and friend Dylan Reeve, Tickled has been gaining traction after much talked-of appearances at Sundance and the True/False Film Fest over in the States. Now, in Wellington, an expectant crowd are filing into the theatre, glancing warily at the tickling chair as they pass.

    The trailer for the film manages to conceal as much as it reveals. Footage of men in athletic gear being tickled, death threats, Farrier looking perfectly ruffled and anxious, all had my interest piqued. But was this for real? It had the trappings of a mockumentary—there’s no way that tickling could be this sinister.

    A couple of years ago, Farrier came across a video on Facebook advertising for young male athletes to compete in something called ‘Competitive Endurance Tickling’, with offers of significant amounts of cash and all-expenses paid trips to Los Angeles. After reaching out to the Facebook page for an interview on the strange enterprise, Farrier started to receive aggressive, homophobic slurs in his inbox—along with legal threats. Naturally, he decided to start digging deeper, along with friend and television producer Reeve.

    The story that unfolds is more perverse and menacing than I could have imagined, and is skillfully crafted by Farrier and Reeve, both in debut directing roles. Farrier narrates the film in his trademark deadpan style, and of the pair he has the most screen-time, serving as our guide to this very weird world. Where he boldly goes, Reeve follows behind with the camera, capturing awkward encounters and high-adrenaline moments. Giving too much of the story away would be a disservice, as shock and disbelief are an integral part of the viewing experience—suffice to say, there is nothing innocent about this kind of tickling, or the people involved.

    Watching two guys from New Zealand trying to decode such a weird situation, often encountering the brashness we’ve come to expect from some Americans, felt slightly surreal. Farrier and Reeve were right when they said before the film that Kiwi audiences would really appreciate what they were trying to do—the cinema erupted into laughter throughout the film, showing that sometimes that’s all you can do in the face of ridiculousness.

    The cinematography is excellent; in particular, scenes of a wintery Michigan city stood out for me, perfectly capturing the bleakness and toil of a living in a place with few economic prospects. Farrier, Reeve, and their production team have clearly put a lot of consideration into how they want the film to come across. This isn’t a mere puff-piece on a wacky subject, but rather an examination of power, circumstance, and the things that drive us. Accompanying it all is a wonderful soundtrack from Kiwi musician Rodi Kirk, in collaboration with Florian Zweitnig.

    Tickled delivered everything that I want from a documentary, answering all my key questions while still leaving plenty to ponder after walking out of the cinema. See it when it is released New Zealand-wide from May 26.

    by

  • Scary Old Sex

    ★★★★

    Author: Arlene Heyman

    Publisher: Bloomsbury

     

    Arlene Heyman’s journey into literary recognition has been a little unusual. At 74 years of age, Scary Old Sex—a collection of short stories, is her first publication. Heyman is a practicing psychiatrist in New York City, and has spent the last 50 years writing in her spare time and has had stories published in literary journals to much acclaim. But, it’s not until this year that her talent is seeing the full light of day.

    The title serves as a double entendre, addressing both the stories about old people having sex, and the nature of sex as something to fear and to not talk about. In the opening story, “The Loves of Her Life”, a 65 year old woman and her 70 year old husband navigate the intricacies of sex in later life—Viagra, unattractive bodies, lubricant, and the memory of a first husband. “In Love With Murray” details the affair between a young art student and a famous, married painter. “Dancing” tells the story of a man with leukemia, his wife, and their teenage son, set against the backdrop of the World Trade Center terrorist attacks. Coupling (haha) her psychiatrist’s eye with plenty of warmth, Heyman boldly writes of pleasure, love, and loss.

    I’ll be honest: reading about old people having sex was a strange, rather confronting experience. It turns out that wrinkly bodies are somewhat missing from my reading habits, although this wasn’t necessarily a conscious choice. It’s just never occurred to me to be curious about the practical facets of life at the other end. Heyman’s stories have certainly updated that outlook, and I’m glad that I decided to pick up this bold and enlightening collection.

    by

  • Gratitude

    ★★★★★

    Author: Oliver Sacks

    Publisher: Knopf Doubleday

     

    Oliver Sacks made the medical world, neuroscience in particular, accessible and interesting for thousands of people through his books. The first book I ever read of his was The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, a touching and deeply fascinating series of stories in which he recounts the mental deficiencies of his patients, one of whom literally did mistake his wife for a hat.

    He also helped us to better understand ourselves and his latest (and unfortunately last) book Gratitude, which was published posthumously in late 2015, is no exception. Sacks meditates and reflects on the death and joy he has encountered in his own life, grappling with an experience that is unique to every individual—in a way that only he could. He allows us to understand his journey and acceptance of the inevitable, but he also leaves us with a feeling of reassurance, a feeling that we should not fear death but celebrate life instead.

    The book is short and consists of four individual essays each touching on a slightly different topic. He takes us through childhood memories, his early fascination with the periodic table, his Orthodox Jewish upbringing, his first diagnosis with the melanoma that would kill him, and his reconciliation with being terminally ill.

    If ever you feel down, depressed, or anxious about what might be and what hasn’t been done, I can almost guarantee that reading this book will make you feel at least a little bit better. Take it from Sacks: “I find my thoughts, increasingly, not on the supernatural or spiritual but on what is meant by living a good and worthwhile life—achieving a sense of peace within oneself.”

    by

  • 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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    Editor's Pick

    I, Daniel Blake and the Welfare State

    : Recently at the NZIFF I was fortunate enough to see Ken Loach’s I, Daniel Blake, this year’s winner of the Palme d’Or at Cannes. By the end of the film nearly everybody seemed to be in mourning and most of the people seated around me were sniffling and wiping their eyes. I,