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Issue 8, 2017

Issue 08

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News

  • New Zealand’s rising prison population directly linked to flawed legislation

  • Privileged people don’t want window washers touching their cars, legislate against them

  • #FeesMustFall in South Africa

  • VUW internet breached, password changes recommended

  • Protests in Kashmir

  • New road names to reflect local history

  • May Day protest for migrant and refugee rights

  • Brazilian strikes met with violence

  • Features

  • comedy

    In Which Two People Lose All Hope

    – SPONSORED – There is something symbolic, perhaps poetic, about comedy shows. A place people come to for no other point than to laugh. And in these trying times, perhaps a bit of comedy would be just the ticket. But I am not a person who goes to specific places to laugh. I find humour […]

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  • young-adult

    Young Adult Fiction

    – SPONSORED – “There isn’t like… oh honey I would love to live with you but I make more money than you right now so it won’t create a good situation… like there’s none of that adult taxes shit.” — Mitski on young adult romance novels   My uncle once bought me Twilight as a […]

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  • mike

    I Understand Nothing

    – SPONSORED – “I understand nothing,” Ivan Karamazov says to the angelic Alyosha, “and I don’t want to understand anything now. I want to stick to facts. I made up my mind long ago not to understand, for if I should want to understand something, I’d instantly alter the facts….” This moment in The Brothers […]

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  • ataria

    How do you spell that? The Little Known Effects of Mispronunciation

    – SPONSORED – (Ordering a coffee in Whanganui-a-tara, Aotearoa) Can I please have a mochaccino please? Sure, what is your name? Ataria. Natalia? Atalia? No, A-ta-ri-a. Oh okay… uhh… how do you spell that? A-T-A-R-I-A. Thanks! Your coffee will be ready soon.   A number of political parties have recently commented on compulsory te reo […]

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  • comedy

    In Which Two People Lose All Hope

    – SPONSORED – There is something symbolic, perhaps poetic, about comedy shows. A place people come to for no other point than to laugh. And in these trying times, perhaps a bit of comedy would be just the ticket. But I am not a person who goes to specific places to laugh. I find humour […]

    by

  • young-adult

    Young Adult Fiction

    – SPONSORED – “There isn’t like… oh honey I would love to live with you but I make more money than you right now so it won’t create a good situation… like there’s none of that adult taxes shit.” — Mitski on young adult romance novels   My uncle once bought me Twilight as a […]

    by

  • mike

    I Understand Nothing

    – SPONSORED – “I understand nothing,” Ivan Karamazov says to the angelic Alyosha, “and I don’t want to understand anything now. I want to stick to facts. I made up my mind long ago not to understand, for if I should want to understand something, I’d instantly alter the facts….” This moment in The Brothers […]

    by

  • ataria

    How do you spell that? The Little Known Effects of Mispronunciation

    – SPONSORED – (Ordering a coffee in Whanganui-a-tara, Aotearoa) Can I please have a mochaccino please? Sure, what is your name? Ataria. Natalia? Atalia? No, A-ta-ri-a. Oh okay… uhh… how do you spell that? A-T-A-R-I-A. Thanks! Your coffee will be ready soon.   A number of political parties have recently commented on compulsory te reo […]

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  • Arts and Science

  • Sad by Sad South

    Sad by Sad South (SXSS) — not to be mistaken with South by South West — brought forth a new dynamic to the traditional music festival, in that it featured other mediums of art, such as poetry and visual art, and showcased them in conjunction with music. Appropriating this feature from its Australian counterpart (Sad by Sad West), the Wellington festival placed emphasis on the emotional qualities within these forms and the spaces they inhabited as an ode to its namesake.

    Heralding itself as an “emo” festival, but not in the stereotypical sense of emo-ness, SXSS placed visceral emotion at the forefront of its ethos by capturing collective feeling in a raw and unadulterated manner through its selection of performers. Staple Wellington acts such as Girlboss, Prizegiving, and Grayson Gilmour were an unquestionable choice for organiser of SXSS and founder of Papaiti records, James Stuteley. He believed these bands and the other performers were “humble, but also passionate about their music in that they embrace emotional content, rather than just being random indie rock bands.”

    Ordinarily, music festivals are mainly comprised of, well, music acts, but at SXSS poets were an unconventional addition to the lineup, and were not any less notable. The thoughtful combination of poetry and music, while acoustically different, worked together in capturing the audience’s attention, so that the art could be fully appreciated. In the breaks between bands that are usually filled with drink refills, small talk, and bathroom visits, poets like Freya Daly Sadgrove and Hera Lindsay Bird addressed the audiences with personal utterings and original anecdotes that were simultaneously intimate and relatable. These poets were not fillers, nor a means to pass time, they were a continuation of feeling and explicit rawness that the bands had prompted.

    Although the “emo” scene in New Zealand has regressed considerably and only occasionally appeared in alternative genres, its “revival” has been mobilised by the likes of SXSS. And while some may immediately assume “emo” goes hand in hand with screamo, based upon pop culture stereotypes, SXSS offered up an alternative perspective by defying often negative stereotypes of the term. It is about recognising the emotion in music and poetry, not just in the words, but in the acoustics, and how this is received by audiences in certain spaces. The medium and the direct environment share a symbiotic relationship in promoting genuine and empathetic feeling, and this was a shared sentiment among those attending SXSS, the performers, and the organisers.

    Many festivals tend to default to larger, commercial, and specialised venues for their events, typically due to their capacities, which in turn allow them to profit through increased ticket sales. More often than not, festival organisers tend to settle on Auckland as a primary location, which sometimes feels unfair for those down in the creative hub that is Wellington. And while other cities like Dunedin or Christchurch could have offered up just as interesting spaces for SXSS, according to James “Wellington made the most sense out of places in New Zealand, it seemed friendlier to the prospect. Auckland is way more jaded and hard work.”

    SXSS distinguished itself from being “just another festival” due to the carefully chosen and curated spaces for the three days. Last year’s Australian Sad by Sad West provided the model for the Wellington version in how it consciously opted for smaller, humble spaces where creativity could truly fill the area.

     

    Sad by Sad South. ZK Photo, 2017

    Sad by Sad South. ZK Photo. 2017

     

    Doused in sunlight, with the notorious Wellington wind asserting its presence with a slight breeze, Princess Bay made for an idyllic performance space for Saturday afternoon’s event. Simple yet incredibly meaningful spots like this captured the festival’s overarching ethos of “doing it yourself” in locations which are often taken for granted. Though these spaces seemed effortless, what they put out, in conjunction with how they are used, are rife with meaning.  

    South Wellington, particularly Newtown, worked as the central locus for the events over the weekend. Newtown is a notoriously creative and cultural centre in Wellington; the annual Newtown festival can attest to that. James Stuteley took note of this when choosing the locations, saying that it is important to “use the cool and beautiful spaces, and the local area, rather than defaulting to the city.” Often city festivals like Homegrown or Laneway have a commercial, sterile vibe, where it is constantly reiterated that you are at an organised, marketed event. Consequently, this draws away a lot of the creativity and homeliness that the artists and performers have tried to conceive. And while SXSS was intricately planned and curated efficiently, the spaces allowed for an intimate but communal vibe.

    Sunday’s house crawl shows had an air of clandestineness to them. Like they were secret meetings, but for everyone. It is ironic how intimacy can be felt whilst in someone’s bedroom, with their personal belongings hanging around like an accidental art exhibition. 30 people were sprawled on the floor, bed, window sills watching Jess Locke play… silent, but in awe. These were the spaces where what had been seen over the last few days originated. The birthplaces of emotion, ideas, and creativity. In the end, it did not matter that we were in someone’s bedroom or kitchen; it was not invasive nor intruding, it merely added a degree of vulnerability and genuineness to the performances.

    With a name like Sad by Sad South, some may be mistakenly discouraged to attend, relying on normalised ideas surrounding sensitivity to plague their expectations of the festival. What can be said of this though is that conjuring emotion through art is not embarrassing — it is a shared, meaningful experience for all. Valuing those emotions is also meaningful, and admirable. Even so, SXSS was not solely about appreciating emotions, or acknowledging them, but also simply about appreciating sick music, appreciating poetry, and appreciating art. The depth is there but it does not always have to be embraced.

     

    Poets:

    Freya Daly Sadgrove, Evangeline Riddiford Graham, Hera Lindsay-Bird, Sinead Overbye, Faith Wilson, Callum Goacher, Joy Holley, Sudha Rao, Lily Norman, Eamonn Marra.

    Music:

    Thirtysomethings, Soda Boyz, Carb on Carb, Jess Locke, Long Distance Runner, April’s Fool, Shannen, Fruit Juice Parade, How Get, Girlboss, Grayson Gilmour, Prizegiving, Bad Friend.

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  • Hand of God — Robert Askins

    Seeing Hand of God as part of the Season of Hell at Circa Theatre; it fills me with PRIDE to report that I ENVY anyone who has yet to see the production, and that I LUST to see each of the actors again in… ah fuck it. It was pretty good, despite being a play of two halves, and deserves more than a lousy metaphor.

    “The most produced play in America right now,” proudly proclaims the tagline to the New Zealand production of Robert Askins’ original script. It begs the question: why? Well, considering the whole world seems to have spent 2017 coping with various traumas from the death of musical icons to the global rise of conservatism, it seems fitting that Askins’ characters find themselves in a Texas church basement attempting to grapple with personal traumas. Jason and his mother Margery (Tom Clarke and Amy Tarleton) have recently lost a father and husband respectively, but personal trauma also leaves its marks on the lives of Pastor Greg (Peter Hambleton) and Timothy (Jack Buchanan). Jason’s awkward reality is soon turned upside down by Tyrone: a screeching, hell-bent felt puppet that looks to act on his worst impulses and to satisfy his deepest cravings.

    Consistently using a puppet throughout, Clarke is given the task of representing two polar opposites within the same character (it is never revealed whether Tyrone is actually the outcome of demonic possession, or rather a separate aggressive identity of Jason’s). It’s a good job that Clarke has such control on, and distinct expression of, both extremes. His Jason is a gangly mess of scrawny arms, jerky movements, and monotone mumblings underpinned by an ever-present unease with those that surround him. Tyrone on the other hand has the mouth of a sailor and the bastardised singing chops of Justin Bieber and Lionel Ritchie. Perversion lurks at every corner of Hand of God‘s first act, from Tyrones prologue expressing the virtue of “shitting where you stand” without judgment, to the child-sex subplot of Margery and Timothy. Throw in Exorcist references, a heavy metal soundtrack, and a critique of conservative Christianity, and you have a deliciously dark first act that brings the house down, literally and figuratively.

    Unfortunately, the message and plot of the piece in its second act reflects the nature of the set — prone to collapse. Hand of God never manages to recreate that same sense of all Hell breaking loose. Despite the transformation of the church setting, it’s once-virgin walls scrawled with expletives, the danger and tension of the play is lost. In the words of multiple characters: “what happens now?” Well, you get the best puppet sex-scene this side of Avenue Q thanks to the puppetry of Clarke and Hannah Bank’s Jessica — replete with a legion of different positions, gratuitous felt genitalia, and moments that will make you go, “oh fuck, they’re about to do that?” — but with this exception, Hand of God appears to have played all it’s cards. It does however go to enormous lengths to convince you otherwise, including a clumsy, somewhat schmaltzy, gory and altogether rushed finale.

    The direction of Lyndee-Jane Rutherford and Jon Coddington’s puppets bring the best out of the talented cast throughout, and the physical comedy of Hand of God had people rolling in the aisles. I just wished it could have delivered on the darkness it promised in the first act. Then again, maybe I’m being too greedy — it’s not everyday you get a sermon on the virtues of defecating from a satanic textiles project.

     

    Circa Theatre is currently offering theatre tickets for $25 for those 25 years old and under. Find out more at http://www.circa.co.nz/. A ticket to see Hand of God also includes a voucher for a free snack-size Hell Pizza, as part of Circa’s Season of Hell.

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  • Kendrick Lamar — DAMN.

    At this point, is there truly any point to reviewing this album? There isn’t much that I can add to the conversation. And if you’re looking for cohesive, meaningful information about what is likely the most revered lyricist of the last decade, I am not the person to come to. But here are some thoughts.

    Each track manages to be both part of a cohesive narrative, and simultaneously a snapshot of Kendrick’s career and stylistic influences. There are trap style beats for the kids after bangers (“DNA” / “HUMBLE”). There are some clean guitars (“LUST” / “FEEL” / “PRIDE”). There are tracks that are clearly focused on a narrative (“XXX” / “FEAR” / “DUCKWORTH”). As far as hip-hop albums go, this essentially has something for everyone.

    Perhaps what’s most remarkable is the fact that despite all these stylistic differences, they manage to mesh, and are produced to the absolute highest quality. Something like that takes a lot of work, and likely a lot of different producers. Kendrick’s voice manages to fit into every track and feel like it belongs.

    The overarching narrative of the album is about Kendrick’s childhood and growth, and manages to encapsulate the struggle of young African Americans without feeling like a derivative of good kid m.A.A.d city. By focussing on a whole rather than a brief time period we are afforded a look into a life that most reading this will never have been a part of.

    So, overall, it’s real good. Personally I think that this beats To Pimp A Butterfly by a smidgen due to the production value. It deserves all the praise it’s been getting, and I live in eternal fear that one day Kendrick will release an album that doesn’t live up to his name.

    I suppose if there’s one thing that I can add that I haven’t seen anywhere, it’s the fact that on the New Zealand charts DAMN. is in second place, losing out to Ed Sheeran’s , which is an absolute travesty. If you think that’s a better album than DAMN. then you can get the fuck out right now. Why are you even here? Why are you even reading this magazine? It’s clearly going to be way above your aesthetic tastes, because if your opinions are anything to go by then you’re a plebeian. Get the fuck outta here.

    DAMN.

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  • Logical pools; puddles of nudes

    Ok Google: What is the Cloud?

    In the simplest terms, cloud​ computing means storing and accessing data and programs over the internet instead of your computer’s hard drive. The Cloud is​ just a metaphor for the internet.

    Ok Google: Where is the Cloud?

    Cloud​ storage is a model of data storage in which the digital data is stored in logical pools, the physical storage spans multiple servers (and often locations), and the physical environment is typically owned and managed by a hosting company.

     

    Logical pools; puddles of nudes; viruses buried deep: I love the Cloud. I can’t stop watching tours around the data centers that operate as the physical infrastructure necessary to facilitate the collection, processing, and dissemination of data that is the Cloud. Microsoft, Google, Facebook, Oracle, Equinix; the videos all look the same and so watching them over and over feels like learning the trick to exiting a maze — important because I’ve started having dreams about getting lost in one of the data centers. How to describe a place that looks like a feeling? The centers are somewhere you might end up in a dystopian nightmare; like the Convergence in Don DeLillo’s Zero K, where bodies are preserved in order to await the medical advancements of the future; or the Alcor Life Extension Foundation, which is the Convergence but real life. I suppose I’m trying to to say that what they look like is a mechanised impression of uniquely human desires. What they look like is a place built of human intervention that any living bodies have vacated: at once foreboding and alluring.

    My obsession with the nothingness that is the data farm started with Tim Wagg’s Cold Storage (2017), on display at the Dowse Art Museum as a part of This Time of Useful Consciousness — Political Ecology Now. The video work explores the shifting of the National Digital Heritage Archive from the basement of the National Library of New Zealand to a private infrastructure provider in Upper Hutt. Wagg is interested in the mammoth amounts of space, energy, and resources required to keep the Cloud’s weightless facade afloat.

    Projected onto two opposing walls in a dark room, Cold Storage is an immersive experience. The camera moves unsteadily through the spaces it explores, capturing blinking lights in red, blue, green; grids which turn to abstract patterns; empty desk chairs. The soundtrack alternates between a voiceover that describes the nature of the archive, and a musical track which sounds like the auditory equivalent of a broken line of code. Before the video ends the projected images begin to glitch, the work suddenly seemingly privy to the fickle nature of the Cloud.

    A good data farm provides a secure, private, and trusted Cloud. It has high availability and reliability; high efficiency; and smart scalability. What is interesting is that sustainability is integral to efficiency because lost power is lost profit. The Cloud, built on a history of infrastructure, works to optimise efficiency within the precise contemporary moment in which data moves from place to place rather than building a future that’s removed from our industrial world.

    John Perry Barlow, in his 1996 paper “A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace”, declares the internet a land without borders. Addressing the governments which have worked to impose the conditions of nationhood upon the floating Cloud, he writes: “On behalf of the future, I ask you of the past to leave us alone. You are not welcome among us. You have no sovereignty where we gather […] Ours is a world that is both everywhere and nowhere, but it is not where bodies live.” But the Cloud has failed to become the truly weightless entity Barlow envisioned. Still bound firmly to the earth by fibre optic cables laid along colonial routes of trade, the innumerable iterative choices that the networks of the Cloud provide may masquerade as a kind of limitless mobility, but in fact work as structural impositions of control.

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  • Satori in Paris — Jack Kerouac

    Why have sex, drugs, and rock and roll when you can have sex, cognac, and jazz? Satori in Paris is classic Kerouac. A boozy bohemian with a beat soul barging through everything in his path. But this book isn’t another On the Road. Instead, Kerouac replaces the expanding, dilapidating, and outrageous American highway with the cold, cobbled, and wonky Parisian streets.

    Inevitably, Satori in Paris is the diary entry we all wish we could write — running our mouths off about what fantastic lovers we are, being furious travellers, and essentially doing whatever the fuck we want, when we want. But even the most influential beat writer has his own midlife crisis. Some buy Harleys, others may cheat on their partners, or they may feel inspired by American Beauty and get real Kevin Spacey on it. Instead, Kerouac tries to find himself like every other kid on their OE. In one of the last novels of his tumultuous career, Kerouac is hunting the Parisian streets in the hope, to the point of madness and poverty, of finding the origins of the (supposedly) once great Kerouac family.  

    Saturated in mayhem and madness, you are subjected to rolling with the punches just as Kerouac does. No matter what any purist English Lit student tells you, beat is best. Gone are any pretentious metaphors and drawn-out, dry descriptions. The writing is true, immediate, and impactful in the way that you can always trust to experience from Kerouac. Satori in Paris also offers many life lessons. These lessons include but are not limited to: how to successfully get drunk on a train while being avoiding conflict, becoming as inebriated as possible at a bar on a tight budget, and being able to be a complete drunkard with good manners.

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  • Portraits of Courage — George W. Bush

    Bush is back! In a fun way this time. He’s a painter now — processing his guilt? Expressing his repressed ruling class emotions? Attempting to give back? Bored around the house? Who cares? I didn’t. That’s why I own a copy. I had to have it. It’s an object of pure wonder. Once the most powerful man in the Western world, now an enthusiastic portraitist. It’s hard to explain the feeling of acquisitiveness I had, but it was stronger than me.

    So, is he any good? Honestly, yeah. He doesn’t suck. His thick strokes of oil paint form a sort of shaky realism, an obviously technical approach guided by artist mentors. The book solely contains portraits of American veterans, all of whom Bush has met personally as Commander-in-Chief. The pieces are contextualised by page-long biographies of the soldiers, specifically detailing their military trajectories. They are presented respectfully and warmly; you may hate his political career, but Bush is not a monster. It would be almost impossible to create that visual glow of humanity with a hand driven by apathy.

    Of course, his presidency is flattered by the harsh light of the current leader. It makes a book like this seem closer to quaint than sinister. It’s a thin line. But we err when we pretend that political figures are one-dimensional. Sure, they do multitudes of stupid, or downright malicious, things all the time. Regardless, think complexly. Learn all that you can about everything that you can. Think about people as people, not as cartoons. Which I think is what Bush may be trying to do when he paints. But that’s too much of an assumption, even though it’s nicely poetic. All I’m saying is, art is revealing, and I think that here it revealed the once-President of the United States just a little more than before.

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  • Podcast: Interview with Eli Matthewson

    Eli Matthewson is a stand-up comedian and actor. He has been nominated for the Billy T Award, and appears in Funny Girls and Jono and Ben. Eli also hosts the podcast The Male Gayz with Chris Parker

     

    Hi Eli, thanks for talking to Salient today! You’re bringing your show The Year of Magical Fucking to Wellington in May, what can audiences expect to see?

    The idea of the show is a call to arms — studies show that millennials are having less sex than their parents, which I think is ridiculous, giving baby boomers one more thing to brag about! So I’ve written this show, with lots of dirty jokes, lots of jokes about sex, but also lots of very awkward stories from my life which hopefully come together to form a sex-positive hour of comedy.

     

    I saw your show Faith in 2015, which was about your religious upbringing, and I believe your show Disney Prince Reimagined as a Comedy Legend last year was more sketch and character driven. By the sounds of it, your show this year is more personal — what are the differences between crafting those types of shows? Is one kind easier?

    They both have their own challenges. It’s very hard to do a whole show that’s just stand-up, just you talking the whole time. What I’ve tried to do with this show is make it a journey that’s going somewhere, even though it’s just me talking into a microphone. With sketch, you have an added advantage that you can throw some lights in there, some costumes, so it feels like the show is moving the whole time. Sketch is still very hard though because it’s just two or three minute bits, and you’re trying to get across what’s funny very quickly.

     

    How did you get into stand-up comedy? You’re from Christchurch — is there a stand-up scene there?

    There kind of is now, but there definitely wasn’t when I was there. I didn’t really start until I was in Auckland. I moved to Auckland to go to drama school there, and there was a guy in my class doing stand-up — James Roque, who is very funny — and we’d be hanging out talking about stand-up, and then I went to one of his gigs and he was like”you should try it.” Every lunch-time we’d get together and then I started writing some jokes, then after I graduated from uni that ended up being my main jam.

     

    I feel like NZ comedy has grown exponentially in the last few years – as someone in the industry, what would you like to see to improve it even more?

    [I’m] always ready to see more diverse voices, some non-white male voices, and I’d love it if we had some more weird gigs.  Especially in Auckland, where the gigs are more rowdy, whereas in Melbourne you get more of a comedy educated crowd, so you can try and do things that are a bit different, a bit left of centre. More weird gigs, that would be fun.

     

    Do you think that New Zealand audiences are perhaps not as versed in stand-up comedy as in Melbourne?

    Yeah, I just think they haven’t seen as much; every gig you do in New Zealand, you’ve got probably 25 per cent of the audience who haven’t seen stand-up before, so they’re learning what the rules are as it happens. Especially here, they have a late show every night of the festival at 11pm, so there are people that are actively seeking out an 11pm show on a Tuesday, and there’s a different vibe at those gigs.

     

    You’ve also been writing and acting in Funny Girls, which is such a fantastic show! It’s been funded for a third season by NZ On Air — any idea when the show will be back on our screens?

    Oh, don’t know if I can say! But it will be happening at some point!

     

    You and Chris Parker host the podcast The Male Gayz. It’s so funny and your friendship with Chris really shines through. Can you tell me a bit about the show, and how it originated?

    Both me and Chris work on Jono and Ben, which is cool, but sometimes you’re just churning out jokes and sketches, and we just wanted to write our kinds of jokes and talk about our kinds of stories instead, issues that we deal with — instead of the average male 25-30 or whatever the demographic is. And then Chris came up with the name, and I wrote the theme song with Joseph Moore, and we were away!

     

    You guys discuss a really wide variety of things, for instance in the last episode you went from outrage at small town homophobia to outrage at crap small town cafes. How much preparation goes into the show?

    It depends; we usually prepare a few things, but often in the car right there brainstorming! There have been some episodes when we’re a little bit more prepared, but it’s usually half an hour before the record is meant to be happening. Devastatingly, we recorded an episode with my ex-girlfriend Brynley Stent, who is also doing a show in the comedy fest, where we really delved into our past relationship and then it turned out her microphone was off the whole time, so there’s this really good episode that’s just lost forever!

     

    You’re part of a growing number of NZ stand-ups with podcasts; why do you think hosting a podcast is so popular?

    I think it’s a good vehicle to gain a different kind of audience, because you’re appealing to a different kind of person as opposed to those who actively seek out live shows. Also, it’s good for comedians to have a deadline to create some material. Me and Chris meet up every week, so every week we’re thinking of stories we can tell, or moments in our lives or observations we’ve had, and it develops a good work ethic.

     

    What’s next for you? Any upcoming projects our readers would like to hear about?

    Funny Girls season three will be coming out, and more podcasts; we’re going to re-record the one with Brynley Stent. My show is the main thing I’m focusing on, here in Melbourne I’m trying to rewrite it every night and make it better, so when I come to Wellington it’s going to be solid!

     

    Eli is performing his show The Year of Magical Fucking at the Fringe Bar from May 9-13 at 8:30pm.

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  • GIG GUIDE

    Tuesday: Loma Prieta with Long Distance Runner — If you like your music screamed at you at eardrum-shattering volume by a squadron of confusingly angry straight white men, then this post-hardcore gig is certainly for you. At Valhalla, the pandemonium starts at 7.00pm.

    Wednesday: Eyegum Wednesdays with Womb, Pam, and George Turner — Come and experience all these beautiful baby angels sweeping you away on their tide of silver sonic silkiness. It’s free, it’s at San Fran, starts at 9.00pm and it’s going to be absurdly good.

    Saturday option #1: Clap Clap Riot album release tour — If you’re just into your bloody rollicking bloody good classic guitar pop, then mate, you’re in luck. These dudes are back from Australia and they’re bringing their third album with them, hitting Caroline at around 8.30pm.

    Saturday option #2: Shark Week Boat Party — In classic Wellington style, there are few good options on Friday night and then a whole darn bundle for Saturday! The second in this glorious bundle is Shark Week’s boat party, with hometown hip-hop heroes KVKA, Beach Boy and his pals, and DJ Far Too Kind rounding out the lineup. It’s at the Tug Boat in Oriental Bay, kicking off at 10.00pm, but there’s also drinks and a DJ at the Shark Week store beforehand.

    Saturday option #3: Moments 001 — Moments is a collective that promotes women, LGBT people, and POC in music, and they are having their first, very respectful, and delightful DJ night of the year this weekend. This will feature DJ Snakelegs (aka Alexa Casino), Aw B, Angel X, and Jerk. This is one to lose your selfhood and become one with the faceless, shape-cutting mass to. S&Ms, starting at 9.00pm.

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  • Raw (2017)

    After reports of people passing out at the Toronto Film Festival, it was pretty hard to resist seeking this film out when it was finally rated and released in New Zealand. As it turns out, it may have been a case of much ado about nothing, because Raw’s violence isn’t exacting anything jaw dropping; at the end of the day, this film isn’t really a pure horror film. Set in a veterinary school in France, a young Justine (Garance Marillier) must make it through the rigorous hazing of her first week while struggling with a variety of adolescent urges that have swollen to the surface. If you thought Ginger Snaps was a fairly direct metaphor where a movie about werewolves is paralleled with two girls going through puberty, get ready for something on another level.

    As Justine is gradually broken into the world of drinking and partying, something else wakes up inside her, and a graphic representation of youth sexuality ensues.  Here the horror is primarily found in the pleasure and repulsion she finds in both herself and (as you probably guessed from the poster) in eating human flesh. It truly is a coming-of-age film like no other. Julia Ducournau lends a fascinating eye to the subject matter, as the line between reality and illusion often get blurred, and colouring of the film is constantly inventive with neon lights, paint, and of course blood.

    Overall the film does somewhat give to its own urges towards the end, with a variety of things merely happening, and though the narrative does not always come across in a succinct matter, the material is thought provoking enough in itself to provide a host of gruesome entertainment. Honestly I can’t think of another film since The Texas Chainsaw Massacre that has added to a self-defined genre of mine entitled vegetarian-horror. In 1973 a group of teens were brutally slaughtered and butchered like animals, and here again the ethics of meat are brought to the forefront. Regardless of dietary persuasion, I recommend this to anyone craving the strange.

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  • On Rewatching Lost

    On September 22, 2004, the first episode of Lost aired. On March 29, 2017, Jetstar cancelled my second flight in a row in two days from Auckland to Wellington. Spontaneously, I pitched in with three strangers to hire a rental car and we made an 11 hour drive. We listened to my highschool iPod and also the Hamilton soundtrack. Everything worked out fine and no one murdered me, but (it’s coming) luckily I didn’t end up in a plane crash 1000 miles off course on a mysterious dangerous island sparsely populated with polar bears, barefoot psychopaths, and violent clouds of smoke! Because I still wouldn’t get a refund from Jetstar.

    If you managed to avoid any knowledge of the huge pop culture event that was Lost, it follows a group of strangers struggling for survival after their plane crashes on a seemingly deserted island somewhere in the South Pacific. However, the survivors of Oceanic flight 815 quickly find out they are not alone, and then shit gets CRAZY. Like, it’s bananas. This is my third attempt at completely watching it; the first time was when it aired in my first year of high school, but I fell off around season four after missing too many episodes; the second time was with an ex-boyfriend early 2010, but we broke up and I never got to watch the last season. For a show that so heavily centers around finding out what the fuck is going on, I’ve managed to avoid finding out what actually happens at the end of Lost all this time. Now, with my flatmate who had never seen a single episode, I am embarking on my first proper series watch through.

    This time there are a lot of things I’m noticing more, like the show’s incredible tension headache of a score and the full scope of the story and island itself. I also cry in every episode with a John Locke flashback, and every time Jin and Sun embrace. As always, Hurley is the best character and that’s why he gets a Weezer album with his face on it (see Weezer, Hurley, Epitaph Records, 2010). The show’s two-part pilot holds up as one of the best series openers in television for me, serving as a fast-paced and sharply written introduction to the world of Lost, claustrophobic and hyper realistic plane crash included, and it ups the ante every episode. Every single person in the 40+ person cast is in constant danger and it looks extremely physically demanding, which perhaps explains the multitude of disorderly driving offenses incurred by lead actors during the show’s six year filming in Hawaii.

    For fans of sci-fi, action, and dramatic television, Lost is a load of fun to watch, even for me when I’ve seen it (mostly) twice before. For every answer you receive per episode (of which there are 121 total over six seasons) there are 30 more questions asked in the last two minutes of each, while you hold your hands to your face like Kevin McAllister every time, nearly smashing your trackpad in your desperation to queue up the next one. Where is this island? Why did the plane crash? What are all those noises? Who is this French lady? Who are “the Others”? How did the dog survive the crash from the luggage compartment? Where did all those knives come from? Are all the Australian accents on this show fake? Why is masculinity so toxic? What is Jack’s fucking deal? Until I finish season six please, no spoilers. And promise me you’ll never fly Jetstar.

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  • Podcast: Interview with Tim Batt

    Tim Batt is a stand-up comedian and Billy T Award nominee. He is a host of the hugely successful The Worst Idea of All Time podcast, in which he and fellow comic Guy Montgomery watch the same movie each week for a year. The pair are currently enduring their third season with We Are Your Friends, after watching Grown Ups 2 and Sex and the City 2 in previous seasons.

     

    Hi Tim, thanks for talking to us today! You’ve recently been performing in the Melbourne International Comedy Festival. As a comedian with a few years of the NZ and Melbourne festivals under your belt, how do the two compare?

    Well, I think if you consider New Zealand’s population, then pretty favourably. Melbourne has got more money and people behind it, but I think the New Zealand International Comedy Festival has done an amazing job of putting on a festival to an international standard. Especially when you consider how many people we have, how many people they have running the festival and how much money they have to do it all, it’s very impressive. Melbourne is impressive too, and understandably a bit bigger; that will happen when you have the population of our entire country in one city. Melbourne tends to go for a little bit longer and people have longer runs, doing a show for three or four weeks instead of two. It’s probably similar to anyone that’s gone to drama school, when you completely destroy your own psyche and then rebuild it with the people around you, and you gain new family members because you’ve been through the trenches together.

     

    You’re bringing your show Ladies and Gentleman to Wellington in May, what can audiences expect?

    They can expect a combination of high and low brow humour — I will be talking about the Trump-ening of politics in one moment, and then shitting my pants in the next, so there’s something for everyone!

     

    Many of our readers will recognise you as the co-host of The Worst Idea of All Time podcast, where you watch the same terrible movie once a week for a year. You’re currently on your 39th watch of We Are Your Friends — does it get any easier, or is it always a nightmare?

    This season, I think it’s not getting easier, but I think we’re getting numb to it, so it’s less affecting. We did our 40th watch with Tom Walker. I was here in Auckland and Guy and Tom were watching it in a cheap motel bed where they were lying together watching the movie on a laptop screen and Guy was just in his boxers. You’re watching it, and you’re listening to it, but it just doesn’t touch your brain at all; it’s quite a weird psychological phenomenon. I’m not sure how else to describe it.

     

    The Worst Idea of All Time is hugely successful in America, and your fans have crowdfunded a couple of trips for you and Guy to go over there to do live podcasts — why do you think the show has translated so well to American audiences?

    I think we’ve got a big fanbase in Los Angeles because it’s where movies get made. Like if you look at Grown Ups 2, Adam Sandler is sort of the perfect example of the Hollywood machine — a movie he’s in comes out and makes lots of money. He gets money — everyone else gets money, and everyone’s just getting cameos and cashing the cheques even though it’s objectively a terrible, terrible, film. I think people in the industry— whether they’re a lighting person or a gaffer or a sound person, or even just being around Hollywood — enjoy people making jokes about it and coming up with ideas that lampoon the stupider side of their industry. But I have no idea, that’s just a theory!

     

    You’re also the founder of the Little Empire Podcast Network, which distributes lots of podcasts featuring other New Zealand stand-ups. Do you think having a podcast is now the best way for stand-ups to increase their visibility? Is it essential?

    I wouldn’t say essential, I don’t think there is anything essential in comedy which is what I love about it, there are no set rules about it. I think it is definitely a great shortcut to finding an audience, and also to sharpening your skills if you lock yourself into doing something every week. You have to get better at talking about something on the fly. You learn internet stuff like how to upload things, and your audience will give you feedback on whether it’s shit, and you can hopefully improve. It’s a really good tool for comics. In America, pretty every single stand-up has a podcast that they’re involved with, or hosting.

     

    The Little Empire Network also has sponsors for most of the shows they distribute. Sponsorship is really common in American podcasts, which are often peppered with ads for Squarespace etc. How do you balance monetising — fairly — a product, without disturbing listeners attracted to a free medium?

    Generally speaking, I think podcast audiences are pretty smart and media savvy, and they understand that you’re doing something and putting it out for free, so there’s a little bit of a trade-off there where you might be exposed to some ads. What I’ve always tried to do on the network is make the ads a part of the show, so instead of them being pre-recorded 30 second spots like you get on the radio, it’s the host doing the ad. I’ve been pretty strong on that point to advertisers, that the hosts are allowed to put it in their own words and make it their own. I think that comes through, and I think that’s the way to integrate them into the product.

     

    Do you think that the increasing emergence of successful NZ made podcasts will impact on NZ commercial radio, which hasn’t seemed to change in years?

    I can’t imagine in the immediate future it will, maybe in the long term. There’s room for everyone to coexist.

     

    What’s next for you — any upcoming projects our readers would like to hear about?

    I’m going to be hosting a TV show for TVNZ which will be a current affairs discussion panel show, which hasn’t been announced yet, but it’s about to be. It’s called Banter, and it’s going to be on Duke and then on the On Demand platform. It will be broadcast live, so I’m looking forward to saying the wrong words and getting lots of complaints.

     

    That’s so exciting! Are there any other regular panelists confirmed?

    Not just yet, we’re still just figuring that out, but I think it will be a rotating cast of a comedian, a politician, maybe a university professor or some other kind of expert to chew through things that are happening in the news and maybe some other things that are not in the headlines that day but are still important for New Zealand and New Zealanders.

     

    Tim Batt is performing his show Ladies and Gentleman at BATS Theatre from May 9-13 at 8:00pm.

     

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  • Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017)

    I have a personal theory (call it a qualm, potentially) that in ten years people will look back on all the Marvel films with far less fondness than they do now, and in 20 years the majority of them will be forgotten completely. None of the films are by any means awful — even Thor: The Dark World and Captain America: The First Avenger are highly watchable — but year after year the Marvel releases are feeling more like an onslaught, and their production seems more like a conveyor belt than the labours of love that each and every film should be. Of course, the exception is James Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy, and thankfully its sequel.

    Here we find Gunn and Co. firing on all cylinders and delivering a dazzling balance of action, extravaganza, humour, and heart. All the cast are as good as ever, with added drama and inter-relations giving each and every character the chance to shine. When people said Doctor Strange took “risks” as a Marvel movie, I said “no, it’s just the same plot and character arc as Batman Begins and Iron Man with some trippy visuals,” and when they said Ant-Man took risks I said “no, it’s just another Marvel movie but the world isn’t blowing up at the end.”

    Here we find a Marvel film that does thankfully play outside the box. The narrative has twists and turns, characters face trials of many sorts, and there’s humour and drama designed not to appeal to the lowest common denominator audience member, but people that actually love this wacky shit. The soundtrack may not feature as many old school bangers as one might expect, but a richer original score more than makes up for this. Visually, the film is also as inventive as one could wish for, with rich colours, detailed production design, and visual effects that even by today’s standards are outstanding. Go see it, it’s a bloody good time.

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  • Get Out (2017)

    From one half of the comedy duo that brought us “A-A-Ron” and action comedy about the world’s cutest kitten, comes a horror film centred around race and the condition of African American men in the US. I often don’t buy into hype, and have a particular loathing for Rotten Tomatoes, but if the premise hadn’t already hooked me the 99% rating would’ve. Fun fact: that one bad review on the website comes from Armond White who is considered a notorious troll and routinely positively reviews Adam Sandler films and pretty much nothing else. Oh, and he heckled Steve McQueen at a screening of 12 Years A Slave.

    But hype aside, there is an undeniably original and evocative film to be found here. The obvious subject matter is in itself brilliant, and the director Jordan Peele’s roots in comedy shine through in the darkest of humour based mostly on stereotypes. Where in some horror movies a protagonist finds themselves in a hillbilly town surrounded by ravenous rednecks, Chris finds himself at his girlfriend’s family get-together surrounded by rich white people. What comes in equal measure to the comedy is raw emotion and palpable tension, because these white people are creepy as fuck.

    Peele shows a deft hand in utilising the horror genre with lingering, intrusive camerawork and a great score, but shows equal talent making a horror that is actually surprising. Often you’ll get a sense that you know where it’s going only to find out you are completely wrong, as the narrative is something quite apart from most horror films. Also, no spoilers, but Chris isn’t an idiot. He doesn’t make dumb-ass decisions. Daniel Kaluuya gives a fantastic performance as a man completely out of his depth and who can feel the walls slowly closing in around him. The rest of the cast (the aforementioned creepy white people) fill in the gaps with plenty of craziness and cringe, and Chris’s friend Rod (Lil Rey Howery) is a hilarious addition.

    This is the latest in a fantastic run from Blumhouse Productions who have released a slew of indie horror over the last few years, and I strongly recommend you track it down, for its own sake, as well as to support great indie horror films. Others include Split, Hush, Ouija: Origin of Evil, The Gift, Oculus and also The Invitation (which is not Blumhouse but is on Netflix). While they’ve actually released a lot of absolute crap, these are the ones that are worth checking out.

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  • Yooka-Laylee

    Developer: Playtonic Games

    Publisher: Team17 Digital

    Platform: PS4, Xbox One, PC (Windows, macOS, Linux), Nintendo Switch

    Review copy supplied by publisher

     

    Is anyone else really sick of nostalgia being used to sell us shit? ’Cause I am.

    For those unaware, back in the late ’90s and early 2000s a studio called Rareware released a series of 3D platformers for the Nintendo 64 called Banjo-Kazooie, which are much beloved despite their age. A group of former Rareware developers formed Playtonic with the intention of making a spiritual successor to Banjo; they started a crowdfunding campaign, raised nearly $4 million, and managed to capture the attention and goodwill of ’90s kids everywhere.

    It’s just a shame that what we got isn’t worth anywhere near the hype.

    Being only 21-years old and having never owned a Nintendo 64, I have few nostalgic feelings for the “collectathon” 3D platformers which Yooka-Laylee is trying to invoke. Everything about its design is ripped whole cloth from Banjo-Kazooie — the expansive (and easy to get lost in) levels, the literally thousands of objects you need to collect for 100% completion, the colourful worlds, character designs, and even the lack of a proper story.

    The biggest issue I have is the controls, which have resulted in multiple rage quits during my play sessions. Nothing about how Yooka moves is graceful or pleasant; you often feel you’re fighting against the game just to go in a certain direction. Even the subtlest tap of the analog stick while standing still will make the character veer off in a direction you never intended them to — which is a real pain considering shooting projectiles is an important gameplay aspect. One of the special abilities, the Reptile Roll, is necessary for climbing steep surfaces, and yet is so imprecise a straight line is nearly impossible. The camera is awful, committing the cardinal sin of acting like an actual camera by getting in the way of objects while often failing to stay still and point in the desired direction.

    All of these control issues were teething problems in late ’90s platformers that have been fixed over time. If you want to modernise an old genre, wouldn’t bringing controls up to modern standards be a large part of that? Did they just think, “Banjo controlled like that so this game should too”?

    But that’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to this game’s issues. I could talk about how the level designs aren’t exactly intuitive and how completing all the tasks within them is an exercise is tedious bullshit. I could discuss how even finding the levels in the hub-world is a chore. I could bring up the cringe-worthy dialogue, none of which is even remotely funny, complete with constant fourth-wall breaks which are about as clever as a punch to the temple. There’s also how every character, rather than speaking normally, just spouts the most inane noises out of their pie holes which get very annoying, very quickly. Oh, and don’t forget the god-awful minigames, which manage to control worse than the base game.

    And yet, I’ve only got 600 words. What a shame.

    Nearly everything wrong with this game is a holdover from the era in which 3D “collectathons” were popular, and are the reason why the genre is pretty much dead. Not only did Playtonic fail to modernise the genre, they made its most glaring flaws even worse!

    I feel somewhat sorry for those who backed this game financially. Maybe they can see the good in Yooka-Laylee’s gameplay, but one day they’ll have to take off the rose-tinted glasses and see it for what it is: outdated crap.

    The music’s nice though. That never changed from Banjo-Kazooie.

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  • 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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