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July 31, 2006 | by  | in Opinion | [ssba]

Academic Idol: Round four

Last week democracy roared. There was only one person in the running for elimination. The voting public made it clear that there is no room for error, and punished Sashi Meanger dearly. The task this week for the nine remaining contestants was to espouse culturally on their favourite books, films, television shows. People died for your right to vote, so tell us who should leave next. Email editor@salient., vote online or text (021)1452391. As P.Diddy once said, “Vote or die”. Enough said!

Peter Gainsford (Classics)

FILM: Casablanca. How could he let her go? HOW COULD HE BEAR TO? Every time I can’t believe he does it.

BOOK: Catch-22. A masterpiece, a fascinating study in narratology, and every page makes me laugh. Viva Milo Minderbinder!

TV SHOW: don’t watch TV much, too much time spent reading and gaming. Let’s say Futurama. (Why yes, I do have geekish tendencies, how did you guess?)

MUSICIAN: J.S. Bach. I acquired an addiction to fugues in my teens, which also led me to take up the organ — no, the musical instrument — and, briefly, be a BMus student.

Jon Johansson (Political Science)

FAVOURITE FILM: ‘Being There’ – the best ever political movie; we all have a little bit of Chance Gardener in us. Honourable mention to ‘Apocalypse Now,’ which I think Joseph Conrad, whose classic book ‘Heart of Darkness’ the movie is based upon, would himself enjoy.

FAVOURITE TV SHOW: ‘Survivor’ – For someone who studies leadership succession, game theory intersecting with psychology is a profoundly reassuring distraction. And, the Survivor contestants are so much easier on the eye than our politicians.

FAVOURITE BAND: Led Zeppelin, as a creature of the 70s I can’t go past Robert Plant and Jimmy Page and the memories of so many nights lying horizontal to ‘Stairway to Heaven.’

FAVOURITE BOOK: Harold Bloom’s: ‘Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human.’ As Bloom exquisitely put it, “The ultimate use of Shakespeare is to let him teach you to think too well, to whatever truth you can sustain without perishing. Honourable mention to Dante’s ‘Inferno,’ because some verse in Canto V always reminds me of Bill Clinton’s dalliance with Monica: ‘Love, which in gentlest hearts will soonest bloom, seized my lover. And with passion for that sweet body, I was torn, unshriven to my doom.’

John McDowall (Psychology)

FILM: The Big Sleep (1946) – the jewel in the crown of film noir. Impenetrably dense plot, but who cares, with the chemistry between Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall as hot as a platinum blond slightly tipsy on rum, and in the mood.

BOOK: Kiss me Deadly – with private eye Mike Hammer and a dark world full of dames with legs up to their necks and murder on their minds.

TV SHOW: Flash Gordon: starring one of the best villains you will ever see – Ming the Merciless, not to mention his daughter Princess Aura who wears very little.

BAND: Jefferson Airplane.

David McLauchlan (Law)

FILM: The Shawshank Redemption—powerful, cruel yet uplifting, great acting, memorable lines.

TV PROGRAMME: To be honest the only one I would never miss is the Bledisloe Cup rugby test. If that doesn’t qualify, Rome—entertaining and educational.

BAND: The Finn Brothers – great musicians, good kiwi blokes.

BOOK: It’s Not About the Bike—the inspirational story of Lance Armstrong’s triumph over cancer.

Grant Morris (Law)

FILM: I’ve been a fan of the original Star Wars movies since seeing them as a kid. Star Wars is fantastic escapism and pure magic. TV: Boston Legal, I collect legal television shows and Boston Legal is undoubtedly the best. Even better than Street Legal.

MUSIC: David Bowie – Ziggy Stardust is one weird album, but inspired nonetheless. His ability to recreate himself is impressive (a little like Madonna).

BOOK: Wuthering Heights – a classic tale of romance, heartbreak and passion. A classic love story.

Warwick Murray (Geography)

FAVORITE BAND: Beatles (favourite Beatle – George)

FAVOURITE FILM: Hard Day’s Night (Favourite song – I Should Have Known Better)

FAVOURITE TV SHOW: Beatles at the Royal Variety Show, 1964 (favourite song – Twist and Shout)

FAVOURITE BOOK: The Beatles Anthology (favourite chapter – 1965 Revolver) As you will see I quite like the Beatles! Every major moment in my life has been played out to a Beatles song: first pint of cider, first kiss, first busking adventure, first year at university, going to France on the ferry for the weekend with my brother, first gig, courting my wife to be, the birth of our first daughter (I’m saying nothing about the conception). My students know that I love Latin American music and novels, Curb Your Enthusiasm, The Office, Phoenix Nights, Cream, The Smiths, Star Wars, Wuthering Heights, Machuca – but if I am really true to myself I have to admit I am a British Beatles bore!

Sean Redmond (Film)

FILM: Rumble Fish (Coppola, 1983) starring the God-like Mickey Rouke as the brooding Motorcycle Boy. Gave people my age and social class a reason for our nihilism: ‘He’s merely miscast in a play. He was born in the wrong era, on the wrong side of the river… With the ability to be able to do anything that he wants to do and… findin’ nothin’ that he wants to do. I mean nothin’’.

TV SHOW: The Wiggles – they have allowed me to question my sexuality for at least the fifth time in my life. Funny looking men in primary colours, dancing and singing – why o why can’t real life be like that?

BAND: Joy Division for providing the soundtrack to a dozen futile teenage relationships – unfortunately, love will tear us apart.

BOOK: Mason’s Kiss (Mills & Boon) by Sheri WhiteFeather (‘He placed his hand on her shoulder, lightly, gently, nearly stilling the breeze that fluttered between them. “Are you sure you’re all right? His touch, his compassion, went straight to her heart’). And that’s how I go to sleep at night…

Tony Schirato (Media Studies)

FILMS: Either the first five Marx Brothers’ films (you can’t beat lines like ‘Time wounds all heels’) or anything by the Japanese animator Miyazaki.

TV SHOW: Daffy Duck cartoons. Some people identify with great figures from history (Zena, Princess Warrior), philosophy (Kim Hill) or religion (the Great White Ram), but I identify with an animated character. Why? Because you are what you watch & the watch what you are, and deep down I’m a little black duck who thinks that most people are despicable.

MUSICIAN/BAND: I was thinking maybe Sinatra or Jeff Tweedy, but really I can’t go past Shane MacGowan (ex-Pogues etc). Anyone who drinks that much & can still write & sing/growl the way he does…

BOOK: ‘Bartleby’ by Herman Melville. That book made such an impression on me I named all my fantasy NFL, MLB & NHL teams after it.

Matt Wagner (Theatre)

FILM: Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. It carries great personal significance for me (my brother, sister, and I have ‘shared’ it for decades now). Plus, it contains one of the greatest gems of philosophy of the arts in cinematic history, to wit, the film’s opening:

BUTCH: What happened to the old bank, it was beautiful!

GUARD: People kept robbing it.

BUTCH: Small price to pay for beauty.

TV: The Sopranos (I am, after all, Sicilian).

BOOK: A three-way, unbreakable tie: My old (now lost) Riverside Shakespeare, Joseph Heller’s Catch 22, and Pablo Neruda’s Extravagaria.

MUSIC: Now really, we have to break this down by genre. Classical: Chopin’s ballades. Soul: Aretha, and Otis. Blues: John Lee Hooker, and Muddy Waters. Jazz: Ella Fitzgerald, and Miles Davis. Rock: Bowie, and the Boss himself, Bruce Springsteen.


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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