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Issue 24, 2017

Issue 24



  • An (im)possible dream: Living Wage for Vic Books

  • Salient and VUW tussle over Official Information Act requests

  • Orphanage voluntourism a harmful exercise

  • Do You Ever Feel Like a Plastic Bag?

  • Niue’s Waters a Sanctuary for Pacific fish

  • Library Lifts Not Fully Operational Until October 2019

  • Waste not, want not

  • Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow

  • New Executive for UniQ

  • Features

  • little ghosts

    My body is filled with little ghosts and memories. It is strange to think about these little ghosts decomposing into the earth. Amy Cunningham, a “green” funeral director, says in an article for The Atlantic that people “really don’t like the idea of the body disappearing into the soil and they’re fighting it in every […]


  • Writing (Our) Stories

    Praise for Pasifika art and writing is often connected to its authenticity. Nothing plastic, a real island guy. Who exactly we’re supposed to check this authenticity against, no one knows, but people are still adamant on some sense of realness. I used to be too, giving my judgemental side-eye at an afakasi taupou during a […]


  • I Hate Myself and I Want to Die: Borderline Personality Disorder & Misrepresentation in Film

    CW: Self-harm, suicide, abuse     Susanna: I didn’t try to kill myself. Dr Potts: What were you trying to do? Susanna: I was trying to make the shit stop. — Girl, Interrupted (1999)   Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is an illness marked by extreme emotional irregularity, impulsivity, an unstable sense of identity, self-harm, a […]


  • Grandma

    Four years ago Grandma was diagnosed with melanoma. For a long time, the cancer was contained to the diagnosis itself; we couldn’t see the cancer on her at all. She would go for her daily morning walks, she would tend to the garden, and almost desperately, because she never learnt to drive, she would jump […]


  • In Which a Boy Leaves

    I’ve always been a fairly lucky kid. I essentially lucked out at birth, being born white, male, heterosexual, to a well off family. My life was never going to be particularly hard. And so my tale begins, with another stroke of sheer luck. After my girlfriend suggested I take up a radio show, I applied […]


  • little ghosts

    My body is filled with little ghosts and memories. It is strange to think about these little ghosts decomposing into the earth. Amy Cunningham, a “green” funeral director, says in an article for The Atlantic that people “really don’t like the idea of the body disappearing into the soil and they’re fighting it in every […]


  • Writing (Our) Stories

    Praise for Pasifika art and writing is often connected to its authenticity. Nothing plastic, a real island guy. Who exactly we’re supposed to check this authenticity against, no one knows, but people are still adamant on some sense of realness. I used to be too, giving my judgemental side-eye at an afakasi taupou during a […]


  • I Hate Myself and I Want to Die: Borderline Personality Disorder & Misrepresentation in Film

    CW: Self-harm, suicide, abuse     Susanna: I didn’t try to kill myself. Dr Potts: What were you trying to do? Susanna: I was trying to make the shit stop. — Girl, Interrupted (1999)   Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is an illness marked by extreme emotional irregularity, impulsivity, an unstable sense of identity, self-harm, a […]


  • Grandma

    Four years ago Grandma was diagnosed with melanoma. For a long time, the cancer was contained to the diagnosis itself; we couldn’t see the cancer on her at all. She would go for her daily morning walks, she would tend to the garden, and almost desperately, because she never learnt to drive, she would jump […]


  • In Which a Boy Leaves

    I’ve always been a fairly lucky kid. I essentially lucked out at birth, being born white, male, heterosexual, to a well off family. My life was never going to be particularly hard. And so my tale begins, with another stroke of sheer luck. After my girlfriend suggested I take up a radio show, I applied […]


  • Arts and Science

  • Interview with Grayson Gilmour

    Grayson Gilmour released his album Otherness in July this year, his third to come out on Flying Nun but the latest in a much larger string of solo releases, soundtrack work, and band projects. Grayson has carved out his own sonic niche, creating an incredibly intricate and original sound that makes genre comparisons quite tricky. We caught up with Grayson to chat about the album, his upcoming shows at Bats, and the significance of this musical chapter in his life.


    Going into Otherness, what was different about this record? What kind of stuff did you want to explore?

    One of the main differences in this record is that I opened up the arrangements to include a lot of people in them. The string quartet is something I’ve always wanted to do but never had the time or the resources. Or maybe I just hadn’t trusted myself to work in that scope in the past. My solo stuff has been more of an isolated creative zone. I had bands and other people to work with in the past; maybe I enjoyed that kind of seclusion, but now that my own music is the forefront of what I do, I like having that collaborative aspect. I was also just trying to whittle down my influences and what I was trying to make sound world wise — if that makes any sense.


    One thing I have often heard you talk about is the way you tinker with your tracks and the role music gear and experimentation plays in this.

    I’m kind of into gear but I would probably not acknowledge that. I’m definitely not a gear enthusiast, but I think that it’s about having the right tools, like an artist has the right paints to paint a picture. A lot of the textures and sounds I like to work with generally come from experiments and improvising and curiosity. I might have a whole room full of instruments, but I can’t really proficiently play anything other than the guitar and the piano. Everything else, I’m just winging it, but that’s the excitement for me.


    I’ve heard you say you spend a lot of time on your songs, and the complexity of the arrangements and the layering of sounds seems to reflect this. What’s the process of creating a track like this?

    A lot of the songs on Otherness were written since the last album, but they went through many many different forms in the process. I actually just stumbled across an old folder of all my previous mixes for this record. It was crazy listening back to some of the first sketches that I did. A song like “Blowback” used to be double time. It had a completely different beat — it was real afrobeaty. I love afrobeat and I was just playing around with that kind of pace. But I thought “this is really convoluted,” so I just stripped it out completely and made it a half time beat on the back foot the whole way. And it worked, but I really loved the old version.


    How do you know when to stop working on a track?

    It’s hard to say. When an idea clicks it takes its own shape eventually. But I am probably the worst person for tinkering and changing, which is why I always end up finishing a record with someone else. I get an album to a point where I’ve explored all that I need to explore right now, and then I give it to someone else to open areas to it. Which in turn makes me be like, “oh that’s terrible, this is great.” That’s the most fun part actually.


    Do you ever find yourself wanting to step away from the more ambient stuff and do something a little more aesthetically traditional or stripped back?

    I’ve enjoyed doing that in the past; I’ve gone and done some acoustic stuff or written music which is for a purpose. I think I get closure on that side of things with the film work. That’s really satisfying in a way, because a lot of writing music on your own steam comes down to a lot of grey area. It is whatever you’re making that into. With film and writing music for other people, it’s very matter of fact — it either works or it doesn’t and that is a bit more black and white as a creative process. I think I like the idea of my own musical world being quite complicated, for want of a better word. There’s a little thing on Kamasi Washington on Pitchfork at the moment and the last paragraph of that interview is just gold. It’s basically like, finding what that music is is a painful process but it comes with the biggest payoff.


    Do you find working on the film stuff impacts the way you write for yourself?

    I think as a result of the film stuff I’m really sensitive to some of the more subconscious reactions to music that people have; a certain tone or a certain chord progression can invoke a certain response. The more attuned you are to that, the more you start thinking about how people are going to be affected by this piece of music, what it will do to them. Not that I want to be like sonically manipulative or anything, but it’s a big part of film music.


    I’ve always wondered what kind of influences you have. Obviously there’s a lot of ambient stuff going on, but then underneath that aesthetic you’ve got these really solid four minute pop songs.

    I can’t really think of any artists that you could draw a direct correlation with, which is quite funny because I’m like, “why do I end up making this music?” Is there something inherently about writing music in a pop context that makes those influences take form in such a way? Because a lot of the music I listen to is ambient stuff, electronic music, afrobeat. I do take note of the artists and the sounds I’m engaging with while I’m putting a record together. Maybe some of the bigger influences on this record would be someone like Tim Hecker, or John Hopkins, or Caribou, but equally all kinds of other, more abstract noise and stuff like that.

    When I’ve seen you live I’m always a little bit surprised by the way your songs translate into a real shoegaze, alt-rock sort of thing.

    Definitely, I love a good dose of shoegaze, and like the Sonic Youth wall of noise. I guess what I like about those bands and those sounds is that it’s all very guitar-centric, but it’s abstracted in a way that I get something different out of it. I really like how My Bloody Valentine just warbles, and it’s going out of tune, it’s this seemingly oppressive wall of noise, but it’s actually transcendental and just floats. It’s beautiful. I think what I enjoy about the guitar is trying to get all kinds of different sounds out of it. It occurred to me that I barely played any chords outright on the whole album. There’s maybe two songs on the whole album where I wasn’t volume swelling or doing looped textural stuff. Refining the way that I’m playing an instrument like that on an album I think is quite an interesting thing to take in.


    When you’re writing your lyrics, do you think about them as part of the complex textural arrangement, or as a separate kind of thing altogether?

    They evolve along the way but it’s funny, they come together once the track has found its feet. It’s very rare that I’d ever start a song just with lyrics. A lot of my songwriting consists of gradually stitching together ideas and growing them together. Likewise, with my lyrics, I might just write down a few lines at a time and they might join up with other lines that have a similar sentiment, and eventually those rhythms just interlock with certain songs. I hate to use the term “organic” but it all just comes together like that. When it gets to the end of recording a song I’m always quite terrified by how the lyrics will probably be the first and foremost thing that people engage with — that’s just the nature of singing and language — which is why I quite like putting out instrumental versions and other versions to show off the songs.


    I just saw a new seven track instrumental album as part of a Red Bull release that just came out; what’s the deal with that?

    That’s the first volume of the Red Bull Library music series. They wanted a real fast turnaround, and I did 15 two minute tracks in 15 days. It was under quite a lot of time restriction, and that was self-imposed because I had to meet a deadline and I was going overseas. So I was like, “cool, I’ve got three weeks, I’ll do Monday to Friday, fifteen days, fifteen two minute tracks. Write each track in the morning, record it during the day, and mix it at night time.” It was full on but it was cool, it really stretched my process and that’s what I kind of wanted to do it for as well.


    Infinite Life! got a remix album, is that going to happen with Otherness?

    There are a couple of remixes that are currently both on the Japanese version of the CD. Silicon did a remix, it’s awesome, there’s a label over in Canada that’s going to be pressing it on a seven inch. He did “Artery” so we’ll be pressing “Artery” from the album, and then the remix as the B side. It’s so cool, Kody [Nielson] basically sped it up double time and turned it into a funky Silicon track. I love it. I’ve always had a bit of a joke that if you speed up my songs and put a good beat behind them you could pretty much dance to them all. They have an inherent poppy, dancey sensibility, but I just tend to play things real slow. So it’s like, case in point, look at it, it can be done! Also Cory [Champion], Borrowed cs, who played drums on the record, did a remix of “Blowback”. That’s more of his housey psychedelic stuff.


    What was the reason behind doing these special shows at Bats?

    I’m probably more interested in doing different things when I perform now, which is why I’ve booked these shows at Bats and why I’ve just been playing art galleries lately. I still have the band thing ready to go for gigs that need to be short, have impact, and be loud. But I guess my curiosity lies in things I haven’t done before or in challenging myself. The shows at Bats will be with the string quartet, there’s going to be a vibraphone player, and my mate Aidan from So So Modern doing synth bass. It won’t have the volume in that respect, it won’t be “rock” — rock is a word I’m so cautious off which is probably why I don’t end up strumming my guitar or doing anything inherently masculine with it nowadays. I’m doing more of an ensemble, more of a chamber thing. It’s just another way to try and engage with people differently and engage with my music. Ultimately, the long game might be that I can combine those two: the band and the chamber thing. The original idea was to try and get a ten piece band. The drums, the bass, the quartet, everything. But it wasn’t feasible to do that at Bats.


    What’s the future looking like for you and your music?

    I get really really excited about closing a musical chapter. Finishing this concert and getting these videos cut, the recordings out, that 7 inch out, the remixes. As soon as I’ve put all my cards on the table and this album has done its thing, I’m looking forward to that so much. Otherness is like a fully realised version of me in the realm of being a songwriter. Where I’m excited about exploring next is territory totally outside of that. What that is yet, I don’t really know. Definitely more electronic-centric or pushing out with my arrangements with string quartets and performance. Maybe not necessarily needing things to be song based or lyrically based. There will definitely be a lot more music in the future. I don’t necessarily know if it will be under my own name or if it might be under a different project altogether. Band stuff will probably always be on indefinite hiatus with So So Modern. There’s heaps of unfinished stuff there and who knows what might happen with those guys in the future. It’s hard to say. I’ve been talking to a few other people about starting some bands, but that’s very much a 2018 kind of thing. It’s such an open canvas for me post this record that I can’t wait. 2018 is going to be so fun.


  • A Town Like Alice — Nevil Shute

    I was introduced to this novel by a bright, enthusiastic friend who adores it completely, can’t compliment it enough, and, since she is smart enough to be a law student, whose intellectual judgement I trust even though I am iffy about her career choice.

    The book was written in 1950s Australia, and tells the story of a young Englishwoman, Jean Paget, who spent time working in Malaya during the war and was imprisoned for a while, but then decides, having received an unexpected inheritance after the war, to travel to Australia in search of a man who had been a prisoner with her. Once there, living in a small, budget town in the wop-wops, she pulls up her gumboots and begins to build up the economic strength of her neighbourhood — to make it more “like Alice” Springs, a thriving town not far off.

    The story jumps back and forward between Jean’s two worlds, Malaya and Willstown, the Australian version of, I don’t know, Greymouth? It flashes back to her work in a small Malayan village where she first dipped her toes into the world of applied development studies, building a well for the village women to cut down on the time they spent walking to and from a local water source. The character of Jean is based on a real woman that the author once met while travelling in Sumatra in the 1940s, Carry Geysel, who had been taken prisoner by the Japanese army in the Dutch East Indies in 1942. This is pretty neat. Stories about astonishing women doing crazy things in wartime are always fascinating and beyond intimidating to me; I get truly paranoid that I would be a bit of a letdown in circumstances like that. But how great that I am a tragic anomaly, and that other women are real-life heroines.

    The thing about this book is that it’s wonderfully nostalgic in a very specific way. It reminds me of the piles upon piles of old, musty novels that my Grandad had stored in the shed by his farmhouse, sitting on home-crafted shelves made of wooden planks and lived in by small, thin spiders and sparrows’ nests. They were from all the decades before the computer was invented, with leathery backs, ripped paper jackets, and pages the colour of sand at dusk. But they were books, and the magic of a book, if I can be emotional for a second, is that the story in it, if it is good, forgives everything else; in fact, transforms everything else into part of the happy experience, into part of the magic. A Town Like Alice is one of these books. Every copy you could find will probably be a little torn, and the font will remind you of segregation, and the cover illustration will be hand drawn. But it will be the story that gets to you, and then when you see those things somewhere else, you’ll be haunted by those delicious feelings.

    So, as I close out this last Salient review for my tenure, I will leave you with this thought. People don’t love books because they are made of paper sheaves, or the typography is beautiful, or the pictures are captivating, or the price is low, or they pile up nicely for Instagram photos on a coffee table under lamp light. They love books because they carry a story, and the story is the magic. A person who loves books will love stories wherever they find them. They will be desperate for them, hungrily seeking out narrative and character and adventure in every corner of life. The story is the soul and the rest, mere flesh and blood.



    Thursday: TV Disko — TV Disko is a groovy lil shit and he is bringing his collection of very ~rare~ and ultra ~special~ vinyl down to Wellington Museum for a nice little boogie. Entry is koha, and it starts at 7.30pm so you can still get to bed and be bright-eyed and bushy-tailed for your last day of class on Friday.

    Friday/Saturday: Symbiotic Death Fest — If you like your music painful and unrelenting then this extreme metal festival might be just the ticket. It’s at Valhalla, and includes Crypt Incursion, Decimated King, and Oblivion Dawn. Get in some punishing heathen black metal to soothe your soul, from 8.00pm with a $10 cover.

    Saturday: Big Daddy Wilson and Band — This being listed on the gig guide is more than just my immense respect for anyone with the moxie to call themselves “Big Daddy”; this man is actually an incredible blues musician with the power of healing in his spidery guitar fingers and husky voice. Tickets are $30, but it’s worth breaking the bank for and, what the hell, it’s end of trimester? If you can’t have a minor mental breakdown and splurge on expenses you certainly don’t need at this time (like an elaborate Spice Girls-style fluffy purple cardigan on Etsy that I purchased just last night), then when can you? This particular money-sapping activity will be at Caroline from 9.00pm.

    Sunday: The Beths with Beatcomber and Thirtysomethings — THE BETHS ARE MY FAVOURITE DAMN BAND COME TO THIS PLEASE THEIR MUSIC IS SUCH A BOP AND THEY ARE TRUE ANGELS OF PEOPLE. No but for real The Beths are incredible and this is Sunday but it is before Labour Day so you won’t be staying out late on a school night, and you get to hear their new track “Great No One” which hints at bigger releases in the future which is very exciting!! It’s at Meow at 9.00pm, and I will put a very potent hex on every person who reads this but doesn’t come.

    I’m sorry, I really shouldn’t joke about that. I won’t hex you. But come.


  • Alcestis — Eilish Draper and Alley Lane

    On Thursday evening I shuffled into the Memorial Theatre (yes, shuffled, there was a good turnout) and settled into my seat for a classic Greek tragedy.

    This adaption of Alcestis follows Apollo (Claudia Jardine) as he struggles to save the life of Alcestis (Leah Bell) who must die to repay her husband’s, Admetus (Matthew Martel), debt. Apollo had previously persuaded the Fates to extend Admetus’ life, so that another son is saved from death as his was killed by Zeus, but this debt instead falls on the head of Alcestis. Given the title, Alcestis (ironically?) doesn’t give Alcestis many lines: she is either veiled, dying, or dead. Once dead, a miscommunication with Heracles (David Bowers-Mason) sets Apollo on a quest to reclaim his honour by travelling to the Underworld to bring back Alcestis to the land of the living. In typical Greek fashion it finishes with the Fates claiming Admetus’ life and Apollo ending Alcestis’ zombie-life, thus everything returns to its natural balance, even if it is via tragedy.

    This was the first show from directors Eilish Draper and Alley Lane. Putting on any piece of theatre is no easy feat and these students definitely deserve a round of applause. However I do have some qualms, or rather, one very large qualm.

    My biggest disappointment was the tone. In my view it was meant to be a tragedy and yet many of the most gut-wrenching, tear-jerking scenes came across as farcical. Over-the-top wailing as Alcestis’ body was brought on stage, as well as other melodramatic reactions by the supporting cast, instantly rejected me from the emotional depth of the story. Martel’s emotional range was consistent as a high-strung, overly dramatic widower which quickly got boring. His speeches needed dips and heights in order to retain interest, and also a different facial expression than his Robert De Niro scowl. Because these serious scenes were unbelievable, and the comedic relief via Bowers-Mason was so good, the tone was uncertain and the audience often laughed in places that appeared not to be intended as jokes.

    However there were specific actors who carried the show. The aforementioned Bowers-Mason was fan-fucking-tastic as Heracles. As soon as he walked on stage with his Flintstone-sized club, a child’s lion-hoodie-blanket as his lion’s skin, and his contoured abs, we knew we were in for a laugh. He had fun with his lines, often ad-libbing to the audience’s delight, and wasn’t afraid to play the clown. Yet Bowers-Mason was also the most genuine when Heracles was shocked, pulling at the audience’s heartstrings, and also unnerving when he forced Alcestis to return to the living world.

    Claudia Jardine was another stand-out. Casting her as Apollo was a smart decision; her singing and musical ability gave the audience chills, and her femininity gave a deeper connection to the character’s hurt and desire to protect. We could see and feel Apollo’s frustration at not being able to be more powerful than the Fates.

    Max Nunes Cesar, who plays Admetus’ father Pheres, delivered a pleasantly surprising performance. His deep, gravelly, and commanding voice held the audience in place. He delivered a believable older man of exceptional power and influence; it made me sympathise with his character’s point of view, and even believe that he was correct.

    The costuming of the Fates was deliciously new and chilling, and the lighting for the Underworld was just as delectable. I left this show feeling it had the potential to be exceptional, if only the tone had been more precise.


  • “It’s all over but the crying…”

    After three years, 57 published pieces (including two features), and hundreds of dollars spent on games for reviews, this will be the last thing I write for Salient. It’s going to be hard to give this up, but I never anticipated my words being a consistent presence in this magazine, and now that the end of my degree approaches, the time is right.

    Three years is an eternity in gaming, with constant technological developments meaning the state of the industry is always in flux as key players try to keep pace with one another. But the old cliché of “the more things change, the more they stay the same” is true as well — many of the issues I talked about in 2015, such as the Steam store’s decline in standards and pre-order bonuses, are not only still relevant, but have become even worse than before. The attitude that many major gaming companies exhibit towards these issues, especially where monetisation is concerned, seems to be along the lines of “how far can we push our customers without pissing them off?” — rather than attempting to create a product that people enjoy on its own merits.

    But the gaming industry is not just the big companies with deep pockets and insatiable greed. There are thousands of small developers looking to create quality experiences that don’t need downloadable content or microtransactions to be profitable. Hell, they don’t need to even make money at all, as long as there are fans out there who will enjoy their games regardless. One of the regrets I have of my time writing this games column is that I haven’t been able to showcase any of the games coming out of New Zealand’s developing scene, one which is now worth hundreds of millions of dollars. They may not exactly be big sellers (except possibly for Grinding Gear’s Path of Exile), but the scene deserves your attention, especially with Dean Hall’s Rocketwerkz studio kicking things into gear.

    I wish I could be as optimistic about the wider gaming subculture, however. While there are many great people wanting to eliminate toxic influences on gaming discourse, the truth is that many of those same influences helped put a fascist idiot into the White House, and as such are more galvanised than ever into making the wider gaming community as unwelcoming as possible for anyone who dares to speak for change. I constantly worry that I will be lumped in with these idiots solely because gaming is the hobby I express myself through. The difference is that I proudly put my name to every piece I write, no matter how controversial it may seem, while so many keyboard warriors stay behind their wall of anonymity and fling mud over the top. As far as I’m concerned, there is no place for bigotry and hatred anywhere, especially gaming.

    Despite all of that, I have immensely enjoyed every moment of my time at Salient. It has been a chapter in my life that I will treasure as I move on to bigger and better things. To the editors I have worked under (Sam, Emma, Jayne, Laura, and Tim), thanks for giving me the opportunity; I hope I haven’t let you down. To those who have contributed to the gaming section, thanks for offering your unique insights. To the publishers who have provided me with review copies, thanks for doing so, even if I didn’t get to review everything you sent me. To Mum and Dad, thanks for believing in me. To everyone who has read my pieces, thanks for taking time out of your day to read some fat nerd’s opinion; it means everything to me. Finally, to any media organisation reading this: please hire me!



  • Married at First Sight New Zealand

    Formerly one of Australia’s most successful reality shows, especially given the country won’t even legalise gay marriage because of the “sanctity” of the whole thing, New Zealand now has its very own version of Western arranged marriages! Married at First Sight New Zealand is here, and it is the most excruciatingly painful reality show I have ever seen. It takes twelve singles who just want to settle down and get married because that’s what society has instructed them to do to achieve “happiness”, and makes them get legally married five minutes after meeting. Then it is a just a matter of time as we wait for them to achieve aforementioned happiness through divorce.

    Apparently the Married at First Sight New Zealand pairings are based on “match-making science,” but I think those scientists went to the same online college as whoever organises Are You The One? Claire wants a young hottie; she gets Dom, who is seven years older than her and looks like he is a mascot for biscuits on some local network advertising. Ben wants someone taller than him; he gets Aaron, who is at least an inch shorter. Lacey doesn’t want a bearded man; her new husband Luke has a beard. Bel is a vegetarian and pacifist; her match Haydn is a carnivorous wrestler. I would be lying if I said I didn’t just want to rant about my loathing of Bel from The Bachelor, though I suspect part of my problem lies in my jealousy of her attempts to hustle the New Zealand reality show circuit — a long-time dream of my own. I can only assume she has been explicitly warned not to talk about her cats, something that on the last season of The Bachelor caused Zac’s simple eyes to roll back into his simple head. Presumably after failing to win over Zac because the more he was around her the more boring he realized she was, Bel has decided to forego that whole bonding process and just skip to the wedding before anyone can do backsies. Upon first meeting, Bel and her match are beyond thrilled and can’t keep their hands off each other. Alas, they are both insufferable and are put through the honeymoon from hell where Haydn tries to placate her until he can escape.

    On throwing group hens nights and stag dos for the contestants, the producers freaked out upon realising their gay couple could not both attend the stag do to maintain the “marrying a complete stranger” shtick — but who will be the bride?! That’s how it works, right? Ben is sent to a hens night, but that’s okay because he hates all men unless they look like him but taller and want to talk shit in the bathrooms — something he literally does five minutes into the wedding reception to escape poor lovely Aaron. After the ceremony, while Ben’s friend Alex does the dirty work and explains to Aaron that Ben was “just a shy person” Aaron watches Ben flit around the party and do the exact opposite. Aaron keeps trying to kiss Ben while his new husband just sort of retreats into his neck and bears it. Meanwhile, Claire and Dom are banging on every surface possible. Death is near.

    I hope every single person attending these weddings was completely off their tits on Mediaworks-funded free booze, because I don’t know how else you could cope with all the regretful crying that the contestants and their families keep attempting to pass off as just being overwhelmed by the special day. According to Married at First Sight New Zealand, marriage is everything I expected and I, for one, welcome the alcohol.


  • Podcast

    At the beginning of the year I pitched this section because I loved podcasts, and because my friends were sick of me talking about my favourite shows incessantly. I’ve had a wonderful experience writing reviews and interviewing some of my favourite hosts. A special thank you goes out to Laura and Tim for accommodating the section, and to contributors Alex Feinson, Dennis Lim, and Hannah Patterson for their superb efforts. If you are interested in writing about podcasts for Salient in 2018, email the editors over the summer ( — you won’t regret it, I promise. Similarly, if you are thinking about making your own podcast, go for it! Podcasting is a great way to hear more from the voices often marginalised in mainstream media. You can make a podcast about anything; the more niche, the better. To help, I’ve assembled this handy guide:


    What Should You Name Your Podcast?


    First Letter of Your First Name:

    A — Nihilism

    B — Doggos

    C — Hummus

    D — Regret

    E — Patrick Gower

    F — Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Emotion”

    G — Jet Fuel Doesn’t Melt Steel Beams

    H — Hash Browns

    I — Fuckbois

    J — The Irish Potato Famine of 1840

    K — Hera Lindsay Bird

    L — Fear of Emailing Your Landlord

    M — Lord of the Rings is Terrible

    N — The Handmaid’s Tale

    O — The Alt-Right

    P — Pizza

    Q — The Office UK vs The Office US

    R — Chernobyl

    S — The Cuban Missile Crisis

    T — Existential Dread

    U — YOghurt or YOGhurt?

    V — Mongolia

    W — Justin Lester

    X — Memes

    Y — Adam and Eve

    Z — Butts


    Your Birth Month:

    January — A True Crime Story

    February — With Special Guest Steve Buscemi

    March — What’s Up With That?

    April — An Investigation

    May — In Conversation with Hilary Barry

    June — A Pleasant Chat

    July — Truth Finder

    August — And Other Important Thoughts

    September — The Radio Play

    October — The Conspiracy Revealed

    November — Time for a Rant

    December — An Intellectual Discussion


  • The evening passes in an ordinary way

    “Is that The Oldest Man In The Room?” asks The Young Gallery Girl at the very private opening for a very public art showcase.

    “I don’t know, but whoever he is he’s wearing yesterday’s clothes,” replies The Plus One.

    “Oh it is!” confirms The Tall Artist. “He is in the middle of a court case for— maybe I shouldn’t say. The Short Artist told me. I’ll tell you this: I’m not surprised.”


    “…And I would like to thank our sponsors for the delicious wine tonight. The grapes are harvested on fields of fossilised soil, just down the road from my own home. Well, that’s nepotism for you!”

    The Plus One loses focus.


    “Would you like a drink?” Someone asks.

    “Yes, please.”


    The afterparty is held at a bar, recently reopened, in the centre of town. It rains on the walk over.


    “Excuse me sir,” says The Bouncer to The Major Sponsor, “Next time no shorts, alright? We’ve got a dress code.”


    “Can I get two Martinis?”

    “We don’t do those.”

    “What do you do?”

    “Mojitos, Bloody Marys, Espresso Martinis, Appletinis.”


    The thing about The Old Artists is that they are honest enough to be mildly divisive; unlike The Old Patrons, who Everyone seems to agree are just wrong. The Dealers, always, are dishonest, which is how you stay in the game. The same goes for The Writers. Anyway, The Plus One hears little gossip worth repeating.


    The afterparty moves somewhere quieter not long after the queue outside begins to snake onto the footpath. The Tall Artist leaves. The rain continues. The Plus One calls The Critic from a toilet stall and asks what the hell they have to do to become A Hot Young Thing.


    The Art Dealer reaches over the table. “There’s nothing happening here.” The Plus One is confused. “No,” they say. “Is there usually?” He smiles.


    “I like your jacket.”

    “Thank you.”

    “Is it fur?”


    “I had one like it once.”

    The Plus One loses focus.


  • THEA311: Collaborative Production presents In the Attic and Moonlight

    This year’s Collaborative Production (THEA311) course was focused on children’s theatre — hooray! I am a big lover of children’s films and as a theatre student, I’m horrified at my lack of knowledge of children’s theatre. If someone was to say “children’s theatre” I automatically (and incorrectly) think of clowning and interactive shows.

    The THEA311 class was divided into two shows, In the Attic and Moonlight, both directed by Kerryn Palmer. Students took on roles both onstage and backstage, with some doing both jobs in the same show.


    I was pleased to be able to see the first showing of In the Attic, was aimed at eight years old and above. The show follows Alex (Corey Wills), Sam (Peter Rogers), and Bea (Cassidy Cruz) who go into an attic, and get transported in a Jumanji-style to a world called Owt. Owt is a Coraline-esque world and its elements often scare the main characters, prompting them to go home, but things go haywire…

    The set and lighting were incredibly beautiful. Sheets covering old objects sing of their former use when lifted, and boxes become portals to other worlds, with lighting aiding the mystical elements. The use of a smoke machine was also well applied, especially with the witch-like creatures of The Binders (Gemma Revell and Saffron Troughton), whom I adored! I left the show humming The Binders’s song, haunting and inviting at the same time. The rap and hip-hop talents of Daniel Gagau and Janaye Henry for the Guides added a sense of modernity to the show. The creatures of Owt were creepy, intriguing, and well animated, beautifully highlighting the talents of Revell, Troughton, Natalie Wilson and Georgia May. The Pan’s Labyrinth’s Pale Man creatures as well as the hilarious French police clowning duo were my favourites, succeeding in their task of both scaring me and making me laugh.

    While the ending was surprisingly dark and left open-ended, I felt only sympathy for Sam — Rogers’ expressions evoked his character even without words. Wills and Cruz gave flat and unexciting performances that made it hard for me to care for their characters.


    Moonlight was also a strong and delightful show, aimed at four to eight year olds, about Luna (Yasmin Golding), a young girl who is scared of the dark. She’s about to go to bed but her Nightlight (Georgia Ball) starts to flicker before going out completely. Luckily, Mr Watt, played by the dynamic and energetic Kevin Orlando, is able to fix her Nightlight, but only with Moonlight (also Ball). Luna goes out into the magical forest, putting on her pink boots and grabbing her pink umbrella, but not a jacket, which the little girl next to me was adamant she needed as it’s “cold outside!”

    Luna’s journey is much like Alice in Wonderland, where she meets and empathises with different characters. She also finds that without Moonlight, the forest is scared and slowly dying. Moonlight provides a  subtle tale with themes of environmental change and corporate greed.  Luna eventually decides not to give Mr Watt the Moonlight, and instead gives it to the forest and all the characters who live there.

    I concur with the little girl sitting next to me when she said that the Signposts Frederick (Pernille Himmelmoe) and Gwyneth (Finnian Nacey) were the best characters. Silly and inviting, channelling their Tweedle-Dee and Tweedle-Dum, the two really captured the audience with their voice as they moved physically very little. As the little girl next to me said “they had the best accents.”

    I appreciated how Ball played both the Nightlight and the Moonlight, upgrading through the play, especially as Luna realised she was no longer scared of the dark and therefore no longer needed a Nightlight.

    The entire cast were strong performers, and the tech elements (again) were great! At one point it actually looked like light was streaming through a forest! The music did well to incorporate live and recorded sound, and also allow Golding and Ball to showcase their beautiful vocals.


    Both of these shows were incredibly strong performances and displayed awe-inspiring tech elements of sound and lighting which are simply divine. I thoroughly enjoyed both shows, and if weren’t able to see it, you really missed out on something fabulous! If the quality of these shows is anything to go by, this Collaborative Production course will be incredibly popular in the next few years, especially if they retain the focus on children’s theatre.

    Interested about applying for the course? More information can be found here



  • A Few of the Best Films of 2017

    There were too many good films this year to write a concise list, but it certainly helps that I’ve already written GLOWING reviews for mother!, My Life As A Courgette and IT. The list below is not exhaustive. Further recommendations are Raw and Get Out for some alternative horror fun; Logan and Split for violent thrills; Things To Come and The Passion of Augustine for international tales; and Una, The Killing of a Sacred Deer and The Beguiled for some truly unconventional (and at times disturbing) stories. 

    I list the following in alphabetical order.



    A Ghost Story — David Lowery

    Quietly yet overwhelmingly philosophical, this film combines the sweetest, smallest moments of indie drama with the universal scale of Terrence Malick’s later films. Set in one house across multiple decades, we follow C’s ghost (Casey Affleck) as M (Rooney Mara) copes with his passing. At its largest the film ponders the weight of eternity and insignificance, but at its smallest it rests on the pop song that M listens to, trying to remember C.

    It’s beautiful to watch a film dedicate a lot of time to the tiny moments that other films would otherwise glaze over, or cut. The film addresses its audience saying “this couple lying in bed, this is the most important part of life. This cake that M eats, this is the most important part of life.” The point the film presents is that life and time are immeasurable, and in the wake of that, you have two choices. The first is to let life pass by, something C does both in life and as a ghost, and the second is treat everything as significant and keep moving forward, as M does, and as the film wants you to do. If you want something purely cinematic, but straight from the heart, look no further.


    Blade Runner 2049 — Denis Villeneuve

    This will go down in cinema history as one of the biggest pop culture bulls-eyes a filmmaker has ever achieved. First of all there’s the rebooting of an ’80s cult hit, most of which are sketchy at best, and then there’s the monumental themes from the original that this film managed to build on so elegantly and emotionally. I mean for God’s sake, Sony gave an art-house director $150 million with no creative pressure and said “go for your life, go follow up Blade Runner” — and it actually paid off.

    The film far bolder than a blockbuster would ever have been able to be be under any other director. Denis Villeneuve has gone from being one of my favourite filmmakers to be my favourite. He dabbles in genres (sci-fi for Arrival and Blade Runner; thriller for Prisoners and Sicario) but he is always laser focused on the human dilemma at the heart of each story, and each film finds catharsis against its respective challenges in ways that are unconventional and beautiful.

    In Blade Runner 2049 the “respective challenges” are not just physical baddies to punch through, they are the oppressive landscapes that are even less bright and appealing than Ridley Scott’s 1982 vision. Everything in this world falls under scrutiny from drone warfare, to sex, to relationships with media, to creation. And let’s not forget the themes that weigh heavily on both the story and Ryan Gosling’s character — the themes of purpose, and of personhood. It’s dire and bleak, but also enthralling. Please go see it, preferably at the Embassy where Roger Deakin’s cinematography will looks its best, and the score by Hans Zimmer and Benjamin Wallfisch  will resonate to its utmost.


    Dunkirk — Christopher Nolan

    The film has already been awash with critical and financial success, and it still baffles me how successful it is. You could go as far as to call the film minimalist, with the small amount of dialogue, characters who (realistically) never meet, and a story which never shows England or the Germans. But I hardly think Nolan set out to make a minimalist film, and neither will anyone who has seen it. Nolan and his cinematographer Hoyte Van Hoytema told such an emotional story with their images, all which come together with barely a hint of CGI. There really is no substitute for reality as they used real Spitfires and also had (apparently) the biggest naval unit ever for a film. What they also managed to do was tell a very different kind of war story, with the clever interweaving between its three narratives, plus the knife edge editing throughout made for an uninterrupted thrill. Nolan may have have his fan boys, but this time round he deserved it. Go see it with the best screen and sound system you can find.


    Good Time — Ben Safdie and Josh Safdie

    This film is pure punk — not just in aesthetic, but in sheer will. Shot on film, handheld, close, and in impossibly low light levels, the film has an unforgiving pace and is a career high. Everything feels real and gritty, as two brothers (Robert Pattinson and Ben Safdie) try and evade capture after robbing a bank, descending into a rabbit hole of crime and depravity. The film goes places you don’t want it to go, and offers very little in the way of resolution, but its raw emotion comes from the intense brotherly love that underpins every desperate action. Hats off to Ben who directed the film along with his brother Josh, while also starring alongside Patterson and allegedly operated boom for the scenes he wasn’t in. Everything feels suitably tenacious, and it feels like a mash up of Catch Me If You Can and Nicolas Winding Refn’s first Pusher film, in that no matter the reprehensibility of the protagonists, you follow them everywhere, and in a weird way start to hope for their salvation.


    War For the Planet of the Apes — Matt Reeves

    A handful of films took me to an emotional place this year, but this series finale brought me to tears. Truly one of the best final chapters in one of the best trilogies that has ever been made, Matt Reeve’s directorial effort reminded me how a film with a blockbuster budget can be beautifully told and provide cutting allegory on the nature of war and humanity. Every turn of this film challenges its characters, and for a third chapter that is exactly what needs to happen. Andy Serkis’ Caesar is put through the philosophical and physical wringer on multiple occasions, and his malicious human adversary The Colonel (Woody Harrelson) is also given a thorough treatment and complex characterisation. In the characters are outstanding, all the images are beautiful, the story takes more than its share of risks (all of which pay off), and Serkis has reached a peak for both his acting and motion capture technology. Between him and director/writer Reeves, they’ve succeeded in turning Caesar into a lasting, rich character whose story it has been a privilege to follow through the Apes franchise revitalisation.


    Wind River — Taylor Sheridan

    It was so satisfying to see Taylor Sheridan’s unofficial trilogy dubbed the “The Frontiers of America” (or as I call it, the “America is Fucked” trilogy) rounded out with a directorial turn for the writer, whose previous two entries (Sicario and Hell Or High Water) were so unflinching and politically biting. All in all, the three films now represent a crucial chapter in neo-noirs and politically focused thrillers. Sicario focused on the lawless and immoral nature of border conflict between America and Mexico; Hell Or High Water highlighted the economic depravity that leads to crime; Wind River finds its focus in the violence committed as a result of prejudice, between people who live next door to each other.

    Set on a Native American reservation and frozen Wyoming a handful of law enforcement come together to solve the brutal death of a young Native American woman. What is unearthed is heartbreaking, and Sheridan follows the events in a documentary-like manner, with handheld cameras and glimpses at a culture which has been driven out of the people by repression, trauma, and the unforgiving elements of the land. The cast are all round incredible, as is the writing, and I’m excited to see what Sheridan does next.


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