The Seizure- Scott Campbell

The Seizure

When one runs as frequently as I do, it is easy for various jaunts to simply blend into one. By the weight of

their number and steady accumulation there is, for each run, a stealth to the quirks and features that obtain

and thus stands in defiance of individualisation. They are though, all different. Even if one deploys the same

route (or a ‘routine course’), one is unlikely to feel the same, or to run at an identical pace and time.

My run that day was notable in that I only managed to traverse the first couple of kilometres of a (planned)

longer run. This, and the fact that it was a full five hours following my departure before I returned home

distinguished this particular bout of exercise. I had, it emerged following an impromptu hospital visit, check-
up and diagnosis at the Western General Hospital, suffered a seizure at some point, presumably about ten

minutes after setting off.

There is a hallucinogenic quality to my recollections of the seizure itself. I can recall brief impressions and

sensations that flitted across my mind’s eye (or mind’s ear; or mind’s extremity) though they are mere

synaesthesic snapshots that defy any attempt at re-ordering, or chattelling them into some kind of storyline.

There are flashes of light; the brush of a branch (or bush) as my hand mis-gropes in attempting to break a

fall; voices of others elide with mumbled replies from me.

When attempting to imprint a timeline or narrative thread on otherwise abstract sensations the logical step is

– as with frayed wool or thread – to look for a start point. I can just about remember walking out the door at

the foot of my stairwell, I think. Am I recalling That Day’s exit, or merely another identikit run? I would like

to think that I can recall jogging downhill onto the walkway beside the river Kelvin. But these final, pre-
seizure and ‘conscious’ steps are sufficiently embedded to preclude divorcing any one instance from the

multitude.

One is left instead with piecing together the story from the shards of memory that emerged from the

shattering of sanity, and attempting to weave backwards from the tendrils of impressions that occurred in the

ambulance and, later on, in the hospital.

x X x

The sharp and jagged pain to the rear of my tongue only really emerged as I half-sat, half-lay on a hospital

bed-cum-trolley in the corridor adjacent to the A&E department. Borderline supine, I was also still in the

process of resuming acquaintance with most of my autonomic responses. [I should add that at roughly the

same time that this pain began to command attention, I alighted on the bed-heads of the hospital trolleys

likeness to a tombstone. Coincidence?]

I had been relatively lucid – or recently returned to lucidity – for about an hour by this stage, and had talked

at length to the paramedics who retrieved and admitted me, though had yet to alight upon this source of pain.

It was a strange and delicate sensation as flaps of skin flit over the surface of my teeth, as if an errant piece

of food has become stuck there. Despite the general viscosity of the skin on our tongues, they are nonetheless

tautly affixed to the organ itself – as with any other part of our upper dermis.

Furthermore, had the doctor examining me not queried as to whether I had bitten my tongue, there is every

chance that I would not have volunteered it. As it was, this was apparently the clincher (no pun intended…)

so far as my diagnosis was concerned. The pain, over a week later, was still occasionally sharp and severe

depending on the temperature of the food imbibed.

x X x

‘Do you know why you’re here?’ a male voice demands of me, fairly insistently. He repeats the question,

primed, no doubt, by my shocked and vacant demeanour for little in the way of insight. This interrogatum

gives way to a minor personal reverie as I take in the apparatus that surrounds me in the back of the

ambulance. It is said of presidential (and prime-ministerial) bunkers that such is the infrastructural network

contained within that a war can be waged and managed from one. Ambulances may be constrained by their

dimensions, but the sheer variety of ailments and conditions that they are equipped to deal with – to staunch,

to splint, to revive – is never far from one’s attention, no matter one’s confusion.

‘Do. You. Know. Why. You’re. Here?’ A female voice this time, though less questioning than designed to

command my errant focus – the explanation hot on its heels: ‘You were found running around in circles; you

didn’t know where you were/what you were doing.’

Still I glance between the faces of the (three, in total) paramedics, my gaze alighting on some tube or

tourniquet. I may at this point have mumblingly interjected that I did not indeed know, or that I didn’t

understand. Didn’t understand any of it. One faceless soul proffered the factoid that many runners wear

bands or some form of neck-wear that bears details of prevailing health ‘issues’, or emergency contact

details. This catalysed my own sense of alarm, and momentarily sharpened my focus.

‘This has never happened before,’ I mumbled, or something to this effect. I padded around my midriff for

possessions that I must presumably have left the flat with. My only pocket bulges with keys and my running

hat, though my mobile phone is missing. The male paramedic – the other two being female – peels off; to

look for the phone? I think I supplied him with a number, though I’m simultaneously struggling to recall my

address. I tell them my name, and there is a palpable release of tension as I am addressed as ‘Scott’ where

previously I was but a nameless, and wholly unwilling convict of circumstance.

Am I a student? Do I have a job? What do I do for a living? Am I supposed to be at work just now? The

sheer variety of probable, and likely, responses to these queries returns me to mass-confusion. How many of

these questions were put to me by the paramedics, and which merely flitted across my mind I cannot at this

stage recall with any confidence. Before long, it was deemed appropriate to take me to A&E, and I readily

complied.

On the journey over lunacy jockeys with lucidity for primacy, and there are snatched conversations with the

two female paramedics about running in general, and races ran and entered, before some form of reflection

eventually seeped out of the patient. The walk from the driveway entrance to A&E is deemed an insufficient

and inappropriate addendum to the episode, thus far, and I was squired by a hospital bed upon a trolley to the

bowels of the Accident and Emergency department of the Western General hospital.

x X x

The paramedic who had wheeled me in stated that the couple who had found me claimed I was speaking

‘gibberish – as if a foreign language.’ I assured them that I speak no other language fluently, though did

briefly wonder whether my episode had afforded me a savant-like, near-perfect command of a foreign

tongue.

The clinical aroma that shrouds one’s apperception of the frailty on show lingers in the memory. One

wonders if actual doctors and nurses can ever completely free themselves from this psychological anchor.

There is an aphorism that states that much of what we recall is based in – and can thus be triggered by –

smell, and this is especially pertinent in a hospital setting. Much of my visit was, initially, expended in the

corridor, and thereafter waiting in an examination room as various blood samples and heart-readings were

taken and filtered through the medium of my responses and recollections.

Once ensconced in a room of my own I was permitted a moment of privacy to relieve myself. Having taken

on a fair bit of water during the course of the day, my bladder was now full; mercifully so, I ought to add: it

is not uncommon for minor bouts of incontinence to afflict the seizure patient. This aspect of my hydration

levels was at some odds with my other symptoms, which spoke to prevailing states of dehydration. My lips

felt dry, and the skin on my face rather pinched. I could almost feel the friction of my eyelids against the

surface of my eyes. My brain felt as if it had shrunk to a quarter of its size, and was now bashing around my

parched skull. The resultant headache is the one ailment that was medicated during the course of my visit, as

the young doctor attending me dispenses a pair of aspirin.

I’m left alone for a little while whilst a vial of my blood is ferried away for analysis. In the room next to me

a patient awaiting further consultation – and perhaps diagnosis – manages to sound both resigned and

concerned at the same time as he claims to be cognisant of a figure looming over him. I glanced across the

hallway where one of the tombstone silhouettes hooks my gaze once more. I occupied myself by pacing

around my temporary commode in my hospital gown – a loose-fitting, backless number.

Shortly before being discharged, an elderly female patient and I were afforded the luxury of a visit to the tv

area where Question Time is showing. My concentration had not yet recovered to normal levels, though I

would, without hesitation, question the holistic appeal of the political squabbling on show. I was eventually

released, and trudged resignedly uphill to my flat, a short walk from A&E’s back door, making it home

shortly before midnight. Weariness and an adrenal exhilaration sparked by my ordeal keep me awake for a

while, before putting the day to bed.

I recorded much of the preceding account in the days immediately following the event, whilst various

impressions were fresh in the memory. A couple of weeks later I was referred to the seizure clinic of the

Western General Hospital where a specialist groped for a fuller diagnosis. This isn’t intended as criticism of

any of the care or insight that I received; but the primary diagnostic feature of seizures (particularly first-
time or isolated incidents) is their unpredictability and – therefore – an inability to attribute them to any

particular cause or menu of lifestyle factors.

As such, the offerings of the consultant supplied little in the way of succour, though retained the capacity to

focus the mind, somewhat. I currently occupy a hinterland between the experience itself and a fuller

diagnosis that could in turn presage a prolonged period of medication. I was packed off with a bulk of

literature on epilepsy, and how we might come to regard it as less of an affliction than a mere challenge.

Once again, much of the insight contained within is slightly eye-watering. I cannot, for the time being, drive.

Marathons of partying and nightclubbing are verboten; alongside retiring the dancing shoes, climbing

ladders without supervision is now also a feature of my past.

The ‘missing’ phone was at home all along (I never run with it). I can only offer grateful and belated thanks

to the paramedic who both attended to me and partook in this fruitless treasure-hunt.

Independence. Efficacy. Fallibility. Frailty. These are some of the synonyms that I had jotted down in the

margins at various points over the course of crafting this piece. I don’t feel different, though have never felt

more alien in those moments immediately following the seizure. I am relatively free of concern as to my long-
term, life prospects, though too often we are labile as to the short-term implications of our lives. The fact that

another seizure might strike me, without warning, at some point in the future ought to be alarming, though

really I’m ill-disposed to live life on such tenterhooks.

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Calgary Frontlines

Image from CTV Calgary

In the early hours of last Tuesday, following the end of classes celebration known as Bermuda Shorts Day, Matt De Grood, a University of Calgary graduate recently accepted into the school’s law program, arrived at a party and fatally stabbed five students. He was sober, having come straight from his job at a nearby grocery store. He was an invited guest. And though he’d brought his own weapon, described as “an instrument” by police, De Grood carried out the attacks with a knife he found in the house’s kitchen. Three died immediately. The other boy and the only girl died in hospital a few hours later. De Grood, having fled the scene, was chased down and apprehended within the hour by a police dog.
As Calgary awoke, hungover, face painted and oblivious, the news filtered across Facebook feeds and Twitter, hitting with a heavy stomached sickening. Calgary is a city which, for its million citizens, never shed that uniquely North American small town feeling, and it had just been dealt “the worst mass murder” in its hundred and fifty year history. And the perpetrator was a sober law student.
Calgary is The Town that Oil Built, and for the petroleum-illiterate, the province of Alberta (10 provinces, 2 territories) contains 96% of Canada’s oil and gas. Most of it is eight hours North, in the slushy lucre of Fort “Mac” McMurray, oilsands where riggers and toolpushers earn an easy six figures hauling the black stuff out of the ground. But operations, spending and decompression seem to trickle down to Calgary, where all persons oil spend their 3 days off.
For those who don’t ski or snowboard, the city of Calgary hasn’t much to offer, and unless looking for oil, one would be forgiven for skipping from Vancouver to Winnipeg. It’s fair to say that most people here have a purpose, and it’s fair to say that mine was meant to lead me to Toronto. I came to Calgary as part of an exchange program, relishing the chance to spend the year, without VISA or employment worries, in a big North American town. I prayed for Toronto, and landed in Cowtown, where I’ve been living since August, the 3rd of my 4 years reading English Literature at the University of Glasgow.
Between the resource extraction and the minus thirty winters, Calgary is a town characterized by a physicality which this Londoner had never encountered. Even by Canadian standards, Calgary is rugged, and it’s fair to say it isn’t at home to the conceptual, the political, or the artistic. The tiny English department I attached myself to bobs happily in a sea of engineering, and our inaugural film festival was woefully under-attended. Perhaps the punters were at a Flames hockey match, or cheering on the Calgary Fillies in Canada’s Lingerie Football League.
Likely the case with all local murders, quickly our horror turned to prurience. A morbid speculation emerged, surrounding first the identities of the victims and their killer, none of which had been released. Drip fed titbits by the starved media, the details that surfaced prompted more questions, rather than offering resolution. Was it true the suspect’s father was a cop? What could possibly prompt a boy of twenty two to commit so visceral a murder as stabbing, and not once, but five times? Friends, no less, who’d invited him to their house and wanted to celebrate with him? And most pressing, how had he managed to stab, one by one, five people without being apprehended, before making off into the night, bloody and on foot, headed God knows where?
I wasn’t alone in my curiosity. I watched as “Calgary Stabbings” overtook “Calgary Stampede” on search engines, and Mayor Nenshi assured us that our prurience was “only natural…only human”, as he appeared at a campus vigil. Recognizable from flood-era photos, grinning in wellies and poncho, Naheed Nenshi was summoned from City Hall to pick up the pieces. He barreled into the room with his usual charisma, but I saw him falter, and it took an aide to indicate, discreetly, the grieving mother of one of the boys, before he could scoop her in a bear hug. She disappeared beneath pinstripes and a bald patch, and I began to weep. So did the man next to me, Where the Wild Things Are tattoo sleeves heaving.
Mayor Nenshi followed the University President and two chaplains onto the podium, a burning candle projected on the screen behind him. He didn’t speak for long, from a spot generally reserved for oil executives and function compares, assuring us that we would get past this tragedy. A handful of cameras flashed, and the air was heavy with the word “community”. The dog that savaged De Grood has been wheeled out for the day, and lay curled and bored at its handler’s boots. I hope this wasn’t Nenshi’s idea.
Like Alpha Piper, or the July 7 bombings, nobody is distant from the events. This is mathematical. Take five undergrads from a pool of twenty five thousand, and you’ll never be more than a few people away. An older friend played a set with Zachariah and the Prophets, the band that Zachariah Rathwell and Josh Hunter played in, just weeks ago. A girl whose project I was assigned to in my first semester graduated high school with one of the boys. But there is another side. And this was something Nenshi, for political reasons, perhaps, or his suit still creased from that brave woman’s embrace, hadn’t felt able to voice.
For every five who knew one of the victims, there is one who knew their killer. One who, if not friends as such, has an identity to assign him. A memory, an anecdote, an image beyond the same three or four Facebook photos, plucked and dragged onto the news websites that refresh themselves on the hour. It was Raphael Jacob, the President of the Students Union who brought this solace, and addressed the elephant in the room. You have no reason to be ashamed, or to feel guilty, Raphael assured any of De Grood’s friends amongst the grieving. And it needed to be said.
Comatose students and citizens drifted out, and I saw the dog had fallen asleep. Some stooped to sign the flag. Canadian, mind. This is a nation unused to this sort of violence. Canada’s history is as bloody as any ex-colony’s, but there have been no Dunblanes, no Columbines. Gun crime isn’t really something that happens here, nor terrorism outside of Quebec.
I suppose the vigil brings a closure of sorts. The names, the timeline, the detail of the two knives, all slot into place, and we have a story. But there is no meaning. These events haven’t been tied together by explanation, or understanding. We know the order, but not the reasoning. We’ve learnt how De Grood killed those poor students after spending the day celebrating the end of the school year, but will we ever know why? No answer emerges from a dredging of his Facebook profile for photos and ideology, though speculation clings to a lyric he posted a few days before the act.
Dread and the fugitive mind- the world needs a hero.
A gobbet from the world needs a hero by American thrash metal band Megadeth.
There are no real answers though, and no solace to the 10 parents, or De Groode’s own family. His father, a 33 year veteran of the Calgary Police force, expressed horror stricken condolences to the families from behind short lived anonymity. But Calgary isn’t a big enough town for him to be anything other than the father of “The Bermuda Shorts Day Killer”.
Individually, those touched by Tuesday’s massacre will never recover. But the blow which seemed at first to strike the town itself, and the university which lost six students to an unexplained shambles? When an institution feels a tragedy as violently as Calgary University took the Bermuda Shorts Day Massacre, how does it ever move past it? How does a body so large progress through the grieving process?
“We’re going to get through this” says Nenshi, “It’s what we do”.

—Jakob Hoffman

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Sweet Dreams or a Beautiful Nightmare? A guide to Glasgow International Festival

Hudinilison Jr at McLellan Galleries, Glasgow International 2014
Visiting a contemporary art exhibition has always left me feeling slightly perplexed. As an art history student devoted to Symbolism and Post-Impressionism I don’t often feel inclined to explore the unchartered regions of contemporary art practice. Volunteering at the Glasgow International Festival of Visual Art, however, has forced me to experience art on a whole different level. Being stuck for hours in one dark room while looking at a video slowed down so much that it seems like it’s never going to end truly changes your perception of what the term ‘art’ might mean.

 

Usually, people come into the galleries, glance about, stop at a video or two and then leave (the only exception seems to be Anthea Hamilton and Nicholas Byrne’s exhibition at Govanhill Baths which became a sanctuary for couples in love and stoners who spend hours on end in the bouncing castle known as Love Box). Contemporary art festivals seem as fast-paced as our everyday lives, governed by a schedule almost bursting at the seams. I’ve seen people who actually raced through the floors of the galleries as if they were hoping to win a prize for the most art objects seen in one day. What I discovered is that, on the contrary, art reveals itself to you slowly. If you’re forced to look at the exhibition for more than twenty minutes you begin to notice recurrent themes and contradictions; your mind creates a map of the gallery space, with the meanings lurking in the corners.

 

This is what happened to me in Charlotte Prodger’s rooms at McLellan Galleries. At first glance the space looks uninviting, deliberately made hard to navigate through by the artist. One day, I was standing in the smaller room feeling quite tired and uninterested. Progder’s voice hovered and echoed around me, recounting the names of Youtube users who have uploaded films of their pet bullterriers in a sort of ‘trance,’ which apparently is quite common to their breed. The show had its effect on me as well – I was mesmerized and almost did not wish to move. The format of the works is set against the content: something in Progder’s voice tells you to relax, but your body is physically unable to because of the claustrophobic arrangement of cables, TVs and speakers.

 

It is worth spending more time while at the shows because, ultimately, you’re not going there to see objects, or even art in general, but a person, the artist. Getting to know a person takes considerably more time than appreciating a 5-mintue video. In some ways or others, all four artists exhibited at McLellan Galleries reveal a lot about themselves in their respective shows. I had a chance to meet both Prodger and Avery Singer, whose monochromatic paintings occupy the central room upstairs. Prodger’s pedantic nature reveals itself in the care with which she arranged the cables and objects in the rooms. Singer’s shyness is concealed behind the scale of her works and also the impersonal technique she uses: she designs her works in a 3D modelling program called SketchUp and then transfers them onto the huge canvas. Hudinilson Jr’s show in the other room upstairs feels personal for other reasons; due to his recent death, the exhibition of his personal objects and collages preserved in his diaries indeed renders the room into a sort of a funereal shrine (if you look very closely, you can even see an unidentifiable hair stuck to one of the objects on the podium next to Hudinilson’s glittery name).

 

Whilst the Brazilian artist was primarily concerned with the body and its representation in art, Jordan Wolfson’s exhibition on the lower level, on the other hand, feels like a journey through the artist’s mind. Darkness envelops most of the rooms and strangely familiar sounds can be heard: yes, it is indeed Beyoncé’s ‘Sweet Dreams,’ only slowed down and made to sound as if it was ripped out from her throat by some hellish creatures. Like Prodger, Wolfson also invades the visitors’ privacy. You are forced to remove your shoes before watching Wolfson’s adventures as a gay punk in New York in Raspberry Poser. Then you go on to listen to a lover’s exchange in a room called by the volunteers ‘the kitchen,’ tucked away behind all the other rooms like an unwanted memory. Lyricism of some videos is shattered by vulgarity of others. It feels like the artist is staring at you through the eyes of the different personas he assumes in his videos, constantly judging you.

 

Time stands still in McLellan Galleries, a building which was abandoned for years and now reclaimed by the artist community. Having spent countless hours in its murky rooms I feel both compelled to return and slightly terrified of seeing the artworks which I know so well by now, and which seem like ghosts haunting me with questions I can’t answer.

 

Words by Natalia Masewicz

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Long Distance Relationship Advice – Follow Me To Vancouver, CA

GUM LOVE

 

 

What strange secret made rich, beautiful, tempestuous Bella Baxter irresistible to the poor Scottish medical student Archie McCandless? Was it her myseterious origin in the home of his monstrous friend Godwin Baxter, the genius whose voice could perforate eardrums? This story of true love and scientific daring whirls the reader from the private operating-threatre of late Victorian Glasgow through aristocratic casinos, low-life Alexandria and a Parisian bordello, reaching an interrupted climax in a Scottish church.

 

What strange secret made beautiful, tempestuous, Texan, Katie Ryder irrestible to the English literature student Jakob Hofmann. Was it her mysterious origin in the USA? This story of true love and scientific daring whirls from the gurning heights of Glasogw’s SW3 to the pastures of the Botanics and Kelvingrove, slurping half ‘n’ halfs in the Arlington and dunking baguettes in Naked Soup.

 

Veteran Romantic Jakob Hofman shares his 7 tips for the couple trying to make it long distance:

 

1) Skype Sex

 

Urban Dictionary calls it: (noun) the act of performing sexual intercourse, acts, or favours using skype including, but not limited to the following: stripping, masturbating, dirty talk, licking the camera, licking anything, food sex, inserting objects into body orifices.

 

We say: if you know a couple living apart you know a couple who spend a night or two a week making sweaty, pixelated one handed love to themselves. Embrace it. Open some wine and see if you can get into it. Dim the lights, find your best angles, and prepare for the crushing loneliness that accompanies an E-climax. Before long the metallic tinkle of an incoming Skype call will have a positively Pavlovian effect on you. And be assured, we all do it.

 

2) Be Resourceful.

 

Crossing Canada for the long weekend can be an exhaustive endeavour for the time poor and generally poor romantic abroad. Between the monopolised Canadian flights at $300 (£180) a pop and the fifteen hour Greyhound (Megabus), more conventional ways of travel might seem unattainable. Consider instead posting on Craigslist (GumTree) asking for a ride.

 

Be warned- this modus operandi isn’t for the faint hearted or unarmed. The only vetting process to post or reply on Craigslist is access to something than can access the internet. A car can seem like a very small, steel, speedy box once a confirmed nutter gets behind the wheel.

 

3) Adopt a Mentor/Buddy system.

 

The internet (I’m looking at you eHow, Buzzfeed) is useless for advice; Bunch of monkeys on typewriters telling you to make eye contact and spellcheck your CV. Instead locate and adhere to a couple who’ve run the long distance gauntlet and come up smiling. They’ll know the fears, insecurities, likely catalysts for loneliness, and tricks. Try your local immigration detention centre, prison, or oil rig.

 

Failing this, read a book about love long distance. You might feel alone in your halls or flat, but the bookshops of Glasgow are packed with lovers kept cruelly apart. Try Heloise and Abelard, where better to start than the letters of a castrated 12th century monk to the scholar turned nun he seduced and impregnated?

 

4) The Man on the Ground

 

A you-positive friend of flatmate is an essential tool in the arsenal of the Long Distance Romantic. Planning to surprise your loved one with the time honoured Naked Cake Jump routine? You’ll need a set of keys beneath the mat and half a dozen eggs picked up. Have an 8 hour window to fill while your SO is at an unshirkable shift? You’ll probably want someone you can have a few beers with in her city.

 

5) Keep it off Facebook.

 

The Digital Wedding Ring of a relationship status is invaluable to indicate takenness and being uninterested. Leave the Social Network side of your relationship there. You check in at JFK, you check in at O’ Hare, you wake up at DFW. Nobody wants to see it. A youtube link to a song we can ALL enjoy? Fine. A genuinely hilarious photo? Acceptable. A status telling your 748 “friends” it’s been a year? Revolting. A cutesy faux arguement splayed across the ether like a petulant Jackson Pollock? Nauseating.

 

#PDA #Tacky #Notspecifictolongdistancebutgoodtogetoffmychest #Youknowwhoyouare

 

6) Because we’re better than you- and we know it.

 

Hygiene/grooming aside, there are few upshots to seeing the love of your life once a month. Make one of them the legitimate arrogance that you can make it work transatlatically. Don’t be bitter that your pals get to see one another every single day- just know that what you’re in is…better.
“Oh so your girlfriend ALSO studies medicine and lives just the other side of Byres Rd? Tell me more about how she’s The One”

 

You know its meant to be when the dream is same same citizenship and everything is striving to keep you apart. Stay strong. Oh and don’t piss away the snatches of time you find to spend together.

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13 Essential Halloween Fright Flicks

It’s everybody’s favorite time of the year; Halloween, the season where everyone’s entitled to one good scare.  Below is a list of some of the most essential celluloid scare-flicks that cinema has to offer.  Beware though, this is not a list of the greatest horror films ever made but rather a guide to get you in the mood for Halloween.  I picked the lucky number 13 and chose the films that I feel best invoke the true spirit of All Hallows Eve so sit back, cuddle up, get some popcorn (and a few beers) and enjoy these nightly terrors.  Oh, and have a happy Halloween!

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13. Something Wicked This Way Comes (1983, Dir: Jack Clayton).

OK, so this is a children’s film from Disney but hear me out… This twisted little tale is adapted from the Ray Bradbury classic of the same name and tells the story of two little boys who are confronted with evil itself in the form of a strange and dark travelling carnival.  Set in October, Something Wicked is full of gorgeous autumn imagery and feels so right for Halloween viewing.  Although this on is suitable for kids, it has some truly chilling moments – watch out for the room-full-of-tarantulas scene!

 

12. The Amityville Horror (1979, Dir: Stuart Rosenberg).

 “For God’s Sake Get Out!” exclaims the poster for this classic 70’s scare machine.  James Brolin (father of Josh Brolin), Margot Kidder (Black Christmas) and Rod Steiger star in this creepy chiller  about a family who move into a house with an extremely violent past and that appears to “have memories.”  If you think you know the trends of the haunted house movie it’s because Amityville got there first.  Be prepared for some of the best jump-scares in horror history!  Amityville is set in the autumn too so although it has nothing to do with Halloween, it will certainly get you in the mood.

 

11. Silver Bullet (1985, Dir: Daniel Attias).

 An adaptation from the Stephen King cannon, Silver Bullet is about a boy who is determined to prove that a werewolf is causing the grisly murders in his hometown and armed with a high-speed motor wheelchair he sets out to do battle with the howling fiend.  This one is great fun and stars The Lost Boys’ Corey Haim and Twin Peaks’ Everett McGill.

 

10. May (2002, Dir: Lucky McKee).

 This is a much underrated little independent gem and concerns a girl called May who is trying to piece together her life after a traumatizing childhood.  Poor May just wants to interact and connect with those around her but her method of making friends soon becomes deadly and violent.  This is as emotional as it is horrific and with noticeable nods to directors such as Dario Argento, it really packs a punch in the final 10 minutes.  There is a great climax on Halloween night too!  If you like this then check out McKee’s other films The Woods and The Woman, highly recommended!

 

9. The Blair Witch Project (1999, Dir: Daniel Myrik and Eduardo Sanchez).

 This film needs no introduction – the film that defined (but didn’t start) the found footage sub-genre revolves around 3 student filmmakers who venture into the woods to shoot a documentary about the local legend of the Blair Witch.  With each night something sinister tampers with their gear, makes strange noises in the woods around them and leaves piles of rocks outside their tents.  Is it a person warding them off?  Is it a rabid animal?  Or is it the Blair Witch herself?  You’ll just have to watch it to find out but be prepared for a white knuckle ride all the way to the nerve-shattering finale.  This one is genuinely creepy, I strongly advise you watch this in the dark.

 

8. Dark Night of the Scarecrow (1981, Dir: Frank De Felitta).

An angry mob hunt down a mentally challenged man named Bubba – a man suspected of killing a little girl – and exact justice in the most unforgiving and harrowing way.  Years later the members of the mob are hacked off one by one by what appears to be a walking scarecrow.  This was a TV movie so is low on gore but heavy on atmosphere and inventive kills and jump-scares.  The lovely rural location lends this film to be a treat for the eyes, especially around this time of year.

 

7. Night of the Demons (1988, Dir: Kevin Tenny).

 OK, if you like your Halloween flicks trashy but fun this is the one for you.  The set-up is thus; a group of annoying teens go to an old (supposedly haunted) abandoned funeral parlor to celebrate Halloween, they have a séance, awaken a vengeful demon, they die in a variety of different ways and come back as demons.  Be prepared for some cheesy lines, gratuitous nudity and sex, gore and DEMONS!  This one is perfect for a late Friday-nighter accompanied with plenty of friends, beer and pizza… enjoy.  P.S. This one has spawned a few sequels which are just as fun and a really decent remake in 2009.

 

6. Satan’s Little Helper (2004, Dir: Jeff Lieberman).

 Jeff Lieberman directed a number of underrated horror classics in the 70’s/80’s such as Squirm, Blue Sunshine and Just Before Dawn.  Staying under the radar for a number of years he made this little low budget horror/black comedy which is about a boy who befriends a man dressed up for Hallowen as Satan, the main character in the boy’s favourite video game.  Unbeknownst to the boy, Satan is actually a serial killer who is out slaughtering people under the guise of a Halloween costume.  This is a strange little film but ultimately enjoyable and darkly comedic.  If you can get over some clunky acting, this is a great celebration of all things Halloween.  I strongly urge you to check out Lieberman’s horror oeuvre.

5. The American Scream (2012, Dir: Michael Stephenson).

Michael Stephenson isn’t just “the child actor from Troll 2,” he’s also an astounding filmmaker.  The only documentary in this list, The American Scream follows the trials and tribulations of 3 families in Massachusetts who spend 365 days a year (and all their

money) preparing their houses for Halloween.  More commonly known as “House Haunters,” these families dedicate their lives to making one night memorable for their local community.  An extremely fun (and at times emotional) look into the spookiest night of the year and the people who love it.

 

4. Trick ‘r Treat (2007, Dir: Michael Dougherty).  

From the team that brought you X-Men and Superman Returns comes a modern take on the anthology or portmanteau format and a celebration of all things Halloween.  Set on one Halloween night we see 4 interwoven stories; a serial killer story, a Red Riding Hood tale, a creepy prank gone wrong and an old man’s confrontation with a serious trick or treater.  This film is a lot of fun and is guaranteed to get you in the mood for Halloween.

 

3. Halloween (1978, John Carpenter).

 Another film that needs no introduction, the original stalk-and-slash fright Flick starring Donald Pleasance and Jamie Lee Curtis.  Halloween was an independent, low budget labor of love that kick started the screen careers of legendary genre director John Carpenter and screenwriter/producer Debra Hill.  Although not the first ever slasher film (this is arguably Psycho, Peeping Tom or Black Christmas) it is the most imitated and is a staple of the modern horror movie.  Halloween is simple but effective; a group of young babysitters are stalked and slashed one Halloween night by an escaped psychotic murderer called Michael Myres (credited as The Shape).  This is a classic horror flick that remains as scary and suspenseful as it ever did.

 

2. Ghostwatch (1992, Dir: Lesley Manning).  

After watching this you will forever shudder at the mention of Mr Pipes… Ghostwatch was originally broadcast by the BBC as a TV drama Halloween special but was subsequently banned due to too many complaints and causing widespread panic across many homes in the UK.  Michael Parkinson, Sarah Greene, Mike Smith and Craig Charles all star themselves, presenting a real-time paranormal investigation.  With Sarah Greene reporting live from the home of a family tormented by the aforementioned spectre Mr Pipes, Parkinson leading debates and interviews with paranormal researchers and skeptics, Mike Smith manning the phone lines with calls from the public retelling their own spooky experiences and Craig Charles out on the street, tensions rise as the people you know and trust find themselves in some truly nerve wracking situations you will not forget!  Ghostwatch really was a one of a kind phenomenon and should be watched every year in true tradition of Halloween.

 

1. Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982, Dir: Tommy Lee Wallace).

 Yes this is the 3rd installment in the Halloween franchise but no it doesn’t feature Michael Myres, but let’s forget that for a second.  Season of the Witch is a stand alone movie that was meant to mark the beginning of the franchise broadening out but the idea didn’t catch on.  What we are left with is a true piece of terror cinema that captures a dark side to Halloween.  Starring Tom Atkins (aka the nicest man in horror), Season of the Witch tells the tale of a Halloween mask making company called Silver Shamrock who mass produce masks that turn children into TV addicts, ultimately making their heads dissolve into a squirming mass of insects and reptiles.  This is a great shocker that almost doubles up as a sci-fi horror too and is so Halloween-y it’ll make your head dissolves!  I feel this film never gets the praise it deserves but it has recently had a cult following.  It also has a song that will stick in your head forever, I guarantee it.

– Sam Massey

 

Sam runs the Cult and Horror film discussion group Glasgore. The group meets on the first Wednesday of every month in the Glasgow GFT at 6.30pm. 

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Glasgow Pride 2013

 

Glasgow’s largest annual LGBT celebration will take place again this weekend as Glasgow Pride comes to town.

The festivities will begin with the annual parade around the city centre with Glasgow Green as the epicentre. Many  attendees will be standing in solidarity with the international LGBT community in protest against Russia’s recent displays of homophobic atrocity. Pride in the Green is the place to be through the day providing the biggest entertainment in the form of Heather Small, with a variety of other stages and activities.

The weekend will also unify smaller  student lead organisations pushing for equality in Glasgow. Local queer collectives TYCI  Lock Up Your DaughtersBlitz are joining together with monthly gay night Birdcage for Alternative Pride Party with Floyd at Saint Judes on Saturday night.

Stand up and support equality this weekend!

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Taking pride in Pride

Glasgow Pride 2012

Pride is just around the corner – an event that alleges to promote equality and diversity but to what extent is that really the case? I’ve been left wondering about the diversity of Pride and who it’s really there to serve.

The run up to the event has not been without controversy this year. Glasgow, as well as Manchester and Leeds Pride, had booked a duo called Queens of Pop and subsequently pulled them from the lineup after receiving a lot of backlash. Queens of Pop, for those of you who are blissfully unaware, are an internet act who parody various celebrities and are best enjoyed if you both hate women and are a racist. I feel like maybe someone should have raised questions before booking an act that thought parodying Will.I.Am by dressing up as Black and White Minstrels while making stereotypically racist jokes was an acceptable form of entertainment. When you’re staging an event that aims to promote acceptance and understanding for one group it’s more effective when you’re not at the same time engaging in behaviour that is discriminatory towards another. Yes, they pulled the act, but what the booking exemplifies is the fact that Pride is largely geared towards white gay males.

Take a look at this weekend’s lineup – almost all of the acts seem to have been selected based on their appeal to gay men, there’s little for anyone else. Of course, Pride is more than a stage and a couple of acts, it kicks off with a parade that marches through part of the city. A diverse range of groups take part and it’s fantastic – this is when the atmosphere is at it’s best, but that doesn’t seem to be maintained throughout the day. Pride particularly struggles to be inclusive of bisexual and trans* folk. Last year I can remember thinking it was a bit inappropriate that the host was making jokes at the expense of bisexuals. I don’t care who it’s coming from, I like my biphobia non-existent, particularly at an event that claims to be educating against the discrimination of bisexuals.

One of the aims of Pride is to promote the acceptance of LGBT people in this country; parading through city centres is a way of asserting our presence in society. But perhaps we should be looking a bit closer to home when we’re thinking about acceptance. There are so many problems within our community that Pride could be tackling – biphobia, transphobia and misogyny to name but three. If we want society to accept us we need to accept one another and a zero-tolerance attitude towards any kind of bigotry needs to be adopted. There are different kinds of discrimination – the discrimination I face as a queer woman is not the same as what someone may face because they are a transman, for example. The discrimination I do face, however, should make me aware of the fact that discrimination in general is pretty awful and that I do not want to be a part in its perpetration in any shape or form. There seems to be a lot of reluctance when it comes to acknowledging the issues in our own backyard but it’s about time for hands to go up; you most certainly do not need to be heterosexual in order to be a bigot.

It’s not as though there isn’t plenty we could be doing to help those groups in our community who are often sidelined. Let’s have a look at equal marriage, which has been a cause for celebration recently. Are you aware of the spousal veto? It’s a clause that means a married person who is transitioning and wishes to gain their Gender Recognition Certificate must have their partner’s permission in order for the marriage to continue. The

problem here is that unsupportive spouses (and half of trans* people report a negative reaction from their partner) can dig their heels in and make a divorce difficult – and until either permission is given or a divorce is granted a person can not gain their full GRC. Our community should be concerned about the welfare of trans* people and it’s not a victory for us all when we’ve left someone behind. This isn’t just a failing of the of the government, it’s a failing of the very people who have been campaigning for marriage equality.

What do I want from Pride? I want a real sense of community and that means working on stamping out the bigotry that is detrimental to it. I want everyone to enjoy celebrating their own diversity without facing negativity during an event that is supposedly for us all. I also want us to get a little bit more angry. Let’s get serious for a moment: LGBT people are more likely to suffer from depression, they are more likely to attempt suicide (the estimated rate among trans* people is enough to make you cry), they are more likely to be sexually abused, they are more likely to face bullying at school and in the workplace – and that’s just for starters. Educating is part of Pride’s remit so let’s educate ourselves and get more political.

Pride is a platform with a lot of potential for doing good, but if we’re going to maximise that we first we have a bit of work to do.

 

-Erin MacKenzie

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Stronger Than Fiction: Writing Competition

 

University of Glasgow Narrative Non-fiction Writing Competition

We’re inviting you to submit pieces inspired by any research at the University of Glasgow, past or

present, from the sciences to the humanities. So you might write a personal essay about the origins

of Scotland’s oldest museum, or maybe you’re more interested in writing a moving memoir on

ultrasound, developed at Glasgow University in 1956. The competition is open to all and we are

also running free writing workshops in Glasgow on narrative non-fiction to get people started,

along with monthly social evenings where researchers, writers and readers can meet and discuss

their interests over a glass of wine. More details can be found at

http://www.gla.ac.uk/research/competition/

Give it a go; we’re looking forward to reading what you come up with!

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Istanbul Under Siege

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Gezi Park

The riots that have electrified the city of Istanbul for four days now continue to endure, despite heavy police retaliation. What began as a peaceful protest to prevent the redevelopment of Gezi park in Taksim Square has now escalated into a nation-wide demonstration against the current Government.

Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been repeatedly criticised for his dogmatic influence over the country based on grassroots Islamic ideals, and his latest staunch refusal to listen to protesters has ignited anger even among those who had voted him into his third term as Prime Minister. In his address to the country on the 2nd June he referred to the protesters as “terrorists” and has been quoted as saying “every four years we hold elections and this nation makes its choice”. Despite the democratic election Erdoğan seems to have forgotten that a democracy constitutes the decisions of several members of a party, yet it is shockingly clear that Erdoğan holds the majority of the power, and indeed earns more than any other politician in the world at $989,000 a month, although Wikileaks claims that his earnings may be far higher. It would not be a far stretch of the imagination to envisage Erdoğan as the next Putin and Turkish President Abdullah Gül serving as Medvedev, however in stark opposition to the Prime Minister, Gül has defended the people’s right to protest stating: “democracy does not mean elections alone. There can be nothing more natural for the expression of various views, various situations and objections through a variety of ways, besides elections.”

 Despite Gül calling for a peaceful end to the violence and a more mature handling of the situation, suggestive of mishandling on both sides, Erdoğan has continued to belittle the extent of the riots claiming that he would not ask permission for the redevelopment plans from “a few looters”. It has emerged that the destruction of Gezi Park is not only to free up valuable real estate for a shopping mall, but also includes the construction of a Mosque, a symbolic representation of Neo-Ottomanism and Turkey’s new incentive under the Justice and Development Party to engage with areas previously under Ottoman rule in the Middle East.

Although the riots are being referred to as the ‘Turkish Spring’ in reference to the ‘Arab Spring’ uprisings of 2010, this would be a false representation. The events in Turkey are more an uprising against fascism than an Imperialist fueled uprising against Islam, which in such countries as Egypt were conducted by armed extremist groups. The protests in Istanbul began as a reaction against heavy handed police retaliation in Gezi Park, where peaceful environmental protesters were viciously attacked in their tents during a dawn raid. The nature of the events has magnified into a nationwide protest against an increasingly authoritarian government, with anti-government demonstrations appearing across Turkey including Erdoğan’s hometown Rize.

With cries rising from the crowd of ‘shoulder to shoulder against fascism’ the riots are not as complicated as Erdoğan has suggested. In an address on 3rd June he encouraged the view that the riots have a politically subversive agenda, stating “citizens should not be part of this ‘game’”; a ‘game’ that alleges the opposition party, the People’s Republican Party, are involved in actuating the riots for their own gain.The demonstrations, however, are obviously not instigated by a few extremist “marginalized groups”  as Erdoğan has stated; it is the result of a highly pressurised problem that has finally discovered a fissure out of which to escape. A large part of the population are fearful of being forcibly dragged into a theocratic state run by a “Sunni Islamist tyrant”, as one source expressed. As proudly stated by the men on the streets as well as by Erdoğan himself, albeit with different intent; “this is no longer about trees, it is about ideology”.

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As the fourth night of the demonstrations descend on the city, Taksim Square remains occupied and the streets are a cacophony of clanging pots and pans and car horns which can be heard from the other side of the Bosphorus. Despite heavy police intervention including tear gas canisters and high pressure water jets fired directly at the crowd just a day before, people are still resisting against what is being called a Dictatorship. Although Erdoğan conceded that “there have been some mistakes, extremism in police response” he also insisted that “the police were there yesterday, they are there today, and they will be there tomorrow.”

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Hold Your Holidays!

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It’s that time of year again when the only thing to get us through the next few months of dire weather and exams is the promise of adventures to sunny horizons. But for those who dare to venture beyond Europe to less developed countries, there are things to consider that often we’d rather not think about. When tourists opt to visit countries experiencing political unrest, tyranny and extreme poverty, do they bear any responsibility for contributing to and legitimising questionable regimes?

Lupine Travel is one of many tour operators offering trips to North Korea, with a four-day visit costing £499. Their website makes no attempt to gloss over the reputation of the isolated state. Instead, it uses it as a selling point, “the Secret State. The Democratic People’s Republic Of Korea. Whatever you wish to call it, it is a place like no other, completely shut off from the outside world since 1953.” Considering the extreme poverty that North Koreans face and the government’s recent nuclear testing, referencing a country’s political status to sell holidays seems rather unsavoury. While it may not be our duty to tackle irresponsible governments, tourists who visit North Korea can be seen to be condoning Kim Jong-Un’s rule. It seems impossible to visit a country without benefitting its government financially. What’s to stop money spent by tourists being used to finance missile experiments and other questionable projects? The revenue that tourists generate in North Korea could surely be better spent by charities seeking to help North Korean refugees. The same can be said of any country that faces tyranny or poverty.

On the other hand, it’s possible that the money brought in by tourists could help to mitigate the effects of economic sanctions on North Korean citizens. In a country that does not rely on tourism economically, perhaps it is only the people who suffer, rather than the ruling elites who live luxuriously despite being responsible for North Korea’s political isolation. Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi has encouraged foreigners to travel to Burma for this reason, saying that they can choose to go about their trip in the right way, supporting ordinary citizens and not the government that oppresses them.

This poses the question of how to travel ethically – a relatively recent trend in tourism. Go Differently, an ethical travel company, cites small things such as not buying objects made from endangered plants or animal shell, and making the effort to support locally produced goods, as vital to ethical tourism. Other issues of importance include declining to ride poorly treated elephants or pet drugged tigers in Thailand. Choosing tours led by locals when you’re out there, as well as using homestays or smaller hotels are further steps in the right direction.

On a larger scale however, this might not be enough. There have been recent claims by The Sri Lanka Campaign for Peace and Justice that some attractions around the country are linked financially or politically to those allegedly involved in violations of human rights. This means that a visit to a National Park may not be as innocent as expected. Local people are often displaced so that their land can be used for tourism. This has been the case most recently in Tanzania, where last month the Minister of Tourism announced the opening of a “wildlife corridor” – a 1500 square metre land grab that will displace thousands of Maasai people and deprive them of essential grazing land and water for their cattle. Problems like these are highlighted by the charity Tourism Concern, which campaigns for “a world free from exploitation in which all parties involved in tourism benefit equally.” Not only do they raise money and awareness of their cause, they specifically target ministers in less-developed countries where unregulated tourism leads to problems for local people, such as the loss of access to clean water.

It seems somewhat unfair to say that just by visiting a place one supports the actions of hostile regimes. It’s fair to say that our own government does not do enough to discourage foreign powers from oppressing citizens. Returning to the example of North Korea, there is also the possibility that for those living in states that rely on censorship to maintain control, tourism provides a rare opportunity to make contact (however minor) with the outside world. Perhaps the biggest change we can make is to just pause and think, and make the effort to change the small things that we support while abroad. In particular, we can plan trips personally rather than travelling in organised groups. A good step is also to pay for things in the foreign country instead of through a travel agent at home.

The real problem for those who want to avoid unethical travel could even be before you leave home – air travel. The effects of the decision to take long-haul flights are far easier to gauge than attempts to make small changes in foreign countries. What can help is increased information about potentially unethical aspects of travelling. By all means go but do your homework and consider the consequences of your actions whilst there.

Henrietta Eagle-Wilsher

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Here In my Car

There’s been an unfamiliar new addition to my university life throughout this All-American year; the car. The open road has long characterised the values and soul of the states. The freedom to “take off”, to get in a self contained machine and drive, to roll the windows down, in complete control of the interior, and to reach out into the warm breeze, almost touching the tumble weeds following the hot tires down the desert highway.

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The journey is not quite so romantic and picturesque when taken around a Greek style, doll-house like campus, but the car – a machine almost entirely cut out of my student life in Glasgow – has suddenly merged lanes with my life. This was never more evident than last week with the coming of the ultimate road-trip holiday; spring break. Running, open-eyed in my new blue florescent ‘sneakers’ – as I often do to spy on the social wildlife and have a nosy at the tree-lined frat houses – the streets were lined with boys in khaki shorts, holding crates of Bud lights and Daddy’s credit card, girls in short summer dresses around their arms. They were all packing up their oversized pick-up trucks and four wheel drives. Cars so big they towered over my ever slowing pace as I gazed in awe and slight terror at these gas-guzzling machines all heading to the beach.

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Gone Wild

862012_10151582617548949_482655311_nSitting in a library which is becoming both worryingly and quite pleasantly more and more like a home to me than anywhere else, I am alerted to the terrible irony of what I’m doing. Here I am, all the way across the pond, in a place that only ever brings to mind the words “Republican” and “fried” – both of which I never cease to be brought to both unashamed laughter and tears by – reading Kingsly Amis’ 1954 novel “Lucky Jim”. I have come all this way to take a class in modern English literature. Not just modern English literature, but to read a novel that directly critiques the British academic and intellectual structuring of UK universities. A structure that I have just left in search of bigger fish to fry –no pun intended.  Of course, I’m exercising a little sarcasm here. Finding an outlet for it here has proved rather difficult. It usually lands on some pale faced sorority girl with perfectly pruned blonde locks in symmetrical layers, who turns away from me looking unamused and usually slightly offended by the comments I have just made.

It’s not all that bad, that I actually have to read books written by English authors, authors who make up the canon of some of our more praise-worthy exports to the rest of the world. And it’s not all that bad, because alongside my disgruntlement of no longer being enclosed by my own case study of Amis’ novel, I have been taking a class entitled simply “Into the Wild”.

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Traveling the Trans-Siberian Railway

The Trans Siberian Railway spans the largest land mass on Earth, officially starting in Moscow and finishing in either Vladivostok, Russia’s most eastern city, or in Beijing by passing south through Mongolia via the Trans Mongolian line. Intrigued by the possibility of travelling from central Europe to North-Eastern China solely by land, we chose the latter.

After a few days in Berlin it was time to board our train to St. Petersburg. As we had bought our tickets through DB Bahn we made the mistake of presuming that our train would be German and thus, to some extent, English speaking. However the “Vash Passport!” demand that greeted us as we boarded the train told a different story.We quickly identified the speaker as our provodnitsa, the term for the infamously strict female train attendants, and waited for the journey to start. But the consequences of our linguistic presumptions soon posed a large problem. As it was a 36-hour journey we had naively presumed there would be some way to buy food on board the train. And that may have been the case, but despite our Russian phrase book and best attempts at body language (something not really understood in Russia) the fact that it was an exclusively Russian speaking train meant we never found out. Thankfully we had brought some basic supplies with us but we still arrived in St. Petersburg a day and a half later very tired and somewhat malnourished.

A Remote Grassland Buddist Monastry in Mongolia
A Remote Grassland Buddist Monastry in Mongolia

The first time you arrive in Russia it is a strange experience. As a westerner, the familiar faces of the Russian people are juxtaposed with the completely unfamiliar language, alphabet and culture – it is like you have stumbled upon a lost world or a parallel universe. Equally, the first night in Russia is also one to remember. Or not, as the case will most likely be. After getting ushered out of our hostel by an eager and extremely friendly staff member, the power of the Russian shot measurement was unleashed, and once the initial hit of the famous soviet juice was eased by a tactical slice of lemon, one shot soon became somewhere well above ten. Normally spontaneous night outs are relatively harmless, but spending my first night in St. Petersburg blind drunk was not the safest choice and it was only by some form of divine intervention that we woke up safely in our hostel the next morning. As you can imagine the next day’s plans were not quite as punctual as we had hoped but the glory of St. Petersburg, often referred to as the “Venice of the North”, is not one to be missed and we wandered the lengthy Nevsky Prospect and enjoyed the fantastic architecture for the next couple of days.

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Christo Geoghegan: Behind the Lens

Why is traveling so alluring? Perhaps it’s the excitement of departing from the routine of our daily lives,  or of experiencing things previously unimagined; it’s something we all dream about at one point or another. With globalisation propelled to the extent that a journey to the ends of the Earth is not only affordable, but mostly achievable in under a day by plane, the idea of the truly remote seems to be a myth of the past. London based photographer and filmmaker Christo Geoghegan spoke to GUM about what travel means to him, and how he goes about capturing the lives of those who live in some of the last isolated places on Earth.

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  • What prompted you to become a travel photographer, any specific instance where you felt you knew this was the thing for you?

I wouldn’t necessarily class myself as a travel photographer. Whilst almost all the work I do is indeed abroad, the basis of the work isn’t about the notion of travel. I’m not trying to capture the essence of a country, but document a particular group of people living within it. I spend around 10 months to a year researching and organising a story I’m working on, so it’s very much less about travelling around and photographing the country as a whole. At the moment, I’m very much dedicating my work on communities that are marginalised in some way, or those whose way of life is under threat.
The reason why I choose to work further away from home is not because I am in search of the exotic other, but because I feel that an outsiders perspective, without internal bias, allows me to document and photograph in a more well rounded manner.

  • You’re on your way to Mongolia on Thursday to continue your project on the Kazakh nomads, what made you decide to return?

Last time I went to visit the Kazakhs in Western Mongolia, I was only there for a month. It gave me a decent amount of time to give an outsiders account of their way of life, but still was only enough time to scratch the surface. I’m hoping my second visit will be able to start doing just that. I want to be able to tell more personal stories from the nomadic way of life, rather than the brief overview I managed to photograph last time. I’m also hoping to start work on a short film out there. So this is the second of many visits to come!

  • What has been your favourite experience whilst traveling with the nomads, and anything particular that you’ve learnt?

Without a doubt the sheer kindness I’m greeted with every day. I found from travelling a lot and from working all over the world, that those with the least, are willing to share the most. I would travel to the far corners of the Kazakh state of Mongolia and would always be ushered into houses, thrust a large meal in front of my face, and poured an endless flow of tea. That sense of community and willingness to help strangers is just something that’s been lost in the West; everyone is so guarded.

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Dauwd @ Rubix 13/12/12

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Just before Christmas the Rubix boys put on the fifth installment of what is becoming one of Glasgow’s staple nights. With past acts including South London Ordnance, Joonipah, Elphino, and staple Point To C; Rubix is the night for those who are particularly enamoured with the cutting edge of electronic music. Subclub was forcefully launched into the festive spirit with lashing of UV lights and rubix cubes hanging from the ceiling, the night proved to be the final assault against those pesky exam blues. GUM caught up with newcomer Dauwd at the afterparty to chat about music, his heritage, and his unwavering obsession with Dylan Thompson.

Interviewing on a sunken sofa surrounded by party goers I begin by asking the inevitable first question; how does Glasgow compare to other cities he’s played in? Without hesitation he says “The Glasgow crowd is really good, they’re boss!”, a statement that reflects the pull the city has on similar musicians, such as James Rand who played at Rubix in May last year. With friendly rivalry in the air at the mention of Rand, Dauwd exclaims “he’s so shit, he’s just like Skrillex”. The musicians met when doing the rounds of the Liverpool club circuit, playing at institutions such as Chibuku Shake Shake, where Dauwd played a supporting act back in October.

A relative newcomer on the electronic music scene Dauwd Al Hilali has taken it by storm, with roots in Iraq, a childhood in Wales, he now oscillates  between London and Liverpool. His first EP ‘What’s There’ was released on Pictures Music in November 2011, while his reputation continues to be solidified by excellent live performances and a few strategic placements on compilations. One such compilation is Adult Swim’s ‘Unclassified’ which includes the likes of Kode9 and Lukid, as well as a recent mix he curated for 22 Tracks, where samples of Andy Stott are used to great success.

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4 ways to make money at University

Going out with friends, grocery shopping, the odd takeaway and that ski trip coming up…the costs whilst at uni can easily mount up and in the lead up to Christmas things can seem pretty tight. However, there are ways to make a bit of extra cash without a huge deal of effort, and free from the commitments of that bar or supermarket job.

courtesy of Mini Wombat

Sell Stuff: The perfect way to de-clutter your digs, earn some money and make someone the happy owner of second-hand stuff too! There are designated websites where you can sell DVDs and CDs and, if you’re hoping for a new iPod or phone for Christmas, these can be flogged too.

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Eco-Flying: Is flying worth the cost?

Today, ideas about environmentalism are nothing ground-breaking or unheard of. They’ve been adopted into our mind-set of political and social consciousness to the point that every other advert appeals to our sensibility of ‘green living’.  While many of us will prescribe to a vague environmental principle, we still aren’t questioning the most environmentally harmful decision we make: flying.

Aviation is a growing industry and according to governmental advisers, the Committee on Climate Change, the fastest growing source of CO2 emissions in the country. Both current projects and plans for airport expansion across the UK are a very real threat to aims to meet reduced carbon targets by 2050. Pitched as an economic solution, BAA’s recent advertising campaign claimed that ‘The road to economic recovery isn’t a road, it’s a flightpath’. Thus, airport expansion appears to be favoured and financially backed by policy makers: Boris Johnson’s proposal to develop an airport on the Thames Estuary is estimated to cost £50 billion and plans to accommodate 150 million passengers per year. While this may be one of the most far-fetched proposals on the table, the list of UK airports undergoing and potentially embarking on expansion is lengthy.

Short-haul flying (anything under three hours) bears the weight of responsibility for much of the increase in demand. Virgin have announced their new domestic flights from London to Manchester to be the first of many routes, keeping up competition with BA. The majority of fuel is burnt during take-offs and landings, meaning that short haul flights are even more disproportionate in terms of fuel to distance and more ridiculous compared to emission levels of travel alternatives.  Domestic flying is ten times as carbon intensive as train use before we even consider the difference in altitude.

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Tim Burton: A Return to Frankenweenie

On the 10th of October GUM were asked to fly down to the heart of London to see the film that would kick off the acclaimed London Film Festival, the 56th year the British Film Institute have thrown the city into movie-mania.


That film was Tim Burtons new 3D stop-motion masterpiece Frankenweenie, a story about a boy and his dog taken to macabre heights by the ex- Disney animators’ notoriously bizarre mind. Heavily based, as the title might suggest, on Mary Shelley’s classic gothic novel Frankenstein, it’s modern animated counterpart is a surprising return to the early days of Burton and his 1984 short of the same title. It is interesting to see how the world has changed that Disney are now wholeheartedly endorsing the flick after sacking Burton for the same unconventional animations over twenty years ago.

For those of us who grew up on a staple of The Nightmare Before Christmas, and more recently the likes of Corpse Bride, will not be strangers to the wonders of stop motion animation- but to see it in 3D and in black and white was a new experience altogether. The films plot rotates around Victor, a young, gaunt boy in typical tortured Burton fashion, and his dog Sparky who gets hit by a car and then resurrected by his stricken owner. With the film being cited as a ‘labour of love” with the director working closely with people of his past, such as Winona Ryder and Caherine O’Hara, as well as long-time musical partner Danny Elfman, the film hits a personal chord any Burton aficionado would be proud of.

With a “traveling road show” of actual sets from the film and an Animators Masterclass after the Press Conference (Burton is just how you’d expect him, wild haired and full of impersonations with madly gesticulating hands) the highlight of the film was indeed expounded to be the talent of the animators.

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A night In New Orleans

And it was just like the movies…

New Orleans, Nola, the big easy. You can call it what you will. In the end, this city is anything you want it to be. After a few gin fizzes I was ready to believe I had waltzed straight into the thirties. The rest is a spinning whirlpool of flashing lights, a French man, and hotel lobbies.

The city is built on stories. Unfortunately, the jazz is a myth. If you’re looking for music New Orleans has little to offer. But that was pushed to the back of my mind as soon as I found the casino. I wandered around for hours watching the dark, serious faces shoving bills into neon machines, the fat polo shirted men who could barely move their arm to pick up their winnings. It was all fun and games until I stopped to listen to the repetitive background music and began to notice the constant surveillance. So I moved on.

We caught an arts festival, this city is a constant source of entertainment. The gallery was full of waistcoats and expensive shoes. As I stood looking at a painting of the devil running down a street holding a bottle of liquor and a bag of money, a drunk fifty-looking woman stumbled toward me. ‘You can find him here honey’, she said, ‘he’s everywhere in this city’. She was right of course, but as long as you don’t outstay your welcome, it’s easy enough to avoid a serious encounter.

Later we joined the tail end of a marching band which had stopped the traffic, put on our blue shiny beads and headed off to a few bars… At the hostel the next morning, it was story time again. The Australians had ridden around town with the locals, taking pictures with a gun. The Belgians had snuck into a penthouse to watch the sunrise, performing for the security guard. The French had woken up in a parking lot at 9am trying to piece the night back together. And I sat wondering who had driven me home. I’m pretty sure he was Mexican.

The truth is, no one here could care less.

Words: Lucy Cheseldine

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Alabama Here I Am

After a month of American infestation, stars and stripes surrounding me like proud hornets, I looked down at my feet and, thankfully, wasn’t wearing cowboy boots yet. But this is Alabama, and anything could happen. Literally anything. Just yesterday did I see a woman carrying a red cup chalice in the street, a super-red cup if you like. She herself had taken time out of her day in order to stick the stand of a candle-holder onto the bottom of her red cup to make it bigger and better than everyone elses. They’re all about the extremes here. Extreme hygiene for example, in the local supermarket I couldn’t get through the door without first being prompted to wipe down my trolley with specially designed ‘trolley-wipes’. I went to the pharmacy and they had plastic bags designed purposefully to hold your wet brolly. This is a nation paying attention to the most absurd of details. As my Grandma warned me before I set off, ‘They’re a nation of eternal washers, just remember that. I don’t want you coming back….’ She was right.

Perhaps this farcical attention to detail is part of the South’s way of ignoring the rather glaring vacuum of emptiness here, a hole that back in Glasgow was filled with the beautiful sentiment of acceptance. Alabama University houses one of the biggest Frat and Sorority communities in the whole of America.The campus is filled with khaki shorts and boat shoes. But I don’t see any fishing. Instead, you can smell the money and the Father’s who are have recently become honorary members of country clubs and the girls who put on fake British accents in order to be picked for social success. They weren’t as good as mine. Social elitism is unmissable. It’s like stepping back into a time I didn’t particularly want to remember existed. But it’s still going on. They call them the ‘greeks’, perhaps attempting to create some near classical culture to make up for the lack of their own.

You can find a rabbit hole to fall down though. The thrift stores and twenty-four hours diners draw out some of the more cinematic scenes of America. Cheap clothes and waffle houses are filled with people living on the outskirts of life, nights filled with game-show wacthing and days of manual labour.I witnessed the midnight Wal-Mart crowd with their stained t-shirts and burnt-out cars. This is a world away from the green college, tinted with the façade of legacy. It’s a university funded almost entirely by football. They have the best college team in the country and for home-games the town is over-run by football-fuelled celebrations and over-sized, processed hotdogs.

As I was floating lazily in the Black warrior river one night, surrounded by questionable pond-life I thought to myself, it’s no acid-washed Glasgow  but what more does the American dream promise  to offer. And after all, that’s what seduced me into romancing with the capital of the world.

Words: Lucy Cheseldine

 

 

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Bar Soba – a review

I’m no Asian food expert. In fact, my ventures into that culinary territory are limited to an occasional Chinese take-out and the one-off trip to Yo-Sushi! – inevitably reflected in my handling of chop-sticks, which comes close to resembling a circus performance. But things might very well be on the cusp of change, after being invited to attend Bar Soba’s Christmas Menu launch. Right now, it is true, my mind could not be further away from thinking of festivities amidst a whirlwind of uni work and essay deadlines, but seeing as we’re talking Asian fusion cooking, it was inevitably going to be Christmas food with a twist – something, I feel, I’d quite happily tackle at any time of the year.

Admittedly not your “241 burger” or “lunch for £3.95” deal, Bar Soba – tucked away at the foot of The Lighthouse – is nevertheless within the student price-range with a 2-course lunch for £9.95 or sushi plates starting at £2.75. Following a prosecco welcome, Wednesday evening’s event saw us tasting a range of Asian canapes: from duck gyozas dipped in plum sauce to the more adventurous small toasts of Korean chicken with pear on a bed of rocket, or sticky tempura prawn balancing on sweet chilli & coriander mayo. All this was rounded off nicely by a mini Um-Bongo cocktail and a Thai massage that sent everyone reeling home to bed, full, content and sleepy. In any case it was proof that Bar Soba can do food tantalising to the taste-buds, and that their Christmas menu boasting the likes of Cinnamon and Plum Duck Confit should be a good’un. Disappearing down Mitchell Lane for the space of an hour or two is therefore well worth a shot.

Review by: Ginger Clark

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Kelburn Garden Party – Preview – 2nd/3rd July

This weekend let’s hope it’s a scorcher in Scotland for the Kelburn Garden Party, which is fast-becoming one of the country’s favourite fixtures on its festival calendar. Billed as ‘two days of musical magic and hi-jinx in a fairytale setting’, this is one summer festival that won’t disappoint. Set in the grounds of Kelburn Castle near Largs, the event boasts cross-cutting acts across a range of genres. These range from ‘from folkies, rockers and funk brothers to clubbers, dubbers and jazzers’ we are reliably informed. The festival prides itself on being free from corporate ties. You won’t find any shameless plugging of brands here: it’s all about the music and the festival spirit. More than merely music, festival activities include workshops, acoustic sessions, poetry, walks in the glen, mystery gigs in secluded spots and performance art and theatre, all in the idyllic setting of the grounds of Kelburn Castle.

The venue is equipped with three stages and a dance tent, as well as the many hidden spaces for pop-up events and gigs. This venue has hosted two successful mini-festivals earlier this summer – The Viewpoint Sessions in June and July, both to great acclaim. The festival is an inclusive day-to-night event, and weekend tickets cost only 55+BF, including camping. Children and families are welcome (under 13’s free), and fancy dress is encouraged during the revelry. The impressive line-up favours homegrown talent, with some big names from Glasgow including Sons & Daughters, JD Twitch, Mungo’s Hifi and Jackmaster.

Kelburn’s organisers invite you to ‘So, come one and all, discover Scotland’s quirkiest, funkiest boutique festival for yourself; come dance with us,and share in our dream, built with only you in mind.’

With Thanks to Astrojazz & Kelburn Productions

TICKETS
Tickets are limited to just 700 this year. Outlets/prices are:
Standard: £55+BF
Day Tickets: TBC (depends on demand)
By PAYPAL

At Ticketweb:
http://www.ticketweb.co.uk/kelburnprods

RIPPING RECORDS, South Bridge, Edinburgh
TICKETS SCOTLAND, Rose Street, Edinburgh

RUB-A-DUB, Howard Street, Glasgow
TICKETS SCOTLAND, Argyll Street, Glasgow

Read on for the full line-up…

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Primavera Picks…

Primavera Picks

Earlier this month, GUM Music Editor Yasmin Ali travelled to Barcelona for PrimaveraSound 2011, one of the most eagerly-anticipated indie music festivals of the summer, if not the year. Held at Barcelona’s Parc del Forum, a sprawling outdoor and indoor concert and conference venue which spans almost an entire urban quarter from the city grid to the sealine. The event boasted over 7 specially-set up stages, and over 275 live bands and DJ sets, with scheduling from 5pm-5am, drawing crowds totalling over 120,000 spectators.. Here are an edited selection of top acts in GUM’s Primavera Picks…

Read on for the top picks…

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Preview: This Sunday, on campus, Judy’s affordable Vintage Fair
Michael Kors/Celine. Camel Coat: Circa Vintage, Mock Croc Clutch: Circa Vintage

Preview: This Sunday, on campus, Judy’s affordable Vintage Fair

04.05.11

Yasmin Ali

Judy’s Affordable Vintage fair comes to Glasgow this weekend, right on your doorstep! So put down your books for a couple of hours and head to the QMU for loads of vintage goodies that won’t break the bank. With 500+ as attending on the Facebook event page, it’s set to be a success. Show your support on the official Glasgow Facebook group and be sure to join the retro-themed shenanigans. After all, who doesn’t need a deserved break from the books at this time of year? We hear seats in the library are like gold-dust these days…

Listings info:

Open 12-5pm Sunday at QMU, 22 University Gardens, G12 8QN

All welcome, not just students!

Entry £2/£1 concessions / free for under 12’s

You can read on for official press info from Judy HQ.

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Preview: Electric Frog Weekender

Yasmin Ali

19.04.11

This Easter’s Electric Frog Weekender looks set to pull in the crowds with its  all-star line-up of local club heroes, and packed programme of dedicated after-parties.  What with no work on Monday, you can stay out all night guilt-free, even on Sunday. We recommend it as an excellent way to spend the Easter weekend.

GUM will have more EF festival coverage to follow in the next week – Stay Tuned!

Day passes £25/ Weekend pass £45, available from Tickets-Scotland

For official line-up and after-party details, straight from the Frog’s mouth, click ‘Read More’.

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Spotify announces restrictions for Free content

Yasmin Ali, Music Editor

18.04.11

It seems we have all had it a little too good for a little too long in terms of free music streaming. In a move to restrict access to its free content, popular platform Spotify last week announced changes to its free subscription services Spotify Free and Spotify Open. These changes will not affect paid subscribers on Spotify Premium. The changes will apply from May 1st.

In general, subscribers will be limited to 5 plays per track and a total of 10 hours listening per month after the first six months.  Ten hours may not sound much but it’s the equivalent of 200 track plays. Just no more of your favourite track on repeat…

The full details in an official statement can be read on Spotify’s website here.

Click the icon above to take you to the Spotify website. You can follow GUM’s mixtape here.

Happy (restricted) listening!

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Record Store Day 2011 – Saturday April 16th

Yasmin Ali

16.04.11

Today’s the day to go support your local indie record shop and show loyalty over the many internet Goliaths that dominate the music sales market. There are exclusive releases and events on offer at record stores around the world today. Glasgow has a dedicated line up of live music and entertainment at veritable indie record institution Monorail Music, over in Trongate, and reputable music store Rubadub, at St. Enoch’s. These events are free and last all day (until around 7pm) so be sure to head along if you are in town.

– Rubadub Facebook event here

– Monorail Facebook event here

‘Read More’ for the Line-up’s in Glasgow…

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Pause With A Smile – Theatre Review – The Arches/Traverse

Yasmin Ali

13.04.11

Tickets for Platform 18 shows (14-17th April) on sale now from Traverse Box Office: 0131 228 1404 // www.traverse.co.uk

Pause With A Smile

Photo courtesy of The Arches.

‘Pause With A Smile’ is an hour’s interactive dialogue of incidental anecdotes brought to you by the excellent double-act Gary McNair and Kieran Hurley. Written and directed by Platform 18 winner Gareth Nicholls, the show is a quality production which is bursting with ideas.

Pause… features an action-packed script densely populated by stories detailing a series of incredible coincidences. These are reeled off in quickfire succession to a bemused audience, who are left to ponder on their likelihood and plausibility. Each story begins with ‘Here’s one for you…’, used as a key pointer for anticipation.

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Money…The Game Show – Theatre Review – The Arches/Traverse

Jonny Casey

12.04.11

Tickets for Platform 18 shows (14-17th April) on sale now from Traverse Box Office: 0131 228 1404 // www.traverse.co.uk

Money… The Game Show


Platform 18 award-winning playwright Clare Duffy brings us the brilliant and exhilarating interactive play ‘Money – The Game Show’. Duffy invites the audience to play and gamble with six thousand pound coins in a game show style play which challenges and questions our modern attitudes to risk management, the banking system and personal greed.

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Occupation Forced Out?

Strathclyde Police have arrived at the Free Hetherington Occupation. University security guards and police are currently inside the building trying to evict students from the peaceful occupation.

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Cut Copy @ The Arches, 03/03/11

Photo credit: © Felipe Fontecilla

Jessie Rodger

Cut Copy don’t just sound good live, they look good too.  What better way to sum up their gig then, than through a metaphor of the band’s attire? They started off sharp and controlled in crisply starched shirts, but by the end of the night their shirts were crumpled, dripping with sweat and most definitely untucked.

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The Art of Colour
Jonathan Saunders, photo: Style.com

The Art of Colour

BY GINGER CLARK

Jonathan Saunders, photo: Style.com

We all want to avoid fashion faux-pas, but instances do occasionally arise where we unintentionally stray from the stylish. Thankfully with more subtle trends, such blunders can go unnoticed; not so, however, if you are sporting fuchsia, lime green or canary yellow, as is likely to be the case this summer.

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Polish Soc Womens Day @ QMU

Photo: The Prisma

Wednesday 9th March, 9pm, QMU

This is already the third time when the Glasgow University Polish Society team, cooperating with the International Society, is organising a great party for the International Women’s Day. Just for all the ladies that do not want to celebrate their very own holiday only by receiving flowers.

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GU Expedition Society Band Night @ Captain’s Rest
Manu from the air

GU Expedition Society Band Night @ Captain’s Rest

On Monday 7th February, two Glasgow Uni Expedition teams organized a Band Night at the infamous Captain’s Rest. The event was a fundraiser to send the teams out to Peru and Bolivia this coming summer, conducting scientific research on the ecology of two the most far flung and fascinating regions in the world. Alex Embiricos delved deep into the basement of the ‘Rest to soak in the musical talents, the electric atmosphere, and learn more about these daring student adventurers.

The Manu area of the Peruvian Amazon is a biologists dream come true, boasting 1,300 species of butterflies (15% of the world total), 800 species of birds (9%) and 160 species of mammals (4%). It is one of the most bio diverse region on the planet. Yet logging destroys this rainforest faster than it can regenerate, and although the Manu area is now protected, its history can not be forgotten. Six students are organising, funding, and executing an expedition deep into previously unexplored Amazon, adding new data to world wide information resources on the flaura and fauna proving just how invaluable the region is. This band night is only one rung on the ladder to raise the funds required to send the team hurtling half way across the world, and they need your help- after all, the devil is in the details.

Manu from the air

http://guperuexpedition.bbnow.org/

The cause was kicked off by an acoustic set by Merchant. Lead singer Andrew crooned into the mic more persuasively than his young appearance would suggest. They showed a charming potential with some slide guitar being pulled out and a member of the audience shouting “sounds better without the drums!” Although lacking confidence at times they finished their set with a perfectly melancholic rendition of Lou Reeds ‘Perfect Day’, complete with energy and soaring vocals.

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Shoot! Rebecca Torres
Photo: Ania Mroczkowska

Shoot! Rebecca Torres

Rena Niamh Smith, Fashion Editor

Here is the fabulous image of Rebecca Torres’s dress from the Spring/Summer fashion photoshoot. MUA Kaeleigh Wallace did some fabulous neon eyebrows and lips that made the sublime colours of the Lycra dress by Glasgow-based designer Torres, whose work has featured in the likes of Grazia. Pick up one of her pieces at the next Bold Souls event in the Subclub: see Facebook for more details……. Photography was done by the amazing Ania Mroczkowska of Slave Magazine, Edinburgh. With her keen eye, she spotted this amazing, futuristic backdrop that resembles some kind of 1960s space-age utopia – can you guess where it is!?

Photo: Ania Mroczkowska


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Southern Comfort Mardi Gras! @ GUU

Mardi Gras is a huge festival in the New Orleans calendar, the origin of Southern Comfort. The night will be unforgettable, with a juggler, stilt walker, facepainters, Mardi Gras Girls handing out free beads and masks, as well as a free sample bar of Southern Comfort drinks. For those of you who aren’t shy of a camera, there will be a photo area with Mardi Gras props for you to dress up and getsnapped in carnival style! Decor and beads are based around the three colours of Mardi Gras; purple, gold and green; take inspiration for your own style on the night.

Southern Comfort Mardi Gras! Party, Saturday 5th March @ Glasgow University Union. For more info check with the GUU.

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George Galloway to speak at Glasgow Uni

Photo: Reuters

George Galloway will draw on his extensive experience in International Affairs to provide an insightful analysis of rapid developments currently underway in this volatile region, and explain the role of the UK, past and present, in these currents. Chaired by Greg Philo of Glasgow Media Group, the meeting will take place at 1pm on Tuesday 1st March at the Sir Charles Wilson Building, University Avenue. All are welcome.

George Galloway was a member of Parliament from 1987 – 2010, and has signalled his intention to contest the Scottish Parliament elections for Glasgow.

 

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Free Hetherington Statement
Photo: Facebook

Free Hetherington Statement

 

Photo: Facebook

 

 

In response to proposed cuts to university education across the UK, the former Hetherington Research Club has been the site for a revolutionary occupation as well as stormy debate over the past few weeks. Recently, an email statement released by the Secretary of the Glasgow University Court made various and sundry allegations against the occupation. In democratic fashion, those leading the anti-cuts action have released a response. Click here to read it in full on their blog.

Glasgow University Magazine supports any student and staff resistance to the cuts carried out in a peaceful and democratic manner.

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Preview: Glasgow Film Festival /Part I/

Greta Fedaraviciute


Usually, more choice is better, but then even more of it leaves without a clue what to do and whether to do anything at all. It’s very likely to happen with GFF and its 250 movies, so to prevent choice fatigue  GUM flags up those that shine through plenty.

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Darren Aronofsky’s “Black Swan”

Greta Fedaraviciute

Just after few days Natalie Portman – the star of “Black Swan” had won Golden Globe Award as the best actress – the newest Darren Aronofsky’s hit finally came to the cinemas of Glasgow. Some might say it’s a coincidence, but we would see it as a sign not to miss it.

It is said that when ordinary girls fight over men, ballerinas fight over parts. That’s exactly what’s happening in the “Black Swan” or at least inside the head of Nina Sayers (Natalie Portman) – “the most dedicated dancer in the world”.

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Will “Somewhere” Take You Anywhere?
Photo: American Zoetrope

Will “Somewhere” Take You Anywhere?

Photo: American Zoetrope

The world of movies has long been calling: in the first of her film reviews for GUM, Greta Fedaraviciute introduces Sophia Coppola’s stunning new film set in an iconic Californian hotel.

Frankly, Sofia’s Coppola’s name isn’t the one I keep my eyes on or mark my calendar forthe first screenings. But, after Tarantino handed her the Golden Lion in Venice Film Festivalthis year, I’ve got curious enough to give it a try. So, without big expectations but with someoptimism I headed to see “Somewhere”.

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Fashion goes POP!

Yasmin Ali

‘Tis the season to be innovative, and there are festive pop-up shops popping up all over the city. Brave the cold and visit the five that we consider among the cream of this year’s winter harvest…

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Say it BOLD! Bold Souls pop-up Xmas Edition

Yasmin Ali

Event, 12th December, 4-9pm

Silvia Pellegrino of Chouchou Couture heads up an entourage of talented Glasgow-based fashion and accessories designers for the second winter edition of Bold Souls hosted at GN Salons. The Christmas special pop-up featured fashion designers like retro re-styling from Jennie Loof; bold colourways from Rebecca Torres; fine knits and edgy detailing from Nicola Beedie; knitwear  and fashion designer Stephen Tarnawski, and of course, Silvia’s sportswear-luxe label Chouchou which showcased a brand new line of bespoke fabric earrings made with recycled material and 925 silver.

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ChouChou Couture + Jenny Loof + Oui! Designs Fashion Show
Photo: Silvia Pellegrino

ChouChou Couture + Jenny Loof + Oui! Designs Fashion Show

Rena Niamh Smith

Photo: Silvia Pellegrino

Last night the beautiful Silvia Pellegrino of Chouchou Couture hosted an intimate fashion show in her penthouse city apartment; teaming up with other Glasgow labels Jennie Loof and Oui! Designs, the presentation was a range of designs around the theme of celebration, fit for the festive season. Loof’s sumptuous designs that mix vintage prints with a funky modern twist to produce kooky feminine pieces; gorgeous mini dress with great structural twists on the cowl necks, puff sleeves and panelling. Oui! Designs presented some elegant statement pieces; favourites with the guests were the simple silver tiaras with feather clips, one of which was snapped up by a bride-to-be to complete the look for her special day. Finally, Chouchou’s own collection; despite the winter theme, the shorts were short and tight! In typical Chouchou style, the sex factor was still very much present. We particularly had or eyes on her signature hoods, now with a sterling silver chain that makes them accessory-jewellery lovechild heaven. Ever the busy bee, this isn’t Silvia’s only project; look out for the next Bold Souls event thats happening next Sunday for more indie fashion shopping opportunities……………

 

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Instal ’10, 12-14 November 2010
Image by Jez Burrows

Instal ’10, 12-14 November 2010

Sara Winchester

INSTAL'10 identity: Image by Jez Burrows

On a wintry weekend in mid-November, I headed down to Tramway to have my mind opened to a feast of new musical experiences. The Instal ‘10 festival was a three day weekend festival which aimed to show the radical side of music. Its tagline claims that Music is much more than music. The programme included performance artists, talks, experimental music and art installations from all over the world.

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Dinner, Drag and Desserts
Picture Credits: Arches PR

Dinner, Drag and Desserts

Photo Credit: Niall Walker

Photo Credit: Niall Walker

Yasmin Ali

Glasgow-based thespian Adrian Howells has temporarily re-branded The Arches Restaurant until end November as his alter ego’s ‘Adrienne’s Bar and Grill’. This was an extension from Howel’s theatre performance as part of the IETM Biennal Plenary Glasgow voices Artistic Programme, which featured 3 day run of live show ‘An Audience with Adrienne‘, with frank conversation, friendly banter and parlour games, served up tea and sympathy in Adrienne’s living room.

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VIP @ Uni: St Tropez

SATURDAY

Sun, sea and the South of France! I can taste the salt in the air as the boyfriend  and I arrive by boat to Saint-Tropez; makes a slight change to the Haymarket/Queen Street run! At the harbour we are picked up by a blacked-out Mercedes (don’t drug dealers get driven around in these!?) and taken to our hotel. A private chauffeur is not the only perk of staying at the newly opened Sezz Resort; we also get a private garden, private outdoor shower (in addition to a bath and a separate rain shower in the suite itself), Dom Perignon bar and spa treatments at the ready in the Payot spa. Later on that day we bike around the Cote d’Azur countryside to the beach where I try and do my best Brigitte Bardot impression. The 60’s sexpot definitely settled here for a reason…I might just follow suit. 

MONDAY

Mon dieu! All of these croque monsieurs are making me feel bloated! How do French people stay so thin with such a carbolicious diet!? A well-heeled local tells me that the French don’t eat as many trans-fats or processed goods as Anglo-Americans do. When I think about it, as the average diet of a Glasgow University student consists of alcohol, Subway, and chips and cheese; certainly not chic. Well, it’s oysters for me tonight at Bib Gourmand-awarded Le Girelier by the harbour…

TUESDAY

            After an entertaining afternoon of witnessing a post-menopausal American woman yelling at her husband in the middle of Saint-Tropez harbour, seemingly threatening to leave on a jetty without him (a tiff at Hermès between the boyfriend and I definitely paled in comparison to this all-out brawl), it was time to set out for a 320 euro taxi ride back to airport. I must be out of my mind to be paying that kind of money in order to get back to uni life, right?! Merde

Yours truly

C.P.

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GUM Glasgow Guide: Second Hand Bookshops

Amy Bromley

Caledonia Books on Great Western Road is the place to start your exploration of the West End’s second-hand bookshops. It has a charming atmosphere and that characteristic “bookshop” smell. The iron spiral staircase draws your eye as you come in the door, and they stock beautiful antiquarian folios that you would be unlikely to come across in large chain-stores. The staff mainly leave you alone, but if you’re looking for a place where you can chat with the proprietors, go to Thistle Books on Otago Street.

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Yeasayer @ ABC

Mary Machin

Yeasayer/Suckers at O2 ABC Academy 24/10/10

Yeasayer: Image by Jason Frank Rothenberg

Yeasayer’s second album, Odd Blood was released earlier this year to great acclaim, and looking back to before the record’s release is odd indeed because now it’s hard to imagine life without it. The same is true when looking back to times before this evening’s gig, because Yeasayer’s live intensity is astounding and hard to forget.

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Album Review: Write about love

Glasgow veterans Belle & Sebastian have captured our attention once more but is their new album worth a wee purchase? Adam Leo finds out…

Image credit: Matador

 

Belle & Sebastian have experienced only limited commercial success, with their highest charting album being their last, ‘The Life Pursuit,’ at no. 8. Their failure to enter the mainstream in no way dilutes the fact that they are still one of the most uniquely talented bands on the Indie music scene today, particularly since the mainstream seems to be saturated with soggy teenage crap, vacuum packed straight out of Simon Cowell’s studio.

Therefore it is with great celebration that after 4 long years B&S have returned with their 9th studio album “Write About Love.” Naturally, the album opens with a delicate relay of instruments in I Didn’t See It Coming, followed by a beefy burst of sounds on Come On Sister. The 4th track, I Want the World to Stop, is one of the stand-out tracks of the album with lovely flourishes of keyboard and guitar to delight.

Along with frontman Stuart Murdoch, a number of other artists lend their hand, including Norah Jones in ‘Little Lou, Ugly jack, Prophet John’ and actress Carey Mulligan in the title track and first single Write About Love. With the help of guests B&S have produced a sincere and original album without departing from the typical melodies expected by their adoring fans. The theme of love is inspiring and upbeat where it could have easily been soppy and tacky. When the album draws to a close with the soft guitar of Sunday’s Pretty Icons it does make you want to reach out and hug something.

Overall, this is a fantastic return to form by Belle and Sebastian, staying true to their distinct summery style yet venturing into new territory. This album is definitely up there with the best albums of 2010; if only it had been released 3 months ago then Scotland may have been a little bit warmer.

Label: Rough Trade, released on October 11, 2010

Belle and Sebastian play Barrowlands on 19th,20th,21st Dec 2010

http://www.myspace.com/thebandbelleandsebastian

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Staged Theatre Society Debeut

The launch of a new theatre society in Glasgow University’s already thriving theatre scene was a surprising breath of fresh air. Offering the audience (and open to all) a night of short plays a month, Staged Theatre Society aims to give a taster of all kinds of genres – as well as providing a challenge to the actors, directors and crew to provide a worthwhile performance in limited time and space. And the goods were delivered. Even the slightly ad hoc venue (Woodlands Hall of Wellington Church) only served to reinforce that it was in this type of event that the heart of student theatre lay. The artfully compacted plays show were: “Ashes to Ashes” by Harold Pinter, directed by Olga Silkina; “Play” by Samuel Beckett, directed by Amy Cameron; and “The Late Middle Classes” by Simon Gray, directed by Max Horberry – who’s initiative it was to start the society. All showed a high level of skill and were met with great enthusiasm by the audience – who will undoubtedly be returning for more next month.

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Dirty Paradise @ Tron Theatre
Photo: Tron Theatre

Dirty Paradise @ Tron Theatre

Thursday 7th October 2010

Esther Bain

 

Photo: Tron Theatre

 

To gain an understanding of the world from another person’s point of view, or at least to attempt it, is said to be one of the most enlightening projects one can attempt, and this is why the Scottish Mental Health Arts and Film Festival that hits Glasgow throughout October is such a worthwhile undertaking. The festival is now in its 4th year, and has become well established and valued, with over 200 arts events around Scotland offering a challenging perspective on mental health, and of those who are often marginalized and misunderstood.

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Aamer Anwar @ Glasgow Uni

On Tuesday evening, Glasgow University had a visit from one of it’s more controversial alumni: criminal defense lawyer Aamer Anwar. He gave a talk only 5 minutes from the very location he was violently battered by police for being “a black boy with a big mouth” while putting up posters in Ashton Lane in 1993 – whilst still a student at the university. 

Frequently branded a “terrorist sympathizer” by the tabloids (for his work defending those accused of terrorist action with paltry evidence) and currently featured in the news for his work on the live Tommy Sheridan case (which for obvious reasons he could not comment on) , Anwar spoke to students about  his work as a human rights activist and lawyer, reminding us throughout that: “law is not about lawyers.” He shared his experiences and views in the field, particularly focusing on the cases of institutionalized racism,which have sprung from the climate of fear in the UK since Blair joined Bush in a “war against terror.” Students were informed about the regular unfounded deportation of asylum seekers, harassment at airports, and lack of public enquiries which lead to the “tragedy and mispeech” in the law courts which were forcing normal people to campaign in defense of their innocent family members. Anwar wasn’t hesitant either to draw comparisons to the treatment of “terror suspects” to the now considered shocking treatment of IRA suspects all of twenty years ago. It wasn’t all bleak though – Anwar was eager to encourage students to get involved with campaigns – pointing out the decline in radical lawyers – and tried to dispel the myth that injustice in the system couldn’t be fought – pointing out that it was in meeting like this that some of the strongest campaigns were launched.

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What GUM are up to: September Weekend

Yasmin Ali

Hi and it has been a busy first week for the GUM team. We’ve sorted our new recruits from Freshers’ week; Week One and are ready for the first issue and the new term. This weekend we’re off doing different things, but here’s a taster of what’s on this September Bank Holiday. Read on to see what’s going on!

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Two Door Cinema Club @ GUU Debates Chamber
Photo: Amandla Taylor

Two Door Cinema Club @ GUU Debates Chamber

Dave Hunter & Joseph McEachen

Monday the 13th of September and ‘Two Door Cinema Club’ headline the first
night of Glasgow University’s Freshers week in the Debate Chambers of GUU.

Support came in the form of Glasgow’s own French Wives and Decade Agenda, with Johnny Reb absent after running into a spot of bother back stage. It was therefore up to Decade Agenda and French Wives to steal Johnny’s thunder and they both proved to have their feet firmly on the crowd taking the opportunity to thank the cogs in the machine for putting it all together.  Decade Agenda warmed up the crowd well with a short but solid set, putting in the groundwork for the appearance of Glasgow quintet French Wives who cut an imposing presence on stage.  In part, it’s down to lead singer Stuart Dougan being able to have a candid conversation with certain members of the Chambers balcony but it’s their depth in sound and finale of ‘Me vs Me’ which wins over the freshers faithful.(DH)

French Wives: Photo by Amandla Taylor
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Death Disco – very much alive
Death Disco, 25th September 2010

Death Disco – very much alive

Yasmin Ali

Monthly residency at Arches, French DJ & producer Don Rimini guests with headliners US electropop act MNDR.

Free advance tickets for freshers: simply present matric card/confirmation letter at Argyle St Box Office before Friday 24th September

ARCHES BOX OFFICE: 253 ARGYLE ST, GLASGOW | 0141 565 1000

www.thearches.co.uk

Death Disco, 25th September 2010
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Nightwalk Glasgow @ the Arches

Friday 10th September 2010

Rena Niamh Smith


Nightwalk is everything that’s right about Glasgow just now; multi-talented, highly original, loud and proud, if a little underground and out-of-the-way. The concept of the night was simple enough; hold an all-singing, all-dancing fashion show showcasing the creme of Glasgow sewing talent in the city’s hottest nightspot, the atmospheric Arches. Add to the mix a dance crew to open the show with ballet leaps and some seriously synchronized moves and a couple of trannies to light the night on fire with their outrageous style and you have a night to remember.

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Subcity Says Stay Fresh @ SWG3 Warehouse
Photo: Sean Anderson

Subcity Says Stay Fresh @ SWG3 Warehouse

15th September 2010

Megan Donald

Photo: Sean Anderson
Photo: Sean Anderson

Three days into Fresher’s  2010 brought the most anticipated night of the week. The parties held by Subcity Radio at this time of year bring massive amounts of excitement though the combination of the best electronic musical talents and new blood wondering what Subcity Radio is all about – fresh indeed.

Held in the SWG3 Warehouse, a suitably distant and cavernous a location to heighten the wonder, Subcity DJs Pasty 32, Diggin the Twelve Inch,  All Caps Radio, Indra and Shaun fae Solar began their mind expanding exploration into the vast, bass heavy landscape of Glasgwegian electronic music. The near complete darkness of the venue was boldly interrupted by large screens with visuals courteously provided by Joe Crogan and Visual AIDS. Altogether, the atmosphere was set for a seductively heavy, anything-could-happen kind of night.

Photo: Sean Anderson

Fuelled by the painfully relentless bass, the crowd responded instinctively to form a group welded by innate style and primal desire just for good music. For those uninitiated in the world of Subcity Radio, this night provided a stomping good welcome, showing that the university based station is a provider of musical class and can put on a show to rival (and often surpass) anything else on the Glasgow scene.

Photo: Sean Anderson
Photo: Sean Anderson
Photo: Sean Anderson
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Stephen Fry Live: Via Satellite @ Glasgow Film Theatre
Photograph: Steve Forrest/Rex Features

Stephen Fry Live: Via Satellite @ Glasgow Film Theatre

13/09/10, 7.15

By Megan Donald 

Photograph: Steve Forrest/Rex Features

  When I first heard the words ‘Stephen Fry’, ‘Live’ and ‘Glasgow’ in the same sentence, I exploded with delight. The prospect of seeing my literary idol in the flesh was almost too much too bear…Just as well I re-read the event description after being peeled off the ceiling –“Stephen Fry Live: via Satellite”. Whilst dearest Mr Fry would be grateful for the distance between my fanatical self in the Glasgow Film Theatre and him in London, I began to wonder just what I was spending £12.50 for. He was to be discussing his latest autobiography, The Fry Chronicles, to a live audience in London whilst being connected simultaneously to 60 other cinemas throughout Britain. I felt slightly cheated by this as what I was essentially watching was a video that would inevitably end up on YouTube. However, I put my cynicism aside and filed into the cinema to make up the most varied audience I have ever seen, validating Fry’s image as a “national treasure” – literally everyone loves him.

    The initial air of uncertainty in the cinema was replaced suddenly by a hum of respect as Stephen Fry stepped on stage (Well, on screen for us). Delightfully flustered, he stood behind a lectern with his book wedged with masses of notes and arranged his glasses nervously. But as soon as he began with that ubiquitous voice, everyone was reminded just how painfully articulate a man Stephen Fry is. He began with an extract of the first chapter which describes his fixation with sugar. Any other person spending 15 minutes of an hour long talk listing all the different types of sweets in the world would be exasperating but with Fry, it was a lesson in verbal dexterity and the audience was fixated. Apart from the joy taken purely from his performance and gracious manner, his searing honesty was both gripping and heart-breaking. Fry’s explanation of his personal difficulties during the early 1990’s in particular was completely self-deprecating and avoids the ‘woe is me’ tone that can haunt an autobiography.

   By the end of the evening the fact that it was via satellite and not properly live was irrelevant as the cinema was filled with an electric atmosphere. The talk proved that Stephen Fry’s autobiography, like the night’s event itself, is effortlessly entertaining and allows a lucid insight into the unexpected insecurities  of a man with whom a whole nation are fascinated with.

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Fashion on The Fringe with Che Camille
Photo: Andrew Begg

Fashion on The Fringe with Che Camille

 

Photo: Andrew Begg

 

Dearbhla McKeating, Fashion Correspondent 

Think Edinburgh Fringe, you would think performance rather than fashion. Che Camille, a design workshop based in Glasgow combined performance and fashion in staging the first fashion on the fringe in its opening weekend.

The eclectic performance aspects which the fashionistas were delighted with were slotted amongst the diverse displays of fashion from Scottish designers. They came in form of a ukulele accompanied song  written for the woman of the hour (in the sixty minutes previous to the show) and “Rock The Shop” – a rap about the history and origins of Che Camille. (Check out the music video on youtube.com!) Naturally the greatest form of the entertainment came from the impromptu drag act from the hot mess that is Lady Munter for her own half time show.

Now, back to the fashion.

 Continuing her support of the local, all fourteen designers exhibiting at Camille’s show were Scottish. The pieces played right into the hands of key trends for Autumn Winter 2010, regardless of which designers collections will have tickled your fashion taste buds.

Hibernate Design and Judy R Clark wrapped up their models in tweed to compliment Chanel’s Fall 2010 look. Hibernate Design also displayed knitwear that would do granny proud, although on the contrary Miss Dixie Belle would make granny blush with her eccentric lingerie flaunting corsets, nipple tassels, suspenders; the works. Granny might not appreciate, but it would certainly make us bitches and our boyfriends proud. Both Christina Beth Kean and MIA mocked the yawn recession gloom with funky gold pieces on the models, for the Christmas party anyone? Embracing the looks from McQueen to Anna Sui, the designers at Che Camille’s Fashion on the Fringe show covered every frosted base for the chilly season ahead.

 What the fashion on the fringe provided was the designer trends without the designer price tag. So don’t go blowing that student loan on the high street, invest in affordable, unique pieces in which you will not only stand out in but also promoting those so often unfortunately neglected Scottish designers.

DESIGNERS: Claire Ferguson, Kristina Beth Kean, Nonchalant by Gemma Carver, Miss Dixie Bell, Hibernate Design, Hayley Kruger, Jayne Stephens, Jane Gowans, Pure by Catriona Garforth, Judy R Clark, MIA, Little Sister Lucy, Pea Cooper Millinery, Obscure Couture

 

www.checamille.com

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ACTUAL HELP FOR GRADUATES

Life is hard, especially if you are about to fly out of your comfortable nest at university, feathered with your favourite duvet, illegal True Blood downloads and last night’s kebab leftovers. GUM gives you some helpful tips to prep you for the real world. Life is hard, especially if you are about to fly out of your comfortable nest at university, feathered with your favourite duvet, illegal True Blood downloads and last night’s kebab leftovers. GUM gives you some helpful tips to prep you for the real world.

1. DO NOT VOLUNTEER

Helping children in Somalia is nice of you, but if you’re doing it just to put it on your CV, stop and think again. How is this going to boost your career if you just graduated from Accounting and Finance? You should go and help other people only if you wish to do so from the bottom of your heart. Otherwise, please use your gap year between uni and work to learn a new language (German, Spanish, French). That could actually have a real impact on your employment chances in the future.

2. DO NOT WRITE YOUR OWN CV

By that we mean – do write the first draft and then let somebody else look at it and give you feedback. It’s best if you find a complete stranger to help you with this. Your friends and family know that you are very hard working and have a real talent for getting along with everyone, but your CV might be telling another story. And if you don’t know what the story is a number of doors could be left closed to you.

3. DON’T DO JUST ‘ANYTHING‘

Do something worth while. If you are not ripe enought to enter the job market, don’t waste your time working as a waitress, but try and get a funded scholarship at a foreign university or write to your dream employers and offer to do some work for free (you can outline what tasks you want to undertake). If you are the right person in the right place, by all means, you could be hired for real in a month.

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The Land of a Million Elephants

BY LAURA HORSLEY

Laos, the land of a million elephants, is a must see when exploring  South East Asia. Lush jungle, misty mountains and a deep engrained Buddhist culture are few of the attractions to Laos which has become a hub for backpackers trying to escape the tourist ridden Thailand.

Once in South East Asia, getting to Laos is relatively easy.  A popular route into Laos is to cross the Mekong River at Chaing Khong on the North-East Thai border and travel into the heart of Laos via the “slow boat”. This boat is, literally slow, taking two days with an overnight stop at a small village until eventually arriving at the beautiful city of Luang Prabang.

Bearing in mind this involves sitting on wooden benches for 8 hours a day, surrounded by backpackers and locals, in a tiny narrow boat, this journey can be painful yet, is not to be missed. The scenery when traveling down the Mekong River is stunning with jungle, mountains and the odd village made of palms and bamboo, framing the pathway to your destination.

The first overnight stop the boat takes is Pak Peng, a small, relaxed harbor village that is extremely unaffected by time. Watching the sunset with the locals whilst trying to swallow the local moonshine alcohol that is freely offered around is something of an experience, but well needed to rid those sea legs. Don’t however get too eager with the prospect of free alcohol – the locals may be able to glug away but one sip of the lighter fuel like liquid and your throat will burn for days…

After a drunken nights sleep and another 8-hour day back on the boat, you will arrive in Luang Prabang.  Once here, a crowd of excitable locals will greet you competing for your custom and the bargaining for a cheap room commences.

The efforts you will go to will be ridiculous, often bargaining over 20p as the backpacker purse strings grow ever tighter. A room for £1 to £2 is however common and means all the more to spend at Luang Prabang’s romantic night market.

The city of Luang Prabang itself is influenced by its French colonialist occupation, it’s traditional Buddhist culture, and Laos’ communist government. The upside to this is that Luang Prabang is a vibrant city that has managed to retain its traditional influences. Even better is the French cuisine, a happy necessity after living off noodle and rice for months on end. Once here, relax, wander around the numerous temples and treat yourself to a few bottles of the legendary beerlao. If you’re feeling really enthusiastic, you can also attempt to wake up at dawn to take part in the Morning Alms Giving procession. This involves kneeling in the street with the locals and offering food to the monks that pass by; a tiring but magical experience.

Moving on from Luang Prabang, you can travel onto more idyllic spots off the tourist trail or like every other backpacker, head to the grossly tourist spot that is Vang Vieng. The bus journey here is painfully slow and the roads will make your stomach turn but the scenery on the way is well worth seeing. Vang Vieng itself is nestled in a beautiful green landscape with the river on its doorstep, framed by vast limestone mountains. The town is however awfully affected by alcohol seeking travelers and a room in one of the quest houses on the river is a more recommended destination for a nights sleep.

The main attraction here, second to caving, is “tubing”; an alcohol fuelled bender where inflatable rubber rings are rented and you are dropped off at a string of bars by the river. Here, rope swings, slides, and trapezes throw you into the river and as you float down, the locals pull you in to experience their free shots and buckets of alcohol. If you’re after a mud fight, a few bevies and a very drunken, often dangerous, swim down the river, this is the place to be.

You can do this for a couple of days but soon enough your liver will yell for a rest and its time to travel to the capital Vientiane. Unlike Bangkok, Vientiane is a calming and relaxed capital that is a welcome change after one too many intoxicated nights in Vang Vieng. Here there is an opportunity to see the local temples, laze in one of the many cafes, and make some last minute buys at the morning market.

When traveling in Laos, it must be remembered that communism is prevalent and in some areas a curfew must be abided by. Do your reading before you go and be sure to avoid political events. You should be somewhat vigilant, as cases of civil unrest, armed attacks and bombings have occurred in the past. Especially in certain spots such at Route 13 from Luang Prabang to Vang Vieng, a highway that is known to be especially prone to bandits.

This aside, Laos is an extremely diverse country and whether you want to experience a different culture, trek, cave, venture into remote provinces or just get intoxicated with fellow backpackers, Laos is a perfect destination. The country is responding to tourism and as a result, becoming ever more visited and expensive but this is exactly why it is such a perfect place to visit now.

Just avoid the wet season, get some Laos kip and get traveling!

HOW TO GET THERE

An overnight sleeper train is the easiest way to get to Bangkok but flights can be taken to other countries from here. How recommendable it is to fly with Laos airlines is debatable. The planes are said to be more like flying cars and not all too safe to fly with. Based on price and time however, they are often a popular choice.

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IF YOU’RE ONLY GOING TO READ ONE BOOK IN YOUR LIFE, READ…

“The Master and Margarita” by Mikhail Bulgakov.

As sad as it is, not many young people in the UK know about this great Russian writer and Anna Martinen even dares to call him World-Literate. Even those leisurely readers, who are not interested in history and politics, can find something from the life and writings of Mr Bulgakov, as his works are incredibly clever and multi-dimensional.

Born in the end of 19th century, Bulgakov witnessed huge changes in the political landscape during his short life. While the majority in Russia were fascinated with the idea of a revolution and “the power of people” instead of royal rule, Bulgakov suspected that the future’s not going to be as bright as promised. He was a clever and educated man, extremely fond of his own beliefs and honour. People described him as the most honest person they had ever met and perhaps because of this trait Bulgakov never gave in to the political ideologies of his time.

He had to suffer under severe pressure for his resistance, though, put on him by comrade Stalin. The extraordinary attention Bulgakov gained from the Leader resulted not only in being bullied by secret agents, having his notebooks and manuscripts confiscated, plays taken off the stage just a couple of days before the show and almost all his friends arrested, but even in personal terrorising phone calls from Stalin himself. Imagine yourself being a writer, and say, Mr Gordon Brown calling you (too often) about a new essay or article you wrote (and no, I’m not comparing Stalin to Mr Brown, only in respect of grandeur). You can imagine what kind of moral pressure the writer was under.

It is worth contemplating why Bulgakov was ‘honoured’ with all that attention, instead of being sent to a concentration camp where many other dissident writers found their end. Stalin was probably impressed with Bulgakov’s writing talent and wanted to use it for his own purposes (but you can’t make the river flow backwards, can you?). The other possible explanation why Bulgakov’s life was retained is that Stalin needed to have an equal opponent to his ideas. By trying to break Bulgakov’s spirit, Stalin could prove to himself his own authority and power. But he never succeeded. Bulgakov eventually wrote the much wanted communistic piece, but unfortunately for comrade Stalin, he was not the hero of the work, more like an anti-hero.

Power is one of many themes that is to be found in Mikhail Bulgakov’s most famous work – The Master and Margarita. The structure of the novel is complex and multi-dimensional, coming off as a beautiful dance of several story lines that interweave with each other to form one harmonious image. Bulgakov cogitates about power and how it influences people today and in the past. The possession of power and how one uses it is crucial to the writer when portraying human nature.

Although the book is renowned for its ingenious political satire and rewriting of a Biblical tale, it can also be read as a romantic story about self-sacrificing love. The love between the Master and his Margarita is not just fiction and fantasy; the writer himself experienced a very passionate love affair and wrote this book as a mirror To his own life. But this is still not where The Master and Margarita stops unfolding its surprises…Sci-fi fans–this book is for you, too! Witches and the Devil, talking cats, magic- mystical powers of good and evil are all over this story. The book has strong connections to Goethe’s Faust and, similarly to the German writer, Bulgakov shows that nothing is one-sided, just black and white. The ‘negative’ protagonist (the Devil) is someone who connects the past, present and future into one accomplished picture. Certainly deeper than your usual fairy tale.

Bulgakov described himself as a mystic and satiric, and he lived and wrote up to that description. His work reflects his own time and life, retells the past, foresees the future, and not least – really opens us up for a discussion on human nature. With no doubt, Bulgakov possesses a great power over words and that is why everyone, who considers themselves a thinking being, should read this book. Take your time and stop the rush to think about life as Bulgakov did.

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An art assistant’s diary

This time last year I sent an application for work experience to a contemporary art gallery. The gallery was the Georges Pompidou Centre of Contemporary Art, which is situated in the beautiful Lot valley in the south of France. Applying was a long shot; I didn’t think they would respond. But like magic, two hours and a reply later, my summer had been finalised. I had attained my dream internship. BY JESSIE RODGER

The Georges Pompidou Centre of Contemporary Art is an organisation created by the family and friends of Georges Pompidou in honour of the artistically supportive Prime Minister who had had a holiday home in the valley. Despite being less recognised than its counterpart (the similarly titled Parisian centre of contemporary art Centre Pompidou), with its spectacular location and unique plural gallery set up, it is certainly worthy of world fame. 

 June 2009 marked the start of preparation for the centre’s Contemporary Art Route that would be put in place across the valley for the summer. Entitled ‘World Watchers 3’ the exhibition would approach the ecological theme of ‘watching over’ our environment and world, and would be created by six international artists. I acted as a personal assistant to the invited artists during the preparation for this exhibition. I had the most amazing three months as an artist’s assistant and met some great people that I will never forget. Through this diary I hope to share some of that experience with you.

J’arrive!

I first arrive in the Lot valley with my Dad and an exhausted Ford KA. We have just made the long haul from deepest darkest Wales to the sunny south of France. Art is far from the agenda as we set off to find some good local cuisine. We discover a rustic restaurant hidden away in Saint Cirq Lapopie, a village nestled on top of one of the dramatic limestone cliffs of the valley. This village will be my home for the next three months. After enjoying some of the local specialities we are involuntarily included in an in-depth chat with the out-going restaurateur. When I reveal that I’m going to be working 

at the Centre of Contemporary Art, opposite the restaurant, he looks at me with a shocked expression. ‘Theeere?’ he says ‘Oh. Good luck… They’re all off their heads over there’. 

Et voilà, the first words I hear of the gallery, it certainly hasn’t helped my nerves.

First encounter with a sea-mouse

On entering the artists’ residence for the first time the four other interns and I are greeted by a bizarre cry, ‘Sea-Mouse, Oh Sea-Mouse’. It’s the artist Marion Laval-Jeantet, one half of the duo Art Orienté Objet. She later explains that she couldn’t pronounce the name of the Irish artist Seamus Farrell, so has decided to call him Sea-Mouse instead. This memorable first meeting was to be a precursor of the quirkiness of things to come during our time with the gallery.

 The next artist to appear is Seamus Farrell himself, an artist who works principally with glass. He immediately launches into one of his famous monologues, mandatory beer in one hand, fag in the other. Seamus is known for his ability to turn his hand to anything in the art world but with his philosophical mind and expressive capacity it was our discussions that I most appreciated. 

 The other artists, though somewhere in the house, were hidden away most probably avoiding the awkward first day introductions. Either way their absence gave them an element of mystery that made the next morning a much more intriguing prospect.

A prickly début

Today we finally get to work with the artists! Laure (a fellow intern) and I are appointed as Gilles Bruni’s assistants for the next few days. I’m excited, Gilles is a landscape artist and he’s created some amazing pieces in the past. For this exhibition he plans to create a sculptural installation at the mouth of an abandoned railway tunnel. This work will represent a journey through the different forms of transport the region has relied upon, culminating in a real car plunging into the depths of the tunnel. However there is a catch.In order to transfer the car to its position we will have to clear 2 km of vegetation from the abandoned railway track behind the tunnel, in three days.Suddenly being Gilles Bruni’s assistant is less exciting than it was a few hours ago. Without the correct tools I am knee deep in brambles, bleeding from the countless scratches up my arms and the sun is beating down at thirty five degrees. Sir Giles, as we like to call him, wants the three of us to accomplish the impossible, and I don’t know if we can do it.

With a little help from our French friends 

 Returning to our task is even more daunting this morning, but the locals seem to have caught wind of what’s going on. An hour doesn’t pass on the railway track without a few residents from the neighbouring village coming along for a sneak peak at what we’re getting up to with their tunnel. Josette and Odette, sisters from the old signal house, get us through a good half hour of clearing with the village gossip. Later on I look up to the chateau on the cliffs above us and the eccentric owner we’d met earlier blows us a lofty kiss. The Mayor of the village and his wife even appear through the undergrowth as the day wears on to spur us on. These welcoming interludes give us the motivation to continue and somehow we manage to complete Gilles’ work of art. It was ambitious and could not have happened without the boost in morale the villagers brought us all.

Lost in translation

Today I start as Akira sunrise’s aide, which is a much more calming experience than the few days I spent with Gilles. Akira is a Japanese musician in residency with the art centre and is rather lost as he doesn’t speak a word of French. I will help him communicate by interpreting his English to the French musicians he meets. Today we’re going to an old rural wash house to jam with a local saxophonist. This might seem strange as a location, but Akira likes to work with water in a natural environment when he makes music so it is perfect for him. I only have to interpret a few words between the musicians then it’s down to the music and I’m present for a very special exchange surrounded by dragonflies, water and rolling French countryside.Akira has a concert this evening and he delights the audience with the unique sounds he makes from his self-made steel percussion instruments. I film every second on his camera, proud that in some way I am playing a role in his world.

The impossibly possible

Since 7 this morning we have been up in the trees trying to wrap up a whole beech wood in pink wedding dress material. The duo Art Orienté Objet wants to create a big environmental present. Instead of wrapping the trees we are damaging them and the project has to stop. This failure means a loss of €600 for the artists but despite being a little down they are hardly fazed. After all, every single one of their other wacky ideas for this exhibition has somehow worked out. With the help of the local knitting club they managed to knit the skin of a life-size polar bear to create their sculpture ‘la Peau de chagrin’. Furthermore just yesterday the tree they had transported all the way from Cameroon in Africa was installed successfully in the local church where it was decorated with bicycle wheels. Today, I’ve had first hand experience of the fantastical nature of contemporary art. These artists conceive the craziest ideas that everyday individuals couldn’t think to put into practice. When they succeed in realising them they create something truly exceptional. I think that’s the beauty of contemporary artists, and contemporary art today; through bright ideas the ordinarily impossible is made possible, or at least sometimes it is…

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Jumper? I barely know ‘er!

THIS STORY is about my flatmate Calum. You may remember him from such bars as Jinty’s and  The Park, but he won’t remember you. Anyway, I thought it fitting to ask this warlock his views on male fashion and, in particular, about his cracking array of jumpers. The following is the fruit of thirty seven minutes of me,him, a Dictaphone and some firewater he picked up as ‘medicine’ for his cold. Make of it what you will.

ALI: Calum, would you give me your thoughts on your incredible fashion sense, please? You’ll be helping the male populace of GU, and Cally, if they fancy it.

CALUM: I don’t really think  about fashion. I get like funny wee t-shirts with films and bands on and that. Like everyone does. But,ach. Sometimes I get T-shirts that look actually good. I am starting to grow up, I guess…But always with a jumper,not  just bare arms. Not an option in Scotland.

A: You’d get beaten up in Newcastle for wearing a jumper.

C: Aye.

A: What  aren’t you keen on in fashion for guys in Glasgow?

C: Meh, it’s the sportswear. The people in Edinburgh keep trying to propagate the myth that Glaswegians will kill you. The tracksuit isn’t helping us much. But the tracksuit is so ubiquitous, it’s such a part of our identity now.

A: I agree. We’re not collectively Usain Bolt. We are not. 

C: Oh. And. Apparently. Being “geek “is “in” (Calum looks like his firstborn has been  given the Nobel). I feel like the stopped clock is telling the right time, baby!

A: Yes! Yes, that is true. Geek Chic. Louis Theroux mentioned that he had seen Geek Chic in a bookshop, but “daren’t pick it up, in case anyone thought I imagined myself a chic geek.” Besides which, who is your jumper idol?

C: Well, I always thought Kurt Cobain had great jumpers. Or like rocking the cardigan look. But they’re all usually pretty raggedy. 

A: The drizzle in Seattle, you see.

C:  Fair enough wearing wrecked clothes. I mean, my jeans are on the way. But…mess has to happen organically, if you will. Or you can buy like Batman T-shirts already faded like you’ve washed them a 1000 times! Why would you do that? Do it and wear it for 13 years like my friend Greg did.

A: Which out of Superman and Batman do you like better?

C: Batman has the best villains. But if I had to be one, I’d be Superman. He gets his power from the sun! Batman has to work out and stuff. Balls to that. Oh, and have his parents killed. Superman just rocks up.

A: Yeah, Batman’s kind of a dick.

C: Aye.

NO.1 – VESTY JUMPER

A: Nice sweater vest,Cal.

C: Sorry, dunno the technical terms. I call it a vesty jumper. I normally wear it with this shirt.

A: Oh! Babycord!

C: What?

A: Yeah, like corduroy, but it’s really really skinny. So yeah, babycord.

C: Right. I saw a lecturer wearing this exact one! I was in Boyd Orr and I saw a man in – what  did you call it – sweater jumper? Makes me look like a Rangers-supporting Geography teacher in his mid-50s.

 

NO.2 – LAGER TOP 

C: I got it last Christmas. Came in a box; I don’t think I’ve ever had a jumper in a box before.

A: Deprived child.

C: I really like the brown…and then the dark brown. But if it was black, it wouldn’t work. 

A: What’s your favourite memory of wearing it?

C: Ehhhh…Yeah,well, it’s my lager top. Hides the stains.

NO.3 – FISHERMAN’S SWEATER

A: This…just. Wow. I love this beast.

C: I’m not really sure where this one is from again. Reckon it was a XMAS vouchers job. I don’t really shop in Next. All clothes shops merge into one. That’s a great thing for your fashion article, eh.

A: Yeah, cheers. Where do you like wearing this anyway?

C: Spend most of my winter in that one. Saturdays and Sundays…you know. My Hangover days.

A: Yeah, I know. Saturday, Sunday … Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday….

NO.4 – ACTUAL FISHERMAN’S SWEATER

A: It looks like you’re from the Soviet Union.

C: I have  a picture of Ernest Hemingway, and he is wearing something very similar. Makes me feel like Hem without having to grow a big beard.

A: Where did you get this bad boy?

C: Ach, well, when I moved to work in Barra, I’d mostly steal  my granpa’s jumpers… they’re all thick and hairy, and I liked this one. It was good when I was on the beach at six in the morning.

A: Why the frick were  you on a beach at 6am?

C: I was a shellfisherman.

A: A shellfisherman.

C: Aye.

A: I knew you lived there and poked around. But I didn’t… Jesus, a shellfisherman.

C: Mostly cockles.

A: You like cockles, do you?

C: Well, yeah, they pay the bills.

 

NO.5 – STRIPY DAVID TENNANT ONE

A: Stripes are good.

C: I’m always conscious that you can’t really wear green and white stripes here.And  when I’m in Edinburgh, everyone thinks I’m a Hearts supporter…but I can live with that.

A: I can see that. So does Barry Manilow know that you raid his wardrobe?

C: Judging by the evidence….no.

A: That’s about right. So, any final words of wisdom for the masses, Cal? Send your legions of new fans off into the battlefield with a witty aphorism?

C: Err…just…wear what you’re wearing.

INTERVIEW BY ABI L. GLEN

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NOTES ON CAMPUS RESTARAUNTS

GUM went on a restaurant-crawl and looked around in the many food facilities of Glasgow University.

THE HUB (Laptop friendly!)

Despite the debate that has arisen over the modern shiny outside design of the Fraser building, this place is extremely popular among students. People come here for the great variety of meals and real comfy couches, and to soak in some warmth and brightness which, surprisingly enough, has been achieved in our Scottish climate thanks to clever interior design solutions. The place is packed with tables in all sizes, and the feeling you get in the Hub is an obscure combination of being part of a big student commune and having anonymity still (because the place is so overcrowded).

ONE A THE SQUARE

Somewhat hidden from the main torrent of students, the atmosphere at One A is professional and subdued. This is a place where you can catch a glimpse of your professors in a less informal milieu (well, as informal as one might get under neogothic arches of the main building). We suggest eating at A1 to rediscover your motivation for studying. The only thing that really strikes the aesthetics among us is the clash between majestic mantle-pieces and plastic chairs. It’s a sin that’s prevalent in all rooms of the main building.

JOHN MCINTYRE CAFE

Lunch at John Mac will be quick and convenient when you’re craving for a coffee+sandwich and don’t have time to wait in line. You’ll find an adequate amount of free seating and are able to do your seminar reading as you’ll hardly bump into any of your friends here. The building’s strategically located and has its own ATM! Make sure you don’t get run over by the door when you first try to make your way into the building.

ROOM IN THE LIBRARY WITH SOME FOOD IN FRIDGES

This is a last resort for the hungry during a period of essay deadlines. Self service, three different kinds of sandwiches and a vending machine with waxy apples. Not appetizing, but then again they say you work better on an empty stomach.

THE QMU ‘FOOD FACTORY‘

The Food Factory is a modest dining hall on the second floor of the QMU with no remarkable dishes nor conveniences. So leave your high expectations at the oversize baggage counter. The sandwiches can easily cause nightmares to some people but

warm tacos with cheese and those well baked potatoes might even be worth climing

the stairs. On another good note, the view over the campus is quite noteworthy and lunch here won’t chew up your student loan.

THE CRYPT (GUM’s favourite!)

Despite a bright yellow advert on University Avenue, not many people find their way into the Crypt in Wellington church. This well kept secret has a particularly dreamy and mysterious atmosphere supported by a low ceiling, dim lights and warm smiles of happy serving staff. The Crypt can boast with home made soups and pastries (prices are well under the campus average), but if the menu nor those friendly smiles don’t get under your skin, maybe the piano with a “Play me!” sign will.

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GAMES DON’T KILL PEOPLE. PEOPLE DO.

ANDREW GALLACHER is a simple man who can handle four different types of guns and can run for hours at a time. On the computer that is. He explains why the fantastic virtual world cannot be blamed for sad happenings in the real life. 

I have a confession to make. I have, as yet, failed to go on a killing spree. I haven’t even delivered a mild beating to anyone. I have also failed to defeat the Whermacht single-handed, repel any alien and/or demonic invaders, collect gold rings, search any castles for princesses or attempted to arrange a variety of oddly shaped blocks into rows as they fall on me from above to the sound of a catchy Russian tune. I haven’t become an Olympic skier either.

Which is odd as these are all activities which a lifetime of playing games should have habituated me into doing. Or so goes the reasoning of politicians, pundits and activists that flock to the scene of any tragic incidence of youth violence. As sure as the sun rising if there is a school shooting or teen murder there will be someone trying to link the killers actions to video games. The logic goes like this: many adolescents play games, some of these games depict violence in some fashion, occasionally an adolescent will commit an act of violence; therefore the playing of 

video games by children and teens inevitably leads to violence. I ,who despite playing such games through my entire childhood have yet to commit a violent crime, am clearly an aberration. As are my friends. And their friends. Who am I to deny the mountains of data and scientific evidence that support this indestructible chain of logic?

 

Well then, let’s take a look at some actual facts. After the Columbine shooting the US Secret Service conducted a study on every school shooting known to have occurred in the States. They attempted to identify the characteristics of the attackers. They found some interesting results. Only 12% of attackers displayed an interest in violent video games. 24% were interested in violent books and 27% in violent movies. By far the largest type of media that attackers were interested in was the their own written word. 37% displayed an interest in violence in their writing in essays, poems and diaries. In fact the majority (63%) of attackers came from a stable two parent family, the majority (66%) were also receiving Cs or higher in their school work, the majority (63%) had no history of disciplinary problems. The largest group (41%) were considered socially ‘mainstream’ (which is to say that they were not considered to be on the fringe or outside of mainstream student social life). Statistically, the most likely candidate to commit a school shooting is from a stable family, is doing well academically, has no history of violence or interest in violent media and would be considered socially well adjusted. Not as simple as ‘violent games make violent kids’ is it?

I think that makes the point quite well but we should take a look at some data from the UK just to be sure. If video games lead to an increased tendency for violent behaviour then we should see an increase in violent crime rates over time. Let’s take a period of about 30 years. Games have been a part of mainstream society for that long and it’s long enough for an entire generation to have grown up from childhood to fully functioning (or in my case hopefully functioning) adulthood. In 1980 there were approximately 2 million incidents of violent crime in England & Wales. In 2009 there were approximately 2 million incidents of violent crime in England & Wales. Not exactly the collapse of society. Violent crime did spike quite sharply around 1995 for some reason but that was not the high point of graphic gaming violence. In fact, in terms of homicide, the sharpest increase occurred during the 70s with the incidence leaping from  8.1 homicides per million of population in 1970 to 12.5  homicides per million of population in 1980. The biggest game of the 70s was Pong. Does anyone believe that the advent of electronic ping pong would lead to a 25% increase in the murder rate?

I could continue in this vein for a while. I could point out that of the many scientific studies which have investigated the impact of video games on young people most have found no real evidence of a link between games and violence. I could make you aware of the fact that the handful that do show a link just happen to have been published by the same small group of people who have not exactly remained above reproach with regards to the reliability of their methods. 

I could…well, you get the idea.

So what does cause these outbreaks of violence? The US Secret Service report did find some interesting common ground between attackers. They all suffered from extreme depression, they all found it difficult to cope with failure and they all had suffered some form of failure or setback prior to their attack. So individuals who, as result of their depression, place a low value on their own life and the lives of others suffer a setback. This exacerbates an already precarious mental state and, unable to accept responsibility for the situation, they seek revenge on those they believe have caused it. Of course this narrative is as simplistic in its own way as the one which blames games. I believe that in truth there are as many reasons as there are attackers, but to accept this is to accept that there is little  we can do to control or predict these events.

And that is something that we as society have great difficulty with. Human beings have always and will always be violent. Competition for resources, fear of the unknown, jealousy, revenge and anything else you can think of can cause it. In the Western world we have managed to both minimize this violence in our daily lives while vastly increasing the potential damage a violent individual can cause. This is what makes these events so shocking. But you are still more likely to die in a car accident than be violently murdered. 

Perversely, we accept the risk of a car accident because it is so common and fear the risk of a murder because it is so uncommon. Maybe instead of trying to control the uncontrollable we should work on fixing the easily fixable instead.

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If you’re only going to play one game in your life, play…

…LEGEND OF ZELDA! By Andrew Bianchi

An eerie calm haunts the chamber as you enter. Your eye is drawn towards the rock platform, perched precariously above a sea of magma. As you cross the stone bridge into the very heart of the volcano, the tension reaches an almost unbearable crescendo. But nothing happens. You look around tensely, allowing yourself a breath.

And then the floor of the chamber begins to shake. Your only way out crumbles into the fiery abyss as the creature bursts forth, its electric blue eyes locking onto you. It turns and opens its jaws to let forth a belch of flame. You grip the hilt of your sword and can’t help but smile. This dragon’s going down.

Hot stuff doesn’t really begin to cover it. And it’s only one of the many epic battles from fantasy adventure, ‘The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time’. Released in 1998 on the Nintendo 64 console, Nintendo’s first 3D entry in the popular Zelda series was met with both critical and financial success. Now, after more than 10 years and numerous sequels of varying quality, it is still regarded as a classic, and has lost none of its potency, and for lack of a better word, magic.

Ocarina is the story of a boy called Link. Raised and protected in an enchanted forest, he is forced to fulfil his heroic destiny of protecting a holy relic from sorcerer Ganondorf. Joining forces with the titular Princess Zelda, the pair set out upon a quest that will take them from sunken temples to scorching deserts, to the realm of the Gods, and even through time itself. 

But why, you may ask, is a game in such a clichéd genre still so popular? The answer lies in its ability to offer a great many things to a variety of players. 

The hardcore gamer seeks the familiar presented in a new fashion, which will hopefully take them a while to complete. Ocarina offers an engrossing story combined with a quest so demanding it takes weeks to finish. Mix this with technological features which shook the gaming world to its foundations – a targeting system that worked; context sensitive buttons which allowed the player to perform a different action using the same button in different circumstances; and to top it all, the ability to choose which button did what. These features have since become common place in third person adventures. But when Zelda came out it felt like a far more innovative and cool way to play.

To those less impressed with button pressing, Ocarina offered something else. A living, breathing world to lose yourself in. A world called Hyrule, complete with towns, cities, deep lakes and windswept deserts. A world still relatively large by today’s gaming standards. This world is something similar to those created by Rowling and Tolkien. But in this instance, you are not being led, but the one deciding which path to follow.

Perhaps more impressive than sheer scale is the game’s reliance on the player’s natural curiosity. Although the sweeping story gradually carries the player through the various landscapes of Hyrule, he or she is ultimately free to neglect his destiny and find something more fun to do. Thus when otherwise bored of demon slaying, you could spend an hour or two fishing on the shores of Lake Hylia, improving your aim with a crossbow in the shooting galleries or even risk a scorched pixel or two by taking part in the risky sport of bowling with bombchus – little mechanical bombs which scuttle towards their target once dropped. You could even take part in a race to free an abused horse from its cruel master, which both strikes a blow for virtual mistreatment of animals, and gives you a mode of transport for the rest of the game.

Many of these activities were, due to their lack of effect on the main quest, often overlooked by people who blasted through in a rush to complete. Thus players who took the time to explore the (virtual) world often stumbled across things they believed only they knew about. For the patient, curious or just downright stubborn player, Zelda keeps throwing surprises.

Whether you are battling the undead, catching the biggest fish you can, riding horseback into the sunset, travelling through time or, to top it off, musically mangling a variety of compositions on the titular ocarina, Ocarina of Time keeps knocking your socks off with its wit, imagination and sheer barminess. It stands alone amongst a sea of pretenders to its crown, and is responsible for the immersive virtual worlds which are now commonplace. Although time may not be kind to the graphics, the experience of playing makes Ocarina perfect for both novices and battle hardened heroes. The game lives very much up to its title. It is a legend.

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STUDENT DATING REVISED

Dr. Love takes you on a journey of alternative romance across the city of Glasgow with first date suggestions that should or should not be taken seriously. 

If you do happen to get the real(!) phone number of some girl at the QMU, you’ve only one shot to impress them. Don’t spend twenty pounds on a dinner+movie that won’t get you anywhere except closer to your overdraft limit, but find a surprising and memorable place to take your date to. In the words of the once famous romantic classic Marshall Mathers III: “Do not miss your chance […] because opportunity comes once in a lifetime, yo!”

 

THE MITCHELL LIBRARY

The Mitchell Library constantly hosts events such as the National Poetry Day Celebration with Hamish Whyte, Irish Family History Workshops and ‘This is Who We Are’ – Scots in Canada. Admittedly, these can be hit-or-miss dates depending on the depth and width (or girth?) of your date’s sense of humour and interest in their family history.  What cannot go wrong, however, is sitting down behind the Mitchell Library public piano and playing some Liszt for your heartthrob. 

BREAKFAST AT YOUR PLACE

If your kitchen at the student halls isn’t too much of a mess and you can manage to kick your roommate out for a 3 hour long morning run, why not go shopping at the nearest Tesco Express (or better yet, an organic food store) and bake some scones together for breakfast? You’ll find an easy recipe on the Internet, or in one of the ten student cook books that you got as a farewell present from your mum. Call your date over for 9am (or 10am if it’s a Sunday!) and try not to get too wasted the previous night. This could turn out to be the start of something beautiful.

PROPER DANCING

Do you think you can dance? Chances are you don’t know yet, because you have never tried to jive outside your secondary school’s compulsory dance lessons. Give it another go with your possible future life partner. You can either take one of the many independent dance classes in the city or attend lessons on campus. And the best thing about it is you’ll learn right from the start if your love could step on your toes during your wedding waltz or glides like a graceful swan.

QUIZ NIGHT OUT

A Pub Quiz is a good choice for a date if you want to make sure you’re not wasting your time on a total numpty. Equally, if you like to show your intellectual dominance over your significant other, the seemingly very trivial quiz can lend a helping hand. But be warned – you cannot prepare for these quizzes and could end up looking like an idiot yourself by shouting out the names of all the Eastenders or the Celtic U-19 team (and nobody cares about your knowledge of Proust). Luckily you’re in a pub and a couple of pints will alleviate your unease.

NECROPOLIS

Yes, Necropolis is the cemetery very close to Strathclyde University in the city centre. If you plan to take your date there, don’t tell him or her in advance because, frankly, it would sound weird and they’ll think you’re a twisted Twilight-fan. Instead, propose a late evening walk around the city and subtly guide your date up the hill towards Glasgow Cathedral. The beautifully lit Necropolis will lure you closer in the dark and you’ll be holding each others hands for comfort sooner than you can say: “Boo!”

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Love. Actually.

Our resident scientist ANNE MARIE REID unveils the biochemical workings of the body when we spot a hottie across the dancefloor or give our grandpa a peck on the cheek.

The English playwright W. Somerset Maugham once claimed that love is only a dirty trick played on us to achieve continuation of the species. No doubt that many of us would object to such a cold, unfeeling description of one of nature’s most profound wonders; why do we Love? The answers to Love’s questions were primarily the realm of poets, musicians and artists, but now scientists are beginning to unravel some of the mysteries behind this elusive emotion and discovering that Love may be ruled more by the head than the heart.

 

Love comes in many shapes and forms; from the passionate, all-consuming desires of romantic love to the protective, selfless love of a mother to her child, even the bonds of friendship yield strong emotions of loyalty and affection that could be interpreted as Love. Due to advances in the field of neurobio-logy, researchers have been able to analyse brain patterns in the states of romantic and maternal (or parental to be fair to fathers) love, and rather surprisingly they are activated in a similar manner. This is significant as both romantic and parental love have evolutionary importance; romance for the creation of new generations and parental love to develop, support and guide offspring until they are independent and can continue the species themselves.

Unsurprisingly, love activates the brain’s reward regions in the cortex and subcortex; activation of these reward centres leads to the recognisable feelings of pleasure, euphoria, desire, happiness and even addiction, jealousy and hopelessness. The major culprits, or Cupids we could say, that are involved in the signalling within these centres are the brain messengers dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin and vasopressin. Dopamine is one of the most prevalent ‘pleasure molecules’ in the brain; the dopaminergic system is the site of action for many recreational drugs such as cocaine and heroin, even nicotine, and is associated with “feeling good” and elated. Unfortunately, as with drugs, stimulation of this pathway can lead to the dark feelings of addiction and misjudgement, which can overcome all rationality and reason. And due to there being receptors for dopamine along the gastrointestinal tract leading to increased stimulation of the gut, dopamine can in part explain one of Love’s phenomena – “butterflies in the stomach”. Elevation of dopamine during sensations of love, pleasure and desire are coupled with a depletion in another brain messenger – serotonin. Serotonin is responsible for mood and hunger; and a decrease in serotonin levels of “loved up” individuals is similar to that of obsessive-compulsive disorders. The calm-inducing effects of serotonin are dampened by a brain literally awash with dopamine, leading to the obsessive, single-mindedness often experienced by those in both romantic and parental love. Oxytocin, often referred to as the ‘Cuddle Chemical’ and vasopressin are two very similar and inter-linked peptides; they are highly involved in pair bonding, partner selection and social attachment. They contribute to the feelings of trust, loyalty and devotion associated with Love. Indeed, both are released substantially during romantic and parental love interactions such as sexual intercourse and breast-feeding. The ultimate test remains whether increasing or decreasing levels of these ‘cuddle chemicals’ may explain the range in monogamy or promiscuity between humans; discovering if we truly are by nature a promiscuous species and only bound by the social constraints of monogamy.

The cupid molecules described above are only the most recognised and characterised ‘players’ in this rather complex game of Love. But what of Attraction; the initial spark that lights the fuse, the very thing that makes one person catch another’s eyes? Our typically feminine and masculine characteristics of appearance are determined by sex steroids circulating at puberty; such as testosterone in men leading to strong jaws, chins and heavy-set eyebrows, and oestrogen in women creating classically high cheekbones, small noses and chins. However, not all males and females display these obvious gender stereotypes and surely everyone has their own opinion of what makes a person beautiful? Unfortunately, the old adage of “beauty being in the eye of the beholder” does not ring true; and in actual fact, there does appear to be an average ‘Desirable Man’ at least for students at the University of St Andrews. This man is not your typical testosterone-fuelled macho man, but rather an intriguingly smooth-skinned, caring type. The female personification of beauty is much more innate, and even cross-cultural; with oriental ideals being very similar to western preferences. Regularity, symmetry and having large eyes and lips, and a small nose and chin have universal appeal. Accentuation of any of these feminine features may also explain why some women are more strikingly beautiful than others, but the general underlying rules of female beauty appear to be consistent. Olfaction, or the sense of smell is arguably one of the most underrated of our senses; this is never truer than in the case of Love and Attraction. Surely sniffing or smelling makes us no less crude than dogs and cats for selecting a potential mate? Actually though, our pets might be telling us something. Pheromones are chemicals produced by the body that are emitted to the environment. There are currently four known functions of these pheromones throughout the animal kingdom; opposite-sex attraction, same-sex repellence, mother-child bonding and regulation of the female menstrual cycle.Understanding the workings of the brain and its myriad of emotions are still very much in its infancy. Whether our biochemical reactions amount to trickery on behalf of Nature as a means of continuing the human race remains to be seen, but I can’t help wondering why we seem to be the only species that experiences the strange sense of wonder of Love? All the other species continue to procreate without the need of such an elaborate reward mechanism. And because of that ‘wonder‘, it is still better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.

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BOY MEETS GIRL

RACHEL MILLER discusses the origins of androgynous fashion and whether societies benefit from it.

It’s perfectly common to see girls walking down the street with cropped hair and massive shoulder pads. The androgynous style has been in and out of fashion for decades, and involves the mixing of both masculine and feminine qualities.

It gained popularity in the 70s when Glam Rock boys had long hair and platforms and Punk girls shaved their heads and donned biker boots, with one of the most famous pioneers of this gender-blending look being David Bowie. But it really began in the 1920s when women were finally given the vote and began to dress in men’s tailoring. Now it’s back on the streets with La Roux’s Elly Jackson as the poster girl; sporting short hair, manly blazers and make-up free face. But women dressing masculine are far more common to see than men dressing effeminately. Topman still remains a sequin free zone, so is it less socially acceptable for men to look like women for fear of ridicule? The girly look is only slowly taking hold again with men thanks to musicians such as Brandon Flowers from The Killers, with his eyeliner (sorry ‘guyliner’) and his various outfits made entirely of sequins and feathers. 

Lacking rigid gender roles can seem to have more benefits than you’d think, as people that have both masculine and feminine qualities tend to be more mentally healthy and flexible. But why do people choose to shake up their gender traits? Because the androgynous look seems more popular with women, it suggests that women may be more likely to dress masculine to narrow the inequality gap and be more like men in order to succeed in their careers, hence power suits with big shoulders. Men are still considered the ‘dominant sex’. The generic everyday graphic images of bodies, such as the Green Man on road crossings, are distinctly male and this power dressing could be women’s determination to be equal to men in every way. In which case, the androgynous look is not everyone wearing suit and tie; true androgyny will be when everyone is wearing a skirt suit and tie. Or, on a slightly less feminist note, women might be more inclined to be androgynous because women have more freedom of dress than men, and have been the main focus of fashion for the last hundred years.

It may well be stylish, but dressing androgynously can cause a few problems, particularly for women. Striving to look masculine does not stop at clothes. As designers push androgyny to extremes, women begin to desire a masculine body image – skinny, and devoid of feminine qualities such as breasts and hips – which can in turn create a negative body image. Before androgyny was popular, there were little instances of eating disorders. The more society tries to make men and women equal, the more common eating disorders have become. Have women come to detest the feminine body image and instead desire a boyish figure? In a way, this shows that androgyny is less gender equal than first thought: women are prepared to mutilate their bodies to the point of destruction, but men have little desire to create a feminine body shape, but much prefer women with curves than those that are endanger of falling through the gaps in drains. It seems that no one really benefits from androgyny at all.

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INGLORIOUSLY EXPLOITATIVE?

Do film directors and writers have an obligation to stay true to history when depicting the events of World War II? IAIN MITCHELL tries to find an answer

Marked with the trademark stylish cinematography, gratuitous violence and self-indulgent dialogue and pop culture references you’d expect, Inglorious Basterds, Quentin Tarantino’s eagerly awaited sixth film as writer and director, was generally well received by critics as a stalwart entry into the Tarantino catalogue.

However, not everyone was impressed. Tarantino has never been a stranger to controversy, with his arguably gratuitous, even gleeful portrayals of violence for comic effect, but ‘Basterds’ has one marked distinction from his previous films – its historical context. Set in the German-occupied France of 1941, its heroes are a French-Jewish girl seeking retribution for the slaughter of her parents by the SS, and a band of vigilante American soldiers committing themselves (with large knives) to torturing and killing every Nazi they come across.

By modern standards this might seem generally innocuous (last month I went to see Saw VI – it made Tarantino’s films seem about as brutal as an episode of ‘Murder She Wrote’), but should it be? After all, combine the subject matter with what we now take to be typical Tarantino fare and you have what the man himself describes as a “spaghetti western but with World War II iconography”. It’s not difficult to see how Tarantino could be accused of trivialising the devastation of the Second World War in his efforts to produce a cowboy movie.

Granted, anyone who has seen the film is under no illusions that Tarantino is presenting a depiction of history akin to that found in text books. But there’s no denying that a historical slant on a movie, for whatever purpose, alters its fabric. People watch Kill Bill and wince at Uma Thurman’s Bride character as she mercilessly ploughs through dozens of henchmen with a samurai sword, or in Reservoir Dogs when Mr. White mutilates an innocent police officer, but in these cases the root of this violence solely lies intrinsically within the plot, and thereby in the mind of the director. In other words, it is entirely fictitious, and we can leave the cinema comforted by that knowledge. However, when the opening scene hinges on the slaughter of a family of hiding Jews, or when we view the ‘Basterds’ butcher and mutilate German soldiers, the feeling is very different. These gruesome ideas aren’t the brainchildren of our friend Quentin, but rest on the crux of dreadful and real history.

Especially in Germany where attitudes towards World War Two media are still extremely sensitive (Before Downfall in 2005, the role of Adolf Hitler had never been dramatised by a German actor) the film was met with some concern. Tobias Kniebe, film critic for Süddeutsche Zeitung, attested “This is pop culture encountering Nazi Germany and the Holocaust with unprecedented force. The effects of this collision are utterly unpredictable.”

It seems to be a debate on the line of the director’s artistic freedom versus responsibility towards history. But surely if such critics are going to criticise Tarantino for colliding pop culture with history, he can’t be judged alone.

At the risk of sounding horrendously cynical, a high-budgeted, well produced and acted film based on the events of the Second World War, and especially the Holocaust (think Sophie’s Choice) seems to be guaranteed a perfect enclave in the Hollywood canon; an emotive piece that appeals to the Oscars, simultaneously a touching tribute to those whose lives were lost, but at the same time somewhat shielded from being scrutinised due to its hugely moving subject matter. This is something picked up on in an episode of Ricky Gervais’s Extras where Kate Winslet (playing a tongue-in-cheek spoof version of herself) insists “if you do a film about the Holocaust, you’re guaranteed an Oscar!” Ironically, last year Winslet went on to win an Oscar for The Reader, a film dealing with the effect of the Holocaust upon the next generation of Germans.

Of course I am in no way implying the only reason directors of Holocaust movies make them is because they know the topic will bring in big bucks and scoop awards, but what if these hugely successful films aren’t entirely true to the events.

Last year’s The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas is a good example. The basic premise of the film, that two boys, one German and one Jewish, become friends through the fence of a concentration camp, entirely contradicts the facts of what Holocaust survivors have testified to be the reality. I don’t deny that the film (and the book on which was based) had good intentions, but there can be no getting past the fact that it is sentimental nonsense.

Such a view was exemplified by Manohla Dargis of the New York Times, who wrote in response to The Reader, “You have to wonder who, exactly, wants or perhaps needs to see another movie about the Holocaust that embalms its horrors with artfully spilled tears”.

Even the tour-de-force of Holocaust movies – Schindler’s List, sees its titular character augmented and distorted to almost mythical proportions in order to tie in with this sentimental myth. Again, it’s easy to dismiss such cynicism as missing the point of these films. They are not meant to be entirely accurate, and indeed it is necessary for some details to be embellished, otherwise the filmmaker couldn’t condense it into the scope of their vision. If we accept this outlook, I fail to see how Tarantino is any more reprehensible than any other film-maker who has dared to touch the Holocaust with a ten-foot bargepole.

But in my mind, this is where the distinction lies, and why Tarantino is in fact less reprehensible than most. Some viewers will be disturbed by Tarantino’s unique spin on the Holocaust of course, but the viewer is at no risk of thinking that what transpires on screen ever transpired in reality. This is not the case for a myriad of Holocaust films, many which greet the viewer with those powerful, yet misleading words ‘a true story’, before going on to deviate from fact extensively.  

As soon as a director tells the story through a camera it has been altered in some way, and therefore history as a necessity must be diluted in order to serve the purposes of cinema. But if history is diluted, then we are at risk of confusing it with myth. And that, in my view, would be the real crime.

However, if historical complacency arises, it is the fault of the viewer, not the filmmaker. While the memory of the Holocaust must be preserved, this shouldn’t be done through films. If we allow ourselves to believe that the view of the Holocaust we are viewing on the cinema screen is real history, we only have ourselves to blame for blinding following what’s served to us. In the words of Manohla Dargis, such films are not concerned with informing us of the truth, but “about making the audience feel good about a historical catastrophe that grows fainter with each new tasteful interpolation”.

In a present day where it seems that only five years are required before the first“tasteful interpolation” of September 11th hits our screens, I don’t think these words could be more relevant, or foreboding. 

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GUM Winter 2009/10 Editorial

The older I get the more people I meet. Even though some people remind me of childhood friends or a relative, no two have even been the same. 

Glasgow University Magazine tries to capture the diversity of the world that we live in. We (the team) write about all sorts of things that interest us and play around with the magazine’s layout design. Why should we limit ourselves to a set number of topics and a standard template now? We have plenty of time to spend around filing cabinets later in our life.

It is hard for us to make promises about what we will deliver in each issue because it depends on you. Yes – you! If you decide to contribute, you will change this magazine. The only thing I can introduce to you now is the contents of the issue that you are holding in your hands.

We open up with a discussion about Second World War films that seem to guarantee the lead actor an Oscar. Since Valentine’s Day is coming up we also dedicate a number of pages to  boys and girls: we talk about marriage, androgyny, dating ideas and the actual science behind the ‘warm, fuzzy feelings‘ that we experience. We are intrigued by the world of video games and enjoy good new music. Then we discover the world of student fashion, share our feelings about living in Glasgow and tell you what it was like to work as an art assistant. We even make it to the exotic land of Laos. 

So take time and start reading. There should be enough to get you through our ghastly winter.

See you in spring time,

      Editor

P.S. There’s a lot in this issue that touches upon clothing and fashion. Why? My friend Mark Twain provides an explanation: “Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society.“

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Invitation to a Ravetastic evening!!!

This Tuesday in Deep Six, Student Volunteers Abroad is throwing another incredible party to raise money for charity. All money will go towards helping the local small communities in southern Nepal this summer.

Doors open at 8pm and we will greet you with finest on decks: Simon Bryan (The Beat Beneath), the BeatNazi and Stroudy (The Beat Route), and lots of surprises!!

So put on your best neon garments and help us to help Nepali people!!

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Bean there, done that? | Catriona Matheson

coffeecatcmykA cup of tea was the nation’s favourite tipple until we ditched the tea bag in favour of a stronger brew. But is our love of lattes a luxury we’re willing to give up? Catriona Matheson asks if the nation’s once beloved coffee culture is starting to lose its kick.

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Rhetoric and reality | Franck Martin

Clive Stafford Smith OBE, former death row attorney, lawyer for Binyam Mohamed, and founder of the human rights charity Reprieve, speaks to Franck Martin about Guantanamo Bay and the profound significance of the legal case of Mr. Mohamed.

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Glasgow University Student Media Positions Available 09/10

Think you have what it takes to be the next GUM/Guardian editor or the new manager of Subcity? Well today’s your lucky day! The positions of Guardian Editor, GUM Editor, Subcity Manager are now available for the academic session 09/10.

Each provides a great opportunity to work in award-winning student media groups, hone your skills and gain invaluable experience for a future career in the media and communications industry.

For more information, have a look at the job descriptions online at glasgowstudent.net

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Twitter/Facebook/Scribd

Howdy folks,

We’re pleased to inform you guys that GUM is now available to follow on the websites listed below:

Facebook

Twitter

Scribd

MySpace

Bebo

GUM is also available to pick up from the Glasgow University Library Cafe, The Fraser Building, The John MacIntyre Building, Queen Margaret Union, Glasgow University Union, all Glasgow University Student Halls of Residences and various pubs, bars and cafes throughout the West End of Glasgow.

If you would like to know more about GUM or would like to advertise with us please check the links on the top right of this page or alternatively contact Jim or Franck directly at [email protected]

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5th February 1889

In case you didn’t know already, GUM is 120 years old this year and so we felt it would be appropriate to mark the occasion with a look-back at previous editions of the magazine that Glasgow has grown to love. First up for inspection is the first ever edition of GUM. Published on 5th February 1889, it is a true blast from the past..

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Comic Timing | Laura Doherty

picture-26Later this year the film version of one of the best known comic books of our time will be hitting the big screen. Until that time, the gaze has turned to the comic book world in anticipation of this year’s celluloid smash.

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