“The Great Gatsby” Soundtrack: Album of the year?

The fanfare surrounding Baz Luhrmann’s much anticipated adaption of The Great Gatsby has been explosive in the last week, with many praising the as of yet unreleased soundtrack of what will surely be a frontrunner for the 2014 Academy Award for Best Film as the album of the year. Here are my top three leaked tracks:

What do you think? Do you think this collaboration of some of the biggest artists in the world will be the album of the year?


Constitutional Convention Recommends Marriage Equality.

The Constitutional Convention recommends allowing marriage for same-sex couples in a vote of 79 for and 18 against, this is a groundbreaking result for Marriage Equality advocates and LGBT couples around the country.

The convention is made up of citizens representing the electorate by age, gender and religion.

Following the vote, the government will decide whether or not they will accept recommendations after debating the issues at the Dail.

However, while the verdict was widely seen as a cause for celebration, Catholic Bishops reportedly told those at the convention that legalising marriage for same-sex couples would make the roles of mothers and fathers irrelevant.

In the post convention comments, Tanaiste and Labour leader Eamonn Gilmore, a long-time champion of gay rights, commenting on what was one of Labours primary pre-Election promises, saying “it is not the role of the state to pass judgement on who a person falls in love with”.

The Post-College Holiday

So, it’s the end of the year, you’ve worked hard all year and handed in all of your assignments, so what better way to reward yourself than with a nice, relaxing getaway? Or not. If you’re in the market for a holiday you’ll arrive home from needing another, look no further than my comprehensive list of the cheapest and best party capitals of Europe.


Kavos, Greece

“After seeing the state some people get themselves into, I wasn’t surprised when walking past the resort’s medical centres to see that queues were down the street!”

A lovely quote from one reviewer on TravelAdvisor – how can you possibly not want to go now?

Having also been described as “like an unending episode of Jeremy Kyle”, I can only say, as a fan of all things grotesque, that this particular train wreck in the sun is one I hope to visit in the very near future.

Prices start at €740 per person for a seven night stay at Koursaros apartments inclusive of flights. The apartment complex itself boasts a 24-hour bar, which explains the endless queues to be seen by a doctor at the medical centre.


Zante, Greece

I know, I know, Greece again.

Possibly the only good things I’ve read about Zante are that the clubs are good, good value and stay open until 6.30am, the restaurants and accommodation are, according to reviews, horrendous, but who cares? It’s really cheap. According to almost all the reviewers, they had never seen so many Irish pubs outside of Ireland, so you’ll feel at home and not have to, you know, actually experience anything Greek at all. It’ll be like spending a week in the Blacker’s beer garden, only sunny.

The Aphrodite Apartment complex is the closest to the town’s pub and club strip and is therefore the one you should stay at.

Prices start at €570 per person for 7 nights, including flights and breakfast at the complexes onsite restaurant.


Malia, Greece

Malia is the hotspot for testosterone fuelled Lads holidays – Which, in post-holiday anecdotes always sound like an Irish take on the hangover, but in reality are more akin to The Inbetweeners movie – filled to the brim with cheap accommodation, cheap drink and even cheaper girls.

One review I read on TravelAdvisor.com (which was definitely submitted by some middle-aged crank) noted she was appalled to find, upon arrival, a young lady vomiting at the entrance of her hotel at midday, so you know it must be good.

Prices start at €690 per person for an all inclusive 7-night deal at the Nikos Hotel situated on Malia’s main strip, close to clubs (the most popular of which seems to be Candy) restaurants and other tourist attractions you’ll be too locked or hungover to have any interest in seeing.


Magaluf, Spain

According to reviewers Magaluf is regarded as both the best and worst place to go on holiday – on one hand, it is the cheapest place on the list, with an amazing nightlife, almost everyone agreed that the clubs and pubs are it’s best, and some say only, feature. On the other hand, there is the small matter of violent crime and unprovoked attacks. Yep. According to statistics from Britains Home Office, one quarter of all arrests of Britons’ abroad was in Magaluf.

However, if you’re with a big group, or alternatively, are as rough as a badgers arse, you should be fine. And, sure look, few naggins, be grand.

Prices start at €439 per person for a self-catering Deya apartment only minutes from the pubs, clubs and beach.


And, at last, we come to the holy grail of all drunken holidays…


Ibiza, Spain

By far the best rated of any other destination on the list, Ibiza is the classy cousin of Magaluf, and deserves it’s place as the number one party capital of Europe, with millions flocking to revel in it’s sun, sea, sand and Sambuca every year. From 1st – 3rd of July, the Ibiza123 festival will host international artists like Tinie Tempa, Labrinth, David Guetta and Fatboy Slim to name just a few, and understandably, prices are higher around that time, but it will be well worth the trip.

Prices start at €830 for seven nights, inclusive of flights, for a self-catering studio at the Royal Plaza apartment resort. The resort is located ON the beach, and has not one, but three 24 hour bars for it’s guests to choose from.


And thus concludes my list and here’s hoping, that wherever you end up, you have at least a couple of pints of water when you’ve finished drinking for the night, and it’s also worth remembering, that contrary to Irish folklore, a bad burn on the first day of your holiday will not turn into a tan, so put on your factor 50 when you’re having a few cans for breakfast by the pool.


Anti-Feminism in Modern Cinema

From Disney princesses, Sex and the City, Stephanie Meyer’s phenomenally popular Twilight Saga: While, in most contexts, these franchises have nothing in common, it can be argued that they are all cut from the same cloth in terms of the anti-feminism displayed in each. And they are by no means a rarity in modern, “post-feminist” entertainment.

However, the series I take most issue with is the Twilight saga. Throughout the four novels in the series typical scenes see Bella cooking and cleaning in the kitchen, while her father drinks a beer and cleans his gun.

While the author, a devout member of the Mormon Church, says that the series is inherently about Bella’s choice, that she chooses to wait until marriage to lose her virginity, and also chooses her, eventual, role of housewife and mother. While this in itself is negligible, not one woman in the series is seen to work outside the home. This is a clear indication of how the author feels about her gender, and also the message she has put out to be read by millions of young girls.

Even more offensive and sexist is the unbelievably pervasive series that Meyer’s original saga spawned. E.L James and her Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy was originally written as an online Fan Fiction series, the novelists homage to her beloved Edward Cullen and Bella Swan, Twilight’s protagonists. Upon true publication however, the names were changed, all evidence of the beautiful, glittering vampires who populate Meyer’s world were erased, and replaced with whips, gags and nipple clamps.

While I am not a prude – quite the opposite – and am in no way opposed to BDSM, what unsettled me about Fifty Shades of Grey was the manipulation, coercion and elaborately glamourised abuse.

The protagonist, Ana, a twenty-one year old Literature student, is the embodiment of that old dichotomy – the virgin and the whore. She embodies both personas with ease, able to shift from a simpering and oppressed virgin, to a leather-clad sadomasochistic submissive in mere moments. And what’s even more worrying about the portrayal of women in these two conflicting, idealised roles, is the sheer popularity of the series – It sold sixty-five million copies worldwide. It seems that women cannot get enough of the Christian Grey.

What is even more worrying is the fact that these two female authors have written their female heroines to appeal solely to men, despite the fact that both authors male fans account for one-per cent of their readership. The narrating heroine is left as vague as she can possibly be to allow the reader to easily step into her shoes, while the men are drawn in vivid detail. They are blank feminine slates just waiting for the hero to sully their purity.

Coming back to the virgin-whore dichotomy, Margaret Atwood explores the idea of contrasting ideals existing in one woman. She says that while boys are raised on porn, girls are raised on romance novels. When the two come together, violence ensues. He expects the public virgin and private whore, and she expects the gentle and loving prince. This pair meets expecting different things: he attacks, and she submits, waiting for romance.

Margaret Atwood’s words in her essay “Pornography” radiating throughout my reading of these texts. She observes that while boys are raised on porn, girls are raised on romance novels, and when the two meet, violence ensues. He expects the whore, and the young girl expects the gentle prince. This pair meets expecting different things: he attacks, and she submits, waiting for romance, the lie that dozens of Disney films have sold to her.

This brings me to Disney. Aurora, or Sleeping Beauty, was made in 1959 just before the dawn of Feminism’s second wave. While she may be typical of her time, she is bar far the most anti-feminist princess in Disney’s history. She is passive, sleeping while the dashing prince battles the dragon to rescue her, and when he prevails vanquishing Malificent (who is a far better example of a feminist, so, it is probably telling that she is the movie’s villain) he claims as his prize for such valiance. Disney continued in this vain with their heroines until Mulan, which tells the story of a young Japanese girl who fights to save her country. Despite the slightly more positive feminist message, the fact that Mulan must disguise herself as a man so that she will be allowed to fight.

Like the princesses who came before her, Disney-Pixar’s latest, Merida, the star of 2012’s Brave (which she never really is). While she may pack more punch than the likes of Aurora and Cinderella, her main issues still centre on her marriage prospects. Disney’s single women are often the villains, as evidenced by The Little Mermaid’s Ursula the Sea Witch, Sleeping Beauty’s Malificent and the Queen from Snow White.

My favourite Album and Film of 2012.. Retro.


The Perks of Being a Wallflower

This coming-of-age adaption of Stephen Chbosky’s debut novel is a look at the confusing grey period between teenager and adult, depicting teenage angst with a raw honesty and insightfulness not usually associated with the genre. As a fan of the novel I certainly wasn’t let down.
Logan Lerman’s portrayal of the main character and narrator, the likeable but emotionally crippled Charlie, for me, was perfect – throughout the film, Charlie writes anonymously to an unidentified correspondent, each letter furthering the Chronicles of his first year at a new high school, and display an intelligence and world-view beyond his sixteen years, and Lerman’s acting is truly flawless in parts, making the Charlie from the novel and the Charlie on screen identical – a talent not often observed in those starring in rite-of-passage, adolescent-angst ridden film.
Also atypical of the genre is the issues with which The Perks of Being a Wallflower deals. Charlie’s problems are evident – he is unaware of who he is, but the parts of his psyche that he is familiar with he does not like and as a result, he is shunned by his classmates. However, despite his obviously flawed social circuitry, he manages to befriend the beautiful and enigmatic Sam (Emma Watson) and her flamboyant step-brother Patrick (Ezra Miller).
From there ensues a year none of them will ever forget, filled with firsts everythings, the Rocky Horror Picture Show, and set against a beautiful Soundtrack (the stand-out track for me was “Asleep” by the Smiths) I urge you to see this film, it’s thought-provoking nature coupled with an underlying creeping darkness that permeates throughout, it is one you will regret missing out on.

Babel is Mumford & Sons sophomore effort and standout assured hits such as “Lover of the Light”, “I Will Wait” and “Babel” assure that this is just as good as, if not better than, their debut “Sigh No More”.
Marcus Mumford’s mournful, folk-rock lament have always been the main draw for me when it comes to this band’s sound – he really is the soul of the four-piece bluegrass inspired group – and that voice belting out the beautiful, self-written tracks steeped in biblical metaphors (a nod to his Evangelical upbringing) and heavy Shakespearean influences, coupled with the brass instrument and masterfully played acoustic guitar make Babel the album the best album of the year by far, in my opinion.
Just in time for an early Christmas present, Mumford is bringing his “Gentlemen of the Road” tour to Dublin’s O2 arena on December 16th, accompanied by fellow soldiers in the folk-revival, the Avett Brothers and Low Anthem, making it a concert not to be missed.
(Honourable mentions go to Of Monsters and Men’s debut “My Head is An Animal”, the album that spawned their huge hits, “Little Talks” and “Paws”, and Ellie Goulding’s sophomore album, “Halcyon” which is a departure from her earlier sound, and for me, invokes the seldom heard genre of electro-folk, and, in my opinion, infinitely more mature and insightful than her previous release “Lights”.)

A Radio Documentary

As part of an assignment, we were separated into groups of three to work on radio documentaries.
My group decided to interview a primary school teacher to assess how the economic climate has effected the education sector, paying particular attention to special needs children and how the fewer resources available to them have changed their ability to succeed in school.
The teacher we interviewed, who has worked at a school in north Dublin for eleven years, discussed her typical day and, more importantly, the new challenges brought about by the economic downturn and how she and her colleagues have found new ways to provide for their pupils, despite the loss of resources and funding available.
Have a listen and please respond in the comments section and let me know your thoughts.