Antonia Landi

Archive for May, 2011|Monthly archive page

Gig review: My Passion supported by LostAlone, Never Means Maybe and Fatherson

In Entertainment, Music on May 29, 2011 at 2:25 pm

The evening began very early with the arrival of the support band Fatherson on stage. Their fashion sense is about as telling as their music: Fatherson are a mix of hipster pop punk with heavy riffs. Their songs sound a bit like they have come straight from California, which can’t be a bad thing. Fatherson’s sound is quite generic, but whether that is to do with their lack of inspiration or to appeal to a wider audience is unclear. Nevertheless, Fatherson succeed in writing catchy melodies, and in the end, that is what they were remembered for.

After their relatively short set, Fatherson made way for Never Means Maybe. A band with a very strong singer, Never Means Maybe look a bit like a bunch of guys who get together after college to practise in one of their parents’ garages. Even though their get up doesn’t scream professionalism, the band makes up for it by simply having fun on stage. It was a pleasure watching them rock out and the spark quickly jumped over to the audience. The songs offered a good mix between heavy vocals and melodies, and Never Means Maybe did a good job of getting the crowd in the mood.

Up next were Derby trio LostAlone, who were easily the best band of the night. Packed with a set full of new songs and old favourites, LostAlone convinced with strong vocals and something that can only be described as guitar wizardry. It was easy to see that they were the most experienced group out of the support bands, as their presentation was pretty immaculate. While watching them on stage, it was obvious that many hours were spent fine-tuning their act, and this really paid off. LostAlone provided the crowd with perfect harmonies and plenty of reasons to cheer.

As the stage was prepared for the main act of the night, more and more people started to arrive. I must admit that I only heard of My Passion by their reputation, which wasn’t very forgiving, but nevertheless I was excited to see the band’s capabilities as a live act. To tie in with the concept of their new album, My Passion arrived on stage covered head to toe in gold paint. A nice touch, hadn’t it been for the fact that the band felt the need to play the whole set half naked. My Passion unfortunately turned what could have been a solid performance into a beauty pageant, which was not unwelcome to many of their female fans. While the singer was busy making sure everybody had noticed his biceps, half the crowd was dazzled by the young men’s painted upper bodies, while the other half was left to cringe. The music was an interesting mix of electro and screamo, however it was difficult making anything out in particular, as the band was so ridiculously loud. Nevertheless My Passion was a guaranteed crowd pleaser and certainly knew how to entertain. The band spent the final minutes of the gig in the crowd, dancing to their own tunes, which not only made sure everybody was covered in gold paint, but marked the perfect send-off for a night as shining as that one.

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Lamb stew – Better than Toast

In Food, Student life on May 24, 2011 at 7:41 pm

Lamb stew

Stew is just perfect for those cold, rainy days… and if, like me, you live in Scotland, there will always be a cold and rainy day just around the corner! Perfect for using up leftover vegetables, stew is ideal to make in big batches and share among your friends.

There are two ways of making stew – the traditional Irish stew, which consists of lamb and root vegetables such as parsnips and potatoes, and the milder beef stew which can be paired with almost anything! I like to think that my stew is a combination of the two – I take the lamb of the Irish stew and pair it up with crowd pleasers like carrots and mushrooms.

I am aware that some people don’t like the distinct taste of lamb, so feel free to use beef in your stew instead – as long as you match the stock cubes to your meat, it will taste just as great! Of course you can leave the meat out altogether, just make sure to use vegetable stock cubes and you’re ready to go.

If you want to add herbs, thyme and rosemary go perfectly with this dish. Simply get a few sprigs, tie them into a bundle and pop them into the pot. Don’t forget to fish it out again before serving!

If you prefer your stew to be a bit thicker, you may add some flour to it. I tend to cheat and use a bit of gravy instead – if you do, make sure it matches the stock cubes and don’t use more than one tablespoon of it, as you don’t want the gravy to overpower the flavours of the stew.

Feeds 4:

500g lamb or beef

2 big carrots

300g mushrooms

6 medium potatoes

2 stock cubes (to match the meat you’re using)

1.2 – 1.5 litres of water

1 tbsp gravy to match stock cubes if needed

Oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Watch the video for instructions, and do get in touch if you have any questions, as silly as you think they might be!

Antonia Landi for the Useful Times.

Mascarpudding (with berries!) – Better than Toast

In Food, Student life on May 17, 2011 at 7:19 pm

Fancy something sweet? Me too!

Since this is already my fourth video, I thought it was time to whip up something deliciously sweet. Today we’re going to make Mascarpudding, which doesn’t actually exist – until now! The main ingredient for this dessert is of course mascarpone, and mascarpone is something nobody can really explain.

It’s a bit like the Italian take on clotted cream, but is often referred to as soft cheese, which it definitely isn’t. Mascarpone is incredibly versatile and can be used in sweet as well as savoury dishes. Now before you start running away from this highly exotic mystery non-cheese I should probably tell you that you’ve already tried it! Mascarpone is most commonly used to make Tiramisù, an Italian favourite.

I have decided to use berries in my recipe today for three reasons:

1. Due to the wonderful early spring we’ve had, Britain will experience a wave of sweet (straw)berries that are desperate to be bought.

2. There are so many berries you can choose from! Strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, cherries… (ahem)

3. They will forever be my favourite kind of fruit.

This isn’t to say that you can’t mix it up a bit. For a more summery take on my mascarpudding, try using mangoes and pineapples instead, and flavouring the mascarpone with honey instead of vanilla! There are no boundaries to your imagination – you could even try using a rhubarb and apple compote with cinnamon if you’re feeling brave.

Feeds 2

400g mascarpone, lightly whipped (if you find it’s still too stiff after 5 minutes, add a spot of milk)

400g berries, or fruit of your choice

4 flat tbsp sugar (add the sugar to the berry mix 10 minutes before layering)

1 vanilla pod

For best results, let the dessert set in the fridge for 1-2 hours before serving.

Watch the video for instructions, and do get in touch if you have any questions, as silly as you think they might be!

Antonia Landi for the Useful Times.

The woman behind the feathers – Leyla Rose

In Entertainment, Music, Performing Arts on May 14, 2011 at 12:18 pm

Picture by Lorenzo Paxia

Advertised as ‘the burlesquer they tried to ban’, Leyla Rose is bold, beautiful, and out there. From Vampira to Mermaids; whatever escapes your imagination, Leyla will have a dance routine to match. But with so many stage personas united in one woman you wonder: Who is the real Leyla Rose?

Luckily for you, Leyla has agreed to give an interview about just that.

Tell me about your childhood. How was it growing up in Northern Ireland?

I grew up in Northern Ireland in the 80s with two sisters, a brother and a large close extended family. It was a very troubled place as everyone knows. My parents worked hard at a life that luckily turned out to be comfortable for me and my siblings, so we were not as exposed to the tougher side of the troubles. But we lived with concerns that weren’t normal, like bomb scares when you went to town on a Saturday or concerns about not walking on a certain side of the street in some areas. I went to an all-girl convent school near where I lived and girls came from all over the city to attend it. Some of them lived with the tougher side of the troubles on a daily basis. With so much poverty and no investment, Northern Ireland was not the land of opportunity. But, and probably because of that, there were great little pockets of artistic culture. It still has one of the most exciting music scenes.  Escapism and expression becomes even more necessary under hardship.

Did the love for vintage and burlesque happen at the same time, or was it completely separate? Would you still dress vintage if you had not pursued a career as a burlesque artist?

I don’t remember the first time I encountered burlesque. I feel I always knew what it was and I always wanted to be part of it. Vintage style always appealed to me and I loved forties fashion in the movies I watched as a kid. But I don’t consider [myself to] have a strictly vintage look. I love classic shapes as they suit my figure but I am fond of a bit of everything from most periods in fashion.

I would still dress the way I do regardless [of my profession] as I think I know what suits me, but the burlesque career encourages me to indulge it a little more. I am very lucky to be sponsored by Vivien of Holloway and so I have many beautiful pieces of retro clothing from her that happen to fit me perfectly. I also love Freddies of Pinewood. There is wonderful vintage shopping to be found off Byres Road here in Glasgow and it is nice to find the odd treasure.

Talk me through an average day.

I don’t really have one. It does involve a lot of organisation and I never seem to be at home for long. There are always emails to deal with regarding forthcoming shows, plus whatever interviews I am doing or bits of promotion. If it is a show day I usually have plenty to do [during] the day but I try to wrap it up in time for costume gathering, hair and make up. I have friends and family in many different cities and I travel to see them as much as I can.

What does dancing mean for you?

It meant initially a platform whereby I could act the way I wanted to and express my imagination. I fell into burlesque really – I have been very fortunate. On my first big club date I met Missy Malone, my best friend and dance partner, and we started to work together immediately. Like many burlesquers I had a big imagination as a child and was quite a misfit. Burlesque gives me the outlet for all my energies that I can’t express in everyday life. I get to show off and strut about and have fun with it. I always perform [as if] me and the audience are sharing an in-joke. I have trouble taking myself seriously as a truly serious artist. I work hard but burlesque is still mainly about having fun for me.

What is your most recent obsession?

Katharine Hepburn. It has taken me to this age and stage in life to appreciate [her] fully. I watched Adam’s Rib on the plane to LA in November and became intrigued. Then I started reading a biography of her in a library when I was killing time between appointments. I kept going back. She, and the characters she plays, represents the woman who put herself and her career first. I had always loved other actresses of that ilk, like [Marlene] Dietrich or Bette Davis, but Hepburn has captured my imagination. Her intelligence, insouciance, boldness, energy, sharp wit and feminine vulnerability are firing my imagination right now.

At a time when bellydancing and burlesque was not on your mind, what did your future look like?

I wasn’t thinking of my future then. I was still young and I was living a very comfortable life with a wealthy guy. I always liked to stay busy so I did what pleased me. I only knew bellydancing was too narrow a field for what I wanted to express and I wanted bigger audiences and more rock n roll. It is big business now. So many are into it and there is more scope for different kinds of expression and greater audiences. But by then I had moved on to burlesque and found what I wanted.

What does your future look like now?

It looks good. I have many shows coming up, more workshops with Missy [Malone] and a lot more travel. But I am planning on returning to university to study law and have been accepted. My life will take a more sober academic turn but burlesque will continue for as long as I am wanted.

What makes you nervous?

Performing a new routine in front of a small intimate crowd. Not getting my much-needed four hours alone per day. Spiders.

What would you change about the burlesque scene?

I would like to see performers value themselves enough to charge proper fees across the board, I’d love to see some burlesquers receive much more recognition and reward for what they do and I’d like to see an end to the misconception that everyone can do it for a living if they try, and that it is a good way to ’empower’ yourself. It is not therapy; it is a job, a skill, or an art form. You bring your talents and skills and personality to the stage. You must have all of that formed and intact before you don a pair of pasties. A crowd is there to be entertained, not fill the gaps in your self-esteem.

Suppose you got a new manager, and they told you to slim down. What would you say to them?

Plain and simply that it wasn’t going to happen unless for very very exceptional reasons, for example, to play a thinner girl in a movie or something. But I am no actor. I’m a burlesquer and my size has never been an issue.

Antonia Landi for Trisickle.

Chicken noodle stir fry – Better than Toast

In Food, Student life on May 10, 2011 at 7:46 pm

Hold on to your computer, because today we’re going east!

What I love about stir-fries is that they are so incredibly versatile. You can adapt it to anything – season, region, personal preferences… the list is endless. I have used green peppers and baby sweetcorn in mine as I find they compliment each other; plus, it looks very summery! Of course you could use pork or beef instead of chicken, but as chicken tends to have a more neutral taste it is a good base for any flavours you want to try.

I have mentioned using cashew nuts in my video – if you do, make sure you buy unsalted cashews, as you don’t want to ruin your dish with them. Some people recommend toasting them beforehand – if you have time, by all means feel free to do so. I don’t usually toast them myself and I find they taste just as delicious! If you want to include more authentic flavours, try including some spring onions or finely chopped ginger, and if you’re feeling adventurous, go for some fresh chilli and lemongrass! You can use a stir fry sauce in your recipe, such as sweet & sour, or a black bean sauce, but I would suggest you substitute the noodles with rice, as rice offers more surface for the sauce to stick to. If you have some time on your hands and want to be a bit fancy, try marinating the chicken before frying it!

Feeds 2

For this recipe you will need:

250g chicken, diced

1 pack baby sweetcorn

1 green pepper

125g medium egg noodles (equals to 2 ‘nests’)

Dark soy sauce, dried chilli to taste

Watch the video for instructions, and do get in touch if you have any questions, as silly as you think they might be!

Antonia Landi for the Useful Times.

Meet the Creative Martyrs

In Entertainment, Music, Performing Arts on May 9, 2011 at 12:46 pm

Meet the Creative Martyrs. Picture: Caroline Zak

The Creative Martyrs are a brechtian-style cabaret duo that sing and mime, and sometimes speak. Their aim is to entertain the masses by throwing social commentary around the room, neatly wrapped in songs, and at this they are true masters. From children’s cabaret to hosting the most prestigious cabaret nights in Scotland, the Creative Martyrs can be funny when needed, but it is their uniquely sarcastic songs that really make the duo exceptional. Armed with only a cello, a ukulele and their voices, The Creative Martyrs infuse the old art of cabaret with a never before seen modernity and relevance while still remaining true to their profession.

If there has ever been an act that must be seen by everybody, this is it.

Who are the Creative Martyrs?

Gustav Martyr: The Creative Martyrs have been performing cabaret and vaudeville around the world in venues everywhere for the last 128 years. We perform a variety of different acts and play with the fears in society we find on the way.

How were the Creative Martyrs born?

Jacob Martyr: We do not know.

G: One would presume in the normal manner.

J: We appeared just one day, somehow, somewhere, ready to perform.

If you had to describe your act in one sentence, what would that sentence be?

G: Mimed.

If you could collaborate with any person, living or dead, who would it be?

J: The Creative Martyrs, we hear, are a very interesting act.

G: I have always longed to work and interact with one by the name of Gustav Martyr.

J: I by the name of Jacob Martyr.

Where do you get the inspiration for your songs?

J: The Middle Distance.

G: Not too close.

J: Not too far away.

If you were to form a political party, what would you campaign for?

G: We have. We find that the best campaigning is done silently.

What’s the silliest thing you’ve ever done on stage?

J: (long silence) There is too much to choose from.

What is more important, music or words?

G: I feel we would argue that the combination is inextricably linked, the partnership being unbroken wherever possible.

Tell me something unexpected.

G: Banana.

J: Grrrun.

What does this country need?

J: (pointing to themselves) Modesty does not permit us to say.

What are you most looking forward to in the next few months?

J: Time.

Do you have anything planned for the Edinburgh Fringe Festival?

J: Last year we brought a show to the festival called ‘Tales from a Cabaret’. We performed it because we felt that there were interesting comparisons between the world of today and the world of the past. We feel that it is so important that we are returning once more with ‘Tales from a Cabaret’ although we will be developing and enhancing it. We feel that what ‘Tales from a Cabaret’ demonstrates to people is just as important, if not more so, this year than it was the last.

Why?

J: Because of various situations. We do not wish to say that history repeats itself in a definitive way, of course, it is not as simple as that, but there are situations involving economics, politics and people. The way things may or may not go, we feel it is important to at least comment.

Antonia Landi for Trisickle.

Superfast schnitzel with homemade chips – Better than Toast

In Food, Student life on May 2, 2011 at 4:10 pm

Traditional Schnitzel mit Pommes Frites. Picture: Useful Times

This week at Better than Toast I will teach you how to cook a good, hearty meal, just like mum used to make. That’s if your mum happens to be Austrian.

‘Wiener Schnitzel’ is traditionally made with veal, although the pork variation is the most popular one nowadays. Lovingly called ‘Schnipo’ by German speakers – an abbreviation of Schnitzel mit Pommes Frites – this dish is extremely popular especially with children, as hardly anybody would turn down a plate of schnitzel with chips, especially if you smother it in ketchup. Schnipo is incredibly easy to prepare and can be whipped up in 10 minutes, especially if you opt for pre-cut oven chips.

A small note on frying: Don’t be upset by the amount of oil you will need to fry the schnitzel. The volume is merely required to ensure a nice and crispy batter, and most of it will never see your plate. Be very aware that you are dealing with very hot oil that might splatter and burn you if you’re not careful. Leave the pan to cool down properly after frying the schnitzel; this will take a good bit of time. Do not get tempted to put your hands anywhere near it. Believe me – you do not want to get burned by hot oil.

If you normally cook with olive oil, please buy vegetable or sunflower oil for this recipe. Olive oil is not suitable for frying, as it burns at high temperatures.

Feeds 4

For this recipe you will need:

4 pork steaks, boneless (I use pork leg escalopes, as they tend to have the least amount of fat on them)

50g flour

2 large eggs

50g breadcrumbs

Vegetable or sunflower oil

Salt and pepper to taste

For the homemade oven chips:

Peel and cut 700g potatoes, put them on a tray and lightly coat them in olive oil. Season them with salt and pepper (alternatively you can use a bit of chilli powder or flavoured salt if you’re feeling adventurous) and pop them in the oven for about 40-50 minutes on 200 degrees (that’s gas mark 6, or 180 degrees if you’re using a fan oven).

Watch the video for instructions, and do get in touch if you have any questions, as silly as you think they might be!

Antonia Landi for the Useful Times.

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