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Monthly Archives: December 2011

This column originally appeared on Wannabehacks on December 23rd.

It took me a while to realise that I was in the middle of an identity crisis, but only because my single experience of such a thing was from my school days. Jonathan Pye, in Year 4, came into school one day and declared that he must now be known as Sophie. He stood on his tip toes, he was a ballerina. He was fucking mental.

Thankfully my experience is far less warped than that, but I’m still baffled. I’m not sure what to call myself when I mingle, network, or generally meet new people. Am I a journalist, or a writer?

I remember last year I met a friend of a friend in a London club; he is a mildly famous person but not so much so that it’s worth naming him. I told him what I do, ‘I’m a journalist’, to which he said, ‘Oh, who do you work for?’

FHM,’ was my reply, to which he pulled a face. ‘FHM? That’s not real journalism,’ he declared.

I wondered about what he meant. Real journalism? Is that the non-media types way of saying that consumer work (or magazine work, or both) isn’t considered journalism? Maybe I should refer  to myself as a writer. But that makes me sound like either (a) those guys on Family Guy who sit in Starbucks and write novels or (b) a crusty old has-been who hasn’t had anything published, who spends his time spilling baked bean juice on his typewriter and stinking of cats, all the while refusing to leave the sanctuary of his dressing gown.

Anyway, in my current position I’m not a journalist in the sense that I don’t REPORT on things. I don’t break stories, or declare anything particularly new. Most of my work is feature-based, and even the news stories I write are usually about the newest pair of Stan Smith’s being released or a new store opening in London. Not like my friend, a reporter for The Cornishman, who often gets a front page detailing the most grisly of murders.

So I started thinking pragmatically about this journalist/writer conundrum. It can’t be so simple that newspapers/serious stuff make you a journalist and magazine/lifestyle stuff makes you a writer. What about people who work on websites, like Digital Spy? If their music editor announces that Coldplay will be opening an envelope for charity or that Adele was caught buying a candle, is that journalism? The site is, after all, entertainment news…

Or live-blogging, chronicling the opening of an envelope or the engaging story of Adele buying a candle. What does that count as? I think it’s reporting. Though if you’re watching Rupert Murdoch get grilled on the telly and you’re typing something hilarious into Twitter, maybe not.

I can’t be the only one suffering an identity crisis (of my variety, I’m not interested in gender confusion here). Since the original pastiche of reporters – white shirt, braces, shouting atpress conferences and getting pictures of Spiderman – has been so diluted by digital content, magazine work, social media, publications like Project (the iPad magazine) and Blokely (my current place of work; an online magazine behind a subscription service), it’s understandable that people are confused.

Especially when qualifications often don’t lead people onto the paths they find themselves; you can do an NCTJ if you’d like to be a journalist, or maybe a Magazine Journalism MA if you’d like to be in magazines, but I’m sure we all know people who did one and went on to do the other.

In fact, of the crop of NCTJ students I studied with, I’d say the minority are the ones doing the straight-laced, down-the-middle presupposed notion of journalism. Others work in magazines, on features desks, they copywrite, they staple things on to other things and so on. There’s not one word to describe us all (except maybe Hacks, though that’s like calling a photographer a snapper or a Sales Assistant a shelf stacker).

Furthermore, with people constantly telling us that we’ll look at copies of magazines and papers in museums and gawp at what we see, tugging our friends sleeves and saying ‘Crikey, how funny that the internet used to be printed out onto the skin of beautiful trees and then wrapped around deep-fried fish’, there’s a lot of evidence to assume people will be moving around print, digital, radio and television in future with the liquored-up limberness of a drunk fresher at a party.

So, what to do, what to do. As you can see, moping on about it hasn’t done me any favours in figuring out whether I’m a reporter, a journalist, a lion, a witch or a wardrobe. Maybe the crucial thing – and I might be on to something here, since the debate was only stirred when the famous one raised his eyebrows – is that actually, it doesn’t matter.

Do let me know your thoughts…unless you’re Jonathan Pye, because sorry for being a bit mean but you were absolutely terrifying, especially that time when you got your head stuck in the back of a chair? How does someone do that with their eyes closed?

This review first appeared on FHM.com on November 25th.

While we’re in no way clever enough to run Nintendo, releasing the best Zelda game since Ocarina Of Time so late into the Wii’s lifespan seems like a strange move. Okay, so 2006’s Twilight Princess looked beautiful and the twisted, bleak imagination ofHyrule was incredible, but Skyward Sword knocks it off the pedestal with a well-timed swipe.

The Legend Of Zelda series will always have to live up to Ocarina of Time‘s legacy (though, can we just talk about Majora’s Mask for a minute, because that little cartridge oozed gothic darkness like hungover Monday mornings in December). Thankfully Skyward Sword strikes a balance between exploring the limits of the Wii’s graphics and etching a land full of gleeful, crayoned charm, something previous titles in the series have failed to do.


“Fuck off, plant.”

Making Moves

Utilising the Wii’s State Of The Art (read: it came out in 2009, we’re being ironic) MotionPlus, the game sees you using TP’s ‘swing-the-remote-around’ mechanic with greater dexterity. The super-sensitive controllers determine how you hold your sword, and this applies to enemies, too. They’re clever and cunning now, able to block your moves and think on their feet. And so, too, will you.

The game begins with Link living in Skyloft, a city that floats above the clouds. He’s a bit insular, since nobody leaves Skyloft, oblivious to the super rockin’ world of Starbucks and cat-memes beneath them, but one things leads to another and Link ends up with a face full of dirt quite early on, determined to find Zelda, who has kind of disappeared.

Flight Time


“Oh come one, Avatar was so stooopid.”

Of course, he’s not alone; Epona is replaced with a big red bird that Link has to fly for earlier portions of the game (it’s a complete pain, if we’re honest) and his guide during his quest is Fi, the spirit of an ancient sword Link unearths before leaving Skyloft. She is actually hugely annoying, a bit like the little imp from Twilight Princess. Instead of being a cheeky SOB, however, Fi speaks like a computer, but is a fairy and shouldn’t have such a strong grasp on percentages.

The formula for the game is blurred in Skyward Sword more than ever; the dungeon and not-dungeon segments are harder to distinguish, which is the biggest compliment to give to a series that has, admittedly, become guessable. There’s no dull segues between the more exciting dungeons – this is a quest, in every sense of the word.

Best Bits

Highlights include the mine-cart roller coaster segment; it’s nothing short of thrilling, rocketing along and using the MotionPlus to keep yourself flying off the tracks. Meanwhile, the boss battle against Koloktos, the Ancient Automaton, is incredible. Armed with a powerful whip, you must flick the Wii Remote forward and snap it back, ensnaring the golden giant’s limbs and ripping them off, all the while avoiding his huge blades.

Taking place before Ocarina of TimeSkyward Sword tells the story behind the creation of Ganondorf, the legacy behind the Master Sword and also offers insight into Din, Farore and Nayru’s back stories and the formation of the Triforce. It’s an exciting tale, and for those of you meticulously mapping the Zelda franchise (you know who you are) this game fills in some blanks.

However, some parts of the game, such as exploring the Temple of Time and swimming through Lake Floria, don’t feel exciting enough; they can feel old, or instilled with a sense of lull, not like the magic from earlier incarnations. But it’s also possible that we’re just a bit grumpier than we were when we were ten, and we don’t that impacting on what is otherwise one of the most exciting Zelda games to date – more so than Twilight Princess, more engaging than Wind Waker and more than capable of going sword-to-sword with the best games of all time.

10/10

This review first appeared in The Fly on September 23rd, 2011

“Tonight, ladies and gentlemen, is a night of experimentation,” says Guy Connelly, aka Clock Opera. While his words may endorse sampling a more exotic beer or eyeing up an older woman, he’s actually talking about the music at Hoxton Bar and Kitchen tonight.

Named after the brilliant intricacy of timepieces and the, err, beautiful singing of an opera, to call it an experiment would be hitting the nail on the head. Figuratively, of course, though with his knack of making everyday objects part of his percussive entourage, nail-hitting may well be on the agenda tonight. Looping vocals, splicing sounds and dissecting lyrics before winding them around themselves – these are the potions and lotions in Guy Connelly’s lab. Opening with ‘White Noise’, his sharp, icy notes slice into the still atmosphere – one-part Wild Beast-warbling with two shakes of Everything Everything’s glitchy zest.

The influence of EE’s sci-fi fused pop is also evident in ‘A Piece Of String’ – Guy’s echoing voice (“You have set me free/from analysing dreams… I love you right and wrong”) is soon bolstered by Gameboy synths and clattering drums as he begs “Teach me wrong from right! Show me black and white!” But for every instance of schizophrenic, battling beats, there’s a smattering of honest simplicity. Penultimate track ‘Belongings’ grows into a robust, sonorous sing-a-long but it starts (and ends) with a slow, woozy piano.

It’s proof that, while his trade in chopped-up pop is admirable for its complexity, and his blissful union between odd sounds is nice, it’s a testament that Clock Opera can still be captivating and stunning when the veil is lifted and we see the man behind the curtain. Quite the experiment, indeed – and all the more rewarding when it works.

This review first appeared in The Fly on 18/10/12

Koko’s small-but-tall balconies are already filling up by the time Niki & The Dove– aka Gustaf Karlöf and Malin Dahlström – take to the stage. One music journo has already gleefully wedged a large poster down his trousers, unaware that these will be given away at the end of the night anyway.

Looking immediately striking and somehow demure with it, the duo’s appearance is suggestive of the mood tonight. Throughout their set Gustaf and Malin deliver music that is instant in its opulence and beauty while retaining depth all the while. The set opens with ‘Mother Protect’, one of their earliest songs, an experimental crash of thunder and panpipes rocketing through the room. From moments of crumbling despair (beautiful though they are) there are dollops of theatricality; both ‘The Fox’ and closer ‘DJ Ease My Mind’ are steeped in mythology; stories told through the medium of clattering percussion and winding, sinewy lyrics. It’s pop-faced paganism, evocative, complex and sometimes silly.

There is something precious in this fleeting glimpse of Niki & The Dove partly because the trend of Girl Name & The Noun has unfortunately let bands like this fall into the cracks of people’s misconceptions. Did they expect a sassy female soloist with glitter frothing from her lips? A pair with a penchant for ponchos and kissing Mother Earth? Gustaf and Malin are a team – a formidable twosome with enough kinesis in their bellowing, sparkling pop to shatter every preconceived notion about them. And there isn’t a dove in sight.