Game of Moans

It’s the final season, and it’ll all end in Spring 2019! There are dragon-like figures, ice-cold monsters and very few good guys left alive. But just like Game of Thrones, Brexit is likely to spawn some spin-offs, and will never truly end.

It’s hard to believe that it’s been two and a half years since the 2016 Referendum, and that we’re only three and a half months from the finish line.

I think the average person in the UK probably just wants the whole thing to be over, so that the news cycle can move onto the next terrible thing that’ll end us all. But in the wake of a deal rejection and a vote of no confidence (result: some confidence), it’s starting to feel like this won’t end in March.

The current situation that the UK government faces is well summarised in the following tweet, which should be located just below these words.

Option C is the currently the most likely outcome.

During the initial vote over Brexit I paid close attention to the details and information associated with the decision. I tried my best to sift through the BS from the campaigns and kept coming back to the conclusion that even though the EU isn’t perfect, this idea that we should work together as a species is a step in the right direction.

As the months go by, and especially after all the reveals of the misinformation and anti-democratic strategies from the leave campaign, I find it harder to follow Brexit without slipping into some sort of depressive coma.

These days I need to decant Brexit information in the form of topical satire and comedic podcasts, just to stay lucid.

The irony is that most satirists put more effort into their research on the topic than half of UK news outlets, and they don’t shy away from an overt opinion either.

I’ll take an open and honest comic, who tells us that their words are opinions and presents data alongside a satirical analysis, over institutions like the Daily Mail — Who may as well print “LEAVE OUR COUNTRY, YOU FOREIGN ARSEHOLES” on their front page every morning.

A good friend of mine has made the news a little easier to digest, however. What’s Happening With Brexit? is a website that’s updated daily, at midnight.

It takes the top stories on Brexit from six UK newspapers and displays the data collected in an interactive graph. On the graph you can see what the country is talking about in regards to Brexit, by highlighting the frequency of the words and phrases used throughout the articles.

I’ve found it extremely useful as a tool for following the bigger stories, as I know the big-hitting topics for the day, to then go and read about in more detail.

For example, if a right-leaning paper has DANGER OF NO DEAL in their headline, but nobody else is running the story, then I know it’s probably propaganda.

Of course, that’s a terrible example because there is a very real danger of a no deal Brexit, especially after Theresa May’s short and not so sweet visit to Brussels.

Theresa May, if you’re wondering, is probably the Cersei Lannister of our Game of Moans. She doesn’t have the same ambition, but she’s the one seated in a position of power due to her undying grip to an idea that she doesn’t really believe in anyway.

Boris Johnson is obviously Littlefinger, and most Brexitiers are various White Walkers. David Cameron was Robert Baratheon and most EU officials are members of the Bank of Bravos. Jeremy Corbyn is that old guy in the tree, not really doing much of anything.

threeeyedraven
Jeremy Corbyn pictured at his home in Islington

The other thing I like about What’s Happening With Brexit? is the way the data is displayed. I’ve spent an embarrassing amount of time watching the buzzwords rise and fall over the months.

It has also been interesting to see how much the right-leaning and left-leaning news outlets discuss different topics.

Some terms and people, such as the PM or “deal” are mentioned equally between both sides. Outlets who side with remaining in the EU are more likely to highlight the turmoil and errors of Brexit (aka, all of it). Whereas on a slow Brexit-news day, outlets who want to leave will spam the headlines with reasons why Brexit must happen now and how we should just leave no matter what.

I’m bias because I know the website creator, and know that he’s dedicated to analysing the slew of information that comes from the Brexit news cycle, in order to present it in an easily digestible way. But, despite that knowledge, I still think you should check out What’s Happening With Brexit?

Comparing Brexit to Game of Thrones is really making me realise that we have no heroes in this story. I mean, the EU are sort-of the good guys, but even they’re not without fault.

There’s no strong political party that’s acting as the voice for the hundreds of thousands of British people who marched on the streets of London back in October. Labour are remaining quiet, presumably so as not to upset those who want Brexit to happen who may also vote Labour in the next General Election.

They probably shouldn’t be doing that, because it’s another example of playing a game of politics that doesn’t really exist anymore. Trying to play the long game of power is what makes things like Donald Trump and Brexit happen in the first place.

The populist, “bad guys” are shouting louder and louder as the deadline looms. The polar opposite of that is a strong-willed voice of reason, and the people (the remainers) have that en-masse. As seen in the marches back in the autumn.

There’s just no figure to represent them, no Stark kid from the frozen north who’ll be the voice of truth in the face of an encroaching disenfranchised, chaotic evil.

Of course, it’s not that simple, and life isn’t one big HBO episodic drama. I just can’t help but feel that someone should be playing a game that has the interests of the “48%” in mind, and that if they did they’d stand a good chance to win the throne as well.


Today is Friday, December 14th and submitting a podcast to iTunes felt good.

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Twitch Streaming and Human Connection

I’m a little behind the times, and so I’ve only really just figured out what Twitch is. I’ve always known it to be a streaming platform for gamers, but I’ve never really had a reason to tune in to anyone’s channel.

This autumn has seen the release of many games that have peaked my interest, and so YouTube clips eventually lead me to streams from dedicated full-time gamers. Most are working for tips, as any live performer would, with the more established streamers making a living from subscribers (patrons) and sponsorships.

I remember Twitch being criticised last year for allowing non-gaming streamers on the website, largely because this came in the form of “hot girls” in low-cut tops talking to their camera for tips. It was thought that these streams would take audiences away from the gaming streamers, but the website appears to be as popular as ever.

These non-gaming streams spawned sub-genres such as Music & Arts, Just Talking and Game Shows. Also ASMR — Gently crafted soundscapes to help you relax and sleep.

As someone who dabbled with live streaming around ten years ago, I completely understand the appeal of performing and reaching out to an audience.

Back then it was basic webcams and cheap USB microphones on a now-defunct platform called Blog TV. I never tried to make any extra pocket money from it, but my friends and I put together a 48-hour long livestream to raise money for charity.

Even though huge pockets of that were broadcast were unplanned, I remember having so much fun scheduling segments from various artists, performers and guests — All talented friends who, like me, just wanted to be noticed for a moment whilst doing something to help others.

We switched between webcams to different areas of my attic bedroom that had been converted into an amateur studio. It felt like a reverse Wayne’s World for the digital age.

Life happened, as it always does, and so I stopped streaming — But it was fun while it lasted.

During our two-day livestream we were featured on the front page and peaked at around five-hundred viewers, which is a drop in the online ocean compared to the number of viewers that top Twitch streamers get nowadays.

As I type these words, the two most watched channels in the world right now have 50,000 and 25,000 viewers each. They’re playing the games Fortnite and a little game you may have heard of, called Chess.

The most beautiful thing about this is that twice as many people are watching masters play chess than are watching a Fortnite streamer. I guess you can’t beat the classics.

twitchchess.jpg

The overall Twitch community doesn’t seem to be too healthy, but like all digital social circles it’s hard to pin-down exactly who the average Twitch user is. Some streamers will have an obscene chat, filled with memes and bigotry — Whereas others will have a positive chat, filled with memes and love.

So I guess memes are probably the common trend, and you cultivate a community that reflects your personality.

I find it difficult to keep the chat open whenever I’m watching a stream, because it’s usually a barrage of nonsensical noise, with people looking to connect to the host.

That’s the really interesting thing about live-streaming — The connections people are looking to make.

In the digital age we’re all just looking to connect to others. Every time we post a Tweet, photo or update, we’re asking for people to notice us. We want to be recognised, seen and heard in an increasingly loud world.

As much as I keep this daily blog for personal reasons, I can’t deny that my heart is warmed whenever someone likes a post or comments on some nonsense I’ve written.

Social media induced endorphins man; The real drug that’ll get you.

Streaming though, particularly on Twitch, is a raw and extreme version of that connection. Sure you can glam yourself up, change how you behave and even adopt a persona, but ultimately you’re putting more of yourself out there for the world to see than in, say, a photo on Instagram.

You’re live, you’re unfiltered and you’re asking to be noticed.

I think it takes a dash of ego to be a successful streamer — To plug away for so long in order to gain an audience. But I also think that bravery is a crucial trait, just because of how exposed you leave yourself to a faceless crowd.

I’ve seen explicit and inappropriate things in Twitch chats, largely directed at female streamers who’re just trying to play a video game and, presumably, not looking for men to describe how they would get into her pants.

But I’ve also seen the uplifting — The harmless communities formed around a shared interest and personality, the stories told to each other, and the games played together.

The most interesting part of this platform, for me, is the new streamers. The people who’re playing to an audience of less than five, but are still trying just as hard to gain a following.

This next bit is going to sound a little creepy, but imagine me approaching this with Louis Theroux levels of inquisitiveness and it’ll seem a little better.

louisquote.gif

I’ve found myself scrolling to the least-viewed streams of a game and tuning in. In some cases I’m the only viewer, and the person is just sat there, playing their game. Then, after a few moments they notice they have someone watching (me), and so they begin a performance.

They start to commentate themselves, and make a few forced jokes. You watch them transition from someone practicing a routine at home, to performing that same routine on a stage, as they shift from one version of themselves to another.

It’s fascinating to watch, but I don’t linger for too long, as the interaction is all one-sided. They talk into a microphone and I watch, both of us gaining some kind of distant human connection for a moment before parting ways for good.

As I said, a little creepy, but it’s so intriguing to witness a live version of someone looking to fill that basic human need of connection. And not only that, but at its very root.

Watching someone stream to an audience of two is like noticing that someone in the room wants to say something — The connection isn’t fully formed yet, but they’re trying, in order to connect to others. And in that seed for potential interaction you see a familiar struggle — You see yourself and everyone you’ve ever known.


Today is Wednesday, November 28th and my cat jumps at windows to get the bird, but she never gets the bird.

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So…Lock Her Up…?

One of the more bizarre battlecry’s from the 2016 Presidential campaign was “Lock her up!” The chant was championed by various Republican personalities, and used at Trump rallies. The ‘her’, in the ever-so witty chant, referred to Hillary Clinton. Her crime? Using a personal email to conduct government business.

It was revealed yesterday that Ivanka Trump has spent the last year doing the exact same thing, in what is only the ninth biggest act of hypocrisy from the Trump presidency so far.

I always go on about how difficult it is to talk politics with a die-hard Trump supporter. I can always get beyond the hate to address the person behind the opinions, because as awful as it is, there’s usually a reason why they’ve started thinking about people that way, and it’s usually not entirely their fault. I do struggle with the logical inconsistencies though.

Hillary using a private email for government business was the epitome of the “swamp” that Trump talked about during his campaign. You know, the one he wanted to drain, but instead he has offloaded a quagmire of corruption into American politics. The swamp, now 45% more swampy.

To Trump and his merry band of bigots, Hillary was the epitome of a corrupt swamp politician, and one who needed to go.

So let’s assume those opinions are true for a minute, because there is something a little off about using an account that can’t be documented when working for the public. My opinion at the time was that she shouldn’t have done that, but compared to Trump’s crimes it was a drop in the ocean.

I never have and never will be a supporter of Hillary Clinton. She was simply the lesser of two evils in a horrible campaign, one filled with all the elements of a corrupt and poisoned democracy.

But Trump supporters died on the hill of sending Hillary to jail because of her emails. And so therefore, for them to remain principled and hold-true to the beliefs of their established political perspectives, they should also demand that Ivanka be locked up.

The timing of this Tweet made yesterday is unbelievable. “Quick, I need to help incarcerated women right now, in case I end up in there with them!”

Now, I’m not calling to lock Ivanka up, at least not for this anyway. She made a shady mistake, but it’s one that politicians have made for the last couple of decades — People in power have done worse things.

It’s Trump supporters who should be calling for Ivanka to appear behind bars. I would certainly have a lot more respect for them if they did. As it would prove that they aren’t just about following a populist figure to the bitter end.

It would prove that Trump genuinely spoke to them in 2016 about the issues they were concerned with, but that they’re smart enough to recognise when one of their own breaches that trust.

I don’t want any jokes about that not being likely, and that I shouldn’t hold by breath. We need to put more faith in them to do the right thing, because I still believe that they can.

Not all of them, some are too far gone of course. But most were caught up in a wave of populism, and found themselves having to defend their party, despite who it offered up as its leader.

Some will have to realise, especially in the dying days of this first term, that none of the promises made were kept. I mean, thank God we don’t have an inhumane wall, or we haven’t started locking people up for no reason (well, unless you’re a minority, but that was happening long before Trump).

But really, the Trumps are no different to your average, highly corrupt politician. They’re Nixon, but with all the folds tucked away and stapled into the skin. Ivanka’s email incident is proof that they’re still the swamp-folk who they claimed they wanted to cull.

The cries and shouts of “lock her up” didn’t come from Trump himself, they originally came from men like Steve Bannon and Roger Stone. Trump simply applied them to his brand, because he liked how much support and power it gave him.

Roger Stone has always followed the Nixon MO of “accuse your opponents of the crimes you commit”. I mean, Nixon wasn’t the first to do that, but Stone has a massive tattoo of him on his back, so I’m going to go ahead and assume he’s the inspiration here.

nixonstone

This incident likely won’t be the straw that breaks the camels back. Because migrant children in cages, mass-shootings by known Trump supporters and stripping freedom from the press wasn’t enough.

So why on Earth would it be the emails? Matt, you absolute simpleton, you didn’t think this through!

I just thought I’d try and make the argument, because it was an issue that they’d previously rallied against. People love it when you point out their hypocrisies, right?

Wrong. I guess I just have to hope that every time the Trump administration does something they originally accused opponents of, another person falls away from the deep red crowd.

I have to hope because I have to believe that people can be better, if we don’t have that then we’re not going to get very far as a species.

The way I see it, Trump supporters have three ways of reacting to this situation:

  1. Admit they were wrong when calling for Hillary to be locked up, that she didn’t commit a crime, but Roger Stone and Steve Bannon should be blamed for the rhetoric. Lock them up?

  2. Condemn Ivanka as they condemned Hillary, because this is their principal and they’re sticking to it.

  3. FAKE NEWS, Ivanka did not use a personal email to conduct government business, despite hard evidence from several independent sources.

Options one and two take a big person, and would earn them a lot of respect from non-Trump supporters. Option three is why we’re slowly and collectively walking into the scalding surface of the sun as a democracy.

I know what you think, but like I said, I have to believe that people can be better. I really do.


Today is Tuesday, November 20th and The Sunset Tree is a terrific album.

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Jacob Wohl, and Should We Be Talking About Him?

Has anyone else read about the Jacob Wohl story?

This is the guy who tried to fake accusations against Robert Mueller, but was found out due to the most inept faked-conspiracy theory in recent memory. He made hundreds of fake social media profiles, that he used to attempt to corroborate information relayed from his fake “consultancy firm”. Only, most of the profile photos were registered models, and one was actor Christopher Mintz-Plasse.

I know Superbad was a long time ago, but people don’t forget the Mintz-Plasse. Not with a name like Mintz-Plasse, and a face like McLovin.

mclovin
Wohl’s new head of PR

Yesterday he (Jacob Wohl, not McLovin) held a press conference, before which he said he would pay any woman $20,000 to come forward with information about Robert Mueller in regards to sexual assault. Obviously, nobody came forward. It appears as though women won’t just come forward about sexual assault in exchange for money and fame, as some Republicans seem to believe.

Turns out they’re people who’ve been through harrowing experiences seeking to tell the truth, who would have guessed?

His conspiracy and fake network started to unravel when one of his “associates” office phones lead back to his own mother’s cell phone voicemail! I kid you not, HBO will have a TV movie about this guy out by next summer. Probably starring Christopher Mintz-Plasse as Jacob Wohl, for no reason other than the delicious irony.

Wohl’s associate/maybe lawyer, Jack Burkman, even co-led the entire press conference with his fly down. That’s not as relevant, but it really ads to the colour of the situation. I think it might be a metaphor for the entire attempt at fraud that, in a just world, would land Wohl with a couple of years in prison.

Wohl, who looks like a seventy-year-old man who made a deal with the devil to be young again, has been on the fringes of the far-right movement for the last two years. He has been a vocal Trump supporter who peddles the grossest of conspiracy theories, hoping that the President will one day recognise him as a reputable news source.

Which in 2018, that’s the most obvious symptom of unresolved daddy-issues.

Just yesterday he tweeted that Beto O’Rourke is financially supporting the migrant caravan. He made this claim without a source and just threw it out into the world in the form of a selectively edited video. Most of us know this to be ridiculous, but some will buy into it, as we’ve seen with other conspiracy theories in recent years.

At aged twenty, he has already been blacklisted from almost all financial institutions in New York, for lying and claiming to be a hedge-fund manager. He still claims to be a businessman, but the only business he is currently in is misinformation. One that, unfortunately, in 2018 is rather lucrative.

He’s sort-of a cross between Steve Bannon now and Donald Trump at age twenty. He’s a living example of the Trump effect on young people, and surprise surprise it’s in the form of an upper-class brat with delusions of grandeur.

The way he delivered his press conference was even in the style of the Trump administration’s upper rank. He pushed questions away like Sanders, had all the slime-ball anti-charm of a Trump Jr, and the train-of-thought arrogance of the satsuma God-King himself.

wohl2.png

The Trump Presidency has given people like Wohl a platform of legitimacy, because even though we’re laughing at him, we’re still talking about him.

And that’s the recurring problem, isn’t it? Many people argue that left-wing and centrist media continually covering the Trump campaign is what ultimately lead to his victory in 2016, and it’s a perfectly valid argument.

Even though we, the public majority, were stood on the sidelines and laughing at the ridiculous claims of “build that wall” and “lock her up”, we helped to perpetuate these slogans by participating in the mocking. Which, in turn, made his supporters double-down, because they didn’t like being laughed at.

So should the media even be talking about Wohl? Should I even be writing these words? Does it do him more good than it does harm? And is the old adage of “there’s no such thing as bad publicity” actually true?

These are a lot of big questions considering the fact that I’ll only be writing for another three-hundred words. And perhaps I’ve done that intentionally, because it’s a complex issue with no correct answer.

Good journalism, true journalism, will try to best inform citizens on the current events of the world. Their job is to present the facts, the data, and to let the crazy speak for itself. I think if these things (Trump campaign, conspiracy theories) are going to happen, then the people need to be made aware of them. It would be even more terrifying if they operated in the dark, and if we couldn’t explain how or why Trump happened.

They definitely need to shift their approach, however. I was impressed by the level of questioning directed at Jacob Wohl at his “press conference”, as they asked about his credentials, his experience as either an investigator or prosecutor (the roles he’s attempting to take on), as well as calling into question the credibility of his claims.

One reporter closed the conference by asking if Wohl and Burkman were ready for federal prison. Which may seem like a flippant question, but fraud and attempting to defame using self-created conspiracy, well, that can land you some serious jail time. You know, if you weren’t a rich white man from New York.

If reporters managed to ask these questions to Sarah Sanders, and if they demanded that she back up the President’s claims with data, facts and statistics, then maybe it wouldn’t be an us vs them shouting match that serves no purpose beyond fuelling Trump’s long-held media mandate.

Maybe it’s because I grew up on him, but I always refer to documentarian Louis Theroux when it comes to getting the truth of a situation from someone. Point a camera, let the crazy speak for itself, spend time with the crazy to show the motives, and then ask questions that reveal just how deep the crazy goes.

I don’t think a continued mocking coverage of situations like Wohl, or the Trump administration are the right answer, but to not cover them at all would also be a mistake. Insects work best when they’re under a rock, and nobody is shining a spotlight on them. Although lately, these cockroaches have appeared immune to rays of truth.


Today is Friday, November 2nd and I’d love to talk, in person, to the sorts of people who blindly believe the words of people like Wohl. I bet they need a hug.

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Types of Pokemon GO Players

You can’t put people into boxes. If you do so metaphorically then you’re oversimplifying a person’s individual traits in order to type them for your convenience, and if you do it literally then you’re probably a serial killer trying to dispose of a body, which is equally bad.

My better half and I have spent many hours this summer playing Pokemon GO. We had both put the game down in 2016 (like most others), due to the lack of things to do or accomplish. When we heard they’d introduced a trading aspect, we jumped back in, figuring that we might now stand a chance of finishing a Pokedex or two.

A major part of the game in 2018 are the “Community Days”, where thousands of people flood the streets in order to catch a specific Pokemon and enjoy various bonuses. These “days” usually last for around three hours, and for that time a city, park or shopping mall becomes Pokemad.

That’s not an official Pokemon word by the way, but if you use the prefix of “Poke” with any word, you can pretty much brand anything. For example — I’m currently enjoying some Pokecoffee, whilst sitting on my Pokechair and fending off Pokeexistentialdread.

I’ve found on these Community Days that you can very much see the different types of people who play the game, and so I’ll now present them to you in listicle form, and you can decide for yourself what kind of player you are. Because my word is law and you can definitely just sort people into neat little boxes…

1. The Self-Proclaimed Leader

charizard

Likely Team: Valor

Favourite Type: Dragon

Which Pokemon Are They: Charazard

As one of the few extroverted types playing the game, this loud and outspoken player naturally becomes the leader for any raids. He’s always a he, and you can find him on your local Discord server, delegating detailed instructions to the rest of the community. He’ll be at the start-point six hours before Community Day begins, ready to lead his band of players across the dangerous landscape of a well-maintained city park.

If you join his train, be prepared to listen to every order for maximum efficiency, or you will be kicked out of the group for making jokes about this just being a game. Not that I’m speaking from experience…

“Look if we don’t hit this gym now, then we won’t have time to catch the potentially shiny Pidgey on that street corner before we head to the next one!”

2. The Young Parents

kang

Likely Team: Instinct

Favourite Type: Normal

Which Pokemon Are They: Kangaskhan

Don’t let the two strollers and three infants fool you, these guys are the most hardcore of any Pokemon Go player. Despite the fact that their children are all under the age of four, each of them has a device and an account, all controlled by the parents of course. The six-month old is currently Level 37, and has caught over twenty shiny legendaries.

Multiple strollers make for natural storage space, where they can keep wires and extra battery packs. They also act as battering rams to remove any pedestrians from their path, so they have no need to take their attention away from the five screens. They make for excellent raid allies, but don’t expect to take a gym from them any time soon.

“But I thought you were watching the kids, Sharon?!”

3. The OAP (Older Age Player)

alakazam

Likely Team: Mystic

Favourite Type: Grass

Which Pokemon Are They: Alakazam

An OAP doesn’t need to be a pensioner, just someone who wasn’t young when Pokemon was around for the first time in the late 90s. This can be anyone over the age of forty-five, but the best players are pushing sixty or seventy. Often the most relaxed members of the community, they’re always up for a conversation and excited to geek-out over the Pokemon they’ve caught.

They may not be as efficient when it comes to raids and gym battles, but they’re having a lot of fun, so don’t preach at them. Also, due to an increased amount of free time and disposable income, they’re likely already Level 40 and have nine super incubators going at any given moment.

“This Pokeman looks like a blue radish, what will they think of next?”

4. The Lone Master

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Likely Team: Mystic

Favourite Type: Water/Ice

Which Pokemon Are They: MewTwo

This player just wants to get out and enjoy the benefits of the day without actually talking to anyone else, if possible. They’ll follow small groups from a distance and then mysteriously help them with a raid. Headphones are this players must-have item, as they silently yet efficiently move through the city without the need for a Train Leader.

They’re probably technically the best player, in that they see an efficient way of playing whilst remaining casual and disconnected from the wider community. I always want to talk to these people, as they’re who I’d want to raid with, but I also respect their commitments to public privacy.

“…”

5. The Pokemaniac

eevvee

Likely Team: Instinct

Favourite Type: Fairy

Which Pokemon Are They: Eevee

Pokemaniacs will be the first players you see as you arrive at the Community Day event, as they treat it as an opportunity for cosplay and convention-based fun. They may not be in full costume (although some are), but they’ll likely be wearing a lot of official Pokemon merchandise.

They’re often overly friendly (one of them once said “yiff?” to me and I’m not sure what that was about) and eager to show-off their digital collection, even though it’s less impressive than your own mediocre one. They don’t make for very good teammates on raids and you worry that their appropriation of Japanese culture is borderline offensive, but they seem like they’re having the most fun of anyone at the day.

“Eek! That’s my one-hundredth tiny Pikachu! uwu!”

6. The Troll

250px-089Muk

Likely Team: Rocket (If it were possible)

Favourite Type: Dark

Which Pokemon Are They: Muk

You’ll never see this player at a Community Day as they’re likely “spoofing” from back home in their mother’s basement. Ever take a gym in the middle of nowhere, only for it to be immediately taken back by the exact same six players who definitely aren’t stood in the empty field you’re in? That’s the work of The Troll.

For whatever reason, this person uses six devices for six separate accounts in an attempt to play the game to maximum efficiency — No matter how many rules they break, or how many other player’s days they ruin. If they add you as a friend, you’ll receive gifts from Japan one day and France the next, as they spoof to Pokestops all around the world. Stay away from these players, they see themselves as a Giovanni when they’re actually just a Gary.

“Mom! I need more Mountain Dew! Now!”

So there you have it, an absolute definitive guide to the only types of people who play this game, with no room for debate or discussion.

I’m joking, of course, a huge variety of people play Pokemon GO and it seems like the game is more popular now than it was in 2016. It may look strange to see thousands of people looking down at their phones like zombies as they walk the streets, but it’s better to be playing a game outside than it is indoors. At least as far as vitamin D levels are concerned.


Today is Wednesday, September 26th and the hearing of Professor Ford tomorrow is going to be a mess that brings out the absolute worst in old men everywhere.

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Six Tips For Redrafting

Editing your own WIP can be an absolute nightmare. It’s like looking into a fantastical mirror and seeing all aspects of your internal thought-processes reflected back at you. Sure you see that clever bit of wordplay, or that great dialogue exchange between your protagonist and antagonist — but you also have to look at the sentences you wrote when you were tired, and start plugging some of the plot holes that you’re certain weren’t there before.

Now that I’m two weeks into editing my YA dystopian novel, I’d like to offer some very amateur advice, as well as some tips I’ve learned over the years when it comes to being self-critical on other long-form projects.

1. Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff

Once I’m in the zone I can write at a decent pace, and with that comes a lot of basic grammar or spelling errors. It took a while, but eventually I learned to not give myself grief and label myself a “poor writer” for making such basic errors during a first draft.

Your software may pick-up on many of these mistakes, but often it’ll “correct” the sentence to something else entirely, leaving you with a three-hundred-some page document filled with facepalm-level mishaps.

You’re a writer, a storyteller, a world-builder; Absolute perfect grammar first-time is for the people who know the theory but lack the imagination to sit down every day and dream. Correcting simple mistakes are what the second, third, fourth and fifth drafts are for — So don’t give yourself a hard time when rereading your WIP for the first time.

I’m sure some people are brilliant at storytelling and produce perfect grammar first time, but I’m not one of these people, and you shouldn’t worry if you’re not either.

2. Character Voice

If I had to name a strength of mine (I’m terrible, everything I do is terrible), I’d say that my dialogue is always fairly decent. I love getting in the mind of a character and figuring out how they would communicate certain things.

In my initial draft I try to keep this in mind, but often in fast-paced or transitional scenes, mindfulness of character voice can fall to the wayside in favour of action-description or general descriptive language.

Whenever you’re reading a line of dialogue you’ve written, ask yourself; Is this how this character would say that? Think about their personality, how they choose to express themselves, vocal patterns, inflections, dialects etc. It can be tedious, sure, but I guarantee your characters will seem more, well, like characters.

In my opinion, a reader should be able to take a line of dialogue out of context and know exactly who said that line.

3. Telegraphing and Foreshadowing

Something I’m enjoying whilst redrafting this novel is the opportunity to hint at certain elements of the narrative, particularly in the early to mid chapters. In the past I’ve written surreal or character-driven stories, so writing something more conventional and attempting to keep the plot as air-tight as possible has been new and interesting.

In my first draft I (hope I) telegraphed the plot devices needed in my foreshadowed dramatic conclusion. However, during my first rewrite I’ve been adding in small sentences here and there — where appropriate — that foreshadow other aspects of the narrative.

This doesn’t mean you should be blunt in the first half of your WIP about everything that happens in the second half. Just think about character growth and how you can plant the seeds for it before the event that causes the growth happens. If you need a certain object in a dramatic scene later on, mention that object casually when initially describing the room it’s in.

Keep it subtle, the sort of quiet telegraphing that audiences don’t notice until a potential second read, or after the reveal has happened at the very least.

4. Restructuring the Building

If you’ve planned your novel out in great detail beforehand (hi), then you shouldn’t need to restructure the narrative in any major way. A whole chapter won’t need to be put in an entirely new place, because you drew up very specific blueprints and you stuck to them.

However, just because you followed your plans as though they were gospel, doesn’t mean you can’t shift the pattern of a conversation, the action in a scene, or simply the order in which two minor events happen. If it means an overall improvement to the flow of the narrative, then you definitely should.

It could be that you didn’t plan much before putting fingers to keyboard, and that’s perfectly fine! Everyone writes in different ways, and as long as you get a finished story at the end, it doesn’t matter how you got there. If that’s the case then don’t be afraid to make major changes to the order of your events. On a second read you might realise that it’s much better for your protagonist to endure struggle #2 before they go-through struggle #1.

Of course that means that struggle #2 becomes struggle #1, but I’m sure you have more memorable names for key dramatic events than “Struggles #1 and #2” — Which sounds like the name of an edgy emo album.

5. One Step at a Time

I loathe myself on the best of days, so to read the thoughts I’ve spewed out of my head-box and onto the screen can be painful. I know that other writers will be able to empathise with this.

Re-reading hundreds of pages of your own writing can be daunting, but if you take it one chapter at a time — one chapter a day even — you’ll still have performed an entire redraft in around a month. Which is better than curling into a ball, crying and not redrafting anything at all because it all seems so hopeless, pointless and meaningless (all the less’s).

There’s absolutely a lot of hard work still in front of you, but it’s much more encouraging to look back at the ten steps you’ve taken, than it is to look at the dark and shadowy ten steps ahead. Just get your head down and focus on that next step, then before you know it you’ll have crossed the bridge. Did I say we were on a bridge? Or a path? Ah it doesn’t matter now. What matters is you’re doing it!

6. Remember, You Did It!

If the mental anguish ever gets to be too much, remind yourself just how far you’ve come. You already grew a single idea into a story that can be read and enjoyed by other people, and that’s bloody brilliant.

You’ve already achieved something, remind yourself of that daily as you strive to achieve the next thing. I’m with you, I’m in your corner. We’re writers, we have each other’s backs in this creative struggle. You can do this — And the best part is that you know you can.


Today is Tuesday, September 25th and this evening my friends and I are going to watch people in pants pretend to fight.

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Trying Marvel Movies

I don’t think I’ve ever been a fan of superhero movies. Even thinking back to my childhood, I didn’t have superhero toys or costumes. At most I watched a VHS of Batman Forever on repeat, but that hardly constitutes being a fan of the genre.

I haven’t been completely under a rock, I’ve seen a lot of superhero movies in the last fifteen years — Voluntary or otherwise. I remember enjoying Spiderman 2 (the first time they did a sequel), Batman Begins and a few of the X-Men movies. In recent years I’ve enjoyed Logan, Guardians of the Galaxy, Incredibles 2 and…maybe that’s it?

Avengers: Age of Ultron was the last Marvel superhero flick I saw in cinema, and it was my breaking point for the whole franchise. Up until I saw that film I could gleefully pass the entire genre off as useless but enjoyable popcorn movies, but then they shoved lots of people onto the screen and tried to make me care about it by pointing at themselves and going “Look! It’s Slenderman! Or Grime-Boy! Or Jimmy Jon!” Or whatever all the superheroes are called.

So I’ve missed out on a lot of the Marvel movies, and now I have a very specific conversation every three months with friends and family.

“Have you seen LATEST MARVEL BLOCKBUSTER?!”

“No I haven’t seen it.”

“Oh well — it’s really cool when SUPERHERO DOES THING, oh wait — do you care about spoilers?”

“No, I don’t plan on seeing it.”

“Well you really should, because it changes the game for IMPORTANT FRANCHISE.”

In the last year people have told me that I’d actually enjoy a couple of the new Marvel movies, those being Thor: Ragnarok and Black Panther. I didn’t believe the first person who suggested them — because it was the guy installing my internet and that was weird thing for him to say out of the blue — but when everyone started to recommend the same two movies for me I thought I best watch them. I mean, I’ve had a three-year hiatus from Marvel, what’s the worst that could happen?

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Let’s start with Thor: Ragnarok, a film I was told I would like because it’s a comedy (thumbs up) and it’s directed by the always brilliant Taika Waititi (double thumbs-up). I was told that it’s “not like other Marvel movies”, “it’s really funny” and that “you definitely don’t need to have seen all the other Marvel movies to know what’s happening”.

*grits teeth and sucks in air*

Oh man, this is tough, because people seem to genuinely like these films for some reason. As though they’re the best films they’ve ever experienced in their life or something, so I feel awful saying bad things about them and then justifying them with appropriate evidence.

Okay, I’ll start with the positives from this movie. The rock guy (played by Waititi) and Jeff Goldblum’s character were exactly what I expected from the film described to me. They were the only two people with lines that made me laugh and had they been the primary companion and antagonist of this film I think I may have genuinely enjoyed it.

The hour of this movie that they spent on Grandmaster’s planet was fun to watch. Apart from all the Thor/Hulk stuff that you clearly needed to see other films to have a better understanding. Oh and the Thor/Loki stuff that didn’t make any sense. The antagonist from this first movie who keeps trying to betray you at every turn is being kept alive just because he’s your brother? Yet you’re all ready to go kill your sister for doing the exact same thing? Don’t get me started on sexism in the Marvel franchise, of entitled boys in suits saving the world…

I can already feel myself getting angry at the plot, so let’s talk about that. Right at the start of the movie Thor tells us that he always gets in these scrapes but manages to come out alright in the end. Fine, as long as this film remains a straight-up comedy and they don’t attempt fake threat and emotion throughout, then this will — and… they did, they did exactly that.

If you have a line like that, why am I supposed to care what dramatically happens to these people? I know they’re all going to survive because of what Thor said, (apart from the one new guy who’s always introduced in a Marvel film and then killed off so they don’t kill a franchise player), so why threaten me with peril? When they returned to Asgard and had the audacity to act as though they wouldn’t win, it was a real “walk out of the cinema” moment for me.

Also — and this is just a sidenote — why doesn’t Doctor Strange solve everything? Or do villains not fall for his magic tricks? And if not, what’s the point of him? How did Loki survive the burning city? Why didn’t Cate Blanchett even try to act? Can Thor only use thunder now that his father is dead? Can Marvel make a movie without a shoehorned classic rock song?

So many questions, no answers within the film. Maybe if Waititi had written the screenplay as well then this could’ve been decent, but he didn’t, it was written by three people! A story by committee is not a story, it’s a sketch show. And eight laughs in one-hundred and thirty minutes does not a sketch show make.

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On the other hand, Black Panther, I genuinely enjoyed. I was worried for the first hour that it was going to be like any other superhero movie, but as soon as the South-African villain was killed, and the story became more about family and a culture war than it did about the threat to the wider, faceless world (which was still there but I found it easy to ignore), I could really sink my teeth into it.

The world building was far more interesting, maybe because it was butchering a culture that I know absolutely nothing about, instead of riding the coattails of Norse mythology but getting it all wrong in the process. Or maybe it played to the culture well, I couldn’t possibly say. What I do know is that dream-sequences through sinking into sand, direct parallels to the anxieties and dangers of modern society, and strong characters that aren’t just the same white dudes I’ve been watching for twenty-five years — Those are all things I want from a mindless action movie.

In the last hour of Black Panther I actually forgot I was watching a Marvel superhero movie, as it just felt like a regular sci-fi/action flick. They’d subtly set-up small details for the third act, and everything came to personal dramatic conclusions that felt emotional and meaningful.

Do I want to see a sequel? Not really — That’s part of the problem I have with these franchises. Just leave things alone and allow them to be remembered fondly. Although, I know how important a movie like Black Panther is to the black community, so maybe true equality is milking every cash-cow to the point of a “terrible” 70% on Rotten Tomatoes, a “measly” 1.5 billion dollars, followed by a reboot? Yeah! Mediocrity for everyone!

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I tried, I really did — I just don’t think these movies are meant for me. Maybe you had to have been either a fan or a child when all of these films started, and I was just caught in the middle of all of that. Too old to enjoy them, too young to remember the Saturday-morning cartoons and original comic books.

I guess I’ll watch another couple of Marvel films in 2022 or something. When they start rebooting them all for the third time.


Today is Thursday, September 20th and watch what you like, like what you like, but believe that your blockbusters can be better.

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If you like what I write and can spare a dollar, then it’d be a greatly appreciated act of kindness! If you like what I write and can’t spare a dollar then I greatly appreciate you! If you hate what I write and also can’t spare a dollar, then why are you still reading this?

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