SLOWLY Return to Meaningful Discourse

In the age of instant access, limited patience and diminishing attention spans, “social” exchanges are commonly reduced to that of few words at a time. The likes of Whatsapp, Facebook Messenger and Line have enabled us to mindlessly chat away with each other at the press of a button, but what does that do to the quality and meaning of the content therein? How much thought goes into an emoji? Gone are the days when a thoughtful letter rich in content was the regular communicative method of choice for most people. Even if you have a pen pal or long distance acquaintance, an email can reach them in seconds. How much more time & effort would you make if it didn’t reach them for days, and took a week to get a response?

SLOWLY app

SLOWLY is a digital platform for a traditional pen pal experience.

Designed for people in search of meaningful conversations in the era of instant messaging, their aim is “to connect people around the world at a slower but better pace – one letter at a time.”

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Spread The Word’s London Short Story Prize Open for Entries

Spread The Word's London Short Story Prize

Spread The Word’s London Short Story Prize 2019 is currently open for entries. The Prize was launched in 2013 to platform talented short story writers in London. They have published six anthologies, celebrated six winners, have run two London Short Story Festivals and profiled over 50 talented short story writers.

The winner of the London Short Story Prize 2019  will receive £1000 and their short story will be published in Open Pen London. Two highly commended writers will each receive £250. The full longlist will see their short stories published in the London Short Story Prize 2019 Anthology.

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Music to My Ears – Tool’s Digital Acceptance

So, for the best part of the past 48 hours, this has been my personal soundtrack. Many of us thought this day would never come, but here we are. After famously being so staunchly against the move to online music platforms, Tool have finally released their full discography onto both digital download & streaming services.

Since the band’s profile appeared on Spotify this past Friday Aug 2nd, they have already amassed over 1.5 million followers. In addition, their album Lateralus is currently sitting as no.1 on the iTunes Album Chart, and five of Tool’s tracks are in the top 10 of the platform’s Downloaded Songs Chart.

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In Other News #002

Between sweltering record heatwaves, malfunctioning transport networks, trespassing dogs and national flood warnings, this week has been quite unusual to say the least. It’s just typical that by the time the weekend comes around, the “glorious” temperatures that baked us alive on our fragile daily commute are replaced with greying skies and miserable torrential rain. As luck would have it… Ok, enough of that. What else have I have been up to lately?

First of all, I finally dusted off SuperHot (pun not intended) after leaving it on the virtual shelf for quite some time, and eventually beat the main campaign into submission. I’d hit a brick wall on the later levels and put it to one side, but I’m so glad I came back to it. Man, I love this game. The core mechanic of “time only moves when you do” mixed with chaotic replayability reminiscent of Hotline Miami, and the bombastic style of That lobby scene from The Matrix creates an experience worthy of the “One more go” club. The icing on the cake are the dystopic and subversive plot events that unfold as you progress. There’s a lot of fun hidden gems within the game’s menu system too. On completion of the campaign, I seem to have unlocked both an endless mode and challenges. And I thought I was finally free…

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When it Rains, it Pours – The Rain Season 2

Season two of The Rain was a wild ride. As with music, the sophomore release is always perceived as more challenging, the original serving as a benchmark. However once again the creative team of Jannik Tai Mosholt, Esben Toft Jacobsen and Christian Potalivo delivers triumphantly.

Picking up right from the end of the first season, the surviving members are desperately trying to find a cure for Rasmus before Apollon’s soldiers can capture them and deliver him to the hands of the nefarious corporation. A lead points them in the direction of a group of scientist defectors, where they meet several new compelling characters, and again the show does a great job of peeling back the layers of each one to explain who they are and how they came to be in this situation.

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Bird Box is a “Dreadfully” Good Read

Josh Malerman’s Bird Box is a wonderfully crafted tale of modern-day survival against a deadly mysterious force of evil, woven with dread and the fear of the unknown from the get-go. I can honestly say it has been one of the most enjoyable reads for me this year so far. Whilst I’m not typically a fan of the horror or psychological thriller genres generally, I found myself enveloped in the adventure, eager to find out what would happen next.

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Drifter – An Update

Several years ago, I had an idea for a story. A hapless protagonist starts seeing things, “changes” to his daily bubble. Everyone else seems to think he’s losing it, and being the only one to notice quickly cracks him. Then “everyone else” starts changing too, and he’s forced to embark on a mind-bending odyssey, questioning reality and the alternate realities that unfold before him.

I shelved the initial scribbles for a while, coming back to it in dribs and drabs, using it as a creative outlet and a way of unwinding from real-life everyday stresses and strains. As the story took on more form, I spent more time with it, but the idea of writing a full novel seemed daunting. Instead, I had the idea of releasing the tale in episodes. Serial fiction sounded like an exciting idea to me, releasing chapter by chapter as bite-sized pieces of writing. Especially as to begin with it was all “off the cuff”, with little to no planning. However, as I came to find, this has its own drawbacks.

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Miniature Painting, A Rediscovery

Once upon a time in the early to mid 90’s a much younger version of myself discovered Games Workshop, and its fantastic worlds of Warhammer Fantasy, Warhammer 40K and Necromunda amongst others. Many a weekend would I spend trying my hand at painting miniatures, or battling at the local store. However it wasn’t long before I fell into the common trap of having more unpainted models than finished pieces, and it all became a bit too daunting. I also was never happy with half the stuff I painted. It wasn’t long before the whole lot was put to one side, and eventually stowed away in the loft. I never had a big collection, but there were models I wanted to finish that just never got to be.

Cut to present day, and my parents visiting a much older, late thirty-something me. They’ve come bearing gifts, including a couple of small figurine boxes, and a familiar carry case with a “space marine” sticker emblazoned across the side. Oh boy.

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Keeping Calm in a World of Chaos

As the daily stresses and strains of our everyday lives nibble away at our sanity, it is important to take stock, to step back if for a moment, and refocus. It is all too easy to become enveloped, too wrapped up in whatever eats away at us. It’s also very common to take these challenges home with us, either venting our frustrations to our partners and friends or keeping our minds racing as we lie awake at night. (Both I’ve been guilty of at times.)

In a bid to combat (combat is an aggressive term…) or alleviate (ah, that’s better) this, I sought out various sources of calm which can help take the mind away from such bouts of tension.

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