Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Exercise 6

I've been browsing through a few of my classmates' blogs and one in particular caught my eye.

It's a personal blog, mainly filled with everyday musings and opinions, but the 'up close and personal' blog on Cunning Like A Fox struck a chord of recognition in my scatty mind.

It's basically concerned with the age-old dilemna of leaving 1 million days of coursework 'til the final hour. Reading it gave me comfort.

I thought I was the only one, leaving essays, dissertation proposals, investigative projects and website design until the week before deadline, because "I work so much better under pressure".

Well, it's not true. And Cunning Like A Fox has identified this terrible trend amongst students, particularly Almarians. She's identified the distractions, and suggested possible solutions. Perfecto.

I highly recommend anyone of the unorganised variety to check it out, have a chuckle and find comfort in the fact you're not the only one.

Exercise 4

Portrait of the student as a young swot:
The article on http://education.guardian.co.uk says that according to a MORI poll, students are happier than ever, despite deadlines, money worries and work stress. It says they are too busy for a love-life and more concerned with buying gadgets and healthy living than missing lectures through heavy hangovers.

I don't think this article represents a balanced cross-section of students. The students used in the case studies are all on business-related degrees, bar the first girl who clearly has no social life. She's not a typical Journalism student.

To some extent, we all work hard and worry about having the edge over the next person, but normally there's only one or two in each class that pack their waking hours with career-orientated tasks, shunning the pub for an Ovaltine and a Mills and Boon.

In my experience, less than a third of students work in term-time. Most people are middle class, so the fact that working-class kids have to work a lot more just to survive, let alone to buy the latest gadgets, doesn't square with the article.

And as for love life, Uni is the time to pounce on as many willing participants as possible; I don't know a single soul that would say: "No thanks, I have to go and study my Peter Greenaway books". (Apart from this strange Scottish Film student I once went out with.)

We can be lazy, eat nothing but beans,drink more than our body weight in cheap vodka and mixers. But we recognise that this time is the gateway to a fairer future, better opportunities. And a pickled liver.

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Drum N Bass

"Music is my first love, and it will be my last."

Those immortal words resonate around my head like a Cali Sunrise in full flow.

I think Skibba said it best, in front of a heaving, sweaty mass of junglists one fine summer's eve.

D&B is a force to be reckoned with. As its diversity increases, so do the fans. You can always find one or two. Someone to share this passion for a hybrid of old- skool dub and dark-hued synths.
s epitomise tech-step heaviness, suffocating subs and high BPMs that melt your mind into the messy consensus of the crowd, the MC pushing you further and further into the delirium they've created.

Andy C is a pioneer of mish-mashed high-lilt vocals and fine production, DJ Hype in the way he scratches and masters 4 decks at the same time.
Roni Size blends jazz, country, hip-hop and breakbeat elements into a fusion of pure genius that has seen his career leap from strength to strengh.

There's so many DJs. And oh- so- many MCs.

For me personally, it's the MCs. Thers's nothing quite like them. If I could be anything in life, it would be an MC. Or marry one. Nevermind the sweet nothings. If I could fall asleep listening to the dulcet tones of MC Det I would seriously change my views on the institution of marriage.


They just seem to have so much freedom. Up there, in fronty of a seething throng of up-for-it clubbers, ryhming like their life depends upon it. They really are the people that make the evening, complimenting the DJ and setting the direction of the music.

As long as D&B survives, there will be MCs: those beautiful, talented men with muscly arms and cute caps, gravelly voices and a swagger that makes women swoon.

Monday, April 11, 2005

Exercise 2

PARKOUR

What is it?

David Belle, creator of parkour, describes it as " ...a way of using the obstacles found in one's path to perform jumps and acrobatics... everything must combine speed,fluidity. aesthetics and originality."

Participants in the activity are known as 'traceurs' , and use the urban landscape around them to perform jumps and runs in an acrobatic style. The goal of parkour is to be at one with your surroundings and the way you, as an individual, connect with the urban environment.

Parkour largely remains an underground activity outside of its birthplace of France, but a derivative of the practice has spread all over the globe. "Free Running" puts a higher emphasis on showy jumps and acrobatic 'tricks', and shot to fame following the Channel 4 documentary "Jump London".

Who does it?
Core practicers of parkour fit the twenty-something male category, who live within an urban landscape rife with structures upon which to hone their skills. However, this is not to say that all traceurs fit this demographic. While searching on the net, an 11 year-old girl from Rocksville, USA had contacts on a website, while a small country town in East Sussex used the local Tesco carpark as a regional meeting place.

'Urban Freeflow' , based in London, represent the English parkour movement. Not only do they have a hugely exstensive website, but they also host national events that help to congregate traceurs and enthusiasts.

How has the net helped increase the popularity of parkour?

The net has provided a universal link for parkour practitioners. It is here that they can swap techniques, new moves, discuss the philosophy behind the art, contact others, and find out the latest news, views, and events.

E-mail directories, weblogs and contact pages help traceurs find other practitioners in their area, see what's going on, find out about current events and generally keep up to date on the world of parkour.

Web forums and dedicated websites have helped to encourage a huge following. A plethora of information and related links reflect the emergence of parkour as a stand-alone art/physical movement, the web acting as the glue that binds its inhabitants together.

Sources

www.urbanfreeflow.com International freerunner site
www.ludopathic.co.uk/southcoastparkour/ Hampshire and South coast traceurs.
www.spikyjumper.com Guildford-based Parkour group
www.realsportsnetwork.com/Extreme_Sports_Parkour_html: Tips and exstensive link website.

Spirit Illness

How many times have you heard the following, delivered with a longing sigh ?

"I wish I were your age again"

Working in a local yokel pub, I spent many an hour serving pints of ale to decrepid alcoholics, listening to them lament after their lost youth.

They tell me how this is the prime of my life, how I can take everything to extremes, and not wake up with a raging hangover in the morning.

They couldn't be more wrong.

I count myself as a person of average health, despite my penchant for ciggies and vodka.
So, with my 21st birthday looming just around the corner, I decided to put these wingeing words of wisdom to the test.

I spent a week off my head on vodka, only stopping for sleep and showers. The people who joined me on this venture varied from day to day - some hardcore peeps could take it, others fell by the wayside, dropping like tired seagulls from the sky.

Don't worry, I can hear the criticism already. It's not big, it's not clever. Liver damage etc.

But, I am a student, and if this is not the time for experimentation, then when is?

I merely wanted to test the fogies theory.

Here are my scientific findings:

It gets boring, being drunk all the time. Your skin reverts to that of a 14 year old, your head aches, and the ability to remember things is akin to that of a goldfish. It makes you sluggish and sick. And shout at your boyfriend for no reason.

So, I went to work, couldn't even bear the sound of pouring alcohol, was rude to a customer, and gave my notice in.

But I have learnt from this. Never again will I heed the advice of pissed-up old men from a country pub in Hale.

Exercise 1

The online version of The Guardian is distinguishable in many ways. I studied the 11th April addition, online and off, to see what differences could be seen.

  • The online version chose different takes on the front page stories that the hard version ran. As an example, Kylie headlining at Glastonbury took the top spot online, as opposed to running above the masthead in a much smaller form in the print edition.
  • It is easier to scan for what interests you personally online, as opposed to wading through the cumbersome pages of the broadsheet. Clear subheadings and links direct you quickly and comprehensively to your desired information.
  • Everything you find within the 25 pages of the hard copy can be found on one easy-to-read page online. You can find exactly what you want with one glance.
  • The writing style of the intros online is much more chatty and informal than the hard copy. It seems more liberated from the 'grandiose' style of the broadsheet. This invites you to browse at your leisure, without feeling pressured to 'get stuck in' to hard news.
  • The online version puts a greater emphasis on the cultural stories being put at the top rather than hard news or huge sections devoted to current issues. These are provided as links, directing you away from the main page.
  • The opportunity to look back at the past week's most popular articles is provided at the bottom of the homepage online. this, obviously, isn't possible in the print addition, due to space.
  • As conclusion, the online version offers greater choice and simplicity, presented in a compact and clarified form, easily accessible to all.

I've chosen a story to show what can be done online that hard print can't offer. The Tory Manifesto launched today by Michael Howard, is presented in a simplified, short introductory form by the online version.

The subject is broken down into easy-to-digest chunks, giving the viewer the option of reading some or all of the components that form the whole story. The online version presents the main points of the story clearly, so it is simple to find the sections appropriate to you. In contrast, the print edition devotes five pages to the topic, and despite the use of bulletpoints and boxes, it still seems multi-faceted and jumbled compared to the online version, which is highly concise.


Thursday, April 07, 2005

Big Issue

I've just spent the week on "The Big Issue" magazine, based in Vauxhall, London.
I got to work in the editorial department, mainly under the news editor, and nothing can open your eyes more to the journalistic challenges ahead than being thrown in at the deep end. "You're gonna do a story for me," the news ed said. It was 2PM. "I want something on my desk by 6." Oh dear.

My stress levels went mental.
I had to read through a 128 page report on public policing, speak to a bunch of academics, the head of the Met, various press officers and the author of the report. I had to skip lunch. I was still reading on the train and missed all my favourite TV programmes that night.

The next day, my painstaking efforts got butchered like a small delicate lamb. The hours slaving over a pile of paper to produce something cohesive seemed worthless.

But no.

I got some praise. And a joint byline. And they invited me back.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

The Pisces Male

Just because they have blue sparkly eyes and broad shoulders, it gives no right for the pisces male to swan around like God's gift.

Seriously. All the men I've had the pleasure of knowing born at this time of year fit this model.

Addictive personalities, poor money skills and insecurity juxtaposed with serial cheating, huge self- love and vanity ; their emotional manipulation abilities are second to none.

But I'm strangely drawn to them. I love the way a pisces male can lay on the charm so thick, it's impossible to unfurl yourself from their treacle-like sweet nothings and grand declartions of honesty.

Ha! Don't be fooled. Not for a second.

It's like fishing, but in role reverse.

As soon as they have you hooked, believing that they're the most charming, honest, yet impossibly gorgeous specimen on the planet, pisces man begins his sick game.

Emotional manipulation is a skill of the pisces male. They say that they are sensitive, so you tip-toe around their 'fragile' male ego, their puppy dog eyes willing you to be gentle with it.

All the while your delicate, caring man is feeding you this malarkey, and you're sucked in by it, no-one can tell you that the object of your affections is not what they seem.

You happily shirk their concerns, their tales of pisces man falling on death ears.

And then you see the light.

A moment of clarity shifts the naive- inducing fog that has taken hold of your faculties. And you realise. Bigtime.

So, as final advice, don't go near a pisces male.

Unless you're a pisces female. You're probably well suited.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Duke Raoul

Damn Hunter S. Thompson. He just went and shot himself, despite having at least another 3 books in him.

He was living proof that effective journalism can be written from a point of view.

I've sat on the train many times sparodically laughing from behind a book. Fellow passengers looked up from their broadsheets, their disdainful stares pointing to the invisible "no laughing" sign above our heads.

Thompson's stance on a subject permeated his writing - the dialogue fervently steaming along, carrying rash statements and thoughtful insights at the same time.

Streams of serious political observation interleaved with his trademark nuttiness proved a very successful mixture for the pioneer of gonzo journalism.

Taking inspiration from Tom Wolfe and Jack Kerouac, Thompson pushed the free-wheeling style of these writers into the modern day, covering current issues through a veil of mescalin and rum.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Bonjourno mon prawno

I love shoes. One day, when I'm a successful journalist, I will own boxes and boxes of Manalo Blahniks, Gucci and Christian Loboutin creations, each pair beautiful and eye-catching. It's not that I'm a materialistic person- my Dad is a Hindu and has taught me about the perils of attachment to earthly goods. But shoes have to be the exception.
My obsession with shoes started at an early age. My great aunt Pip, a well-travelled Camden-dwelling lady, opened my eyes to the beauty of shoes about ten years ago. As i rummaged through stack upon stack of worn leather flats, diamante- encrusted sandals, brightly-hued designer trainers and tibetan-style jesus sandals,