Who’s This Tom Fella?

My name is Tom, as you have probably already worked out. Well done. As I’m a big nerd who’s never left the house, I like games and films more than a little bit, and this blog allows me to transcribe the verbal diarrhea that gushes forth from my blabbering mouth. I will be giving you my opinions through reviews and features, as well as saying what I think about certain issues or debates. Please feel free to ask me questions about what I have or haven’t written or request topics for me to express my thoughts on. You can contact and follow me on Twitter @CalicoSpack.

Because it’s fun to put things into lists, here are my top 5 favourite films:

  • The Prince of Egypt (1998). The greatest animated film of all time. A beautiful work of art, despite being Biblical tosh.
  • The Return of the King (2003). The best installment of the finest movie trilogy there is. Epic, iconic, unforgettable.
  • Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World (2003). A thrilling naval adventure bursting with rich storytelling and believable characters. I can watch this again and again.
  • Sunshine (2007). Stunning and stirring sci-fi by one of my favourite directors, Danny Boyle. Perfect soundtrack by John Murphy and the band Underworld.
  • Only God Forgives (2013). A divisive film, but in my opinion the best from my other favourite director, Nicholas Winding Refn. You need to find your own meaning in this slow and artistic nightmare through a fairy-tale Bangkok.

It’s always hard to pick favourites, but these are my go-to answers. Of course, I’m also a big fan of the classics, Back to the Future and Indiana Jones especially, and I really love Kubrick’s 2001 and Dr Strangelove. My favourite comedy is Young Frankenstein and I have a great fondness for Planet of the Apes and the vast majority of Bond films (of which You Only Live Twice has always been my pick of the bunch). I still like watching horror films, even though most modern ones are crap, and to this date only two have properly scared me – the messy but terrifying The Fourth Kind and the chilling masterpiece The Babadook. The film that made me cry the most is the exquisite Darwin biopic Creation, in which Paul Bettany delivers one of the finest performances I’ve seen. I have a special place in my heart for the ultra-depressing yet really wonderful The Road, which I have an odd sense of nostalgia for, likely because the book is my favourite novel and I spent a lot of time listening to its heartbreaking soundtrack. More recently I have raved about modern masterpieces such as Interstellar and Mad Max: Fury Road, the latter being probably the best action film I’ve ever had the pleasure of watching. I could go on, but I won’t as I can’t be bothered.

As for games, my top 5 are:

  • Shadow of the Colossus (2005). A monumental achievement, and the game that showed me games could be art.
  • Dark Souls (2011). A masterpiece of story, design and gameplay. Literally the best game ever made.
  • Super Hexagon (2012). Rotate a triangle to avoid walls in what is possibly the most flawless game of all time.
  • Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons  (2013). A short and incredibly emotional tale that turned me into a trembling wreck. Perfectly embraces the video game medium to tell its story in unique and memorable ways.
  • The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth (2014). A game in which a naked, crying child kills his own mother AND Satan. Its randomised gameplay is compulsive, constantly surprising and heaps of fun.

There are a couple of others I could have listed. The Devil May Cry series was my first major gaming obsession when I was back in school; I used to read about it all the time on the internet and even used it as the basis for some rubbish class projects. I spent a lot of time killing guests on RollerCoaster Tycoon, and an even longer amount of time over many years whittling away my life in World of Warcraft (which I stopped playing after I spent a good month farming vegetables to get a title before my name). The most life-shaping gaming moment for me was probably the first time I picked up a Yu-Gi-Oh! card. I went crazy for that damn thing, marveling at the TV show each week, dueling other kids at lunchtime, even importing cards from Japan before realising the stupidity of that move as I couldn’t read the cards. I soon moved onto Magic: The Gathering, which I still play regularly (my friends have learned to fear my Hydra deck). I think the investment I put into these games, as well as my many years of WoW, are genuinely responsible for how I am today. Thank you games, and fuck you.

A little bit more about myself: I studied archaeology at Cardiff University, during which I learned about fun things like Egyptian mummies and the Roman army, alongside less fun things like archaeological theory. I have a particular interest in underwater archaeology, notably of the 17th and early 18th centuries (what can I say, I like pirates) and wrote my final year dissertation on the sunken city of Port Royal, Jamaica. It’s proper fun stuff, and it even won a prize (yay). If you’re interested in over 10,000 words of meaty reading with a sprinkling of pirate fun, you can read my dusty old digital tome here.

Alongside my studies I was involved with Cardiff’s student radio station, Xpress Radio on which I co-hosted a show called The Inexplicable Journey, a random fact-based talk show. If you are interested to see what the station gets up to, you can find out more and listen live here and follow it on Twitter @XpressRadio. I also wrote and directed a 3-part horror-thriller radio drama called Ouroboros which you can listen to here!

When I’m not midway through an overpowered Isaac run, I occasionally write music. My experimental/electronic album ‘Memory’ and EP ‘KV55’ can be streamed and downloaded on my BandCamp page, as well as some other bits and pieces I’ve done over the last few years. More recently, I’ve been working on 80s-inspired synthwave music under the name BEAMSTAR, and have released a funky cool EP called ‘Coastal Dreams’ here. Everything is pay-what-you-want so is free to download, so it would be awesome if you could check it out!

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