The Skinny: December 2014 Editions




THE SKINNY northwest ISSUE 21

Editor of The Skinny Northwest, Lauren Strain introduces issue no. 21:

YO and welcome to a somewhat bumper Christmas edition of The Skinny. Rather than hide under our duvets listening to Serial or whatever it is the kids are into these days we have this year embraced the holiday season wholeheartedly, some might say maniacally, offering everything from tips on how to moisten your turkey – an injection of milk and apple sauce is recommended – to guidance on where to procure a phial of comparatively affordable beard oil (the jury's out as to what that says about us, or indeed, you). And while personally I would recommend the fifth and most recent album from Taylor Swift, you may prefer to peruse the selections of gifts possibly more appropriate for your brethren, thoughtfully* compiled by our Film, Books, Food and Tech teams.

*under duress.

The Skinny writers and staff simply love having to start thinking about which albums and films they've most enjoyed over the past 12 months in October, so they voluntarily democratically put their heads together to come up with the lists you see adorning pages 10 to 18. We say lists, but we wouldn't do that to you – over said eight freshly hashtagged pages, you may find analysis and reflections on artists and movies that have already found space in The Skinny over the past year, and others that have newly stepped into the spotlight (hello, The Lego Movie). Hopefully there'll be some names in there you might have missed, and can take advantage of the holiday to check out. Elsewhere, our Comedy editor has rounded up some emergency replacement jokes for those shit crackers you bought; and in the latest in her series of ambitious, Icarus-like undertakings, our Art editor finds herself on a gin-fuelled Blackpool bender taking in as many of the major exhibitions on in the Northwest as she possibly can. Turn to page 28 to find out just how successful this was.

Don't worry – it'll all be over in January. And while admittedly this issue may be stuffed to the gills with a) recommendations of undoubtedly desirable cultural artefacts that nevertheless cost money and b) advice on how to get pissed with the aid of spices, ultimately – and you might wanna get the biscuits for cheese out – the greatest gifts that can be given are of course those of peace, love and understanding (awwwwwargggggh). But seriously: as every day our walk to work is populated with increasing numbers of those our society is failing, we would encourage you to join us in pausing amid the blizzard of lights and noise, and take a moment to extend the compassion and camaraderie of the season with those beyond family and friends.

ANWYAY! Somewhere amid all this funny business is what you might consider our 'normal' stuff, though it's no less diverting: Books speaks to Jung Chang about the changes she's seen in China since she began writing poetry under Mao, where she had to rehearse and refine her phrases only in her mind, never committing them to paper; Film meets the wiley Ben Mendelsohn, who discusses his remarkable repertoire of characters on the edge; determined young company Jane the Foole speak to Theatre about gender equality on and around the stage; and in Clubs, Detroit techno head Robert Hood gets spiritual.

And after all that, if you're still stuck for something to do over the festive break – what do you mean, you've finally engineered a truce between your third cousin and your uncle's Doberman Pinscher? – why not turn to page 7 to find out all about our very exciting Travel writing competition? We're inviting submissions for our debut Travel edition, which comes out in February; before you embark on a new one, why not relate what you did last year with wit, panache, and a seismic hangover?

From all at The Skinny, thankyou for picking up this magazine – a very merry Christmas and a happy New Year to you.







THE SKINNY Scotland Issue 111

The December issue is traditionally a semi-demented combination of Christmas excitement, end of year lists, and gift guides across all sections of our magazine. This year is no different – note the cover’s aggressively festive illustration, and centre spreads featuring the now-traditional bespoke Christmas cards commissioned from some of our favourite artists and illustrators of 2014. This year’s crop are unusually lacking in the outright horrifying – does this mean the world’s getting nicer? Probably not.

Our Music editor has exhaustively polled the writer squad to create our definitive list of the Albums of 2014. Other lists may be available, but they will be wrong. Words have been had with many of the top 10 – turn to p10 for the big reveal. You can also find the full top 50 on the website, head along to to find out more.

Film has also compiled its top 10 picks of the year, and the selection is already proving divisive in the office. Find out where you stand on p18 – as always you can head to the website to voice your violent dissent on the comment boards. In other Film news, we have some words with Ben Mendelsohn about new submarine drama Black Sea which also features Jude Law doing an allegedly semi decent Scottish accent. Seems unlikely.

Games makes a blistering return to our pages this month, celebrating the Museum of Scotland launch of new exhibition Game Masters with a four-page special exploring different aspects of the programme from Scotland’s indie programmers to gaming guru Robert Florence.

Books has a busy month, interviewing Jung Chang about Chairman Mao, censorship and Dowager Empress Cixi. A sceptical eye is also turned on left wing darling Owen Jones and his alliance with Russell Brand, following his appearance in Edinburgh for the Radical Book Fair. Naturally there’s also a gift guide – our literary team have put their heads together to bring you a rundown of their top picks for presents in 2014.

Fashion’s festive special is once again a beautifully shot spread of wares from some of Scotland and the Northwest’s most interesting designers and independent retailers. In other gift guide news, the much-maligned iKettle makes a return this year, moving from Food to Tech while continuing to defy all logic – yes you can turn it on with WiFi, but you still have to fill it and pour the water into a mug so what is the point? Bring back the Teasmade. Food’s moved on to new gimmicks, which this year include bacon-flavoured toothpaste (because bacon is the meat with the largest cult following) and a rotisserie kit specifically designed for making kebabs in the comfort of your own home. You’re welcome. And Phagomania’s architect is back from paternity leave this month, bringing news of deep fried tequila and instructions on how to recreate this delight for your Christmas parties. Again, you’re welcome.

iKettles and deep fried tequila. It’s the perfect end to an eventful year.






Editor of The Skinny Northwest, Lauren Strain introduces The Northwest Student Handbook:

Welcome to The Skinny Student Handbook, which hasn't been put together by the characters above, but please imagine it was. We hope it'll prove an entertaining guide to the cities you have found yourselves in – and university life therein. University life! Where have all the years gone eh, said everyone older than you all summer, patting you on the head. What else was it they said? Oh yeah, that these are the best days of your life. “THEY'RE THE BEST DAYS OF YOUR LIFE!” they said, chasing you out of the countryside and quickly repainting your room.

It's perhaps more useful to observe that your uni days are the only ones in which you will live in a sort of human-sized hamster run where all your immediate needs and desires are located between one and four metres away. Friends! They are either in the same house or on the same street as you. Lovers! They are either in the same house or on the same street as you, though really you would be advised against the former. Parties! They are either in the same house or on the same street as you; sometimes it's more that the house is in the party. Intellectual stimulation! It is in the library.

Sure, you should probably work hard (and you will); but the real thrill is that you are in this specific place, with these particular people, at this exact time. Seize it. Join a society, run in an election, put on a show. Unless you're a medic. Medics will be hanging out with other medics, having medic sleepovers and running medic festivals, and generally just tearing things up in a way non-medics will never know how to and will forever envy, long and deep into adulthood.

But before all that: dive in! From tips on where to find free comedy to the tale of a gap-year trek; from the history of film to a 20-page venue directory, we hope we've got you covered. Now go explore. And best of luck.







THE SKINNY SCOTLAND student handbook

Editor Peter Simpson introduces The Scotland edition of the Student Handbook:

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, a time that everyone has secretly been waiting for since spring. While hilariously long summer breaks are nice, the start of the new university calendar is a time of excitement and joy - there are new facts to learn, new flatmates to alienate and annoy, and new things to see and do. 
While we can’t really help with the first two parts of that sentence, other than to recommend you carry a notepad at all times and wrap your smellier food in cling film before putting it in the fridge, the third part is where we come in, with our annual Student Handbook.

Over these 84 pages, we’ll bring you up to speed on cultural life across Edinburgh, Glasgow and Dundee, allowing you to jump headfirst into that whole ‘being a student’ thing you have going on.
We’ve compiled a list of the 12 of the best cult Scottish albums over the years for you to get your ears around, while in Film we’ve gone even further back in time and charted the history of film from the very beginning.

We’ve also taken a look at the theatre, comedy and club scenes across Scotland, and highlighted some of the nights and events to watch out for.
If you’re keen to spread your wings and fly (culturally speaking), we’ve got guides to the spoken word and literary scenes in Scotland, an introduction to the burgeoning tech and hacker scene, and a run-down of some of the weird and wonderful student societies to fill your weekday evenings.
If you fancy travelling we have a tale from the depths of the Thai jungle that will both inspire and terrify you, and our resident agony uncle Fred Fletch has provided his advice for the year ahead, which will also inspire and terrify you.

On top of all that, we’ve also put together a guide to well over 100 of the best places to eat, drink, dance, watch and be otherwise culturally active in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Dundee. We’ve even provided maps, so you won’t get lost.

Consider this Handbook your indispensable introduction to cultural life in Scotland’s cities. Carry it with you at all times, along with that notepad from earlier. You might need to get a bag. And a coat.





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