Provocative opinions aired on the clothes line of life.

Thursday, 2 August 2012

Go Public and Smile

My social media endeavours have been particularly vain today, as I've been publishing a few cheeky shots from the photo shoot @MartynKelly arranged for me in his studio last night. (For the record, I think I think I'd be about 15% more attractive if my nose wasn't so bulbous. However I don't think I'd be as funny if this was the case because I'd rely too much on my looks, therefore I like my nose). But I've been thinking about negative criticism and how it can be beneficial to go public with your mirth for it.

I watch a lot of Stewart Lee, who I’ve liked for a while but have recently become rather fond of because unlike a lot of stand-up comedians, I think he takes his criticism reasonably wellI’m currently reading through the selection of negative comments he has on his website which have been taken from both mainstream publications and online forums. And of course the most horrifically offensive comments are from the people hiding behind an internet pseudonym. 
Some statements are just laughably generic but nonetheless brutal:
“I hope Stewart Lee dies.” (So final).
Others are quite comedic and draw a wry smile:
“One man I would love to beat with a shit covered cricket bat.” (Just the one?)
“I hate Stewart Lee with a passion. He’s like Ian Huntley to me.” (This is just incredible and my favourite).
But the one comment about Stewart Lee I particularly empathised with is this one taken from Twitter:
“I used to think stewart lee was quite good, then i spoke to him at edinburgh festival. Arse doesn’t cover it. Ah well.”
This review in particular is what I fear the most. People having a certain opinion of you online, which you fail to live up to when you finally meet them offline. It’s happened to me previously at events where I've met up with the online world. You’re introduced and they can’t hold back their emphatic praise for how funny they find you. Then of course they’re treated to your dazzling social awkwardness, inability to maintain eye contact, painfully hesitant silences, stunted attempts at small talk and cringe worthy amateur attempts at addressing a crowd. You can visibly see the fervent admiration draining out of them.
The thought of the anti-climax other people are experiencing because of what a disappointment you are can engulf you if you let it. It's not real. And even if it is, who cares? The biggest and most harmful critic is inside. Don’t be a hindrance to yourself and don’t give credence to other people just because what they've said about you is negative. Their criticism doesn't define you. It’s just an opinion, which fortunately isn't unanimous. Now, go and make a contribution to the world and bask in the reaction you provoke.
And you can start with @CardiffSocial TONIGHT 7pm at BUFFALO!

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Cardiff Social - Social Media Mojitos & Meetup

People of Cardiff, today I shall be a town crier (of sorts) as I'm taking it upon myself to invite and inform. A social meetup is taking place Thursday 2nd August (yes tomorrow) at Buffalo and it's named very aptly after its two important principles: Cardiff Social.

What is Cardiff Social?
The concept is simple, if you live in Cardiff, are a keen user of social media platforms (Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, perhaps you even have a blog?) and you'd like to chat at an informal gathering with some of the local funny people you connect with or stalk follow every day then this is the place for you. We're going to be drinking, we're going to be exchanging witty anecdotes and tips about our social media endeavours (whether they be for business or personal use) and most importantly it's going to be unstructured and laid back.

When is it?
It's Thursday 2nd August at 7pm. Yes, tomorrow. What else are you doing on a Thursday besides reblogging wistful quotes on Tumblr, taking vanity shots on Instagram and tweeting passive aggressive statements about how mundane your working week has been and your excitement for the weekend? It's going to be held at Buffalo Bar , where there's a very popular offer on which is called buy one get one. Selected drinks are cheaper if you know what to ask for, so come and find me to reap the economical rewards.

If you haven't already guessed I'm @Samanthropy or @DirtyKnickers_.

Some other local fun and friendly attendees are:

** For anyone who is wondering what dirty knickers is, it is a blog, this blog in fact and it is about relationships. What do you like to blog/tweet/tumble about? Wait, don't tell me, save it until tomorrow!

What do I need to do?
Sign up to the event on our Eventbrite to let us know you're coming. Walk into Buffalo with a shy look on your face and either approach us or be prepared to be approached! We're going to be there from 7pm. We're all lovely, some of us are attractive and we'll be wearing name badges. You will also get a name badge. So, see you there!

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Steak and Blow Job Day - how are you going to spend it?

soft heart

Last month, like many other people I sat back and let a digital slush fest unfold courtesy of simpering couples. All were making their spontaneous romantic gestures to each other coordinated by a pre-determined holiday. As with our love lives in general, Valentine's Day had gone public. It seemed that the whole world was in a relationship, as people desperately clamored to out-do one another with their public gestures of love and consumerism. Sometimes it's just not enough to purchase an overpriced novelty gift, for some people if others don't know about it then it isn't significant.

Fast forward precisely one month later and today the so-called male equivalent to Valentine's, entitled 'Steak and Blowjob Day' is apparently just as worthy of our attention. The occasion cleverly incorporates two pursuits most revered by the typical man: meat and an orgasm. (And connecting those together is what funds the official website, if the giant porn banners are anything to go by anyway). I'm not particularly bothered about either Valentine's Day or Steak and Blowjob Day. They're inoffensive and I'm perfectly able to tailor how I feel about them depending on my current relationship status: they're a nice idea if you're attached, but if you're not it's fairly easy to ignore them and go about your daily business as usual.

However online opinions about these events have become extreme in their opposition to each other. Some people are woefully distressed at having no one to share the occasion with but are otherwise happy about spending the rest of the year alone. While others are angrily incredulous that the event is being forced on them and suffocating the free service which they use. In my opinion the latter is definitely the more irritating. If I honestly don't like something I tend to not give it any credence by talking about my irrational hatred for it or how much I'm not celebrating it.

But what bothers me about Steak and Blowjob Day is the idea that it's the masculine antithesis to the apparently feminine Valentine's Day. It's such an insulting stereotype for both genders. They would have us believe that the way to win a woman's affection is through flowers, chocolate and pink fluffy things. And in order to please a man you must cook him red meat and perform a sex act. Both occasions imply that in order to make the other person happy you must not derive any enjoyment from it and treat it as an obligation. Men are perceived as rolling their eyes at having to be romantic and women are portrayed as performing the annual mandatory blow job which they take no pleasure from.Well actually, there are plenty of men who enjoy spending time with their wives and girlfriends which doesn't involve rattling the headboard like a sailor on leave. Just as there are plenty of women who enjoy performing blow jobs because it's a perfectly natural expression of love and sexuality.

Besides, people who are in love with each other take enjoyment from making the other person happy. So instead, what should be applied on these days is how to do that based on individual desires. I'm not advocating that you should only make an effort for someone once a year, but these occasions serve as gentle encouragement for nice activities to flourish. So what if it's commercial? Tailor it to what you both enjoy doing. Just remember, the way you choose to do it doesn't need to be broadcast. I don't make a habit of writing about people who make me happy because the moments I have with them are sacred and for me alone to enjoy.

The ironic thing is that it's not the single people who annoy me the most over whinging about how commercial the respective days of Valentine's and Steak and Blowjob have become, but instead it's the smug couples who take themselves far too seriously. You know the ones. They proudly declare that they make each other happy every day of the year and don't buy into a commercial holiday. That's wonderful but if you feel the need to broadcast why you don't do something, you're just as bad as the people you're striving to set yourself apart from. It's interesting to note that these same people also celebrate Christmas, Hallowe'en, Mothers Day and every other commercially pre-determined holiday.What they could really do with is just piping down and continuing their low-key true love without us having to hear about how it's better than everyone else's. Or as I like to call it: boring.

Friday, 9 March 2012

Dirty Knickers in a Twist: Music Snobbery

"What came first, the music or the misery?" - Rob Gordon

I enjoy listening to sounds and noise. Throughout the year and at most hours of the day. Whether it be emanating softly from a Spotify playlist during my morning routine, blasting from my ancient iPod Nano in time with my brisk pace, reverberating raucously at a summer festival or humming in my head as I sway in a gin induced trance at various meat markets. But while I classify my enjoyment of music as a hobby, I'm not particularly passionate or emphatic about discussing it. Which has led to the assumption that I have no interest in it. This coupled with the fact that I'm the least streetwise member of my friends has culminated in a series of running gags, where I am continually besieged with a combination of exasperation and good-natured ribbing. The most revered being that I only have one track stored to the music facility provided by my iPhone. (My explanation behind that is simple: I have an iPod, I don't need to clog the memory of a device I use to tweet and date from). And barely a get-together goes by where I'm not taunted with this gem of a faux-pas:

Apparently she doesn't even sing (such fraudulent behaviour). I embrace the jest I receive from this indiscretion however, because mortified though I was at the time, it is still incredibly funny. And I can laugh at myself. Occasionally. Or at the very least I can pretend with considerable ease that something doesn't bother me. But nothing leaves a bitter aftertaste in my mouth quite like music snobbery. So today I'm going to set the vinyl straight. Except that I don't listen to vinyls and while I don't favour the tinny effect radiating from my dilapidated laptop speakers, I refuse to surrender myself to a bare faced lie in an effort to be portrayed as musically superior. (For all of the Tumblr hipsters out there, that was for you).

In my opinion, music snobbery is the worst kind of snobbery, because it's at the root of the pretentious and scornful culture which is so popular right now. Which is in turn projected superficially. Music snobbery is the reason you see people wearing chunky knit cardigans in July and glasses without the integral glass section. Are they going to play cricket? Have they been mugged? No, they've just been listening to French electro or something which sounds broken with no discernible human vocals. Of course I don't appreciate the raw talent of these diverse underground endeavours because I'm too busy Spotifying corporate drivel likened to that of Atomic Kitten. (I wasn't a fan of their early work, but when Jenny Frost joined the group in '01 I think they really came into their own).

I particularly resent the phrase guilty pleasure. The enjoyment you experience may well be frivolous but why should it be cloaked in shame? The first single I ever purchased was by none other than Britney Spears. Because I was eleven. And I still enjoy her pop offerings today. They're infectious and fun. I happen to like pop music. Or chart music as mainstream tunes are now characterised. It's casual and at that particular moment you can't get enough of it. But the added appeal is that it's disposable and there's no obligation to find out any of the context surrounding it. Very much like a one-night stand.

And if I was to choose a genre of music which I've had the most consistent and monogamous relationship with, it would be the broad spectrum of alternative rock. But whenever I happen to make this omission, I'm met with incredulity. "Oh, you own an NME Essential Bands compilation do you?" I don't. Though I am aware of the irritating barrage of statements which NME hurls at you like a puppy with ADHD. "This is THE band of the year." A declaration which is reiterated fifty two times annually. And every song released when it isn't raining is the song of the summer. It's infuriating, yes. But the bands are inoffensive. I don't own any Snow Patrol or Kaiser Chief merchandise, but while it can be boring, it's easy listening. Do I really need to hit 'private session' on Spotify when my playlist reveals an NME tainted 'track of the moment' to prevent the unrelenting cajoles?

A Tumblr account which I follow and respect, recently declared their first single purchase was The Stone Roses, "I Wanna be Adored". Now considering the fact that it was first released in 1989 and she is the same age as me, I severely doubt the validity of that statement. Perhaps she made a vintage purchase while wistfully perusing an old music shop in a tea dress and cardigan. Perhaps her statement is as fake as the retro feel provided by Instagram. But my point is that it's ludicrous why anyone would want to invent a back catalogue of fabricated musical interest or play up to an ideal which is mandatory in order to pledge their chosen sub-culture.

We are becoming less defined by what we take pleasure from and instead are judged by what we hold in contempt. And I've been the worst culprit for it. I cannot tell you the amount of times I've sneered at a Coldplay or U2 fan in a disparaging tone and for what benefit?  The self-righteous charity appeals are irritating, but they're musicians who are good at what they do. As are The Stereophonics. But if you profess to enjoying their pub favourites you're labeled as a rugby chav or a Welsh nationalist. And you will rue the day you ever utter a positive comment involving Lost Prophets or Muse. Or any perspective other than that they've sold out and forgotten their roots. But the truth is they've made vast sums of money and moved on. Such is life.

It's always been a dreadful thing to be successful because if you're not scraping by barely making ends meet then you're suddenly not cool anymore. Well I can't tell you how I much loathe being poor and look forward to the day when I have the opportunity to "sell out". Perhaps then you'll be paying to read my scathing mockery which seems pretty hypocritical, given the nature of my whinge. But then you're entertained by it aren't you?

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

We See What We Want

I had an epiphany in my kitchen this morning. I had just finished hurriedly rinsing last evenings dirty dishes and was stood in front of my window thinking about which panic stricken task was next required for completion  before work. It was at this moment, dragging my nail bitten fingertips through unwashed strands of lank unstyled hair, when this solitary invigorating thought eclipsed all others. I don't want to be this person anymore, I want to be this person instead.

This person was a sudden flourish of transformations to the current nuances of my attitude which have been holding me back for years. Some of you are now thinking that this is an incredibly easy and straightforward practice to put into place. And in theory it is. Everyone is all too painfully aware of the things which they don't like about themselves. A lot of the time people are even aware of how to go about changing these things. What they're lacking however is how to connect the two together. Or quite simply, the inclination to want to change. It's as though a clarifying beam of light has shone into the dark recesses of my forgotten ambition and banished all traces of the resigned ambivalence from sight.

Having direction in your life is a very rare and downplayed advantage to possess. Perspective can be engulfing and you feel at once both intoxicated and calm. But perhaps the most overwhelming realisation of all is that it was always there. It's like falling in love. You're suddenly alight and you can't remember how or when it started, but it was there, patiently flickering the whole time waiting for you to notice. I spent 2011 gaining this perspective and 2012 will be spent putting it into practice.

Some of you will now say that my resolution is ambiguous. And you'd be right. So I'll tell you what's going to change. I'm going to stop taking myself so seriously and let my defences come down without feeling that it's necessary to attack. I'm going to stop being nonchalant and say what I mean. I'm going to stop feigning a blase attitude and risk getting hurt. I'm going to stop thinking that being nice is a chink in my armour. I'm going to try and dispel the pretentious self-importance which has accumulated through years of over-analysing the perceptions of others.

But most importantly I'm going to stop locking facets of my personality away. It's all very well building the necessary walls by which to protect yourself with, but while a fortress of solitude is thought provoking, a fortress of isolation is detrimental. Lulling yourself with the negative and false judgements of others is very easily done, but all it does is breed self-loathing and a callous attitude which is inflicted at every calculating whim. Well, I'm not prepared to become a self-fulfilling prophecy. I may not know exactly what I want but for the first time I'm being propelled in the direction of finding out what it is. If 2011 was about looking up, 2012 is about looking forward. The Mayan era may have ended, but the world is still turning and I feel more alive than ever before.