Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Adventures in YouTube

I have been horrible at updating this for which I am kind of sorry and kind of not. When I first got my job it was important to me to keep blogging because it was something I really enjoyed and felt I was getting better at. It may look as though I have slipped up with this, but really I have just moved mediums! A lot of the things that I would normally blog about, I have now started talking about on youtube! Which is kind of super scary but also very exciting.

I love youtube and have done so for quite a while now. I’ve never delved into it for a number of reasons, the main one being that it really intimidates me! There are so many amazing and talented creators on there that I’ve always felt that it was a platform in which I should just be a spectator. After all, I am not musically talented, I am not a budding film maker, and I don’t exactly have the most interesting life to vlog. I felt like anything I had to say would have already been covered by people far more talented than I will ever be.

Before now I have never really shared my internet self with people I know in real life and I’m not entirely sure why. I just think the side of myself that really cares about things, whether that’s fictional characters or social issues, feels way more comfortable on the internet. I often feel like I fail at being me when I see people in person. If I’m seeing old friends then it’s fine, but when I’m with people I don’t know very well or that I haven’t seen in ages I sometimes feel like I fail to be me. I make too much uninteresting small talk, I get too nervous, I don’t make jokes or be silly like I normally do, the list goes on. I sometimes feel like I have a bit of a mental block that I have to push past in order to be myself around people. This is probably normal but it just means that I get very nervous talking about the things that I truly care about in person. Whereas on the internet, I don’t have to do that. I can put the time in and make sure that what I’m saying is what I mean, and I won’t be put on the spot trying to come up with evidence and the like, I can think it through and respond accordingly. Even if that response is just random emotional flailing.

Tumblr has always been my security place. Which seems silly when it’s a website full of gifs and stuff like “it craves that mineral” but it really is. I know lots of people have had bad experiences on the site but I have met some of the loveliest people on there and have received some of the nicest messages and it’s just always been a place where I can explore topics and build myself up a bit. It always used to be that if I knew you in real life and told you my tumblr username that it was a big show of friendship. Which is weird but there you go.

I don't know why recording myself talking about things and posting it online is more intimidating than blogging about them on here but it is. This blog has always felt pretty private whereas youtube just seems very open and public. So even though I really love the site and the people who create content on there and all of that malarky, I've just sort of lurked in the background like a little ghost viewer. 

And then I got tagged in a youtube tag challenge by my friend Leah on an evening when I was home alone with nothing better to do so I thought “fuck it” and gave it a go. And although the video is 20 minutes long and filmed on a webcam and I ramble a LOT, it was fun!

(Side note – Leah’s videos are excellent and if you’re not already subscribed to her you should head here and go do that. Really, if there’s one thing this blog is consistent at, it’s recommending her stuff. I am not secretly being bribed into promoting her or anything, I just think she creates great things.)

Having taken my first step into the land of youtube and not ended up spontaneously combusting I came up with a bit of an idea. For want of a better title, I am currently working with "Project Body Positivity". The basic jist is that I am going to create a series of videos that explore different topics that are associated with body positivity in order to hopefully make it clearer to other people what body positivity is, and also as an opportunity for me to learn more about it myself. At my current point of blogging I have done 3 videos and have a whole bunch more ideas for future ones. I am very open to help/collaboration/general suggestions and the like so feel free to comment/contact if you have thoughts! Below is the first proper video I did for the project but you can view more on my channel here.

It's important to me that I try to make an effort to continue learning about the things that I am passionate about and to work towards being the best version of me that I can be. I'm hoping that this project will be a way for me to continue to do that whilst also having some fun trying something new! I have no idea how regularly I'm going to be making videos but I'm having fun so am just going to go with it and see what happens. 

So yeah, this is just a bit of an update for you all really. I don't think a huge amount of people read this blog but if you do and you've been wondering where I've been recently, here is the answer! I do have a bunch of book reviews and other posts which I will post soon as well with a bit more regularity.

End of March Review

(I am so incredibly late in posting this. Please ignore the fact that it's nearly the end of April and just pretend I posted this on schedule okay thank youuuuuu)

Hellooooo there my little blogalog, it's been a while! I would like to have decent excuses to explain why I haven't updated in ages but, honestly, I don't really have any. March has flown by and I have no idea where it has gone! Things I have done this month include: spending two weeks covering work while my boss was out of the country, tentatively dipping my toe into the waters of youtube (a proper post shall follow soon), a couple of awesome day trips, and generally attempting to adult slightly. I have also read some books! Surprise surprise!

So in order to catch up a bit I thought I would do a compilation post compiling of mini-reviews of the books I've read recently!

Viriconium - M. John Harrison

Recently, my dad has been lending me a lot of seminal sci-fi and fantasy books and I have really been enjoying reading them! This is actually a collection of any of Harrison's works that are based in the city of Viriconium. It's got ten different stories in it, which vary from novel length to short stories. The highlight of the collection is definitely Pastel City. There were so many interesting ideas and imagery within that story; it really captured my imagination and made me excited for the rest of the collection. Unfortunately, the rest of the collection doesn't quite live up to this first story. It is in no way a bad collection, just something about both the content and style of the other tales just isn't as good in my opinion. I have temporarily paused reading this in the hopes that returning to it at a slightly later date will make me more enthusiastic about it.

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves - Karen Joy Fowler

One of my exciting adventures this month was meeting a friend in Birmingham which was super awesome! It was a fantastic day but, as is so often the case whenever I attempt to travel anywhere, I had a lot of public transport kerfuffle. Essentially, my coach turned up and announced that, although it was going to be going to Birmingham, no one who had bought tickets to there could get on. Nearly two hours later the replacement coach turns up, except the driver was unaware that he was supposed to be replacing anything and wasn't best pleased about us all piling on his coach. But I did eventually make it to Birmingham! I also managed to finish the book I had packed for the journey before I had even arrived, so my friend lent me this for my return journey! And it was perfectly enjoyable! I probably won't end up recommending it to any of my friends, but it was a good read and had a twist that I absolutely did not predict.

The Metamorphosis - Franz Kafka

This was a weird book. I'll be honest, I'm not entirely sure how I feel about it! I've been meaning to read this for ages and so I finally decided to get around to it and it has really stuck with me. At first, I was slightly bemused when reading this. Guy wakes up and discovers he is a giant vermin (commonly translated as a bug, but I read a bunch of reviews that debate the correct translation) and obviously everyone is pretty freaked out by this, and then he just sort of continues to live in the lounge of his house whilst his family try to adapt to this new turn of events. I'll be honest, I didn't really like his family. There were a lot of things that they did that really bugged me (haha 'bugged'. Cos, y'know, he's turned into a giant beetle...I'll see myself out...), especially his father. I took to GoodReads after I finished because I felt like I was missing something in my reading. I read a really interesting review which mentioned how it could be interpreted that rather than actually being transformed, Gregor only thinks he has been transformed but is actually still human. There were also a bunch of other interpretations which I won't reiterate (they are but a google search away) but generally they've made me ponder this book a lot more. I'm still not sure what I think about it but I enjoyed it!

Men At Arms - Terry Pratchett

As you probably know, Terry Pratchett passed away recently. His books have been so influential on me and my family and he just generally seemed like a pretty great person to be honest, so I thought I'd read another of his books just because really. I've been working my way through the Discworld's in the order that they were published and I've been really enjoying them! The Tiffany Aching series is and always shall be my favourite, but this was perfectly enjoyable! I don't have enough thoughts for a proper review but I like the Nights Watch and Carrot. I always enjoy Discworld books so I liked this, but it's not one of my favourites of the series.

Far From You - Tess Sharpe

Well this book was just fantastic! I've got a list of recommendations that I've been working my way through and this was on it, so I thought I'd give it a go and oh my god it was amazing. I got incredibly immersed in it and pretty much raced my through it because I absolutely needed to know what happened. Sometimes I get a little too into murder mysteries and end up creeping myself out quite a bit and that happened with this book. I become slightly convinced that the only thing stopping me from being killed by the fictional murderer was finishing the book and finding out who they are. Illogical but sadly true. That being said, I did kind of guess correctly. Not entirely, but just enough that I feel vaguely proud of myself. 

I could probably have dedicated a whole post to this but at the same time I'm not sure if I have the words (again. I'm a hopeless blogger.) A major aspect that I loved was actual bisexual protagonist who has a personality that does beyond her sexuality but is also not actually shamed for said sexuality and has it presented as a real and genuine thing. Can you hear me cheering from the rooftops? Here is a little snippet to tempt you into reading it: "but my heart isn't simple or straightforward. It's a complicated mess of wants and needs, boys and girls: rough, soft, and everything in between, an ever shifting precipice from which to fall". Essentially, I cannot recommend this book enough. It was so well written and engaging and just generally brilliant!

March has been super busy and I don't know where the time has gone but I will do my very best to get back to blogging again in April. That being said, I have been doing other exciting things, so will update again on all of that soon!

Sunday, 5 April 2015

High Fidelity & My Top Fives

This has been a good weekend for book buying. Less of a good weekend for my bank balance, but I am the proud owner of a bunch of superb books. (I'm going ahead and making the assumption that they're going to be good. What can I say, I feel very optimistic about them!) One such book is High Fidelity by Nick Hornby. I watched the film a couple of years ago and I enjoyed it, but I definitely preferred the book. The soundtrack to the film is great but the music referenced in the book is more stuff that I'm familiar with. I thoroughly enjoyed the book but am slightly out of the swing of reviews so am going to go off on a related tangent instead! 

Before I do that, you can click here to be taken to a playlist that is loosely inspired by the novel. I'll be honest, it's mostly just a mix of soul music but it captured the mood of the early pages of the book to me.

If you are not a fan of lists then you will probably want to stop reading right about now because the rest of this post is mostly comprised of top 5 lists. 

I find ranking things, especially music, incredibly hard because there are so many factors to take into account. For example, what is my favourite song? I always answer this question with Samson by Regina Spektor. My last.fm stats show this to be true, it is by far my most listened to song, so it's the one I always choose. It's pretty and sad and I like it a lot. But is it one of my most influential songs? Not by a long shot! It hasn't really shaped me as a person, it wasn't the soundtrack to a particularly memorable time of my life, and it doesn't even particularly have any memories attached to it. But I always say that it is my favourite song. 

Things I try to take into account when I rank something:
  1. Did I enjoy it?
  2. Given the fact that I enjoyed it, is it actually objectively good?
  3. Even if it's not particularly good, does it do what it's trying to do well?
  4. Does my enjoyment of it counteract whether or not it can be considered good?
  5. Has it stayed with me and left a lasting impact? Even if I didn't necessarily love it at the time?
And so on and so forth. 

The fact is, I love a lot of things. And I know some people think that by throwing the word 'love' around the place diminishes the meaning somehow. But I can't imagine only loving a contained amount of things. I say that I love things a lot but I absolutely mean it every time I say it. I might not love a song the same way as I love a person but in each case there is absolutely something in the very core of my being that is responding to that thing and love is the only word I know how to describe it. 

Slight tangent aside, I bloody love music. There are so many songs that mean so much to me for so many reasons so when I'm put on the spot and asked to rank them I get a little bit flustered and lose the ability to speak coherently, let alone actually come up with song names. But all of the top 5's that happened in High Fidelity made me ponder, and I have come up with some lists! 

Top 5 Most Influential Songs

Silver Springs - Fleetwood Mac
Piece of My Heart - Janis Joplin
Wild Hearted Woman - All About Eve
Cosmic Love - Florence and the Machine
Wish You Were Here - Pink Floyd

Top 5 Songs as Ranked on Last.FM

Samson - Regina Spektor
Closer - Tegan and Sara
I Hear The Bells - Mike Doughty
I Was a Fool - Tegan and Sara
Uncomfortably Slow - Newton Faulkner

Top 5 Influential Albums

Rumours - Fleetwood Mac
Lungs - Florence and the Machine
Little Earthquakes - Tori Amos
Mother Earth - Within Temptation
Handbuilt by Robots - Newton Faulkner

Top 5 Soul Songs

I've Been Loving You Too Long - Otis Redding
Call Me - Aretha Franklin
When I Fall In Love - Sam Cooke
Cry to Me - Solomon Burke
I'd Rather Go Blind - Etta James

Top 5 Classic Rock Songs

The Spirit - Magnum
Always Somewhere - Scorpions
Try Me - UFO
Love Ain't No Stranger - Whitesnake
All I Ever Wanted - Thunder

Top 5 Classical Songs

Cello Sonata #3 in A Op.69 - Beethoven
Cello Concerto First Movement - Elgar
Tristesse - Chopin
Nefeli - Ludovico Einaudi
Claire de Lune - Debussy

Top 5 Meaningful Songs

Last Hope - Paramore
I Hear the Bells - Mike Doughty
She Keeps Me Warm - Mary Lambert
I'll Follow You - Shinedown
Collar Full - Panic! at the Disco

There are so many songs that mean so much to me that aren't on any of these lists, but if I tried to include them all then we would be here forever and this probably wouldn't be a very interesting post. So I'll leave it here for now, but let me know your top 5 songs of any category! I always love hearing about the music that influences and inspires people so recommend me stuff as well.