Celebratory endorsed hustle

Would you pay £45 for a celebratory to endorse what you’re selling?

Breaking this down here, this is £45 for a 1 minute recording of someone reasonably well known on a national scale talking about your product.

If you want my answer, it would be NO! Resoundingly so.

First and foremost, budgets are already tight to get anything done to any decent standard, secondly it’s a rip off, and the fact that celebrities stoop so low as to charging a fortune for a minute or so of their time to talk about you or wish your family member Happy Birthday is a bit tacky, desperate and quite frankly an abuse of status.

I apologise if this comes across as very strongly opinionated, but in terms of ethical value, this kind of stuff grates me and doesn’t sit well at all.

If you’ve done something with integrity, authenticity, professionalism, clarity of intent and quality, you do not need to pay hard earned money for a minute of someone’s time to use their status to sell you.

Series finales

I think back on my time being so emotionally invested in Game of Thrones and how the season kind of get crushed under it’s own weight by the final season.

To be honest, the show felt like it was on a somewhat downward trajectory when Twyin Lannister snuffed it at the end of season 4. The greater moments became spectacle until that’s all it was predominantly about for season 8.

There’s the evaluations, the uproars, the petitions, the sly suggestions of disapproval from the cast and there’s no denying the fact, that seeing an end to a TV series that has lasted so long is always going to be difficult.

And it seems like every armchair critic out there has never been more vocal or self entitled for that matter.

The Line of Duty season finished yesterday, and it was an enjoyable if somewhat underwhelming closing out. There’s definitely worse endings, but the uproar was insane! People do get attached.

Either way, there are plenty of other series to watch and enjoy, and part of the fun can be imagining your own ending and how you would do things differently.

I rather liked spending a night of insomnia reimagining the tactics of the long night in Winterfell for instance.

Above anything else though, creators and performers deserve more than being tagged and trolled by those who’ve never attempted to write anything themselves other than criticism.

The Oscars

They came and went with many people not knowing they had even happened!

I consider myself to be someone who is interested in the awards because I’m curious about what films have received plaudits and if they deserve them. I also enjoy Mark Kermode’s take on them in his podcast.

I also enjoy many of the films themselves, I thought ‘Parasite’ was a tremendous master class in film making and it was even more satisfying to see it win a landmark victory with the best film category and provoke a whine fest from the toddler in chief at the time.

I have to admit that this year, many of the films have passed me by. Cinemas are closed so unless it’s on Netflix or Prime, there is very little chance I’ll know about it, let alone seeing it.

The cinema world has to reevaluate the process regarding distribution. Why is it so hard to see these films?

Minari was out behind a £10 paywall for home viewing in the U.K. Why would I pay that!? It’s more than going to the cinema itself. Especially when there is so much else to watch that is oh high quality.

Even the critic Jack Howard had struggled to see some of the films listed when talking about the nominees on the Kermode on film podcast!

I look forward to eventually catching up with some of these films, but in an era without cinema theatres, the film business has got to find ways to reach people like me who are interested when our time and money is already stretched.

Kaleidoscope

I remember losing my gaze in a kaleidoscope my Grandmother use to have and the twisting motion bringing about a new wave of symmetrical colours and patterns.

I wrote this song about celebrating curiosity, especially through the form of travel and the whole notion of things being the same, but different.

Working out in the Middle East gave me that opportunity, to see the world but also meet people from everywhere, and I am happy to have friends that are from all the world.

Whilst there are cultural differences, there are many common values we all share no matter where we are from. Especially in a time where Xenophobia has creeped into the narrative, I wanted to write this song to celebrate the idea of cultures and people from anywhere in the world being able to integrate with each other.

Grey Day

There are days when you wake up and feel like rubbish.

It could be just a horrible phase, a rough period or clinical depression. Nothing exact as such.

I wrote this song about those kind of days.

The voices in your head that keep telling you that you’re not good enough are winning (I call this ‘resistance’) and you are left with little energy to do anything else other than wallow.

The thing I’ve learnt is that things always get lighter when you take a walk and open up to someone about it.

Men in particular are awful at this, and it’s becoming more prevalent in the media how false sense of masculinity and bottling up feelings is doing more harm than good.

I wanted to write this song to express the fact that’s it’s okay to have these kind of days and it’s also okay to talk about it.

Avatar The Last Airbender

This show is a triumph.

I’m of course talking about the Animated TV series from Nickelodeon and not the film adaptation from M Night Shyalaman who took every misstep possible and may have even hindered the series from getting the credit it deserves.

The series came out in 2005 to 2008. I was a teenager at the time who was driven by music and the only TV show I remember watching was Fresh Prince and I was more into movies anyway. The TV series passed me by and I never watched it…until Netflix distributed it last year.

My girlfriend insisted that I must watch it. Being an animated series, I was slightly ambivalent towards it, and didn’t think I might enjoy it as much as Better Call Saul which I had just finished after spending lockdown 1 rewatching Breaking Bad.

A few months later, and I’m not only hooked. I watched it twice and now a fully fledged fan! I would say it’s one of the best TV series ever made.

Where to start with my praise!?

First and foremost, the premise is undeniably intriguing to any family member, a world torn apart by war. And every episode you see the devastating impact that war has laid upon communities, of course in a child friendly way but it’s message is nevertheless profound. There’s also excellent takes on authoritarianism and censorship that are cleverly embedded in the plot.

Secondly, the characters are detailed, rich, and outright adorable. Even the antagonists are likeable! Every character has idiosyncrasies, hang ups and back stories that are well thought out and without giving too much away, there are several character arcs…one of which is just incredible. There’s a celebration of characters who are able to showcase their strengths despite disabilities and there’s a diversity and respect for a variety of Asian cultures.

Thirdly is the sense of humour and adventure tied in with wider themes. This show has proven to be an absolute tonic for me during a long drawn lockdown through winter and if you’ve not yet had the chance to see this show yet…I cannot recommend it enough.

Also you won’t be able to get this bop out of your head.

SECRET TUNNEL! SECRET TUNNEL!

Through the mountain…

Secret secret secret secret TUNNEL!!!

Changing something pathological

100 years from now, when Historians study the pandemic, there will undoubtedly be the analysis of how countries managed it and the fact that those who were led by women had a significantly lower mortality rate whilst many countries led by men, particularly those who had been peddling the trends of populism, had a higher death rate.

Of course there are a multitude of other reasons, including ageing populations, population density etc. but there is pattern where men who have had a dubious relationship with truth and facts, have led to tragic consequences.

It seems embedded in the culture here in the U.K. that is much more a sign of strength to stand by your viewpoint and double down on it than change your mind. It is pathological in many of our leaders that you can’t be seen to be wrong.

This has had toxic results.

Moving forward, we need to change the culture to shift in a way where changing position on something as more information comes to light is part of being human and is a desirable value.

We also need education to encourage students to leap from the safety net to be wrong so they can learn to be right.

There’s no point having a mind if you can’t change it.

Technology and it’s impact

We are still fathoming this.

The internet has been around for three decades and change is happening faster than ever to the point that it is as terrifying as much as it is thrilling.

Phones are more than a daily accessory. There is an extraordinary level of dependency on them for how we operate and behave on a daily basis.

There have been tremendous pitfalls along the way, consequences that could be considered dystopian and that have affected our physical and mental well-being.

As we move into the 3rd decade of the 21st century, there will be further developments and one thing we can do is evaluate what’s important.

For instance, are we using social media as a means to connect, or are we using it for status, are we a product?

How do we spend our time with technology. Are we learning, gathering use information or engaging in politics of hate and doom scrolling?

We must endeavour to have control over use of technology and ensure that it’s not the technology that is controlling us.

Informative

I was walking with my friend today and we were discussing the Pandemic. A topic of conversation that is difficult to avoid and one that has dominated so much of our lives for nearly an entire year.

We exchanged thoughts, opinions and ideas and concluded that you could write a book that was well over a 1000 pages that would attempt to examine, anlalyse and synthesise the events that have taken place.

We discussed the situation with asymptomatic cases, holistic approaches that encourages healthier lifestyles, placebos and their role in health and wellbeing and how lockdown has given us an opportunity to reflect on what it is that is important to us.

One rant we shared was on the notion that the media has a lot to answer for. So much of the news consumed is now through social media, headlines or clickbait and the design of it is to excite you as opposed to inform you.

It would be better to have had the mainstream media give much more airtime to the people working tirelessly behind the scenes who are fighting this virus, be it researchers or doctors. Instead what has dominated a lot of the headlines are politicians who are untrustworthy and celebrities who have been humbled by their lack of awareness of what everyone else is going through. The language has been fear driven and uncertain with words like ‘could’ and ‘might’ appearing very often in headlines. It is easy to respond to these with very set assertions that are based on stress and or anxiety.

Yet you have a conversation like the one I had today and you quickly realise how there are so many ways to look at what has unfolded. We do not know everything and through exchanging ideas, is an opportunity to learn a new way of looking at things.

This is why I prefer podcasts as a medium, because it gives a platform to which conversations can happen in so much more depth and you can get deeper into things.

Being informed takes the courage to admit that what you believe right now may be contradictory to other sources but it is worth taking the time to think and listen in further depth before making an assertion as it is then easier to empathise with others and approach the situation we find ourselves in, in a calm manner.

It was a rare snow day in South Wales after many grey days of perpetual rain. Many people were out enjoying the weather (socially distanced of course) and one positive is that this pandemic has perhaps allowed us to re-engage with nature and appreciate it more than we may have done previously. Perhaps as we go forward, this will play a key role in how we ensure that we allow our environment to thrive.

Wishing everyone peace of mind.

Onwards.

Non-falsifiable

It was only inevitable that the pandemic would bring a wave of conspiracy theories.

They’ve come in quick and whilst some have whittled away, some continue to stick and here is why.

Human nature requires explanation for big things that happen because it’s more satisfying to know there’s agency in the way things have panned out. There’s a refusal to accept that things may have or continue to happen at random.

The way a conspiracy works is that it is self-concealed, so picking an argument with a person who believes one is problematic because if something disproves the theory, then the theory changes. Facts are fungible.

Many countries have not helped themselves by adopting a populist approach that weaponises truth. Falsehoods are everywhere and lying is commonplace. Responsibility needs to be taken and accountability needs to be upheld. Too often, people are learning the hard way.

There’s ignorance, but then there’s the illusion that the knowledge we possess is incontrovertibly true.

It’s worth reminding ourselves to thoroughly investigate that which we believe, engage in open discussions that offer alternative views and assume that we may at any point, be wrong.