Archive | June, 2011

The Apprentice – would you risk it for a chocolate biscuit?

29 Jun

Having just watched the latest installment of the BBC’s weekly cringefest, The Apprentice, I have decided to come up with my own biscuit.

This biscuit would be kind of like a Hob Nob (so a crumblier version of flap jack) but would be ginger flavoured, and covered with stripes of really bitter dark chocolate on one side.

I’d call my biscuit CRITCHERS’ CRUNCH (all caps) and the packaging would look like this:

the beano tin first aid kit beano biscuits the apprentice

My target market would be primarily people who liked the Beano when it was good (i.e. circa 1988) and the secondary target would be people who liked the kinds of things that no one else did, for example it’d appeal to those who opted for coffee or orange creams in the chocolates at Christmas, or to people who choose the cheese board over dessert after a posh meal. Ideally, the best people fall into both the Beano and the chocolates/cheese camp together, so that shouldn’t be a problem.

The price point would be £34.99 (three installments of) per tin and they’d be limited to 100 tins, released on an underground record/biscuits label in Leeds and once these biscuits were OOP they’d stay that way.

The commercial advantage/advertising backing to buyers would be that CRITCHERS’ CRUNCH sponsored the ill-fated yet critically acclaimed Slipknot/Britain’s Got Talent joint headline tour that got canned after initial rehearsals due to ‘artistic differences’ between the one with the long-nosed mask and DJ Talent.

I think we’d all agree that would be far superior to the pile of rubbish they came up with tonight on The Apprentice.

Glastonbury, like the rhythm, is definitely going to get you

26 Jun

I have always thought I was a bit ‘over’ Glastonbury. Even though I’ve never been under it. But after watching this year’s BBC coverage of it and having spent the day doused in sunshine and booze, I quite wish I was there.

Just saw TV on the Radio doing the Ghostbusters theme tune with a full brass section. I loved it. That and seeing Friendly Fires dance their pants off to Hawaiian Air. Luuuuuuuuuush.

Currently sat waiting for Beyoncé to come on and basking in the rest of the evening sunshine through the window of our flat. Rock and/or roll.

Verdict: Glastonbury, like the rhythm, is definitely going to get you.

Achieving my life’s dreams by proxy

25 Jun

I’ve been reading books by a rather fabulous author, Lindsey Kelk for a while now. Anyway, she doesn’t just write stories, she also blogs quite a bit, about beauty, (good) music and her own adventures.

On her blog a while back, she asked her readers to submit their ‘to do’ lists as part of the launch of her latest novel, The Single Girl’s to do list. So I did. She posted it on her blog alongside the others and I was thrilled with that, but I never imagined it’d end up in the actual printed, published book.

But it did!

Gemma Critchley Lindsey Kelk the single girl's to do list book writing published chick lit i heart new york cover       Lindsey Kelk the single girl's to do list waterstones book offer cover

I hope no one was offended by anything in there (especially my lovely family or chap, I said I felt like the black sheep as I wasn’t married/had kids but we don’t actually have any kind of black sheep – and I’m not a single girl, but I do have a to do list – it just sounds good for dramtic effect. It was either that or ‘SHARK ATTACK’ and I don’t think that would cut it, judging by the odd looks given to the woman on the direct line advert when she suggests it).

I saw it today in Waterstone’s in all its papery glory and I was dizzy with happiness. Okay, so it’s one page in someone else’s book so I’m not a published writer in the proper official sense, but if you look at the technicalities, I can kind of say I’ve achieved a small part of a big dream. My name is on there, and even the link to my blog got published and it mentions the very wonderful One a Day Project, too (which you can donate money to for Cancer Research here if you’re feeling generous). I’m rather proud and can’t wait to get properly stuck into the rest of the story, too. You can buy it here if you want to read it.

This has all spurred me on to write even more – not just via this blog but to carry on with the stories as well.

All in all a great day. I also found out my amazing little sister passed a big part of her teacher training course and one of my best  friends got a first in his engineering degree. Hurrahs all round!

Without wanting to sound too much like Heather Small: What have you done lately that makes you feel proud?

I’m not at Glastonbury

24 Jun

I can’t stand hippies. Or festival goers. Or mud. Or wackiness. Or not showering. Or rubbish bands.

hippies use side door no hippys glastonbury

The most perfect festival in the world is Primavera Sound in Barcelona. All on concrete, by the sea, no grass, lots of beautiful hipsters, easy to smuggle Sangria in, sunshine, hotels not tents and pizza cones.

This country is a proper no-go when it comes to festivals.

James and his face

20 Jun

If you haven’t seen this website yet, then I strongly urge you to. I spent a good portion of Friday morning chuckling to myself about it. Go on, give your Monday a lift:

James’ Face.

On that note, I’ve decided that I don’t get involved in enough ‘hilarious japes and pranks’. That, combined with spending the weekend watching Total Wipeout and You’ve Been Framed has led me to believe I need more IRL slapstick in my life.

custard pie slapstick face pieing

Anyone willing to let me pick on them for my own amusement?

Cathode Narcissus

19 Jun

I’ve just finished reading Dorian: an Imitation by Will Self.

As always, I was blown away by Self’s intricate and knowingly clever prose, and the fact that story was built on one of the best-loved books of my adolescence – The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde – just added to the mix to make it all the more enjoyable. Disturbing, heartfelt, evocative, provocative, saddening and terrifying in equal measures, the book serves to recreate Wilde’s dandies as a portrait of the Gay scene in London and New York in the 1980s and early to mid 1990s – the hedonism and cultural liberation of the fin-de-siecle art world swirling together in the grip of the emergence of AIDS. It’s a gripping read and splendidly told at the bedside of several of the characters, sucking you into a sordid underworld of drugs, sex and vanity; but at the same time having Self’s telltale wry sprinkling of humour. I absolutely loathed some of the characters but loved the book and on more than one occasion found myself stopping to re-read a particularly well-crafted sentence.

Will Self Dorian An Imitation post it notes wall ideas author cathode narcissus

Every book I read by Will Self inspires me to get my pen out, or put fingers to keyboard and create something. If you’ve read the book recently, or re-read it in the context of now and not of the ’80s/’90s, you might draw parallels with any of your own user-generated content and Baz Hallward’s Cathode Narcissus, which forms the centrepiece for the novel. The image below is as close as I could get, it’s Nam-june Paik’s video installation, ‘Moon is the Oldest TV’. No one seems to have made an actual Cathode Narcissus yet – I was sorely disappointed when I discovered that www.cathodenarcissus.com a) did not exist and b) did not even pretend to exist – maybe I should create it? Maybe I really shouldn’t – maybe that’s the point? I loved how one of my other favourite writers, Joe Stretch, intertwined both Friction and Wild Life with the real world and the virtual one, but then again I suppose Dorian was written in 2002, right before or even on the cusp of the explosion of mini-Cathode Narcissi sites like Facebook and Myspace, so it is perhaps to be expected.

Cathode Narcissus Dorian An imitation Will Self The picture of Dorian Gray Nam-june Paik’s video installation, “Moon is the Oldest TV

My interpretation of Dorian: an Imitation was made all the more resounding by an article I read in today’s Observer, by Aleks Krotoski, about the ever-blurring lines between online and offline identities. It talks about how online we have the power to create ourselves as we wish to be seen, rather than how we actually are; but due to the fact that technology and ‘real life’ are becoming more and more intertwined, that polished version of ourselves has inevitably become more real. Our Facebook pages, our Twitter feed and our blogs (yes, including this one) are increasingly brighter, shinier versions of our own lives. We can edit out the undesirable bits and amplify the good parts of ourselves. We can curate our interests, leaving out our guilty pleasures and instead tailoring our personalities to be the version of ourselves that we want the world to see. We are effectively leaving the digital world strewn with billions upon billions of our own versions of Baz Hallward’s Cathode Narcissi.

I’m not a morbid person – for the most part – but I do sometimes wonder what kind of eulogy I’m building for myself online.

Are these banks of links and pages of profiles really the only legacies that we want to leave in our wake?

Pulp – different class?

17 Jun

I adore Pulp, they’re pretty much my favourite band of all time. I like how they sound and what they’re about. I don’t much care for the political/social undertones that people pin on them, I just like the honest and poetic storytelling that Pulp so excel at. Which is why I found this article in The Guardian a bit irksome.

And then I saw this ad on Facebook:

Jarvis Cocker pulp barclaycard banking guardian society class divide

Despite being strongly opposed to the concept of selling out (I don’t believe it exists), using someone so cynically to sell something so cynical seems a bit, well, base.

I wonder what our Jarvis thinks about this?

#oneaday 152: We met Gomez!

12 Jun

Last night, I went to see Gomez with my friends Emma and Louise. The gig was really good, a nice relaxed crowd and the band pulled out Whipping Picadilly (natch). Anyway, afterwards we hung around at the Cockpit clubnight and then decided to move onto The Shed, a bar around the corner. to get to The Shed, you have to walk directly past the backstage entrance to the cockpit.

Being a little tipsy (and with my celebrity radar going off the scale), I thought I’d ask the bouncers if we could get a picture taken with the band. To my surprise, they said “Go and ask them”, so I did. I went backstage and said “how do, good show folks. Would you mind if we had a picture taken with you?” and they said yes. So we hung out a little bit and got to have our photo taken with these thoroughly lovely 90s indie types.

Here it is:

Gomez leeds cockpit June 2011 Whipping picadilly Garage club night gig indie

Good times!

GOLF GOLF GOLF GOLF GOLF

10 Jun

Tonight I’ve been golfing with le chaps from work and I have to admit, 3 hours flew by.

More to follow tomorrow, just wanted to share this with you.

#oneaday 150: Sell out with me tonight

8 Jun

I got into a conversation yesterday about something that always riles me: selling out. This post from A Little Bird Told Me, one of my fave local fashion blogs, explores the tip of the selling out iceberg in relation to blogging for the love of it and being paid to blog. It’s not very often that I get ranty, but this one really gets me…

I’ve blogged on both sides of the fence – blogging for a living as part of my role working for a fashion website and blogging in my spare time just because I love to write. I’ve guest-blogged for designers and I’ve recruited guest bloggers to write for the site I used to run in my last job. Prior to The One A Day project, I blogged via LJ from 2004 – 2010, so I’m not exactly new to it. However, I always, always find blogging for myself more rewarding than being paid to pimp a product – once you’re being bankrolled or sponsored (even if it’s not in monetary terms) by a brand, you take on an allegience to that brand and have to conform to certain guidelines. It becomes a job, rather than a hobby and you lose some of the freedom and delight that comes with having your own blog.

selling out sell out blogging fashion blog press day PR new media comment  selling out is the new keeping it real

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve absolutely loved the blogging and writing bits of my career. I am a writer at heart. But I don’t think you should mix personal blogs with work ones if you’re not prepared to comply with the way that the media/press industry works. If you can make money off the back of your blog, Great. But with a great backhander comes great responsibility and you’re subject to swaying your content to be biased towards the hand that feeds.

I think ‘selling out’ in blogging terms completely depends on your outlook and what you want from blogging.

One of the things that irks me is this ‘we cannot be bought’ or ‘we should be able to operate outside of normal media rules’ blogging mentality combined with a desire to be included in certain industries. If bloggers (particularly in the fashion world) do not want to be ‘courted’ by brands, or expected to provide content in return for invites to shows and press days, then why aspire to attend them?

Press days and shows are designed for one reason only: to generate positive publicity. You can bet your bottom dollar that if a blogger was invited along to an event then produced a negative post about the brand hosting that event, they wouldn’t be invited to many others. Why else do you think fashion events are teeming with cupcakes, nail bars and goodie bags? It’s not because the brands are nice – they simply want to wow you into being nice about them. By attending, bloggers are saying they are available for courting and are willing to write in exchange for blog visitors/samples/etc. Brands love bloggers because it adds a layer of authenticity to their proposition. Advocacy is a million times more valuable than advertising in this overly-social world of content creation and curation that we live in.

fashion cupcakes high snobiety louis vuitton chanel fashion cup cake press day PR blogger blog

Like I said on Twitter yesterday, it’s a two way street. The brand gets ‘credible’ advocacy, the blogger gets publicity and traffic. We are all editors and curators of our own magazines now, but just because the media landscape is changing doesn’t mean that industry rules will or should.

Selling out is always going to be a massively subjective issue. Bands, writers, artists, bloggers – we all face that ‘sell out?’ fork in the road at some point. The path you take is up to you. Being commercially-minded doesn’t make someone a bad person or make their blog any less credible in my eyes. But imagining that blogging for a brand without conforming to that brand’s ideals is possible is rather naive and idealistic.

There are some amazing bloggers out there who work really hard to make their blogs a success and I think it’s fantastic that we’re in the thick of a real DIY-success ethic where you get out what you put in. If reaching a wide audience, engaging people in conversation, provoking thought, getting recognition and being successful is selling out, then I’m all for it.

As long as you’re happy in what you’re doing and it’s right in your eyes, that’s the best way to play it. I could bang on about selling out all day but in the end, the concept only really exists if you believe it does – shape your own idea of integrity and as long as you stick with that, what others think shouldn’t matter.

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