Wednesday, 31 July 2013

A follow-up from yesterday

(This is a post I made over a year ago, at one of my now-defunct blogs.  It is a post I made about my experiences within fandom.  And considering the flame-war I had yesterday with some randomer, I thought it was time I transferred it over here.  I have added/taken odd bits out for the purpose of updating, but the bulk is as originally written)

Let me just preface with:  I love fandom.  As a social phenomenon, it’s fascinating.

Fandom (consisting of fan [fanatic] plus the suffix -dom, as in kingdom, freedom, etc.) is a term used to refer to a subculture composed of fans characterized by a feeling of sympathy and camaraderie with others who share a common interest. Fans typically are interested in even minor details of the object(s) of their fandom and spend a significant portion of their time and energy involved with their interest, often as a part of a social network with particular practices (a fandom); this is what differentiates “fannish” (fandom-affiliated) fans from those with only a casual interest.

Back in the mid-norties, I was right in the middle of one particular fandom.  That being “the Josh Groban fandom”.  I met many fascinating people.  Many weird people.  Many down-right mental people.  I ran a large and somewhat controversial fan forum on, which was aimed at, and populated by, fans of my age (late teens to early 20s).  For a period of about 3 years, within the sphere of my age group (in a fandom largely populated by much older women, mostly nearing or at retirement age), I was reasonably well known figure within my sub-group, and any well-known member within a fandom is able to play a large role in dictating the direction of the fandom, what’s cool, what’s not, who’s in, who’s out.  Should they wish to do so.

And as the fan sub-group closest in age to Josh himself, we had clout.  After all, if Josh wanted a long-term career, it was those fans who were going to grow up with him that were most important.  Not those fans currently in their 60/70/80s.  Because, let’s face it, in not so many years, they were no longer going to be able to be serious economic contributors towards maintaining his career.  It was those of us, in his age bracket that would ultimately keep this ship sailing.

Looking back, do I think his management have always targeted him effectively?  And at the right markets?  Nope.

Did us 20-something fans miss the opportunity to exercise a real voice within the fandom?  Yes.  Reason?  We were too young to realise we had a voice worth listening to.


This went on until around 2009, where “real grown up life” started to happen and I just didn’t have the time, resources, inclination to care much any more.  As a result, because myself, and my peers in the forum, were growing up and out of fandom, the forum pretty much died.  We went from up to 10 posts a day to zero in the space of 18 months.

Then I discovered Tim Minchin.

Now though, I am older, somewhat wiser, with a much more skeptical head on my shoulders.  I won’t get into the whys and wherefores of why Minchin is awesome (that’s what YouTube is for), so let’s just assume that he is.

Now though, I have the inside track on fandom.  I know how it works.  I may be new to the Tim Minchin fandom, but I’ve been round the block enough times as a big-time-fan to know how the shit undoubtedly goes down on any forum.  I know this because THEY ARE ALL THE SAME.  Seriously.
Spend enough time in one fandom, transfer to any other, and you’ll quickly realize that you just need to replace a few names and you’ve got the same thing.

I really don’t need to do the fannish thing any more.  I’ve been there, done that, and quite literally “have the t-shirt”, and don’t have any desire to watch it all go down again.  This time around I’m completely content to watch as something of an outsider.

Today, this kicked off.

Tim, in his infinite wisdom posted this to Twitter.

“I signed (I inserted – autographs, posed for pics, chatted after) every gig for 5 yrs. Happily. But now I choose not to. I’ve never met someone I’m a fan of, nor expected to.”

Oh ho.  Cue indignant tears.

The type of “I owe him my life…!  I just want to thank him…”

Oh purleeez.

I advise a swift course of “getting out more”.  That’ll see you straight.

I watched and read the shit-storm with interest…  To be fair to the fandom, most people responded with humility and resignation.  People who pulled the “but he owes us!” card were shot down pretty quickly.

Now…  Here I hold my hands up.  I can be something of a trouble-maker on the internet.  I deliberately like to flit through threads online, such as this, posting slightly provocative comments, to see the response I get.  I choose my words extremely carefully.  And went with this:

“I’ve been a Tim fan just over a year now (having discovered him on the Comedy Prom). I’ve never met him, or even had a chance to go to one of his shows…

Yeah, I love his music, he makes me laugh out loud, I think he’s incredibly talented in areas that keep surprising me often, I think he’s easy on the eye, and he’s given me an awful lot to think about in terms of science and religion, which has helped me to define my own views.
I enjoy so much of what Tim does because, just by chance, he does lots of things and has lots of characteristics that appeal to me. Mostly his musical talent, comedic timing and massively articulate brain. At the same time though, he’s done stuff I wasn’t that excited by.
While I’d have loved to have seen Tim live, it just hasn’t been possible because Real Life gets in the way. For instance, for me to travel to Birmingham to see him in JCS, I wouldn’t have got any change from £100+. That might be small change to some, but for me at the moment, that’s the difference between being able to pay my bills and not. Yes, that is disappointing, but not Tim’s problem. He doesn’t owe me anything. He could probably quit his career tomorrow and live quite comfortably. He doesn’t have to do anything he doesn’t want to, or owe “fans” anything either. If he wants to sign autographs after a show, great. If he doesn’t, okay. Yes, it would be great to have a chance to chat to Tim about all kinds of things, but that isn’t going to happen. I’m personally not too interested in rushed scribbles/photos at stage doors late at night. I’d rather go home to my warm bed and reflect on an evening of being thoroughly entertained.

That being said, I think EVERYONE goes through a stage of being a “Super fan!” at some point in their lives. They put a certain performer up on a “can do no wrong” pedestal and find themselves all-consumed in the world of “fandom”. I’ve been there myself. 4-5 years ago I was a MASSIVE fan of the American singer Josh Groban. Like, “go to all the gigs I could, wait at the stage door until midnight” type fan. Yes, I ended up with a few photographs, autographs, fun memories. In fact he recognised me when I saw him last year in Birmingham, which was funny. 5 years ago I would have FREAKED THE F**K OUT at being recognised by the subject of my adoration. But times change, I changed. When I was recognised, I was just like “Cool” That’s all.
It’s TOTALLY okay to be a Tim super-fan, and if I hadn’t already done it, and got it out of my system with Josh Groban, I’d probably be right with you on being sad over this.

But you know what? Just enjoy what you can, get what you can from your experiences and focus on the stuff in your life that is “real”. As awesome as Tim is, he’s just a regular guy who just happens to be quite famous now. He’s just getting on with his real life, as we need to do with ours. We have every right to have our needs respected, and so we need to be able to offer Tim that right. And if his needs for the moment are just to be left alone after a show for a few months/years, then we need to respect his right to do that.
Yes, you are entitled completely to feel disappointed, but that’s not Tim’s problem. Nor should we expect it to be.”

Followed up with:

“For what it’s worth, I’m not excusing his tweet.

Was it a bad idea? Probably.
Should he not have said anything? Possibly.
Does it read a bit passive-aggressive? A bit.
Does he come off sounding a bit of a dick? Kinda.

But his intention and his desire still stands.”


“It must be frustrating for him to read Tweets from moaners. So I can imagine him responding in a fit of annoyance. Not really considering the fact too well, that although there are some dicky people who will moan at anything, there are a lot of fans (like the guys here) who just wanna say “thanks, I really enjoyed that.”

I think it also wouldn’t do any harm for people here to remember that, by the very fact that we write on a fan forum, we are the more “serious” fans, with a lot more personal investment in Tim and his career. I’d actually be interested in knowing the stats on… for instance… the audience of the Heritage Orchestra DVD… how many of them have ever even read this forum? I’m going to take a stab and say that it’s probably vanishingly small. Then times that by all the audiences he sees over the course of a year… Those “fannish” enough to post on a fan forum, possibly do not represent the majority of people who identify as “Tim Minchin fans”. So we have to bare in mind that our responses to anything from Tim are potentially more extreme than the majority.”

It is incredibly interesting to observe a fandom from a more outside position and to be able to comment objectively.

Seriously though, I’d love to carry out that audience survey I mentioned above.  I think it would be fascinating.

And please, if you aren’t familiar with Tim Minchin’s work and identify as an atheist or skeptic, please do look up his work.  Good places to start with might be “The Good Book”, “Thank You God” or “Storm”.  All of which can be found on YouTube.

And if you should ever happen to meet Tim at a signing, please do tell him I said hi.


Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Well, well...

Is late-night blogging becoming a thing for me?

I guess it is while I'm on summer holiday.

As is entirely normal for me, in an extended stretch of time off, my body clock lurches forwards by about 2 hours.  So rather than getting up, forced by the alarm, at 7am, and falling into bed, knackered @ 9:30/10pm - I'm waking up more naturally at about 9am and going to bed closer to midnight...

There is something about the quiet of late nights that appeals to me, that I've never quite been able to put my finger on.  All I know is that it's when I'm at my most thoughtful, I make my best plans, and when I most open to new ideas.  Hence why I often find myself blog-hopping, or Pintrest-hopping, and discovering fascinating blogs, by all kinds of fascinating people, and then spending ages pouring through pages and pages of their work.  All late at night.


I didn't actually come here to talk about blog hopping.  I actually came to talk about fandom...

Ahhh... delicious, sweet fandom.

The reason being, I had a marvellous set-to via PM on the "Angry(feet)" forum first thing this morning.  This woman I did battle with got more and more enraged as the exchange went on.  The grammar got worse and worse and the leaps of her brain within the argument got more and more peculiar.
Anyway, I eventually got bored and made my final statement: -

"You won't hear from me again, because it's like talking to a wall. A very articulate, intelligent wall. But a wall nonetheless. And I have things to do today, that don't involve sitting around, on the computer, arguing."

Naturally, random woman replied, absolutely spitting teeth that she'd lost the chance to have the last word.  *evil smirk*

That's my lesson to you, children.  Always make your closing statement in an argument before your opponent expects it.  That way, they've lost their chance to make a witty exit and are making their final furious declarations into unacknowledged thin air.

Anyway, I hadn't actually planned to fall into a flame-war.  Indeed, I don't think I've had such a good one for a fair few years.

Monday, 29 July 2013

Summer is here!

It's the summer holidays!  Huzzah!

We broke up last Tuesday, and having received a respectable haul in terms of gifts from grateful children/parents, the year was done.

As an interesting aside, there were 2 notable absences in the gift/thanks giving realm:

1:  The parent I had to confront (or more precisely she confronted me) over her dear daughter pushing another children over in the playground before school.  When the guilty party cried (as 6 year olds who are being told off tend to do), the mum, who was not supervising her child in the slightest, rushed to her daughters defence.  When I told her what her darling had done, parent denied it all, "she wouldn't do that!"  Then rushed off to complain to the Head that "I'd accused her daughter of lying."  LOL
The Head asked my teaching assistant what had happened, then told the mother, in no uncertain terms, to bog off.

Sooo...  Yeah, think I ruined any chances of a gift there.  ;)

2:  Parent of "Obnoxious Little Toe-rag" mentioned in a previous post.  Gave a LOT of extra time to parent(s) of OLT, including an hours meeting after school on a Friday with the dad of OLT.  Did a lot of extra hand-holding/supporting of the entire family...  Didn't even get the most throw-away of thank yous...

Gratitude eh?  ;)

Anyway, did I mention that it's the summer holidays?!

The weather has been reasonable so far.  Some thunderstorms, which are fun.  Some heavy rain, but lots of sun as well.  It still seems muggy and gross at night though, so I'm still sleeping with the window open and lying on top of the covers.

I have made a start on Operation Spare Bedroom.  I've almost completely gutted some filing drawers that were filled with scrapbooking stuff.
(Scrapbooking was a hobby I had between approx. 2006 and 2009.  I enjoyed it, but then new career got in the way, time got squeezed and scrapbooking got squeezed out.)

I've held on to that scrapping stuff for 3-4 years, some of it,  and without using it, so I've boxed most of it up to give to Adele's little sister Louise, who enjoys card-making and all that sort of stuff. 
I could have tried to sell it, but I haven't the time or the patience, so rather than throw it all away, at least here it's going to a new home of someone who should enjoy it.

So, yeah.  Got all that cleared out.  And have made a start of clearing the stuff from the floor around the edges of the room...  It's a slow process, because I'm very easily distracted!   LOL

Ummm...  A few day trips are in the pipeline at the moment, which is nice. 
Today I looked at getting a ticket for "Warhorse" down in London.  But decent seats were £85!  I have a mental block going on if a ticket costs more than £60.
I paid £60 for 2nd row Josh Groban at Hampton Court Palace in 2008.  Amazing venue and all-round top night.  I'm doubtful that any more expensive ticket than £60 could top Hampton Court.
A shame, as I'd very much like to see "Warhorse", but I don't want to be up in the rafters, where I can barely see, sitting on a £60+ seat...

Continuing with the private tutoring gig over the summer.  Easy money, gratefully received!

Sunday, 14 July 2013

Typically Me

For the past 3 weekends in a row, I've intended to blog, only to get distracted with Game of Thrones Season 3 marathons (can I just say, "It was awesome!!") or other general pissing-about.

Now, of course, I've left myself 26 minutes to construct this entire blog post, condensing down the past 3 weeks, before I settle down to watch 'The Returned', which is a fantastic - albeit weird - French thriller series, currently showing on Channel 4.  The fact it has subtitles is not important when you realise how great this show is.

Sooo... England is in the middle of a heat wave.  Which I say with a certain sense of irony, because we don't really have a heat wave when compared to other places that... do.  You just need to remember that we "don't do air conditioning" over here.  Which generally makes us lethargic and blah.

So... 2 weekends ago I took Adele out for her belated birthday celebrations.  We did what all respecting 28 year olds should do, and played crazy golf.  I thought it had the potential for hilarity, and I was not disappointed.

I should point out, that the above photo is Adele trying to pull a raft over a stretch of water, all of 6 feet across.  She couldn't do it.  In the end, a random man had to do it for us.  We have no shame in playing the weaker sex when it gets us out of manual labour.

Before our battle with the raft and the golf clubs, we went to TGI Fridays and had some amazing fajitas.  Although no fajita has ever come close to the fajita I had at Las Iguanas in the summer of '09.  I was a bit drunk on 2-for-1 cocktails, and that fajita was the best thing I'd ever eaten.  I mourn its passing.

The next weekend I went out with Brian and drove over to Kenilworth in his convertible Mazda.  It is a most silly and impractical car, but gosh, it's rather fun on a hot day with the top down!

We went to 'Beef' restaurant and had a particularly nice steak.  We also drove past Kenilworth Castle, which seemed a pretty place to go, so it has been added to my "Summer to-do list".

Only 7 more days of school until summer holidays start!  This is cause for excitement!

I am cautiously planning a UK road trip this summer.  I've been wanting to do it for a few years now, so figured the summer hols would be the perfect time.
I also want to clear out my spare bedroom, so it's actually a functional, useful, attractive space, as opposed to an embarrassing dumping ground.  But it was also my plan for last summer holidays... and didn't happen.  So let's just see on that one.

Post finished with 13 minutes to spare!  BAM!