Wednesday, 29 July 2015

A sober and restrained review of the Undisclosed podcast

Millions of people around the world can agree that Serial is a good candidate for the best podcast that has ever been made. It's gripping but a breeze to listen to; complex yet simply told.

The same cannot be said for its bastard step-child, Undisclosed. By the Adnan fangirls, for the Adnan fangirls, over the last four months it has smeared poo all over Sarah Koenig's masterpiece.

The brainchild of Rabia Chaudry, a family friend of Adnan's, Undisclosed also features Susan Simpson and Colin Miller, two legal geeks who became convinced of Adnan's wrongful conviction and blogged extensively on the matter.

Pretending they want to solve the murder of Hae Min Lee, when all they really want to do is chat about how lovely and cute and innocent Adnan is, the concept is inherently flawed and why Undisclosed was always doomed to fail. For the same reason I don't choose to sit and watch QVC for its honesty and realism, listening to three lawyers colluding to get Adnan released under the pretence of investigation is really quite irksome.

Our first defendant is Susan Simpson. I have no idea if she is a real lawyer or some kind of fantasist. Now I have this theory that people with alliterated names are bonkers - and Ms Simpson only convinces me further. But the real problem - and it's a fairly important thing when someone is speaking on a podcast - is her shrill, grating voice. Poor Susan Simpson suffers from a life-threatening case of vocal fry extremis - and I would gladly donate a large amount of cash to get her some speech therapy classes. She also speaks faster than a chipmunk on helium - I've checked several times to see if my podcast speed was x2, but nope. I've never heard a woodland creature sound so frightened.

"HGKGFFDGHJGFDRFDGKH," she trills. "HGGFDJLOPIIUYYTRRASFCVBK." And I'm like, for Christ sake, take a breath, babe. Mid-sentence, mid-clause, mid-word. Just sloooow the fuck down and enunciate those syllables. Isn't there some trick speech therapists do, where they put something between your front teeth? Well, get one to Ms Simpson before next episode, stat. Or remake every episode with a vocal actress playing her part. Undisclosed's popularity would probably shoot up within hours if they did. I'm going to be blunt and say it sounds like someone shoved an object inside poor Susie and made her read her blog out at knife point. (Now I think about it, maybe Rabia did do this.)

And her blog. Apparently she's written 300 page posts on why Adnan Sayed DEFINITELY DID NOT KILL NO GIRL. If she is an actual lawyer, I'm guessing work must be pretty thin on the ground if she's got all day to dick about doing that.

Next we have the waspy Colin Miller. Colin is, in some ways, a very different creature. A slimy toad. America's own Mr Loophole. I've a feeling that, in some prophetic way, Lionel Hutz from The Simpsons was based on him years ahead of time. He is a snake oil salesman. If I had a dog, I wouldn't leave it with him. I can hear his shiny suit through my earphones. Deception is leaking from him, but at least he can allow the air from his lungs to travel through his vocal chords in a way that doesn't make my ears bleed. But if sounding like a patronising c*nt is wrong, Colin doesn't want to be right.

Both the lawyers speak a constant barrage of boring, hooky legalese. You long for the easy honesty of Serial, but there is certainly no honesty in this. You long for one of SK's witty asides. I don't think Miller or Simpson are capable of making a witty aside. Humour and personality are not to be found here. They drone on and on and on, repeating their phrases and saying that everything in the whole world is a conspiracy theory. Not Adnan though. That boy is a saint.

Episode five had Simpson and Miller reduced to reading the terms and conditions of a 1999 mobile phone contract - for an hour. At that point I wondered if they were trolling, but could a pair of androids really do such a thing?

They take 50 minutes to say what SK would have said - nay, illustrated - in five. They try so hard and so patronisingly to hammer home a point, that when they finally do make it, I realise I've been in a reverie the entire time. There is no clarity in what they say, ever. Tbh listening to Undisclosed is more like hard labour in a concentration camp. I wish I could get the hours back. In episode seven, when Colin made a particularly dire metaphor, I felt an actual tear rolling down my cheek.

At least the podcast's production has improved since the first episode. That sounded like they'd put socks over their mics and gone in another room with the door closed.

The third presenter is Rabia, who is a milder legal eagle and family friend of the Sayeds.

Voice-wise, Rabia is fine. She doesn't sound like a distressed woodland creature or a Lawyer4U. It's the small matter of her sanity that concerns me more. She is on Twitter 23 hours a day telling people to fuck off if they slightly disagree with her. Did no one ever tell her you get further with honey than with vinegar? Now I understand why SK discreetly dropped her from Serial and never mentioned her again. Her scarily aggressive obsession with Adnan's case is embarrassing. I'm glad he is safe in prison because she would probably stalk him IRL and he would have to pepper spray her (or strangle her).

The stupid thing is, it's actually counter-productive. She's turning people against him with her fanaticism and combativeness. If she'd puff-puff-chilled when Serial ended, the case would still be taken seriously. Instead, it's becoming an unfunny joke.

Rabia can be a bit pompous or condescending at times on Undisclosed, as though this is the platform her ego has been waiting for all its life. Her evangelical zeal over the case can be weird, too. She says things like, "I knew Susan Simpson would be the person to solve this case," as though Susan were the new Hercule Poirot. 

Hae's family must be upset at the way Undisclosed has positively shredded the poor girl's remaining dignity. SK took extreme care in leaving the gory corpse talk out of Serial, but the Undisclosed episode which concerned lividity totally undid all that discretion in the most graphic way possible. Oh dear.

In contrast Rabia preserved Adnan's modesty when she told the story about how one of the cops told Adnan he was going to get his prostate tickled in big boy jail.

Together, Rabia, Colin and Susan are sounding more and more like stir-crazed loons. For their own safety, and that of the public, I hope they will soon destroy their microphones and internet-enabled devices. But I don't think they will. They are going to keep going with this, probably until they are in their 90s, in nursing homes. They will scream, "Adnan is innocent, I tells ya!" at the nurses. Susan Simpson will seceretly hide all her medication and use it to create a "cell tower evidence should be illegal" flow chart on the wall behind the wardrobe. A similar thing happened on a French film I watched. 

I can see that Rabia is deperate to keep the Serial train rolling. But it's a shame that in the process I've stopped caring about Adnan and Hae and their families. Instead, I'm wondering how or why I ever cared. On a human level, I feel sorry for Adnan that his case is being harmed by Simpson et al's buffoonery. Maybe it's time to let Adnan and Hae both rest in peace.

Thursday, 26 March 2015

Learn to love your horrible step sibling

So just yesterday I got home after ten days of familial hell spent in a lovely Portuguese town called Alcoutim. Ok, I admit, the first couple of days felt like hell and I may have had the odd irrational adult tantrum over a coconut shell of freshly-squeezed guava juice. (No seeds por favor.) That's because I was forced to share close living quarters with my dad, a man known to be of Type A personality, his wife of five years (Stepbitch), my younger sister and our four year-old stepbrother. He's the douche we shall be focussing our ire on in this blog post, dear readers. He is, to be Sinatra, F, a self-entitled little shit. 

He "needs an X Box" (Stepmom). He "needed the biggest room because he has the most toys". Shit me, I just turned 30 and I forgot My Little Pony. Quick, gimme the broom cupboard to sleep in. The child suffered repeat irrational toddler tantrums, usually in view of a baying mob of Portugeezers. Staring at my knees suddenly became very interesting during this time and I learnt a surprising amount about Iberian pavement tesselation as my father tried to drag a screaming ball of flesh to the nearest donkey and cart. Yeesh. 

Anyway, we all began to feel a bit more comfortable with each other as the days progressed. It's amazing how much you can bond while scraping what was once part of a cow into a crusty artisan bap. And that was just breakfast. I also learnt how important the art of distraction is when it comes to child-rearing. "Look at the man on that nose!" can quell the nastiest tantrum threatening to shatter the tranquility of the hypermarket's hallowed aisles. 

By day 9 I almost felt a like a real grown up big seesta and even a little sad that I would no longer feel a tiny hand trying to push me into the Rio Grande on the daily. Back to frequent doses of good British food (Nandos) and the sun peeping shyly - or lurking like a pervert - behind the grey Bristol clouds. But with a newfound love for my little stepbrother.
We flew Quesyjet (oh I did enjoy my squirrel sized snack pack) and stayed at the Multihotel. I give it five stars because awesome.

Friday, 6 March 2015

My first panic attack

My first brush with the panic monster was an unforgettable punch to the gut. I was eight or nine and my small village primary school had gone to a big inner-city secondary for some county sports day jaunt. My mum was even there with us, acting as a driver, teacher's assistant and secret comfort blanky for me. We spent a while on the netball courts - I can't remember if we played or not. We probably did for a couple of hours. Then we were going to see the other stuff that was going on at the massive playing fields at the back of the school. This involved going through the car park and circling various buildings and recreational ground. As we went by my mum's and the teachers' cars it seemed like we would stop for a drink, as several people went and got water bottles out so I assumed we would be staying there for a few minutes. But when I looked up - and this happened in what seemed like less than a millisecond - they were all gone. Somehow I had been left behind. I was shouting, "Mum! Mum! Wait," but no one heard me. They were long gone. Three older girls were stood chatting and I said, "Did you see a group of people just go that way?" But it was the weirdest thing, my voice was coming out in rasping breaths. I was hyperventilating, severely.  Hello panic, nice to meet you, ya bastard. 

I still have no idea what it was that made me panic so badly within a few short moments. I think it was a combination of being far from home, the frightening busy road the other side of the barrier and the way they had been right there next to me, then I looked up and they had all vanished and I was totally alone. I've always been a very disorientated person, as well. I can find an empty banquet hall labyrinthine. Anyway, the girls said they didn't know so loudly I wheezed down a path I thought they had taken. It was just like a dream where you are trying to run away from something but you cannot move fast enough. My body was crippled with panic and I couldn't catch my breath. They must have walked off at pace because I did eventually catch up with them up on one of the hills behind the school buildings. 

They were completely nonplussed and not at all sorry for having left me behind. I never did adequately explain the extent of the terror I experienced when, as it appeared to me, they disappeared in the blink of an eye. It was very out of character for my mym not to notice that I wasn't part of the group. And for all the teacher cared I had been whisked into the back of a passing Transit van. Stuff like that can happen in a matter of seconds, something I was all too aware of at the time. Thankfully I never did experience such a violent panic attack again, though I have often been frightened that I might. It would be several years before a different type of panic attack became a regular feature of my days with the symptom that terrifies me more than anything else on this planet (unreality). But these have all been quiet, passive affairs that weren't at all apparent to anyone else. Of that at least, I'm glad.

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Embarrassing behaviour witnessed on Instagram

So I told you guys already about my cringey encounter with a really hot guy on Snapchat. Well, he himself had an even more embarrassing moment on Instagram not long after, which made me feel vindicated. Even though he has nearly 1,000 followers I'd wager that not many of them picked up on what actually happened. Over the Christmas period Mr Snapchat, we'll call him, went on holiday and started a relationship with a local girl. This was documented with many IG posts: their hands entwined at McDonald's, her dragging him into the hotel elevator, post-sex selfies. This was when I still held a (virtual) candle for him and I felt a bit sick with jealousy. Then he came home, the selfies stopped, though he kept mentioning his girlfriend on Twitter. I can only guess that it was at this time that she stopped contact with him for whatever reason. But Mr Snapchat couldn't let it go. He started posting subliminal stuff about bitches always being bitches. Then he must have got really desperate and he posted an intimate snap of the two of them snuggled up with their tongues poking out. He geo-located it so it seemed like it had just been taken back at his holiday destination. But the next thing he posted was from home. So it was clear he was at home and the intimate pic had been taken weeks ago when she was still into him. And she totally ignored it. Ouch. Hurts when people are mean, doesn't it Fat Boy? He has now written SINGLE on his bio and is following lots of girls whose usernames all end in 98. I guess I can understand more now why he was snappy - do excuse the pun - during our exchanges on Snapchat. It was when this girl was trying to do the ditch'n'dash and when I wouldn't send a bunch of sleazy pics, he got extra pissed off and I ended up blocked. What can be learned from all this *Jerry Springer voice* is that when someone rejects you, it's imperative that you accept it or at least appear to accept it. If you persist in throwing yourself at them, Mr Snapchat style, with increasing desperation, it will only feed their dislike of you and social media is the worst place for this to be played out because you don't know who might be watching. And feeling all your embarrassment for you.

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Awkward Snapchat encounter

My past week included a ridonkulously lolsome episode on Snapchat of all things, an app I find tiresome and have little time for. So there's a guy I've internet liked for quite a while now, he's super good-looking, intelligent and cool, different in so many ways from the idiots I meet irl. I'm crazy about him, but I know he'd never be interested in me - I seem to be getting older and uglier by the day right now - and I'd never dare talk to him. Well, I did try a few times on Twitter in the early days and he either totally ignored me or rdiculed me. Rejection is absolute. Or at least that's how I felt until last week when I had a sudden "fuck it" moment and decided to quickly dart out of my shell. (I feel more and more pathetic just writing this, though I can't help but lol.) 

He sent me a DM on Snapchat that said, "Who are you?" So I replied "Someone who finds you hot." Douchius extremis, I know. When my school friends said I couldn't talk to boys, it stuck big time. Anyway, this must have flattered his over-inflated ego somewhat, for he replied: "Hahahaha." Then he said, "And you?" wanting me to send a pic of myself. Urgh. This has ended in disaster before so I wrote, "Nah, too ugly for you," and he said, "Can I see?" When a hot guy is begging you for anything it's pretty hard to say no and I felt my resistance slipping. Quickly I went back to the start of my camera roll and found the best photo of my adult self that exists. I mean, it's getting on in years itself now, but it wasn't like I was going to take a selfie right there on my iPad camera. The idea wasn't to make him actually vomit. So anyway, I sent him the best photo of me that exists which would be anyone else's worst ever. Five minutes went by. Ten minutes. Fifteen. He was either wanking over it, uploading it to Imgur or just loling. Dry heaving? Anything's possible. Then he replied. "Ok." Ok. Isn't that the most crushing reply to a shy selfie in the whole history of the world? Pretty sure it is. 

Next he wanted to know what my Instagram ID was because he couldn't remember how he'd found me. Cripes. How to breeze past this clusterfuck without revealing that my IG profile is, um, um, kinda catfish and that I'm only on there to look at his pics? Trying to be all casual like I said, "Oh I don't use IG, I can't remember how I found you, I don't understand Snapchat *crying with laughter smiley* (because that makes any statement instantly fucking hilarious)." But unconvinced he wanted to know my Twitter or Facebook profile. This guy might be gorgeous but stuff like that is such a dick move and so rude. I didn't want to give him those so I gave him my imessage ID and said he could message me there. Which (obviously) he never did. I am such a fucking loser. Then he kept asking me for more pics, more pics. Well, sorry but I'm not a supermodel, nor am a whore, so it's not like I have an album of sexy n00dz I can just send out willy-nilly on demand. I sent him a really lame one of the jeans I had on and he sent me one back of what could've been a slight boner under his jeans. The thrilling world of Snapchat, ladies and gents. I made some lame joke about, oh is that an anaconda in your pants and he said, "No, small dick." I think he was fed up with my reticence by then and our conversation ended. I should have left it there. Go out on a high like Brucie Forsyth, you know? 

But I am so desperate, insecure and ugly that I waited a few days and went back in. I sent him a surprisingly cute pic of part of my body - and not between the legs before you start thinking that. Just a part of my body that wasn't my highly unfortunate face. So a while later I saw he'd replied. And what delightful comment would he make - would he even send a pic of his own body back? Nah. He'd written, "And?" Wow. If "ok" was crushing, the blunt "and?" is an even ruder way to respond to an insecure and annoying girl's selfie. At this point I got pissed off and decided to stop talking to him ever again, to go back to stalking his pics from afar. But guess what? The twat blocked me. Yes, actually blocked me. It's certainly a new low for my love life I must say. If a 30-year-old man has to act like such a little bitch then it doesn't matter how good-looking he is, I can't be bothered with him, and he was so boring to talk to. "And?" and "Ok" do not a conversation make. I could simply make another account and stalk him anew on that but I just don't want to know him any more. Romantic life 2.0: hell.

Friday, 30 January 2015

French Slebs: Swagg Man

Dear France: you're making this waaaay too easy.

I first noticed the inhuman form of Swagg Man a while ago but had him filed away under Twats I Will Choose To Ignore, until today when he popped up during a YouTube binge.

Swagg Man is without doubt the most idiotic, pointless waste of oxygen I have ever seen. Thank Christ, then, that for once a fool of epic proportions does not hail from the British Isles. Let's all feel extreme second hand embarrassment for France, for that is the appalling country that spawned this monstrosity.
Hang thy head in shame, Twatt Man
Since I last encountered his mouldy face and body, his popularity has been on the ascendant. He has an album out, his YT videos and vlogs get millions of views, he has 125k followers on Twitter and over two million on Facebook. This surely warrants a text to the French consul saying, "U ok hun?"
El Doucheo
Swagg Man is trying hard, so hard, to get a name for himself with highly controversial antics: he wants your grandma to suck his dick without her dentures in; he lines the toilet seat with cash; he burns cash; he wipes his boogers on cash. He boasts of being part of the "AIDs Gang" and his album is called Sexually Tranmitted Music. Ah, a true artiste. He drives a Lamborghini and a Bentley, he smokes cigars and flips the bird. Fucking revelatory ain't it.
Poor Swaggy Doggy :'( Your owner is a twat of epic proportions
Swagg Man's real name is Rayan Balarfa Sanches, he is Brazilian-Tunisian and owns the admittedly adorable Swaggy Doggy. You may notice that Swagg Man has undergone extensive tattooage, which include a liberal smattering of the Louis Vuitton monogram over his thick scalp, numerous red lipstick marks, leopard print, a Picachu, his own face, "every day is my birthday", "Mum's" - like, what even? He mean the cheapo wine? - slutty pin-ups and a load of other solid looking shit that's pretty much forming into a huge dirty mass over his entire flesh. Ewww. In line with the American counterparts he seeks to emulate so desperately, Swagg Man has invented his own way of speaking and he has these trademark pseudo-American catchphrases, the most frequent and well-known being POSEY. This makes up a good 40% of his speech with another 40% being "bro" at the end of every clause. Posey is derived from posé, meaning serious, and is apparently delivered in what the French believe to be an American accent. It's basically Swagg Man's version of Lil Jon's YEAH or Dappy's Na-Na-Ni if you'd like a British comparison. In fact Swagg man is extremely similar to Dappy in many aspects of his persona: they both have the same mixed race looks, they both make a poor attempt at appropriating black American culture and they are both in denial of their own nationality. 
Ooh
Purely for research purposes I got on a Swagg Man binge to see what he gets up to. The most amazing thing about him is how camp he is. He must be the biggest gay icon in France right now. Whether he's being interviewed in the bath or having his makeup done in a leopard print blouse, his feminine, limp-wristed mannerisms and what seems to be lipgloss rather detract from the machsimo he is so desparately trying to attain. I think the most vile video I watched was the one where he was lying in bed surrounded by ladies fetish shoes all around and he was openly disrespecting the dollar with pleasure.
No one loves me :(
He also made a really lame soft porn reggaeton video though mercifully we avoid seeing what his miniscule cho-cho is decorated with. It's hilarious that he doesn't realise "Ay Papi" isn't something a heterosexual man is usually comfortable saying. 

In many ways Swagg Man is a perfect illustration of France's love-hate relationship with America, on one hand being a ludicrous and fraudulent imitation of his rap idols, on the other committing the ultimate dicourtesy of defiling their currency. As someone on Reddit said, "Why do the French people emulate only the stupidest of American ways?"

Swagg Man's music is a craptacular attempt at the Pitbull type of genre: he's got no flow, no rhythm, so most of his songs are just lists of luxury brands. He wouldn't know a catchy hook if it bit him.
Guns are so trendy in Paris rn
A lot of the buzz about him in France comes from Swagg Man's bragging about being a multi-millionaire businessman. He claims to own restaurants and innumerate luxury properties including palaces (lol now you've gone too far) in Miami, Dubai, Brazil and Tunisia. Not France though..huh, funny that. His social media accounts are a constant stream of Rolexes, foul-looking bling and bundles of cash. But it's extremely obvious to me that the cash is just toy money he prints out of his HP Deskjet and that the jewellery is fake shit he buys off a market stall. Like duh. Maybe the tattoos did cost a lot but then again maybe he used his benefit money, maybe it's free if you agree to be their practice board. Maybe his parents* are well off and indulgent of him but having seen a pic of Swagg Nan that seems laughably untrue, boo. Swagg Man a gazillionaire? Nah. If nothing else he seems remarkably unconcerned about Flanby's infamous 75% tax. I mean he also claims to be part-time resident in Miami and, God, he can't speak English for shit and is obviously an inexperienced tourist. In other words, rappers lie. They all make out they're rich and shit when in actuality they're unemployed without a pot to piss in, wank over the Grattan catalogue and cry themselves to sleep every night. Besides, no real millionaire makes shitty informercials for Lovoo.
Y u so cool, Swagg Man
As pathetic and gross as Swagg Man is, I have to applaud him for being totally unpretentious and having fun with his image at the expense of his entire human dignity, something a large percentage of the French population could learn from. The more you watch him, the more you see he has a certain kind of charm, an open-heartedness. He is smiley and friendly with everyone he speaks to, even if mimicking oral sex with every woman he meets is a little uncivilised. 
Young SM was kinda hot tbh
Swagg Man, Rayan, if you're reading this, with the help of Google Translate: just stop acting like such a fucking shitbag all the time. You don't need to pretend to be Lil Wayne to get attention. Cut back on the Americanisms, it sounds really stupid to people who speak English. You're still young. You've got nice teeth, you're actually pretty funny. There's real charisma behind this weird facade you put on all the time. They're building bigger lasers all the time that could one day take care of the worst of your facial ink. Saying you are a better rapper than the legendary Tupac Shakur is going to make every American hate you before they've even had a chance to get acquainted with the frankly genius refrain "G-G-G-G-G-GOSS TRISOW". There's probably some musicality in there somewhere that could allow you to pen a decent song, a song with a traditional structure, real feeling and for Christ's sake a melody. Quit copying Lil Wayne, who everyone loathes anyway. Don't make up stories about being rich because you feel terrible inside about being dirt poor. Being poor is nothing to be ashamed of, au contraire. Revelling in your own self-hatred is a losing game and if your career has no longevity, you are going to be stuck looking for a job at the hypermarket covered in those ludicrous etchings - which by the way, might one day lead to skin or vital organ cancer /sadface. Learn to be honest with yourself, then be honest with your fans who do some pretty crazy shit to support you no matter what. You can be a better person, Swagg Man. And please treat the adorable Swaggy Doggy with kindness because he really is the inncoent victim of all of this. I'm happy to dogsit if needs be.

Love, The Internet X

PS. Please get with Miss Nabilla Benattia. You are literally perfect for each other.
[Not actual Nabilla]
*For some reason a lot of Frenchies actually believe that a Kenyan president is Swagg Man's dad even though they all look like this if you comprende:
"Swagg Man I am your father"

Thursday, 15 January 2015

I'm ugly and I know it

A few months ago I saw this lady who used to run the play group I went to. She was fairly pleasant to my face though I did think she was acting weird, being very over the top and insincere. I've since found out she was loudly remarking to anyone who would listen "OMG is that what she looks like now / she's so ugly / what a freak" etc. This woman is a sixty-something year-old supposed pillar of the community and devout Christian so it's not very nice of her to talk about any young ladies this way. Plus, it was right before my period, I had a huge pimple, it was just after the first anniversary of my mum's extremely tragic death and understandably I was feeling somewhat fragile anyway. So to find out afterwards that this person was having a laugh over how ugly she thinks I've become is more than a little gutting, it's actually rather heartbreaking. I live in a very small, gossipy village so I can be sure she told everyone exactly how frumpy, old, mad and gross I now look, and that they all had a good laugh about it too. That's exactly what this place is like, no one escapes the gossip mill, not even bereaved orphans. Sometimes there is no way to fight it; you must simply accept that some people think you are too ugly to treat with one iota of human decency. It's a bit silly really - I am so much more than my face, hair, clothes etc. and so probably are you. Appearance is only a shell. The woman who think I am ugly doesn't know the real me; how funny and loyal and kind I am; and if she finds my face to awful to get past, she is probably not someone I would wish to spend any time on. I also think it is very unkind of my friend to a. tell me what was said in the first place and b. that she keeps repeating it almost every time I speak to her. What good did it do to tell me someone thinks my appearance is hideous? I can only conclude that she herself harbours spiteful feelings towards me, though I have no idea why. I have just been very sad and quiet since my mother died and I don't see why anyone would want to torment me with how much they don't like my appearance. All I know is, I have never and would never treat someone's sad, bereaved daughter that way.