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StarFor52

Is This Goodbye?

From the title of this post, you have every right to be concerned. For a while now I’ve been blogging using the name Starfor52, which has sort of become my excuse for why this blog is so freeform and so…vague.

Something I’ve thought long and hard about is whether I should actually delete this blog. What happens to all the posts? All the things I’ve talked to you about in the past, they matter to me and I know that to some of you, they matter too.

On the 30th June 2015 I created a new blog, called Letters Of Orange, which was an attempt and blogging with increased frequency and having something that I could update without fear of losing the subscribers I already had, but while still able to talk about more formal/professional matters that could potential lead to a different career for myself, an online career.

That’s very much something I’d like to do but the truth is ’Starfor52’ doesn’t mean any of those things to me the way that my blogs are formatted now. The last few months I’ve barely spoken to you, and if we have spoken it’s been about music (under the guise of Newhampton Atlantic), writing (under my own name) or current events which seem much more appropriate for a more intimate channel.

As I sit here drinking Pepsi before I inevitably have to get changed for work, I think about the kind of career I’d like to have. Similiarly I look at the 418 posts that I’ve created on a blog spanning over 9 years (with admittedly a three year gap in between my first and second post) there’s so much history here, there’s my first .GIF and some truly random thoughts and the list goes on, this blog was initially an extremely personal, intimate blog meant for my musings and somewhere along the line it got tweaked, twisted and pulled into a vlog where I would do a review of music one day, begin a story with you the following day and then blog about my new whatever the next.

In short what I’m trying to say is this blog ended up a hodgepodge of things but the one thing I’ve always been haunted by is a distinct lack of co-ordination between the personal and professional. I’ve made commitments in the past, saying that I’d do this, do that or not do something else but none of these ever stuck and anyone who’s embarking on any kind of blogging journey needs some stability in their lives, their audience included.

So Starfor52 stays but in an entirely different context from which it started. In a sense this is no longer my active blog, Instead I’ll be creating a series of new blogs under my own name and using these. I’ve gone about as far as I am able under the banner that is Starfor52. There’s far too much stuff on the internet nowadays for me to keep four blogs running all at the same time, all with new, exciting and fresh things to say. And of course, I could keep on adding to it and reshaping it but the history is still there, all those things I said are still there.

If there is anything truly important to you here, I’m giving you this opportunity to take it. With the exception of the musical pieces feel free to reblog them giving credit or copy, paste, print and stick ‘em to your bedroom door and feel that I’m extremely flattered you feel that way about something written here. I didn’t want to leave you with nowhere to go either, that would be burning all my bridges as opposed to having a clean up. I have a new personal blog called ‘Blank Slate’ which you can also find at shawncollierblog.wordpress.com. I’ll be posting much more intimate pieces of my journey, and I’d love you to come share this new beginning with me over there. In the meantime, I’ll be getting things ready over here and reserving the site for future use.

I want to pour everything into these next couple of years first, being completely honest, open and personal and I also want to be more committed to something without jumps and bumps where I go months without posting and getting into a routine where I can post content at a more regular pace without feeling like I have to take on a new challenge or explain to the world, yet again, that I’m back and I’m sorry that I’ve been away.

I hope you guys understand and come visit me over on the other side at Blank Slate. For now though, TTFN and thanks for everything.

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‘Openly Straight’ Final Thoughts

Spoiler Alert; If you feel like at some point you’d like to read this book you probably shouldn’t read ahead.

Hey, so in just over a week, I finished the book yesterday morning, I’ve completely re-read Bill Konigsberg’s ‘Openly Straight’. It has been an absolutely joy to read again and it’s really got me wanting to read more books and blog about it. So to summarise:

What I liked about this book…

There’s a lot to love about this book, I like the way Rafe is honestly narrated through the whole thing, I really feel like I’m listening to his internal thought processes and no-one else’s, I like the fact that he’s given a distinctive writing quality and that’s evident throughout. 

I like the constant questioning, Rafe takes a journey from the beginning of this book, starting out at Natick, shedding his skin so completely. We follow this journey with him until it is complete. 

I love the dialogue, and actually the writing in general. There are so many memorable lines, parts of this book make me literally laugh out loud, while I feel in knots when things aren’t going Rafe’s way, it’s safe to say I’m invested in this character. 

The subject matter alone is enough to inspire me and it’s really nice to hear different sides as to why it matters to be out to some people and why the label, ‘gay’, can also be inhibiting. Personally, I’d always like to believe that the ‘barrier’ the characters talk about hear is created by the lack of understanding on whoever Rafe came out too, both and Natick (eventually) and Rangeview. It’s also nice to see some of the flaws I had identified within myself too, Rafe’s defensive self-conscious nature is revealed. 

I like how while other characters shape this story and have an effect on Rafe’s decisions, this book is ultimately about him. There are consequences to his actions, consequences which he could not have foreseen going into this. Ultimately Rafe does not get the happy ending that you think he might, it feels to me like the author is reminding us one that this isn’t the entirety of Rafe’s life and so it doesn’t have to end in a neat and tidy way, it’s simply a chapter in the process of Rafe’s journey.

What I didn’t like…

I struggle here, because this is probably my favourite book I’ve ever read. It just so happens that I’ve got a couple of things I’d like to see more of, more than I don’t like them so to speak. 

I’d love to see where Rafe’s journey takes him in the future, it could be that he has insanely boring life but college is just around the corner and that opens up a hell of a lot of opportunities for him to develop and yet more labels to contend with away from the high school scene. 

I’d quite enjoy reading Ben’s point of view of the whole experience, especially in the aftermath… How does he feel now. 

I recommend this book if…

If you’re unaware of the effect labelling someone as ‘gay’ has on them and you’re interested in a story that really tackles both the good and the bad of concealing your own identity.

If you like teenage fiction that’s grounded in real life, this is refreshingly relatable, I’ve struggled with fantasy of late because it all seems about the size of the world you’re painting and the grandeur of some awesome adventures but it then sacrifices the plot, why do we need a relationship here just so you can pull it all apart? 

See you real soon.

Christina

So today has been filled with both joy and now sadness. It is in deep shock that I post this, I really wasn’t expextong to write anything on this blog today but I’d like to pay tribute if I may to someone very special to me, musically, today.

Had it not been for Christina Grimmie, I may not have encountered YouTube and I certainly wouldn’t have been blogging the way I am today. Artists who post on YouTube, start as complete amateurs and end up as someone as incredible as Christina did inspire me, they are the reason I believe in life’s journey because they are the realisation that anyone can be anything. While I feel like I barely knew her, I loved listening to her covers. Christina’s voice was something special, something I hadn’t heard from our generation of great singers, she had a voice that would resonate and fill the greatest expanse of darkness with power and emotion. What pains me more than anything is the journey she will now never have. I won’t dwell on this too much more greatly about the songs she has recorded, for example than the songs she may have had the chance to record. It’s rare for the news of someone’s death to resonate with me in quite the way her’s has.

Here was an artist I sang along to on car journeys, I listened to as a speaker and a singer. I watched Christina’s career grow from a humble little keyboard in her bedroom, to a performer belting out Wrecking Ball and ending up as a finalist on America’s The Voice. She became a star just I’d once dreamed I could be, and okay she was vocally far ahead of me. We’d both started off as geeky little teens in our bedrooms, so maybe I could be up there someday too. 

Music’s had a profound influence on my life so far and long will it continue to influence other people when I’m long gone. It rocks me to my core perhaps because I’m so close to these songs and each one reverberates with a voice that’s now out of its time and always will be. Her music will live on as long as it is heard and that’s something any musician should be proud of. 

Wherever you are Christina, I hope that somehow you can hear me writing this and that you see the people you inspired who will continue to love you and hold you in that special place among our hearts.  

Getting Back into Reading with ‘Openly Straight’

This is the first time in my life I’ve actually sat down and re-read a book. At one point I thought it was almost as alien to me as re-watching a movie at the cinema which I realise now is nothing out of the norm and there are films I relish seeing multiple times. 

Reading a book is not at all a one time affair but nor is it something which I take lightly. I started reading again with the intention of making it a habit, not only so I can share these books with you but so that I could do something when Ben is reading the paper of a morning and I’m wondering what to do with myself before work over the weekend. 

Openly Straight is honestly one of the first books I really enjoyed reading. I read it, at first, over the course of a week as it turns out. Since I’m reading it via the Kindle app, I can’t really tell you where I am, except for the fact I’m roughly 40% through and this is where I remember things getting ‘dicey’. I don’t plan on spoiling things for anyone who may want to read it, but one of the reasons I love reading this book is I identify and relate to a lot of the things Rafe says, the sole reason he turns up at an all-boys boarding school is to escape labels and be more than just the ‘gay kid’. It’s something I’ve always understood and I’ve said multiple times. I’m not my sexuality, it’s a part of me but I don’t identify with it in as much as it would ever be something two people have in common, just as you don’t bond over the fact that you and your friend both happen to be straight. 

As I was beginning to re-read this I’d realised that I’d actually forgotten a fair bit about this book, the plot slowly returned to me and I think I know where it’s going again now that I’m a significant way through. There’s enough dramatic tension to remind myself why trying to be something you’re not is ultimately going to cost Rafe. So I’ll update you on my progress as I read and give you a summary at the end.

See ya’ real soon. 

Important Day In The Life

So this is a very short post to tell you that today is the day I finally get my new Citroen C1, Berri. It’s been a pretty long and, frankly, arduous waiting game from ordering back in january till now but I made it. In myself I’ve felt so good over the past week and while I’ve stopped sharing this kind of post with you all on Starfor52, that does by no means suggest that I no longer blog about more personal, intimate details of my life. Over the last few months I’ve gone from hardly blogging at all to blogging when I can fit the time in to actively making time to blog. This has been a pretty major turn around and it’s one that I’ve wanted to keep close under wraps since blogging again. My blogging foray, if you will, can be split into two: I have my blog, this one, for reviews, music, gaming, reading (to come) and other things that I want to talk about and the second, lettersoforange, for things related to personal mental health, chronicalling my day and my journey into adulthood.

I wanted to share my second blog with you because this doesn’t mean that I’ll never mention more personable information but this blog here I want to be able to share to the world whereas my other blog is more for those who seek to find out a little bit more about me. Its more of a day-in-the-life kind of affair, which will get updated more frequently.

Let me summarise by saying that my intention is not to blog everyday but to blog everyday between the two blogs. This blog, I imagine, will be updated less frequently than letters, but I’ll most certainly be looking to update this one twice, if not, three times a week. For more information about today and indeed other days in the life of Starfor52 make sure you’re subscribed, or following, lettersoforange.wordpress.com which I’ve been dutifully linking to this post as I’ve been typing but is written here in case you need a not so hyperlink friendly reminder of my second blog’s URL.

See you real soon.

Trivial Pursuit 

Sunday night’s family get togethers with my parents have become a bit of a new tradition since Ben and I moved out at the end of February, assuming they’re not otherwise away enjoying dad’s retirement. It’s started a bit of a surge in my purchasing of board games, and our collection has now swelled. The latest addition to this collection is Trivial Pursuit: Master Edition. This edition, released back in 2010, has been on the wishlist for quite some time and has always been priced just a little out of my price range. When I found it in Argos for £27.99 though, I simply couldn’t resist.

Quite the expansive collection the Master Edition comprises of the signature board, pucks wedges, an electronic timer with an exceedingly generous time limit and 3000 questions, yikes! It’s suitable for between 2 and 6 players and works equally well in teams. Ben and I have been playing this one to get a little practice in beforehand, which as you’d expect did not equip us for playing with my parents. Based on our experience playing on our own we thought it best to play in teams to give each of us a sporting chance and to further decrease the length of our game.

It’s safe to say that it gives the brain a fair workout and we found that there’s actually a fair amount of questions that are more suited for both generations which suprised me, particularly in the entertainment category. This is certainly, however, not a children’s game and really does deserve the 16+ recommended player age on the box as very few of the questions would be suitable for anyone who doesn’t have at least GCSE level in most subjects. The game’s also pretty long, taking a good 1 1/2 hours plus, even if you are playing 2 on 2.

It’s certainly a game that’s lived up to its formidable expectations but I have to say it’s equal parts fun when you’re playing against likeminded (or should that be brained?) individuals and it’s defintiely a game I’d take around again without a doubt.

#Gameface, Eponymous Track Release

Hello! It’s me again! It’s been quite a streak of posts so far this week and that looks pretty set to continue. This blog post, as I’m sure you’ve already guessed is about my second upcoming track from the Gameface project. It’s titled ‘Gameface’ and serves as the title track but, if I’m being honest, this project is more about the individual tracks than the promotion of certain tracks above others and what have you.

Continue reading “#Gameface, Eponymous Track Release”

Headspace

There’s some pretty big music news coming your way tomorrow (so stay tuned) and to set the scene, if you will, I’ve decided to talk to you about my experience with an app called Headspace.

Continue reading “Headspace”

Fifth Harmony “7/27”

I’ve been following Fifth Harmony pretty tentatively since ‘Better Together’, their first EP. There was a lot of ‘maturing’, though not necessarily for the better, between this and ‘Reflection’. I think the first thing to mention is that we shouldn’t mistake adding more sex-appeal to one’s image as producing a more ‘mature’ sound and I think ultimately that’s the image that currently surrounds this group.

7/27 is, actually, one of the most anticipated albums of this year so far. Since the release of Work From Home, back in February, I’ve been listening very closely, not for the lyrically content of the song, but more for the production that this album has, it’s quite simply a pop lover’s dream. Every song on this album sounds good, it’s utterly addictive and unique enough to stand out as an album.

I thought I had absolutely no problem with the increased sexual intensity on display here. It wasn’t exactly to my taste but it’s not been enough to stop me dancing around the flat with headphones in. I think the downfall is that sex in music is frightfully rife.

It’s difficult to find a female in pop music that’s not selling themselves sexually and the front album might be tasteful but it’s clear that it’s not going to be the music that people follow them for, particularly when their first and second single are exclusively about the act of sex. Not to sound prudish, I’m really not, but when you scroll down to comments on almost anything they do and all you see are people arguing about who the most attractive member and how well they’re ‘working it’ on a live premiere for Flex (All in My Head) it’s little wonder they’re doing so well, it seems that sex, women and attractive packaging still sell, which still strikes me as a little backward in the 21st century.

This is a problem because although, we can turn this sexuality off, and while it’s certainly not wrong to sing about or want sex, it shouldn’t be all a musical group has to offer. Lyrically, the songs on display here are not all about sex, I just have a problem with the way this album is marketed, I guess. You can probably guess that actually, songs such as ‘Scared of Happy’ and ‘Squeeze’ are going to be forgotten but only time will shape this album and either confirm or deny my suspicions.

This album, in summary, is absolutely worth a listen. It sounds so good, has the right grooves and the stand out song for me, albeit, again still about sex ‘Write On Me’ certainly has a soulful, timeless feel about it. It is indeed the dream I was waiting for, but perhaps we should be more aware what we’re buying and selling in today’s world of music.

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