Suggested Audio Jukebox ♬
 John Farnham “You’re The Voice”
 George Thorogood “Bad To The Bone”
 Nirvana “Breed”
 Billy Joel “My Life”
 Marvin Gaye “What’s Going On”
Everyone has an opinion. Whether right or wrong, positive or negative, shared with the world or kept to ourselves, we all possess our own opinions on one thing or another. They may be popular and endorsed by others we come into contact with or they may go against the grain and lead to heated arguments and fractured allegiances, but they are ours and therefore never worthless. There is something to be said for a subjective viewpoint as we all view things differently and have our own thoughts and feelings. This is what makes us individuals and I’d much rather that than be labelled as one of the flock. Yet ownership is not necessarily all that easy. As children we tend to follow general consensus as the punishment for not doing so is often severe. Take music for example, should we have a thing for a pop group not considered as current or hip, then chances are we will keep that intelligence under our hats for fear of castigation. The school yard can be the cruelest of locales and nobody wishes to be seen as an outcast. Thus, should our opinion differ to the masses, we have a tendency to refrain from coming clean.
The older we get, the more we accept that our opinions count for something. Suddenly it is deemed acceptable to state a preference and those cats begin to come out of their bags. However, using the pop group once again for inspiration, committal can still be problematic. The term guilty pleasure is then used as it safeguards us against public mockery. We may be fond of something which is still regarded as questionable but, by throwing in the old guilty pleasure chestnut, we exonerate ourselves of culpability. I will admit to using this freely myself although, when I think about it, it’s not necessarily applicable. My case in point is this: I regularly state my affection towards the film Xtro and the words guilty pleasure are never far behind it. Do I feel shame for my predilection? Not in the slightest. Do I give a hoot and a half if my opinion is shared? Nope, I’m happy to wear that shit on my sleeve. Would I stand up in a court of law and confess my soft spot for this ludicrous sci-fi masterpiece? Yes and, moreover, I’d swear my oath. Thus it really isn’t all that guilty a pleasure.
One of my favorite pastimes is to watch movies with another and ask for their take at the tail-end. Traditionally I will always pose the question before enlightening them as to my own vantage as I’m genuinely interested in learning their opinion, without any factors swaying it. As for me, I’m fully aware of my own perspective, and that is not dependent on their response. But some people struggle with this process as they don’t wish to come across deluded. It fascinates me observing them looking for clues as to what the correct answer should be. Do I say I enjoyed it, even though I just spent the past ninety minutes bored to my marrow? Or, on the other end of the spectrum, do I hate on said film as I believe that is the right thing to do in such circumstances, regardless of my secret fondness for it? Perhaps it is widely considered as a dud of gargantuan proportions. Does that mean I should tow the line and kick it when it is down? Talk about placing yourself under pressure.
Once my opposite number opts for a response, I then do likewise. However, should it not tally up with their own, then this can lead to the old double-back. Nothing grinds my gonads more than when somebody fails to have the courage of their convictions. An opinion is not something to be embarrassed about; there is no right or wrong answer when it comes to stating personal preference. A faltering opinion is barely an opinion at all. Ownership is everything and sitting on the fence only ever results in hemorrhoids so surely it is better to choose your side and stick to it. That is not to say that we shouldn’t be open to having our perspective challenged. Should a fair point be raised, then I’m only to happy to explore this through good old-fashioned healthy discussion. But I do possess my own mind and have no reason to question its logic.
There are numerous movies considered to be turkeys that I have nothing but love for. Renny Harlin’s The Adventures of Ford Fairlane, Bruce A. Evans’ Kuffs, and Simon Wincer’s Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man were all torn asunder upon release and are widely considered as three of the lousiest films of their entire era. Yet I have no problem whatsoever with fighting their corner to the bitter end and beyond. Likewise, Tommy Lee Wallace’s Halloween III: Season of The Witch had plenty of unkind words said against it when it arrived in 1983, minus The Shape. Even now it holds a wretched aggregate score and is still held largely in contempt. However, should you ask me for my three all-time favorite horror movies, then I wouldn’t hesitate in blowing its bugle. One man’s pile of excrement is another’s praline truffle, regardless of the flies that circumnavigate it. I would rather have my own voice than be some other sucker’s ventriloquist dummy. While they’re being folded in half and packed away into a suitcase, I’m strolling off stage with my head held high, while ducking from any rotten vegetables being hurled my way.
The worst thing we can do is belittle another on account of their opinion, whether or not we are in agreement. This is where we rob them of their right to state a preference. I happen to be extremely indifferent to jazz but, should I be asked to throw in my two cents worth, then I will never use the words “jazz is shit” to elucidate my indifference. Instead, I will inform them that it isn’t for me personally as I have no right to hate on an entire musical movement. Indeed, I’m assured that there is plenty of pleasure to be gleaned from a jazz flute coupled with copious amounts of tequila. It may not resonate with me on a personal level but I’m not foolish enough to believe that it has no game whatsoever. Wine me, dine me, then take me to an after dark jazz club, and you may just win me over. I’m nothing if not open to enlightenment. However, keeping up with the Joneses just doesn’t interest me. Should it leave me cold then I won’t perform a swift 360 and start waving about my jazz hands enthusiastically, just to keep up appearances.
I happen to have some rather strong opinions and have no problem with making them known. Unscrupulous politicians rile me effortlessly, the media is a cancer more often than not, and I don’t mask my disdain for either. Occasionally it all boils over and I let some of this ill-feeling spill over into my prose. However, I’m only ever generalizing as it is all too easy to view things in black and white and tar everyone with the same brush. My knowledge on politics is next to nothing and I don’t claim otherwise. Glossy weekly publications and tabloid newspapers may infuriate me in the hyper-extreme but there is a reason they amass their audience. Who am I to consider them worthless? There are over seven billion people on the planet and each to their own I say. A good example would be television talent shows, which are often little more than modern-day gladiatorial showcases. I am fully aware of the flaws in such exercises but still gladly tune in on my own terms in the name of light entertainment. By the same token, some may love themselves a tattle tale or take great comfort in the fact that celebrities have cellulite too, and who am I to call their reasoning into question?
Then we have Justin Bieber and it doesn’t take a degree in neuroscience to work out that my bedroom walls aren’t adorned with posters of this young Canadian. He has been the butt of many a Keeper joke, ridiculed within an inch of his life, and prodded and poked by the Crimson Quill more than any other. However, it may surprise you to learn that my Anti-Bieber crusade is actually nothing personal. That doesn’t mean I won’t mention the whole Anne Frank debacle, him urinating in a mop bucket, or his idiotic notion that he should be compared to Kurt Cobain. But we all make mistakes. I’ve been unwittingly responsible for burning a liquor store down to the ground, blown myself up during a Physics lecture, and scared my poor mother half to death with frothing blood capsules. What makes my shit stink any less than Justin’s? The truth is, he’s an easy target. I just get my kicks at his expense and will continue to do so until dinosaurs reclaim the earth. Doesn’t mean I won’t give him credit where due. Recently he has had himself something of a musical breakthrough and good luck to him I say. Just because he is Justin Bieber, Sorry doesn’t automatically become a bad song. Granted, it’s all about the production skills of Skrillex and you could replace JB’s voice with Ernie’s from Sesame Street and still have a catchy number. But he appears to be growing into his skin and I’m all for a dash of self-improvement.
Considering my stance on “critics”, the fall from grace is something that ruffles my feathers. A perfect example of this would be Tom Cruise, who was once the golden boy of cinema and couldn’t so much as put a pinky toe wrong. It was all going so well until he tested out the springs on Oprah’s couch and only got worse when his beliefs in scientology reached the public domain. Suddenly, Cruise couldn’t shit a hit after a bowl of Bran Flakes and studios became reluctant to place so many eggs in his basket. Knives were sharpened the very moment a new Tom Cruise film hit the multiplexes and naysayers were on the lookout for the first sign of a slip up. However, when you glance over the vast body of this man’s work, one ever-present is quality. It concerns me not whether or not he suggested the anal probe to Katie Holmes as he also scaled the tallest building in the world for his art (and to quench his personal thirst for adrenaline of course). Edge of Tomorrow was a great little movie and finally broke the Cruise hoodoo as it made almost $400m theatrically. However, word of mouth came to its rescue, as initial returns were grossly deficient. Indeed, it enjoyed worldwide success in spite of its leading man, as opposed to on his account and this saddens me. It’s about time for that slack to be cut.
Judgement is all too easy to form and often without all the facts at our disposal. Should somebody act in a manner we consider undesirable, then the court is in session immediately, without once calling them to the stand. It’s something we’re all culpable of at one point or another and assumption invariably fuels its cause. Time for an analogy methinks: Leonard Rothman is a seventy-two-year-old man and has barely a kind word to say about anyone or anything. Pass him in the street and he will likely grunt his derision. Offer him a friendly “how do you do?” and no response will be forthcoming. By all accounts, Leonard is a deeply unpleasant individual, and has precious few redeeming qualities. However, our experience of him is limited to infrequent one-way transactions, and we know nothing of what happens behind closed doors. Turns out that Leonard was recently widowed after fifty blissfully happy years of marriage with his soul mate Vera. Her death hit him hard and he still cries himself to sleep every single night a year later. He has also been recently diagnosed with inoperable pancreatic cancer and spends most of his time in crippling pain. Granted, a smile costs nothing, but he is well within his right not being a big spender. Yet, that is not to say that he doesn’t get his shits and grins elsewhere. I am therefore in no position to judge Leonard Rothman, based on my limited knowledge.
We see what we want to see and disregard what we don’t. I know all about this as one of my most treasured pastimes is cherry picking and I sing its praises habitually. I grew up reading reviews and soon sussed out how to use them to my advantage. Negativity doesn’t greatly interest me and, instead, I search for the positives and skim through anything that I have no interest in hearing. The same can be said for life itself as it is all just a case of prioritizing. I may be in the midst of a heated debate and wholeheartedly disagree with the opinion of my opposite number. That doesn’t mean every word that leaves their mouth will be dead air and they may well raise a good point or two. There’s a tendency to only want to hear our own voices and wait for every opening to turn the tide back in our favor. But what can we possibly hope to learn from doing so? I’m always learning and sometimes from the unlikeliest of sources. Cherry picking therefore has my full and complete endorsement, and has proven itself an incalculable tool over my forty odd years of active duty.
It took almost that long for me to exercise my voice as a scribe and I now do so to the tune of an average of 5000+ words daily. Needless to say, opinion is something I have no shortage of and, given my introspective approach to prose, there are countless of them out there in the public domain. Some of them may well oppose your own and the law of averages makes this of decidedly high probability. However, I’m never looking to impose my beliefs on another for the purpose of coming across as the all-knowing one, simply using the tools in my set to locate some common ground. Aiming to have it all figured out is a thankless endeavor and, the moment we make this bold claim, is the one where we become intellectually negligent. My opinion is my very own and forever subject to change, not to fit in, but to continue to broaden my horizons. At this present moment, Donald Trump is looking increasingly destined to become the next president of the United States. Does the prospect concern me? Fuck yes it does. We may well be about to unleash the next big Hitler on the planet. To Trump I say this: prove me wrong bucko. I’ll happily eat my words if you use your position of immense responsibility to ring some decent changes. Needless to say, I won’t be holding my breath, and fully expect you to make a pig’s ear and trotters of your term in office. But I can’t stop those votes coming in and neither can I question your tenacity. For the record Don, I still plan on mocking you at every given opportunity, but you can blame both your hair stylist and unruly follicles for that one.
I shall close with a light smattering of opinions that instantly spring to mind. Some you may agree with, others doggedly revolt against, but they are only mine after all. What do I know anyhoots? More than the next man? While that may be the case if I’m marooned in an elevator with Sloth from The Goonies, I’m sure he could enlighten me as to the correct manner of petting rodents. I’m no better than he is, perhaps just a smidgen easier on the eye, but otherwise have no reason to claim superiority. I’m thinking five opinions will suffice and trust you will have your cherry picking mittens armed at the ready. Feel free to relinquish your thoughts in the comments box at the foot of the page as I designate this for the perspective of all-comers, regardless of what this may be. For now, it is my opinion that I have said quite enough. With that in mind, here are a fistful more to prove myself a hypocrite.
Opinion 1: Men and flip-flops are not a match made in heaven.
While my own feet don’t repulse me in the slightest, the male hoof is hardly the most desirable feature. Thus, sandals tend to offend me. Ten painted female toes may look delightful in flip-flops and I openly endorse the use of this footwear in such instances. However, there’s a good reason why ladies are considered the fairer sex and hairy toes ain’t it. By all means, bust them out on the beach, but please don’t assume that your ingrowing toenails are anything other than eye sores.
Opinion 2: Vegetarians have the most rancid flatulence.
Farts smell. Fact of life. There is no getting around that one as they emanate from the most unsanitary of locales. That said, my own tend to be more vocal than nasal. The truth is, I find it all a bit disparaging as I’d give anything to facilitate a heady scent. Alas, I am practically a carnivore, and fall woefully short on the ammunition stakes. It turns out that roughage is your friend if you’re looking to make some eyes water. Arming yourself with brussel sprouts is a sure-fire way to clear a room and, having known my fair share of vegetarians, can attest that they put most meat eaters to shame once those cheeks part.
Opinion 3: Life doesn’t begin at forty.
I’ve done my research here and can state with assurance that my life began at zero. Unless I’m mistaken, most of my favorite memories originate from my early years and I recall it being something of a wide-eyed voyage of discovery. I’m not saying for a second that life ends at forty either. Indeed, I embraced this checkpoint with open arms, and have no qualms about taking up residency here for a decade or so. For me, life simply continued at forty and the years that preceded it are never to be discounted.
Opinion 4: Playing too much Grand Theft Auto does not a criminal make.
It’s a common misconception that violent video games can turn a good apple bad. I would suggest we take a look at the tree it has fallen from. Some of us are just rotten to the core and way past rehabilitation. When these rascals fall out of formation, there is a tendency to search for a scapegoat and Grand Theft Auto is just one of the fall guys to fit the bill. Let’s not get it twisted, I have a six-year-old son and have no desire to introduce him to the art of ploughing down pedestrians or slapping senior citizens down where they stand. But I don’t believe for a solitary second that Rockstar Games are the devil incarnate. I watched The Texas Chainsaw Massacre at ten and have impeccable table manners.
Opinion 5: Self-effacing is a glorious pastime.
Being a self-confessed clusterfuck, I take great pleasure from sharing my foibles with the whole free world. Should I blunder, as I do frequently, then I’m the very first not to let it go unnoticed and wear my clown shoes with immense pride and purpose. Think of it this way: should we be the first to openly ridicule ourselves, then it leaves little scope for others to beat us to the punch. I know what I’m good at and also what I suck at. It’s all about striking that balance in my opinion. Should I feel it necessary to toot my own horn, then I’m just as likely to thrown in a dash of harmless self-effacing just to remind others that I’m not lodged up my own sphincter. Playing the fool has its benefits and, with that in mind, I’m off to locate the nearest discarded banana skin and taste some asphalt. Feel free to post the video to YouTube. A million hits later and the last laugh will most certainly be mine. That should more than fund any corrective surgery.