Why do you follow me?

Since being diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome I have had a hard time trying to be ‘normal’. I know I need to accept that I will always be different but when you receive a 4 page report on your diagnoses, it’s a bit like someone pointing out that you constantly pick your nose. I don’t know about you but when someone points out that you do something or act in a certain way, you do your best not to to do it because you have suddenly been made aware of these habits and mannerisms. One part of my diagnoses reads…

“He lacked eye-contact and his spoke with a number of unusual inflections. He had a tendency to include too much detail in his explanations and even when answering questions from me”

Ever since the report, I’ve tried my hardest to make eye contact with people, and to summarise my responses, but it just doesn’t come naturally to me. I know this is because of my condition and I can’t change who I am. But most of the time I just don’t want to come across as weird. It makes me wonder how I come across to people online. I don’t need to make eye contact with people on the internet, and on twitter you can only tweet 140 characters so you need to summerise too. Do I appear normal on twitter?
Twitter can be a strange place, lots of people all talking at once. So many opinions, so many voices. I have always been curious as to why people follow me. I don’t really tweet too often, I am not that funny and I don’t really have anything really interesting to say. I am definitely not part of ‘The Twitter Elite’ as some people call them. My profile says “likes random ramblings” and that’s what I do. I tend to tweet about whatever is on my mind at that moment, good or bad. I would say I am more open on twitter than I am on facebook or even in real life. This can be a bit of a curse at times as I tend to wear my heart on my sleeve. My therapist said that most people do their best to hide the darker sides of their personalities or the things that make them vulnerable. I don’t tend to do that because then how will people be able to understand me if they don’t have all information needed.
 Yesterday I posted a question:

“Why do you follow me on Twitter?”

100 people answered my question. It was anonymous so people could be honest. Most people who responded mentioned something about my surveys which I can understand. The survey which started off as my own form of therapy for understanding others has become a major part of my life online, which unfortunately has got a bit in the way of my main twitter account, but I doing my best to balance time between my account and @5urvey. I received a lot of positive feedback. People saying things like…

“I find you interesting, creative, and kind. I like your honesty. You seem open and kind of vulnerable. You rarely (if ever) interact with me but that’s ok. You strike me as needing a cuddle and a pep-talk. You seem to be a good person. Sweet, and loving.”

“Initially because I heard you on the Tell ’em Steve-Dave podcast, but I stay because your funny, post great Instagram pictures and have some similar interests too me.”

“Because you appear to be a nice bloke. You are funny. You certainly don’t deserve all the criticism you get from the twatters. Stay resilient my friend.”

It is always nice to read nice things but I also want to see what else people would write. This would be the chance to see what a lot of people really think of me.

“I follow you because I enjoy your interesting tweets from time to time. However this recent self justifiction bollocks is just needy.”

“At first because you were sweet but the egotism has got ridiculously out if control. See ya.”

I think a lot of these points are valid. I guess I do come across as needy at times, especially at the moment when I am trying to come to terms with my condtion. I don’t think I am being egotisic but I am not the person who wrote that so they must have their reasons too. I think hard part of Asperger’s is trying to understand others.

This response was the one I found the most interesting…

“I’ve noticed that you can be sensitive to certain things, I think it seems to upset you a lot when people unfollow so there’s a little bit of unintended pressure to continue following. Sorry, but you did ask.”

I am indeed a senstive person and so sometimes get upset when people unfollow me on twitter, but it really depends on who that person is. I know that one of the problems I have is to make and maintain friendships, and a lot of people on twitter I consider my friends. I am not too bothered by the number of followers I have. I used to get all excited when I gained new followers and sad when I lost them. I don’t know if it’s down to being on twitter for a while so it has lost a bit of it’s sparkle or since I past my personal goal of a thousand followers, or even down to my condition but I don’t get upset if I lose the odd follower. I only get upset if someone I follow unfollows me, esecially if it is someone I have met, know, and consider a friend. On Twitter I tend to follow people who I can relate too, but I mainly follow people who I can talk and have a conversation with. When someone sends me a tweet and I don’t recognise their picture or name, I normally look to see if follow them and have a look at the photos they have posted. They say pictures speak louder than words and I tend to agree with that. If they haven’t posted any photos then I don’t really have clear understanding of who they are. I am not really interested in food (due to my eating disorder) so pictures of food don’t interest me. The same goes with football or other sporting events as they don’t interest me either. If I see that a person has posted a photo of Star Wars stuff, or their favourite music, comics, sci-fi movies etc then tend to take an interest and follow that person. However I don’t tend to look too much in to what they have tweeted about. I assume we will get on just because we both like ‘geeky’ things. This was also picked up when I was diagnosed too…

“he appeared to choose friends based on the things they owned rather than personal qualities.”

This is not a reference to someones material worth, but if they liked the things that I liked. I have a really hard time relating to people who don’t like the things I like. This part of my condition too. If I don’t follow you on twitter it’s probably because you don’t tick some of these boxes not because I don’t think you are a nice person. I am also sorry if I come across as cold or aloof but it is all part of my condition…

“he can appear to lack empathy and that he is not very good at comforting others or understanding their point of view.”

I try and do my best not upset people but I know that it is impossible to keep everyone happy. It is hard for me to understand others and understand myself so I will always be searching for answers. It is in my nature. I always thought it was due to the scientist in me but now I know it is due to my Asperger’s too. I like order and stucture.

So why do you follow me? Well it’s due all of these things. It is because I am…
‘geeky’, ‘random’, ‘interesting’, ‘cute’, ‘brilliant’, ‘genuine’, ‘nice’, ‘kind’, ‘funny’, ‘lovely’ etc. but also because…

“he is the Morgan freeman of surveys”

and I like that.

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Space Monkeys

Those of you who read this blog will know that back in June 2010 Sally & I went to New York for our holidays. While we were there, we went to New Jersey to visit Jay & Silent Bob’s Secret Stash and appeared on Episode #19 of Tell ‘Em Steve-Dave. So when I saw this…

..I knew I just had to go.

I didn’t really know what to expect. When I saw them last year in ‘the stash’ it was just us, and back then the podcast was still only in it’s teens, but now there are about 80 episodes, with bonus podcasts like ‘OverKill’ and ‘Space Monkeys’. In 2010 Tell ‘Em Steve Dave! won two Podcast Awards, one for People’s Choice and the other as Best Comedy. The show was also named a best of 2010 audio podcast by iTunes. So it’s a popular show, but how popular are they in the UK?

We arrived at the Prince Charles Cinema at about 6pm and there was already the start of a small queue for the 7pm show. By 6:30pm the queue was half way round the building. At this point I started to worry that the midnight show might sell out, so I stepped out of the queue and went straight to the box office to buy two tickets, as we originally only had tickets for the 7pm show. Our original plan was catch the last train home, but a very nice friend said we could crash at a hers in London if we did decided to stay, even though we would be turning up on her door step around 3 am, so I sent her a message to say we had the tickets for the late night so and so we would be staying if that was still ok. She said yes, so with a place to crash we were all set for an evening of fun and laughs.

The 7pm show was great, but it seemed to over so quickly. Sally and I were in the third row and had a great view of Bry and Q. At the end of the show Q told everyone that there was an after show party at Ruby Blue and to collect a wrist band from them outside. As we were so close to the stage I thought I would take this opportunity to go up and say hi before they got swamped by other fans. Bry had disappeared backstage but Q came walking down the front and recognised me straight away, I also met Emma who I knew from the VA boards, who was also a friend of the show. She was also waiting for Q. It was strange because most of the people who were there had also heard the episode I was on, so when Q said “Hey, English Russ!” people turned their heads to look at me, and the girl I was sitting next to (Mary) was surprised that all the way through the show she had no idea that she was sat next to “English Russ” 🙂

The after show party at Ruby Blue was fun. Q introduced me to other fans as “English Russ” and some of them had recognised me from photos online, so I did feel like a minor local celebrity for the night. Everyone wanted to know about what it was like to be on the show and if Sally and I were getting married, as back in June 2010, Bry, Walt & Q had tried to talk me into proposing to Sally on the show, and I had said that I would if they came to England. I was happy to tell everyone that it had taken me over a year to ask but we were indeed getting married. It was a great evening but I think everyone felt a bit out of place. It was very apparent that the club was chosen for it’s location, not for the atmosphere. We quickly learned not to piss the bouncers off, Q was told to take his cap off and if they wanted you to move, you moved!

The midnight show was worth staying for, everyone had had a bit to drink and because 99% of the audience had been to the 7pm show, and the aftershow, Q and Bry could really open up and talk about things that they could never put in a podcast. They carried on talking way past the hour mark and the show didn’t finish until 2am.

It was a great night, but one of my favourite moments was when we were saying goodbye, Q gave Sally a big hug and said “you owe me!” refering to his part in our engagment, and that made me happy, because in a small way they did. They made me think about what I wanted in life, I even made a PostSecret about it…but it really is no secret. I always knew that Sally and I would get married one day, but I love that “Tell ‘Em Steve-Dave” will always be a part of our story.

How did you get here?

I have always been interested in how people find this blog. I assume that most of you are friends of mine on twitter and check out my blog now and then, but there are also lots of people who just find my blog while googling for something else.  What is great about WordPress is that it logs the words people were searching for when they found this blog. It’s an interesting and random list; ‘ a girl walking in a maze’, ‘rivers cuomo without glasses’, ‘статуя свободы’ (?),  ‘celebrity beards’, ‘hogwarts library’ & ‘cherry healey’s sunglasses’ to name but a few. But these are not the most popular words that people have being searching with to find my blog. Lets have a look at the top 5  searches…

Search Views
tell em steve dave 24
brian quinn tell em steve dave   8
manhattan bridge 7
ghostbusters building 5
brooklyn bridge 5

 

As you can see ‘tell em steve dave’ is the most popular search. In fact everything in the top 5  are words from my post about the first, and (so far) only time that I’ve been to America. My holiday to New York.  So if you want to read all about my trip to America, the post you are looking for is called ‘Empire State Of Mind’. This also contains the story of how my girlfriend and I took a train to Red Bank, New Jersey to Jay & Silent Bob’s Secret Stash where we met Bryan Johnson, Walt Flanagan & Brian Quinn and ended up on the ‘Tell ‘Em Steve-Dave’ podcast. If you are here because of that you can also see a little YouTube video I made of  the podcast in the post called ‘TELL ‘EM STEVE-DAVE!!’.

Currently it is very easy to see these two posts as they are both on my home page, as I have set it up so you can see my last 5 posts on the main page. This seems like a reasonable figure, five. I have also set up everything else on my home page to show the last 5 of other things. My last 5 tweets, last 5 songs I listened to on Lastfm, the last 5 photos I posted on Flickr, etc. However this post, the one you are reading now, will kick the ‘TELL ‘EM STEVE-DAVE!!’ post off the home page. You will no longer see it if you were just browsing my home page. You would have to look for it in my archive. Now this is part where I worry about what makes this blog popular for some people and how the whole search thing works.  At the moment my home page is the most visited page. I assume this because it is the main page, the default page you come to. It seems logical that it would be the most visited page, but this also the page that contains the two posts which contains the words for the most popular searches. When these posts are no longer on the home page will they still be searchable? Are these posts the main reason why people come and read my blog?  I could pin these popular posts to the homepage so they will always appear first in the list of posts, but I don’t want to do that. I don’t want the first thing people to see are old posts I wrote months or maybe years ago. Blogs should be constantly changing and updating. I want to move on and write about other things in my life.  I do hope that people who have found my blog because of these popular posts have decided to stay and read other entries. I  guess I will soon find the answer to these questions when I get a sudden drop of visitors when these posts have left my home page.  There is another thing I have noticed about my blog. I have lots of visitors but a distinct lack of comments. The last comment my blog had was in June? Why is that? Are people scared of being the first person to leave a comment? Why is no one saying anything? I do like to get some feedback now and then, I like to know your views. Are the things I blog about of interest to you? Are you still reading this or did you give up after the first few lines? Is there anybody there? No? oh well… Hey ho. 🙂

Empire State Of Mind

“Concrete jungle where dreams are made of…”

Ok, it’s been a few weeks since I went to New York and I still haven’t really written about it so I thought I would try to write about it now. It is a bit of a daunting task in a way as we did so much and I don’t really know where to start…

Everyone knows New York. Everyone has seen it in films, TV shows, read books about it and heard about it in music and song. It is everything you expect it to be. I listened to the Alicia Keys song ‘Empire State of Mind (Part II)’ as part of the in-flight entertainment on the plane. I am not really a fan of hers but it seemed like the right song to listen to as we were flying to New York. I hadn’t properly listened to it before and was wondering when Jay-Z was going to start rapping all over it but it turned out that this was not that song. I’m glad it wasn’t.

When we landed at JFK airport and caught the familiar yellow taxi cab to our hotel in Times Square I felt like I had been here before, and in my mind I had. I am a big fan of film and the place is like a giant film set. Our hotel was perfect. The staff asked if we had stayed at the hotel before, Sally had so they upgraded our room to a queen size room for free *thumbs up* and the view from our window was amazing.

Sally had arranged for us to meet a ‘Big Apple Greeter’ the next day who was a nice man called Richard. He met us at our hotel in the morning and showed us around the city for most of the morning. We took the subway to Brooklyn and then walked back to Manhattan across the Brooklyn Bridge visiting very many interesting sights on the way. If you do go to NYC I highly recommend this service, as you get to see parts of the city that other tour guides would miss out.

This is the part of the blog were I have been getting stuck. I didn’t want to write something that went along the lines of “we went here and we did this” over and over again, and so I am just going to write a list of the places we went and the things we did;

“Went to Red Bank, New Jersey”, this part of our trip needs to be told…

As most of you will probably know, I am a huge fan of the works of Kevin Smith. Kevin Smith for those who don’t know is an American screenwriter, film producer, and director for films including Clerks, Dogma, and Zack and Miri Make a Porno, as well as a popular comic book writer, author, comedian, and actor. He is also the co-founder, with Scott Mosier, of View Askew Productions and owner of Jay and Silent Bob’s Secret Stash comic and novelty store in Red Bank, New Jersey. “The Stash” has been a notable place for Kevin Smith to shoot some of his films. It appeared in a deleted scene from Chasing Amy as Steve-Dave and Walt’s comic book store and Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back as Brodie’s Secret Stash, a comic store owned by Mallrats character Brodie Bruce (Jason Lee). Additionally, it has many props from Smith’s movies most notably the “Buddy Christ” statue from Dogma and the “Bluntman and Chronic” props from Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back. The store is run by Walter Flanagan who in is a comic book artist, actor and long-time friend of Kevin Smith. Walt is also co-host of the “Tell ‘Em Steve-Dave!” Podcast with Bryan Johnson who is also a writer, actor, and director who is best-known by his appearances in Smith’s New Jersey films as comic book fan Steve-Dave Pulasti. Also part of the podcast is Staten Island fireman and Tech Guy, Brian Quinn. This weekly podcast is also recorded at Jay and Silent Bob’s Secret Stash.

As you can imagine, we me being a huge fan and with Red Bank only being a 1 hour 15 minute train ride away. How could we not go and visit “The Stash”?

I emailed the store before we left for America just to ask if there was anything of interest happening during the dates that we were in New York. Maybe there would be book signings, recordings, filming, etc, and the response I got back was… “Business as usual”.

Business as usual? what does that mean? 5 book signings and a podcast? No book signings? nothing? What is the usual?

When we first arrived in America I phoned the store from our hotel room. At the time we had no real plan of what we were going to do in New York so speaking to someone in person might give us more of an idea of the best time to visit. A man just answered the phone with “Comics”. I was a bit thrown. Comics? “Hello, is that Jay & Silent Bob’s Secret Stash?” The man replied with “Yes it is, my english friend”. I asked if there anything was happening at the store this week, and if they were recording a “Tell ’em Steve-Dave” Podcast? If so, was ok to come along and watch a recording? He replied with, “Let me ask Walt… Hey Walt…” The guy on the phone then had a conversation with Walter Flanagan. I recognised his voice instantly from the films and podcast. I turned into a “Fan Boy” as I listened in on their conversation. I was then told that if I wanted to see a podcast recording to come to the store at about 1ish on Tuesday. I thanked the man and hung up. I told Sally the news. “They are recording Tuesday and I heard Walt on the phone!!!” I tweeted the news too. Sally however replied with “We are flying home on Tuesday. I don’t think we can go.” I panicked. I was told that they were going to be recording the podcast from 1-6pm. Our flight was at 10pm. 10pm, we could make that easy. I looked at my phone to and saw reply to my tweet from @BryandwaltQ. Bryan Johnson and Walt Flanagan had replied to my tweet about being excited by hearing Walt on the phone and visiting the store!! How could we not go? It would be our last day in America and would be the perfect way to end our holiday. Sally was happy with that and so on Tuesday morning we took the train to Red Bank.

I had no idea what to expect before we got there. Every movie and film location we had visited in New York had been a lot smaller than what I they appear to look like on film. We walked the short distance from the train station to Board Street and I instantly recognised the store front as being that of Jack’s Music Shoppe which was featured in Smith’s Chasing Amy. The left hand door of the Building serves as the entrance to comic book creator’s Banky (Jason Lee) and Holden’s  (Ben Affleck) apartment while the third floor apartment served as the location for the pair’s combination studio and apartment. The interior of Jack’s Music was used for a scene between Holden and fellow comic artist Hooper X (Dwight Ewell).

Directly opposite was Jay & Silent Bob’s Secret Stash. We had made it. Most of the shots of the store in the films are from inside and you can’t really see how big the place is. I imagined it to be a bit like ‘Forbidden Planet’ in London. I imagined a little viewing window to recording booth where customers could watch podcasts being recorded. Huge glass cabinets filled with Kevin Smith movie memorabilia. A massive comic megastore, with many floors. In reality however the store isn’t that big at all so I felt very self-aware when I walked in. The original plan was to wander in the store, get lost within the mingle of other customers and if I had the courage I would ask Walt for a photograph before watching the podcast with the 20 or 30 other customers in the store. However, there was no one else in the store, apart from Walter, Mike (who I assume was the guy I originally spoke to on the phone), Sally & Myself. I guess no one wants to buy comics at 1pm on a Tuesday, so my plan to get lost in the crowds was ruined. The store has only one floor which is filled with comics, t-shirts, figures, collectables as well as glass cabinets with Kevin Smith memorabilia scattered around the store. At the back of the store is a poker table and a few chairs. I couldn’t remember any poker games in any of the films but there it was. I looked around the store to see what things were worth buying (this was also a shopping trip after all) and I found a few t-shirts, comics and figures I wanted. I picked up a Steve-Dave figure (Bryan Johnson) but couldn’t find a Fanboy (Walt Flanagan) figure anywhere. You can’t really buy one without the other so I had no other choice but to ask Walt if there was any figures of… Himself?!?! This was a bit of an ice breaker, and after having a small chat I relaxed and became comfortable talking to someone who I had originally seen in a film a watched back in 1995. Walt was very friendly and Mike soon appeared with a large stack of ‘Walter’ figures. I asked about the podcast recording and Walter said that they would be recording in the next hour or so. Sally and I couldn’t really hang about the store for an hour as we had already spent about 30 mins browsing before I had the courage to talk to Walt, so Walt said I could keep my purchases behind the counter and pointed out a near by Starbucks we could go to. Sally and I then disappeared for an hour and had a look around the shops on Broad Street. When we returned Brian Quinn had arrived. I recognised Brian by his picture from the “Tell ‘Em Steve-Dave” website, and we got chatting. Brian started to unpack microphones, and set them up on the poker table. So this is where they record “Tell ‘Em Steve-Dave”? It was a great feeling. I could now picture in my head them sitting around this poker table chatting away. Before I knew it Bryan Johnson, showed up. Brian Quinn, introduced me to Bryan as “English Russ” the guy from twitter who wanted to see a recording. Bryan remembered our twitter conversation and we all got chatting. Things seemed to be happening so quickly, I started I get the feeling that I was getting in the way and distracting them from setting up.

“I had best get out of your way and let you do your podcast” I said. “Where do you think you are going?” Said Bryan “You’re going to be on it”. I was a bit stunned. I had joked to Sally on the train there how ‘wouldn’t it be great if they mention us on the show’ and now we were going to be on it. “Take a seat” said Bryan and then the next thing I know we were recording…

“Hello, and welcome to this weeks edition of Tell ‘Em Steve-Dave…” Said Bryan as he introduced the podcast. For the next 20 mins or so we chatted away about our trip to New York and if and when Sally and I would get married. I was nervous, but also having the time of my life. It was like talking to old friends you have known for years. However, we couldn’t stay for long as we had a train and a plane to catch and so we said our goodbyes and left before Dave Wyndorf from Monster Magnet turned up.

We got back to our hotel in Times Square in plenty of time. Enough time for us to do a last bit of shopping and to relax and watch the world go by.

I even had enough time to sit and play the piano before having to head off to the airport to catch our flight home.

There was something magical about playing the piano. I wasn’t very good. I haven’t really played for years but I still kinda know my way around the keys. I played some random tune and a few chords. A few wrong notes here and there, but if I knew how to play Alicia Keys ‘Empire State of Mind’ I would have. I had the most amazing time in New York. It really is a “concrete jungle where dreams are made of…”

TELL ‘EM STEVE-DAVE!!

I will write a proper blog about my trip to New York later, but for the time being I will leave you with the highlight of my trip…

TELL ‘EM STEVE-DAVE #19:   “For Those About To Rock”

UPDATE:  If you would like to read more about my trip to America and my time on Tell ’em Steve-Dave,  I wrote about this in the blog entry called ‘Empire State Of Mind’.