Sunday, January 29, 2017

It's Still Good To Talk

I got a Whatsapp from a friend asking if I was in fact going to come and to witness his debut DJ set. I had accepted the invite on Facebook but he was unconvinced. I suspect he was cynical as I fire out ''I'll absolutely be there" replies to everything but cannot make a firm decision about anything that isn't happening within the next three minutes. The future beyond that is an unknowable darkness we should not try to impose order on.

He was right too. As work is an gluttonous time-stealing beast there's little to absolutely zero chance of me transporting from Shoreditch to a 90s pop filled Reading pub by 8pm. I was going to give him the highly-expected 'sorry i'm a flake again' text but realised it's been months since we spoke. This is a friend I could, and would, talk to for days on end about aggressively silly things, mostly while impersonating the two Edies from Grey Gardens.

Yup we were those 'wacky' folk. At least we entertained ourselves.

So instead of sending a quick message before getting on my train, I rang him. And felt nervous about it. I know I hate getting unexpected phone-calls when a message would do, especially as I get panicked over how to wrap it up politely at the end (I really should adopt every Irish parents' method of "Well, I'll let you go..", which my own have been using more and more frequently of late). I was worried he would see my name flash up and feel that punch of dread. 'Uffff just text me you utter dickplant'.

15 minutes later, my whole day was lifted with a huge happy reminder of just how very funny my friend is, how solid friendships always pick up easily from where they left off, and how he sees right through me like no other. For example on the subject of Disney World...

Me "I thought I'd really hate it... "
Him "...because you pose as a cynic who is above popular things..."
Me "...yes exactly! But actually it was the most fun thing ever."
Him "Yes. That's why it's popular."

What could have been a 16 character text was a brief but happy chat about random shite, a friendship refresh button, and a good laugh to boot.

Warning: here comes the 'ugh sweet suffering jaysus, another social media think-piece' piece... Facebook likes and Twitter favs don't keep us in touch with each other, they just mean we're keeping tabs. It says 'I know you're still alive, I am too, we used to know each other, and kinda still do, but not really, let's all stay in our lanes '.

Which brings me to my favourite TV ad campaign of all time. In 1990 a meeting was called to make the idea of paying phone bills not such a scourge for men (still a time when execs said men paid bills and women made phone calls). They came up with Bob Hoskins, a seemingly gruff's man's man with a twinkle of sentimentality, telling the nation that 'It's Good To Talk'.

(Before that, here's my friend's DJ night, do check it out!)

I'm on Twitter @theroryjohn

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Monday, January 23, 2017

When Funny Goes Sad

Yeah alright. I've already succumbed to doing one of those video list articles. I had a wee think on the train home about what to write and something struck me afresh as I listened to Desert Island Discs archive podcast.

(Yes I'm still wanging on about Desert Island Discs and, full disclosure, may well continue to do so.)

The 'tears of the clown' could be dismissed as a stinky stale old cliche but it exists for good reason and listening to  Johnny Vegas and Frank Skinner talking candidly about their pissed-up problems between records reminded me that those who make us laugh can all the quicker make us cry.

Perhaps it's because like many creative folk (and despite some unconvincing protestations) comedians are usually sensitive 'outsiders' who, despite a childhood of wanting to belong, can never quite hop over that observation line. That acute but lonely perception creates a tinge of tragedy around what becomes great work - the child who wasn't picked to play notices much more about the game from the sidelines.

But also as an comedy audience, we're more emotionally vulnerable than we are with any other genre. Our stress-tightened chests open up after a few laughs and we're giddy to be carried along by a comedian. We roll over and want to be tickled, leaving our soft squishy bellies exposed. So when they carry us somewhere unexpectedly dark, sad, or sentimental it's all the more shocking. We're have no stoic reserve to protect us.

It's those sad comedy bits that make your dad pretend to blow his nose to cover that he's tearing up.

Here's a brief list of some 'when funny goes sad' moments that immediately came to my mind. If you have other suggestions please let me know below.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Scariest Film Scene Ever?

Pennywise the clown luring little boys to their doom in a rain gutter, the Grand High Witch peeling off her mask and frying a disobedient witch, this cheery Chupa Chubs rep...

Cinema has happily provides kids with a lifetime of nightmare fuel but one particular scene has stuck with me more than any other. And it only gets scarier the older you get. 

The other night I flicked over to discover Terminator 2: Judgement Day had just started on ITV (accidentally coming across a brilliant film on terrestrial TV now feels nicely old-fashioned, these whipper-snappers with their Netflix have it too easy).

As anyone who has seen the 1991 sequel can attest, this is a Pringle Can of a blockbuster. You cannot stop. You will not. Amazing iconic set-piece follows amazing iconic set-piece. There's always 'ooh that cool bit when..' just around the corner.

Halfway through, the film takes a breather (between breaking out of an asylum and blowing up the Skynet office) and Sarah Connor has a well deserved doze on a picnic table. Then this happens....

To add a bit of spicy fuel to that apocalyptic nightmare, experts agree that it's a pretty accurate depiction of how it would all end. Lovely stuff.

To slip into a gravely morbid mood for a moment, surely I can't be alone in seeing this scene more frequently in my shuddering mind's eye recently? As world affairs free-fall further into a credibility-stretching dark comedy, I idly wonder what would happen if IT happened. Would #apocalypse trend on Twitter before a blinding light swallows me into nothingness? Would we become eerily calm and walk outside to enjoy a last moment of birdsong? Would I be able to contact my parents? What would I say if I could? Would we come to a profound peace or scream and poop ourselves into oblivion?

Sorry for the dark thoughts but I have a very long commute in the morning and my mind does tend to wander down some grimy cul de sacs.

But that arse-ache of a commute's also providing me with a soothing balm to my gnawing end-of-the-world worries. With the recent 75th anniversary of  'Desert Island Discs' I read plenty about how fantastic and moving and joyous and life-affirming people talking about their favourite songs can be. I wasn't convinced but downloaded the archive app just in case I was missing out.

I'm addicted. All I want in life is to hear Kirsty Young jerk tears from celebs like Victoria Wood, Noel Gallagher, and Tom Hanks. You will laugh, you will cry, you will feel like a 69 year old widower called Majorie who listens to the wireless as she scrubs limescale from her kettle. It's bloody great.

Sir Michael Caine proved a highlight with his surprising picks of chillout trance tracks ("What you expected some old duffer to come on and pick something pre-war?"), with his sad family history (after her death he discovered his mum paid weekly visits to a secret son in a care-home), and with his cheering closing words "I am the wold's ultimate optimist, I think everything is going to be alright."

Maybe it's because of his ol' London town smoke-honey croak or maybe it's because he discovered the meaning of Christmas in Kermit the Frog's kitchen, but I took some comfort from him.

Perhaps in this grim times we need someone who's been around the block to tell us we'll muddle through somehow. Perhaps, if Michael Caine says so, things might just be alright.

That said, Caine did record this in 2009 and has probably revised this attitude drastically since.

I'm on Twitter @theroryjohn

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Go Greek & Opt-Out

Just a few days into this month of deluded self-flagellating ambition I realised without too much surprise that I'd already slipped on my 'one post a day' resolution. Slipped so badly family members would say in a concerned hush "he's had a bad fall, bless him".

But in other resolutions I'm doing fairly okay. On the diet and exercise front I've read two articles whole  about Joe Wicks aka The Body Coach and passively watched him do a YouTube tutorial. I also walked out of my way in a train station to find and skim through Tom Daley's lifestyle book (it's mostly ambitious recipes and putting anything more elaborate than 'cheese sandwich' together is a dark art I do not care to learn). It was returned to the shelf.

This is how I do not look. 

I've also had a vegan day today. It was entirely by accident but it counts*

One self-helpy impulse buy I have found to be actually practical is 'The Daily Stoic' by Ryan Holiday. A glossy weekend supplement told me that Ancient Greek Stoicism is the most fashionable philosophy of the Spring/Summer season. As a newfound Vegan, I am not one to miss the tide of a popular movement.

For each day of the year the book gives a wee snippet of something an ancient Greek philosopher said and then re-frames it in a useful way for modern life. Even for this sneering cynic there are really useful and interesting little prompts for pause and thought. Like most philosophies and self-help books this one boils down to one central idea, the Greek lads were basically saying...

"Seriously. You need to calm down and just chill the f**k out."

Two passages that really jumped out at me as particularly relevant are...

"We have the power to hold no opinion about a thing and to not let it upset our state of mind - for things have no natural power to shape our judgements" Marcus Aurelius.

Ryan re-frames this as; you don't have to have a burning opinion on everything. Just because there's some outrage that you could get riled up about doesn't mean you have to. Twitter has become an anger engine. By the end of a scrolling session I usually find I'm blindingly furious about a rainbow of issues that I knew nowt about a few minutes before and will have a sum total of zero impact on my life. They're just passing clouds of other people's hot air. So why bother?

If you're fighting a particular corner do it out of genuine passion, not because you're addicted to being offended or need to be part of the this hour's Most Virtuous Tweeters. And as ever, if you don't know what you're talking about just shut up and sit it out.

With that in mind...

"If you wish to improve be content to appear clueless or stupid in extraneous matters - don't wish to seem knowledgable."

On this one, the book suggests that "I don't know" and to a greater degree "I don't care" are powerful and shocking things to say these days. We're expected to know about and have formed opinions on every news story and scandal, and to be fully versed on every new dark TV drama. You don't.

As Ryan notes, it's almost a  duty to keep generally aware of current affairs and culture but a small bit of ignorance can be bliss too. It's exhausting trying to consume everything purely out of a fear of missing out. If you're not bothered seeing something, don't. It's still okay if great stuff passes you by.

And so today I'm using Ancient Greek Philosophy to excuse the fact that I'm just not arsed following Celeb Big Brother or that must-see but dingy Tom Hardy drama, and am only allowing myself to get angry about Trump for 7 to 10 minutes each day.

I feel better already.

*Realised I was eating a chicken and cheese sandwich as I wrote this. It no longer counts.

I'm on Twitter @theroryjohn

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Should Scarlett be Sacked from Gogglebox?

Bear with me. Scarlett Moffat is an orange telly genius I want to see more of. But not on Gogglebox.

Reaction to Durham's Gogglebox lass has become a personality litmus test for me: Madonna is said to have a Frida Kahlo painting in her hallways so she can judge newcomers based on their response, if they don't love it, she don't love them. Similarly if people think Scarlett is 'a bit thick' I am assured that they themselves have the IQ of a Yop.

She's not thick. She's sharp but comically dippy. Her seemingly naive questions sometimes punch through to an "oh... actually, fair point" response from both her dazed parents and viewers. Dumb people aren't curious about the world, Scarlett is.

So why the sacking question? I raise it on the back of some very good news - 'Streetmate', a street dating show hosted by Davina McCall from 1998 to 2001, is coming back and will be hosted by Scarlett. This come hot on the heels of her becoming Queen of the Jungle on 'I'm a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here!' - beginning to see the problem?

How can our 'lovely folk next door' Gogglebox families give an honest reaction to programmes when they themselves are spread across the TV schedules? The show slips deeper into danger the more popular it becomes; new families blatantly know they're auditioning to become quirky favourites while the established families either play up their 'schtick' or are becoming too big for the format. How could Scarlett slag off say a new Philip Schofield vehicle whilst having had a lovely time with him on the This Morning couch only last Tuesday?


There's also the issue of the show breaking the fourth wall. Producers are caught in a bind where they have to ignore big programmes because they feature Gogglebox stars. They barely gave 'I'm A Celebrity' a sideways glance this year because Scarlett was there. Her crowing moment was featured briefly but it felt like it was done with more than a little sense of teeth-gritted duty.

Interestingly while most of her co-stars cheered her on, the Michaels dad looked distinctly unimpressed by the win - which brings me to wonder how much jockinging for 'break-out star' status there is amongst the families. Scarlett has proven it can be done, should Louis Michaels screech his way through some cake-baking, should the much-revered Mr Sadiqui have a go at very slowly making his way around the Strictly floor? They've seen over the telly's Berlin Wall of opportunity and now might also want a piece of that freedom, money, and attention. None of our younger stars will want to be left behind.

With all this in mind, is it time for Gogglebox producers to re-enforce their policy of 'our show alone or nothing' (George and family were dropped when he took part in Celeb Big Brother). This would mean they have to sadly drop some break-out favourties, and instead focus on a mix of reliable stalwarts with some (fingers-crossed) natural newcomers?

If not, Gogglebox is in danger of becoming the show that ate itself.

I'm on Twitter @theroryjohn

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Are kids dickheads?

On Friday morning's packed train a four year-old girl marched up to a commuter and pointed at her seat. The instruction was clear, 'gimme'. The embarrassed woman cowered before the dead-eyed dictator and actually sacrificed her seat. She was presumably in that pre-caffeine fog where we'll dutifully follow any direction.

I was outraged - politely, quietly, and doing nothing more than gasping, tutting and tweeting - but still outraged.

What was most amazing about the interaction, the type of odd unfolding event that everyone in the carriage becomes silently fascinated with, is that the girl's father watched on proudly as as the flushed woman stood and his princess sat on her stolen throne.

I was going to write about how children getting seat preferences over adults seems to be a creeping phenomenon, facilitated by moronically incompetent parents raising a generation of entitled disrespectful goons. But it is possible we've reached the 21st century's full quota on pieces about spoiled snowflakes and civilisation tumbling arse-over-face into doom.

Instead I want to touch on what made me hesitate about the above tweet. My thumb wavered over calling a four year-old a 'dickhead'. I know a child isn't fully responsible for their personality and actions, that's all on their parents... mostly... kind of. Is it? Isn't possible that some children are just pure assholes? I suspect that some folk who have to deal with kids every day parents/teachers/doctors/sad clowns agree it is more than possible, it's probable.

Ok so, it is probably fair we stick to the general idea of letting personalities mature a wee bit before being judged/burned at a stake. But at what point do we stop blaming bad-parents, hormones, social media and let people take responsibility for themselves? This is their personality, and it's foul.

One could make a case for a personality becoming fixed at 8, 12, 15, or 18 but in the spirit of blogging I'd like to do a complete hypocritical u-turn.

I  cringe so badly I want to escape my own skin when I think of how I acted at any point before the age of say... 27.  No, in fact I disavow any behaviour before this week. One of my mind's survival tactics is to cut off all previous grumpy/drunken/assholish behaviour as the manifestation of 'the past me', entirely unlike the new rebooted me which is born fresh and well-intentioned each morning - only to then become a tired re-tread of every previous incarnation.

If our personalities are always being revised and refreshed with at least the vague intention of betterment then perhaps nobody is truly fixed at being 'an asshole'. There is hope for that four-year old girl on the train.

But not for her proud dad. Now that guy is a dickhead.

I'm on Twitter @theroryjohn

Thursday, January 5, 2017

The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face

While posting yesterday about the non-deaths of 2 Unlimited and Britney my mind drifted off on a little tangent, much like a granddad in a Werther's Original ad, remembering how I reacted the first time I encountered those undisputed queens of pop.

I'll never forget that moment in (quick google search) 1993 when friends and I were in The Plex (an arcade/bowling/laser quest warehouse where kids go to scream and parents' souls go to die). 2 Unlimited's 'No Limits' music video came on the wall of TVs and we creased ourselves laughing at the rubbish lyrics (still valid) and wondered what Gloria Estefan was thinking with that metallic bra.

A few years later I scoffed about an American attempt to copy Billie Piper. Instead of parka-wearing pint-scooping Billie, they had a corny blonde cheerleader who was named after Alvin the Chipmunk's girlfriend. "I think it's Brit-tany. Like Brittany Ferries. Dopes". 

I was sure the crappy US remake would flop. Then the 'Hit Me Baby' schoolgirl video came out. I wasn't the powerful pop prophet I believed myself to be. 

That said I wasn't always a staunch Billie Piper fan either. After this bubble-blowing stage-school irritant popped up in an ad for Smash Hits she flew to the top of our teen kill-list. 

Christina Aguilera was 'like Britney's dirty friend with a wobbly voice', the All Saints were 'the new Spice Girls' but one who'd smoke fags while kicking the crap out of you at the back of the bus. (Do you remember how, unlike the Spice Girls, they were initially really hard to distinguish from each other? I still wouldn't bet a Toffee Crisp on getting the Appletons right.) 

In 1995, 'Friends' made my mates and I feel really grown-up and sophisticated as it was our show, unlike 'The Cosby Show' or 'The Wonder Years' which you could watch with parents. That said, in the early days we couldn't really grasp the jokes, how to pronounce Chandler's name (Shandelle?), or figure out if Ross and Monica were a creepy couple. 

I am, brace yourselves, old enough to remember seeing 'The Simpsons' when they were but a small cartoon insert on 'The Tracey Ullman Show'. I was scared of Tracey. She would tell the audience to "go away" as the end credits rolled which I told my mum reliably was a very rude thing to do.  Meanwhile the shaky yellow cartoons were weird and unnerving. Homer was scary. Bart was 'cool'. I loved them. 

And while I'm lost in a 90s reverie for the 14th time today, it just occurred to me how mobile phones were an embarrassingly arsey thing to own much of the mid-decade. It was considered laughably pretentious to actually talk on a phone while walking down a street. Folk really would point and laugh at someone thinking they were so hot-shot Hollywood that they had couldn't wait to take a call in privacy like the rest of us decent shame-fearing peasants. 

Which, in an admittedly long-winded way, brings me to thinking about first impressions in general.

People fall into two categories; open minded folk who give strangers a fair chance, and people like me who form an iron-cast judgement within 2.4 seconds. I cannot and will not ignore my witchy instincts. Are they a hugger? Did they have shifty eyes? Did they give an faint air of 'I would murder you and everyone you love for a tenner and some chicken dippers'?

I'm so strongly convinced by my gut instincts that it kills me when nobody else can see why I find a new party-guest/colleague/friend's baby so insufferable. It may take years, decades even (I'm still waiting on one particular horse to come in), but when I'm proven right I will graciously sympathise 'Oh you discovered they're a shite-bag? Well... I have to say I never liked them. Which I suppose means I WAS RIGHT AND NOBODY LISTENED'. Ahem.

In conclusion first impressions last, except in Billie Piper's case. I was wrong about you Billie, you breezy-loveable-BAFTA-winning goddess.

I'm on Twitter @theroryjohn

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

That's All Hoax

The world was rocked last week by the news that Britney Spears had died. Well not rocked, rather the world had a brief dizzy spell as you do if you step out of the shower too quickly, for mere minutes after the 513th shock death of recent times was announced, it emerged that Britney was in fact very much not dead - ie alive. It was just a hearty hoaxer having an entire barrel of laughs.

To clarify; Alive. (At time of writing). 

Celebrity death hoaxes are two a penny (or 23 an hour) thanks to Twitter. But also thanks to Twitter the celeb themselves can quickly debunk reports their own demise (though recent tweets from the supposedly dead Michael Jackson & Joan Rivers bring this method of alive-or-dead-clarification into disrepute).

It was not always so. We may live in an age sorely lacking fact-checkers or more significantly, lacking a public who want to have their 'facts' checked. But even before this post-truth era, back in the pre-post-truth era, truth was a slippery concept. 

Back to the early 90s, a time before the internet dominated like a fat attention-sucking beast, when pornography could only be found in hedge-torn magazine pages, and when tittle could quite freely become tattle. If it wasn't in the encyclopedia who could say if it was fact or not? Family arguments over say He-man's blood relationship to She-Ra (sister or cousin?) could rage for years. Pre-internet contested trivia was the root of most civil wars and was an accepted justification for murder. 

The school playground was a rabid hive of questionable information and alongside now scientifically-proven facts such as 'Bloody Mary will appear if you say her name five times while looking in a mirror' came the shock news that Ray and Anita from 2Unlimited died in a car crash. 

Talk of the techno tragedy spread from playground to playground across Dublin and perhaps much further afield (how far? you tell me). It was accepted as solid and sorrowful fact for at least a decade - despite the fact the the dutch dance duo continued to release music from beyond the grave and never mentioned the fact that they were dead in interviews. 

I can now happily report that it was just a hoax. Ray and Anita are still very much alive though last year (only last year!) Anita left 2Unlimited to go solo and has been replaced by someone called Kim. How could you Ray?

Ray and Anita in errr happier times

Celeb death hoaxes even date back to those pre-historic times before the 90s. After President FD Roosevelt died, rumours spread that Frank Sinatra and Charlie Chaplin had quickly followed suit - in fact neither did till over 30 years later. In the 60s Paul McCartney was rumoured to have died in a car accident but was replaced by a lookalike. Fans convinced themselves that the band sneaked clues about Paul's death in to the lyrics (why they would be arsed stitching themselves up like that remains a mystery). The Beatles heard these rumours, then really did put 'Paul is dead' clues in to their songs to wind up the conspiracy theorists, and so invented the concept of trolling. 

In conclusion don't retweet everything you read on Twitter, repeat anything an 8 year-old tells you, or believe a Beatle. They are all rotten liars. 

I'm on Twitter @theroryjohn 

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Staying Regular

As a child I wanted to grow up to live in the McCallister's house from 'Home Alone', to eat nothing but Vienetta (the classy ice-cream of a pre-magnum age), and to be greeted like this whenever I enter a room...

I remember a childhood friend going to a barbers and asking for 'my usual' in a studied attempt at being casual. Blank stare. Then the barber's cold reply '... but I don't know who you are." I vowed this would never happen to me and so I've worked hard to become the life-blood of local business, that face that blends into the wallpaper but arrives like clockwork. I wanted to be a regular.

My regular career began in the local video shop where friends and I would try to impress Natalie, the sassy older (& therefor immeasurably cool) staff-member. We never did impress Natalie.

When I was a freelance writer I had a lot, an accountant might say far too much, free time on my hands. I would pretend to think great bohemian writer thoughts in Dublin's Metro Cafe several times a week, always ordering the same bacon sandwich and coffee. I managed to reach peak regular status when the staff knew my order and even seating preferences (oh yes). Then the staff changed which meant I would have to begin again at level 1. Sod that. I emigrated.

Now in London I've changed habits up a bit. Why not go wild and cosmopolitan? This is big city life.  Now I go to the same high-street cafe everything Saturday with my paper but instead of a sandwich I  order a bacon bagel and coffee. My system has become so routine that once the man in Spar asked why I was running 1 hr 40 minutes behind - then the server in the cafe asked the same. She was worried. This may be a sad reflection on how anal I am about my weekend schedule but in that moment I felt like  Henry Hill in this 'Goodfellas' scene.

It may sound pathetic but in this world of uncertainty it's nice to go somewhere you absolutely know you like the food, a bit of cheerful service, and the same old rickety seat by the damp window. Sometimes you wanna go everybody knows your name (or at least your likely order).

We may not all become the next Mariah but we can become something of a very very minor local celeb, known by two or three people as that person who orders the same sandwich each week. Now if that's not aspirational I don't know what is.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Darker in Daylight

2017 has already proven bountiful for those of us who depend on Netflix for a bedtime hit of something to squint at for six minutes, believe you can follow just as easily with eyes closed and then wake hours later, confused on a pillow of dribble.

They've chucked up around 84 new releases this week and some, such as the entire 'Fresh Prince of Bel Air', are getting my couch-bound brethren very excited. Being a dark soul, I instead opted for 'The Woman in Black: Angel of Death'.

It's a sequel to the actually-quite-chilling 2012 adaptation of Susan Hill's novel/play and features the same Victoriana creepiness in a desolate house. This time it's set during World War II, a Miss-Honey-esque teacher is our hero, and a bunch of evacuated children are in the vengeful ghost's sights.

The sequel did not receive the same love at the box-office nor from critics but it is... fine. Sufficient. Like a triangle-pack sandwich in a Costa Coffee. The issue (shared by it's predecessor but felt acutely here) is that it plays with the same box of tired tricks until they're utterly worn through. Creepy dolls, creaking doors, flickering candles, movement in the shadows, someone's behind you, oh they've gone, orchestral pounding on shock-jumps etc.

But for me there was a bigger problem - the tone. 'TWIB:AOD' as ardent fans no doubt call it, is not just dripping but is utterly sodden with a cliched creepiness from the first scene and throughout. Everything is grey, dusty, crumbling, creaking. The music drones with dread under every scene. The characters are poe-faced horror fodder from the off. There is no levity. There is no contrast. There is no light to the shade.



In need of a broom.

For me it's more unsettling when a horror film does not know it's a horror film yet. Far more disturbing if the terror strikes in a lovely, lounging, summer afternoon. More tantalising when the characters are blissfully oblivious to any potential terror.

Two moments spring to mind to illustrate my point -

In 'The Omen' the mother throws a birthday party for Damien. the kids, the wee antichrist included, are having a great old time. All are happy and secure on a bright clear and colourful day. Then the nanny calls to Damien from an upstairs window before committing suicide in front of all the guests. (I reckon it's so disturbing I won't post it but can be found here).

And in another 70s horror classic 'Halloween', Laurie gets a first glimpse of killer Michael Myers not in a eerily quiet dark alley or crumbling mansion but in broad daylight as she walks home from school with a friend.

Isn't it so much darker in the sunlight?

Really creepy horror doesn't announce itself with cobwebs, shifting shadows, and creaking doors. It erupts into everyday lives without warning, disrupting and destroying the safe story we tell ourselves about our world.

Nobody knows their life is about to become a horror. That's what's really scary.

I'm on Twitter @theroryjohn

Sunday, January 1, 2017


Midnight approaches and I'm already scrambling to keep a resolution. This year I'm vaguely determined to write a measly 220 words or so on the blog every day. Which sparkling subjects will I tackle? Well, whatever shite I can pull together at 23.55 each night. Bear with me.

I'm a bit strapped for time, what with actual work and Tinder-swiping eating into the waking hours, and so I reckon this resurrected version of ShowbizGeek will have to be something I really enjoy. When the previous incarnation got hacked (damn you Russia! probably) I decided to take the universe and Putin's hint and seized the opportunity to step back re-think things.

I am just not arsed bashing out celeb stories anymore. It is  aggressively dull and pointless. Even the sites that do it very well are virtually obsolete as people just read the headlines on Twitter. As I'm saddled for life with the ShowbizGeek name (ie not bothered to change it) I'd still like to give my own reaction to a story, share an appreciation, review a film or TV show, or just throw bits of trivia I find interesting out there.

I'd like the blog to be more personal too so I can perhaps let off the occasional mini rant, a bit of commute-born cod philosophy, or as Stephen Fry once said simply 'take a thought for a walk'. I'll try not to be too self-indulgent. Use the codeword 'prick' if I do turn that way.

Also I saw this on the road in Soho today.

I don't need to take this resolution on board myself. I always text first... then appear too keen... text again to alert them to the fact there's a first text they seem to have missed... and die alone.

I'm on Twitter @theroryjohn