“The Ghoul” by Jack Prelutsky

JOn KEnna:

I read this when I was a kid and only recently re-discovered it. It’s brilliant, funny and scary. I loved it then and I love it now.

Originally posted on Obnoxious and Anonymous:

When I was in elementary school, the librarian would read the poem “The Ghoul” by Jack Prelutsky to us. We all thought it was shocking, funny, disgusting and I have never forgotten it.

I can’t imagine a K-5 school being allowed to read this to their students today, which is why I’m so glad to have grown up when I did.

The power of the words, the imagery it conjures up in your mind… simply breathtaking. This is the stuff of pure nightmares, yet the execution is both lyrical and humorous in the best tradition.

Strange that no one has attempted to make a film out of this yet…

“The Ghoul” by Jack Prelutsky

“The gruesome ghoul, the grisly ghoul,

without the slightest noise

waits patiently beside the school

to feast on girls and boys.

He lunges fiercely through the air

as they come out to play,

then grabs a couple by the…

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The Evil of Nudity

nude suit-front-1This blog got 6000 hits in two days recently. It was on the day when all those nude celebrity photos got leaked. Apparently, I posted a film review years ago which mentioned Jennifer Lawrence and nudity in the same breath. There was also a picture of her in the nude. This post had evidently appeared on Google whenever anyone searched for ‘nude celeb pics’ or similar (the post is still up if you can be bothered searching through the archives of this blog).

All this excitement got me thinking about nudity. And nudity creates excitement like nothing else. It’s hard to talk about this without feeling a bit sleazy. I thought about posting a few shots of celebrities with their kit off but it just felt wrong. So to make myself feel a bit less like an exploitative slime ball, I will post a photo of myself in the nude; just to show even-handedness (and show some other things too). Some of you may not be ready to face the sight of me with my clothes off so I’ll post it on the ABOUT ME part of this blog so that you at least have a choice about whether to go there. It will be the first photo at the top of the page so… brace yourself.

To be honest, I’m not completely naked on the photo; I do have a minimum of clothing on. And that’s the interesting thing because Jennifer Lawrence wasn’t nude in the picture I posted, not technically. She was wearing an alien suit which simulated nudity; alien nudity. In fact, there was hardly any of her actual naked skin visible at all. But the photo makes it feel like we’re seeing her naked. Does it matter that we’re actually seeing less skin than would normally be on display if she had just been wearing regular T-shirt and jeans?

Come to think of it, what’s the big deal about nakedness? After all. we’re all naked under our clothes. Why are certain parts of our bodies deemed to be unsuitable for general viewing? Who decided which of our body parts should be rated 18? Why don’t we get upset when someone puts a photo of a celebrity’s bare elbows online? Why don’t bikinis have special pieces of fabric to cover belly buttons on the beach? You might think it was the bodily parts which have a sexual function that cause us to get all embarrassed but what is the sexual function of female breasts? You might think that it’s the male/female bodily differences that we want to cover with clothes but males and females both have buttocks so why are we all so reluctant to show off our arses? (except students and football fans of course). Even more puzzling, the specific body parts needing to be covered change from culture to culture and from time to time. In Victorian England it was deemed shocking to reveal a female ankle, for example. Another one; when I was a kid I went on holiday to Malta and no-one was allowed into any religious building without first covering up their arms. So why do certain parts of our bodies need to be covered for reasons other than keeping them warm or protecting them from the elements and Hessian sofas?

I don’t know the answer except to say that it seems to be a peculiar quirk of human nature that if we are forbidden from seeing something, our curiosity is automatically triggered. It’s what drives us on in all spheres even space travel and scientific advancement. Like everyone, I looked at those scientific diagrams of the human form in school text books and felt curiosity, yes. But when real live girls told me that I could see this much but no further… I felt that the purpose of my entire life was to get to the forbidden fruit. Nudity itself isn’t really that arousing (visit any nudist club or naturist beach and see how unsexy, not to mention nauseating, nudity can be)

The whole thing is ludicrous given that we all have, pretty much, the same bodily bits and pieces hidden away. Why are we so curious about how celebrities look naked when we already know that they’re going to look roughly the same as any other person of the same sex that we’ve ever seen? It’s not like we’re going to see, instead of the usual breasts and vagina combo, two ice sculptures and a Toblerone.

I suppose it’s all part of the enigma we call human sexuality. We’re hard wired to find the opposite, and sometimes the same, sex attractive so that we will think it’s worth mating and thereby continuing the survival of our species. This is done in a variety of ways but the specifics are not that important so long as we keep finding other people interesting. This means that, regardless of continuing the species, we’re driven to come together (ha), to socialise, to live side-by-side with each other, to not kill each other (not all the time anyway), to make contacts, to find life rewarding enough to carry on at all.

So I didn’t post any photos of nude celebrities because I’m a hero. Instead, I posted a couple of pictures of people wearing nude suits. Weird though, some readers will probably object to those and find them offensive in the full knowledge that they are complaining about what are essentially pink duffel coats with dangly bits. The only true nudity you will see posted here today features me on the ABOUT ME page. Like I said, I’m a hero. Brace yourself.



Cracks in the Road


This week, while driving, I got yelled at three times. The first time, an old bloke was behind me in the queue for the traffic lights and because they were taking a long time to change to green he actually jumped out of the car, knocked on my window and shouted “Come on, they’re f***ing broke, you ar**hole!” Pensioners shouldn’t use words like that. You don’t get words like that in Soduko. The Countdown Conundrum is never ‘ar**hole’. He was, however, wearing a neatly appropriate traffic-themed pullover. Chevrons..

The second time a woman actually stopped her car to shout across the lap of her mortified female passenger into the window of my stationary car to tell me that I’d parked dangerously and requesting that I relocate my vehicle (I’m paraphrasing there, she used her own specially selected vocabulary. Loudly.). I was not parked dangerously but I would have been more than happy to move if she had not come at me with such aggression. “I’ll call the police!!” she bawled. “Do it!” I heard myself shouting back. “DO IT!!!”

The third time, I was waiting to join the flow of traffic by turning right (coming out of the Co-op at rush hour! Not advisable) and a man behind me who was desperate to turn left, actually mounted the pavement in order to squeeze past and simultaneously shriek at me (who says men can’t multi-task?). He seemed not to be able to decide which particular term of abuse to throw at me because he ended up spluttering “You, you, you, ffff… you…. ming!

Ming?! What is a ming exactly? I was equally angry at this point so I wound down my passenger window especially to have a lovely interaction with this Neanderthal (why didn’t I just ignore him?) but all I could think of to shout in the heat of the moment was “I beg your pardon?!” like some pathetic, wet, Victorian gentleman played by Colin Firth. The most surprising thing of all though was the bloke actually honoured my weak request and repeated his insult “Ming!” even though he had half-realised that the word he’d shot at me wasn’t even a real word. He had emotionally committed himself to it now though so had to repeat it. Loudly.

Three horrible confrontations in one week. I normally avoid confrontation like the plague but, on the roads, this is getting more tricky. There’s more and more cars, of course, and the roads are getting more and more broken down and neglected because councils have slashed their maintenance budgets due to the recession. It feels like the country has been in crisis mode for a long time now. The cracks are beginning to show and not just in the roads. It’s become a lot harder for lots of people to just get by.

Everyone is trying to get somewhere, everyone is late, everyone is over-stretched and over-stressed. In other spheres of life we try to maintain a degree of decorum but when we’re concealed and isolated inside our sweaty, little, tin cans on wheels, all bets are off. Just getting by has become a big ask.

Do cars turn us into aggressive monsters or do they just remove the social masks behind which we usually hide? I admit that I often get a red mist descending in front of my eyes when someone is holding me up by driving at 20 mph in a 60 mph zone. Then the next minute I feel a stab of guilt when I realise that the offender was a little old lady just like my Nan. When some idiot shouts abuse at me from their driver window I do feel a cold rage grip my heart and murderous thoughts explode in my brain. I hate the morons who eff and blind at me at junctions. But I also hate the person I sometimes become in response to them. There are lots of morons out there who drive us to fury but I suppose I should try to remember that, to them, I’m the moron. The Neanderthal behind me at the Co-op today…  Like me, he was just trying to get by.

Woman gesturing out of car window

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Frisked at the Flicks


“What great food they offer at this cinema! And so reasonably priced!”

Has anyone ever uttered those words ever? Of course not. These days, if you buy a packet of M&Ms from the cinema shop you could find yourself in debtors’ prison by the end of the film. Not to mention the Pick & Mix; you can’t get a sugar dummy for less than £5. No-one ever goes in that section more than once. You occasionally see some poor fool wander in and fill a paper cone with a few liquorice allsorts, a handful of chocolate raisins and a sherbert dipdap. They saunter over to the counter and you see the sales assistant mouth the words ‘eleven pounds ninety four please’. You then see the customer stiffen into a semi-comatose state; mouth hanging open, eyes staring madly. They pay up of course because they can hardly put the sweets back into their individual plastic boxes. Their hands are often trembling as they hand over the cash.

I’ve started calling at the supermarket before I go to the cinema now. You can get family packs of most of that stuff for a quarter of the price. The cinema authorities forbid this of course. They would dearly love to strip search you as you go in; you can see it in their eyes. They’d love to discover a packet of Minstrels tucked down your skirt or a can of Coke in your handbag. But they’re not allowed to frisk you. Instead they glare at you as you shuffle past. It’s more of a shuffle than a walk because you’ve got a 6-pack of lager and a cooked chicken down the back of your jeans. Carrying that kind of weight it’s hard to portray nonchalance.

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I’m Going Backwards



I’m surprising myself by what music I’ve started to like. First, I couldn’t stop playing Walking with Elephants by Ten Walls and now I seem to be liking Disclosure’s album Settle. I didn’t like this stuff when I was seventeen and supposed to be going to Ibiza, clubbing all night. My musical taste is developing backwards; when I was in my teens, I liked Elvis Costello and The Pretenders and even some classical (old people’ s music!) whereas now I’ve started liking the mellow Ibiza club tracks (kids’ music!). It’s all going wrong.

Settle is the debut studio album by English electronic music duo Disclosure, released in 2013. The album includes the singles Latch, White Noise (I’m playing this one over and over and over), You & Me, F for You, Help Me Lose My Mind and VoicesSettle got critical praise and was nominated for the 2013 Mercury Prize, apparently. I read that on Wikipedia but I didn’t know it when I first heard it; I just played it accidentally, the way you do on Spotify. And I’ve been playing it ever since.

Spotify influences people in a way that TV used to in the days when we had a small number of channels. Each channel would show a wide range of contrasting programmes so that you could see a documentary on politics followed by a show about knitting jumpers followed by a sci-fi drama followed by Top of the Pops. You never knew what you were going to get (who said that, was it Forest Gump?). Spotify is like that. Even though it suggests music to you which is broadly of the same type as that to which you’ve just been listening, the variance is enough to lead you down totally unpredictable alleyways. TV isn’t like that any more; we have channels for sport, channels for films, channels for quizzes… You always know exactly what you’re going to get. It’s ghetto-ised (that can’t be a real word!)… over-organised in order to make as much money as possible. There are never any surprises. It leads to entrenchment and stagnation.

I watch less and less TV these days but my musical taste is going bonkers. So what’s happening to me? Not much actually. I still like all the old stuff I used to like but I’ve now seen the light with some of the more clubby music. I think it’s happened since I went on holiday to Ibiza last year and they were playing all that kind of stuff. I wasn’t clubbing; God forbid! I heard it in beach bars and on people’s radios and just circulating in the air as I was sitting in my bath chair, with a scotch blanket over my legs, doing a word search. I was so enthused by it (the music, not the bloody word search) I even considered taking off my duffel coat.

Truth is, there is no old people’s music or kids’ music; there’s just music. The music you like depends on where you’ve been, who you’ve been with, what you’ve felt, who you’ve felt, and an infinite number of other variables that go together to make up the person you are. And it’s always better when you haven’t got a clue what you’re going to get.






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