CRRRaSh! 286 Happy Halloween

By Roy Mathur, on 2019-10-30, at 22:02:40 to 22:25:52 GMT, for Captain Roy's Rocket Radio Show, Listen

Happy Spidery, Creaky, and Groany Halloween

A few months ago a spider as big as a mouse crawled across my face and woke me while I sleeping. Then, a few weeks ago, I felt something wrong downstairs..., again while I was in bed, and found an alive and terrible thing... nestling. A few days later, I felt an itch, er, behind, and brushed a dead and crunchy spider away.

I assure you, all three incidents involved screaming and running, but, you'll be proud to hear, no actual tears. I wouldn't say I'm toughening up. Put it down to resignation to the inevitable horror of being. The horror. If that is not a better and more visceral indicator of the validity of global warming, then I don't know what is.

Now let's talk about the old man in the attic. Yeah, a few weeks ago the stealthy footsteps, the scratching of ragged fingernails, and the agonised groans from the ceiling returned. Sure, it's just the pipework. Nothing more.

Nice New Pen

Ahhh, I forgot to tell you in the last episode. Last Sunday I bought a rather natty dip pen. It is made of well turned slate coloured Dupont Corian flecked with silver and gold. It cost GBP 4.99, and is both cheaper and better made than other wooden dip pens I use to hold a selection of Speedball nibs.

The couple who make these pens visit my city occasionally and are quite nice, so I thought I'd give them a free plug. You can find them at


(Warning: some spoilers). I saw Joker at the cinema on Monday. I enjoyed the film, despite some overdone references to older Robert De Niro movies; The King of Comedy and Taxi Driver, and Robert De Niro himself, who also features; in case you initially missed those references (as if). There is also a callback to a specific old and violent news item wrongly re-adapted for the movie (why pussyfoot, I'm talking about the tube scene).

Joachim Phoenix is great playing the put-upon clown, who wants to make it big as a standup, but is poor, barely coping as the carer of his mother, and has an isolating condition (no, not mine, another one). All these stressors exacerbate his pre-existing, what I'm assuming is depression and anxiety, added to which we discover that he is about to lose his health benefits.

It was always going to be difficult walking the line of showing a character with mental health issues, while not saying that this is the primary reason he is a murderous criminal, but I think they manage it here. It is just as well because most people with anxiety and depression are more likely to be a harm to themselves, rather than anyone else.

There has been some noise from the press, that was then unthinkingly echoed throughout the internet, that the character is an Incel. No, he isn't. Despite his lust for murder, and don't get me wrong, he is a terrible man, he isn't a misogynist, neither is he indiscriminately misanthropic in his rage. I'm no expert, but I don't think Incels will immediately identify with the Joker. Will the film influence someone to commit a vile outrage? If a person is that angry, they will do it anyway, even if they have just watched Blue Peter. There is really no need for the moral panic which has greeted the release in America. Saying the movie is dangerous is a distraction to the real culprit: gun culture.

I think Joker works because, for a large proportion of the film, the audience can empathise with the main character. I've said before that it is important to be able to empathise, no matter how horrible that character is, simply so that one is able to engage with the film. This is possible due to Phoenix's strong performance that, until a certain point, is almost relatable. It can't hurt that the film must have also been influenced by other great works, including Alan Moore's Batmman: The Killing Joke and Heath Ledger's brilliant interpretation of the character in The Dark Knight... and Tiny Tim. Pardon the levity, but let's momentarily lighten the mood. Don't think I didn't notice the blue ukulele on the sofa.

Part of the problem is not so much with the film, but with its creator. There is an understandable hostility towards the director Todd Phillips because of his poor and morally questionable previous creative output and his obnoxious, pompous egotism. And then there is Joachim Phoenix's confused reaction, while doing press, that has also not helped matters.

Whether accidentally or intentionally a good movie, it is currently doing very well at the box office. Personally, I recommend this possible origin story for Batman's most iconic villain. (The post-Bob Kane Joker is a notoriously unreliable self-narrator).