Happy Tweet

Posted by Judy Johnson on August 7 2013

Twitter's been full of bickering egos of late. Here's why I think it needs to go back to what it used to be...


Blogger or journalist?

Posted by Judy Johnson April 25 2012

Are you a blogger, a writer or a journalist? Are they different and do labels even matter?


In my makeup bag

Posted by Judy Johnson on November 22 2012

Take a look inside my makeup bag for the few products I return to time and time again.


Review: Homeland Season 3 (contains spoilers)

Posted by Judy Johnson On Monday, 23 December 2013 23:37 0 comments
**WARNING - full of spoilers and crossness at season three finale so don't read it if you haven't seen it yet, or if you dislike people disliking things.**

I've had 24 hours to think about it (and to stop crying), and I've decided, I am still cross about Homeland's season 3 finale. What the hell were they thinking? 

At first, I thought they were right. Brody has definitely used up all his lives and really, to keep it realistic they had to kill him off. 

But then I thought back to the rest of the series and how very irritating it is that they didn't do more with him while they still had him. For weeks I defended it on Twitter, as loyal followers slammed season 3 for having 'lost the plot' or for becoming boring and way too Dana-focused. I thought it was all part of a bigger plan, but then realised there were just a few episodes left and began to question where it was leading. Never did I think it would finish the way it did.  

I was never a Dana fan but I thought that the huge amount of screen time she had at the start was building up to something - more than just that rubbish 2 minutes of him seeing her at her new place and her mentioning that maybe he should have thought of whether she even wanted to see him before knocking. Really, was that all we get?

Because the other thing that bothers me is that they kill off the main character, have the audacity to jump to four months later and don't even show a hint of how his family felt about it all. After all that Dana nonsense, we don't even get to see how she reacts to his execution? I realise we don't need to watch a family mourn for hours on end but a little acknowledgment that he was a father, a husband, as well as a marine-turned-terrorist-turned-CIA-asset would have been nice. 

All in all it felt rushed, yet felt like a finale for the whole series rather than just a season. They had all this time to develop Brody's next steps and instead we didn't see him for weeks, then suddenly he does a crazy murder mission, walks out and is dead 24 hours later. Hours before, he'd learned he was about to become a father again and had made it sound like it was something worth living for - then as soon as he was captured he was all 'Nah, I'm ready to die now.' Infuriating. 

The execution, too, was harrowing to watch - angry Daily Mail reports are saying even Claire Danes found it hard to look at when acting - and I genuinely thought some sniper (perhaps Quinn. WHERE WAS QUINN?) might pop in, Kevin Costner Robin Hood  Prince of Thieves stylee, and shoot at the crane till poor old Brody was released and on his merry way. Yes, I have quite the imagination. I thought Damian Lewis did an incredible job but the simplicity of it all made it so much harder to watch. The general acceptance that what was going to happen was unstoppable made me more upset than anything else - and I think if they'd not rushed it so much they could have made this more interesting, more touching, and if possible more dramatic. 

ALSO. It massively bothered me that the most sentimental, caring lines - the only lines that really said 'Yeah, the fact he has to die is really quite shit' - came from Javadi. You know, the guy that stabbed his wife in the neck with a broken bottle until she died. Nice fella. Really? His comment about 'not just being one thing' may have been a hint that actually, as well as being a cold blooded murderer he has feelings too but come on, it's more far fetched than when they didn't spot Carrie's positively luminous hair in that dark field. 

I loved what he said to Carrie - I thought it was one of the most moving scenes in terms of script. But that should have come from Saul or even Quinn (seriously, MORE QUINN), who has fast become a rather moral, and of course hot, friend to Carrie. If Saul had said it, it could have started to pave their relationship back to what it was - since the two of them stopped trusting each other it's become harder and harder to like Saul at all (and I still thought he was the mole all this time). Plus, the even sadder part was that Javadi was wrong. Everyone didn't see Brody through her eyes - Lockhart refused him a star (and I'm sure others would have backed him on it).

Ah, Lockhart. My other big problem. That utter twerp who the writers really worked well throughout the series to portray as a totally out of touch loon who should never be in charge of anything. He's in charge and four months later everything's wonderful? As if. And then, just to make sure we really get angry, he promotes Carrie - that idiot who has been so incompetent her own colleague shot her to stop her from messing up. Who is also about to go on maternity leave. You don't have to believe in sexism to know that that is the most unlikely ending possible. 

I'm gutted. Gutted that Brody won't be back, that Carrie isn't going to play happy families and that we'll probably see more of Dana in season four in a delayed reaction to her dad's demise. I would have preferred season 3 to go slower, have Brody found earlier, and play out his/Javadi's plans over the course of a few episodes. 

There are so many bits of the puzzle of season 3 that feel either pointless or not tied up, too. I'll be watching next season, but only to see whether I'm right about Saul and whether Quinn gets to be on screen more. In losing Brody, it's lost a lot of its magic. RIP. 


The decline of mags... and the one I can't put down

Posted by Judy Johnson On Sunday, 15 September 2013 21:21 0 comments
Last weekend I sat curled up on the sofa for two hours, devouring Red magazine from cover to cover. Including their Twitter section in which my tweet praising Rosie Green's column was included - and it's not the first time my comments have been featured.

I'm beginning to feel like a bit of a Red mag groupie, truth be told. Since reading my first issue I have tweeted through it, Instagrammed my favourite quotes and shoots and generally overshared my adoration for it to anyone who'll listen. But as a writer, and as a reader, I think it's good to share praise of what is the downward spiralling mag industry. Though the fact it's SO worth commenting on is perhaps most telling of all; before the Internet would we have been as complimentary when discovering a good read? I'd argue not.

The ABC figures recently revealed the stark truth of today's print media; most mags are plummeting, most surprisingly including the likes of Company who have had massive design and content overhauls. Though actually, I'm one of the readers who has abandoned them; an unread pile of subscription copies leading me to guiltily cancelling because their new web and blog-friendly content didn't feel like anything I would miss if I just, say, went on their site.

Red, if I can act as a groupie again, is different. I don't care much for their website; it doesn't grab me but to be honest, none of the mag sites do. But the magazine is packed full of writers I respect, whether I've read them before or not; it has well written, lengthy features on subjects I am interested in and have to mark with post-its to make sure I look up a site, a book, a writer when I'm done. It has interesting cover girls and plenty of humour; it doesn't assume you have babies but it also doesn't talk to you, Single Woman, in a way that suggests you are either madly career driven or desperate for a man. It assumes, without pretentiousness or patronisation, that we can and should have it all.

And it's for these reasons that I don't think the mag industry will disappear. Those two hours were the most calm I'd been all week; it felt indulgent but was also inspiring, I learned, I enjoyed it, and best of all it wasn't on a screen. Yes, other people will want different things from a mag - I know smart businesswomen who love their Grazia fix and I know journalists who will always look to Vogue as their bible - but that's why I think a lot of the mags out there can survive.

From the Internet, I want niche destinations - like the site I work for where health and beauty is our expertise - because if I'm going to read something short and fast I only want to read from the experts. Who has time to filter (Google) through them all? That's why mag sites have never really captured me; there's too much being covered and not in a particularly good way. There's often far more celeb content than is in print (I'm not a fan) and there's rarely thoughtful, inspiring content.

The numbers obviously disagree with me but though I think some will inevitably fail, the success stories, I hope, will be the likes of Red who understand their changing reader in the era of the internet, careers, feminism and general life today, but who don't change what ultimately they always stood for: good writing and engaging content. That's all we really want, no matter where we read. 

Specs appeal... or not

Posted by Judy Johnson On Wednesday, 4 September 2013 20:56 1 comments
Just because.
From www.troll.me
I had a thought the other day: what must it be like to be able to see in the shower? I can't remember the last time I looked down at my toes in there and could see them. All I see is a peachy blur, which makes it particularly awkward/scary when you've heard something drop and you're blatantly about to step on a razor.

People don't really talk about eyesight. I realised this when I was looking online for fashion trends of glasses in the hope I would find some inspiration for my next overdue prescription upgrade. I couldn't find anything, save for a few advertorials claiming a hideous colourful tortoiseshell was all the rage for this season (with no catwalk pics to back it up, obviously).

I would do anything to have laser eye surgery. To not have a semi permanent dent on my nose from wearing glasses almost 24/7. To not have to poke my fingers in my eye whenever I'm going out for the night; to not have to awkwardly tell a guy the first time he stays over that, er, I can't see properly the next day without these things on my face.

Sadly I can't have it yet, as my optician bragged to me last time I saw him as if he had won a game. You have to wait for your eyes to stop going more blind you see, and mine just won't stop. 'Without changing your ways, you'll never be able to have it done,' the barely-out-of-school guy quipped. 'You'll have to stop working at a computer. And you don't want them done after you pass 30 as you won't get your money's worth - at 40 they'll go downhill again.'

Great. Thanks, eyesight's answer to the Grim Reaper. Just what every 27 year old wants to hear. There goes my hope of ever snorkelling and being able to see the fish. There goes any hope of wearing decent sunglasses ever again, and there goes my bank balance as I buy yet another pair of overpriced frames that in six months I won't like... Still. I hate feet. Seeing my toes isn't *that* important, is it?

In which case, if anyone can point me towards some nice frames, let me know... 

If you wannabe my lover, you gotta get with my friends...

Posted by Judy Johnson On Thursday, 29 August 2013 22:01 0 comments
OK, that's the cheesiest title I've ever written but when else can you quote Spice Girls? Not often enough, if you ask me... 

Anyway. I've always said that not only can you judge a guy by his friends, but that my friends would have to like anyone I see too, and it seems I'm not on my own; a recent survey by dating site My Single Friend revealed 86% of us think it's important our mates get on with our dates. 

With that in mind, MSF are taking the idea offline with their new events, 'Date My Single Friend' which allow singles to take along a wingman to a speed dating-like night out. Instead of awkward one-on-one conversations, two pairs of friends are at each table and so your mate can help you find Mr or Mrs Right. 

As someone who loathes dates (it's not so much butterflies, more oh-god-I-might-puke) this is music to my ears and, I think, a great idea. The thought of sitting with three other people, one of which you're finding out if you like, is not scary, not intimidating and pretty much sounds like a (successful) night down the pub. I'm sold. 

So, a couple of months after I swore off online dating, I've now cautiously headed back to the first site I ever tried for online dating: MSF. 

The concept of the site makes sense and actually is different from the rest; you can't have a profile until a friend describes you, and this description sits on your profile alongside your response. It's a nice idea because it's pretty hard to sell yourself to potential dates whereas good friends, I've found, are more than happy to do it for you (and it's really weird to see yourself through their eyes). Plus, when reading up on the men on there, it's really interesting to see what their mates say compared to what they say about themselves (sidenote: any guy who then just writes 'Cheers' on their profile is a muppet). 

So far, so not sure - there seem to be a LOT of men on there compared to the sites I was on before but I've only had one or two odd-sounding guys contact me and haven't paid up as yet to see what the message says (why bother unless I like their profile...?). We'll see - but I'm interested, which is more than can be said for last time...

Keep an eye out for the Date My Single Friend events - dates TBC


Babies: a woman's right to choose...

Posted by Judy Johnson On Tuesday, 20 August 2013 14:10 1 comments
Today I watched two women sit with Kate Garraway to debate whether it was selfish for a woman to choose not to have children. Apparently having your own life that doesn't involve squeezing out some sprogs and wiping up after them for 18 years is something to be ashamed of. 

It amazes me that this is even a question in today's society. Just as with the question of 'should gay people be allowed to marry' and such like, I don't understand why we care quite so much about other people's choices. So long as their choices aren't, say, to murder someone, then why do we need to debate it? I don't know about you but I'm far too busy getting through my own life to worry about whether a woman has six kids or jet sets around the world on her tod (and personally, I know which one would be more annoying on an aeroplane).

I think Daybreak (and others) needs to wake up and smell 2013. In my generation choice is the order of the day - thank god. Call it feminism, call it whatever you like but the point is women can almost do what they like these days - they just can't seem to do it without judgement. Have a baby too old, you're deemed selfish. Have one too young and you're immature and probably scrounging off benefits. Don't have one at all and you get the pity head tilt and idiots on Daybreak whose only argument for saying you simply must have kids or else miss out is because 'It's just an amazing experience'. 

Well you know what? People say that about skydiving. People say it about holding a tarantula. People say it about eating a spicy curry. Not everyone likes to do those and nor should they have to just to make society shut up and think they're a good, well rounded person who has lived their life to the full. People are fulfilled by different things and having kids shouldn't have to be an opt-out option. 

I probably sound like I am one of the children-hating (because clearly if you don't have children or want them in your future, you MUST have evil witch-like thoughts towards them) independent women that society so fears. Actually, I'm not sure what I am yet. The thought of kids neither appeals to nor disgusts me but I know for certain I'm not ready for them and am also somewhat missing one of the ingredients considering I'm single, so this works out rather well. Unless you take society's view that is, in which case I might never experience life to the full if I choose the wrong option. Society, frankly, should mind its own business. 

Twitter: where is the love?

Posted by Judy Johnson On Wednesday, 7 August 2013 21:46 0 comments
Pic from http://icanhas.cheezburger.com/ 
We all know I am a self-confessed Twitter addict. It's the first thing I check in the morning, the last thing I look at before bedtime, it's where I go when I'm sad, when I'm happy, when I can't sleep, when I need to SHOUT SOMETHING IN CAPITALS to vent frustration. But recently it's turned into some kind of playground where anyone who's anyone is looking for a fight.

And when I say playground I mean full on, bitchy little kids' playground. Like primary school stuff. Attention seeking, bickering and - much worse - bullying; not to mention the far more serious and vile threatening behaviour that led to the police getting involved. Let's not go there.

It's not that this stuff shouldn't be talked about. It's not that this stuff shouldn't get us #ShoutingBack and shutting down those 'trolls' (worst term ever, trivialises the whole thing… sigh) when they act up but can we please, maybe, at some point, give it a rest? Every day it feels like someone's got their pitchfork ready to do battle and is just waiting for something to leap on. Anybody mention feminism? YELL AT THEM. Someone mention interns? YELL AT THEM. Journalist say the word 'blog'? YELL AT THEM. Someone say they like the Blurred Lines song? YELL AT THEM. And repeat. This is what Twitter's like at the moment and it's really bloody boring. Enough of the drama. Drama is for Facebook.

So instead, I've devised a list of the stuff we should go back to that Twitter is good at:

  • LOL cats
  • Louis Walsh jokes (at him, not with him)
  • Tranzizzling shizzle on Gizoogle and sharing dem crazy ass shizzle
  • Telling Katie Hopkins to shut up, Holly Willoughby style
  • Praising Willoughby's boobs in that dress
  • More cats
  • Cats dressed as sharks on hoovers
  • Drunk tweeting emotional rubbish 
  • Telling commuters how to commute like a good commuter, just like you
  • Asking inane questions that Google was actually built for 
  • Posting photos of meals you didn't even make yourself
  • Friends quotes
  • Tweeting through <insert any TV programme here> and spoiling it for anyone who's planning on watching on +1
  • Retweeting a picture of Kate Middleton holding a baby just in case the other million RTs didn't get through
  • Ripping X Factor contestants to shreds (metaphorically speaking, obviously) then doing it all again a week later
  • Complaining about the Daily Mail
  • Breaking news that's already been broken a gazillion times

I could go on. Twitter used to be a happy place full of distraction and fun and in-jokes against those people who think Facebook is the best thing on the internet and that selfies are what Instagram was built for. We need to get back to that brilliant, sarcastic, hilarious place that Twitter used to be.

Until then, I'll rely on Tweetdeck and my list of 'friends' aka 'nice people who don't argue with power users and always make me laugh' to keep me sane. 


Books: The Millennium series by Stieg Larsson

Posted by Judy Johnson On Thursday, 25 July 2013 21:42 0 comments
There really is nothing better, I think, than discovering an incredible writer who not only has a great way with words and a unique way of creating intriguing characters, but is also very, very smart. A lot of the books I've read (and loved) have not necessarily been intelligent works of fiction; more just very entertaining reads. But having just read Stieg Larsson's Millennium series I can happily say they're the smartest novels I've read in years. 

I rarely finish a book and a) feel absolutely gutted that there aren't more and b) start researching the author, but that's what I did after finishing The Girl Who Kicked The Hornets' Nest. It's not that the ending isn't final enough - the books could easily stop there, it had a great finale - but that I'm not quite ready to say goodbye to those characters just yet. Looking up the author and his history, I'm now even more saddened by it as the man behind the books sounds a lot like Blomkvist, the lead male character.

Plots like this one don't come around often; Larsson was an absolute genius and if it's true that there are two more possible books (it seems he'd intended to write ten before he died - all for fun, too) then I can only hope that his widow (though they never married) manages to fill in the blanks in a way he would have wanted and gets them published. If not, then I'll be satisfied with re-reading the trilogy over and over. Lisbeth Salander is one hell of a heroine and even when you know how it ends, the story still grips you every step of the way. 

The man has been labelled an extremist and a feminist; all I can say is he's one of the best writers I've ever come across. 


Frogs and flaws

Posted by Judy Johnson On Sunday, 23 June 2013 18:29 0 comments
Image from Google
We single folk know that to find Mr Perfect we have to meet a few Mr Imperfects along the way (note to couples - it would be nice if you realised this too and stopped giving us a hard time for not finding him yet). But the problem with this, as I have recently discovered, is an issue of self esteem. 

First, you have to feel good enough about yourself to put yourself out there and date in the first place - amazingly, I got to this point again recently and managed to throw myself into dateland yet again. So far, so good. 

But then come the frogs. They're not necessarily bad - hell, you might even like them - but when they don't like you back, or they're not right, there comes a dent in your self esteem that just keeps getting bigger. Every man's failure to text back, every date that ends just a little too soon, every man that doesn't even attempt to flirt with you, hacks away at your already wavering sense of self worth and attractiveness until at some point it's almost non existent. 

After every date that hasn't gone quite as expected, I've been left wondering why… which I know is the most dangerous question in singledom, but it's inevitable. Why wasn't he interested? Why can't I just meet someone I click with? Why was he in such a hurry to leave? Why is this so hard? And then come the answers; the little things you don't like about yourself, that you always hope others won't notice, the things that niggle at you because all your friends seem flawless while you're walking around as one giant flaw. WOE IS ME. 

Obviously, eventually you realise you shouldn't give a crap because they're all Mr Wrong, but still, the damage is done and those dents are there. I've found myself comparing everything I hate about me to everything I love about my friends (and maybe Beyonce, who would totally be my BFF if only she knew I existed) and it's not a good feeling. 

There are only so many rejections a girl can take before it's time to hang up the dating shoes and go frogless for a while - something I'm currently trying. And given that my favourite dating site, Guardian Soulmates, has just inexplicably (literally - no email to notify users) changed its rules so that now to view photos and messages you have to pay up, it couldn't be a better time to give up and get back to enjoying life as a single girl. 

Yes, I'm sad at the constant wedding invitations that make me feel that much more alone; yes, I miss the fun of flirting - but dating? Dating is overrated. Dating involves far too many nerves, far too many hours wasted getting to know someone who doesn't want to know you, and far too many pitying messages from friends who are quick to ask how it went. For now, I'm just me. And while that might not be enough for the men I keep meeting and failing to impress, it's enough for me. 

A quick note about beauty...

Posted by Judy Johnson On Saturday, 22 June 2013 18:06 0 comments
This blog is still a work in progress in that I'm still deciding just what I want to do with it (it's not like it's been live for years or anything) - and so at the moment it's a bit of everything. 

However, I am feeling like it should be more personal, hence all those recent posts about dating, ranting and everything in between. What I have been neglecting is the beauty side - but given that most of my beauty posts are about sensitive skin, I feel these are better left to my new sensitive skin column over at Get the Gloss. There I get to talk to experts, try new treatments and products and pretty much share my ups and downs with skincare in far more detail! 

That's not to say beauty won't pop up here every so often... but a heads up that more rants about life in my twenties might be coming your way.


Dating and the rise of the food snob

Posted by Judy Johnson On Tuesday, 18 June 2013 23:08 0 comments

Things I don't understand about dating number one (billion): why do dating sites want to know what kind of food I like? It's been a question on every site I've joined (there's been a few) and I have still not worked out how it helps me find a date... 

Do I care if a man eats Indian food and I don't? Do I need to know if his favourite meal is a roast dinner? I couldn't care less. We live in a century where it's ok for a woman to order different food to a man. Where it's quite easy (if, maybe, a tiny bit more expensive) to cook two different dinners in the same sitting. I'm sure, just because I don't like peanut butter and he does, that doesn't mean we won't find a compromise on say, pizza. And even if we didn't… what the hell does it matter? So long as we agree on something like politics, morals, sense of humour then I'll be happy. 

That said, I do think my choices can put someone off. On a recent date in which I still couldn't tell how well it was going, the subject of food came up. First, I hate eating on a date; it's awkward and unnecessary. I'll inevitably spill something or choke on something, or like I did at a friend's house when I was about 7, cut into a rather well cooked piece of ketchup-covered sausage and see it fling its way across the floor onto the pristine white carpet in front of horrified eyes. Yeah, that happened. Second, if it's a snack and we are sharing, I hate it when I have to turn down a guy's suggestion of 'spicy [insert any kind of food here]'. I have to explain that I cannot under any circumstances eat chilli and I hate spicy food. This exact conversation happened on said occasion and by the look on my date's face I may as well have said I like to punch kittens for fun. What is it with men and spice?

This food obsession never used to be an issue. If my mum and dad (who are soon to celebrate 40 years of marriage) had attempted to bond over a love of food, his hatred of anything nutty and her love of chocolate covered Brazil nuts would have been a deal breaker. I appreciate that men are far more into cooking now than they were in my mum's day (thank goodness, as I can't cook) but the rise of the ever snobby foodie thanks to endless social sharing of food alongside other factors means they are now very hard to please. I can't stand a food snob. I guess it's just a matter of taste… and they should put *that* in their little online forms. 
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