One of the reasons I chose to go freelance was that I wanted to spend more time on personal projects. Now, after over a year of late nights, index cards, playtests and paragraphs, my friend Joe and I have formally announced our upcoming tabletop RPG Kay Pacha.
As is the case for most of my generation, the films of Bill Murray have been a lifelong constant; with me every faltering step of the way. As a child, I watched my family’s two Ghostbusters VHS tapes to the point of abuse. Groundhog day introduced me to the very idea of black comedy, and I will never forget struggling to stop my chair shaking during the hilarious flower smashing scene from Caddyshack on an overnight flight.
Bill Murray is an icon and, at the age of 25, I can honestly say he scares the everliving shit out of me.
There have been so many articles, pictures and anecdotes doing the rounds lately about Bill Murray’s quixotic new interest in social anthropology - by which I mean he turns up to house parties in Glasgow and does the dishes. He joins college students for karaoke parties. He floats in the back of pictures taken on aeroplanes. He’s even accused of stealing fries from people at Wendy’s - all of it accompanied by the (let’s face it, pretty menacing) catchphrase “no one will ever believe you.”
The stories are all amusing enough but the thought of ever actually meeting Bill Murray - no matter how well documented it may be - honestly scares me senseless, because he’s right. Nobody would ever believe me. I’m sure I could scarcely believe it myself even while it happened, and that’s the problem.
The common thread in all these stories is that Bill Murray is doing the unexpected. Hell, it’s unexpected enough to be meeting Bill Murray in the first place, and he clearly knows it. Murray seems to delight in taking the sense of rarity that comes with being in the presence of a person he has literally never not been, then running with it as far as humanly possible.
Ordinarily, when meeting a fan, one might expect a renowned actor to be polite but restrained; receptive without inviting further imposition on their time. We want to walk away thinking how nice they were because they didn’t make us feel too guilty about approaching them in the first place.
The way Bill Murray plays it, he’s the imposing one. Metering that imposition is your responsibility. He seems determined to steamroll the boundaries of social normality and his test subjects seem overjoyed to let him, simply because he is.
'Fair play to the guy, he's earned it' you might think, which is a perfectly reasonable argument. After decades of being in the limelight, why shouldn't Bill Murray do whatever the hell he wants when he meets a stranger? Why should it trouble me?
The simple answer is this: because one day I might be that stranger, and that makes me feel very, very uneasy.
Note: I wrote this shortly before bed time, then had a nightmare during which Bill Murray accosted me in an airport, saying “it’s you, Chiodini. It’s your turn.” He then handed me an envelope and demanded I get on a plane with him. This is exactly the kind of shit I’m talking about.
This is a bittersweet post to write, so I will try and keep it brief.
When I first joined GameSpot back in May 2011, there were many things I had yet to experience. I didn’t have a beard, I’d never been to E3, and I’d never seen Seb Ford with his shirt off.
Needless to say, a lot has changed.
My time at GameSpot has brought a lot of change into my life. After three years of working alongside some truly excellent (and in many cases inspiring) people, I am a far better journalist, a more confident individual, and definitely more of a handful than I was at the start.
All good things, however, must come to an end. While I enjoy the work I do, it’s the same work I’ve been doing for the last six years, and it’s time for something new. I need to stretch myself again, so I am leaving my full time position at GameSpot in order to pursue a freelance career. My last day in the office will be the 12th of February.
Happily I will still be producing Feedbackula for GameSpot, but (with luck) I should also start popping up in other places around the internet.
As for my plans, I have a few things in the pipeline - If you want to follow my progress on this frankly terrifying new journey, my twitter is @johnneh, and you can find me on tumblr at johnnyohnny.tumblr.com (tumblr specific edit: you probably already knew that).
No matter what happens, more than anything I’m grateful for having been given the chance to do some really exciting things, some really dumb things, and all the things in between.