Tag Archives: lizard men

Goonreads Horror Short Story Competition

Well, it’s September. Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness, as Keats would have it, and season of ‘where the fuck did the rest of the year go?’ to those of us with slightly less charming vocabularies.

The hot hell-breath of NaNoWriMo may already be wafting down the back of your neck, whispering sick, wrong, dirty things – “It’s only fifty thousand words in a month,” or “You only have two kids and a full time job,” or “No, this year I’ll revise that mess. I will.”

And you hmm and haa but deep down you know you want it. You know that come November 1st you’re going to be right where you always are – sugar-high, keyboard bound and up past your bedtime.

But, say you want to ease yourself into it this year? After all, marathon runners don’t go into this thing cold. And lucky old you – Goonreads are having a short story competition that you can enter now simply by registering at the site.

Yes, it’s been a year since the beginning of Goonreads, a much smaller and altogether more…well…goony cousin of Goodreads. Those who are familiar with SomethingAwful will know what I mean by ‘goony’ – gooniness works on a sliding scale, from ‘slightly goony’ all the way up to ‘goony as gently caress’.

Fabulous Prizes!

Yes, there are prizes! The winner will receive a $50 Amazon gift certificate, to be spent on werewolf porn, zombie novels or books whose covers shamelessly abuse the Bleeding Cowboy font and then some; whatever floats your boat, you weirdo.

The Contest

The Prompts.

You have until October 5th to take these prompts and construct your tale of terror.

Register at Goonreads

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How To See Ghosts

Ghosts – what are they? Where do they come from? We may never know.

What we do know is that ghosts are a cheap and interesting source of entertainment and a good way of livening up any slumber party. The main problem with ghosts is that they tend to be shy. It’s like they just don’t want to be photographed, documented or fiddled about with in any way shape or form.

You have to be bold with ghosts – they’re timid. Bigfoot timid. If they were any more timid they’d be hanging out in Loch Ness, pretending to be an extinct marine reptile with an astounding gift for avoiding sonar.

Loch Ness monster

Hello.

So, allow me to present my simple five step guide to persuading the ghosts in your life to abandon their natural reticence and start doing proper ghost stuff, like banging on walls, setting fire to ouija boards, levitating the kids and killing your sleazy stockbroker boyfriend. (Okay, they might not do the last one – I can’t promise results on any of the below, so you might have to just dump him.) Continue reading

The Madness of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Do not sneer at the humble beginnings, the heaving table or the flying tambourine, however much such phenomena may have been abused or simulated, but remember that a falling apple taught us gravity, a boiling kettle brought us the steam engine, and the twitching leg of a frog opened up the train of thought and experiment which gave us electricity. So the lowly manifestations of Hydesville have ripened into results which have engaged the finest group of intellects in this country during the last twenty years, and which are destined, in my opinion, to bring about far the greatest development of human experience which the world has ever seen.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, “The New Revelation.”

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle needs no introduction. Over eighty years after his death, this big, Melchett-moustached Victorian still dominates bestseller lists all over the world.

I owe Doyle more than a nod as an inspiration. In fact it was Doyle’s frequent usage of the term ‘Summerland’ that gave me a title for this book. ‘Summerland’ was first coined by a self-styled ‘seer’ named Andrew Jackson Davis, and while Doyle later gently disparaged Davis’ autobiography as ‘being disfigured with too many long words’, he adopted Davis’ term for the afterlife and brought it into common usage among spiritualists.

‘Summerland’ spoke of eternal youth and bliss and lent weight to the gooey, joyful pronouncements of séance visitors. It seems that nobody ever went to a séance to discover that their dead relatives were in Hell, having their pubic hairs removed one by one by demons wielding red hot tweezers.

The trouble with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was that he would believe anything. Did you ever do that magic trick where you slide your thumb in such a way that it looks like you’ve cut your thumb in two? Remember that one? When Harry Houdini performed this schoolboy trick to amuse his friend, Sir Arthur thought Houdini had genuinely detatched his thumb. When Lady Jean Doyle claimed to be psychic, her husband didn’t question her sanity for a second and in fact a made ‘a trusted family friend’ of his wife’s spirit guide. By the early 1920s most Sherlock Holmes fans were quietly dying of vicarious shame, and the publication of The Coming Of The Fairies only cemented the widely whispered opinion that poor Sir Arthur had finally gone bye-byes.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s spiritualist and occult works are astoundingly silly books. Don’t take my word for it – read them if you can. They’re available on Project Gutenberg. They’re silly enough to raise Graham Chapman from the grave, purely for the purposes of him putting on his Colonel’s uniform and declaring them too silly to continue.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s two volume History of Spiritualism is a series of unsubstantiated puff pieces on mediums such as Eusapia Palladino, Florence Cook and high octane super-grifter Daniel Dunglas Home, all of whom were exposed as frauds on more than one occasion in their respective careers. The quote above, from The New Revelation, pretty much sums up the tone of Doyle’s spiritualist tracts – polemic, evangelical and entirely credulous. In The Vital Message he nailed his theses firmly to the door and proclaimed spiritualism to be the new way to Christ.

In the mindboggling Pheneas Speaks Doyle recorded conversations with spirits. Pheneas was the name the Doyles gave to Lady Doyle’s ‘control spirit’, an Arabian high priest who had allegedly lived in Ur before the time of Abraham. By the early 1920s Pheneas had taken up residence in Lady Jean’s head and was prophecying the end of the world, a sort of Spiritualist Rapture in which the true believers would be saved and sceptics, scoffers and opponents of spiritualism would suffer and perish. This was supposed to happen around about 1925, so you can work out for yourself how much of that revelation turned out to be true.

Further embarrassment came when the Cottingley photographs led Sir Arthur to publicly proclaim that he believed in fairies, and everyone died a little inside.

So what on earth happened? How did one of the most beloved and respected authors of rational detective fiction suddenly go full on David Icke and start babbling feverishly about the ‘little folk’? Continue reading

I’m Just Wild About Harry

Hello again my lambkins – I must apologise in advance for not offering up any ritual sacrifices of Fifty Shades of Grey, and I’m afraid I can’t find Days of Thunder on either Netflix or LoveFilm. I’ve come to the point where I have to finish this book or die in the process, and death is just not an option right now. You know how I said it’s taken eighteen months, which is as long as it takes to make two people? Well, just to rub it in, a friend’s daughter has produced person no. 2 (6lbs 12oz.) and I’ve realised it’s almost a year since I commissioned the  cover art from the excellent Delilah Des Anges (Sorry Del – I promise people will see your artwork very soon.)

So I suppose, after all this fannying about, I should probably give people at least a vague idea of what I’ve been up to. I’m usually very reticent about my own writing, because I’ve got a bad habit of losing interest in stories as soon as I’ve told them, so I have to keep the telling to myself and on paper until it is well and truly told. Enthusiasm is one of the hardest things to sustain as a writer and mine burns off like morning fog the second I open my mouth. It’s very annoying.

But, this bugger is nearly there – so nearly there that I can post a small nibble of it here. Continue reading

Memento Mori

It must be some kind of law of the universe that interesting things happen when you have the least amount of time to devote to them. It’s taken me eighteen months to get this book even close to finished – that’s twice the time it takes to make a person. (Well, I say ‘make’ – after nine months the fundamental materials are in place but there’s a reason we don’t let them vote until they’re eighteen.) I started it in March 2011, a year which Charlie Brooker aptly described as a sort of end of season finale for the human race. Everything was interesting in 2011, interesting in the Chinese curse sense of the word. There was so much to read, so much to learn and I had absolutely no time to do it, so mostly I had to content myself with a brief ‘argh’ at the headlines and carry on – difficult when every new edition was a fresh cherry on the Schadenfreude sundae as that evil old prick Rupert Murdoch finally got a tiny fraction of what had been coming to him for years.

2012 was bound to be interesting from my point of view. The Diamond Jubilee left me cold – vaguely interesting from a historical trivia point of view but not so interesting that they had to dye Mr. Kiplings’ French Fancies red, white and blue. They did that, you know. It wasn’t right. There’s something deeply unsettling about bright red icing. Say what you like about blue cakes – they’re not right, but they know they’re not right and they don’t give a fuck. There’s something endearing about the don’t give a fuckness of blue icing. But blood-red?

You know that little bobble of buttercream that sits under the icing at the top of a French Fancy? Isn’t that the best part – that slightly salty bubble of sweet, gooey buttercream? I love that. I always save that until last. Only with the red icing the colouring leaked into the buttercream and turned it a sort of pale, oozy yellow. Not the kind of colour that looks good next to red. It tasted the same but looked like an operation, which is not the kind of thing you want to be thinking about when you’re enjoying a nice cake.

So yes – there was that. With the red, white and blue colouring Mr. Kipling’s Fancies may have been rendered inadvertently Frencher than they’d ever been, but it was just so wrong. Mr. Kipling’s French Fancies are pink, yellow and brown – everyone knows that.

Sorry, yes – where was I? Interesting things. I always knew it was going to be an addictively interesting year because you Americans are having another one of those election things. (Has it really been four years?)

I have a thing about American elections. Odi et amo, excrucior. It hurts like hell because American politics sets the tone for politics everywhere else. Many of the modern techniques of spin originated in America – inane buzzwords and doublespeak designed to win elections and very little else. When American media-wizards talk about ‘controlling the narrative’ you can bet David Cameron’s new pet press-weasel will start spouting the same guff in the next five minutes.

Spin is a terrible thing and yet like most terrible things it is oddly fascinating. The current narrative (ugh) being followed by the Republican Party is that Romney’s veep-pick Paul Ryan is some kind of muscle bound intellectual powerhouse, a bootstrapped Übermensch who is going to utterly kerb-stomp senile old socialist cry-baby Joe Biden. One wonders if the press-creatures have been up too long and too late reading Ryan’s favourite Ayn Rand.

Like most Randroids, Ryan is probably no brighter than he needs to be, which is to say not-very-bright-at-all. All you need to understand Ayn Rand’s ‘philosophy’ is an unhealthy persistence of the kind of solipsism that most people have grown out of by the age of twenty-one, and a very strong stomach to cope with some of the ugliest prose ever committed to print.

In reality, Ryan is little more than a half-bright wonk with better than average muscle tone. Joe Biden, far from being the soppy left-wing caricature ripped from the pages of Atlas Shrugged, is a highly experienced veteran, a senior senator who was one of the youngest ever elected to the US senate.

Certainly, it’s fun to think of Grandpa Joe as that chatty old relative who can recite the train time tables from memory and frequently does so, when he’s not showing you pictures of his grandchildren. I think it’s partly because he’s such a contrast to the previous Vice President. After eight years of Darth Cheney, a literally heartless cyborg who forced a man to apologise for being shot in the face, Joe Biden comes across as a gaffe-prone and occasionally foul-mouthed Mr. Rogers.

This is exactly why Joe Biden, at his best, could eat Paul Ryan for breakfast. Biden’s emotional intelligence must be off the charts. I will never forget that moment in the infamous Palin debate when Biden remembered how it felt to be a single father after the death of his first wife and baby daughter. Palin’s biggest strengths, her handlers felt, were that she was an aw-shucks, blue-collar hockey mom, talking points she had no difficulty repeating. She was actually doing a pretty good job at hammering home her image, when a question prompted Joe Biden to remember the car accident that left him a widower, and put one of his children in the ground and another on the critical list.

In a handful of sentences Joe Biden managed to sketch the painful days in intensive care, the poverty that followed when charged with the indignity of medical bills, the intense kitchen table discussions with the father-in-law about how he would have to go and take the children somewhere where he could find work. Palin’s blue-collar mom schtick had never looked hollower – all she did was chirp about it. Biden had lived it, suffered it, and like most people, knew that parenthood was not all sunshine and rainbows.

It was a startling moment. Most politicians spend so much time pretending to be human that the public (and perhaps they themselves) forget that they really are human. We need that Roman chap back – you know the one who used to ride behind the Emperor in triumphal parades, whispering ‘You are yet mortal’ in the Imperial lughole? Him. If you want to create jobs you could do a lot worse than creating his job anew. There are plenty of ears that would benefit from such whisperings, not least Paul Ryan’s if he’s going to attempt to look like an actual person while standing next to Joe Biden.

There’s a Personhood Amendment that might actually stand a chance of doing these fuckers some good.

Bartender, get me a Sex On The Beach with a Greasy Gigolo chaser

I watched Cocktail last night. I’m not sure why I did this. I think it was a sort of morbid curiosity, since somehow I’d never seen it before. The poster sticks out in my memory – Tom Cruise and his eyebrow situation smouldering in front of a tacky pink neon sign – sort of one of those background images of puberty, but he never did anything for me, even in the eye of the hormone storm. I was busy with other stuff – probably memorising the entire screenplay of The Lost Boys, or re-reading the sleeve notes to Appetite For Destruction and sighing a lot.

It’s entirely likely that early exposure to the mysteries of whatever was writhing around in Axl Rose’s leather pants ruined me for pre-packaged pretties like Tom Cruise. Bad boys are exciting when you’re thirteen years old and let’s face it, Guns N’ Roses were quite bad. Tom Cruise in a bomber jacket was always going to look a bit vanilla when placed next to four musically talented drug problems and a borderline carcrash who was ironically the only band member who should have been on drugs but wasn’t.

As for films, I remember watching a lot of things I shouldn’t – lots of those cheap, schlocky Eighties horrors that fed off Freddy and Jason and the Evil Dead. Basically the grosser the better. We looked for 18 certificates and lots and lots of gore and sex, so I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised that a bland pretty-people romance about booze and money passed me by.

There are things about the Eighties that I look back at and I still just don’t fucking know. I don’t. I never will. Things like sunglasses with palm tree holograms on the lenses, side ponytails that make you look like you did your hair in the dark, ghastly acid washed jeans so tight that your labia only make cold, brief contact on birthdays and at Christmas, and even then that’s by e-mail and only a round-robin newsletter at that. Why? Why are they back? We just don’t know.

Cocktail is one of those Eighties movies probably in talks for a remake. It’s even more Eighties than Gordon Gekko himself – a banal, backwards Cinderella story about the pointless lives of degenerate shitheads, created for no other reason than to be consumed, en masse and without thought. It’s a McMovie. It’s monstrous. It’s a near perfect masterpiece of horrible.

Here’s how it goes. After unspecified military service which we will hear no more about, Brian (Tom Cruise) goes back to his working class neighbourhood in New York and announces his intention to be a millionaire. He plans to achieve this by putting on a sharp suit and prancing around Wall Street and Madison Avenue with a briefcase in the hope that someone will hire him.

Surprisingly this doesn’t work, because while Brian is certainly enough of a turd to work in advertising or investment banking, he hasn’t undergone the pre-requisite poo polishing process of college. This being the Eighties, he is rejected by way of a montage of people with expensive suits and enormous hair, all mouthing various permutations of ‘fuck off’.

Dejected, Brian slopes into a bar where Bryan Brown is wondering what the pink dancing fuck he’s doing in this movie.

Drinking, as it happens. Bryan Brown is pissed, even by Australian standards. Naturally, the effects of alcohol are never really covered in Cocktail, even though everyone spends much of the movie shitfaced. Nobody wakes up with the DTs or handcuffed to an orang-u-tan on a Boeing bound for Jakarta. There is no mention of beershits, pissing in the gutter, passing out in phone boxes or being thrown out of taxis because the driver doesn’t trust you to keep the nasty inside your body. Bryan Brown even does a nosedive down a set of subway stairs that would just about finish off an Exorcist and comes out unscathed and giggling. One drunk girl delicately mentions that she might be about to ‘throw up’ but there are none of those almighty drunken spews where your entire head feels like some kind of gross ornamental fountain, because you swear there is liquid exploding out of every single hole. Even out of your ears.

Anyway, Brian and Bryan hit it off wonderfully, because they are both twats. Bryan is a twat because he’s a foolish drunk who spouts home-made pseudophilosophical bullshit between cigarettes. Brian is an even bigger twat because he doesn’t realise that Bryan is a foolish drunk who spouts home-made pseudophilosophical bullshit between cigarettes. Brian is also addicted to motivational books about positive thinking, raising him up to magnificent and transcendant levels of stupidity far above poor mediocre Bryan and his tired pub-bore brain-sewage.

The Brians do a lot of hurling bottles of alcohol about and Tom Cruise gets rightly kicked out of business school for barfing really hackneyed dialogue in his instructor’s face. (“You’re only here because you can’t hack it in the real world.”) Then he demonstrates his feminist credentials by calling a waitress a bitch and when he apologises she winks at him and says it’s fine and dandy, she is a bitch. So that’s okay then.

Next thing, after doing the Hippy Hippy Shake and generally making an absolute mess behind the bar, the Brians go on to work in a yuppie bar designed to look like a panopticon prison. A pigfaced cockbite in a pin-stripe suit announces himself as the world’s first yuppie poet and gurps out some doggerel about how money is great. You can tell it’s the Eighties because nobody attempts to beat him to death.

Brian then stands up on the bar and starts doing his own poem about cocktails, demonstrating what cocktails were actually for in the Eighties – which was having silly/suggestive names so that you could say “I’m having an Orgasm!” and everyone would laugh. Oh, how they would laugh, until they retched and pounded the floor with their fists. Every time. Honestly. That’s how it was. It. Never. Got. Old. And nobody ever wanted to kill themselves, even if it was the thousandth time they’d heard the joke that evening.

God, the Eighties sucked.

Brian starts dating Cristal from Showgirls, who is beautiful and probably smells of doggie chow and lists her interests as ‘Having nice tits’, but Bryan makes a move on her to prove some kind of point because she fucked on a first date. The Brians hit each other for a bit and then Brian resigns and goes on down to Kokomo, flies down fast and then apparently takes it slow, which is surprising because three years go by in a blink at this point. Probably something to do with the Bermuda triangle. Who fucking knows.

Then Brian meets a girl named Jordan when she comes up to the bar and says her friend is passed out on the beach. The friend has been drinking champagne in the sun. Brian hurries to the rescue, which basically involves smiling and flirting with Jordan over the dessicated body of her unconscious friend. The dickhead didn’t think to bring any water with him, did he?

But again, this is a movie that exists in direct defiance of reality and the friend, now partially mummified, is packed into the back of an ambulance so that Jordan and Brian can eyefuck one another over daquiris.

Then Bryan turns up. Brian has completely forgiven Bryan for macking on Cristal Connors all those three years ago. Don’t know why. I’m guessing Bryan probably proved the point that Cristal was a whore or something, because she did it on a first date. Bryan, of course, is not a whore, even though he is now married to a filthy rich socialite looking for a novel new way to piss off Daddy.

Brian and Jordan then fall in love, by way of a montage, where they ride horses on the beach, travel on buses and wander through Jamaican towns that seem to contain very few actual Jamaicans, save one urgently skanking guy with waist length dreadlocks.

Jordan is an artist, it seems. She’s not very good. Her picture of Brian looks like the kind of lidless, slow-blinking blepharoplasty casualty that can send David Icke bouncing off the walls for weeks. When Brian complains it looks nothing like him she says it reveals his inner self. Maybe she has a point.

It doesn’t seem to bother her that his inner self looks like an even wider-eyed version of Bruce Jenner because she takes off her swimsuit and they have boring, soft-focus sex first in a waterfall and then by a campfire. Afterwards, on the beach, she says “I could stay here forever,” which was a hoary old fuck-scene cliché twenty five years ago. Actually I think it was a smidge tired back when they invented talkies, but then all of the dialogue in this film smells.

They have a little back and forth about living on the beach and she says their kids would look cute in dreadlocks. Being white, their children would not look good in dreadlocks. They’d just look like crusties and look completely unfinished without the essential juggler’s clubs and a dog on a string. Brian is obviously really worried about this possibility or realises he’s been rawdogging it this whole time and flips his wig, because it’s about this time that Brian decides to ditch Jordan and become a gigolo on a bet.

No, really. He does that.

Bryan (Who is not a whore.) says that Brian is an idiot because Jordan is obviously poor and Brian should be trying to fuck rich women so they can give him money, which is not whorish at all. Well, maybe a bit whorish. The point is, Bryan just wants to spread the whore around, or something, so he thinks Brian should get in on the whore game.

So, on a fifty dollar bet, Brian hurls himself at a rich woman named Bonnie and gets off with her. Jordan sees him leave with her and promptly leaves the resort, leaving her now rehydrated friend behind to tell Brian that she’s gone.

Instead of chasing after the woman he loves, Brian stays behind with Bonnie and fucks her in the hope that she’ll give him money to open his own bar. You see, he’s not a gross, shallow little gigolo – he’s just a shrewd investor. It’s not dirty or skeezy if you’re a man and you’re doing it in the glorious service of Capitalism.

Bonnie takes Brian back to New York and turns him into a full-fledged pet boy, buying him suits, taking him to galleries and forcing him to drink carrot juice. Brian sulks because she’s not interested in his business ideas, because obviously he’s in business, and not just a dick for hire. He eventually throws a tantrum, puts on a rather nice houndstooth suit and goes to hunt down Jordan.

Jordan dumps two plates of food over his whorish head and tells him to go fuck himself. I like Jordan, even if her drawings are rubbish.

Really rubbish. Her paintings are even worse – like if Thomas Kincade had had a Deviantart. Her ‘studio’ is full of banal Technicolor daubings against which photogenic Brian has a backdrop to confess all. Obviously this is a magical moment for Jordan.

“So…what – you went off with that Bonnie woman because she was rich?”

“No, it wasn’t like that. Bryan bet me fifty bucks that I couldn’t hustle her. And it’s like…I dunno. It was a bet.”

It’s actually like that. At this point I’m hoping Jordan says something along the lines of “Yeah. You’re a fucking child. Bye,” but instead she says “I’m pregnant!” She’s pregnant – from unprotected sex with a near stranger. In 1988.

There was no reason to carry condoms in 1988. None at all. Nuh huh. No big worldwide epidemic of a terrible incurable sexually transmitted disease or anything like that.

Turns out that Jordan is loaded, which is just as well because she’s not exactly blessed with brains to make up for her lack of talent. She’s filthy, dirty, stinking rich and only slumming it as an artist because she had a thirst for knowledge and studied sculpture at St. Martin’s College. I’m rapidly going off her.

Meanwhile, Bryan is miserable as sin because it turns out he knows absolutely fuck all about business and his bar is haemorrhaging money. I don’t know if we’re supposed to be surprised that this dopey drunk bullshitter is a self-styled authority on everything but is actually useless, but I’m guessing yes, since this film has proved mindbuggeringly stupid at every other turn.

Brian drives Bryan’s rich, exhibitionist wife home and slips her the tongue for a good few minutes before saying “No, I just can’t make it with my best friend’s old lady.” He actually had to think about this. Brian is a terrible person.

Meanwhile, Bryan has stopped haemorrhaging money and gone the more traditional route where haemorrhages are concerned. He’s slit his throat with a bottle and is face down in a huge puddle of his own blood, prompting Tom Cruise to do some Proper Acting.

Bryan’s dead and leaves a heartrending but pointless suicide note that contains nothing that advances the plot, such as it is. Brian runs back to Park Lane to tell Jordan that he loves her and is offered ten grand to piss off by her cheap, fat plutocrat father. Jordan turns up just as they’re trying to throw Brian out of the building and pulls the whole O Mio Babino Caro schtick and is cut off without a penny. Aw.

Brian and Jordan get married and Brian opens a bar. Jordan is hugely pregnant and apparently thrilled about bearing the children of a functioning alcoholic. Then Brian puts the dingleberry cherry on the whole shitcake by doing a ‘poem’ about how his son will inherit his business,  but won’t if his son turns out to be a daughter, because girls can’t run bars or something.

Oh, and Jordan’s having twins. That’s the punchline to this whole sorry joke of a film. Ahahah.

Fuck. The. Eighties.

The Power of ‘Meh’ Compels You

I have recently discovered Lovefilm, and I do. Oh God, I do. So last night I settled down to watch The Exorcist.

This old horror classic is pushing forty and looks spectacular for her age, although I had some serious problems with the cut I watched. From what I remembered of The Exorcist, Linda Blair plays the only character who doesn’t smoke like her head is constantly on fire. Everyone else is hitting the ashtrays hard, particularly Chris (Ellen Burstyn) as she becomes increasingly anxious about her daughter’s behaviour. Maybe I’m misremembering, but there’s a particular inadvertant comedy moment when Father Karras runs several laps around a track and stops to spark one up. All that cardio, undone in an instant. May as well do forty five minutes on the treadmill and then inject butter directly into a vein.

Except in this version he doesn’t. Instead he develops a peculiar hand to mouth tic as if he was smoking an invisible cigarette. Even more curiously, Chris appears to have developed an anachronistic e-cig habit.

I’m not even completely sure if they have been snipping away at the smoking scenes, but if they have then that pisses me off more than is strictly reasonable – not because it’s political correctness gone maaaaaaaaaaaaad but because it’s such a fucking insult to the actors’ performance.

One of the many reasons The Exorcist holds up so well is because there just isn’t a bad performance in the whole damn film. It’s a big premise, a big theme, the ultimate Good Vs. Evil showdown. In theory, it’s the kind of theme which more or less invites overacting, yet everyone involved is superbly restrained. Ellen Burstyn manages to convey a world of pain in the way her jaw clenches or her fingers flutter to her lips. The mother-daughter dialogues between her and Linda Blair are tender and astonishingly naturalistic, expertly avoiding the syrupy tone that afflicts so many Hollywood movies whenever a human being under the age of thirteen is on screen. Jason Miller as Father Karras, not even a professional actor, displays naked raw talent and turns in the kind of deep, measured performance that could have turned Pacino green.

And then in the middle of it, you have Linda Blair. Her performance is the thing on which the whole film hangs. And it’s superb. For all she’s vomiting pea soup, masturbating with a crucifix and casting aspersions on people’s mums, she’s still a child – a desperately ill child being devoured from the inside by a demon. There’s a moment before Father Merrin’s death when he’s preparing the holy water and crucifix for another go at the demon and Regan is lying on the bed, green, rotting, demonic to the max, but the sound of her breathing is not the rasp of a demon but the familiar, menthol-scented wheeze of a child with a nasty cold. Absolutely horrifying. This is a girl who can break your heart in two with a snore. She’s just that good.

So if they have been snippy-snippy with the smoking scenes then I’m afraid I’m annoyed. It’s the usual discomfort I feel whenever people attempt revisionism within living memory, combined with irritation that even a frown, a glance, a grimace might be consigned to the cutting room floor because an actor had a cigarette in their mouth. It’s a weird word to use about a movie of which one of the most famous lines is “YOU’RE GOING TO LET JESUS FUCK YOU, FUCK YOU!”, but The Exorcist is too subtle to suffer these cuts. Leave it alone. People smoked back then. We’re not hopeless monkey-see monkey-do creatures who imitate everything we see on film, and besides, it’s an 18 Certificate. Certainly impressionable young kids are going to watch it anyway, because that’s really what 18 Certificate horror films are for, but I really wouldn’t worry about my thirteen year old nephew watching it because it would make him start smoking. I’d be more concerned about the nightmares it would probably induce – that and the improvements to his vocabulary. Although better he watches The Exorcist than Jeremy Clarkson – I will say that.

And while we’re on the subject of Jeremy Clarkson, I had a wonderful idea about Jeremy Clarkson which I’d like to share with you all. It’s something we can all do together and the particular beauty of it is that you don’t have to do much at all. It’s the perfect kind of slacktivism – let’s make 2012 The Official Year of Ignoring Jeremy Clarkson.

Ignoring professional trolls works wonders. If you don’t believe me, remember Ann Coulter? Like many right-wing pundits, Ann was loud, thick, pig-ignorant and lazier than a former governor ofAlaska. She regularly appeared on television in the US and occasionally in the UK whenever Jeremy Paxman needed to practise his sneer, his eyebrow raise and that drawling ‘Yeee-eees’ which unblocks bowels all over Westminster.

Of course, it’s entirely possible than Ann’s slalom ride into irrelevance was largely due to the increasing levels of crazy within the American right, but I have this theory that it was helped along by the tide of political correctness. Ann was (And probably still is) long faced, blonde and skinny in that peculiar dessicated way of female Fox News pundits. There were always the jokes about the size of her Adam’s apple or her hands and it got to a point that even balls-out bad-taste politics blogs like Wonkette were reluctant to talk about her. People were there to laugh at awful politicians, not argue with people who got loud and defensive when you told them that hateful tranny jokes were going the way of the n-word. It just wasn’t worth it. Every Ann Coulter post would inevitably degenerate into such a foul puddle of transphobic slurs that it wasn’t worth making Ann Coulter posts. And so Ann slid sweetly into irrelevance, which is where she rightfully belongs.

But it’s the Olympics this year, and Clarkson is probably already working out what he’s going to say – nice things about how the Mexican running team are lazy, or how all the German athletes have square heads. You know he’s already giggling about how many pearls will be clutched when he blarps out these low-effort racist utterances. The Guardian will predictably shit their pants, the BBC will prod Clarkson into yet another insincere apology and he’ll sit back secure in yet another series and another book deal as everyone’s favourite bucketmouthed right-wing uncle in law.

Well, I’m sorry, but it’s not right. It’s just not right. He was on the telly saying how public sector strikers should be shot and honest day’s work and blah blah blah, so let’s fucking hold him to it. He believes in an honest day’s work? Well, let’s make him do one. Let’s ignore every utterance, every mutter, every pig-ignorant throwaway opinion. Let’s stop reacting with outrage every time Jeremy Clarkson says something terrible and just roll our eyes and go ‘chuh’ instead. See? Very low effort on your part – that’s the beauty of the thing.

Jeremy, on the other hand, has to step up his troll game and start saying more and more appalling things for attention. The worse he gets, the harder we ignore him. Eventually he will be driven to digging out David Blaine’s old perspex box and setting up shop on the Embankment, where he’ll hang out smearing himself in his own excrement and screaming obscenities at passers by. While dressed in full Nazi regalia.

We will ignore him until he either expires from sheer desperation or goes the fuck away. I think it’s only fair. If you want to be professionally repulsive, then by all means carry on, but do it properly. Make an effort. Set up a post-modern one-man perspex Bedlam on Westminster Embankment or fuck off back to the Cotswolds. Take that shit to its illogical conclusion or piss off. Nobody likes an overpaid slacker, Jeremy.

So, tweet it, blog it, Facebook it (if you absolutely must) but make a commitment. Today will be the last day in 2012 that you talk about Jeremy Clarkson.