Wednesday, March 30, 2005

An Internet for the People, By the People

The backlash is building speed. 2004 was the year that saw weblogs move beyond the purview of just the web-hardcore, and is now well and truly part of the Mainstream. And with the assimilation of weblogs into the hive-mind consciousness of the non-geek world, following a battery of news stories about the wonder of blogs, comes a second wave of stories about how much blogs suck.

But these non-story straw-man articles overlook one blindingly, blatantly obvious fact. At this point I’m going to invoke Sturgeon’s Law, which states that 90% of everything is crap. And that is precisely where all these blog-slagging stories fall apart.

Yes, most blogs are rubbish. A lot of blogs will only be of interest to the immediate friends and family of the writer. A lot of blogs really do just skate around the minutiae of day-to-day life, along the lines of “what I had for lunch” and “what I saw on television last night”. Some are just plain ol’ fashioned journals, the sort of thing that used to be buried within the pages of a private and personal diary, but now thrown out into the world for all to see. So? There is fundamentally absolutely nothing wrong with that.

Weblogs are the true democratisation of the Internet. Everyone can have a say. Everyone has a forum for their thoughts. It’s “Let’s put on a show right here!” in its purest form. It’s a bunch of teenagers jamming in their parent’s garage. It’s a gang of filmmakers running around with a video camera making their own movie on the fly. It’s a guy beatboxing and freestyling on a street corner, with nothing but a boombox for back-up. Anyone can do it, and everyone has the right to do it. And I love that about it.

Some days I can come on here and write some ill-conceived raving nonsense. Some days I can come on here and write a well-thought out, considered piece of writing. Both are equally valid. Some days I don’t have to write anything at all. It’s my playground, and I can do what I want with the toys, for good or ill.

Does that mean every blog is worth reading? No, of course not. But I don’t see why that should be made to be the point. Because it really isn’t the point. Most big-budget Hollywood movies are crap, but then so are most low-budget independent art-house movies. Most corporate-owned superhero comics are crap, but then so are most small-press indie underground comix. There is always lots of good stuff that we can cream off the top. I am never short of movies, books, comics, music, and television to enjoy. There is a lot of great stuff in every medium available, and there is a lot of great stuff being consistently created and produced. The bad majority doesn’t have to even bother me.

The main reason these “blogs suck” articles bother me is the inherent stupidity of the argument. If I turn on a really terrible TV show, I don’t wail and moan about it. I change the channel. And if I stumble upon a blog that I don’t particularly like or enjoy, that’s OK. I won’t visit the site again. Doesn’t mean the blog shouldn’t exist. Because there are plenty of blogs that I do enjoy a great deal.

I despise the fact that book stores are heaving with ghost-written celebrity memoirs on the lives of people who don’t merit a great deal of attention: glamour models, reality TV contestants, pop stars who have only managed to carve out a five-minute career. It’s depressing. But I don’t have to read them. I can just blank them out whilst I head for something a bit more substantial, or worthy of my time.

But here’s the real truth. Ready? OK. Drum roll…maybe, just maybe, all these print and online journalist deriding the quality of blogs are shitting in their little pants with fear. Know why? Because there are some truly brilliant writers writing on the Internet. There are lots of writers at least the equal of, if not superior to, their print counterparts. And, unlike these paid hacks, we do it for free. Not for money. Not for fame. Just for the love of language, and creation, and expression. Because we can. And the Internet, and the Blogosphere, will be the most fertile hunting-ground for the next generation of professional novelists and journalists and writers. Because the desire, the passion and skill and ability to do this is how we learn to become better, more articulate, more entertaining, more effective writers and communicators, without going through the meat-grinder of an expensive education in professional writing.

Are there other skills that need to be learned? Sure. It’s always worth having a good editor cast an eye over your words. And on a blog, we don’t have that. But if your blog isn’t up to scratch, no-one will read it. And fellow bloggers will no doubt point out your shortcomings.

(Man, this is a long blog entry. I could do with an editor coming along to snip away at this a bit myself. But it’s my blog. And this is what I want to say, and how I want to say it. And, ultimately, surely that is all that matters.)

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Back in Stride

Five days off work. It was blissful. Well, almost. I only managed one lie-in over the five days. It wasn’t Buttercup’s fault either. Whenever my eyes shot open, I had a hundred and one ideas shooting around from synapse to synapse, just gagging to get released from my mind to explode all over a computer screen like so much ideological bukkake. And there’s no better time to do that than when the rest of the AKA clan are still asleep in their cribs.

But I feel well rested and I’ve managed to scoop enough weirdness out of my brainpan that I can now re-fill it with all-new twisted shit.

What else? I managed to make a dent in the teetering mountain of DVDs vying for my attention. Which reminds me: 13 Going On 30 is worth the rental just to see Jennifer Garner and Mark Ruffalo dancing to Thriller, not to mention the sight of Andy Serkis moonwalking. This is exactly the sort of thing that bank holiday weekends are made for.

Today marks Buttercup’s 6-month birthday. To satiate her complete and utter devotion to all things Teletubbies, I will treat her this evening to my quite-expert rendition of Dipsy’s Special Dance. The things we do for love...

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

…So I don't end up being a fucking waffle waitress

You know, I was going to swear off blogmemes, but I’ve just been challenged to one again. (Thanks for that, Bert. I’ll get you for this.) And, who knows, this might even help me blast away the remnants of the hangover causing my frontal lobe to throb ever so slightly. Let’s do it:

You're stuck inside Fahrenheit 451, which book do you want to be?

Of course, I would never advocate the destruction of the written word. Apart from a truly diafuckingbolical hunk of turgid prose that deserves to be consigned to the flames of hell: Will Rhode’s Paperback Raita (now inexplicably re-published as Paperback Original. I guess the title was one godawful pun too many.)

In my defense, I only picked up this book as I found it kicking round the house when I couldn’t find anything else to read. Mrs. AKA had bought it as a holiday read one year, and never got around to reading it herself. She graciously allowed me to hurl the book into a paper recycler after I had finished it, as I didn’t want it stinking up the house and contaminating my bookshelves.

The book is LadLit at it’s worst. I cannot believe it ever got published. It’s that bad. The book commits every single storytelling sin: Characters change their motivations for no reason whatsoever, just so that the author can manipulate the book to move in nonsensical directions. Nothing about it is believable: not the characters, not the situations, not the dialogue, not the plot, nothing. The Book Must Die.

Have you ever had a crush on a fictional character?

That is so icky. I have admired fictional characters, and been moved by them, or inspired, but I don’t get hot for them.

The last book you bought is:

In the Miso Soup by Ryu Murakami

The last book you read and What are you currently reading?

Covered both of these yesterday

Five books you would take to a deserted island:

Michael ChabonThe Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay – Love, friendship and comics in post-war New York. When I reached the last page, I wanted to turn back to the beginning and start again. Yes, it’s that good.

Ken KeseyOne Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest – Everyone has a book that changed the way they looked at the world as a teenager. For some, it’s The Catcher in the Rye. For others, it’s On the Road. For me, it was this. Lost count of how many copies of this book I’ve bought for people over the years. Me, I just hang onto my dad’s beat-up old copy where I first discovered Randall Patrick McMurphy.

Joseph Wambaugh – The Choirboys – It’s Catch-22, but with L.A. cops. And it’s better. The bleakest and funniest novel I’ve ever read.

Garth Ennis & Steve Dillon – Preacher – I’d take all nine volumes of the simultaneously epic and intimate story about a Texan preacher, his gun-toting girlfriend, and his hard-drinking best friend (who just happens to be a vampire) as they travel America looking for God for an almighty showdown.

A large, blank hardcover journal, so I can finally write one myself…

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Verbal Diarrhoea

500 words. I’m going to squeeze out at least 500 entertaining words here if it kills me. Going through a hideously dry creative patch, caused almost entirely by a consistent lack of sleep and a terrifying lack of external stimulus.

Writers always talk about their “voice”. It’s one of the most important tools in our writing toolbox. Sometimes I’m in fine voice, prattling away with eloquent ease. Sometimes, I’m a virtual mute, struggling to express myself and fighting the firewall between my mind and the page. Kinda like Samantha Morton in Sweet and Lowdown. (But not like Cuba Gooding Jr. in Lightning Jack. I would have to kill myself if that were the case.)

I’m not one of those people who believes that just writing about anything somehow clicks open the floodgates and lets the good stuff trickle out. Sometimes, nothing but a tidal wave of effluence comes roaring down the pike, stinking up the place.

But, what the hell do I know? Maybe it’s not for me to judge the effectiveness or lack thereof of anything that falls from my fingers onto the screen.

Enough digressions. What has been tweaking my creative antennae recently?

SEEN: Film #7 of the year for me was a beautiful Saturday afternoon showing in one of London’s loveliest little independent cinemas, the Screen on the Hill in Belsize Park. The film? Wong Kar-Wai’s 2046, the long-awaited sort-of-sequel, remix, follow-up to In the Mood for Love. The whole film is bathed in glorious colours refracted through the unerring camera of Chris Doyle, as chain-smoking journalist Tony Leung repeatedly attempts to exorcise the demons of his unrequited love affair with Maggie Cheung in Singapore, with a succession of abortive relationships in his Hong Kong hotel room in the late 60s. All the while, he hammers away at his science-fiction novel “2046”…As with all Wong Kar-Wai films, I didn’t fall in love with it until the next day. All his films are a slow-burning experience that take about 24 hours to settle in, like a tan after a day in the sun, imprinting itself into my mind slowly, and I haven’t stopped getting flashes of indelible images from the film since I saw it. Truly wonderful.

All that will no doubt be washed away this evening when I force myself to suffer through Film #8, faced with the gaping acting-vacuum known only as Keanu, in the lung-cancer and demon-baiting movie Constantine. Pray for my sanity.

HEARD: Currently bumping on the AKA decks is MF Doom’s MM…Food, an album that reminds me that not all hip-hop is now vacuous commercial slop, preoccupied solely with Courvoisier and bling. MF Doom creates sonic mini-marvels melting together soundbites from old cartoons with old skool slow jams. Glorious.

Also racking up some consistent rotation in my crib is Stanley Turrentine’s Don’t Mess With Mr. T, his last album for the CTI label back in the early ‘70s. Creamy jazz to balm the raw wounds of my working day.

READ: At the moment, I’m racing through Harry Knowles’s surprisingly readable Ain’t It Cool?, his memoir about the world-famous movie geek website. Despite a tendency towards long-windedness in some sections, this is a thoroughly entertaining sniff around the history of a true Internet phenomenon.

Also worth mentioning is Elmore Leonard’s Mr. Paradise. I had been worried that Dutch had been going off the boil in the last few years, but this is a cracking hard-boiled return to form, bopping around the streets of Detroit with sly wit and ragged energy.

Right. That’s me done for today.

Captain's Log

I saw the most strangely beautiful-disgusting thing on the way to work this morning, blocking my path.

There was a huge pile of dog shit smack dab in the centre of the pavement. In the centre of the mountainous turd, someone had planted a Diet Coke bottle, affixed solid and upright in the poo. Out of the top of the Coke bottle, that (no doubt) same someone had planted a perfect, dazzlingly-yellow daffodil.

Really wish I’d snapped a photo of it on my phone.

It was weird, and brilliant, and pretty nasty.

(Damn, this blog really does wallow in minutiae and trivia sometimes…Once I get my head screwed back on straight again, I will endeavour to provide you all with a more meaty, satisfying reading experience.)

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Runaway Brain

Today is an unusually quiet day in the office. Eerily so. I’ve been passing the time having death fantasies about minor celebrities. But there’s only so much mileage you can get out of imagining the sound Paris Hilton’s head would make as you backed a car over it (a satisfying gravely crunch, or a loud pop?), or the amount of gore involved in eviscerating Vernon Kay and then garrotting him with his own intestines.

I can actually feel I.Q. points slipping from my ear holes and splattering against the desk, flapping around like beached fishes. If my brain is like a muscle, my grey matter is slack and flabby and hanging over my intellectual waistline in a mess of misused and abused neurons.

I may have to start walking up to my colleagues and stabbing at them repeatedly with sharpened pencils.

Just a thought.

Now, I wonder how many elephants would need to sit on Sarah Jessica Parker before something ruptures?

Monday, March 14, 2005

Inherit the Wind

I’m almost positive I shouldn’t be sharing this story with you all…

Bored at work (surprise!), so the devil made work for my idle thumbs. I decided to send a text message to my wife that read as follows:

“I have wicked gas today”

After hitting send, I realised that I hadn’t sent it to my wife at all.

I’d sent it to my mum.

My mum promptly responded:

“You have eaten the wrong food. Sorry 4 the people around you”

I sow the wind, and reap the whirlwind.

Friday, March 11, 2005

Mellow Mellow Right On

Well, that hit the spot.

This place was driving me nuts, so I took an early lunch, and settled down at the pub for an hour with a beer and the latest issue of Time Out.

That managed to smooth away my ragged edginess.

I feel remarkably chilled now. Like I’ve had a massage.

Just thought I’d let you know.

Jagged Edge

Tapping keys, tapping keys, tapping keys.

Forcing myself to write this morning. Two reasons: I’m absolutely blocked on a film review I have to write, and I keep coming up dry, so this might help to kick something loose and get the words flowing. At the moment, I got nothing.

Also, this frantic tapping of keys is stopping me from chewing on my nails. I’m getting dangerously close to ending up with gnarled, bleeding stumps.

For some reason, I’ve felt very edgy and restless all week, and I’m having trouble working out why that is. I’ve had this feeling that I need to fit as much as possible into my spare moments recently, and it’s leaving me slightly crazed and frantic. I’m depriving myself of caffeine to keep myself level, but it doesn’t seem to be working.

This week alone, I’ve polished off a freelance research project, which should see a nice and unexpected bit of extra cash trickle into the AKA coffers, and I’ve been tinkering with all sorts of other things. I’ve also determined that I should push myself harder, out of my “comfort zone”. (Gah, I hate that phrase, but I can’t think of a usable alternative.)

In some ways, it is far too easy for me to keep writing away in my well-worn niche, churning out film review after film review. So, I’m banging my head against the screen trying to make myself try new and different things. It’s a challenge (which is always a good thing). Writers who only write, end up writing only about writing. And that’s not good enough.

Trying too hard to do too much. Take a deep breath. Lie down. Breath deeply.

None of that shit works. My brain still keeps spinning in a thousand directions, stray thoughts floating just beyond my grasp. Trying to focus on everything, and I can’t clearly see anything.

In some ways, this blog is one endless, sprawling Work In Progress. As much as it is a Journal, cataloguing the minutiae of my life, the sickness in my head and the madness unfurling in front of my eyes, it is also a peephole into the churning mind of a writer: a struggling, procrastinating, prolific, amateur, professional, successful, failing, lazy, hard-working writer. I never know from one day to the next what kind of writer I am going to be on any given day.

I know this is a common refrain heard in offices the world over on a daily basis, but I Really Really Need a Holiday. After all, a rest is as good as a change.

And I need the Rest. And the Change.

Nope, writing all this out didn’t help. Still feel like biting down hard on my knuckles to choke down a scream of frustration. And I’m still as dry as an alcoholic in a Smoothie Bar.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Preachin’ From My Chair

Having a young daughter means that you have less time to prop up bars or sit in darkened auditoriums. But a hell of a lot more time to watch television. Hence, more pop cultural meanderings. This time, the rapidly multiplying number of hours devoted to C.S.I. in the television schedules.

I love C.S.I.: Crime Scene Investigation. It’s like Quincy, M.E., but with a whole bunch of cool tech and eye-popping computer trickery that shows the journey of a bullet as it tears someone’s insides into so much shredded meat. And there’s considerably less Jack Klugman, too.

C.S.I. is all glass and chrome and neon, where our heroic band of scientists-cum-cops piece together brutal slayings with the aid of rubber gloves, ultra-violet light thingies and nothing more than a bunch of fibre samples and an encyclopaedic knowledge of blood spatter patterns. It’s a hit show, intelligently written and slickly produced. So, of course, there has to be a bunch of spin-offs to milk the franchise, until nothing is left but the husk of an emaciated cash cow.

First up – C.S.I.: Miami. Now, to my mind, there’s your problem right there. Miami. The word conjures up images of retirement communities, holiday destinations, and Crockett and Tubbs in pastel vines, cruising around listening to an unhealthy amount of Phil Collins. It’s like the second cup of tea from the same tea bag. Pallid, watered-down and strangely tasteless.

Now, we have C.S.I.: New York. Because, of course, you can never have enough TV shows set in the much-neglected New York. We are disturbingly close to a C.S.I.: LA, I fear.

But, despite closely adhering to the blueprint set by the original C.S.I., both spin-offs fail miserably, even though all the elements are there.

All shows begin with a snippet of a song from The Who back catalogue. All the C.S.I. teams are headed up by a solid, name actor. All episodes come complete with implausible murders and flashy toys. All episodes come fully equipped with at least one stomach-roiling autopsy close-up. Each episode fills the mandatory requirement of making graphic references to blood and semen. All the shows stick to the template of minimal character development, with only the briefest of nods to sketching out a team of stoic professionals who don’t appear to need personal lives, or even sleep.

Here is why C.S.I. is the original and the best. Firstly, location. Las Vegas is perfect. It doesn’t suffer from the dull improbability of Miami or the ridiculously overused milieu of New York. Vegas is perfect. It’s a town where surface and artifice is everything. It’s a fake town built in the middle of a desert to provide sex, money and power in a clusterfuck of corruption, perversion and desperation. The shiny surface hides the rotting corpses. Enough to keep a weekly show ticking over without hammering our suspension of disbelief.

Secondly, the characters. Characterisation is kept to a minimum to keep the science and gore at the forefront. Fair enough. But C.S.I. successfully manages to create a team of believable characters with the most subtle and unobtrusive little snippets of personality thrown in. All the recurring cast are fully drawn creations, and what we don’t know about them probably isn’t worth knowing.

Unlike the spin-offs. A bunch of bland and interchangeable characters that I can never keep track of from one episode to the next. I don’t know who they are and, fatally for an ongoing serial, I really don’t care. This is not a casting issue but a writing one. David Caruso and Gary Sinise are fine actors, but are nothing more than ciphers babbling jargon through gritted teeth. Unlike the brilliantly quirky William Petersen who manages to fulfil all the requirements of leading man without compromising the essential nerdiness of the character.

As of this week, I have resolved to abandon the C.S.I. spin-offs permanently. I’m restricting myself to just one hour of the real, original, good stuff a week. And seeing as Quentin Tarantino is writing and directing the series finale, I think this run will end with a big, bloody bang.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Who’s Bad?

Your Butt Is Mine
Gonna Take You Right
Just Show Your Face
In Broad Daylight

And so the Michael Jackson muck-spreading media circus kicks off in a way unseen since those intoxicating days of white Broncos, bloody gloves and Johnny Cochran “playing the race card” in the O.J. Simpson debacle a decade ago. Ah, the memories!

This decade will give us a whole new batch of trial totems in the form of “Jesus Juice”, the UK’s very own grumpy, spud-faced Martin Bashir and who knows what else at this early stage of the proceedings.

I'm Giving You
On Count Of Three
To Show Your Stuff
Or Let It Be . . .

I will say this, though. People already seem to be talking about the massively prejudicial, heavily edited piece of tabloid filmmaking in reverent tones. The “Bashir film” shouldn’t be our generation’s “Zapruder film”. If it is, that is a horrific indictment on what we now consider to be an important historical document. From the King of Camelot to the King of Pop in one, swift downward move.

I'm Telling You
Just Watch Your Mouth
I Know Your Game
What You're About

Personally, I feel that regardless of the outcome of this trial, I don’t believe we will ever really know whether Michael Jackson is a paedophile or not. Too much conflicting evidence, too many wafer-thin arguments, too many sensational details flying around the media. Guilty or innocent, I think The Truth will remain slippery, elusive and buried deep behind the vulgar, plastic fantastic walls of Neverland.

The Word Is Out
You're Doin' Wrong
Gonna Lock You Up
Before Too Long

But that’s not (all) that I’m most interested in at the moment. I want to talk about The Double Standard. Take R. Kelly. (Please God, will someone take that New Jack Doofus and put him down like a rabid dog?) R. Kelly (allegedly) believes that there ain’t nothing wrong with a little bump ‘n’ grind. With underage girls.

And he hasn’t been met with anywhere near as much vitriol as Michael Jackson. Successful albums, singles, tours, with his kiddie-fiddling shenanigans nothing more than a minor speed bump in his career.

Your Lyin' Eyes
Gonna Take You Right
So Listen Up
Don't Make A Fight

And another thing. Shouldn’t we be able to separate the art from the artist? Assuming the charges against the Smooth Criminal are true, does that change what he has accomplished? Two unassailable masterpieces (Off the Wall and Thriller), one near-classic (Bad), the most amazing music video of all time (Thriller again), and a handful of other albums from pretty good (Dangerous, HIStory) to average (Invincible) to downright dreadful (Blood on the Dancefloor). And none of the recent events tarnish some indelible memories of the man and his music. I still vividly remember the rush I got watching Motown 25. I was 11 years old, sitting in my grandparent’s living room in Harlesden. The Jacksons had just left the stage, leaving Michael on his own. “Yeah, I like those old songs. I like the new ones too.” And Billie Jean began. And then the moonwalk. And it was phenomenal. And nothing that has been reported recently changes that.

And the first, late night screening of the full-length Thriller video on Channel 4. “I’m not like other guys”. I shat myself. Still one of the most scary things I’ve ever seen. And funky, too.

And nothing that has been reported recently changes that.

But They Say The Sky's
The Limit
And To Me That's Really True
And My Friends You Have
Seen Nothin'
Just Wait 'Til I Get Through . .

Does the fact that Arnold Schwarzenegger is now the Governor of California and alleged serial groper of numerous females impair my enjoyment of The Terminator? No. It doesn’t. So whether or not Jackson has a predilection for unlawful P.Y.T.s should be kept separate from arguments about his career. But maybe that’s just wishful thinking, right?

And The Whole World Has To
Answer Right Now
Just To Tell You Once Again,
Who's Bad . . .

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

If You Can’t Stand the Heat…

As a pop culture junkie, I frequently like to gawp in horror at the racks of magazines in local newsagents, just to get a feel for the sort of stuff clogging up the shelves and choking the mental pathways of the vulnerable, the impressionable and the stoopid.

It’s a car crash of garish colours, screeching fonts and bad grammar. And lots of extraneous exclamation marks!!!!!!!!!!! Trying to whip you into a frenzy about! Absolutely!! Nothing!!!

Airbrushed breasts and photoshopped faces, homogenised to remove every facial blemish, every character line and anything resembling original thought or stimulating language. It’s just literary carrion stinking up the place with the stench of rotting ideas and fetid concepts. Pages of creatively-bankrupt content existing solely to prop up pages of adverts to help you attain that hollow, aspirational lifestyle that won’t make you any happier, younger, thinner, prettier, hunkier, smarter or cooler. But it WILL make you a whole lot more broke. And it will help you become a photocopy of everyone else as individuality is stomped on with diamond-encrusted designer boots.

What did I find? Lots of crap. Film and music mags hawking films and music that don’t need the promotional push, with genuine critical journalism a distant memory and an outmoded concept. Hideous clotheshorse magazines the size of phone books, a third of their page count bloated with ads. Little shitty flyers that float onto the floor the minute you pick anything up. News magazines that set the current affairs agenda in a way that is blatantly prejudicial and wafer-thin on substance and not a true reflection of the world’s landscape. Bet you haven’t heard much about the aftermath of the tsunami recently, have you? I guess that story “didn’t have enough legs”. Not “sexy” enough. Here, look at a picture of Cruz Beckham instead. There, choke on that news, morons. But the worst, to my mind, is “celebrity news” magazines. Like this one:

(Note for people with irony deficiency – this isn’t a real magazine. Names have been changed to protect the guilty. And I ain’t about to indulge in free advertising for corporate cocksmokers. And I know it’s an easy target, but I gotta get my cheap laughs somewhere.)

SHINY HAPPY PEOPLE – In this week’s edition of the celebrity magazine:

A reality TV contestant (whose name you will have forgotten about six weeks from now) in a blurry photo showing him coming out of the supermarket with sweat stains on his T-shirt. See! These people are EXACTLY LIKE YOU! (But feel free to sneer in a superior way. Hell, that’s what we’re here for.)

Now, pierce your navel, join a gym, buy one of those too-small t-shirts with your name in sequins across the front of it and YOU TOO can be as vacuous and dull as Britney!

FAMOUS ARSES! Yes, compare the pert buttocks of those soap stars with their faces! No, I can’t tell the difference either!

FASHION FOR THE FICK! Gaze at the ugly, expensive clothes found on red carpets all over the world! Here, Miss. Celebrity Shitwit is modelling an ensemble made entirely from pigs innards, painted with tar and speckled with shell casings from the streets of Iraq! And look in shock and awe at the Double-Breasted Guantanamo Jump Suit, replete with 24-carat gold leg cuffs to complement this orange classic. Designed to give you a life of wear and tear and inhumane suffering. Guaranteed to be unconstitutionally sound, or your money back!

PLUS! This week’s slice of life stories: “My tumour shot out of my mouth!” and “I went to the loo – and had a surprise baby boy!”

(I have a confession to make. That last bit? Those two stories are real. You can’t make this shit up. Not all of it anyway.)