A Game of Thrones


Weirdly, fantasy fiction doesn’t usually appeal. That doesn’t make sense, since I loved Harry Potter and Discworld and Hitch-hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and pretty much every make-believe piece of fluff I’ve ever read, but I just have absolutely no interest in this sort of thing. I only picked it up because of the TV series, which I’ve never even seen. 

Continue reading

The Hunger Games, Dredd and the 12ification of culture


I initially thought that The Hunger Games was a really good film. A really good film. It had all the ingredients, after all: a perfectly-cast Jennifer Lawrence in the lead role, Suzanne Collins as screenwriter, and a sympathetic director who really seemed to understand the material. The opening scenes of shaky-cammed apocalyptic gloom offset against the slick Truman Show-style televisation were perfectly pitched, so it was disappointing as the film inexorably slid into mediocrity the minute the violence started. Or didn’t, as it turned out.  Continue reading

Catching Fire / Mockingjay


The Hunger Games saga doesn’t have a happy ending. That’s not to say it’s unremittingly grim – and, don’t worry, I won’t spoil it – but this is no fairytale.

Sure, the Hunger Games trilogy started predictably enough – “Battle Royale With Cheese”, the joke that never stops being funny – there the similarity ends. It’s being hyped as this year’s Twilight, but despite featuring a clumsily tacked-on love triangle with two cardboard-cutout boys, it couldn’t be more dissimilar. It might be marketed by a children’s publisher, but it makes Harry Potter‘s darker moments look like Dr Seuss: I’ll see your neglected orphan and raise you torture, mutilation, human trafficking and all-out war. Not the glossy TV kind of war, either, but the kind where people lose eyeballs. And tongues. It almost makes the new Evil Dead look nice.  Continue reading

The Hunger Games


How was this even a hit? That’s my first thought, as I wrangle with its inelegant prose. It wouldn’t be the first time I’ve had an unpopular opinion: I hated The Road so much that I left it on the train. The first-person narrative is jarring, since it’s Katniss’s voice, and she uses a language that nobody real would speak. It’s how people in books speak. It’s awful, but somehow I make it through.

Then, some way in, I realise that I am sat on a bus reading this popular teen novel on the Kindle app on my smartphone, and that people are probably looking at me. I have tears streaming down my cheeks.  Continue reading

Azealia Banks and Perez Hilton are amateurs: wittiest celebrity insults of all time

Jumping the shark? Azealia Banks

So Azealia Banks apologised to her gay fans after calling Perez Hilton a “f*ggot” and telling him to kill himself, because that was a jaw-droppingly stupid thing to do. The ugly spat arose because he sided with her rival, Angel Haze, a couple of days after Ms Haze posted a diss track about Ms Banks, to which she retaliated in kind.

[Caution: all links contain strong language]

Continue reading

How to interview

Written for Collapse Board

I start to wonder if he’ll ever answer.
“Rome,” he says.
Good, good. That’s a start. OK, get him to elaborate.
“What did you like about it?”
“It was nice,” he says.
Did he really just say that? I wait for him to continue.
He doesn’t.
Well, that’s it. I mean, I’m out of questions. Panic.

A Clam, says ex-Kerrang! man Jason Arnopp in his book How to Interview Doctor Who, Ozzy Osbourne and Everyone Else, is “the interviewee who opens his mouth to say some words, then shuts it again after saying the minimum required of him“. A 16 year-old fanzine hack, I was faced with a bored, tired Richard Ashcroft who gave only one-word answers to this rookie unprofessional.

“Zere is no reality!”
We both look towards the door. A middle-aged, portly, dark-haired woman has burst into the hotel lounge and made such a declaration, and stands impatiently, waiting for a response. I think she’s Dutch or something. European. Strong accent.
“Pardon?” says Ashcroft.
“Zere is no reality!” she repeats.
Oh, good grief. I’ll just stay quiet and let the obviously more professional one of us explain to her that we’re in the middle of an interview and ask her politely to leave us alone.
I glance over to Ashcroft.
He gets up and walks over to her … and then begins to argue with her that there is a reality and she is obviously quite wrong.
“MY CAR!” she squeaks, pointing at the window. Seconds later, she waddles out at top speed to chase the tow truck down the road.

I suppose you could make it up, but why would you? I somehow convinced Ashcroft to pose for photos in the Mad Hatter’s Teacup Ride down by the seafront – wonderful snaps long since lost – and Nick McCabe gave me a signed 10″ of ‘Gravity Grave’. A great anecdote, fine photos and a great single – but the interview, let’s face it, sucked.  Continue reading

If Chins Could Kill … Confessions of a B-Movie Actor

I’ll take a few moments to highlight a fun, easy read I breezed through a couple of years back: If Chins Could Kill … Confessions of a B-Movie Actor, which is essentially Bruce Campbell’s autobiography. If you have no idea who Bruce Campbell is, you probably have no business reading it, but he’s the star of the Evil Dead trilogy and go-to cult actor for everything from The X-Files to American Gothic via Xena: Warrior PrincessContinue reading

Because you know Pride & Prejudice always needed a purple-headed love monster …

You know you want it. I mean, Jane Austen’s light and witty prose just doesn’t have enough to interest the modern reader, who would much rather read about “the hardness of [Darcy’s] manhood”. While we’re at it, wouldn’t Sherlock Holmes be so much better if he spent his investigative downtime flicking his tongue over Watson’s nipples? And surely Jayne Eyre would be improved with some rough, sweaty, spanking action …

I’m not even kidding here. I wish I was, but no – Clandestine Classics quenches our thirst for sub-Jilly Cooper really bad slash fiction and inserts a hard, throbbing strategically-placed sex scenes in a series of classic novels including Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea (gay slashfic) and Northanger Abbey (straight slashfic). The site’s blurb proudly boasts:

There is no doubting the fact that the classics remain an inspiration to writers, even today, with many complex and thought-provoking storylines. But if we are honest to ourselves haven’t we heard the same reserved tale told time and time again?

Our collection of Clandestine Classics is about to change that. This is a collection of classics as they have never been seen before.

The old fashioned pleasantries and timidity have all been stripped away, quite literally. You didn’t really think that these much loved characters only held hands and pecked cheeks did you? Come with us, as we embark on a breathtaking experience—behind the closed bedroom doors of our favourite, most-beloved British characters. Learn what Sherlock really thought of Watson, what Mr Darcy really wanted to do to Miss Elizabeth Bennet, and unveil the sexy escapades of Mr Rochester and Jane Eyre. We’ll show you the scenes that you always wanted to see but were never allowed. Come on, you know you can’t resist…open the pages and delve inside.

Continue reading

P Benson’s product reviews – why love when you can hate?

The Very Hungry Caterpillar front cover - P Benson wants this book banned!

I was told earlier that my blog posts about JG Thirlwell read like love letters, which is fair, because I love him more than Garfield loves Pooky, but he’s far from the only craven idol in my life. There’s Bethesda supremo Todd Howard, AKA My Lurrrve-Hobbit: I have frequently threatened to “pop him on my lap and stroke him like a kitten”. There’s Everett True, who drives me absolutely nuts but is still this guy to me:



There’s my friend-and-colleague Steve, who speaks at least a dozen languages and is one of the smartest guys I know (and I know some seriously smart people). I once drunkenly hugged him at the office party while declaring that he was “just a gweat biiig bunny wabbit“, which wouldn’t have been quite so toe-curlingly awful if he didn’t hate to be touched – or if he hadn’t been showing his brand new recruit around at the time. I hugged the new manager, too, who immediately decided that this was just the best company ever. And there’s my modding muse Korana, who incites me to mutter What Would Korana Do? every time I’m making a new doll’s house for my play people. I’m wondering at which point I’ll stop crediting every mod I make to Korana for “inspiration” – or whether I ever should. Of those not personally known to me, Gary Oldman makes the list because I’ll watch anything he’s in – that goes beyond my simple fangirl love for Karl Urban or Johnny Depp because it takes a special kind of devotion to sit through The Scarlet Letter.

So you get the idea: when I love someone or something, I have about as much restraint as a puppy with a fresh, juicy bone. I like to talk about things I love. I like to shout about things I love.  I don’t pay much attention to the things I don’t like because I’d rather not spend any more time with them than I need to. I don’t want to end up like P Benson. Continue reading