Thursday, December 30, 2004
So, anyway, Christmas presents. I hope you got exactly what you wanted, plus some surprises that you never realised you wanted, but now can't believe you lived without! I too had one of these gifts. And it is this:
Remember Ghostwatch? the live paranormal show that was in fact a drama, but with Parkinson, Sarah Greene, et al playing themselves that shitted up the whole of Britain? THAT!
It makes Most Haunted look like Rentaghost! Take that, Acorah.
Thanks to a polite comment from a lovely poster about how the old comments system on my blog was crap, I've replaced it. Now, I could go back and repost all the old comments, but that's not going to happen is it? So if you've just come to the blog now, there were literally thousands of comments, but they all got wiped. It's not that noone ever reads this thing. Oh no. Not at all. Uh uh. Nope.
Anyway, you've got a blank page. Comment more! Make me look popular! Or I'll start posting about my "emotions" and stuff. And believe you me, you don't want that.
Wednesday, December 29, 2004
Ok right, so a guy who I used to be at the student radio station i was at, right, before I was there does this yearly thing, right, where he asks his mates to give him their top 10 records of the year. Then he makes a Top 50 list. I've voted the past couple of years, and now you can to! Oh yes, anyone can do it. Just follow the link...
Go on, I'm trusting your impeccable taste in music. I'm still deciding on mine (there's a lot of big decisions to be made), but here's my Top 10 from last year.
- The Paradise – In Love With You
- Black Rebel Motorcycle Club – Stop
- Johnny Cash – Hurt
- Freeland – We Want Your Soul
- Beyonce – Crazy In Love
- The White Stripes – 7 Nation Army
- Panjabi MC – Yogi
- Tatu – All The Things She Said
- Mark Ronson and Ghostface Killah - Ooh Wee
- UNKLE – Eye For An Eye
I'll obviously let you know what I reckon about this year as soon as I've decided on it meself....
RIGHT. That actually took less time than I was expecting. So here we go, my Top 10 singles of 2004:
- Eric Prydz - Call On Me
- Gwen Stefani - What You Waiting For
- Charlotte Hatherley – Summer
- High Contrast – Twilights Last Gleaming
- Graham Coxon - Freakin' Out
- Girls Aloud – The Show
- Dizzee Rascal – Dream
- Skandalous Unlimited – Watford Weather
- Alan Braxe & Fred Falke – Rubicon
- Kanye West - Jesus Walks
And if you disagree, then you know what you can do. But as well as kissing my ass, you can leave comments and, of course, vote in that there poll up there. Needless to say there were literally millions (well, not literally) of other tracks that could've been included, but those made it through. Quite an UP year, actually. All of those would get me up on the dancefloor. I might well do a paragraph on each track, but I can't really be bothered now.
It Was A Very Good Year
Hello! Well, it's getting to the end of the year, so it's time to take stock and think about things I have learnt from 2004. These are off the top of my head and not really in any order. I might add more as they come to me. I genuinely feel that this year has been a mental journey, even though I myself haven't really physically gone anywhere: I'm in the same job, same flat and same marital state (single, as I was last New Year, but I did have a girlfriend for a bit. Anyway...) So here goes.
1. Losing weight is easy and feels really good. Less fat, less sugar, more fibre, more exercise, budabing budaboom. It just drops off. People compliment you for just standing there. It's great! I can highly recommend it. I'll be starting again after New Year...
2. Putting the weight back on again is equally fun, and a hell of a lot easier, just with more food and less compliments.
3. Twatting about on escalators is a bad idea. It means you might cripple yourself and therefore stop going to the gym. Please see 2.
4. The 1980's is a much maligned decade which was a veritable goldmine of beautiful records just waiting to be discovered. This year I've delved deep into what feels like hundreds of artitst from this period. You want names? Er ok. The Pixies, Jesus and Mary Chain, New Order/Joy Division, Human League, Chaka Khan, The Smiths, Depeche Mode, Digital Underground, Talk Talk, ABC, Afrika Bambaataa, Freeez, and anything touched by Arthur Baker or Trevor Horn. Oh and so so so many more. I always thought that the 80's was a bit of a cultural wasteland. I clearly had my head up my arse.
5. It is perfectly possible to have a healthy, fun relationship with someone that you have almost nothing in common with, and agree on absolutely nothing with.
6. But not for very long.
7. If you ask girls on dates, they tend to say yes. This has been an absolute revelation. I've even gone on blind dates, and not regretted it at all.
8. It is possible to go to a pub, drink no alcohol all night and still have a good time.
9. Having a blog is cool. I was reluctant at first, and people took the piss, but by golly, what was the first they did after ripping it out of me? Read my blog. Work it out for yourselves, kids.
10. Spending hundreds of pounds of electrical equipment will make you feel better. Simple as that.
11. Staying up all night to watch the US election won't change the result, no matter how many times you flick between the BBC, Sky, Fox, CNN, etc...
12. London can still surprise at every turn. If you're tired of London you're tired of life, as someone wise once said (I forget who. Hang on, I'll google it... Ah, Dr. Samuel Johnson, fact fans. You see, I've read books. Didn't get an English degree by just sitting on my arse for 3 years. That's just a happy coincidence.) That said, I bet it wasn't £3 a pint in Johnson's time.
13. You can never have too many T Shirts. Or pairs of Jeans. And Trainers.
14. The idea of getting married no longer scares me, and I now see that it is actually really inspirational and wonderful. But, y'know, not yet.
15. Shopping online for Christmas is fantastic. Just don't leave it til the last minute! I left it until just before the last minute, and it was all peachy.
16. Sambuka is highly flammable. Even if you blow on it. This may seem obvious, but not when you're drunk.
17. Being in the same room as people on your all time famous-people-you-fancy list (like the one Ross has in Friends, lest we forget) is GREAT. Deciding not to try and talk to them whilst pissed is a good idea. I didn't, don't worry.
18. Gay Bars have a great soundtrack, but are a little disappointing, really. It's just a bar filled with gay men and women, but for some reason I expected something... extraordinary. And I can't fake at being gay to get served quicker. Which is probably good in the long run, really.
Right, I'm bored now. I'm gonna see if I've got any chocolate money left. It tastes a bit mank, but I'm not all that fussy. Oh, and I unblocked a drain today! All by myself. I felt like a real man. Well, I did once I'd had a shower. Then I put up some shelves, smoked a pipe, barbecued a steak and shot something. With a gun.
Tuesday, December 28, 2004
Tall Paul vs INXS - 'Precious Heart'
Ok, cool! Here we go. A brand new series of records that well basically act as a confessional list of records that I unashamedly love despite the fact that I know that it's WRONG WRONG WRONG.
What better way to start than this? I should hate more or less everything about this. The unquestionably tight production from Tall Paul is also unquestionably Trance, with more than a slight whiff of cheese. The sample from INXS, in my opinion one of the very worst bands ever in the world. Ever. Combining the two of these things back in 2001 should've resulted in another appalling dance-samples-crap-rock track that we could consign to history forever, like Goa Trance, Big Fun and Eldorado.
But something about it sends tingles up and down my spine. Shorn of the cock rock backing, Michael Hutchence's voice is strangely yearning and, for once, appealing. The production IS cheesy and over the top, but it just works. I can't explain it. It has me jumping up and down and grinning like a loon. It's simply not right. Have no fear, this is a private, guilty secret that I will never inflict on anyone else, but i think you all needed to know. Oh, hope you all had a good Christmas by the way. Mine was great. Enjoy your new year!
Monday, December 20, 2004
Haha! I mock all of you! Today I completed my Christmas shopping. With Oxford Street looking like the opening scene of Saving Private Ryan, I valiantly battled through John Lewis, Boots, HMV and a myriad of other stores after finishing work at 7pm. As a boy of merely 24 years old, I accept that I am a spirited novice when it comes to the very physical task that is shopping in the days up to Christmas. I was buffetted by business men and housewives alike as I firstly attempted to find my gifts without the aid of a shop assistant (I mean, they were happy to help, just that as a man, asking for assistance is akin to emasculation. You might as well forget about being a hunter gatherer for life. It's like asking for directions. It just feels wrong) and then performing a juggling act as i try to get my precious purchases to the counter before a rotund middle aged lady knocks me for six (the idea of using a basket is equally humiliating for a fit young thing such as I.)
But here I am, all shopped up. I seem to have completed my shopping in a neutral time, in between the sexes. All my female friends and family were appalled that I hadn't started shopping about 3 months ago, whereas I was suitably chastised by my male friends for even considering entering a shop before Christmas Eve (I hasten to add that this is not an exageration. When I announced that I was going shopping this evening, one friend turned to me, incredulously, and bellowed "Why?!" I detected a panic in his voice, but also a suspicion of betrayal. Was I making him look bad? Or was I a Judas, turning my back on the ways of man, soon to gain a fascination with other female idiosyncracies like doilies, candles and property programmes? No. Unless the delightful Sarah Beeney is involved.)
Anyway, I hope your Chrimbo shopping goes swimmingly, lads, and girls, enjoy the wrapping. I'm starting to feel all festive, despite myself. Bah.
Sunday, December 12, 2004
I think I might be getting into Pink Floyd. I hold the Scissor Sisters entirely responsible.
That said, I think Radiohead have something to do with it, too.
And The KLF to a certain extent as well. Let's just say this has been on the cards for some time. Looks like I'll have to grow a beard then and spend thousands on a stereo worthy of reproducing Dark Side Of The Moon in all it's stereophonic (no, not the band) glory. Oh well.
Saturday, December 11, 2004
It's funny. I'm a complete Beatles obsessive, and have been since the age of about 10, yet it's only in the last year or so that I've begun to pick over their individual solo careers. Sure, you can't really avoid Lennon's 'Imagine' and 'Jealous Guy', Macca's 'Jet' and 'Frog Chorus' or George's 'My Sweet Lord' and 'Got My Mind Set On You', but these are hardly representative, are they? Now I've gone over All Things Must Pass from George, and Paul's McCartney and a couple of Wings albums i found in charity shops, and found there's an ocean of material from them that can't hope to equal the Beatles, but which is in it's own way hugely rewarding.
But John... John I've always had a bit of a chip on my shoulder about. I'm what is generally accepted to be a McCartney apologist. I resent the idea that John is often perceived to be the true force behind the Beatles, that he was the sole innovator and that through his death, he is untouchable. The fact is that there were 4 geniuses in the Beatles, each with their own part to play. But rather than addressing my ire at lazy journalists and misinformed music fans, I've almost come to hold John and John's music to task for this. Which is absurd. Ok, so he had his fair share of post-Beatle spats with Macca and let Yoko sing, but then Macca wrote 'The Frog Chorus' and formed a band with Linda. Noone is perfect.
So, whilst principally only intending on listening to 'Happy Xmas (War Is Over)', I found myself ploughing through John's Best Of (well, one of many that exist.) I've had it for years, but never really got into it. But having listened across it a couple of times now, I take it all back. Whilst never really scaling the dizzy heights of his material as a Beatle (but then, who ever has?) there are some great tracks here. '#9 Dream', 'Just Like Starting Over', 'Cold Turkey' and 'Watching the Wheels' are a few that stand out, away from the standard classics we all know. It's only a matter of time before I pick up the Imagine LP and start the ball rolling on John's solo albums...
I now know that before i die, I will have a bloody great big shelf with everything the Beatles released on it, as a band and solo. This is just one more step towards that eventually inevitability. Nice one, John.
Friday, December 10, 2004
Just shook my head back and forth and blew air out of my mouth, which made a kind of "whup whup whup whup" sound... Which instantly sent me into a nightmarish flashback of my time in 'Nam. Charlie in the jungle, up in the trees, everywhere. The stifling wet heat, sweat pouring across my brow as our gunship headed up river, into the heart of darkness. The sticky stench of napalm and helicopter fuel. Mortars booming all around me, bullets buzzing past like bees.
Except I was never in 'Nam. I've just watched lots of movies. And I'm an idiot.
Thursday, December 09, 2004
Xfm have done one of those competitions where you have to guess the album covers. I got most of them, then got bored. Anyway, I thought they would make a nice montage type mosaic thing. And here it is. Who says I couldn't be an artist? You are all fools of the highest calibre.
Monday, December 06, 2004
Ash - 'A Life Less Ordinary'
Because it's Ash at their most brilliant. Because it went against the idea of doing a cynical cash-in song for an underachieving movie. Because it's the first Ash song Charlotte played on, giving the already superpowered Ash sound an extra kick in the guts. Because it's always the fans favourite. Because it was produced by Arthur Baker. Because the video manages to be effortlessly cool. Because there's a remix version with different lyrics that is equally ace. Because the lyrics are pure adolescent lovesick yearning. Because it, quite simply, rocks.
Because it's everything that make Ash such a fantastic, exciting and emotionally charged band. It makes you feel glad to be alive. It's one of the few CD singles i conciously remember buying and immediately taking home and playing over and over and over. When they play it live it feels like an exorcism, all the adult crap that weighs down on my shoulders is blown away by the blast of teenage enthusiasm and angst and pure energy. Which is what happened when I saw them last night. This remains one of my favourite singles of all time from one of my favourite singles bands of all time. And I've got a feeling it's gonna stay that way for a very long time indeed.
Friday, December 03, 2004
Ok, here goes. The God's honest truth. I'm allergic to chocolate and caffeine. There we go. Said it. Have been since i was a kid. Didn't eat chocolate or drink coke from the age of about 8 until I was 15. Why? Well, it used to make me go completely hyperactive and turn into a devil child spawn of Satan. Then I'd come down, and become a miserable little grumpy sod of a boy. Once my mum realised this, I was banned from eating said foodstuffs until I was old enough to control it. I cracked at 15 and managed to control the hyperactivity, and having not eaten any for 7 years, then ate all of the chocolate in the world. Quite right. As for Coke, it took until university for the full benefits of caffeine to become apparent, and i was then instantly hooked on almost all the varieties. (I have the same disdain for coffee as i do for tea, as in if I have to wait for a kettle to boil and for a drink to cool, then it's out the window.)
But the facts are evident. I can just about control myself on chocolate, but caffeine is another matter. It still gives me mood swings like nobodies business, dizzying highs and crushing lows. If I have even a drop of Coke after about 1pm, then it will keep me up all night (that's not exaggerating). I just shouldn't drink the stuff. That, to any human being with half a brain, is obvious. So WHY OH WHY do i keep drinking it? Coke, Diet Coke, Pepsi, Pepsi Max, Cherry Coke, Virgin Cola, Dr Pepper, even chuffing Rola Cola if that's all their is. JD and cokes at 1am. Perfect, Delboy, nice one. You'll sleep well after that, won't you? Dick.
The problem is twofold. Firstly, I just really like the taste of full fat CocaPepsiDrWhatever. Gives me a kick (and like most kicks it leads to pain, but my thought processes aren't that advanced...) I'll probably serve Cherry Coke at my wedding i love it so much. I'm supping Diet Caffeine Free Coke as I type (or 'brown water' as my friend described it. 'What's the point of that?' she cried. Fair point.) Secondly, it's the acceptable, non-alcoholic choice in the pub, especially if you're a bloke. Ordering Lemonade or Orange Juice makes you look a bit lame. Almost as if the fact that they pack it full of caffeine somehow makes it acceptable (similar, I suppose, to ordering a coffee at the end of an evening as opposed to horlicks, innit?) "Hey, I may not be killing my liver, but at least I'll have a heart attack!" Jackpot.
So, you see my dilemma. As it stands, I'm avoiding the stuff, as i have enough difficulty controlling my mood and sleeping properly at this time of year as it is (you BASTARDS!), but I'm fairly sure that I'll return once again to the sweet elixir that fuels my destructive side. Until then, have one for me, dear reader, lest there be a catastrophic recession in the fizzy beverage market while i take my leave.