Tuesday, March 30, 2004

The Big Issue


NEILL says:

I wish people wouldn't talk to me about The Big Issue, I really do. People only ever say one of two things about the Big Issue, and both of them make my slap reflex get twitchy. Firstly there is the line taken the other day by a singularly witless and unlovely associate of mine, which went roughly as follows:

'... so I walk past, and they go 'Big Issue, love?' and I was like, 'No thank you', cause I always think its nicer to say 'no thank you', isn't it, cause some people just ignore them, you know? which is a bit rude, and they turn round and go 'well fuck you then', I mean well, with that kind of attitude, it's no wonder they're on the streets is it, really, I ask you."

If any of you have ever caught yourself saying or thinking anything along these lines, do me a favour and slap yourself in the back of your stupid head. I can't reach from here. If you are unclear as to why you are deserving of such, allow me to explain. First of all, I ask you to look back upon your own life, and reflect upon whatever experiences you may have had dealing with the Great British Public. You may work in a shop or a bar, you may have once upon a time briefly dabbled in telesales (it's OK, I won't judge you), I don't know, but surely all of you have at one time or another had some experience in that dark realm known as Customer-Facing Positions. As such, you will already know one very important thing about the Great British Public: that they are a shower of cunts. Seriously, an absolute bucket of fuck-knuckles. I once held down a job selling double-glazing for a grand total of two days, and by the end of it I was ready to start sending out anthrax parcels to random strangers. I'm sure you have all felt similarly. Now imagine having to deal with that frustration, indifference and abuse all day every day in order to scrape together even the smallest amount of money to get a bite to eat. Under such circumstances, it is hardly shocking that even the most personable Big Issue vendor might occasionally be less than perfectly civil. And anyway, what's the big deal? If there were homeless people on every street corner bullying and intimidating you into buying 'OK' magazine, I'd understand a bit of hostility, but the Big Issue is actually a pretty good read, you know. Everyone should buy it. It's the least you can do. Have you noticed how cold it's been lately?

The other thing that people say about the Big Issue, and this is even MORE irritating, is that it's actually a pretty good read, you know, and that you really should buy it, it's the least you can do. There is a certain kind of self-regarding liberal wankrag who will happily bleat on about it's intelligent and independent coverage of domestic social and political issues, and how it presents a perspective that represents a massive proportion of the population yet one that is almost always entirely absent from the mainstream media (broadly speaking: that of people who don't live in Islington), etc. etc. I hate this crap, and I hate the pissants who come out with it (so, yeah – me). Like I'm so fucking down with the cause, and I'm not just buying it out of guilt and desperately over-rationalising the fact that this £2 a week is the beginning and end of my constructive contribution to society. Cheap, sanctimonious pissant nonsense, with all the self-aware dignity of Smashie and Nicey talking about their contributions to 'Charidee'. I swear. As if I have ever personally ever lost so much as a minutes sleep fretting over the plight of the homeless. Let's be honest, I couldn't give less of a fuck. I hate the fucking bums.

Readers with an interest in the concept of 'karma' may be amused to hear that immediately after mentally composing the previous sentence at the bus stop, I was called upon to try and break up a fight between two homeless persons apparently intent on strangling each other, receiving for my troubles a big stick waved in the face and a faceful of surprisingly lucid and articulate verbal abuse. Nah, just kidding! It was only ‘fuck off’. So it's okay, you see. The fucking bums hate me, too.


The Brain


JAMES says:

Integral to life really (unless you’re a Tory, oh, the satire), but you can’t help wondering if the brain is really on your side. For instance, when nursing a hangover, who tells you it’s a good idea to go the slightly suspect looking curry house for an all you can eat buffet? The brain, that’s who. And when you’re involved in a heated debate who not only fails to come up with a devastating riposte at the time, but then rubs it in a couple of hours later by coming up with the point that would have proved beyond all doubt your correctness and brilliance? Again, the brain. Who gets songs by Nickelback stuck in it for hours, who decides that the night before an exam/interview is the perfect time to not sleep but actually go over every little thing that is wrong with your life, who couldn’t just forget that time you embarrassed yourself in front of the entire school, that’s right, your old friend brainy (not Brainiac who is noone’s friend. Except his little monkey) I hypothesise a continual struggle between the good and evil parts of the brain (or the Morecombe and Wise Lobes to give them their official name). So, probably best to just count your losses and get rid of the entire thing.


Crime and Punishment

by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

NEILL says:

A truly astonishing work; gripping, vivid, breathtakingly involving. You wouldn't like it.


Tuesday, March 23, 2004

Yo' Momma

(Yo' Momma)

JAMES says:

Yo’ Momma so fat, when she auditioned for the part of Brunhilde in Wagner’s Ring Cycle, a part traditionally given to overweight women who are able to produce the low notes needed for the performance of the final ‘Fire Song’, the proverbial fat lady singing which brings the epic opera to a close with the end of the world, she was told she would have to lose a few pounds to get the part.


The Saturday Guardian


JAMES says:

The best newspaper in the world. The Sydney Morning Herald is quite good on a Saturday, but has too much stuff about Australia for my liking. The Saturday Guardian has it all, magazines for the ladies, a little guide so you can know what’s on TV wherever you are, a big intellectual book review bit, jobs and nicely left wing news. However, I never actually buy it anymore, and I’ll tell you why. It’s too blummin’ big! Now, I’m not a guy who can just dip into things. There’s only one James way of doing things, and that’s beginning to end. So working my way through the paper, even ignoring crappy bits like sport and travel, just takes too long. I’m still reading the book reviews come Friday, and I have no time to read books or watch TV hardly at all. It takes a couple of hours just to work my way through the news bit. So I’ve had to cut it out, right out. It’s still good though.


NEILL says:

I hate to say it, but he's right. I’m sorry, Saturday Guardian, but… well, it’s over. It’s not you… you’re wonderful… clever, funny, atttactive… it’s just, you take a week to read and I just don’t think I can deal with that kind of commitment. What's that? No, there's no one else. Your friends said what? They've seen me around town reading the tabloid-sized Independent? That's crazy. No, it's not because it's more compact than you, don't be stupid. I like my newspapers big, you know that. It's me, I'm just… I’m not in a newspaper-reading place right now. What? Is it because Julie Burchill left?

My God, how can you even ask me that?


Monday, March 22, 2004

Vernon Kay and June Sarpong

(Television Presenters)

NEILL says:

I have never been beaten up and then peed on by a gang of PCP-crazed Albanian sadists wearing David Hasselhoff masks, so I can't technically guarantee that it is the only thing more degrading and unpleasant than watching ‘T4’ as presented by Vernon Kay and June Sarpong; two people so colossally mentally subnormal that one can only imagine they are somehow the inbred bastard offspring of each other.

But I would hazard a guess.


Monday, March 08, 2004

Combining music collections when you move in with someone

(Thing that happens when you move in with someone)

Keep reading for your chance to WIN STUFF!

JAMES says:

In theory this should be brilliant, as you automatically double the range and quantity of your available music listening to reserve. However, in my extensive research for this review which is not just entirely based on my own experience but stands as a universal truth for all cultures and societies, one side usually brings a lot less to the table. And, without meaning to be sexist, that side is usually the ladies (or the ‘bitch’ in single sex relationships). The man brings his boxes of eclectic but always interesting CDs, a whole wealth of joy and excitement which if the woman had any sense she would take a week off work and listen through in alphabetical order twice, and in return gets a couple of albums that the girl bought when she was 14 because she fancied the lead singer.

Then you come to the integration dilemma. It’s easy to just have your music separately, thus avoiding the nightmare scenario where someone is looking approvingly through your collection at a party only to come across ‘Abba Gold’ or somesuch. You tell them it’s your girlfriend’s, but you can see in their eyes a doubting glimmer. It also means that your partner can find her CDs when she wants them, which I suppose is a good thing. However, these are far outweighed by the negative, that the CD collection in your house will not be in order. Not alphabetically, not by genre, not even by colour, and I know I certainly couldn’t sleep if that state of affairs prevailed in my house. Anarchy.

There are benefits of course. When your little lady starts listening to your favourite bands of her own volition, it fills you with a pride almost as great as if you’d made it yourself. On the flip side, though, you might find yourself in the position of being in the mood to listen to a Divine Comedy CD, which can shake your self esteem to the core. You can also buy your loved one an album that you actually wanted yourself as a present, and then get unlimited access to it. Finally, you get duplicates of albums which you can give away in a competition to boost interest in your hilarious yet insightful website. Like I said, universal truths, no personal experience in here at all.


COMPETITION: Yes, dear readers, in the spirit of the above review we are giving one lucky reader the chance to win James' superfluous post-merging extra copy of the superb album '13' by Blur. To win this rare, exclusive and cutting-edge prize, and possibly a tube of Rolos thrown in too, simply tell us the WORST record you have ever found in the CD collection of a girlfriend / husband / PVC sex dwarf / whatever. Anyone and everyone is allowed to enter this fun contest, except for Neill; partly because it's his website, and partly because he once went out (briefly) with a girl whose entire music collection consisted of military band music and Telstar TV-advertised 'Best of Soft Metal' compilations, so he would win too easily.

Just e-mail your entry to competition@urtheory.co.uk - closing date… oh, not for ages.


By Amy Winehouse

NEILL says:

I surprised myself the other day by buying a record based on the strength of absolutely nothing more than the fact that I quite fancied the singer. This is the sort of behaviour that would be risible in a thirteen-year-old boy, so in one of my own advanced years it is more than a little alarming. Especially given that I've spent the last five years or so mocking one Bobby Hazlehurst for once buying a 'Sleeper' CD for the precisely the same reasons. Still, though - Louise Wener? I mean, it's hardly the same thing.

Anyway, given the above, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that 'Frank' by Amy Winehouse was actually quite a good record. Because, let's face it, it could have sucked more dick than Michael Portillo in the back of a cab with the members of Busted, and I'd have had no-one to blame but myself. But no; Winehouse has an astonishing growling motherlover of a voice that would do credit to a 300-lb Detroit-born Soul Mama, let alone a damn cute 19-year old Jewish girl from North London. (Which is what she is, apparently). Possibly Winehouse's greatest strength, apart from the 'damn cute' thing and the ‘shit-hot singer’ thing, is her lyrical wit and intelligence. 'Fuck Me Pumps' is a hilarious ode to Saturday-night High-street scrubbers everywhere ("You can't sit down right / Cause your jeans are too tight / And you're lucky it's Ladies Night"), whilst 'I heard love is blind' contains the singularly poetic lines:

"I couldn't resist him, his eyes were like yours/
His hair was exactly your shade of brown/
He's just not as tall, but I couldn't tell/
It was dark and I was lying down"

In general, Winehouse combines cool maturity and brassy showstopping confidence with the faintest suggestion of vulnerability in a way that pretty much guarantees her a future as an icon to generations of as yet unborn gay men. There is, unfortunately, a weak point in all this fabulousness; and it is in the rather key area of the songs themselves. On the numbers where Winehouse has a tune to match her (such as the absolute belter 'In My Bed') it all goes off thrillingly, but too often her undoubtedly astonishing voice is left to carry a series of rather unremarkable and repetitive melodies.

Still, though. Like I say. DAMN cute.


Free Stuff

(Free Stuff)

JAMES says:

Anything, anything at all, is at least ten times better when it’s free. If I had a choice between a job with tons of free stuff as perks, or a job that paid better so I could actually buy the stuff myself, I certainly know which one I’d go for.

When it comes to marking Free Stuff I have a dilemna, as it is obviously dependent on the stuff that is free. I was going to give it a value of +3, in a Dungeons and Dragons-stylee, so that anything we’ve reviewed would be 3 marks better if it was free. So, for instance, free Australian Beer would be 7.2/10. However this would mess up the chart, and would mean that free Mince would get 12/10 which is clearly insane. Therefore I’m going to give it 8/10, which is the average mark of 5/10 plus 3.

It’s not so easy being a reviewer, you see.


Tuesday, March 02, 2004

Wednesday 19th November, 2003


JAMES says:

There’s a limit to how well a day can be when it starts off with an exam (no, I’m not 16 years old, I’m an accountant. We spend half our lives doing exams, and then the other half marking them for small change). But to maintain the cosmic ying/yan balance I decided to spend the afternoon having lots and lots of fun. My name is James Cameron and this is not the longest day of my life.

The exam itself was OK, 3 hours went by super quickly, and only the end dragged, when we couldn’t leave as the idiot next to me couldn’t work out how to stick a bit of card down. And he wants to be an accountant? The idiot. Anyway, fresh out of the municipal building and filled with the elation of three months of watching TV anticipated, so I decided to go and stuff my face with KFC then watch the Matrix Reloaded. Which wasn’t lots and lots of fun. Admittedly after all the fried chicken and the reduced to clear marsh mallows I had consumed I wasn’t in the most receptive mood, but I spent most of the film bored. Now, being bored in a Matrix film, that ain’t right, that’s what old people and girlfriends do. But there I was, praying for the protracted Star Wars rip-off war to end. Lots of characters you’d hardly seen before and no real chance of winning without making the whole film more pointless than it actually was. It was during this section that about 8 people walked out of the cinema, so I wasn’t alone. Though as there were only about 10 people to start with I very nearly was. I have lots more cleverly amusing put downs for the film, but I don’t want to ruin it so anyone wanting to hear them write in and you’ll get a special ‘Too hot for the internet’ version of this review.

Anyway, I now had an unexpected fun deficit to deal with, so I decided to go for some well deserved shopping. Unfortunately the puritan skin-flint Scotsman in me then made me feel very guilty about spending money on myself. It also exhausted me, being a man an not used to it, and I felt the last few months effort catching up with me, so I was exhausted by the time I met Debbie. She was recovering from a lunchtime drinking session, so neither of us was feeling particularly vibrant and the whole day looked doomed to disaster.

Thankingfully, salvation came along in the form it so often takes, a Barbeque. We dined that evening at Bodean’s BBQ restaurant, and I cannot recommend the place enough. Or, rather, I can’t be bothered to recommend it enough, but it is very good. Half-price cocktails and piles of meat as big as your plate. The pulled pork and burnt ends were particularly fine. If you’re in Soho and not a vegetarian, get thee to the BBQ. After that I just feel full and happy, so went home. There followed a brief attempt in the ongoing project of teaching Debbie how to play video games. I thought we might but alright on this one as the point of the game was to crash as badly as possible, but she just fell asleep, and thus the day ended.

Exam – 3/10
Matrix Revolutions – 6.1/10
Shopping – 5/10
Bodean’s BBQ – 8.8/10

Total for Day – 5.7/10

NEILL says:

Uh… I think I had chips.


Premature Baldness

(Cosmic Tragedy)

NEILL says:

I don't think of myself as a vain person, but having to face the fact that I am undeniably and irreversibly going bald has induced in me a crisis of frankly girlish proportions. The sheer implausibility of it offends and astonishes me. I mean, for God's sake - who goes bald at 26? Me and fucking Lex Luthor, apparently. And I'll tell you, I have a whole new world of sympathy and understanding for that guy. No wonder he was a little bitter, having to look at Superman flying around all day with a full head of wavy lustrous oddly-blue hair, like he was such hot shit. Luthor, Ming the Merciless, George off Seinfeld... bald men have a great tradition of being evil bitter maniacs, a fact which is perhaps only capable of true comprehension by those who have themselves felt the brush of the wind where no man should. The insanity stems from a complete inability to move, rationally or emotionally, past the enormous and intractable question: why? What possible reason could there be to justify this horror? How could a loving creator allow this to happen? Science certainly cannot help us; I find it impossible to discern the evolutionary purpose served by walking round with one's scalp exposed to the elements. Unless it were to stop one's head overheating, but I would have thought this concern were already comprehensively addressed by the simple expedient of living in Britain. The only possible explanation I can think of is the supernatural; it is clearly some kind of a curse, sent by Gods who were jealous of my otherwise flawless staggering physical beauty. This notion is one that would afford me some small comfort, were it not so patently, demonstrably and hilariously false.

However, as anyone who knows me will happily concede, I am a cheery and unfailingly positive soul, not the sort to dwell for one second on life's bleaker aspect. It is in this spirit that I have compiled the following list of Good Things About Looking Like Phil Mitchell:

  • People on the whole do seem less inclined to fuck with you.

  • There is a certain soothing satisfaction to be had from rubbing one's bristly head contemplatively, like the old geezer in 'Seven Samurai'.

  • Um... increased sensitivity to changes in atmospheric pressure.

And that's the lot. Scant compensation, I think you'll agree. The striking thing about premature baldness, and the real reason it is so massively and cosmically unjust, is the way it forces the individual to confront stark realities about time and mortality that could normally be swept under the psychological rug until well into middle age. Yes, you are getting older. Yes, you are going to die. No, you don't get to score with teenage girls any more.

…I'm sorry, I can't go on.

1.6/10, and that's only for the 'Seven Samurai' thing.