I’ve always found the European habit of putting a comma rather than a full stop between the big coins and the little coins rather endearing. It’s one of those little differences that make popping over to the continent more of an adventure, like a greater concentration of old red-faced men eyeing you suspiciously in the street. However, since I’ve started dealing in the world of high finance (ahem) I’ve come across the startling truth. Not only do they have a comma separating the Euros from the centimes, but they have a full stop separating the thousands and the hundreds!! For instance, 12 thousand euros and 23 centimes would be €12.000,23. Now long time readers will know my feelings about bringing nationalistic sentiment into purely economic arguments, but it must be clear to anyone with eyes in their heads that in this case our friends in Bruseels are dead wrong. A full stop marks the end of something and the start of something else, whereas a comma is the continuation of something. They’ve turned reason on its head!
Yo, let me holler at y'all a minute. You see this shit? These Halls Mentho-Lyptus Extra Strong? Well let me tell you, this shit is the bomb. This is the real shit, the straight up dope shit. This some hardcore gangsta cough lozenge shit. Knawwhaaamsayin? Better aks somebody.
For real, yo: the menthol vapour action on these motherfuckers will knock yo punk ass out. You know, I can handle mine, knawwhaaamsayin, but check this: I dropped two of these motherfuckers and I was one doped-up smoked-out sorry ass motherfucker. Seriously, yo. Halls Mentho-Lyptus Extra Strong: this shit will fuck yo ass up. Recognise.
Don't be coming here getting all up in my shit with your 'Lockets' shit. Lockets? Bitch please. Lockets be on some silly bitch shit. And don't even start with that Cherry-flavour Tunes shit. Bitch, I pity you. I'm telling you, man, Halls Mentho-Lyptus Extra Strong be the shit. For real.
You may think you know what this book will be like before even reading it. Agatha Christie, you think, so vicars, unusual poisons, wills, country houses, Amazonian blow pipes. And awful dialogue. Well, let me throw a few more things into the mix. How about shadowy international Communist conspiracies, death-rays, evil Chinese masterminds, secret mountain bases and a character called ‘the Destroyer’. Not so sure now, are you? Although the dialogue is still a bit ropey. Anyway, this seems to be the book where Christie went a bit mental and decided to just take the piss. While it’s not what anyone would call a great book, it is very interesting to read if you’ve read quite a few Agatha Christies, or if you want to see just how indebted James Bond was to Poirot. The sheer genre-ripping novelty will have you snorting out loud in disbelief. Admittedly there are a few too many ‘But dash it Poirot, how could you possibly have known that?’ moments, but that pretty much comes with the territory.
Increasingly these days I am inclined to think of consciousness as being essentially cyclical in nature. One's thought processes on any given day will generally consist of about five or six topics which will just repeat in cycles of varying frequency, over and over and over again. These five topics can generally be broken down into a fairly small number of major categories: sex, food and work being the biggies, with a couple of spots reserved for one's current cirumstances and major preoccupations of choice. I've drawn a handy diagram to illustrate this, what I would like to call 'Cameron's Theory of Orbital Consciousness'. Pay attention now, you'll probably see this repeated in the next edition of the Oxford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy...
That's just me, anyway. The composition and relative frequency of the cycles will vary in accordance with various factors, notably age, gender, social position and level of drunkenness. The frequency of a cycle is hugely variable: to take one example: on the fateful day that young James got wed, for the roughly one-hour period that I in my Best Man-ly role was actually in possession of the wedding bands, the single thought 'Shit! Have I lost the rings?' increased in frequency till it was cycling at a rate of approximately once every two point five seconds during the final minutes before I got to give them to the vicar and breathe a massive sigh of relief. Once something has been running on such a 'hot cycle' it cannot simply disappear, and for the rest of the day (indeed, the week) I was still having sudden panics and checking my pockets, albeit with increasingly long gaps in between. It's been a couple of weeks now, and I think I'm okay, but I would not in the least be surprised if I find myself years from now, tramping up a mountainside in some far-flung part of Asia, suddenly thinking to myself 'Fuck! Where are the rings?'
Anyway, waking up: the great thing about waking up is that it is a chance to observe this process kicking in: you can take a few moments on waking to to simply lie there and pay attention to the first cycle of the day lazily running its course. By noting the first five things that drift through your slowly activating brain, you will get an exclusive teaser preview of what you are in fact going to be thinking about all day. For example, on my first attempt at this exercise, my first 5 thoughts covered the following subjects:
this girl that I like
how to lay out the first two panels of the page I'm working on
how 'Quality' by Talib Kweli really is a fantastic album and certainly deserves a better mark than I gave it in my review
how consciousness is essentially cyclical in nature and I should really get around to writing something about it some time
That was one day at random, but to be fair, it could have been any day of my life for the last couple of years. Sex, comics, hip-hop and philosophy. You'll notice how my actual JOB doesn't even get a look-in there...
I would invite all our readers to partake of this simple exercise; it's an extremely easy and often highly revealing bit of self-analyis; a kind of quick mental daily diagnostic (although it can be quite hard to remember, as you tend to be a bit sleepy at the time.) I would further invite all our readers to post, here, on the messageboard or via e-mail, their lists of the first five things they think about in the morning. In this way I hope to compile a psychic census of the nation, or at least of our glamorous and bohemian little corner of it. It'll be fun, and when I'm on 'Richard & Judy' selling my best-selling pop-psychological book on the subject I promise to send you all a postcard. 6.2/10
(Unconscious state) As Requested by Guest Reviewer Debbie
It takes up more of our life than anything else, unless we’re Yuppies or ‘Beats’, and great recording artists such as Marion, Heavy Stereo and Suggs have been inspired to write songs about it. But how much do we really know about sleep? Sometimes when I was drifting off to sleep, in that odd between time, I used to think that no one ever actually fell asleep, they just lay there unmoving but conscious all night, until we forgot about it each and every morning. But I was wrong, obviously.
There are two types of sleep. Evening Sleep is the big black void of sleep, and it is vitally important to relationships to have similar Evening Sleep patterns. No one likes lying awake in bed while their partner luxuriates in the soft velvety luxury of a deep sleep, but on the other hand no one likes being wakened in the middle of the night to be informed by their significant other that unlike yourself they can’t get to sleep. Surely this news can wait til morning?
Morning Sleep is a different beast, especially when hungover or having a lie in. Here you drift in and out of consciousness, with strange lucid dreams. In fact, most of my best creative ideas come from this period. Or at least ideas which seem great at the time but in the cold light of day unfortunately turn out to be garbled nonsense that would make David Lynch look at you with a mixture of confusion and pity. On the other hand, sometimes you can fall into the most hideous morning sleep traps of all, getting a song trapped in your head, which you only actually know a few lines of. After one particularly heavy session I spent about half an hour in the morning with one verse of ‘Living La Vida Loca’ by Ricky Martin going round and round and round…
Still, sleep is great. When I was a moody teenager I used to think I enjoyed sleep more than anything, and to this day I still try and set aside a good eight and a half hour slot each day for me to catch my z’s within. The effect it can have on your waking life is immense, and the world can seem a simply ripping place with a good stock of nap behind you. On the other hand, as Leonard Nimoy noted in his seminal ‘Spock Thoughts’, ‘do not distress yourself with imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue.’
I have no idea why anyone would want to spunk on a Wotsit then leave the results out in the sun for a week; perhaps as part of some bizarre homoerotic public school initiation rite, or as a grotesque revenge on a cheating partner. In any event, that is apparently what the bastards have done, and Lo they have given unto this Horror a name, and that name is Cream n' Cheesy Flavour Nik-Naks.
Imagine if such things existed! You wouldn’t be able to go out in the open without constantly watching the skies for death from above, especially if you lived in South America. In the end it wasn’t the hunter’s guns that rid the world of jaguars with wings, but simple physics. A lesson for us all.
Okay, so you've made a couple of records of near-perfect downtempo instrumental hip-hop, blending hard-edged breakbeats with melancholy, oddly beautiful soundscapes. But what do you do NEXT? It's a question that has, I am sure, troubled us all at some time or another. All of us, at least, who have produced a couple of records of near-perfect downtempo instrumental hip-hop, blending hard-edged breakbeats with melancholy, oddly beautiful soundscapes. (Myself, personally, I have not. But occasionally I like to pretend that I have in bars to impress girls, so I find it is best to have an answer prepared.) It is, however, an inordinately difficult question, whose answers are many and various, and always strangely unsatisfying. Some, like the UK's Rae & Christian or the Herbaliser, opt for slightly 'lite' attempts at making 'proper' soul / funk music. Other's, like Japan's DJ Krush, spiral off down an interesting if ultimately unfulfilling path of increasingly reductive sonic minimalism. And then there are those, like Luke Vibert / Wagon Christ, who just sort of.... carry on. To my mind only one guy has ever really got this right, the guy in question being 'Legendary San Franciscan Weirdo' DJ Shadow with his magnificent second album 'The Private Press'; a toweringly engaging record which balanced eclectic experimentalism with beat-heavy funk almost perfectly. But not perfectly; there were just enough massively bizarre and annoying failed tracks to make it interesting and, ultimately, loveable.
So, what then for Texas-born producer RJD2, whose previous recorded works to date (2003's excellent 'Deadringer' album and the frankly stunning collection of remixes and rare tracks, 'The Horror') have given him the not-unprofitable claim to fame of sounding more like DJ Shadow than DJ Shadow himself? To his credit, on this his second full-length solo LP, he offers a new and adventurous answer to the question: he goes FUCKING INSANE. Seriously. This is one of the most messed-up records I think I have ever heard. If you ever wondered what the sound of someone losing their very sanity was like, I urge you to buy this record and satisfy your morbid curiosity. It's certainly extremely hard to sum up in words. Bizarre. Uneven. Massively confusing. Surprisingly funky. In places the weird and seemingly arbitrary combination of disparate musical ingredients just fires perfectly, on tracks like the awesomely funky '1976' and the rollicking intercontinental mindfuck 'RingFinger'. But in places it just all gets a bit... unfocussed. And then... oh Jesus Christ, then there are the vocal tracks. It seems young RJ may have lost his heart to a young lady recently, because this record features several songs of love and loss, given voice by a singer of such jaw-dropping unskilled awkward badness that I can only presume it is in fact the writer/producer himself. (I would confirm this by perusing the liner notes, but unfortunately I don't have any. See, music piracy really IS wrong.) The freakish sad-sack wank-melody of 'Making Days Longer' is so embarrassing that at first it is almost impossible to actually listen to it. And then you come to 'Through the Walls', which finds Mr. D2 on a heroically thankless one-man mission to fuse cutting-edge dance music with terrible, terrible 80's pop-rock. Why? Fuck alone knows! And yet the more I listened to this record, and make no mistake, I could not fucking STOP listening to this record, the more these tasteless aural misbirths became my favourite thing on it.
As I think I may have mentioned, it's quite a strange record. But I think I am a little bit in love with it. What can I say, I like 'em mental.
Philosophers, as well as all the abstract stuff about who we are and whether if you dropped a stone it would fall, have been attempting to describe the best way to live your life. By various maxims and lines of reasoning they have presented the method of living that provides most happiness, satisfaction or utility. Now, I’ve never read any of these, but I’m going to present my ideas now and assume they are entirely original and groundbreaking. That’s the kind of guy I am.
First of all, there is no right way to live your life. While some might enjoy never going out and staying in on their own watching Hollyoaks all day, others might prefer Holby City. I cannot therefore tell you how to live. But I can tell you that nothing can be done to make life perfect. Every day will involve some form of struggle, either with other people, your own feelings, or a panda. Whatever path you choose, whatever profession, it’s never going to be easy. The only time when life stops being a struggle is when you’re dead.
The only way round this is to accept that all there is is a constant juggling act, trying to solve one problem before the next one comes along. Appreciate any moment of peace. Remember that noone has the answer to all life’s problems, but most people have the answer to at least one. And if you want any more practical advice, try Leonard Nimoy’s Spock thoughts. It’s all in there.
In this ongoing project (estimated completion date – 2106) Government appointed arbiters of taste Neill and James Cameron, and their descendents, will review everything in the world, and give it a score out of ten.