Tuesday, 28 June 2022

Memory Mixtape #19: Video Shop

Compared to a lot of my friends, we didn’t get a video recorder till quite late – probably 1985 or ’86. Not soon enough to record the first series of Moonlighting when it aired, but I taped and kept every episode from the second season on. An even bigger thrill was in store at the weekend...

By the time I was 15, I was regularly baby-sitting on a Friday or Saturday night for my brother or sister’s kids, so a trip to the video shop beforehand was a must. I’d usually grab two or three films: a blockbuster (small ‘b’ – we didn’t get a Blockbuster near us till the 90s), a teen movie (I must have watched Ferris Bueller fifty times before it became available to buy) and the worst 80s horror flick I could find. I worked my way through all the Halloween & Friday The 13th movies and their ilk, developing an abiding love for the slasher movie, though I never really dug Freddie Krueger. I mean, it was all just a dream!

There is no greater symbol of 80s nostalgia than the video rental shop. Within a decade, video had been replaced by DVD, video shops had been replaced by online DVD rental (remember how Netflix started out? DVDs mailed to you in the post!) and within the blink of an eye, we were all swamped with choice fatigue by the streaming platforms. Everything you could ever want to watch available whenever you want to watch it (except when it’s not). Things were so much simpler back in the good old days…

I don’t have anything particularly revelatory to add to this post, no specific anecdotes to illustrate the excitement of a Friday night trip to the video shop, when compared to the mundanity of flicking through endless online options. Still,  this delightful little time capsule from Moxy Früvous, released back in 1993 at the height of the video rental boom (hard to believe, but DVD didn’t come along till 96/97) does the job for me…

Don't be too confused by the little reviews
On the back of the box, just pick up the boxes, all the boxes you can use
The hipedi-hoppest videos in the land
Maybe something foreign, maybe something panned, maybe something formerly banned
Perhaps it's something you can watch with friends, or something that inevitably lends
Itself to shapely curves and bends of exploited women and their friends
Perhaps it's "New York, New York" with Liza Minnelli and Mickey Rourke
No. That's not right... It was Robert Deniro, everyone's favourite video… hero

Monday, 27 June 2022

Celebrity Jukebox #2: Ursula Andress

If you can name more than one Ursula Andress role, you're better than me. Still, if you're going to be famous for only one part, at least make it iconic. There's no doubt that Ursula's bikini-clad entrance in Dr. No went down in history... to the point that they even had Daniel Craig parody it in his first Bond film. Which was probably the best bit of any of his films. It was all downhill from there.

Likewise, I knew of only one song that featured the first ever Bond girl... though it turns out she has more than one song named after her. The one I didn't know, mercifully, was this: from a Nu Metal band so obscure, I can't even find them on iffypedia...

Elecktra - Ursula Andress

"Love is a gun..."
That's what she says...
While I'm crying with a gunshot on her bed...
On and oh, she's shooting near to me
And I'm bleeding on her bed
And she doesn't care...
On and oh, she can clean her sheets,
She could erase her head,
With detergent

I'm really hoping that English isn't their native language, otherwise there's no excuse for those lyrics.

Slightly more palatable... but only just... is Ursula's lyrical appearance in the 90s Broadway musical Violet, described as "the story of a young disfigured woman who embarks on a journey by bus from her farm in Spruce Pine, North Carolina, all the way to Tulsa, Oklahoma in order to be healed." I'm guessing it's pretty worthy.

You should ask that preacher for some Ursula Andress legs.

No, I think my legs are fine.

No, but rising outta the ocean in that white Dr. No bikini...

What's a matter wit my legs?

Well, nothing. They're long.

Well why did you bring them up at all?

I bet that's right up George's street.

Ursula also gets a mention in a live album by The Kingston Trio, though it's an intro section, not an actual song. Still, so far this is the winner...

I just chose to sit in my velour overalls and build a Revel kit of Ursula Andress, 
A few glue marks but a good job otherwise...

As for an actual song... I guess this one might just count, from a Brooklyn band described on youtube as "L7 meets the Dandy Warhols"... can't say I find their chosen band name particularly endearing though. 

A beauty queen
A silver screen
Here's your chance go and find her
Let me be your Honey Ryder

But enough of all that. There was one song good enough to get Ursula a starring role in this feature. And the rule is: I only need one. Here's London-based Americana outfit Curse Of Lono, with a stand out track from last year's album People In Cars...

Wo Ho My My, we're sipping margaritas on the back seat
And she's singing to the radio
My My Hey Hey, Honey's just a dream
And she feels like Ursula Andress when she's stoned

Sunday, 26 June 2022

Snapshots #246: A Top Ten Diamond Songs

A Diamond Geezer introduce a Top Ten Diamond Songs... though there were quite a few more I didn't have room for in the jewellery box.

10. Flying fast over MacArthur Park, Hadley claims to be Solo.

Jet + (Richard) Harris (who sang MacArthur Park).

Tony Hadley says "Me Han" (Solo).

Or maybe you just recognised their faces.

9. Rhyming kickers.

Hoddle & Waddle, famous for kicking a ball... and for recording this, which is better than I remember it being.

(In my continual quest to find artists who have never featured in Snapshots before, there are no depths I won't plumb.)

8. Lassie, Laika, Mr. Ed.

7. Colorado Beatle.

John was a Beatle. Denver is in Colorado.

6. Hipster friend joins the PTA. 

Ben is my hipster friend. He's not yet joined the Harper Valley PTA.

5. An ivy sunbath.


4. Rowan's bottom.


3. Coyote cries like a baby.

Wile E. Coyote goes Waaah!

2. Surely you can't be serious about that deep sounding fish?

A bassey would be a deep sounding fish... and don't call me Shirley!

1. Al. 

On the other hand, he's happy for you to call him Al.

Paul Simon - Diamonds On The Soles Of Her Shoes

Shine on, you crazy diamonds... at least until next Saturday morning, when the Snapshots will flash again.

Saturday, 25 June 2022

Saturday Snapshots #246

Welcome gentlemen, scholars and acrobats to the one and only, truly original Saturday Snapshots!

Identify the ten pop stars below and work out what connects their tunes. The answer is as plain as your nose...

10. Flying fast over MacArthur Park, Hadley claims to be Solo.

9. Rhyming kickers.

8. Lassie, Laika, Mr. Ed.

7. Colorado Beatle.

6. Hipster friend joins the PTA. 

5. An ivy sunbath.

4. Rowan's bottom.

3. Coyote cries like a baby.

2. Surely you can't be serious about that deep sounding fish?

1. Al. 

Answers here tomorrow morning, groovy cats.

Friday, 24 June 2022

Celebrity Jukebox #1: Robert Mitchum

In a desperate effort to move this blog away from wall-to-wall misery, self-pity and middle-aged grumpiness, here's a new feature in which I pay tribute to celebrities who have been immortalised in song.

I don't know why I chose to start with Robert Mitchum, other than I wanted the list to be random and he was the first person who popped into my mind. When I was younger, and a huge Humphrey Bogart fan, I never liked Robert Mitchum. I found him rather wooden compared to Bogie: given they both played Philip Marlowe, it was hard not to line them up together. 

In later years though, I grew to appreciate Mitchum's performances more, and I could see why he was considered a very cool dude. In modern times, I felt the same way about Keanu Reeves at first, thinking him a one-note actor (that note being Ted "Theodore" Logan), but over time I developed a lot more respect for him. Like Mitchum, he has real screen presence. And that indefinable cool.

Julian Cope was the first person to immortalise Robert Mitchum in song...

The part in Ryan's Daughter when you lose your wife
I've never seen a more dignified man in my life

But when you start looking for Bob Mitchum songs though, you'll be amazed how popular he is...

"Can I have your autograph?"
He said to the fat blonde actress
"You know I've seen every movie you've been in,
From Paths of Pain to Jewels of Glory
And when you kissed Robert Mitchum
Gee but I thought you'd never catch him"

He said, I want to grow up
And look like Robert Mitchum
And I hope that when I'm gone
There'll be some say that I miss him

Imports and altercations
My faculties on a shoe-string vacation
I settled down on a hurt as big as Robert Mitchum
And listen to Lucinda Williams

But there he'd sit
At his table at the Edgewater Hotel
Wearing his ecclesiastical furs
And lunching with two giggly and none too healthy looking young men
And in his shirt pocket up close to his heart was his autographed picture of Robert Mitchum
Which he no doubt used in an impure way

Solvents glue and heroin she said
I don't want to do that at all
I took her to see Robert Mitchum in
Night of the Hunter

Shelley Winters has a vision of
Righteousness from up above
She trades her children for the love
Of a preacher with a soul decay

Before we get onto this week's winning tune, it's worth remembering that Mr. Mitchum had a short-lived musical career of his own... and I'm guessing a certain Mr. B. Springsteen might be aware of it...

Now I can't guarantee that every week I'll find quite so many songs about one celebrity... I'm sure there are plenty with only one to their name. But when I first thought about starting with Robert Mitchum, this was the song I knew I'd finish with. Because it's almost as cool as he was...

Thursday, 23 June 2022

Mid-Life Crisis Songs #85: To Be Frank

I lay my head on the railroad tracks
And wait for the double E
The railroad don't run no more
Poor poor pitiful me
Warren Zevon always has the answer.

It's been a bit of a miserable week on this blog, and I'm not going to harp on about that any more, other than to thank you all for your kind and supportive comments. They're more appreciated than I can say without sounding insincere.

Thanks also to Frank Turner, who appears to understand this weltschmerz very well...

I got a brand new name for an old, old friend
The doctor said it's anxiety
And it makes a lot of sense 'cause I've been so tense
Some days, I find it difficult to see

'Cause I've been hemmed in, penned down, struggling to find myself
Caved in, cut down, scared of everybody else
Dragged in, dragged down, searching for a reason to live

Don't you ever wake up and suspect
That you were simply never cut out to be
The kind of person they expect
The person you intended to be?

And I keep it all in with my idiot grin
And I'm doing my best but there's very little left
So cut me some slack if I crawl back into my shell
I haven't been doing so well
Couldn't you tell?

And if self-loathing was a sport, I'd be Muhammad Ali
'Cause I can sting like a butterfly and sink like a bee
But they don't hand out medals to monsters like me
Oh well

I haven't been doing so well

Wednesday, 22 June 2022


At 10.30 on Monday evening, I got a call from the local vet's. I couldn't work out why they'd be ringing at that time and I was convinced they'd got the wrong number. Sadly, not the case. They were calling to tell me that Cosmo had been run over. Some kind soul had at least taken him to the vets so they could trace him through his tracking chip... otherwise, he'd have just disappeared and we'd never have known he was dead.

Cosmo was a very independent animal. He treated our house like a hotel where he'd come and snooze, top up on biscuits, and then head back out on his adventures. He would announce his arrival with a short "Breep" and trip you up until you filled his dish. If it was raining, he'd barge in while you were watching TV and demand you towel him down.  He wasn't an affectionate cat, didn't like being picked up, would occasionally bite you if you tried to stroke him... yet he had a surprising bond with Sam. He would bash down Sam's bedroom door early in the morning and cuddle up with Sam on the bed. 

He could lie down like no other cat I've ever known. As though he was stretching himself out as far as he could go. Like one of those rugs with a lion's head at one end. 

He would even hang off the banister like this... and make it seem comfortable. There's a poem by Eleanor Farjeon called Cats Sleep Anywhere. If I didn't know better, I'd think she'd written it about Cosmo.

Cosmo considered the cat flap the best invention ever. Before we had it fitted, he would need to constantly pester the humans to let him in and out. With the cat flap, he truly was a free spirit. 

This is the last photo I took of Cosmo, on Sunday. There was a competition in Sam's magazine to send a photo of your pet with a copy... I never got round to emailing it. Probably for the best.

I didn't want to call him Cosmo, but I was out-voted. He wasn't named after Cosmo Jarvis, although Sam does like a few of that Cosmo's songs. Especially the rather bawdy one below...

Cosmo was only two years old when he died, but he leaves a big hole in our lives.

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