So, that much touted Rome drama started last night. It was quite silly really, but I enjoyed it. Those two main Centurians, they are the ancient world’s Robson and Jerome, right? Christmas single, damn right. Oh, and the plummy accents, ha. Compulsive viewing.
…and you will know us by the trail of dead: and the rest will follow
They are a real lower case sort of band, a sorta Archers of Loaf/Polvo/Iron Maiden mish-mash. I like this song for three main reasons:
1. It’s an anthem with a marching beat – always a good thing.
2. It has silly melodramatic lyrics about how crappy the world is.
3. It has dolphin noises (dolphins are cleverer than us)
If this was in a Freaky Trigger Pop Music Focus Group (I miss them), I’d give it a 9.
Ostentatious Displays of Christmas-ness- An Observation.
Whilst walking home from work, I was taken by the number of houses that had their Christmas trees facing out from the front room window, so that all who could walk by could see. Is there some sort of competition going on here? Is this where you put your tree? Admitedly, it’s quite pretty and cheering to look at the lights and the trees as I’m walking home, but I also get the feeling – THEY WANT ME TO LOOK, and be humbled by their tasteful decorating skills, whereas my tree will more than likely be the usual gaudy collection of new and mostly old X-mas decorations on a plastic tree. Tucked away in a corner. Damn!
So, I was watching popular teen soap Hollyoaks this evening, two of the regular characters were talking about something or another (I think it involved making a sheep costume for a navity play) in the newsagent, when I noticed…someone in the background was taking down and looking at the ‘adult’ magazines – merrily flicking through them was he! Has this ever happened in a soap before? Do the newsagents of soapdom usually have such magazines on their shelves? It could easily be the stuff of a A-Level Sociology cousework!!!
The Tarquin Records All Stars – Do They Know It’s Christmas?
Okay, I haven’t heard the new version of DTKIC?, but all the talk has inspired me!…This is my all time favourite version of the song, recorded way back in 1997. It features the talents of the Katis brothers of Philistines Jr fame, James Kochalka, and Brian Dewan amongst others. It’s rousing and sing-a-longable, just like the original, and is over in a jaunty 3 minutes and 20 seconds, no faffing about. Add a seering keyboard refrain and the “clanging chimes of doom” line followed by cheesy bells, and you have a great song made even better.
This is one of the only songs that my sister willingly volunteers to hear, along with “Every Rose Has It’s Thorn”, it is that good. I think I’ve put it as the last song on every mix-tape I’ve ever made. Please note that I think William Shatner’s “Common People” is the definitive version, so we may not see eye-to-eye on musical matters my friend.
It’s available on the magnificent “Tarquin Records All Star Holiday Extravaganza”, which also features another favourite mix-tape song, Brian Dewan’s cover of “R2D2 We Wish You A Merry Christmas”, and the Zamboni’s “Christmas Hockey News”. Check it out!!
Eight Great Minutes of TV
I put the telly on at around 10 am, Dick and Dom are caked in gunge already. A Kate Bush impersonator is singing “Wuthering Heights”, two men in white coats come and take her away. Then it’s time for “Bungalow Battle Bots”, a game of pure genius, with it’s heavy metal songs which seem to be made up on the spot. Two teams of kids are let lose on two guys in black – paint, duct tape, silly wigs, tubes etc, are added to them to turn them into fearsome battle robots – who fight!
Dick and Dom have achieved a visceral level of mentalism, it’s as though they’ve cast aside any hope of a serious TV career – I remember when Dom was just a TV magician and Dick was a run-of-the-mill kids TV host. Some kind of transformation has taken place, which to my shame I didn’t get at first, resulting in my criticism of “Dick and Dom in Da Bungalow” around a year ago. They truly are a real life Terence and Phillip, and for that I salute them.
Tesla – Five Man Acoustical Jam
I first heard a snippet of Tesla performing “Signs” on a taped episode
of Raw Power in around 1990/1 – or was it the Kerrang TV show, you know
the one presented by Mosher or Thrasher or whatever his name was. I thought it sounded great and so their “Five Man Acoustical Jam” became one of my
must have albums, I think it was also album of the month in Metal Hammer. I
never did buy it, I’m not sure why, it might just be that the local record
shops never stocked it. I’d always had it in my mind that “Signs” was the
best song I didn’t own.
A few months ago I found a second hand copy in CD Warehouse, I bought
it straight away. It was rubbish, I was disappointed, I barely listened to
it once before I left it at the bottom of the pile of CDs on my bedroom
floor. I decided to give it another go this week, and I have to report that is
one of the finest live albums ever recorded. I fully suspect that Tesla
truly believe that they are cowboys, this is always a fine starting point for
a rock band. It’s all boozy smoking boogie-woogie 12 bar blues,
“Thank-you Philadelphia!!!!” “alright!” “hell yeah” “let’s kick some ass”,
harmonica noodling, rasping vocals, and breaking out the electric guitar for some
solo’s toward the end. They even cover the Beatles (We Can Work It Out)
and the Stones (Mothers Little Helper), and er, The Grateful Dead
(Truckin’).Oh, and they finish the show with the Warner Brother’s “That’s All
Folks” jingle, I will love them forever for this.
A sprawling town on the edge of the centre, you could say it’s where the westerly suburbs begin, a mix of the urban and the very suburban. To me it has a really special charm, probably like your home town does to you. I don’t think you can really seperate place and memory, it’s always “where was I when…”, or going back to a place having all the memories come flooding back. We’ll get back to this…
What does Acton have to tempt the interested visitor? Er, well apart from the well documented seven railway stations, not an awful lot. There’s the tram depot, the police station, the way the roads rise and fall due to Acton’s hilliness. The Redback pub, a homing beacon for Aussies and South Africans. Some history to do with the Earl of Derwentwater, acorns and laundries. St Dunstans church is haunted by monks. And there’s always the Uxbridge Road, the great through road, get a 207 in Shepherd’s Bush and take a trip to Uxbridge some time, you’ll see a lot of what I call London – gritty high streets, estates, tree lined commons, bustling shopping centres, ugly buildings like Ealing Hospital directly opposite great architecture like the Viaduct, Southall, the lonely strecth of Hayes…It’s all there.
So, what does Acton mean to me? Well, it’s all the childhood memories like collecting conkers from the four great Horse Chestnut trees in Acton Park, and leaving them to rot in the back yard all through the winter. Getting stupidly excited about diesels transporting cars past the back of my house, and running around shouting “Car train! Car train!”. Buying those polystyrene toy aeroplanes with the little plastic propellers at the annual fete (what were they called? can you still get them). Walking to school with my pal Nav, and sometimes meeting Harchie and Omar too, buying penny sweets from the tuck shop on the way home (Cola bottles -yay!). The green grocer who spent half his time in the betting shop, the newsagent who kept my copy of Transformers back for me…Oh, this is so whimsical, of course Acton does have bad memories for me too, but it’s the happy childhood ones that spring to mind first.
Brilliant People of Television1: Ptolemy Dean
I was quite pleased when Restoration came back to our screens last night. Now, yes it’s a good thing that old buildings are being saved and returned to their former glory or put to some new use. Though, sometimes I think things look better as ruins…
Anyway, the best thing about Restoration is Ptolemy Dean, a man completely devoid of cynicism and named after an ancient astronomer. Ptolemy and his pal Marianne visit the buildings that are potential restoration winners, and have look around. To Ptolemy everything is marvelous and wonderful, it’s great to see someone so enthusiastic about their work, I mean how excited can someone get about a hole where a wrought iron post would have been, or how a rug has a label? (Answer: VERY!) And to top it all off he paints a watercolour of the building, he’s like a cross between Tony Hart and Patrick Moore.
Okay, just wanted to give some props, now I must think of some more potential “Brilliant People of Television”.
Some Fathers Do ‘Ave ‘Em or Troy.
So, I finally got round to seeing Troy, and the one thing that struck me was how much Paris came across as an ancient Frank Spencer. He was always getting things wrong, then trying to put them right and making things even worse. He even had the pretty wife (okay, someone else’s wife) who would forgive him everytime, I was really hoping he’d say “Oh, Helen”. The one time he did get something right, everyone ignored him, to their cost.
I felt sorry for poor old Hector, who came across as more put upon than heroic. Why didn’t anyone notice that Briseis was missing? Achilles’ Mermen (or whatever they were called) were like Sharpe’s Rifles – “it’s been an honour to serve with you sir”. I also liked how they used the same sad “you’re gonna die” music as they did in Gladiator.
Overall, there was way too much fighting, but I kinda enjoyed it.