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Archaeology Corner

Dad’s Army: English Heretics

Image by rottonara (Pixabay)

Reading Andy Sharp’s brilliant, bonkers The English Heretic Collection, I discovered – among the more predictable meditations on J.G Ballard, Witchfinder General and the numerous secret army bases dotted around England – this pearl of wisdom regarding the opening credits of everyone’s favourite Home Guard sitcom:

“They are on manoeuvre towards their ultimate fate. Corporal Jones, stumbling, looking over his shoulder for some imaginary Hun; neurasthenic from his experiences in the trenches. Jones’ much-loved catchphrase Don’t Panic! isn’t comedy gold, but a projection of the PTSD that riddles the minefield of his memories. He’s clearly triggered by the slightest emergency.” 

Continue reading “Dad’s Army: English Heretics”

In Extremadura, now ILLUSTRATED!

My second book first came out in 2017 and, while those of you lucky enough to get a hard copy would have enjoyed the plethora of pictures therein, downloaders had to make do with a text-only version. Until now! Finally, I have bowed to pressure and added the photos you’ve all been missing. And it still won’t cost you a penny!

In Extremadura is a radical deconstruction of the Brit Abroad genre (see, for example, A Year In Provence)  (on second thoughts, don’t!)  Spanish/South American travelogue, potted history and treatise on the nature of mortality rolled into one, it includes predictable digressions on cinema (Orson Welles, Luis Bunuel)  literature (Javier Cercas, Tintin) peregrination,  wild swimming in Scotland, celebrity speed freaks and the death of David Bowie.  Continue reading “In Extremadura, now ILLUSTRATED!”

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Southern Man: Five Films Starring Ned Beatty

Starring Ned Beatty: these are not words you generally see trailing a film, largely because Ned Beatty isn’t, on his own,  a reason for most people to go see a film, unless you are me. And even I would baulk at watching The Killer Inside Me again, Ned or no Ned. Continue reading “Southern Man: Five Films Starring Ned Beatty”

David Bowie, The Man Who Fooled The Earth

I know you shouldn’t speak ill of the dead, but there I was watching the David Bowie Five Years doc from 2013 on BBC4 the other night and I found myself thinking (for the umpteenth time in my life) what’s all the fuss about? I mean, this was by common consent Bowie’s purple patch, from 1975 to 1980 or thereabouts, when he recorded a clutch of albums (Young Americans, Station To Station, Low, Heroes, Lodger and Scary Monsters) that even I concede are pretty humungus, yet all the documentary served to do was remind me of the myriad reasons why Bowie and his followers annoy me, while pointedly ignoring his cocaine-fuelled flirtation with fascism. Continue reading “David Bowie, The Man Who Fooled The Earth”

Psychology Corner: The Strange Case of Randy Quaid

First of all, he’s called Randy, which already puts him among the elect: Randy Brown, soul singer extraordinaire, and Randy California, late guitarist with LA band Spirit, are others worthy of their own posts. He has appeared in over 90 films, a couple of which are among the finest Hollywood has ever produced. But it is Randy Quaid’s bizarre post-millennial behaviour that really redefines his career, blurring the lines between the actor and the man, fiction and fact, as hilariously and satisfyingly as Martin Scorsese’s lame Dylan mockumentary Rolling Thunder doesn’t. Continue reading “Psychology Corner: The Strange Case of Randy Quaid”

Koronavirus Korner: The Masque of the Red Dwarf

All this fuss about Coronavirus and the curtailing of the Venice carnival casts a new light on the small but significant collection of films set in Venice, notably Visconti’s Death in Venice, which I hate, and Nic Roeg’s Don’t Look Now, which I love. Continue reading “Koronavirus Korner: The Masque of the Red Dwarf”

Archaeology Corner: The Marvellous Melvin and Marvin Show

(Photo by Caio Resende, Pexels)

This month’s blog is about two more of my favourite actors (it’s a long list and there’s still a long way to go). Murray Melvin and Lee Marvin may be worlds apart – quite literally – but they share a certain cult status, albeit to vastly different degrees, Lee Marvin being a superstar and Murray Melvin not being one. And thus, as Orson Welles is alleged to have said, does nature balance itself. Continue reading “Archaeology Corner: The Marvellous Melvin and Marvin Show”

Archaeology Corner: Restoration Ruin and “Outsider” Music  

An album I can’t stop playing right now is jazz pianist Keith Jarrett’s Restoration Ruin. No, stop, come back… don’t let the words “jazz pianist” put you off, just because this man made a record in Cologne (the legendary “Koln Concert”) which comprises of nothing but solo piano for eight and a half hours, or summat. Restoration Ruin is a very different beast. There’s  very little piano, for one thing. But Jarrett does, like Stevie Wonder and Todd Rundgren and Prince, play every instrument, including guitar, bass and (on two tracks) drums. And it’s the only album he ever sang on. Some might say that’s a good thing, but I don’t. I’d like him to sing on all his albums. Continue reading “Archaeology Corner: Restoration Ruin and “Outsider” Music  “

Unidentified: Soundtrack To An Imaginary Movie

Sadly, I‘ve now abandoned my Charles Manson musical as being in questionable taste and – since it relied on the music of the Beatles, specifically the entire White Album – financially and legally prohibitive. But every cloud has a silver lining (except for Brexit – can’t see any silver linings in that particular notebook). So I’m directing my waning energies towards the intriguing story of singer-songwriter Jim Sullivan, and the potential his disappearance in 1975 offers for the Weird Scenes In The Desert movie to end all Weird Scenes In The Desert movies, Grand Theft Parsons, Vanishing Point and Electra Glide in Blue notwithstanding. Continue reading “Unidentified: Soundtrack To An Imaginary Movie”

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