Thursday 30 July 2015

Bring on the dancing boys

Nice arse

You know how it is - or at least, please tell me you do - when sometimes you just can't help looking at something you feel you really shouldn't.  No matter how much you may deny it to others, you can't kid yourself: you're looking, and looking again, and getting off on it.  It's a weakness.

Well I'm coming clean - this is mine (or at least one of them): men dancing in ways you don't expect.  I get this weird thrill from it.  I think I could watch all of these on an infinite loop...I just can't take my eyes off them.



Honestly, they just make me happy.

I mean, first of all, there's pin-up boy Jim Dandy from Black Oak Arkansas.  He's made an appearance on this blog before but, as I say, it's a weakness.

He starts to get particularly interesting around 2 minutes 20 seconds in on this clip.  Watch him strut his stuff - pull up a chair and open that bag of cheese'n'onion crisps (don't worry about the crumbs, you can hoover them up later).   It feels so wrong... but yet so right.

Samuel T Herring's name alone is the stuff of my dreams.  Then I saw him dance.  I wish the frontman from Future Islands didn't look quite so much like the bewildered love child of Elvis and Norman Wisdom but you can't have everything.  

"Mr Grimsdale!  Mr Grimsdale!"

Now... keep your eyes on the tambourine player from the 1910 Fruitgum Company on the right in this clip below from the German show Beat Club, performing Goody Goody Gumdrops (or cumdrops as I accidentally typed just now... honestly I did!...I know, I know: you didn't come here to read such filth).  God, I love him.

Finally, the Fine Young Cannibals and guitarist Andy Cox's bendy legs. Bassist David Steele is at it too. I'm thinking of those cardboard puppet things. Actually I can hardly bear to watch.  More!

Don't judge me.

Thursday 23 July 2015

Dem bones... (slight return)

I was recently reminded about a chicken bone necklace (thanks to a post over at the fine blog Across The Kitchen Table).  Oh, I loved that necklace - for a particular period at least.  Through what you might call the 'goth' phase, though it seemed different then ('81/'82). Anyway, I mentioned it here once a few years ago (when I was still quite new to blogging) and, being stuck for time and inspiration at the mo, thought I'd give that old post another airing... here it is.  Sorry for being so lazy!

 ~~ O o ~ :~ x ~: ~ o O ~~

The other day I mentioned to someone that, when we were children, my older sister had a pickled bat in her bedroom.  I know that sounds weird out of context but, for my teenage sibling who excelled at Biology, the obvious thing to do with a dead (but otherwise perfect) pipistrelle that had been found in the garden was to preserve it in formaldehyde and keep it in a jam-jar in her room.  It then formed part of a display that would have been at home in any scientific laboratory or natural history museum. If my memory serves me well the pickled numbers included a fish eye and a chicken’s foot, which were given space alongside various dried butterflies, a sheep’s skull and a tank full of (thankfully alive) African aquatic toads.  It may sound like something out of the set of a horror B movie or perhaps some strange herbal medicine emporium but as she was my big sis it seemed normal to me, and nurtured a keen early interest in all things natural.

If only I'd realised the value of drawing such things from life then rather than just drawing characters from my imagination, I could have sneaked into her room and filled a sketchbook with studies of these fascinating objects too.  But I think perhaps it did spark a rather subtle fascination for bones.  I’ve no desire to see or find any human bones, although I did like looking at the repro human skeleton we had hanging up in the art-room at school, but I do like it when I’ve been digging in the garden and come across a tiny bone from a small rodent or perhaps a bird.  They're so fragile and yet so strong, so insubstantial looking but so robust.  When you look at a bird’s skull, a casing so fine that it seems more delicate even than eggshell and the connecting bones as thin as a thread of cotton, it's a wonder that the bird itself could ever have been so strong and unbreakable to get through its life at all. 

It’s with some embarrassment that I recall using bones to make my own jewellery.  It seemed right at the time – listening to music that was part tribal, part goth (Southern Death Cult being favourite) – to accessorise with some strange ancient or ethnic objects, especially anything that could be found for free.  So, my mum boiled up some chicken bones from a roast dinner (I didn't eat roast dinners!) and a friend from college brought in some of his dog’s old teeth, and I strung them together with some wooden beads.  Here's a drawing I did at the time of the necklace I wore daily (usually teamed up with some earrings I’d made from the smaller bones).

Proof that my fascination with natural history has remained is that I still feel compelled to keep any bird skulls I find (although not in the bedroom...).   I think the small one below is from a goldfinch and the larger one from a starling.  Whilst I always prefer to see these wonderful birds alive and well, I like looking at the skulls just to remind myself of how amazing these delicate little creatures are underneath their feathers.  And if I were ever to find a dead bat, I might just be tempted to pickle it as well.

Thursday 16 July 2015

Hello, it's me

Oh, sorry it's been a while!  Are you well, everything ok?  Hope so.

I've been immersed in work.  The publishers - lovely Slovenians - have been totally brilliant, giving me a completely free rein on the whole book, leaving me to my own devices and ideas (I much prefer this to a prescriptive brief) and then approving it all very quickly without any changes (unusual!), so it's been an absolute dream job.

If only the bloody illustrator wasn't being a pain in the arse.  Now she's started on the final artwork and she's not happy with anything, keeps changing her mind, going for a new style, nothing she does is good enough, she keeps re-painting, trying out different paper, throwing things away, getting frustrated.  Working all hours and still there aren't enough in the day; you should see the bags under her eyes.*

Bloody artists!  An album title springs to mind: 'The Ever Popular Tortured Artist Effect'.  Couldn't remember where I'd heard it, anyway I had to look it up and see it's by Todd Rundgren.  I'm not familiar with much of his output but I do remember his multi-coloured hair, and I do like a couple of tracks by his early band the Nazz.  So here's one of them while I try and sort out this so-called illustrator.  She needs a chill pill.

*Not helped by her mobile phone going off at 2.42 this morning.  There was no caller, no text,  no voicemail, no record of anything or anyone in the log.  It just went off on its own....

Wednesday 1 July 2015


Our friend Singing Bear of the excellent Warp Drive Duffle Buttons posted a nice tribute to Chris Squire yesterday.  News of his death prompted some spins of this brilliant B-side by The Syn from 1967 here at SDS Towers.  It was one of the first psych/freakbeat/whatever-you-want-to-call-it tracks I'd heard in the '80s, courtesy of the Psycho label's 'Perfumed Garden' comps (this is on the first one).

If you haven't heard it in a while - or at all - go on, treat yourself! It'll make you feel good.  More mod/soul than psych really, to these ears.

I'm off to give a talk to the WI in a couple of hours.  I'll bring you back some cake!

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