Way to play it straight, CNN. It’s not that San Francisco has raised taxes. It’s that San Francisco has attacked a beast or adversary of mythological scope.
In 1990, a band called Londonbeat charted a song called “I’ve Been Thinking About You” which you sometimes hear on the radio even today. Well, I assume somewhere, you might; here in Springfield, it doesn’t fit into the three radio formats and the 1000 songs on their combined playlists at any given time.
In 1990, Londonbeat charted a follow-up single. Deb, a woman I hung around with and would eventually date briefly, loved Londonbeat, but I was just then growing my mullet and listening to album oriented rock at the time (which survives as classic rock, one of the three radio formats in Springfield–the other two being country and the greatest hits of all time which means music from the 1980s and 1990s and, when they’re feeling saucy, a Bruno Mars tune (but don’t worry about that program director who went a little too far–he’s fired!)).
Where was I before I digressed two sets of parentheses deep?
Oh, yes, I made light of Londonbeat, especially their second hit, which includes the lines:
On the harbour bridge
The rain was gently falling down
On a lazy summer day
Your face appeared
There on my windscreen
You smiled and slipped away
“My God, he just hit her with his car,” I said because I have always had this grim sense of humor. Also, because it was the 1990s, a dark age, so I apologize for expressing the thought that the poet-narrator was talking about a woman.
So, at any rate, I made light of the song, and in the infrequent times I thought of Londonbeat over the years, I mostly remembered “I’ve Been Thinking About You” and could not remember the name of this song. Sometimes, I’d think that the last time I thought about Londonbeat a couple years ago, I could remember the name of the song, but I probably did not.
I know, I know, some of those times were in the 21st century, and if I’d been at a computer, I could have looked it up to see the name of the other song. Why, this sometimes even occurred in the smart phone era, where I could whip out a portable computer and I could look it up. But I didn’t, probably because I thought of Londonbeat while driving or in circumstances where I didn’t want to stare at a portable computer screen while life occurred in front of me.
However, this morning, I was at my computer thinking about Londonbeat, and I looked it up, and (re)discovered:
“A Better Love”:
Now, more than twenty years later, I listen to it, and I think, Hey, that sounds okay. Maybe I’ll pick up a Londonbeat album now that I’m an old man and am branching out from the AOR.
Now, the challenge that will follow me around for the next twenty years: What was that other song by Soul II Soul? Like Londonbeat, Soul II Soul charted more than one song, so you don’t hear “Back to Life” on the radio on the One Hit Wonders special programming.
This book is a collection of short stories MacDonald wrote for various slicks throughout the 1950s. Although some of them feature a crime, others do not, so they show the range of things MacDonald could make interesting.
The collection includes:
- “Hangover”: As a man awakens from a night of overindulging at a corporate function, he remembers the events that led up to his firing and worse.
- “The Big Blue”:An experienced fisherman regrets agreeing to sharing a charter boat with two companions, a blowhard and a weak young man who can’t shake the blowhard. Very similar to Hemingway’s “The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber”.
- “End of the Tiger”: The courtship of a coarse young man and a woman ends after his cruelty to the family’s chicken.
- “The Trouble with Erica”: A business partner protects his young partner from a disastrous courtship with a woman prone to seduction by seducing her.
- “Longshot”: A clerk at the horse track watches as another crooked clerk runs into trouble when betting out of the drawer.
- “Looie Follows Me”: A young man in the country has his world turned upside down when his parents take in a troubled youth from the city for a couple of weeks.
- “Blurred View”: A man who murdered his actress wife is caught when her film making friends recreate the murder in blurry photographs and pretend to blackmail him.
- “The Loveliest Girl In The World”: A married middle-aged photographer breaks off contact when he gets to close to one of his models.
- “Triangle”: A businessman encourages a female colleague with whom he’s too close to confess to his wife her attraction to him to convince his wife they’re not having an affair; this is to cover his actual affair with another woman.
- “The Bear Trap”: A man on a road trip with his wife and children remembers his girlfriend from his youth who was killed by a bear in a cage.
- “A Romantic Courtesy”: A rich rancher meets a woman he wooed in his youth who abandoned him for a man with prospects and an unhappy marriage.
- “The Fast and Loose Money”: A pair of skimming angle-shooters are caught by their former commanding officer who is now a Treasury agent.
- “The Straw Witch”: An assassin thinks of a folk tale told to him by a dying comrade a long time ago as a difficult assignment goes bad.
- “The Trap of Solid Gold”: A young up-and-coming corporate man finds himself caught up in a vicious fiscal tailspin while trying to keep up the appearance of successful executive on the small salary he makes.
- “Afternoon of the Hero”: A famous comedian, atop the world, reacts to a story about him in the media that says he’s very afraid by making light of it, hiding his actual fear.
The collection is very solid, and MacDonald makes the main characters in the stories very approachable. It’s been far too long since I’ve read MacDonald (2012? Really?), but it won’t be long until I read more. He’s a joy to read, and the length of his books don’t make you think about how long they are. He balances description, plot, and dialog better than most writers I can think of, and his stories–even his short stories–have pretty interesting plots.
Books mentioned in this review:
There’s a little contention at Nogglestead about which version of the song “Radioactive” is the best.
First, the original by Imagine Dragons:
Second, the cover by Within Temptation:
My beautiful wife thinks one is the definitive version, and I think the other is.
Please, let me know which you think is the better.
I don’t want to bias you, but clearly one version is slower and building, which is appropriate pacing for a song about waking up and reinvigorating, and one is up tempo and nice and all, but it doesn’t convey that same sense of awakening.
So I bought my children some bagged breakfast cereal because I’m a miser sometimes:
And whenever I serve it to them, I call them “Fruity…. DY-NO-BITES!”
Back in the latter part of the 1970s and the early part of the 1980s, I lived in a housing project myself, which explains why I identified more with J.J. and Dwayne from What’s Happening!! than any suburban-based sitcoms from the era.