Category Archives: It Came from the 80s

The Return of “The Far Side”

“The Far Side” website, which will post a “Daily Dose” of Gary Larson’s classic cartoons, launched yesterday. The site includes weekly sets of themed strips and doodles from Larson’s sketchbooks.

Best of all, Larson told the New York Times that “I’m looking forward to slipping in some new things every so often.”

If you’re familiar with Larson and “The Far Side”, I don’t need to say anything more.

If you’re not, click that link right now! You won’t be disappointed.


You may be wondering why this post isn’t loaded with examples of Gary Larson’s brilliant art. It’s because I’m honouring the artist’s wishes, which he explains in A Letter From Gary Larson on the new website.

Another Christmas Ad from the UK: The Argos “Book of Dreams”, with an 80s Flashback

This is the 2019 Christmas ad for the Argos “The Book of Dreams” catalogue.

The little girl in the video is nine-year-old Nandi Bushell, who has been drumming since she was three. She has her own YouTube channel.

Here she is a year ago, joyously covering Led Zeppelin’s “Good Times Bad Times”.


When one of my nieces was a little older than the girl in the videos, I told her father that I’d promised to buy her a drum kit for Christmas, but only if she guaranteed that she’d practice drumming at least two hours a day.

I couldn’t make good on my promise, because shortly after I made it, he and his family moved, and didn’t leave a forwarding address.


Bonus

Here’s the full video for Simple Minds’ “Don’t You (Forget About Me)”.

I had some friends who loved Simple Minds until the band made the unforgivable mistake of becoming popular with the mainstream. That meant that they’d sold out, man, and were no longer acceptable to the fashionably unfashionable crowd that I hung out with at the old 9:30 club.

Me, I could never remember which musicians I was supposed to sneer at in any given week, and went on blissfully playing my tapes of New Gold Dream (81–82–83–84) and Sparkle in the Rain despite the band’s fall from counter-cultural grace.

“One Thousand Miles Apart” and “A Million Miles Away”, with 34 Years between Them

My music streaming service of choice these days is SomaFM’s “Indie Pop Rocks!” playlist, which plays “new and classic favorite indie pop tracks”. Mainly new; I’ve rarely heard anything more than five years old on the channel.

It was SomaFM that introduced me to a Seattle power-pop band called A View of Earth from the Moon, and to the band’s 2017 release, “Closer to a Ghost”. Here’s an audio-only version of “One Thousand Miles Apart”, a song from the album that I’ve been playing repeatedly the past couple of weeks.

Play it loud.

The imaginary DJ who lives somewhere in the far recesses of my brain instantly knew the best possible segue to follow “One Thousand Miles Apart”. It had to be The Plimsouls’ 1983 classic, “A Million Miles Away”.

Play it louder.

Could that video have come from any era other than the 1980s, a decade famous for its superb music and its horrible, horrible hair? I think not.


Here’s a live acoustic performance of “One Thousand Miles Apart” by Seattle singer/songwriter Jonathan Fickes, the artist behind A View of Earth from the Moon:

90210 Revisited

I missed it!

I lost track of time and completely forgot that tonight was the premiere of Fox’s BH90210 miniseries. Even worse, I can’t find the show playing on any of my video-on-demand accounts, as if it’s, I don’t know, 1990 or something, so I’ll have no idea what happened in the first episode unless I can find somebody who videotaped it. Hope they have VHS.

But having no idea what I’m talking about has never stopped me from posting here in the past, so what follows are my thoughts on the Return to 90210.

As I’ve previously written, I’ve always blamed Beverly Hills, 90210 and the even more horrendous Saved by the Bell for making the Millenials the way they are. Those two shows were originally broadcast at the exact point in time when gullible young Millenials—and are there any other kind?—were in search of role models, and at their most suggestible.

It’s no coincidence that the Peach Pit’s specialty of the house was avocado toast.

But enough about the past.

Unfortunately, the new version of 90210 is without the one actor who held the original show together. I’m referring, of course, to Joe E. Tata,* aka Nat Bussichio, the owner and operator of the Peach Pit.

You probably thought I was referring to someone else. And you’d have a point: Where is Tiffani-Amber Thiessen? I wouldn’t be surprised if someone made a surprise guest appearance in a later episode. Maybe she’ll bring Screech along for a visit.

And what about Carly Reynolds, played by Hilary Swank, who was reportedly dropped from the show because her performance wasn’t up to 90210 standards? I haven’t heard much about her since she left the show, and I’ve always wondered what became of her. Did she ever do any more acting?

Also MIA,  Jim and Cindy Walsh, who are probably still in Hong Kong, leading the demonstrations against the oppressors on the mainland.

Anyhow, since I missed the first episode, I have no idea whether the producers used the plot outline I’d submitted for their consideration.

In my version, which may have been slightly influenced by the fact that I’d recently binged on 16 slasher movies on Netflix, we discover that Scott Scanlon, David’s friend in the first season, survived his famous gun accident, but was left horribly disfigured, and was sent to a Mexican sanatorium by his guilt-ridden parents. While there, he met two other patients undergoing court-ordered therapy: Dylan’s deranged stalker, Emily Valentine, and the embittered and violent Ray Pruit, Donna’s abusive ex-boyfriend. The three of them escape together and hide out in the attic of the Peach Pit, where they plot revenge and design scary facemasks. One by one, the main BH90210 characters meet grisly fates, until there’s no one left except for The Last Girl….

It’s gotta be Shannen Doherty, right?

I mean, who else stands a chance. Not Brian Austin Green. Not The Ziering, that’s for sure.

if you saw the premiere, I’d love to hear from you about how close I came to the final product.


*If Tori Spelling had married Joe E. Tata, she’d be Tori Tata. If Tiffani-Amber Thiessen had married Joe E. Tata, she’d be T.A.T. Tata.

Pete Shelley, 17 April 1955 — 6 December 2018

Pete Shelley in His Prime

David Bowie and Lou Reed are dead.

And now we’ve lost Pete Shelley, leader of the Buzzcocks, who died in Tallinn last week of a probable heart attack.


The Buzzcocks’ first single for United Artists Records was “Orgasm Addict”, which was promptly banned by the BBC. Can’t imagine why.

Then there was the Buzzcocks’ biggest commercial success, of which New Music Express wrote that “Shelley’s bisexuality would form the subject matter of arguably punk’s greatest song, 1978’s ‘Ever Fallen In Love (With Someone You Shouldn’t Have)’.

And more “singles that fused pop craftsmanship with rapid-fire punk energy “, like this…

…and this…

…and this.

Look. If you don’t own it already, get a copy of the Buzzcocks’ “Singles Going Steady”. The Buzzcocks were a singles band,  and “Singles Going Steady” is a superb collection of their best songs.

Play it loud.


I missed the Buzzcocks the first time around, which gave my brother David permanent bragging rights, because he saw them perform live before I did. It wasn’t until their 1989 reunion tour that I went to my first Buzzcocks concert, at the old 930 Club in Washington. They’d been inactive for a while, and I didn’t know what to expect.

It was one of the greatest performances I’ve ever seen. They played everything, and they played it faster and ten times as loud as I played it at home. It was a truly transcendent night.


In an interval between one of the Buzzcocks’s many breakups and reformations, Shelley released his first solo single, the song “Homosapien”. It was banned by the BBC (plus ça change…) which didn’t stop an extended version of the song from becoming a major dance hit in the US. For a while, it seemed to be playing everywhere.


In The Guardian‘s obituary for Shelley, Neil Gaiman is quoted as writing: “Part of my youth dies with him.”

It’s a sad sentiment I share.

“A Lady Thinks She’s 60”

I probably don’t have to remind anyone that today is Madonna’s 60th birthday, since I assume most people spent the day celebrating.

“It’s a celebration
‘Cause anybody just won’t do
Let’s get this started
No more hesitation
‘Cause everybody wants to party with you.”

But now that the candles have been blown out and the birthday cake has been reduced to crumbs, here’s one last thing to commemorate the event.

Back in the early 90s, Madonna released a film called Madonna: Truth or Dare, a behind-the-scenes documentary about her most recent tour. Never one to leave well enough alone, the brilliant Julie Brown satirized it with a one-hour Showtime film called Medusa: Dare to Be Truthful, with Brown herself as Medusa, a dead-on parody of Madonna herself.

After it ran on Showtime, a VHS version the show was available but soon went out of print. The only place to find a DVD copy is on Julie Brown’s website.

But there’s always YouTube.

Someone has posted a murky copy of that VHS version, divided into six parts. It was probably posted back in the days when YouTube had time limits on videos.

Here’s the first segment. The other five parts are on the sidebar that shows up when you play it.


Credit Due: I was never a big Madonna fan. I would probably have been unaware of Madonna’s birthday if I hadn’t seen a reference on Kenneth Walsh’s great blog.

Head over Heals — The Go-Go’s Meet the Elizabethan Age

Like most people, whenever I hear the music of the 80s band The Go-Go’s, I ask myself why nobody has used those songs as the score for an updated version of Sir Philip Sidney’s 16th-century Middle English book, The Countess of Pembroke’s Arcadia.

Head over Heals, which does exactly that, has opened on Broadway.

Although he’s largely forgotten now, Sidney played a huge role in the public life of the Elizabeth Age. He was elected to Parliament at the age of 18, and later became the son-in-law of Sir Francis Walsingham, Queen Elizabeth’s spymaster. A contemporary of Shakespeare, who “borrowed” part of Arcadia and used it as a subplot in King Lear,* Sidney was a writer, a diplomat, a courtier, and a soldier. His life was as varied and exciting as that of the great 19th-century adventurer, Sir Richard Burton.

Head over Heals celebrates some of the recurring dramatic/comedic devices of Elizabethan theatre. The show includes big helpings of cross-dressing and gender fluidity,  so common on 16th-century stages and so timely five centuries later. Everything old is new again.

And of course, plots that feature mistaken identities never go out of style.


Damn, They Were Good!

Here’s the original 1984 Go-Go’s video for “Head over Heals”:

The 80s might have been the Golden Age of alternative/indie/powerpop/whatever music. For haircuts, not so much. I think that hairstyles almost always go out of fashion after 10 or 15 years, and look silly and embarrassing until a few decades later, at which point, they’re appreciated as classic.

Three and a half minutes of The Go-Go’s is simply not enough. Here’s the video for my favourite Go-Go’s song:


*Shakespeare did that sort of thing much too frequently.

“It’s not plagiarism, it’s an homage”, Shakespeare never said, but he should have.