It’s Iowa

This morning on my way to the car I passed a tennis ball. On the ground. I’ve never really played tennis, but I do love a tennis ball. I like throwing them and I like catching them.

tennis ball

I think it’s one of the first things that your body learns to do that you find impressive. Throwing a ball to someone at the other end of the garden where you instinctively discover how hard you have to launch it to reach them or where to place it to challenge them. Catching a ball thrown to you without thinking about it. Reaching out one hand and plucking the ball from the air above your head. Stumbling forwards and scooping it just before it hits the ground. It’s the first thing that you do that makes you feel like a creature of reflex, like something other than the thing you’ve decided you probably are.

I like playing catch. I would like to play catch with a tennis ball. Maybe it’s because I’m getting old. Maybe it’s because my sons are leaving home. Maybe it’s because my dad is poorly. Or maybe it’s because I just love catching tennis balls. I saw that ball this morning and I wanted to take the morning off and play in the park. I didn’t, of course. I went to work.

Back in 1984, the charts were kind of quiet this week with a truly eclectic collection of new entries.

In at no. 36 was Break Machine with “Street Dance”. The video looks quite sad. It probably seemed cutting edge back then, with, you know, actual street dancers… dancing… in the street. I think we weren’t quite sure if this was novelty hit like McLaren’s “Double Dutch” (Ebo, Ebo-Ebonettes) or if this was something serious. Hindsight is a glorious thing. “Street Dance” was one of the earliest examples of Hip Hop which turned out to be the dominant musical culture of the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Malcolm, skipping rope? Not so much.

The new entry at no. 31 would go on to be no 1 a few weeks later. Nena’s shockingly unshaved armpits could never detract from the eternal pop gorgeousness of “99 Red Balloons”, but they certainly made us think.

At no. 30 was another new entry for a quintessentially 1984 sound. Rockwell’s “Somebody’s Watching Me” doesn’t really hold up as great pop in my opinion. The video is lame and the half spoken verses are pretty awful. The only reason not to dismiss the song completely is the Michael Jackson sung chorus. It’s so much better than the rest of the song. See for yourself:

The final new entry of the week comes from one of Britain’s greatest singles bands. They were coming to the end of a run of classic hits, each more whacky and endearingly cheeky than the last. But before they split they started to get serious. “Michael Caine” starts off sounding like one of their cheeky hits, but ends up being a meditation on identity.

Staring out the window there’s nothing he can now do
All he wanted was to remain sane
He can’t remember his own name

My name is Michael Caine. Good night.

Today’s Stats

  • Currently reading: The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt – page 211
  • Movies watched – Ender’s Game. I’ve avoided the book for so long that I wanted to give the movie a try. It was impressively bleak for a big budget flick.
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