Thursday 30 September 2021

Grumpy Old Men Songs #16: Agnostic Preacher's Lament

The isolation period has ended, and we all survived. I may share with you my covid diary at some point, or I may choose to let the whole sorry affair sink into obscurity. Thank you for your good wishes anyway.

Meanwhile, here's Todd Snider, a veteran of the Grumpy Old Man Songbook, mixing a little funky soul in with his usual cynical Americana vibe to terrific effect on his latest album, First Agnostic Church of Hope and Wonder. He's always been a master of the talky song too, and here he takes on the character of the titular agnostic preacher to hilarious effect...

Mainly though, 
Everybody just wants to succeed at everything they try,
Live forever and never die.
That's it in a nutshell, really
Succeed at everything we try,
Live forever and never die.
That's the thing everyone agrees on.

Stick around for the last line, it's worth the wait.

Sunday 26 September 2021

Snapshots #208: A Top Ten Onomatopoeia Songs

Welcome to the quiz that will Boom Boom Shake Your Room... yeah, I didn't use that one because it would have been too obvious.

Being an English teacher, I have a special fondness for the word "onomatopoeia", even though I regularly tell students it's the hardest word to spell... apart from broccoli.

Despite that, I own three songs with that word (or a variation) in their title...

John Prine - Onomatopoeia

Todd Rundgren - Onomatopoeia

Sparks - Onomato Pia

While John Grant also professes his love here...

John Grant - Rhetorical Figure

But how did you guys get on? Let's find out...

10. Brian Body B.


Bobby Darin - Splish Splash

9. Rash.

As in, the kind of rash that makes you itch.

The Hives - Tick Tick Boom

8. Domino without a hat on.

Fats Domino; hats off to Larry...

Fat Larry's Band - Zoom

7. Loaded.

If he's loaded, he must be a very rich man.

Jonathan Richman - Buzz Buzz Buzz

6. A wrinkly.


Link Wray - Rumble

5. Wee and timorous lads.

Wee and timorous beasties, obviously.

The Beastie Boys - Pow

4. Solid service surfers.

Solid silver, silver service, silver surfers.

Silver - Wham Bam Shang-A-Lang

3. Detective drew swooning pop.

The detective would be NANCY Drew. Her swooning pop was Old Blue Eyes...

Nancy Sinatra - Bang Bang 

2. Rugby player, like Shatner.

A hooker is a rugby player.

And who could forget...?

John Lee Hooker - Boom Boom

1. Crude bunch.

They're just so primitive...

The Primitives - Crash

More crash bang wallop next Saturday...

Saturday 25 September 2021

Saturday Snapshots #208

Fortunately, even Covid can't stop Saturday Snapshots... I think that shows far better forward planning here at Top Ten Towers than in your average government department.

If you're dared get close enough to play this game today, I promise not to cough on you. I even found a picture of a Plague Doctor with a camera, proving you can find anything on the internet if you dig deeply enough...

Anyway, you know the game by now. Identify the artists below, then work out what connects their songs...

10. Brian Body B.

9. Rash.

8. Domino without a hat on.

7. Loaded.

6. A wrinkly.

5. Wee and timorous lads.

4. Solid service surfers.

3. Detective drew swooning pop.

2. Rugby player, like Shatner.

1. Crude bunch.

 If you got any negative results, I promise to share my positive ones with you tomorrow morning...

Monday 20 September 2021

Positive Tests For Positive Times

So this happened.

Under normal circumstances, not the best of news. But considering I still have five weeks to serve in The Bad Place...

Sunday 19 September 2021

Snapshots #207: A Top Ten Mirror Songs

Mirror, mirror on the wall, which is the best Saturday morning photo-based pop music quiz of them all?

Really? Shucks.

10. Aloe needs one.

Aloe Blacc sang I Need A Dollar.

Dollar - Mirror Mirror

9. Cots & copies.

Cots are cribs. You can also crib someone else's answers.

The Cribs - Mirror Kissers

8. Western detectives come in all shades.

Pinkerton's Assorted Colours - Mirror Mirror

7. Aunt found in decrepit subject.

Aunt Sally in an old field (as in, "what's your field of study?")

Sally Oldfield - Mirrors

6. Beach Boy goes to work for NASA.

Mike Love goes to work with Rockets.

Love & Rockets - Mirror People

5. Mixed up coin in silky tube.

The mixed up COIN is NICO.

The silky tube is obvious.

The Velvet Underground & Nico - I'll Be Your Mirror

4. Difficult to distinguish from your arse.

You just can't tell your arse from your elbow, can you?

Elbow - Mirrorball

3. Good for drums, eggs and carpets.

They're all things you might beat.

The Beat - Mirror In The Bathroom

2. Advanced scrapple.

Scrapple is an early form of Meatloaf. Apparently.

Meat Loaf - Objects In The Rear View Mirror May Appear Closer Than They Are 

1. Founded in the year 2415 A.D.

This is where they got their name from.

The Human League - Mirror Man

More next Saturday...

Saturday 18 September 2021

Saturday Snapshots #207

If a Rolling Stone gathers no Moss, then at least young Kate will be safe from the likes of Mick 'n' Keef. 

All of which has absolutely nothing to do with the quiz... your task, as always, is to identify the ten artists below and then work out what connects their tunes. I think it's a bit easier this week...

10. Aloe needs one.

9. Cots & copies.

8. Western detectives come in all shades.

7. Aunt found in decrepit subject.

6. Beach Boy goes to work for NASA.

5. Mixed up coin in silky tube.

4. Difficult to distinguish from your arse.

3. Good for drums, eggs and carpets.

2. Advanced scrapple.

1. Founded in the year 2415 A.D.

Answers tomorrow morning... though I doubt you'll need them.

Thursday 16 September 2021

Cnut Songs #7: The Very Definition Of Futility

On Wednesday afternoon, for half an hour, I live the full King Cnut dream. There is no more perfect illustration of shouting at the sea than this. For Wednesday afternoon is my turn at Connect Duty. All managers (even lowly ones like myself) take their turn throughout the week... except the oily ones, who merely palm the task off on a lackey.

Connect Duty normally involves standing inside the security barriers at reception and making sure incoming students have an ID badge. If they don't, we send them to the desk to get a temporary pass. And we try our very best to stop the ones who buzz their badgeless friends in, or tailgate through the gates behind someone else.

This year though, Connect Duty has taken on an extra degree of responsibility. And herein lies the futility. Your mission, should you choose to accept it (and really, you don't have any choice) is to ensure that all incoming students have, and are wearing, a face-mask. (Except those with exemptions.) 

And so you stand there with a little plastic basket of face masks, waving it at any student who enters without a mask. (You won't be surprised to hear, that's most of them.)

"Facemask, guys?"

"Do you need a mask?"

"Oh, you've got one - can you pop it on, please?"

I've written before about how I'm still supportive of facemasks and still wearing them myself whenever necessary, even though I'm often in the minority. But the futility here doesn't come from the often-belligerent responses I get to my entreaty...

"I'm not wearing a chuffing mask!" (My personal favourite. There's no sentence that can't be improved by a well-placed "chuffing".)

No, the futility comes as I'm doing my best to get all incoming students to wear a mask... while behind me, a hoard of outgoing students exit the college, not one of them wearing a mask. 

Whatever our best intentions, I think that boat has sailed.

The futile, the futile, it outweighs the beautiful...

Wednesday 15 September 2021

Mid-Life Crisis Songs #68: To-Do List


I'm amazed I still get time to write this blog, since I rarely have time to do anything else remotely pleasurable these days. I'm sure many of you feel the same.

However, those pesky Scientists have just announced that too much free time can make us depressed. 

Whenever I read a study like that, my first thought is: who commissioned it? Probably the same government minister who told people who were having their benefits cut to "work more hours". We live in a culture where people are being actively encouraged (and oft times forced) to work longer hours than is good for them. That's one of the things that is killing many teachers, but I'm sure it's the same in many other professions... I dread to think what it's like in the NHS. Those who do it get no rewards (it's not as though those teachers working 90 hour weeks are claiming overtime) and those who refuse to do it (me, for one) are put under pressure from both management and peers for not pulling their weight. 

Meanwhile, what time do we have for leisure and relaxation? 

Oh, it's OK, the scientists just said we don't need it...

If you think you're busy though, spare a thought for the Felice Brothers. Their new single To-Do List puts us all to shame. 

Wash all the pots and linen
Find a psychoanalyst
Go to the bank and deposit cheques
Sweep up the shattered dish

Return everything that I've borrowed
Change all the bloody gauze
Buy a spinach-coloured dinner jacket
Defy all natural laws

Ohhhhhh... cancel Better Homes & Gardens
Ohhhhhh... admire Gothic arches

Become a lot more happy
Build a maze of styrofoam
Befriend an unfortunate lunatic
Wail on a saxophone

(And that's just the first minute.)

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