100 Ways to Waste My Life

Now this is just stupid. But I kind of wanted to save it somewhere as well. It started as a Facebook thread, and then it turned into a bit of an obsession: remove one letter from the name of a book and create an entirely new story. By the time everyone else had dropped out, I couldn’t stop. I got to 72 and decided I needed to push on for the full 100. So here are mine. (There were others that friends had come up with, some of them better than the ones below, but I don’t have intellectual property for them…)

Google was not used for any of these.

1. Cath 22 – enjoys reading, long walks on the beach, gsoh, seeks same.
2. The Unbearable Lightness of Bing – a tale of two search engines.
3. Three Men in a Boa – fabulous drag reworking of the old classic.
4. Rime and Punishment – a tale of naked winter swimming competitions.
5. Lord of the Lies – Boris Johnson autobiography.
6. The Big Seep – a noir detective is too busy to get his roof fixed.
7. The Bile – old testament as retold by the daily mail.
8. War of the Wolds – the southern counties turn on each other.
9. Rainspotting – a chronicle of life every single day in Manchester.
10. David Copperfiel – young hero becomes dirty old man and gets himself added to the register.
11. (This is a family blog so I’m going to need you to work this out in your head): The Count of Monte Cristo – suffice to say, he wasn’t a very nice man…
12. Brideshed Revisited – a tale of the most disappointing honeymoon ever.
13. Rendezvous with Ram – niche shepherd sci-fi series.
14. The Tim Machine – a factory that turns out a load of boring, and faintly homophobic Lib Dem leaders.
15. The Price of Tides – a study of coastline erosion.
16. The Lion, the Itch, and the Wardrobe – study of big cats and their house dust allergies.
17. Anne of Green Gales – orphaned girl gets weird stomach bug.
18. The God of Mall Things – history of a deity who presides over coffee shops and designer handbags.
19. The Huger Games – bigger than the last ones.
20. The Life of I – Rastafarian autobiography.
21. The Udda of Suburbia – a cow’s life in Chiswick.
22. The Color Purple – stupid American spelling of The Colour Purple.
23. 2001: A Pace Odyssey – endless social media updates of a bloke’s running times around the park.
24. The Hunt for Ed October – talent search for a suitable model for an Ed Sheeran lookalike calendar.
25. The Naked and the Dad – traumatic coming of age story about broken locks on bathroom doors.
26. Casio Royale – story of an electro-pop secret agent.
27. The Maltese Falco – Mediterranean tribute act who has a surprise hit with his version of Rock Me Amadeus.
28. Middlemach – a fighter pilot can’t quite reach the sound barrier.
29. A Christmas Carl – tedious holiday filled with Jungian psychoanalysis.
30. Mr Bum – Roger Hargreaves tackles negative perceptions of American homelessness.
31. Little Omen – a group of girls in civil war America see a black cat.
32. Rome and Juliette – tedious chick lit travelogue.
33. Fall of the Hose of Usher – how are they gonna water the garden now?
34. How to Win Fiends and Influence People – same book, same horrible people.
35. The Road to Wigan Pie – it’s what it’s really famous for after all.
36. Right Lights, Big City – local council invests in energy saving bulbs for its street lamps.
37. The Moostone – chilling Victorian ghost story about a haunted cowshed.
38. Ven Cowgirls Get the Blues – but only a subset of them are cowgirls, some have the blues, some are quite chirpy.
39. The Woman in Whit – a ghost that’s a bit narky cos she’s had no chocolate during lent.
40. Far from the Madding Crow – just shut that goddamn bird up will you?
41. The Canterbury Ales – bunch of CAMRA aficionados can’t be bothered to leave their hometown.
42. Treasure Islad – Yorkshire version of a pirating classic.
43. The Invisible Ma – tale of an underappreciated mother.
44. The Hose of Mirth – woman wears humourous tights.
45. The Aster and Margarita – a couple just enjoy cocktails on their patio.
46. Portrait of the Artist as a Yong Man – weirdly misspelled Irish/North Korean fusion novel.
47. Lack Beauty – a tale of everyday ugly folk.
48. The Anarchist Cokbook – early political grindr prototype.
49. The Nam of the Rose – a study of PTSD following the flower wars.
50. Infinite Jes – superfan wins a lifetime supply of Jes(s) Glynne music. Gets bored in ten minutes.
51. Anima Farm – Carl Jung’s at it again, psychoanalysing chickens.
52. Of Mice and Me – a musophobiac memoir.
53. Owl – book of ornithologically themed beat poetry.
54. One with the Wind – the tale of a hopeless flatulist.
55. The Secret Gent – football hooligan spends his evenings in disguise opening doors for people and helping women put their coats on.
56. The Dharma Bus – a bit like the vengabus but a bit more jazzy and hip in true Kerouac style.
57. The Horn Birds – same book, no discernable difference whatsoever.
58. Lowers in the Attic – a tale of one removal man and his trusty winch.
59. Jas – a German shark hunter who just can’t say nein.
60. The Tale of Peter Rabbi – a study of riverbank multiculturalism.
61. The Good Solder – not that crappy stuff that doesn’t bond your electrical components properly.
62. Plant of the Apes – scientific study of banana tree deforestation.
63. The Kool-Aid Aid Test – attempt to see if juice makers have been conning us with half measures.
64. Good as God – Joseph Heller develops a bit of a complex.
65. The Itches of Eastwick – story set on flying ant day.
66. A Heartbreaking Wok of Staggering Genius – Dave Eggers gets right into Asian cooking.
67. Cod Comfort Farm – tale of a refuge for traumatised fish.
68. The Cartaker – Harold Pinter’s confessions of being a joyrider.
69. Mosquito Coat – Lady Gaga goes a bit far at London fashion week.
70. Inker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy – a tale of espionage in the tattoo community.
71. Ianhoe – little known tale about the younger brother of the famous knight.
72. Do Quixote – Tarantinoesque reboot where the old knight has a contract put out on him.
73. Canery Row – depression era factory workers attempt an ambitious, slightly illiterate, budgerigar
74. Eat of Eden – family restaurant saga where apple pie is off the menu.
75. A Brief History of Tim – really boring character study of an astro-physicist.
76. Fie Easy Pieces – what I thought when I read it: ‘easy’ my arse.
77. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Tone – young wizard spends 300 pages worrying about whether someone was once a bit arsey with him.
78. Fatland – two dimensional classic given the ultra 3D makeover.
79. Song of the Silent Sow – Selby Jr. goes all avant-garde down the farm.
80. Das Bot – German epic about automated Twitter accounts.
81. The Tibetan Book of the Dad – father’s day best seller in east Asia for 1000 years running.
82. Song of Sloman – tale of a bloke who comes last in every marathon.
83. Fifty Shades of Rey – young female Jedi spots a career opportunity in Death Star interior decorating.
84. Hostwritten – David Mitchell gets his mate to throw a party and knock out a novel for him while he’s at it.
85. Exing the Cherry – Jeanette Winterson cuts all ties in her relationship with fruit.
86. The Man in the High Caste – tale of upper class Indian privilege.
87. White Fan – Jack London exposé of the KKK.
88. Jud the Obscure – a biography of Jud(d) Nelson’s career post Breakfast Club.
89. Fatherlad – one man’s struggle to become a good dad and wanting to be out on the lash all the time.
90. I Fidelity – reworking of I, Claudius set in a small London record shop.
91. The Stanic Verses – poetry collection from Croatian football legend Mario Stanić.
92. Same – Salman Rushdie gets a bit predictable.
93. Bout Last Night – comedy play about a missed boxing match.
94. The Olden Notebook – some old tat Doris Lessing had lying about.
95. The Otter’s Club – inside a secret water vole society.
96. The Asp Factory – a boy can’t find any insects, so non venonmous snakes will have to do.
97. How Late it Was, Ow Late – bloke gets hit over the head by his wife for rolling in from the pub after 2.
98. Am on Rye – Bukowski goes gluten free.
99. Diary of a Wimpy Id – notes from Freud’s subconscious.
100. Goodnight Miser Tom – yer tight bastard.


Track of the Day – BABY STRANGE – Motormind

My pick of the day on Real Rock & Roll. Probably the best track I’ve selected so far…

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Baby Strange 2

What do Nick Cave, Depeche Mode, The Ramones and 50’s rock and roll and doo-wap have in common? They all come together as influences on Baby Strange records, that’s what. An indie/rock band from Glasgow, they are absolutely one to keep an eye on. Their debut album, released last year, is a bit of a classic. Check it out, it’s called Want It Need It.

They also have a shedload of single only releases in their back catalogue. Not bad for a band that’s only been going since 2012.

My pick for today is ‘Motormind’ which is a new release from them, made available a couple of weeks in advance of the EP I think it’s going to be on. It’s brilliant.

Follow Baby Strange:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/babystrangemusic/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/BABYSTRANGEX

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Album Review – RON GALLO – Heavy Meta

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It’s no secret that I’m a bit of a sucker for two things: a clever name (either band or album), and something a bit weird. This ticks both boxes. Heavy Meta came out earlier in the year, and I’ve only just discovered it which is a bit of shame as I could have spent the last couple of months listening to it. Better late than never though, right?

As well as having the best folkie fro since Tim Buckley, Ron Gallo has produced one of the most interesting records I’ve heard recently. It mixes a 60’s garage band sound with a bit of classic rock and a punk ethic. It’s a bit difficult to place in terms of genre, but based on the vocals and guitars, let’s go for halfway between The Cramps and the B52s. That’s probably about as good as anything else I could come up with.


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Review: Radiohead – OKNOTOK

I’ve been writing some music review stuff recently on the Real Rock & Roll blog, despite obviously neglecting my own Blog to an absolutely criminal extent. And since last week I’ve had this itch to write a review of Radiohead’s OKNOTOK. I don’t know why, it’s just been clawing at me. It doesn’t really fit the music blog as 1) Radiohead are hardly a low profile band, and 2) the music is not really new, being 20 years old and all that. So I’ve put it here instead. And maybe I’ll start doing something a bit more with Twenty-Two B. I probably should really.

Anyway, here’s my review:


For years, I’ve thought OK Computer was Radiohead’s second best album. I know it represents the moment they became the biggest band in the world for a time, but it’s still not their best for me. My favourite is The Bends which I think is an incredible album, so unbelievably consistent, with knock out song after knock out song. I’ve changed my mind on this twice now in the past eighteen months. Firstly when A Moon Shaped Pool came out and knocked it down into third place. And now OKNOTOK has me reassessing it again.

Music history revisionism isn’t my favourite pastime but this is an exception because OKNOTOK reveals something very interesting about this album. It turns out the original release was a paler version of what it could have been. I didn’t see that coming I’ll be honest. I thought there would be some interesting tracks here on a par with some of the b-sides they produced in this period. Wow, was I wrong. This actually casts the record in an entirely new light.

The first three tracks on the second disc here are all stronger than songs that made it onto the original album. ‘I Promise’ is a beautiful timeless ballad that sounds steeped in influences. I couldn’t quite put my finger on what it reminded me of until I read a review that mentioned Roy Orbison. That’s it! Roy Orbison. That’s exactly what it sounds like. It’s quite upbeat which puts it at odds with everything else and is probably why it didn’t make the cut. But it’s a great song and a tragedy I’m only hearing it now.

What can I say about ‘Man of War’? This has immediately jumped into the top five of my favourite Radiohead songs ever. It begins like the incidental soundtrack music in a French movie, but then shifts into gear when Thom Yorke starts singing. From there it just builds and builds in a very controlled way. By the end it makes my arm hair stand on end. It’s an incredible outtake. Why, what, how did this not make it into the original running order? It would have been one of the highlights. I’m truly speechless about this one. I can only speculate that because it inhabits the same sort of space as other tracks they maybe thought it was too similar. And it does fit right in the middle between ‘Karma Police’ and ‘Lucky’, but still, did the band take leave of their senses?



‘Lift’ is the one the music press seem more fixated on, proclaiming this would have been their biggest hit since ‘Creep’. I’m not so sure of that, although I do like it a lot. It reminds me more of ‘High and Dry’. For me, it’s less of a surprise this was cut because it is easily the most commercial Radiohead have ever sounded, and this was a time they were deciding to never sound commercial again. Still, it’s a shame this fell down the cracks of that  decision making process.

I could cover every track here but I won’t as I’ll be going on forever. Suffice to say the rest of it is equally as good as the majority of OK Computer. ‘Meeting in the Aisle’ is worth calling out as it sounds like an embryonic version of the music they would go on to do on Kid A and Amnesiac. It’s the missing link in their musical evolution.

I’m also not going to spend much time talking about the remastered original tracks. They’re twenty years old, if you haven’t heard them already you’ve been living under a rock. The highlights have always been, I think, the singles ‘Paranoid Android’, ‘Karma Police’, the epic ‘No Surprises’, and ‘Lucky’ which I first heard on the Warchild album and provides the continuity link between this record and The Bends. Everything else nestles in between these touch points nicely enough, but doesn’t quite hit the heights it could have done, to my ears at least.

Now, I hesitate to say this as I usually hate double albums. Almost every one I’ve ever heard has left me thinking ‘if only they’d taken eight or so songs off it, it would have been much better’, but in OK Computer’s case I think the reverse is true. Adding all of these songs to the original release would have changed the mood of the album, undoubtedly. Would it have diluted it’s message? Not necessarily, not if the whole set were included. That would have increased the scope without polluting the themes it seems to me. I mean, I understand they probably had an artistic vision and were ruthless in presenting it, but on the evidence of what’s here, OK Computer could have been their White Album. It would have made more sense of their transition from an indie guitar band to an art house avant garde one. It could have launched them into the stratosphere. Then again, it’s just as likely they would have hated that…