Of Those Bonfires, Only the Ashes Remain

She was a great twentieth-century beauty. What she lacked in acting skills, she made up in personality, which she had in formidable excess. She didn’t have a powerful voice, but she did have a style all her own, which is more than one can say of many, much more talented, singers. Her films weren’t anything special, they were all pretty much the same, but, because she had star quality, they were entertaining and highly watchable. Like Norma Desmond said, ‘They don’t make faces like that anymore.’ Here she is in La Bella Lola (1962), singing Puerta Cerrada. The angels must be having a ball in Heaven tonight.


10.07.07. Diary, Films, Music. Leave a comment.

The Zero Conditional

In the Zero Conditional, a.k.a. Scientific Conditional, we deal with a real situation: we are talking facts. Both the main clause and the subordinate or “if” clause take the Present Simple.

You die if you drink poison.

The order of the clauses is irrelevant. However, if the subordinate clause goes first, a comma precedes the main clause.

If you drink poison, you die.

We may substitute “when” for “if” with hardly any difference in meaning.

When you drink poison, you die.

The Zero Conditional can also take the Past Simple in both clauses.

If we behaved, our grandmother bought us sweets.

Listen to Goldie Hawn sing Nobody Does it Like Me and fill in the gaps with the missing words you hear. Most of the sentences in this song are Zero Conditionals. It will help you remember this structure.



10.07.07. Basic, Force-Feeding, Grammar, Humour, Lyrics, Music. Leave a comment.

Ho! Ho! Ho!

And a very merry Christmas to you all. Listen to Amy Winehouse sing Tommie Connor’s Christmas song “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus”.

Do the following matching exercise and check your answers.



Now sing along to this video clip.


10.07.07. Basic, Force-Feeding, Humour, Music, Vocabulary. Leave a comment.

What Harm a Cocktail of Boredom and Youth Can Do

Here are a couple of exercises for NB2 students. The first one’s a sentence completion exercise: you look at a picture and think of a word that could fit in the gap next to it, as in the example (0). Then, once you think you’ve come up with the words, you listen to the song and check your answers. For your information, a runaway is a person or animal that has run away, left his or its home, for whatever reason, never to go back. Soul Asylum’s song had a powerful effect on runaway kids in the States in the late nineties. After listening to the lyrics, many of them decided to go back where they belonged, to their families and homes—which is no small achievement for a rock and roll band.




 The second exercise is a True or False one: you have to decide whether the statements are one or the other after having read a teenager’s diary entry. It might be interesting if you got some background information before you do it, since most of you may know who Soul Asylum are, but some may not know its lead singer’s name—nor who’s Les Claypool, Vanna White or Jem.

Soul Asylum


Dave Pirner


Les Claypool


Vanna White




Bloom County




10.07.07. Basic, Force-Feeding, Gapped Texts, Lyrics, Music, True or False, Vocabulary. Leave a comment.

Sydney, Nova Scotia

Raoul and Emma were actually in Sydney—not in Sydney, Australia: they were in Sydney, Nova Scotia, which is in North-east Canada! The story of Emma and Raoul was on TV and in the international press. They stayed in Sydney, Nova Scotia for four days and then flew home by Air Canada to London, England—not London, Canada!


Listen to Carly Simon sing her hit You’re So Vain, and do the attached gapped oral text exercise.

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Read about the song at http://www.carlysimon.com/vain/vain.html.

10.07.07. Basic, Force-Feeding, Gapped Texts, Lyrics, Music, Verb Tenses. 2 comments.

Cindy Lauper Sings

This is a listening and pronunciation exercise for Basic Level students. Listen to the song, fill in the blanks, listen again and write the words under the corresponding vowel sound, /aɪ/, /ʌ/, or/ɜː/.




10.07.07. Basic, Force-Feeding, Gapped Texts, Lyrics, Music, Phonetics. Leave a comment.

Maybe It’ll All Be OK

Maybe it’ll all be all right, Ma

Maybe it’ll all be OK

Cause if people are buying tears

Maybe I’ll be rich one day, Ma

Maybe it’ll all be OK…

It’s nice to know Melanie Safka’s song can still do it for many after all these years. I bet it must cheer  Antonio up a great deal (he was ten years old when it first came out—yes, that’s how old he is), though I’m sure he’d say Dalida’s version is still, by far, the best. Pity  her video on http://youtube.com is frightfully appalling. Anyone in his right senses would agree.




10.07.07. Basic, Music. Leave a comment.

Ciudad Real, Wednesday IX.VII.MMVIII

I stayed up late watching Amy Winehouse perform live at the Porchester Hall in London. She’s got beautiful eyes, but her make-up is awful. She moves like a little girl who’s been asked to recite before her elders. Her voice is deep and gentle, but most of her songs are unremarkable. What’s more, she doesn’t care a hoot for what she’s doing. She seemed more interested in drinking, and when she sang her hit song Rehab, she rubbed her left eye and then looked at her fingers as if to search for a dust mote or traces of mascara while she kept on saying, No, no, no! However, I can’t say I didn’t enjoy it. It’s been a while since I last sat down to watch a concert on TV.

10.07.07. Diary, Intermediate, Music. Leave a comment.

Put the Blame on Mame

A student Antonio once had asked him for the lyrics of this song. When he gave them to her, she was extremely disappointed. She said she particularly disliked the line about the cow. ‘Who would have imagined Rita was stripping to such an unsexy song?’ she lamented. IMO, she missed the whole point.

Put the Blame on Mame

10.07.07. Basic, Music. Leave a comment.

I Hate This Song

It’s stupid, and retarded, and it’s infantile.

10.07.07. Basic, Music. Leave a comment.