Saturday, June 30, 2007

DJ Trev, I salute you!

The package came as a surprise, but only because its arrival had slipped my mind.
One of my birthday presents (May 3, in case you need to plan for next year) was unique: My sister purchased a year's subscription to the mix-CD series of San Francisco's DJ Trev. She purchased it as part of an online auction to raise funds for a friend of ours who needed some help in her successful cancer fight.
Anyhow -- My sister told me about the present when I was visiting the Bay Area in May and then I promptly forgot all about... until the first three CDs arrived in the mail today!
DJ Trev's eclectic mixes are fabulous!
My wife Jill and I listened to them as I drove her down to Cedar Rapids, Iowa today.
Trev couples Arcade Fire with Nancy Sinatra and Lee Hazlewood, Joseph Arthur with Sloan and Ornette Coleman with the Shins -- and it all works.
Hearing his mixes is like listening to an impressively hip alternative radio station that is not afraid to throw a little jazz (Miles Davis, Bill Evans) into its indie playlist featuring the likes of Art Brut and TV on the Radio.
Although I was familiar with many of the artists, I actually only had two songs on the first three CDs already in my collection ("Psychotic Reaction" by San Jose savants the Count Five and "Cabin Essence" by Brian Wilson). That means most of the music is all new for me!
Right now, I am singing along to the Long Blondes (from SHEFFIELD!) and their anthemic slice of updated power pop, "Once and Never Again."
"You're only nineteen for God's sake, you don't need a boyfriend."
Classic stuff... I am sure I will be loving this stuff for days and days and days.
Thanks Inger. And thank you, too, DJ Trev.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Hmm... Nobody said "Oops I Did It Again"

The Fourth of July is on the way.
In keeping with that theme, ROUTE 1 readers answer the following FRIDAY QUESTION:
What song could serve as America's national anthem, besides "The Star Spangled Banner?"
Annika H. -- "This land is my land, this land is your land."
Dave B. -- Neil Young's "Keep on Rockin in the Free World."
Inger H. -- Spinal Tap's "Gimme Some Money." ...heck, AmEx liked it so much, they used it in a TV ad!

Laura C. -- I've actually always liked "America the Beautiful"'s less about the glories of war and more about the glories of our country (and that's certainly a shift of focus I'd like to see in the national mind). Of course, we left coast folks could just secede, and then we could use "California Uber Alles" (Dead Kennedys) as our "national" anthem.
Bob H. -- "The Star Spangled Banner!"
Scout S. -- "4th of July" by X. "On the stairs I smoke a cigarette alone. Mexican kids are shooting fireworks below. Whatever happened, I apologize."
Rick T. -- "God Bless the USA."
Mike M. -- Woody Guthrie's "This Land is Your Land." It is Guthrie's angry response to Irving Berlin's jingoist "God Bless America."
Rob K. -- "This Land is Your Land" or George Carlin's version of "America the Beautiful." "Oh beautiful for smoggy skies, insecticided grain. For strip-mined mountains' majesty above the asphalt plain. America, America, man sheds his waste on thee. And hides the pines with billboard signs, from sea to oily sea-e-e-e-e."
Mike D. -- "America the Beautiful," for all its great imagery.
Erik H. -- I have always been a sucker for "Rhapsody in Blue" by George Gershwin. Not because of its appearance in television ads and not because it was played by 84 pianists simultaneously at the Los Angeles Summer Olympics of 1984, but because it is such a powerful, sweeping piece of beautiful music.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Best sense of humor in jazz?

"Study: Early Friday classes could reduce college drinking" was only the second funniest thing I heard this morning.
No, the funniest thing I heard was the quote of "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" that Dexter Gordon included in his second solo on "Three O'Clock in the Morning," from his 1962 album "Go." It is just flat-out funny and ALWAYS brings a smile to my face.
"There is no question but that quotes can be a substitute for invention and have the potential to turn as annoying as any cliché," wrote Bob Blumenthal in 1999.
However, as tenor saxophonist Gordon uses quotes on "Go," Blumenthal wrote:
"They can also be models of rhythmic and harmonic ingenuity."
I would like to add: They can be FUNNY!
Gordon adds a little "Mona Lisa" to the song "Second Balcony Jump" and a touch of "Mexican Hat Dance" to "Love For Sale."
He doesn't pepper his solos with quotes. Rather, you need to listen closely to discover his wry application.
There are many reasons to love Gordon. Add humor to that list.
Oh yeah... as for that study. I think earlier Friday classes might mean more drunken quizzes.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

The final Question Time

I woke up early today to watch TONY BLAIR and his final Prime Minister's Question Time session in the House of Commons on BBC America.
I can remember the night in 1997 when I watched coverage of Blair's first General Election victory on C-SPAN.
Today, Blair received a standing ovation from MPs at the conclusion of the Question Time session, as he prepared to resign and turn over the reins of power to Gordon Brown.
On Radio Five Live just now, the commentators said the Conservative MPs in Opposition probably applauded out of relief that their decade-long nemesis is finally standing down.
Tory leader David Cameron paid tribute to Blair's "remarkable achievement" as premier, including "work in the developing world" which Cameron said would endure.

Blair did field some difficult questions about British forces in Iraq. The war and Britain's role in it will form some of Blair's legacy.
Blair will also be remembered for developments in Northern Ireland, and the Rev. Ian Paisley praised Blair for his work in bringing peace to the province.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Alan Partridge -- Always good for a laugh

I was in need of a laugh last night -- it was Monday, after all -- so after Jill and Annika went to bed I dusted off my DVD of "Knowing Me Knowing You with Alan Partridge."
The excellent 1994 series from BBC Two features Steve Coogan as Partridge, the incompetent but smug host of a unremittingly boring talk show.
Well, it would be boring were it true. As a parody of a bad talk show, "Knowing Me Knowing You with Alan Partridge" is utterly hilarious.
There's the time Alan kisses and flirts with the Playboy magazine sex columnist -- until he learns this sexy she was once a he.
There's the time Alan reunites a fellow TV host (played by series co-writer Patrick Marber) with his son, only for us to learn the dad has forgotten his son's birthday.
There's the time a horse jumper (played by the marvelous Rebecca Front) refuses to perform a jump on the show because the horse could break its legs on the hard stage floor -- even though Alan promises to affix sponges to the horse's hooves.
Partridge's insincerity and insecurity increases throughout the six shows of the series, while the laughter increases and the hilarity expands.
It's the perfect antidote for a Monday.

Monday, June 25, 2007

"Do you think I'm just anyone? Do you?"

Jill and the girls are out of town, so I was left to my own devices last night.
I spent my time watching David Lean's spectacular "Lawrence of Arabia."
Assigned to Arabia during the First World War, English officer T. E. Lawrence united divergent Arabic tribes and conducted guerrilla raids against the ruling Turkish Empire.
Peter O'Toole stars as Lawrence, and he is surrounded by a wonderful cast.
Omar Sharif plays Ali, one of the closest of Lawrence's comrades.
Alec Guinness plays Prince Faisal, Anthony Quinn plays Auda abu Tayi and Jack Hawkins plays General Allenby.
"Lawrence of Arabia" is a fabulous film, but to enjoy it you must be able to invest the time required (running time of approximately 217 minutes).
I had the time last night, and thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

St. Louis' Fourth Best Country Band

I'm waiting for the Giants-Yankees game on the radio (courtesy of's Gameday Audio service). So I am sipping a glass of wine and listening to UNCLE TUPELO.
I can't help but sing along:
"Climbing up the ladder, breaking my shin on the very first rung/Waking up the neighbors, It's all right, they understand we're just as dumb."

There are times -- mostly when I am sipping a glass of wine and listening to them -- that I think UNCLE TUPELO might be the best American band of the past 25 years or so.
Sure, Jeff Tweedy's subsequent Wilco will garner a lot of votes if you polled people on the subject. Guided by Voices are great. The Old 97's are superb, too. There are tons of great bands.
But do they match the musical prowess and influence of UNCLE TUPELO?
I am not so sure. There was some special chemistry when Tweedy and Jay Farrar combined forces -- a "lightning in a bottle" sensation.
UNCLE TUPELO might only be "St. Louis' Fourth Best Country Band," as they ironically billed themselves on old posters, but they might only be the best American band in generations, too.
Former GIANTS' closer Rod Beck has passed away, age 38. "Shooter" recorded 48 saves for San Francisco in 1993. R.I.P.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

I love the rhythm in a riff

I love the Billy Eckstine Big Band circa 1945-46.
It ultimately failed, because of music economic realities following World War II and changing tastes on the dance floor.
The band also failed for the very reasons why I love it so:
Eckstine fostered young musicians who wanted to experiment. Dance fans didn't want to hear Budd Johnson, Fats Navarro, Kenny Dorham, Dexter Gordon or Gene Ammons packing as many notes as they could into a song. Dance fans wanted simple. Eckstine gave them complicated. Mr. B. gave them embryonic BE-BOP.
I am sitting here sipping coffee, preparing for a Saturday work shift and trying to sing along to Eckstine. It's easy on ballads such as "A Cottage for Sale" or "Last Night." Singing along is a lot more difficult during frenzied up-tempo numbers such as as "The Jitney Man."
Art Blakey is banging away on the drums, too.
That's reason enough to love Mr. B and his band.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Cinema's bad, bad, bad boys (and girls)

Film villains have been around since the beginning of films, tying damsels to the train tracks and performing a whole host of other dastardly deeds.
This week, ROUTE 1 readers recall cinema's bad crowd by answering the following FRIDAY QUESTION:
"Who is your favorite screen villain?"
Inger H. -- Though not really a screen villain in any kind of usual sense, Norma Desmond's bat-sh*t crazy, manipulative and spaced-out character in Sunset Boulevard is a true screen original. "I'm ready for my close-up, Mr DeVille!"
Rick T. -- Lon Chaney.
Bob H. -- It's hard to decide who is the most villainous, Gary Oldman ("Air Force One," "Batman Begins," etc.) or Liam Neeson ("Batman Begins," "Harry Potter," etc.) They both have played some pretty mean modern-day villains.
Scout S. -- My co-worker Matt offers Dennis Hopper's Frank Booth from "Blue Velvet." I, myself, prefer Rutger Hauer's Roy Batty in "Blade Runner." Later, we will fight about this THERE CAN ONLY BE ONE.
Mike D. -- In anticipation of this summer's "Die Hard" sequel, I've had the original (1988) movie on my mind lately. Alan Rickman created a memorable villain in his portrayal of terrorist Hans Gruber. He was a self-anointed genius packaged in '80s-slick. A modern take on the bumbling crook, and it worked perfectly for a film that ushered in a new genre of action/adventure styled with comedic quips.
Madelin F. -- The Wicked Witch of the West.
Mike M. -- It's impossible to pick one favorite. Max Schreck in "Nosferatu," Yul Brynner in "Westworld," Glenn Close in "Fatal Attraction," Robert De Niro in "Cape Fear," Ben Kingsley in "Sexy Beast." I've been reading that Javier Bardem is excellent in "No Country for Old Men," coming to theaters November 2007.
Lisa Y. -- Maybe Jack Nicholson in that movie with Tom Cruise ("A Few Good Men") when he screams "You can't handle the truth!" Cheesy? Maybe, but it was the first person I thought of. Of course, I like him in any kind of role.
Erik H. -- Robert Mitchum as Rev. Harry Powell in Charles Laughton's "The Night of the Hunter." Everyone remembers the "L-O-V-E" and "H-A-T-E" tattooed on his fingers, but what really gets me is how coldly and calmly he attempts to capture the children:
"I can hear you whisperin' children, so I know you're down there. I can feel myself gettin' awful mad. I'm out of patience children. I'm coming to find you now."
It spooks the heck out of me every time.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Because there's forty different shades of black

I am sipping strong coffee, shaking my head at the rain and jumping ever so slightly at the occasional, surprising BOOM! of thunder.
Oh yeah.
I am also preparing for work while listening to PAVEMENT.
After a frenzied day yesterday -- work assignments and ferrying children to events kept me perpetually on the move -- I relaxed while listening to "Slanted and Enchanted."
This morning I am listening to "Crooked Rain Crooked Rain" (appropriate for the weather).
I think I have disparaged Pavement a little bit in the past, referring to them as a second-rate Fall.
That's only because I love The Fall so much. Pavement were actually so much more.
For one thing, I think Stephen Malkmus and Scott (Spiral Stairs) Kannberg of Pavement always cared more for the classic pop song than The Fall's Mark E. Smith.
Obviously, this love of the pop song comes through on "Cut Your Hair," the "hit" from "Crooked."
I say "hit" not because I have been reading too much of The "Blog" of "Unnecessary" Quotation Marks (located here), but because "Cut Your Hair" received airplay on alternative radio and MTV but otherwise escaped the clutches of the mainstream.
Too bad.
It's a great song, and Pavement were a great band.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Washing away the dust of everyday life

Yesterday was what I would term "a crappy day," for a variety of reasons.
I am solo parenting this week because my wife Jill is on a business trip, and yesterday's workday included two stories for me to write as well as an hour-long meeting that came right after I picked up youngest daughter Annika from her talented-and-gifted summer school classes. Add a 7:40 p.m. youth soccer game to the mix, and I was tired and cranky when the "day" finally ended at 9:05 p.m.
I sought comfort in music.
"Music is supposed to wash away the dust of every day life from your feet," said Art Blakey (pictured), whose Jazz Messengers introduced countless great players to audiences for more than three decades.
Last night, I relaxed by creating an "Art Blakey" styled station on Internet radio station
Soon, the music of Blakey, Clifford Brown, Jackie McLean, Donald Byrd and others was washing away the dust created by a less-than-perfect day.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

"If I have to hear 'Yamo Be There' one more time, I'm going to 'Yamo' burn this place to the ground"

Here are a couple things that have been really making me laugh:
1) The films of Judd Apatow.
With both "The 40-Year-Old Virgin" and "Knocked Up," Apatow has made comedies featuring hilarious dialog, ensemble-type casts with good actors, a mix of drama to spice up the laughs and scenarios where friends eventually stand behind their friends. Apatow also devises ways for us to care about the main characters. He's a filmmaker to watch.
2) "Do Not Laugh at High School."
According to a Web site devoted to it one of the segments on the comedy "Downtown no Gaki no Tsukai ya Arahende" can be described like this:
"Do Not Laugh at High School" is a TV show played in Japan where the players are not suppose to laugh when something funny happens. If they laugh, they will be spanked once at their bottoms. It's the funniest show in Japan. You will enjoy laughs and jokes."
That description -- in slightly fractured English -- doesn't do "Do Not Laugh at High School" any justice. Log on to the Web site, located here, click on some of the YouTube clips, and enjoy. I'm not sure I understand it, but it makes me laugh.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Alto sax, flute, bass clarinet and a face full of fur

Today was one of those "days off" that makes you long for the relative relaxation of work.
Youngest daughter Annika began talented-and-gifted summer classes at a local university, eldest daughter Kerstin had a 30-minute orthodontist appointment and I had to grocery shop -- all with wife Jill in Champaign, Ill. this week on a business trip.
I was running all over town and it seemed like every time I got out of the car the skies opened up and simply pelted me with rain.
Late this afternoon I just wanted to relax.
I made myself a drink and listened to Eric Dolphy's "Out to Lunch" with headphones.
"Out to Lunch" might be the "most complicated" jazz album I own. Dolphy was an avant-garde genius and the odd time signatures on "Out to Lunch" make Dave Brubeck's "Time Out" pale in comparison.
I laid on the floor and closed my eyes during "Something Sweet, Something Tender" to better hear and appreciate Tony Williams' drum technique.
He kept time on the cymbals while he freely played the snare drum. It was brilliant and -- ugh! mmmffff!! What the -- !!!
Black cat Lorelie snuck up on me while my eyes were closed and flopped down on my face. Aaack! Cough! Hack! Cough!
Concentrating on avant-garde jazz to relax? Do want.
Failing to concentrate on avant-garde jazz because I have a face full of cat fur? Do not want.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Cool Father's Day Struttin'

I'm not sure if my late father had any Sonny Clark albums. George Walter Hogstrom was a voracious jazz record collector, so in all likelihood he had some Clark discs.
I have been playing the heck out of my Sonny Clark albums today, including "Cool Struttin'" -- a 1958 gem.
Check out the cover... the GRAPHIC DESIGN GENIUS OF REID MILES strikes again.
The music is equally memorable. Trumpeter Art Farmer and alto saxophonist Jackie McLean form a great front line. The rhythm section joining pianist Clark is outstanding -- bassist Paul Chambers and drummer Philly Joe Jones of Miles Davis fame.
Clark was an underrated composer, based on the swinging title track and the follow-up tune, "Blue Minor." The band also perform Davis' "Sippin' at Bells" and the pop standard "Deep Night."
This album is one of those records -- jazz or otherwise -- that I could hear all day long.
In fact, seeing how this is Father's Day, I think I will play it all day long.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

The musical genius of Skip James

It's hot and I have been cooling off with loads of country blues.
One celebrated artist stands somewhat outside the norm -- the excellent Skip James.
I have barely listened to anything but "The Complete Early Recordings of Skip James" during the past two days.
Here is how Robert Palmer described James' music, in a 1984 edition of the New York Times:
"Skip James was perhaps the most fluent and quick-fingered of all country blues guitarists. His arcane minor-modal tunings and eerie high-pitched singing create a strange, hushed atmosphere that is by turns mystically enraptured and profoundly unsettling. His piano playing is even more angular and unpredictable."
That last sentence says so much.
James was an anomaly in the country blues era because he was a virtuoso on both the guitar and the piano. In fact, I hear hints of avant-garde jazz in James' work.
Maybe that's just the heat making me hear that, but I think I'm correct.
Skip James is a musical genius.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Hot fun in the Summertime

The temperatures are rising the days are lengthening and the kids no longer attend school. What gives?
Oh yeah. It's summer.
ROUTE 1 readers celebrate the season by answering the following FRIDAY QUESTION:
"What is your favorite thing about summer?"
Mary N.-P. -- No question. It's the early sunrise (and lovely morning light before the heat of the day comes crashing down) and the late sunsets that flow into cool evenings.
Rick T. -- Playing music outside. (Catfish Festival, June 24, 3:30 p.m.)
Roseanne H. -- Oh, so many things -- Sunshine, pretty flowers, bar-b-qs, daylight savings, cool drinks and so many activities and events in Reno that it is hard to choose what to do next.
Matt K. -- Mu isamaa, mu onn ja room ("My Fatherland, My Happiness and Joy"), National Anthem of (the Republic) of Estonia.
Steve M. -- Long days.
Bob H. -- My birthday!
Mike D. -- Fishing, the Rhomberg Dairy Queen and playing with my kids outside.
Erik H. -- The sensation of leaping into a swimming pool on a hot day. I had access to a pool when I lived in Concord, Calif., Phoenix, Ariz. and Sebastopol, Calif. Now, we have to walk down the street (or drive) to a community pool. It is worth it for the SPLASH!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Time for the ladies

I have been listening to (mostly) prewar country blues for the past several days, trying to compile a "HOT WEATHER BLUES" playlist for the upcoming Father's Day Weekend.
That means dusting off some old blues CDs and rediscovering some favorite songs, such as "Midnight Hour Blues" by Leroy Carr & Scrapper Blackwell and "Hard Rocks in My Bed" by Bumble Bee Slim (BEST. BLUES. NAME. EVER... according to Kerstin and Annika).
It also means subjecting the kids to a combination of acoustic guitar and injured wail that they aren't exactly accustomed to hearing.
Last night, en route back home from her youth soccer match, Annika asked why there weren't any girl singers on the CD on the car stereo.
Hey! I have a three-disc compilation of (mostly) prewar female blues singers!
We got home and dug through the CD collection.
I have to run Kerstin to a doctor's appointment before I head to work this morning. We'll listen to some Memphis Minnie, Esther Bigeou, Bessie Tucker and Clara Smith.
It's time for the ladies of blues to shine.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

"There's definitely something in the air tonight, Charlie. That's three women in a row he's had."

I relaxed after work last night by enjoying Bill Forsyth's classic teen film "Gregory's Girl" on DVD.
I selected "Original Scottish Language Track," to avoid the badly dubbed version I saw the first time I watched this film.
Gordon John Sinclair stars as a lovestruck, awkward teen -- the titular Gregory.
He falls for the best player on his soccer team.
"Is it Andy?" a friend asks.
"No, it's Dorothy."
The entire school loves soccer goddess Dorothy -- small boys sell her photograph in an ad-hoc store based in the boys' restroom -- but Gregory has a slight advantage: She needs a goalkeeper (however poorly he plays) for shooting practice.
It is all great fun. Even trying to figure out why that young fellow is wearing the penguin suit.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

86... 86... 89... 91... 89...

I know, I am strange when it comes to weather and music.
I can't really listen to ECHO & THE BUNNYMEN, for example, unless the temperature is below 50. The Bunnymen just aren't a "warm weather band" for me. I guess I spent to much time listening to them while shoveling snow as part of my work-study duties in college.
Similarly, I can't really listen to the BLUES -- good, old-fashioned DELTA BLUES -- unless the weather turns wickedly HOT.
That's where this week's forecast comes into play.
Temperatures are supposed to creep up into the upper 80s and lower 90s this week -- the first sustained "warm spell" of the summer.
I'll be ready.
I am listening to ROBERT JOHNSON and some other classic blues today.
This morning, I have also been enjoying one of the little-known treasures from the NATIONAL PARK SERVICE.
"Trail of the Hellhound," located here, provides a virtual tour of IMPORTANT BLUES LOCATIONS in the lower Mississippi region. It's the next best thing to being there, and if you are inside with the air-conditioning, it's a lot cooler than being there, too.

Monday, June 11, 2007

"Let 'em Roll" and light the candles

I had finished bopping my head to Big John Patton's "Let 'em Roll" last night when the power went out -- all over our side of town.
The girls are on summer break, so we were all still awake at 10:30 p.m. when the lights dimmed twice, then went out.
We had no power, our neighbors had no power. We looked up and down our street and out the back window up a hill: Nobody had power.
Kerstin used her cell phone as a flashlight and we found something to light candles. We had four candles burning and sat around chatting for an hour before we all went to sleep in the living room.
It was out of the ordinary and fun.
The same can definitely be said for "Let 'em Roll."
It might be the grooviest album in my groove-packed collection. Patton was a jazz organist and he and guitarist Grant Green locked into a solid groove with drummer Otis "Candy" Finch. Vibes player Bobby Hutcherson frequently solos over the top of this solid groove.
It is a wonder I didn't strain my neck bopping my head along to this wonderful 1965 album (with an absolutely classic REID MILES cover, I might add).
Instead, I think I might have strained my neck attempting to sleep on the floor of the living room with Kerstin and Annika tossing and turning next to me. A power outage can be fun, but sometimes leaves you a bit sore the next day.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

"Did the kids really smoke in the movie?"

The girls and I enjoyed one of my favorite movie experiences last night, Peter Bogdanovich's "Paper Moon."
This 1973 film has so much going for it.
Kerstin and Annika howled with delight as Moses Pray (Ryan O'Neal) and Addie Loggins (Tatum O'Neal) sped away from the crooked sheriff (John Hillerman) and my girls were mesmerized by Pray's money changing ability (watch yourself if you ever agree to make change for these girls after they saw this film -- WAS that a five she just gave you?).
The girls also enjoyed the testy but almost always witty exchanges between shrewd conman Moses and even-shrewder con-artist-in-training Addie:
Moses: "I got scruples too, you know. You know what that is? Scruples?
Addie: "No, I don't know what it is, but if you got 'em, it's a sure bet they belong to somebody else!"
I tried to explain the significance of Tatum O'Neal's Oscar win for Best Supporting Actress and my admiration for the cinematography of Laszlo Kovacs, but by film's end my girls had one question that seemed to matter to them.
"Did the kids really smoke in the movie?"
It seems the scenes of Addie and (occasionally) Imogene lighting up caused a sensation for Kerstin and Annika, who know no smokers and live with the more modern (and correct) view of smoking as unhealthy evil.
I explained that Addie probably didn't really inhale. It's all good acting, after all.

Friday, June 08, 2007

The funny bone's connected to the... um... what is the funny bone connected to?

ROUTE 1 seeks information on tickling funny bones, and readers respond to the following FRIDAY QUESTION:
"What was the funniest thing you heard this week?"
Mary N.-P. -- Let me set the stage for this image (I did not get to see this, but wish I had).

We had a tornado hit near here Friday that knocked out a lot of folks' power. My good friends who live in the country and whose water comes from a well pump, had no electricity. They had to go to a graduation party and were sweaty from cleaning up storm debris. There was not enough water for the 15-year-old son to take a shower, so he stripped to his underwear, grabbed soap and shampoo and ran outside under the pouring rain. He lathered up body and hair and rinsed off under a roaring downspout. He came in, dried off and was sparkling clean for the party.
Rick T. -- That I was good looking!
Mike M. -- When I tried to convince my 4-year-old daughter Rebecca that I was going to mow the lawn in my underwear, she rolled her eyes and exclaimed, "Dad! That's inappropriate!"
Erik H. -- Jill and I saw Judd Apatow's film "Knocked Up" last night. It is funny. It is one of those rare films that you want to see again, just so you can catch some of the dialog that you laughed through the first time.
Ben Stone (Seth Rogen) and his slacker buddies get most of the best lines, and their verbal jabs at a beard-wearing member of their crew are consistently funny.
I think I laughed the loudest, however, when Stone tried to explain a love-making option to Alison Scott (Katherine Heigl):
"It's doggie style. It's a style. We don't have to go outside or anything."

Thursday, June 07, 2007

I need a bookmark for my cell phone user guide!

"...Not touching the antenna area during a phone call optimizes the antenna performance and battery life. THE END."
There! That's the end of Page 17 of my new cell phone's user guide.
After a year of simple cell phone technology (SELECT. CALL. "HELLO?"), I have upgraded to the NOKIA 6315i. Apparently, it is an amazing phone.
I say "apparently," because I have yet to fully comprehend the NOKIA 6315i.
The user guide is 96 pages long. I believe that places it in the "novella" category.
The guide is rather heavy going at times: "To ensure interoperability between other devices supporting Bluetooth technology, use NOKIA approved enhancements for this model."
I am not entirely sure what that means.
However, I am sure about the THREE VOWS I have taken regarding my new phone:
I have nothing against the Finns. They do make apparently amazing phones, after all. However, as a PROUD SWEDISH-AMERICAN, I refuse to bow down to any notion of SUOMEN SUPERIORITY. I will figure out this phone.
Don't let today's Christmas socks fool you. They were the only matched socks in the "Sock Box" and I was in a hurry. I am otherwise savvy. I TXT, I blog (obviously), I can't live without my iPod. I know how to order sushi in Half Moon Bay, Calif. I am relatively savvy.
I will not let this phone transform me into a Luddite.
At least I think I will. I haven't gotten to that chapter in the user guide.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Funkifizin' on the LAST DAY OF SCHOOL

I had a dream last night that I was interviewing members of TOWER OF POWER, Oakland's premier horn-based funksters.
I woke up, opened iTunes and began playing songs such as "We Got to Funkifize" and watched as Kerstin and Annika prepared for the LAST DAY OF SCHOOL.
They carefully planned their outfits and hairstyles for their final day. Now they are eating breakfast and searching for last-minute accessories such as headbands and shoes.
For Kerstin, today marks the final day of elementary school. She moves on to junior high school next year. Annika is just looking forward to summer.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Ever seen a blind man cross the road

I listened to some early ROD STEWART as I walked and drove around today.
Before he went "disco" and before he started singing standards, Stewart was a memorable rock singer with a distinctive, well-worn voice.
Of his early stuff, I love "Maggie May" and "Mandolin Wind" and "Reason to Believe."
I absolutely adore his cover of Mike d'Abo's "Handbags and Gladrags."
"So what becomes of you my love, when they have finally stripped you of
The handbags and the gladrags that your granddad had to sweat so you could buy."
Stewart recorded his version of the song in 1969, and it was arranged by d'Abo, who also played piano on the record.
It is just an all-time classic record. I absolutely love it.

Monday, June 04, 2007

"There's a lot to be said for making people laugh"

I worked yesterday -- my return to the office from my nearly two-week trip to San Francisco -- and wanted to relax when the workday was completed.
Jill and I watched the 1941 Preston Sturges classic "Sullivan's Travels" on DVD.
Comedic Hollywood director John L. Sullivan (Joel McCrea) seeks the truth about poverty in order to prepare for his planned, first serious film: "O Brother, Where Art Thou?"
Sullivan sets out on a tour of Depression-era shanty towns, but the tour never goes according to plan -- such as when he falls for a girl soured on her own Hollywood experience (Veronica Lake).
Sturges does a great job of mixing grim views of America's poor with the witty banter for which he was famed.
For example, here is McCrea arguing with a pair of his movie executive bosses about the value of a "serious" picture:
Robert Warwick: "It died in Pittsburgh"
Porter Hall: "Like a dog!"
McCrea: "Aw... what do they know in Pittsburgh?"
Hall: "They know what they like."
"If they knew what they liked, they wouldn't live in Pittsburgh!"

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Giants, gypsy jazz and Gleason gem

Zzzz... HUH!... Yawn...
I just woke up.
I was listening to the visiting GIANTS against the Phillies (on KNBR radio, via and I must have fallen asleep sometime in the bottom of the seventh inning. I blame my continuing jet lag and apparent inability to adapt to Central Daylight Time.
Philadelphia beat the Giants, 5-2, with Cole Hamels striking out five San Francisco batters during a complete-game victory. Good thing I fell asleep: I missed the end of yet another San Francisco loss.
Earlier, I listened to guitarist Django Reinhardt, violinist Stephane Grappelli, and their intoxicating album "Swing 39" that the pair recorded in Paris on the eve of World War II as part of the legendary Quintette du Hot Club de France. Critics sometimes refer to Reinhardt's swinging, creative style as "gypsy jazz."
Reinhardt, arguably the first great jazz guitarist, was famously born in a gypsy caravan in Belgium. Reinhardt was equally famous for his "gypsy ways" -- he would fail to show for high-paying gigs, only to turn up down the street playing for free.
I listened to "Swing 39" while reading more of RALPH J. GLEASON's "Celebrating Duke."
The longtime San Francisco Chronicle jazz critic, Gleason also helped co-found Rolling Stone magazine.
His writings often reflect my views entirely. For example...
"I could no more stop listening to music than I could stop breathing," Gleason wrote, "and they will happen at the same time when they do."
Right on.

Friday, June 01, 2007

FEEL GOOD music of the week

Good thing nothing in the ROUTE 1 CONSTITUTION says we are obligated to type FRIDAY QUESTION answers on Friday morning!
A combination of AMERICAN AIRLINES INEPTITUDE and BAD WEATHER over Chicago's O'Hare airport conspired to completely thrash my travel plans this week.
That's why I am JUST NOW typing the answers to the following FRIDAY QUESTION:
"Name a song that made you feel good this week. Why did it make you feel good?"
Inger H. -- Hearing the Mayflies at Pete and Laura's BBQ, because the Mayflies always make me think of summer.
Mike D. -- After a busy day at work, nursing a sore back muscle I pulled earlier
in the day, and knowing that I had to return to work late that night for a couple hours of work on the company newsletter, I was glad to hear a rockin' oldie on the drive home. Molly Hatchet's "Flirtin' with Disaster" is not only full of that good ol' crunchy Southern rock sound, but the additional guitar harmonies add some flavor. Mmmm mmm.
Mike M. -- "Peppermint Patty" by the Ellis Marsalis Trio on the album "Joe Cool's Blues." Ellis' piano solo makes me want to wear a fedora, slam shots of whiskey, smoke Cuban cigarillos, and chase dames. Heh heh!
Mary N.-P. -- OK. I'll bet I will be the only person on the Route 1 blog who hasn't listened to ANY music this week (not unusual for me). I could have faked it, but how could you ever trust my answers again?
Scout S. -- "My Name is Love" by Rob Dickinson. I listened to it several times -- once in the car I played it twice in a row. It is a soaring pop anthem and I can't get enough of it.
Rick T. -- "I Tell It Like It Use To Be" by T. Graham Brown. He sang it last night on the Tuesday Night Opry (Grand Ole Opry). Love that song!
Erik H. -- I stepped out onto California Street earlier this week, iPod in hand, and The Faces' live version of the Rod Stewart classic "Maggie May" felt like it lifted me up and into the air. It felt so good to hear that song.