Sunday, August 31, 2008

Hop on the emotional roller coaster

Last night provided yet another example of the EMOTIONAL ROLLER COASTER that occurs when following MY BELOVED OREGON DUCKS.
I was almost destined to become a fan of the school based in Eugene, Ore. My grandparents emigrated from Sweden to Oregon in the 1920s, and my late dad grew up a Ducks fan in MEDFORD, ORE.
Then, when my wife JILL and I set out West in 1992, after my dad's death, we settled in LAKEVIEW, ORE., where we welcomed daughter KERSTIN into the world -- a WORLD OF GREEN AND YELLOW.
If Providence made me an Oregon fan, then the topsy turvy fortunes of the school's football team keep me perpetually on the edge of my seat.
Last night, MY BELOVED OREGON DUCKS made a rare appearance on national TV, and the pets and I stayed up past midnight to witness the season's opening game.
With presumptive starter Nate Costa lost for the year, it was time for Justin Roper to take the quarterbacking reins for the Ducks.
When Roper suffered a concussion in the first half against THE DREADED WASHINGTON HUSKIES last night, I held my breath and began to worry that this season would include some of the bitter disappointment of last year, when Oregon's dreams faded with Dennis Dixon's injury.
Masoli passed for 126 yards and two touchdowns, helping No. 21 Oregon to a 44-10 victory over bitter rivals Washington.
Masoli seems set to become a HOGSTROM FAMILY SPORTS LEGEND.
Masoli led City College of San Francisco to the junior college national championship last season while throwing for 3,592 yards and 30 touchdowns. He is a Bay Area kid, having attended Serra High School in San Mateo, Calif., for three years before spending his senior year at St. Louis High School in Hawaii.
Roper will probably return to face Utah State next Saturday. If the injury bug strikes again (and these are MY BELOVED OREGON DUCKS, so the chances are probably rather high), it's good to know Masoli waits in the wings.
Start the roller coaster -- it's Duck season once again!

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Waking up to The Waterboys

I listened to "THE BEST OF THE WATERBOYS" while sipping my coffee this morning and preparing for day one of a busy, three-day weekend.
Band leader MIKE SCOTT changed musical direction for the "Fisherman's Blues" period of THE WATERBOYS.
The literature-inspired lyrics remained, but the music shifted from grandiose to eclectic, Celtic-inspired folk rock.
The song "FISHERMAN'S BLUES" is one of my favorites:
"I wish I was a fisherman tumbling on the sea, far away from dry land and its bitter memories.
Casting out my sweet line with abandonment and love. No ceiling bearing down on me save the starry sky above. With light in my head and you in my arms."
It became more difficult to hear The Waterboys on U.S. alternative radio after the band's shift in musical direction. That's a true shame, since they remained in a different league from so many other bands.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Better start tearing up the yard for beetle larvae

The Farmers' Almanac is at odds with the National Weather Service over how cold it will be this winter.
ROUTE 1 readers weigh in on the fray by answering this week’s FRIDAY QUESTION:
"What do you think this winter will be like?"
DAVE B. -- Cold. Very cold.
BEKAH P. -- I decline comment. It is bad juju to guesstimate a terrible winter. Karma, my friends, karma.
JIM S. -- The temperatures are going to be normal, but I hope we'll flirt with the record for the least amount of snow in a season. Then I can fill a hole in my column schedule by asking various readers, staffers and their offspring what they think of the winter -- as I did this past season for the record of most snow.
CLINT A. -- After having our first freeze warnings of the season last night, seeing birds gathering for migration, skunks tearing up yards at a rapid pace for beetle larvae, and with the oaks already releasing their acorns, I am predicting that it is going to be an early, hard and long winter. I am making plans to install a wood pellet stove in the coming weeks so that we can have a nice, cozy warm house in February when the baby arrives. Typically, I notice in the winter that Dubuque temperatures are only 10 to 15 degrees warmer than Duluth (unless there is some strong front moving through, and then temps can vary more radically, but then, once the front leaves the region, temps return to that 10-degree difference).
MIKE M. -- I think it'll be like Emily Dickinson wrote: "There's a certain slant of light, On winter afternoons, That oppresses, like the weight of cathedral tunes.
INGER H. -- This winter? Probably dry and cold like the last one... at least this time I'll have central heating. Huzzah!

RICK T. -- It will be a COLD, early winter. Bundle up!
MARY N.-P. -- Not as cold, not so much snow as last year (but that would be impossible anyway). At least, that's what we are praying for at our house.
KERI M. -- Cold. Cold. Cold. The typical Saskatchewan weather, with patches of hot weather (planned trips).
ERIK H. -- I think the coming winter will pose the greatest challenge yet in our efforts to convince Rory the puppy to make all of her bowel movements outside. "Aw c'mon, Rory... It's only 10 inches of snow out there... Please go potty!"

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Playing that old guitar

I listened to the wonderful harmonies of the LOUVIN BROTHERS while driving to cover an assignment in neighboring Illinois yesterday.
Although the late (and troubled) IRA LOUVIN was a masterful songwriter, two of my favorite songs on the compilation "WHEN I STOP DREAMING: THE BEST OF THE LOUVIN BROTHERS" were penned by country music pioneer ALTON DELMORE of the earlier duo, the DELMORE BROTHERS.
"SOUTHERN MOON" and "GONNA LAY DOWN MY OLD GUITAR" were popularized by the Delmore Brothers. The Louvins included the songs on their 1960 album "Charlie and Ira Louvin -- A Tribute to the Delmore Brothers."
According to reports, Ira and Charlie visited the ailing Alton Delmore to seek his guidance on the final song selection. Alton reached under a bed and dug out a tenor guitar once played by his late brother Rabon Delmore. The surviving Delmore brother allowed the Louvins to use the tenor guitar on their album.
"There were some old strings still on Rabon's guitar," CHARLIE LOUVIN recalled. "Ira took those home and took 'em off and soaked 'em in kerosene and rubbed 'em and soaked 'em in kerosene again 'til he got 'em alive. And he cut that album with the same strings that Rabon had played on 12 years before."
The results are remarkable, I decided after listening to the songs several times yesterday.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Great literature? Not so much

P. T. LUMAN is no Dashiell Hammett.
The author of the 1931 tale "GANGSTER'S BRAND" is no D.B. McCandless, either.
I am reading the story this morning, after dropping off the girls for their first day of school.
Luman's story relies too heavily on coincidence and often steers well clear of logical plotting. The name of a speakeasy proprietor changes from DAPPER DAN to DAPPER BEN within three pages, which is another sign that I am not delving into any great literature.
The story is entertaining, though, which I suppose was the true litmus for pulp fiction of the 1930s.
Still, I hope the girls read something a little better in school!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Ultramagnetic MCs on the summer's final day

"It's the last day of summer vacation!"
ROUTE 1 JUNIOR EDITORIAL ASSISTANT ANNIKA (age 9-1/2) just growled at me when I noted that today is the FINAL DAY OF HER SUMMER VACATION.
She was propped up in our bed, watching TV. This time tomorrow, she will be dressed and prepared to walk into the fourth-grade classroom for the first time.
"...Ultra magnetic-magnetic MCs Ultra magnetic-magnetic MCs..."
I am listening to the ULTRAMAGNETIC MCs as I eat breakfast and prepare for work.
This summer has sped by, so it does come as a surprise that school begins tomorrow. The family is reconvening at noon to take Annika to her SCHOOL ORIENTATION.
Then, I am sure, today's status as the final day of juvenile freedom will become crystal clear.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

From Basildon to... Damariscotta?

This morning, we're listening to "UPSTAIRS AT ERIC'S" by YAZOO (they had to shorten their name in America for legal reasons, but they will always be Yazoo to me).
It's a wonderful album, of course, with the inspired (and by accounts, practically accidental) pairing of VINCE CLARKE and his bleeping synths and ALISON MOYET and her bluesy vocals.
Perhaps not surprisingly, this odd pairing from Basildon, Essex could never last, and Yazoo disbanded after only 18 months.
Moyet turned to a solo career and Clarke eventually founded Erasure with vocalist Andy Bell. Now, Clarke is married with a baby and living in Damariscotta, Maine.
Imagine the surprise of Yazoo fans, then, when Moyet and Clarke reunited earlier this year for the "Reconnected" tour. Even this odd couple reunited? Perhaps anything is possible.
I would have loved to have seen them.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Great arrangements from a pioneering band

Hand claps, instruments added one at a time, a mass of vocals coming in at the chorus -- "MY BEST FRIEND'S GIRL" really is one of the best-arranged pop songs I have heard.
I am listening to a GREATEST HITS compilation by THE CARS as I drive around today, a rare Saturday work day for me.
Many of the The Cars' songs were so well-arranged. That is one of my observations from close listening to Ric Ocasek and the band.
Another observation: So much current "alternative" rock music owes a vast debt to The Cars.
As I listen, I wonder if someone hearing these songs for the first time (unlikely, I know, because of their frequent appearances on classic rock radio) might mistake The Cars for The Killers with a substitute vocalist in place.
Working on a Saturday is never much fun, but at least I have the wonderful songs of The Cars to keep me company.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Friday Question, Olympic edition

With the BEIJING OLYMPICS nearing the closing ceremony, ROUTE 1 readers answer the following FRIDAY QUESTION:
"What is your favorite moment from the 2008 Beijing Olympics?"
MARY N.-P. -- It has to be that Jamaican sprinter (Usain Bolt) who whipped the field and started celebrating before the 9-second race was over and even so, he set a world record!
KERSTIN H. -- The opening ceremony and the drummers.
MIKE D. -- When Mike Day won the silver medal in the BMX competition, of course! Actually, it was hearing my ecstatic 6-year-old son cheer on the various U.S. athletes and teams and scream out, "Mom, Dad, U.S.A. just won another gold medal!"

LAURA C. -- Hard to beat (Jason) Lezak winning the medley with (Michael) Phelps screaming his head off on the pool deck... although Bolt pounding his chest in victory even before he crossed the finish of the 100-meter sprint was pretty great, too. But I think my favorite thing (though not a specific moment) about this Olympics is all the older women! A German gymnast at 33... a marathon winner at 38... and a silver-medalist in swimming at 41... Amazing!
ANNIKA H. -- Gymnastics!
BEKAH P. -- The men in their swimming gear.
BRIAN C. -- Favorite moment (thus far): When the interminable women's beach volleyball tournament concluded.
KERI M. -- I have three. The (Canadian men's eight) rowing team winning gold. Getting a text from one of my friends, who told me about the first gold medal via text while I was at Folkfest. The last, would be talking to one of my best friends, who is an Olympic addict.
ERIK H. -- Time had expired with the score 24-24 in Denmark’s handball match with Russia, but the Danes had been award a free throw. From the left side of the court, Mikkel Hansen took the ball and whipped it past the Russian defensive wall (like in soccer). The ball slipped past the goalkeeper into the top-right corner of Russia's goal. Hansen could not see where the ball had gone, but the ecstatic reaction of his teammates told him Denmark had won and would advance to the Olympic quarterfinals.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Heavy metal thunder

After several days of listening to soul music, today's threat of storms has me craving a little HEAVY METAL.
I decided to listen to SAXON and the South Yorkshire band's classic album "STRONG ARM OF THE LAW."
I have long been a fan of Saxon, one of the primary bands of the NEW WAVE OF BRITISH HEAVY METAL. The vast quantity of unintentional and intentional humor is one of the reasons I love Saxon.
Harry Shearer famously modeled Derek Smalls' bass-playing technique (playing with one hand, so the other is free to point in the air) in "THIS IS SPINAL TAP" on STEVE "DOBBY" DAWSON of Saxon.
Did Dawson realize he was opening himself up to parody?
Perhaps not, which is another reason why I love Saxon.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Pasadena, Calif.'s should-have-beens

DON "SUGARCANE" HARRIS and DEWEY TERRY were thankless pioneers.
The pair came out of Pasadena, Calif., where they originally sang in the high school group The Squires.
When the group broke up, DON & DEWEY remained together, signing with Specialty Records in 1957 and blending R&B with the emerging rock-n-roll sound. The pair's songs included "I'm Leaving it all up to You" (a chart-topping hit for Dale & Grace in 1963), "Farmer John" (landing at No. 19 for the Premiers in 1964) and "Koko Joe" (covered by the Righteous Brothers).
Sense a pattern? Don & Dewey watched others take their songs into the charts, while they remained hitless.
The pair were certainly influential, though. I am listening to Don & Dewey this morning as I prepare for work.
They deserved so much more attention than they received.
In the photo, Harris (left) and Terry (right) flank another California musical pioneer, Vallejo's JOHNNY OTIS.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Leave baby dinosaurs alone!

I craved some JAPANESE CINEMA tonight, so I popped Haruyasu Noguchi's "DAIKYOJŪ GAPPA" into the DVD player.
Famously the only TOKUSATSU KAIJU (special effects monster film) from NIKKATSU CORPORATION (home to maverick crime film director SEIJUN SUZUKI), "Gappa" begins with an expedition from Japan stumbling upon a baby dinosaur egg deep within a cavern on mysterious Obelisk Island.
If the expedition would have taken one look at the cracking dinosaur egg and turned around and left the island, Nikkatsu would have had no movie.
Luckily for kaiju film lovers (but not so fortunately for Tokyo residents), the members of the expedition take the baby dinosaur that hatched back to Japan -- much to the despair of the island's residents, played by Japanese actors in black face.
Of course, stealing a baby dinosaur is never a good idea, and soon, the baby's much larger parents fly to Japan to retrieve their offspring.
Much destruction of Tokyo ensues before baby and parents are reunited.
OK, I admit "Daikyojū Gappa" won't win any awards. This 1967 film did make me smile after a busy day at work, though, so it was well worth watching.

Monday, August 18, 2008

The musical great who decided to be bad

One of my favorite stories about trumpeter JOHNNY "DIZZY" MOORE -- who passed away at age 70 this past weekend -- concerns his entrance into the fabled ALPHA BOYS SCHOOL, a Jamaican reform school that served as a launching pad for the nation's greatest generation of musicians.
"I grew up in a home with music," Moore was quoted in the ROUGH GUIDE TO REGGAE, "but my family refused to impart it to me. At that stage, musicians were looked down upon."
When one of Moore's musical mates returned from his Alpha Boys School holidays, the future trumpeter asked the friend how he learned the tunes.
"And he said: 'At Alpha.' And I said: 'I've got to go there.' But he said: 'You have to be bad.' And I say: 'That's easy, man.'"
After that conversation, Moore went out of his way to be bad, and his family eventually sent him to the reform school. He learned his musical craft at Alpha. Moore later played in Jamaica's military band before co-founding THE SKATALITES, the legendary band that fueled the ska revolution and effectively put Jamaica on the pop music map.
In the photo above, Moore is on the far right. He is joined from left by Lloyd Brevett, producer Clement "Coxsone" Dodd and sax genius Roland Alphonso.
This great musical combination would have never come about if Moore hadn't decided to become bad.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

The Clash single nobody liked

"They cried the tears, they shed the fears, up and down the land..."
The critical reaction to the Jan. 16, 1981 release "HITSVILLE U.K." by THE CLASH was downright hostile, and the single struggled to No. 56 on the British charts.
SOUNDS music newspaper wrote:
"Horrendous, horrendous, horrendous. This is like watching your best friend die in a singularly acid-headed nightmare."
The NME music newspaper considered "Hitsville U.K." to be the band's nadir.
Why was there such a reaction to this song?
I am listening to "Hitsville U.K." now, and I cannot understand the vitriol devoted to this song.
Sure, it doesn't sound like "White Riot" or the early punk singles. For one thing, ELLEN FOLEY provides the vocals with Clash guitarist MICK JONES, so from the beginning the song is unlike any other of the band's songs.
"I know the boy was all alone, til the hitsville hit U.K.," Foley and Jones sing.
By now, we know the Clash made an endearing habit of expanding their sound throughout their development, adding reggae, country, classic rock, jazz and R&B to their initial punk template.
Based on that development, the uptempo, organ-driven, neo-girl group sound of "Hitsville U.K." doesn't sound as shocking as it must have upon its 1981 release.
More from SOUNDS:
"If Alfred Hitchcock had written pop tunes instead of making films and somebody had ordered him to write a song that sounded like the Clash in the most extreme stages of character disorientation or personality crisis, it would sound like "Hitsville U.K."
Eh? I happen to like this song!

"It blows a hole in the radio, when it hasn't sounded good all week.
A mike'n boom, in your living room - in hitsville U.K."

Saturday, August 16, 2008

It's like a holiday for me!

Although my favorite club, SHEFFIELD WEDNESDAY, toil in a division below, the PREMIER LEAGUE remains the sporting diversion that captures the majority of my attention (particularly with the SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS enduring the growing pains of a youth movement).
Soccer is far and away my favorite sport.
So, I have been anticipating today's return to the Premiership season (after 97 days) for weeks. Or months.
Today's live match on FOX SOCCER CHANNEL did not disappoint:
Andre Ooijer scored a stoppage-time winner as visiting BLACKBURN ROVERS defeated EVERTON, 3-2. The match featured several lead changes and plenty of end-to-end action. It was great fun to watch, as I sipped coffee and munched on a bagel.
David Dunn and Roque Santa Cruz also scored for Paul Ince's Rovers, while Mikel Arteta and Yakubu Aiyegbeni (pictured) scored for the David Moyes' Toffees.
Elsewhere, Caleb Folan scored as top-flight debutants HULL CITY opened their Premiership account with a 2-1 win over FULHAM.
I wish I had better news to report about the aforementioned Sheffield Wednesday.
Chris Iwelumo scored twice as WOLVES trounced my beloved Owls, 4-1. Ouch!

Friday, August 15, 2008

I heard a song and I hated it...

Not all songs make us smile, as ROUTE 1 readers prove by answering this week's FRIDAY QUESTION:
"What current song makes you grit your teeth?" Grrrr....
BRIAN M. -- "Our Song" by Taylor Swift.
BEKAH P. -- Anything by Miley Cyrus.
MIKE M. -- For a political campaign song, "Raisin' McCain" by country star John Rich is especially obnoxious.
RICK T. -- Anything that's hard, metal, rock music. Just a lot of loud amps and really no chord progression. Where's Elvis when ya need him?
KERI M. -- That new, awful one by Kid Rock.
ERIK H. -- "I Kissed a Girl" by Katy Perry is catchy enough to top the charts on both sides of the Atlantic, but if you listen closely to the words and watch Perry's mannerisms during her video, the tune seems to be styled more for titillation than celebration. Perry already seemingly dipped her toe in homophobic waters with her first big single, "Ur So Gay."
I wonder if an identical-sounding song called "I Kissed a Boy," sung by a male, would have made as big a splash into mainstream pop music? I could be wrong, but I doubt it.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Memorable and what might have been

I listened to the eponymous final album by SUBLIME during my morning walk.
As I listened to the LONG BEACH, CALIF., band's reggae-infused rock, I watched as fog that had shrouded the bluff of EAGLE POINT PARK was beginning to slowly retreat to the MISSISSIPPI RIVER.
The moment seemed so beautifully serene, and so few people probably witnessed it the say manner I had seen it. The moment was perfect, then, to hear one of the several rocksteady informed (and also rather beautiful) ballads on the Sublime album.
Singer/guitarist/leader BRADLEY NOWELL died from a heroin overdose before the release of this album (the band's third), so we will never know what further musical directions the trio might have taken.
I'm guessing those directions would have been memorable.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The makings of a Clash song

It was one of those surreal moments that shock us awake from time to time.
I flicked on the television first thing this morning to see GEORGIA VS. RUSSIA.
Only instead of tanks and town square rallies, this conflict involved girls in bikinis playing volleyball on a beach in China.
Women's sand volleyball amid the killings?
The Georgian women were native Brazilians, Christine Santanna and Andrezza Martins, which made the scene even more surreal.
I immediately thought: This story would make a great song for THE CLASH.
The Clash were great at so many things, including placing politics into the context of a catchy song.
I imagine The Clash would have set the volleyball-lyrics to a REGGAE beat -- they were one of the few rock bands to successfully play reggae. The late Joe Strummer would probably sing lead, I thought, with Mick Jones' pop sensibilities emerging in the chorus.
It would have made a great song.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Will we ever truly know world peace?

Sorry to deviate from my usual musical and movie musings, but I am troubled today.
I am beginning to think WARS will always be with us.
I am usually not this pessimistic, but Russia's conflict with Georgia makes me think wars will always be a part of the human experience. As long as humans act on greed, stubbornness, envy and the other negative aspects of our lives, I am afraid personal conflicts will always be writ large as wars.
In case you have missed it among the coverage of the Olympics, RUSSIA, with a population of 141 million and a military of 1.1 million personnel, have fought with GEORGIA (4.6 million people and 37,000 people in its armed forces). A conflict related to the breakaway Georgian republics of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.
I can't say who I think is right or wrong, because I think they are both wrong.
CBS Radio just reported that the fighting appears to be ending.
That might be true in this conflict.
However, I am increasingly frustrated and sorry to say: I fear fighting as a whole will never stop.
Global security researchers estimate there are AT LEAST 27 CONTINUING ARMED CONFLICTS in the world, in addition to SIX MAJOR WARS (Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Sudan, Iraq, Somalia and Georgia).

Monday, August 11, 2008

They were stars -- on college radio

The girls and I listened to THE ALARM compilation "STANDARDS" as we drove to the airport late last night to pick up my wife JILL, who had spent a week in Florida during a sales meeting.
The Rhyl, Wales band were somewhat of an anomaly: In many instances, they actually charted higher on the U.S. COLLEGE RADIO CHARTS -- that early barometer of alternative music -- than on their native U.K. singles chart.
"The Stand," for example, reached a mere 86 on the U.K. chart, but soared to No. 9 on the college radio chart.
Other notable alternative hits included "68 Guns" (No. 5 college radio, 17 U.K.), "Spirit of '76" (15 and 22), "Rain in the Summertime" (2 and 18) and "Sold Me Down the River" (4 and 43).
The classic example of The Alarm's success in the American underground is "Strength." It spent three weeks atop the U.S. college radio chart in 1985, but only reached No. 40 in the U.K.
I thought about the disparity as the girls and I listened to "Strength" last night. What was it about The Alarm that created much more demand among American alternative music fans?
Perhaps The Alarm were too anthemic for mainstream British tastes at the time? Perhaps their Welsh version of stadium rock was squeezed out of contention by the likes of U2 (Ireland) and Simple Minds (Scotland)?
I am still wondering why The Alarm were only "huge" on such a relatively small scale.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Summer begins to melt away

Poor, poor Pompey.
It took PORTSMOUTH 76 minutes to produce a shot on target against MANCHESTER UNITED in today's F.A. COMMUNITY SHIELD at Wembley.
Then, after the traditional curtain-raiser to the season finished goalless, two of Pompey's penalty takers took a pair of the most woeful spot kicks I have ever witnessed on television.
Last year's champions converted three penalties, and United had their first silverware of the season.
For me, today's match really marked the beginning of the end of the SUMMER OF 2008.
School registration is this coming week, and this coming weekend ushers in the PREMIER LEAGUE season.
The final days of summer really are trickling through our fingers.

I want to squeeze as much enjoyment as possible into the remaining summer days we have left.
That's why I grabbed my iPod at the end of the soccer match and sat outside. I dialed up "EVERYTHING FALLS APART," the 1983 studio debut by HÜSKER DÜ.
I view "Everything..." as a transitional album -- an audio equivalent to the changing of the seasons.
Still largely in the hardcore vein, this album does point to the pop overtones of subsequent releases by the Twin Cities' legends -- particularly with their punk cover of Donovan's "Sunshine Superman."
While I sat there listening, a SMALL HAWK swooped overhead, landing in a towering tree behind me.
Was the hawk's arrival another sign of summer's fleeting days?
Could be... or I could be wired from too much soccer and coffee and reading waaay too much significance into the things I see and hear.
Naaaaaah! That would never happen!

Saturday, August 09, 2008

"Bring on the Cossacks?"

I thought for certain I heard the crowd chanting "Bring on the Cossacks" during today's OLYMPIC WOMEN'S TEAM HANDBALL match between SWEDEN and HUNGARY.
I must have been mistaken: The Cossacks were always too busy sacking villages to spend much time playing handball -- particularly women's handball.
Sweden played the Hungarians close for the first half during this morning's match, but Hungary eventually pulled away for a 30-24 victory. I watched the match on (Check out the Web site, located here.)
I look forward to the Olympics for just this reason: I can watch sporting events that aren't always available stateside.
We were discussing the Olympics at work the other day and my coworkers had no clue about handball. I explained that the sport is much like WATER POLO WITHOUT THE WATER and that team handball is particularly popular in northern and central Europe.
I give NBC credit for broadcasting some of the so-called lesser-known sports on its Web site. I can get my once-every-four-years handball fix, with or without any Cossacks.
POST SCRIPT: Akpo Sodje scored twice before leaving injured and Marcus Tudgay also bagged a pair of goals as my beloved SHEFFIELD WEDNESDAY opened the Championship season with a 4-1 home win over BURNLEY. Elsewhere, Kevin Phillips scored as BIRMINGHAM defeated SHEFFIELD UNITED, 1-0, to -- ahahahahahahaha!

Friday, August 08, 2008

"It's Lucy in the sky and all kinds of apple pie!"

ROUTE 1 celebrate the best music by answering this week's FRIDAY QUESTION:
"What is the most memorable song you have heard this week?"
BRIAN M. -- "Bitches Crystal" by Emerson, Lake and Palmer, from the "Tarkus" album. Mad piano playing by Keith Emerson and even more madder drumming by Carl Palmer. I've been hearing this song a lot on the ELP channel on
MIKE D. -- I've been singing a couple of oldies that I heard on the radio within the past week: "The Night Chicago Died" by Paper Lace and "Get the Funk Out" by Extreme.
STEVE M. -- "Summertime." I have the live Shelley Manne CDs with his Men at the Blackhawk. They do a nice, long version of "Summertime." I've been humming it for the last few days.
RICK T. -- "Chiseled in Stone" by Vern Gosdin.
KERI M. -- "The Pearl (More Than Everything)" by The Trews.
DAVE B. -- "Handlebars" by Flobots.
MIKE M. -- Tchaikovsky's Concerto in D for Violin and Orchestra, Op. 35: I. Allegro moderato.
ERIK H. -- Classic rock-n-roll piano allied to a catchy punk rock song... that's "Julie's Been Working For The Drug Squad" by The Clash.
"An' then there came the night of the greatest raid, they arrested every drug that had ever been made. They took 82 laws through 82 do-ooo-ors!" Classic stuff.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Pressure? Not here!

Listeners and commentators on New York's SPORTS RADIO 66 WFAN are currently comparing the JETS acquiring BRETT FAVRE to the moment when Richard Gere carries Debra Winger out of the factory in "AN OFFICER AND A GENTLEMAN."
So... no pressure on the former GREEN BAY quarterback then.
I actually find the Big Apple reaction to the Favre acquisition to be quite hilarious. I also feel the incredible urge the ask the hyperbole-swamped Jets fans if they remember Favre's performance against the Giants in the NFC title game. "Broadway Brett," as he is now apparently known, threw a pair of touchdown passes. He also finished the game 19-for-35 for 236 yards and two interceptions. Messianic?
J-E-T-S Jets! Jets! Jets!

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Sinister and funny

Sometimes I feel bad for laughing.
I think that's part of the genius of "THE LEAGUE OF GENTLEMEN." The classic British sitcom leavened its comedy with a murkily dark undercurrent. There was always something so sinister about Royston Vasey and its inhabitants.
I watched the first two episodes of SERIES 1 on DVD this evening.
MARK GATISS, STEVE PEMBERTON and REECE SHEARSMITH did such an exemplary job, playing a variety of rather oddball characters -- Tubbs Tattsyrub, Pauline and Mr. Chinnery to name just a few.
After a busy day at work, it felt great unwinding with the laughter of "The League of Gentlemen" -- one of television's funniest, and most sinister, shows.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Hey! Where are those two cute girls?

Just kidding! What I meant to say was "Where is that great JO CALLIS?"
I am listening to a clutch of songs by THE HUMAN LEAGUE tonight after work, including several by "Mark I" of the band -- before IAN CRAIG MARSH and MARTYN WARE split to form B.E.F./HEAVEN 17.
Although I enjoy listening to songs such as "Empire State Human" and "Being Boiled," I really do prefer the Sheffield band's second incarnation, when former REZILLOS guitarist Callis lent the band his considerable pop sensibility. After all, there is a reason why "Don't You Want Me" topped the charts on both sides of the Atlantic -- it is ridiculously catchy!
Of course, the two cute girls didn't hurt...

Monday, August 04, 2008

The sun never shines when I listen to Tortoise

The last time I decided to listen to the TORTOISE album "MILLIONS NOW LIVING WILL NEVER DIE," I had to steer my car home through one of December's worst snow storms.
I grabbed the CD again today, and found myself piloting the car through the torrential downpour of a SEVERE THUNDERSTORM.
It would be a shame if heavy precipitation continually accompanies my listening to this album: I really do enjoy it.
On "Millions...," the music blurs the conventional genre lines. It can sound like minimalistic, modern classical music, hip hop, jazz, progressive rock and a ambient dance music -- all in the space of a few minutes.
I have to drive slowly while attempting to negotiate rain-lashed or snow-packed roads. That's OK. The slower I go, the more Tortoise I hear.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Relaxing with that classic synth riff

Dee-dee-dee-dee-dee-dee-dee-dee-dee, dee dee!
I've never really been any good at conveying synthesizer riffs with the written word, so I hope you will forgive me for my clumsy attempt at transcribing the insistent riff that forms the basis of "LOVE ACTION (I BELIEVE IN LOVE)," the insanely catchy, 1981 single by THE HUMAN LEAGUE.
Yesterday afternoon, my father-in-law and I joined Jill and the girls at a campground near MCGREGOR, IOWA for an overnight stay. Jill and the girls had been camping there with relatives since Thursday.
We enjoyed a nice afternoon and evening, but storms swept through the area overnight, and nobody slept very well after that occurred.
So, upon our return home today, we unloaded much of the gear and then sought ways to relax.
I listened to the ANGELS-YANKEES game on the Angels radio network (courtesy of Now, I am listening to a bunch of classic songs by Sheffield pop legends The Human League.
I had forgotten the greatness of the "DARE" album. It is so much more than "Don't You Want You," as evidenced by songs such as "Open Your Heart," "Seconds" and the aforementioned "Love Action." Brilliant stuff, and a great way to return to "civilization" after a night in nature.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

The cats don't really like Fugazi

Initially, it seems like an example of particularly rich irony that billionaire investor WARREN BUFFETT and keep-it-affordable punk icon IAN MACKAYE attended the same high school -- Woodrow Wilson Senior High School in Washington, D.C.'s Tenleytown neighborhood -- nearly 40 years apart.
I've been thinking about that odd pairing while listening to FUGAZI the past couple days.
My family is away on a camping trip -- I will join them this afternoon -- so I can play music as loudly as I wish.
Fugazi sounds best at higher volumes, although the cats don't agree with my assessment.
Last night, as I cranked up the volume on the "REPEATER" album, I glanced at the cats. They kept their distance, eyes wide and wondering what all of the musical commotion was about.
I love how Fugazi took hardcore punk rock and took it in other directions, including reggae. Their approach reminds me of the MINUTEMEN, another band that stretched punk rock's acceptable boundaries.
I appreciate creativity and musical growth. Fugazi never relinquished those qualities.
Actually, substitute "musical growth" with "financial growth," and MacKaye and Buffett aren't that dissimilar after all.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Should have asked this one on Friday the 13th!

Paraskevidekatriaphobia is the fear of Friday the 13th -- interesting but not entirely relevant to this week's FRIDAY QUESTION. Today is Friday the First, but ROUTE 1 readers are bringing up their deep-seated fears by answering the following query:
"What is your biggest phobia?"
MIKE D. -- Since I've been working on a column about spelunking this week, I'm tempted to say I'm claustrophobic. But my lifelong fear has always been public speaking. In high school, I once attempted to bribe a student teacher to avoid having to give a speech. And I somehow talked a counselor into letting me have waivers on a college speech class requirement.
ROSEANNE H. -- Putting my head under water. Totally freaks me out!
RICK T. -- Heights!
MIKE M. -- Balancing my checkbook.
ERIK H. -- A few weeks ago, I would have responded with "a fear of crowds in large spaces when it is really hot," which I believe is called "Allthatjazzinaugustaphobia," or "a fear of running out of toilet paper when all the nearby stores are closed," which I call "Twoplysheetsperrollaphobia." Now, however, my biggest phobia is being alone in the house with a barking, not-quite-house-trained puppy who is being chased by a hissing black cat with definite jealousy issues. I call this phobia: "RoryloreliestopityoutwoI'llputyoubothoutsidephobia."