Friday, October 31, 2008

Why do I have to be a ghost again? There aren't even any holes in this sheet!

Hobgoblins is such a fun word to write and say. I live for HALLOWEEN, just so I can sprinkle "hobgoblins" throughout my conversation.
Halloween is great because it lets us break convention by masking our identities and demanding candy from strangers.
ROUTE 1 readers celebrate that fact by answering the following FRIDAY QUESTION:
"What was your favorite Halloween costume as a kid?"
ELLEN B. -- I loved being a witch!
MARY N.-P. -- I know it was lame, but your standard ol' sheet-with-cut-out-eyes ghost was easy and comfortable and good for hiding your loot. I loved it.
BEKAH P. -- I always wanted to go as a pirate or as My Little Pony, but my parents the kibosh on both. Sad.
RICK T. -- Dressed up as a hobo.
CLINT A. -- Darth Vader. Definitely Darth Vader.
MIKE M. -- When I was 8, I went trick or treating as "The Unknown Comic" from the "$1.98 Beauty Show" . . . just kidding!
JIM S. -- Still a kid at 19, I went down to the famous Madison, Wis., State Street Halloween bash as The Squeeze Box, inspired by a song by The Who. I learned about the bash at the last minute and didn't have a costume. I found a small box for my head, and cut holes for my eyes and mouth. I somehow found a large box for my body, and cut holes for my arms. My college roommate wrote "Squeeze Me" in various places on the boxes. Man, did I get a lot of hugs from the coeds -- but I couldn't feel a one!
MIKE D. -- Our mom made all of our costumes when we were kids, but for my last Halloween as a trick-or-treater, I took matters into my own hands. I found a big, cardboard box, spray-painted it silver and cut some holes for my arms and legs. I hung some gadgets from the front and added a slot as a drop box for treats. For the head of my robot, I used a gallon milk jug, added some colored plastic lenses for eyes and stuck a light bulb in the top spout.
ERIK H. -- Gene Simmons from KISS, with a red guitar my mom crafted out of cardboard.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

What would I have chosen had the Rays won?

I am listening to PHILADELPHIA legends HAROLD MELVIN & THE BLUE NOTES today in honor of the PHILLIES winning their first WORLD SERIES title since 1980.
Resuming a game suspended from Monday, former GIANT Pedro Feliz singled home the go-ahead run in the seventh inning last night and Brad Lidge pitched the ninth for his 48th save in 48 chances as the Phillies defeated the RAYS, 4-3.
Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes are my favorite SOUL group from the city of CHEESESTEAKS.
I invariably find myself singing along to their classic songs, including "Don't Leave Me This Way," "The Love I Lost," "Bad Luck" and "If You Don't Know Me By Now" whenever I hear them.
I am not sure what I would have chosen to hear had the Rays won the series. Classic blues by Tampa Red, perhaps?

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Give me a dose of certainty, lads!

Writer Alexis Petridis has an intriguing piece in Britain's GUARDIAN newspaper, linking the success of AC/DC with ECONOMIC HARD TIMES.
Petridis notes that sales of the band's latest offering, "Black Ice," have soared while the global economy has soured.
"AC/DC's appeal in unpredictable times is straightforward," Petridis writes. "People crave something uncomplicated and dependable in a time of uncertainty, and rock music has never produced a band so uncomplicated and dependable as AC/DC."
You can read the complete article by clicking here.
The story inspired me to slip the band's "FAMILY JEWELS" DVD collection into the player this morning, and I am now rocking out to Angus and the lads as I prepare for work.
There is something oddly comforting about the band that never changes!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Philadelphia airwaves are full of anger this morning

We're listening to some ANGRY PHILADELPHIA FANS vent their frustration on WIP SPORTSRADIO 610 this morning, thanks to the Internet.
Philly fans are livid that baseball officials waited to suspend the game until after the RAYS had tied the score, 2-2, in GAME 5 of the WORLD SERIES against the PHILLIES last night. Had the game been stopped at the top of the inning, the Phils would have won the game and the series. Many Philadelphia fans feel the suspension of the game and its timing were deliberate, giving television more opportunity to make money. The Philadelphia airwaves are full of anger this morning.
We watched the game last night and could not believe that baseball officials allowed the players to continue playing in those conditions. PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER staff photographer Steven M. Falk captured the above image, of Jimmy Rollins staring at the swamp that was the infield at Citizens Bank Park.
It really wouldn't be the World Series without some controversy, right?

Monday, October 27, 2008

A short blast of country from the band that could do anything

Any record that opens with "Rikki Don't Lose That Number" is a winner in my book.
"PRETZEL LOGIC" by STEELY DAN also benefits from the contributions of some memorable musicians, including Plas Johnson (the saxophonist on Henry Mancini's "The Pink Panther Theme"), Timothy B. Schmit, Jeff "Skunk" Baxter and Jeff Porcaro -- in addition to the core duo of DONALD FAGEN and WALTER BECKER.
I have often thought that "Pretzel Logic" stands far above so many other albums because this collection of musicians could play anything they wanted.
Listening to the song "WITH A GUN," I am more convinced of this theory than before.
"You were the founders of the clinic on the hill, until he caught you with your fingers in the till. He slapped your hand so you settled up your bill... with a gun."
A delight in two minutes and 20 seconds, "With a Gun" proves supposedly "jazz-rock" Steely Dan could play country as well.
I have been immersed in my Steely Dan records the past two days, and the more I listen, the more impressed I become. This band really could do anything.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

I think we need a break after "The Birds"

We were all squirming just now, watching the ALFRED HITCHCOCK horror classic, "THE BIRDS."
Turns out, we all have a low tolerance for seeing seagulls pecking TIPPI HEDREN until she bleeds.
I admit to an electrifying thrill, however, when the radio announcer in the film mentions my former home, SEBASTOPOL, CALIF.
When I watch "The Birds," I always wonder why there haven't been more films set in SONOMA COUNTY.
After watching "PSYCHO" last night and "The Birds" today, I am sure of one thing:
My family wants to take a break from the Hitchcock films.
As ROUTE 1 APPRENTICE ANNIKA just informed me:
"They're scary!"

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Arriving late to a "Million Dollar Bash"

I've never really been one for the conventional way of doing things, so perhaps it shouldn't come as a complete surprise that I am only just now delving into "THE BASEMENT TAPES," despite a long familiarity with cover versions of many of the songs.
I knew "You Ain't Going Nowhere" and "Nothing Was Delivered," for example, because of my love for THE BYRDS' "SWEETHEART OF THE RODEO." My familiarity with "Tears of Rage" and "This Wheel's On Fire" came from my adoration of THE BAND.
It's actually my own fault that I have come so late to "The Basement Tapes." I never realized it is nearly as much an album by The Band as it is BOB DYLAN.
I have been reappraising my relationship to Dylan's music lately, discovering a greater appreciation than before. I learned I had much catching up to do.
It is slightly odd but immensely satisfying, then, to hear these familiar songs in the unfamiliar (to me) original setting.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Winning Friday Question is answered

ROUTE 1 reader MIKE D. won this month's CHOOSE THE FRIDAY QUESTION CONTEST with the following, victorious entry...
"What late musician or singer would you still like to hear recording songs?"
The ROUTE 1 prize committee is currently meeting to determine Mike's wonderful reward for his victory. He might win an ALL-EXPENSES PAID, SLIGHTLY USED, INCAPABLE OF POOPING OUTSIDE CAVALIER KING CHARLES SPANIEL PUPPY THAT WOKE ME UP AT 5 A.M. THIS MORNING AND THEN PROCEEDED TO SCRATCH ON THE COUCH AND BARK AT A SHADOW. Wouldn't that be a wonderful prize?
While you are pondering that question, read how
ROUTE 1 readers answered this week's FRIDAY QUESTION:
RICK T. -- Elvis!
KERI M. -- Etta James.
MARY N.-P. -- No question. Janis Joplin, one of the all-time, down-and-dirty blues ladies.
ANNIKA H. -- John Lennon and George Harrison.
JIM S. -- Several, but a few stand out in my mind. "Bad, Bad Leroy Brown" Jim Croce, "Sunshine on My Shoulders" John Denver, Buddy Holly and, of course, John Lennon. Can you imagine what great songs went to the grave with Lennon?.

MIKE D. -- Freddie Mercury, because he possessed such a sharp, clean voice, had a wide vocal range and could write songs with complexity or simplicity.
ERIK H. -- Kirsty MacColl had branched out into beautiful Latin songs, such as "Libertango" and "Mambo de la Luna" before her death in the sea off Mexico. I wish she were still alive. I also wish her killers would be brought to justice (click here for more information).

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Enjoying "Brother Murder"

THOMAS THEODORE (T.T.) FLYNN spells it out perfectly in his 1939 story, "BROTHER MURDER."
"There's a cold blooded touch to murder," Flynn wrote. "Crooks, thieves and swindlers are mostly ordinary people with ordinary weaknesses. A lot of us would like to collect from life the easy way. But we're all born knowing murder is out of bounds."
I read "Brother Murder" yesterday in "THE BLACK LIZARD BIG BOOK OF PULPS."
Flynn's story is one of the best in the massive (52 stories, 1,150 pages) collection of crime fiction from the 1920s, 30s and 40s.
Private detective Mike Harris and his partner, Trixie Meehan, infiltrate a compound of a mystic in the hills above Hollywood in this 1939 tale. It reminded me that Los Angeles was a hotbed of mysticism in the 1930s, with numerous gurus, esoteric preachers and even cult leaders catering to the lost souls who had moved to Southern California in search of something.
Harris and Meehan are searching for a murderer, and discover things aren't as they seem, even among the oddballs populating the mystic's fence-enclosed compound.
Flynn was a great writer, known more for Western fiction than detective fiction. One of his novels, "The Man from Laramie," was filmed. Anthony Mann directed the film and Jimmy Stewart starred.
Not all of the stories in the "Big Book of Pulp" could be classified as "great" -- but they are all entertaining.
"Brother Murder" fits both categories.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

"Dolemite" creator has died

I'll be watching our DVD of "DOLEMITE" at lunch today.
The creator of the cult classic film, RUDY RAY MOORE, has died age 81 of complications of diabetes.
Moore is considered a major influence on rappers and comedians with his rhyming style and profanity-laced routines.
"Dolemite" is the ultimate "so bad it's good" film, with boom microphones showing in most of the shots and acting so wooden it's more like stone.
I'll watch it with a tinge of sadness today, in memory of the passing of a foul-mouthed genius.

Monday, October 20, 2008

"Entriggering traps for a gross gang of ghost types"

KERSTIN, OUTSIDE POTTY CHALLENGED PUPPY RORY and I just caught a glimpse of the NEIGHBORHOOD SKUNK as we set out for our morning walk.
Seeing the skunk was enough of a fright to make us change our route, make Rory flinch at leaves and make me choose to listen to THE BIRTHDAY PARTY on my iPod.
The Birthday Party's music was like the flicker of fear you get when a skunk crosses your path in the eerie hours before dawn. The band never made much money during its 1977-83 existence, but it surely inspired many other bands to perform dark, challenging music.
Guitarist Rowland S. Howard often seems to be playing a different song than the rest of the band, and vocalist Nick Cave's WILD-EYED BARITONE HOWLING seems more suited for the graveyard than the concert hall or recording studio.
"Fog fished and filtered is filling my case book, of friends who fall foul of my files trip and break neck are stacked in the woodshed for further good use. There's some certain people who shouldn't start fires. So call me Dim! I am the Dim Locator! Dim Locator!"
The Birthday Party song "The Dim Locator" seemed a perfect soundtrack for a spooky, skunk-influenced walk in the dark.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Jermaine Johnson, tequila and the derby

I am sipping TEQUILA AND LIME, cooking some QUESADILLAS and wondering what on earth got into Jermaine Johnson.
Johnson became one of those rare players sent off after he had been substituted as SHEFFIELD WEDNESDAY defeated arch-rivals SHEFFIELD UNITED, 1-0, in today's 122nd STEEL CITY DERBY.
My club, Wednesday, climbed into fifth place in the Championship as Steve Watson lobbed the only goal in the 35th minute, seven minutes after United defender Matt Kilgallon was sent off.
It wouldn't be a derby without some controversy, and Owls winger Johnson provided some after he was shown a red card on the touchline after being replaced by Akpo Sodje.
I'll ponder the implications later. Now, I am about to tuck into the quesadillas, augmented this time by RASPBERRY SALSA. Mmmm!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

The Who's contribution to perfect pop

I should have been in the worst of moods.
After a work day spent writing a pair of newspaper stories and the prospect of working again today, I came home last night and had to clean a kitchen left in a state of depressed disarray after the departure of my visiting mom and stepdad.
So, why was I smiling? Give credit to a song recorded in London back in October 1966.
"La la la la la la la la! La la la la la la la la!"
I listened to "SO SAD ABOUT US" by THE WHO while cleaning the kitchen.
"So saaaaad 'bout us, So saaaaaad 'bout us. Sad, that the news is out now. Sad, s'pose we can't turn back now. Saaaaaaaad 'bout us."
PETE TOWNSHEND has written more famous songs, more songs that show up on those "Best of" compilations.
This song remains my favorite Who track, however, because it seems the closest Townshend has come to writing the PERFECT POP SONG.
Townshend actually wrote the song for THE MERSEYS (the successor group to The Merseybeats, of "I Think of You" fame.
"So Sad About Us" was The Mersey's 1966 follow up single to "Sorrow."

The Who included the song on their second album, "A QUICK ONE," but did not release it as a single.
Other people have held the song in high esteem: THE JAM covered the song in 1978, using it as the B-side to "Down in the Tube Station at Midnight."
I was singing along while cleaning the kitchen last night, and it quickly dissolved any lingering effects of my less-than-stellar mood.
"Apologies mean nothing when the damage is done. But I can't switch off my lovin' like you can't switch off the sun."

Friday, October 17, 2008

The economy must be bad: Cash outweighs chocolate

HALLOWEEN is nearly upon us. We want to dress the WHITE CAT as a bride, the BLACK CAT as a groom and the OUTSIDE POTTY CHALLENGED PUPPY as a pastor who occasionally relieves herself on the carpet.
Hopefully, the goodies in our TRICK-OR-TREAT BAGS are just as inspired.
Here, ROUTE 1 readers answer the following FRIDAY QUESTION:
"What would you most like to find in your Trick-or-Treat Bag?"
BRIAN M. -- The tidy sum of $1,000,000 or a season pass to the men's hockey tournament at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver.
ROSEANNE H. -- A healthy economy and the stock market back over 14,000.
MIKE D. -- Aside from cash, lots of Kit Kats, Twix and Peanut M & Ms.
ELLEN B. -- Millions of dollars!
RICK T. -- M & Ms (in a bag, of course).
KERSTIN H. -- $1 million and a Snickers.
JIM S. -- Hershey's Bar, Three Musketeers and Milky Way; perhaps Milk Duds and Whopper's Malted Milk Balls; for sure a Nestle's Crunch Bar and a big (not small) pack of Sixlets... And an apple?
BRIAN C. -- My retirement account.
KERI M. -- A winning Get Set for Life ticket. A person can win $1,000 a week for 25 years... or chocolate, of course.
ERIK H. -- I was going to say "world peace," but I think I would settle for one of those big, white Toblerones.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Limited comfort during a sad, rainy drive home

It rained all the way, to and from the airport in MOLINE, ILL.
ROUTE 1 apprentice ANNIKA and I drove my MOM and STEPDAD to the airport for their return trip to RENO, NEV., yesterday.
I was sad driving back to DUBUQUE.
I hate living so far away from the rest of my family.
Annika couldn't provide much companionship en route home from the airport: She was taking one of those naps in the car that features a back-tilted head and an open mouth. She was ZONKED.
No conversation available, I turned my attention to "SPEAK NO EVIL," the classic album by WAYNE SHORTER.
Trumpeter Freddie Hubbard and pianist Herbie Hancock were among the musicians to back tenor saxophone star Shorter.
I listened closely to songs such as "Witch Hunt," "Infant Eyes" and "Dance Cadaverous."
"Speak No Evil" is one of my most cherished albums, but it offered limited comfort during a sad, rainy drive home.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

I didn't believe what I just saw, either

Twenty years ago today, it was unusually hot in SEBASTOPOL, CALIF., with the high temperature topping out at 91 degrees.
I was a BLISSFULLY UNEMPLOYED RECENT COLLEGE GRADUATE, so I could spend the day with my sister, visiting Santa Rosa.
The day's big sports news could have been my purchase of a new NERF BASKETBALL for my bedroom hoop.
Then, KIRK GIBSON entered the frame.
It was 20 years ago today that hobbling Gibson of the DODGERS faced DENNIS ECKERSLEY of the ATHLETICS with two outs and Mike Davis on the bases in the bottom of the ninth inning of Game 1 of the WORLD SERIES.
I watched on CBS as Jack Buck made the call of Gibson's mighty clout:
"Gibson swings, and a fly ball to deep right field! This is gonna be a home run! Unbelievable! A home run for Gibson! And the Dodgers have won the game, 5 to 4. I don't believe what I just saw!"
I didn't believe it, either, and five minutes later a baseball fan friend of mine called me. He didn't believe it, either.
It was surely one of the most memorable moments in baseball's long history.
Pause today to think of NEAL HEFTI. The American composer of "The Batman Theme" and other memorable works died recently, age 85.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Canada votes in a minority government

We watched live coverage of CANADA'S 40th GENERAL ELECTION on CBC tonight, thanks to a simulcast on C-SPAN.
Prime Minister STEPHEN HARPER and his CONSERVATIVE PARTY made gains across the country compared to the 2006 federal election, but projections and final ballot tallies indicate the Tories will not have enough seats in Parliament to win a majority government.
The BLOC QUÉBÉCOIS did well in Québec, where Conservatives had hoped for a breakthrough. Tory gaffes sunk the party in the province, however, and might have spoiled Harper's hopes for a majority.
Our own election is less than a month away. It was fun watching our neighbors to the north make their decisions tonight.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Baker photographer dies

Would CHET BAKER have been famous without WILLIAM CLAXTON?
Probably, but I doubt Baker's image would carry as much cultural resonance were it not for the Pasadena, Calif., photographer.
Claxton died this weekend age 80, of congestive heart failure.
Claxton photographed many jazz musicians and film stars during a career that included work as a fashion photographer. One of our books, Lee Tanner's "THE JAZZ IMAGE: MASTERS OF JAZZ PHOTOGRAPHY," includes a wonderful Claxton shot of Mel Tormé really belting out a song in a 1963 Hollywood recording session.
However, Claxton seems inextricably linked with his iconic photographs of Baker.
Claxton once explained how Baker's image emerged as a revelation:
"I was up all night developing when the face appeared in the developing tray. A tough demeanor and a good physique but an angelic face with pale white skin and, the craziest thing, one tooth missing -- he'd been in a fight. I thought, my God, that's Chet Baker."
Claxton also took some wonderful shots of Steve McQueen, among others. He will be missed.
(You can check out more of Claxton's work by clicking here.)

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Music to fry chicken with on a Sunday

You will have to excuse me. I am a lil' tipsy, I am fryin' chicken and listenin' to BLIND WILLIE JOHNSON.
"If you have never heard Blind Willie Johnson," wrote Cub Koda, "you are in for one of the great, bone-chilling treats in music."
We make SOUTHERN STYLE FRIED CHICKEN in my house, and that means WAFFLES and SYRUP.
I can't explain it, either, except that the syrup on the waffle serves a similar purpose as the COCA COLA with the HAM.
Koda describes the sound of Johnson as "a lot of stark, harrowing emotional commitment, no matter how you slice it. Not for the faint of heart, but hey, the good stuff never is."
The low voice of Johnson sounds like it is coming direct from the mountaintop, if you know what I mean.
I am not entirely sure what I mean myself, unfortunately, because as I explained before:
I am
a lil' tipsy, I am fryin' chicken and listenin' to Blind Willie Johnson.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Crying tough for the "Godfather of Rocksteady"

The Jamaican singing legend dubbed the "Godfather of Rocksteady" has died age (approximately) 64.
ALTON ELLIS partnered Eddie Perkins on a handful of songs in the late 1950s before forming a vocal group called THE FLAMES.
Alton Ellis & The Flames released a number of legendary tracks for producer DUKE REID, including "DANCE CRASHER" and "CRY TOUGH."
Ellis was among the pioneering musicians who slowed ska's frenetic tempo to create the languid ROCKSTEADY beat. The slower tempos brought Jamaica's vocalists to the fore (at the expense of jazz-trained musicians such as Don Drummond). Rocksteady also paved the way for the worldwide REGGAE explosion fronted by Bob Marley.
Ellis moved to Canada in the early 1970s, then settled in London.
He passed away yesterday from the effects of lymphatic cancer.
I am listening to Ellis this morning, truly saddened by the passing of a wonderful singer.

Friday, October 10, 2008

The financial crisis hits where it hurts: COOKIES?!?!

The owners cited rising prices for ingredients and fuel for the this week's demise of MOTHER'S COOKIES.
The OAKLAND, CALIF., baking firm has been making cookies for 92 years, and if you grew up in the BAY AREA and ever ate a cookie, chances are good you enjoyed a Mother's Cookie.
The CIRCUS ANIMAL was my favorite Mother's product. These frosted animal cracker-style cookies came in two colors, pink or white, and apparently came in a variety of animal shapes as well. I say "apparently," because approximately 80 percent of the cookies actually appeared to be shapeless blobs -- not the elephants, camels or rhinos pictured on the packaging.
Workers were told not to come in this week, the company's factories were shuttered and its owner is seeking bankruptcy protection.
Hopefully, Mother's Cookies and the iconic Circus Animals will reemerge after a period away.
I would hate to lose those cookies to this financial mess.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

The ballads said "sleep," the drums said "PARTY!"

Yesterday's first day of VACATION involved driving to the QUAD CITIES AIRPORT to welcome my MOM and STEPDAD, visiting from RENO, NEV.
Tired last night, I grabbed my iPod to listen to some soothing "put-me-to-sleep music." With that aim in mind, I should have never chosen E.T. MENSAH AND THE TEMPOS.
Sure, Mensah, the "King of Highlife," produced some lovely ballads as one of the founding fathers of African popular music.
However, the bedrock for even Mensah's prettiest big-band numbers is a driving, fabulous POLYRHYTHMIC DRUMMING STYLE that makes you want to MOVE -- not go to sleep, which is what I wanted.
As leader of the Tempos band from 1948, Mensah popularized Ghanaian dance band Highlife, a blend of American swing music, Caribbean rhythms and melodies and tribal drumming.
Last night, I couldn't help but follow the incredibly complicated (but undeniably funky) drumming. How many drummers have been influenced by this African popular music percussion? Art Blakey, Tony Williams and a number of other exemplary jazz drummers immediately sprang to my mind.
Mensah recorded his first 78 rpm discs in 1952 and he became known across Africa.
His upbeat songs gained even wider fame after Ghana gained its independence in 1957.
Although his popularity waned as electric guitars gained wider acceptance in west Africa, Mensah's music enjoyed a roots-revival resurgence in the 1980s and 90s. Mensah's death in 1996 was marked by a state funeral in Ghana.
He might be one of the justifiable heroes of African music, but E.T. is not the best choice for slumber-invoking sounds. It took me forever to get to sleep after hearing those great drums!

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

The Nikkei is down and so is my dog's IQ

The world financial crisis continued today, with Japan's NIKKEI 225 Average tumbling to close 952.5 points, or 9.4 percent, lower at 9203.32 for its worst single-day percentage drop in years.
I shouldn't really be paying attention to the news today -- I am on VACATION!
I can't help myself, though, because I have always been a bit of a news junkie.
Soon, the girls and I will leave for the QUAD CITIES and the airport, to pick up my mom and stepfather, visiting from RENO.
Now, however, I am refereeing the latest disputes between the cats and RORY, THE OUTSIDE POTTY CHALLENGED PUPPY.
The cry of absolute fear came from the upstairs bedrooms.
Which cat had cornered the frightful puppy this time? Not the black cat, reclining over there.
Not the white cat, sitting on the dining room table and wondering what I am doing home on a Wednesday morning.
I stepped upstairs to investigate.
There was Rory, cowering at the latest threat to her well being... THE GIANT BLUE EXERCISE BALL.
The standing joke in our house is that we did not purchase Rory for her brains. This morning was a prime example
. If Rory was a stock index... I shudder to think!

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Wait 'til next year (as long as Boston is not involved)

Fear not, CUBS FANS, you are not entirely alone: Another set of fans share your pain this year.
The baseball team that sounds like it was named by a committee -- THE LOS ANGELES ANGELS OF ANAHEIM -- won 100 regular-season games and seemed destined for a second World Series title.
That destiny shattered in the bottom of the ninth inning against the BOSTON RED SOX last night, thanks in part to a big hit by a kid from the state of OREGON.
Salem native Jed Lowrie's two-out RBI single in the bottom of the ninth inning lifted the BoSox over the Angels, 3-2.
You could hear the disbelief and pain in the voices of Rory Markas and Terry Smith, the radio announcers for the Halos. (We listened to the game on AM 830 KLAA, thanks to my GameAudio subscription.)
Instead of a goat like the Cubs, the Angels seem cursed by another team.
The Angels won the World Series in 2002 against my lifelong favorites, the GIANTS. Anaheim (or Los Angeles or California or whatever) has won four division titles in the six seasons since then. In the playoffs, however, the Angels are 5-15 and a mere 1-9 against Boston.
The Angels might not have to wait a century to win another World Series -- they might just require a playoff year without Boston.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Puppy doesn't like trombones

Grrrr... Grrrr-RUFF! Grrrrr...
I was listening to a big band show on JAZZ 91 -- SAN MATEO, CALIF.'S KCSM RADIO -- online and something was deeply troubling RORY (the outside potty challenged puppy).
"What is your problem?"
The dog was taking a defensive posture against the computer. Raising her paws and growling... at what?
Grrr... Grrrr-RUFF!!!
"What the -- oh, you are kidding me?!"
The big band song featuring the prominent TROMBONE SOLO had just concluded, and Rory was back to normal, wagging her tail and sniffing around on the floor.
Puppy doesn't like trombones.
I have noticed Rory barking when the BOOMING BASSES of passing car stereos drive by the house, but I have never noted her aversion to trombones.
To find some jazz instruments your own pet might despise, check out JAZZ 91 by clicking here.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Bizarre, stomping lunacy: An appreciation

Good thing I love animals.
With the rest of the ROUTE 1 staff either sleeping over at a friend's house or camping in Wisconsin, I was alone with the puppy and both cats overnight. As I tried to sleep, I had the puppy wedged between my feet. The white cat sat purring (loudly) at my head, while the insomniac black cat shifted uneasily on top of my rib cage.
Thanks to the menagerie, today I am wearily peering at the rain through red-streaked and heavy lidded eyes.
But at least I can enjoy T.REX!
I am sipping coffee and repeatedly tossing a dog's chew toy this morning while listening to the underrated 1974 album "BOLAN'S ZIP GUN" -- a critically panned album that MELODY MAKER reviewer Chris Welch famously described as "bizarre, stomping lunacy."
MARK PAYTRESS, in his MARC BOLAN biography, "BOLAN: THE RISE AND FALL OF A 20th CENTURY SUPERSTAR," calls the album "a fabulously flawed sonic crystal ball" and makes the case that once again, T.Rex were far ahead of their time, perhaps too far for a once-adoring public to appreciate.
"At its best, 'Bolan's Zip Gun' made a virtue of trance-like repetition years before late 70s industrial music and early 80s hip hop paved the way for the entire dance music explosion," Paytress writes.
Paytress calls "Bolan's Zip Gun:" "the most controversial, commercially bankrupt and creatively misunderstood album in Marc Bolan's career."
Bolan would be dead in a car crash three years after the album's release, so the record-buying public never had a chance to catch up with him in his lifetime.
I am glad I discovered the joys of "Bolan's Zip Gun." No matter how much I love animals, I needed a healthy dose of "bizarre, stomping lunacy" after last night.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

The bloody truth behind our cartoon favorites

I have to work today, and I will be listening to THE KLF as I drive to my assignment.
If the BILL DRUMMOND and JIMMY CAUTY hit-making collaboration often seemed like a danceable art project, it is probably because KLF guitarist Cauty is a renowned artist.
On Oct. 10, Cauty and his son open an exhibit at the AQUARIUM L-13 gallery in Farringdon Road, London, titled "SPLATTER."
Cauty makes us think about the levels of violence in children's cartoons by hijacking the characters and taking their violent acts to their gory, more logical conclusions.
Instead of gunfire followed by a gunpowder-dusted Daffy Duck wondering why his bill is turned sideways, Cauty shows Daffy's blood cascading from gaping wounds.
"It is incredibly bloodthirsty," Cauty told a British reporter this week. "The real consequences of cartoon violence are revealed. They get massacred by each other. They blow their heads off with guns."
I particularly like Cauty's image of Sylvester the Cat, once he has finally gotten ahold of Tweety bird. Instead of Tweety prying open Sylvester's mouth and only losing a few feathers, we see the remains of a meal that has been long anticipated -- at least by Sylvester.
Learn more about "Splatter" by clicking here.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Pursuits that don't cost a penny

Even the people who can't agree if it is a RECESSION or a DOWNTURN can agree that there isn't as much in pocketbooks these days.
ROUTE 1 readers provide a guide to CHEAP ENTERTAINMENT by answering the following FRIDAY QUESTION:
"What is your favorite thing to do that is free?"
MIKE D. -- Just being outdoors, enjoying the sights, sounds and scents of nature.
BRIAN C. -- (Though I do spend money on beer and food), visit with folks at ALL THAT JAZZ.
RICK T. -- Enjoy each day!
MARY N.-P. -- It's so simple, I'm embarrassed -- gardening. Being outside in the midst of verdant beauty and growing/nurturing living things (not always totally free, but mostly...)
ROSEANNE H. -- Go to the library and pick out any book I want!
ELLEN B. -- Go to all the different parks.
KERI M. -- Go for a walk with my honey along the beautiful Saskatoon river bank.
BEKAH P. -- Sleep... although I could argue that my mattress cost money, as did my pillow, comforters and what not. So, yeah, there it is...
BRIAN M. -- Walk. I'm fortunate to live in a spot that's within a mile of just about everything I need, and I enjoy the exercise and the fresh air. I appreciate having the health to move from one place to another without having to get into my car.
ERIK H. -- Pull a book from the shelf and read (although, I admit the book cost money originally -- but that was pre-financial crisis!). Since April, I have been reading the stories in "The Black Lizard Big Book of Pulps," a collection of crime fiction from the 1920s, 30s and 40s.
Although the blog will continue, FRIDAY QUESTION will not return until TWO WEEKS from today. The ROUTE 1 staff will be taking a much-needed VACATION. Don't worry: It won't cost too much. It's actually a "STAY-CATION."

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Good-time music for a good time

The four discs compile studio and live recordings by THE FACES, perhaps the most underrated rock band of all time.
Ian McLagan, Ronnie Lane and Kenney Jones from the Small Faces joined Rod Stewart and Ron Wood from the Jeff Beck Group to form the band.
Every song sounds like the band is having a good time -- probably because the members were having a ball.
"We had a party everywhere we went," Jones once said. "We'd have a party in the hotel bar, while we were waiting for the limo. We had a party in the limo on the way to the gig. We got backstage and had a party in the dressing room before we went on. We had a party onstage, came off and had another party -- in the dressing room, in the car and back at the hotel."
I am driving students for a field trip to the MINES OF SPAIN natural area today. I'll be playing The Faces on the car stereo, because a good time deserves some good-time music.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Freeway Series on the horizon? Don't tell the Cubs' fans!

Out here, surrounded by fans of the CUBS and the BREWERS (with a couple WHITE SOX supporters sprinkled here and there), it's easy to forget there are a few other teams contesting this year's MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL PLAYOFFS.
I just read
Bill Plaschke's column in today's LOS ANGELES TIMES.
Down in the SOUTHLAND, fans are dreaming of a possible FREEWAY WORLD SERIES.

"For the 48 seasons that the Dodgers and Angels shared Southern California, all we've wanted is one chance to watch them compete for a championship in something other than our imaginations," Plaschke wrote.
Plaschke notes that the drive from the 1000 Elysian Park Ave. in Los Angeles -- home of the DODGERS -- to 2000 Gene Autry Way in Anaheim -- home of the ANGELS -- is a simple one.
"But from the National League to the American League," Plaschke wrote, "the chasm has seemed endless."
This fall marks only the second time in 48 seasons that both of Southern California's baseball teams have made the postseason in the same year.
Now, thanks to a pair of teams with great managers, clutch hitters and top-notch pitching, Southern California baseball fans are thinking this might be their year to witness the first Freeway Series, breaking a lengthy drought.
Just don't tell the Cubs' fans.