Sunday, May 31, 2009

Head banging and a sunburned head

I am a little SUNBURNED today, and the compilation album, "NEW WAVE OF BRITISH HEAVY METAL: '79 REVISITED" is partly to blame.
Compiled by by Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich and former Sounds and Kerrang! editor Geoff Barton, this two-disc collection of BRITISH METAL includes names everyone knows (Iron Maiden and Def Leppard), names everyone should know (Saxon, Diamond Head, Venom, Samson and my personal favorites, Tygers of Pan Tang) and names generally lost to hard rock obscurity (Sweet Savage? Holocaust? White Spirit?).
I found the whole endeavor fascinating.
One of the complaints (sadly often justified) against heavy metal is the similar nature of the songs (so many of them sound so much alike!). This great collection of tunes bypasses that problem. Every one of these tunes stands out against the rest.
I was so caught up in the songs that I lost track of how much time I was spending in the sun!

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Chelsea simply too good for Everton

EVERTON scored early, but CHELSEA scored once more often to win THE 128TH FA CUP FINAL, 2-1, at WEMBLEY today.
I watched the match live on Fox Soccer Channel.
I had only just settled in when Louis Saha opened the scoring after 25 seconds -- that was the fastest goal in modern FA Cup history, bettering the record of 30 seconds set in 1895 by Bob Chatt of Aston Villa.
Saha's goal was not enough to hold back Chelsea, however, as the better team deservedly won.
Didier Drogba equalised in the 21st minute and Frank Lampard scored the winner in the 72nd.
Chelsea always looked like the better team.
Sometimes, you feel sadness at the completion of a good book. As a reader, you must bid goodbye to characters you have come to know.
I feel that way at the conclusion of the ENGLISH FOOTBALL SEASON.
I'm sad I must wait for the sport to resume in August.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Domestic shorthair? That's Route 1

ROUTE 1's menagerie of pets keeps us continually in stitches (when we aren't trying to clean up their various messes).
Dog? Cat? Bird? Goldfish? Hamster?
That leads to the following FRIDAY QUESTION:
"What is your favorite pet story?"
MARY N.-P. -- Omigod there are so many. But our "best pet trick" is about Gracie our
fetching cat. She brings us either little bouncy balls or tiny furry mice toys and lays them at our feet, then looks up longingly until we throw them down our inside staircase (the more bounces the better). She literally leaps after them, captures them and trots back up to lay them down and do it again. She could fetch for hours (we wear out before she does).
BEKAH P. -- Ooo! I have SO many of these. There is the first puppy I had as an adult, Maddie. She was supposed to be a full-blooded Rottweiler, but she grew up to have several inflictions. She was bit by a tick, developed a disease that weakened her bones, made her a dwarf and caused her to go blind. Best part was, the medicine made her a little mentally slow. So... yeah... imagine how that one went. She's a sweetie, though, and that's all that counts (although she weighs in at a total of 15 pounds. She was supposed to weigh around 55).
JIM S. -- When I was very young, we had a dog named Joe. My dad would occasionally pour a little beer into an ashtray or something and Joe would lap it up. One time, we believe Joe got drunk. When my dad let him out to do his duty, he
wobbled onto the concrete perch and fell off the side of it. Fortunately, it was only a foot or so high. It seemed funny then; today, not so sure.
TACEY B. -- Missy, my childhood dog, loved the slides at parks. She would follow me up the steps, wait for me to go down the slide, sit down and then go down the
slide alone. It was great watching this beautiful big bird dog acting as if she were just another one of us kids.
ERIK H. -- When I was growing up in Concord, Calif., our cat, Skeezix, would enter the bathroom when my visiting grandmother was in there and switch off the light. You could hear my grandmother's cursing howls from outside.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Copa, Liga Y Champions... y Health Briefs

"El equipo de Pep Guardiola conquista la Champions League tras vencer al Manchester United en el estadio Olímpico de Roma por 2 a 0, con goles de Eto'o y Leo Messi."
I am reading Spanish media reports of last night's CHAMPIONS LEAGUE FINAL online this morning.
Well, since I don't read Spanish all that well, "reading" perhaps isn't the right word. Luckily, the cliché is true: Football is a universal language, so I can figure out much of what the commentators mean when they remark on Barça's victory.
"El mejor Barça de la historia se ha proclamado tres temporadas después campeón de la Champions League tras derrotar al Manchester United por 2-0 en el Estadio Olímpico de Roma. Los de Pep Guardiola superaron en todas las facetas y durante todo el encuentro a sus rivales y cierran una temporada histórica, tras haber conseguido también la Copa del Rey y la Liga."
That is something in LA VANGUARDIA (a Catalan newspaper) about BARCELONA winning the club's third European Cup. The Catalan giants also won the Spanish league and the Spanish cup this season.
I caught bits and pieces of last night's match (played in the afternoon by our clock) on one of the six newsroom television sets. Was the game a distraction for me? Heck no. All those HEALTH BRIEFS I had to write were distracting me from the match (rim-shot, wait for laughter to subside, continue).
Once I arrived home, I was able to see a replay of the entire second half from the comfort of my armchair (with no health briefs to bother me).
Obviously, Barça looked great. However, I also thought the defensive marking by MANCHESTER UNITED seemed far short of the club's usual high standard.
Barça truly deserved the title.
Football's grand finale (for my purposes) comes Saturday, when CHELSEA and EVERTON square off in the FA CUP FINAL. I'll be watching. Health briefs not included.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Cameron's house is up for sale

Want to buy a piece of movie history?
The price might be a bit steep, but the BEN ROSE HOME in HIGHLAND PARK, Ill., is up for sale for $2.3 million.
Built in 1953, the home served as Cameron Frye's house in the 1986 film "FERRIS BUELLER'S DAY OFF."
Remember the scene of the FERRARI flying through the window into the ravine? Then you will already know the home is comprised mostly of steel and glass construction.
I can't afford the Ben Rose Home, but I can listen to the "Ferris Bueller" soundtrack as I drive to work this morning.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

"I don't care how cute he is, Holly, he's still a dinosaur"

Thanks to, I just watched the first episode of the inaugural, 1974 season of "LAND OF THE LOST," a Sid and Marty Krofft children's television series broadcast on NBC.
I watched the show religiously as a kid.
The Marshall family, dad Rick (Spencer Milligan), son Will (Wesley Eure -- later the co-developer of the PBS series, "Dragon Tales") and daughter Holly (Kathy Coleman) are on a "routine expedition" rafting down a massive canyon when a hole opens and their raft plunges down an endless waterfall.
The trio awaken in a strange land inhabited by dinosaurs, the primitive Pakuni people and the villains of the piece, the human-like lizard beings the SLEESTAK.
I remember being simply enthralled by this show as a kid.
Watching it now, I wince and shake my head at the "special" effects.
Still, it sure seems to have a more compelling plot than half the shows currently on television -- for adults or children.
Besides, I much rather watch dinosaurs chase some campers around a jungle than JON AND KATE PLUS 8.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Enjoying "Crazy Nights" on a dusty morning

It was a dusty start to MEMORIAL DAY METALFEST 2009, ROUTE 1's annual celebration of long hair, bad mustaches and incongruously placed self-indulgent guitar solos.
I woke up at a CAMPGROUND coated by several layers of dust and campfire ash and just knew I needed some TYGERS OF PAN TANG to get me through the morning.
The Whitley Bay band were one of the shining lights of the NEW WAVE OF BRITISH HEAVY METAL (NWOBHM). Unfortunately, the album I chose for my morning at the campground, "CRAZY NIGHTS," is often savaged by critics and the band didn't like it much, either.
Band founder ROBB WEIR has said the record label forced the Tygers to record the album too early -- before the band had fully prepared -- in a bid to follow the success of the acclaimed "Spellbound" album.
The production does sound weak on "Crazy Nights" -- the drumming sounds like it is being done on cardboard boxes -- but I consider this album to be quite underrated. Any album with JOHN SYKES on guitar cannot be all bad.
One of Britain's best guitarists, Sykes later played with Thin Lizzy and played on the 1987 Whitesnake self-titled album (a best-seller that included the hit singles "Still of the Night," "Is This Love" and "Here I Go Again").
Vocalist JON DEVERILL was also in fine form on "Crazy Nights" (although the lyrics could use some work).
Deverill is one of my favorite heavy metal stories.
Following his metalhead days, this graduate of the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama in Cardiff, became a celebrated stage actor. Under the stage name Jon de Ville, he has recently appeared in a U.K. national tour of "Blood Brothers" in 2007 and "The Sound of Music" in London in 2008.
"Crazy Nights" is due reconsideration. I think music fans will find it's an enjoyable listen after all.
Well, have a happy remainder of MEMORIAL DAY METALFEST 2009, and don't bang your head too hard.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Hull hang on and Wire Train still sound great

I took a break from CAMPING this morning to:
1. Watch HULL CITY (barely) survive the drop out of the PREMIER LEAGUE.
2. Enjoy listening to 1980s SAN FRANCISCO favorites WIRE TRAIN.
Visiting champions MANCHESTER UNITED defeated Hull, 1-0, but results elsewhere (namely losses by NEWCASTLE UNITED and MIDDLESBROUGH) meant the Tigers will spend a second season in the top flight next season.
Wire Train were formed by songwriters, Kevin Hunter and Kurt Herr in San Francisco.
The pair added Swedish bassist Anders Rundblad and Argentinean-born drummer Federico Gil-Sola and the band's original lineup was set.
I have been listening to the wonderful debut, "IN A CHAMBER," which includes the insanely catchy single "Chamber of Hellos."
Back in the old days on the Bay Area alternative station LIVE 105, it seemed like every other song was either by Wire Train, Dramarama or Translator. Thus, listening to Wire Train today is bringing back loads of old memories.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

One less alternative on the dial

While driving between the Bay Area and Reno, Nev., it was always nice tuning in to KWOD 106.5.
It was the SACRAMENTO version of Live 105 or KROQ -- a beacon of alternative music amid the country, classic rock and Top 40 sound-a-likes.
Jill and I could also occasionally hear it driving south into eastern California from Lakeview, during our years in Oregon.
I learned this week that station owners ENTERCOM dropped KWOD-FM's alternative format after 18 years. Instead, the station will play 90s music while re-branded "106.5 The Buzz."
"The last few years have been very challenging for KWOD, as it has been for the world of alternative music and the radio stations that play it in general," Program Director Curtiss Johnson stated on the station's Web site. "While we are a radio station, we face the same circumstances as so many other organizations today... the challenge of running a business profitably. We have taken many steps over the last few years to improve things, but, in the end, they have not been enough."
I remember driving north out of the Bay Area across the flat farmland of the CENTRAL VALLEY, twisting a car stereo knob and being surprised to hear DEPECHE MODE. That's my lasting memory of a station gone missing from the radio dial.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Friday Question: "Roughing It" edition

It's a command that sends shivers up and down my spine:
"We're going camping this weekend -- EVEN YOU."
ROUTE 1 admits to not being the most enthusiastic camper. However, we're willing to give it a try (again) this weekend.
That's this week's FRIDAY QUESTION.
ELLEN B. -- Lots of cold beverages and a set of the bean bag game.
MIKE D. -- Don't forget the tent poles. I forgot to pack them for a group trip, so a bunch of us had to sleep in our cars. My brothers have never let me forget that.
And sleep on a air mattress. Not for the comfort, but to stay dry in case of a deluge. My wife and I once woke up with two inches of water in our tent.So we dried out the tent and spent a couple of hours drying out our clothes and sleeping bags at the town Laundromat. The next night it rained again. I've only camped in our backyard ever since.
BEKAH P. -- When I was maybe 9 or so, I went on a school camping trip. I was in a hiking group with the cutest guy in our grade, and we got lost on the trails for four hours. And before you think anything inappropriate, I assure you, it was a horrible experience. They had rangers out looking for us, and I cried the whole time, thinking I was going to die at Lake Geode.
MARY N.-P. -- If there are bears or raccoons around, keep your food locked up or in secure containers. If it's a pretty wildlife-free spot, build a fire and make s'mores!
JIM S. -- Know of a hotel nearby for backup when humidity, mosquitoes and poor potty facilities ruin any little enthusiasm you had.
KERI M. -- Good friends and no plan of what to do!
STACEY B. -- Trying to grill a frozen pizza the night you set up the campsite always makes for a memorable experience. Plus you'll leave a lasting impression on your camping neighbors as the weird pizza people. Fun times!
BRIAN C. -- In 1971, when I was a junior in HS, a bunch of us (non-qualifiers) went to the 1971 state track meet and camped overnight. We had a blast. Swimming in a quarry was a highlight. Can't believe all our parents let us go, with no adult supervision. Believe it or not, no alcohol was involved.
ROSEANNE H. -- Take along a good book and the makings for martinis.
JOHN S. -- My favorite camping memory's are of Devil's Lake park near Baraboo, Wis. My brother and I swam across the lake without telling our folks.
MIKE M. -- For a memorable camping experience, be sure to wear shorts when collecting twigs and sticks in the woods to build your campfire. I guarantee you will never be able to forget your resulting mite infestation.
SASKIA M. -- Wild horses couldn't drag me to sleep in a tent! I'd suggest you rent a room in a nice hotel near the campground: spend the day with the camp-enthusiasts and spend the night in a comfy bed.
ERIK H. -- I am bringing a good book and my iPod.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

A true classic from Hong Kong

I'm a sucker for HONG KONG GANGSTER FILMS and DIRECTOR CAMEOS, so I indulged both last night.
TI LUNG (Ho) and CHOW YUN-FAT (Mark) play best mates and couriers for a Hong Kong crime syndicate in the 1986 film.
Gang betrayals and jail separate the friends for three years. During that time, Ho's brother Kit (LESLIE CHEUNG) becomes a police inspector and their dad is killed in gang-related violence. Kit blames Ho, setting in motion a plot that ends in explosive fashion.
As for the cameo, JOHN WOO appears as a Taiwanese police chief walking along the corridor of a restaurant after a bloody gunbattle.
Chow's Alain Delon sunglasses and duster trench coat became cultural icons in Hong Kong, and the film's massive box-office take ensured a bevy of sequels and imitations. It's a true classic.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Maybe I really *AM* Australian?

BRILLIANT BLUE SKIES overhead, sunroof open, warmth pouring into the car and INXS playing rather loudly on the stereo.
Come to think of it, I also ate some VEGEMITE on toast the other day... perhaps I really should be AUSTRALIAN?
That reminded me of my childhood. As an young elementary school student in CONCORD, CALIF., I struggled with a SPEECH IMPEDIMENT that made people think I was
Nope, just a Californian who can't quite pronounce his words properly.
Perhaps ironically, as I grew into an older adolescent, I became a rather incurable ANGLOPHILE.
Still, I own more Aussie CDs than I probably should and I know the difference between BULLDOGS and SHARKS (10 points on the NRL Premiership ladder, after the most recent round of matches). So, maybe I really should be Australian?
That's not what FACEBOOK says. I took the quiz: What Nationality Should You Be and the result was JAPANESE.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

A good day for Radio Birdman

Today seems like a great day to hear RADIO BIRDMAN.
American Deniz Tek and Australian Rob Younger formed Radio Birdman in 1974 in SYDNEY, and the band became one of the most important early punk bands Down Under.
Tek played guitar and Younger sang. The pair were eventually joined by keyboard player Phillip 'Pip' Hoyle, drummer Ron Keeley, bassist Warwick Gilbert and second guitarist Chris Masuak.
The songs roar along like forgotten garage-rock classics from the 60s, and Gilbert was a graphic artist, so the band's logo and look were top-class affairs.
With the sun streaming down on DUBUQUE today, it feels like the right time to take flight with Radio Birdman.

Monday, May 18, 2009

We're all shook up -- without a quake

We're all a little rattled this morning, and we're no where near the epicenter of an overnight EARTHQUAKE in SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA. I woke up from a night of dreams featuring a strange mix of mountain lions, space aliens, ice-covered roads (and I was trying to clear them) and a softball game.
When I went to retrieve RORY THE SOMETIMES BAD PUPPY from KERSTIN'S bed, the normally friendly dog growled and bared her little teeth.
Now, we're listening to reports of the earthquake live on KNX 1070 online.
Residents of the Southland, particularly in Long Beach and the South Bay, are still cleaning up the shattered glass and broken ceiling tiles.
Here at home, we're still a little shaken up, too, for some reason.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Soft spot for the Saints

I've always had a soft spot in my heart for ST. KILDA FOOTBALL CLUB -- the Saints won the Premiership of AUSTRALIAN RULES FOOTBALL in the magical year of 1966 (the year I was born!).
St Kilda have made a remarkable start to this season, too.
The club defeated ESSENDON today at Docklands, 13.12 (90) to 10.11 (71).
This result gives the Saints eight wins out of eight matches to start the AUSTRALIAN FOOTBALL LEAGUE season -- matching the exploits of powerhouse club GEELONG.
The club was established in 1873 and the name comes from St. Kilda, a southern Melbourne suburb located on Port Phillip Bay. Once associated primarily for its amusement parks (akin to Coney Island), St. Kilda the suburb eventually became home to Melbourne's punk subculture (probably another reason why the football club resonates for me).
Back in 1966, club legend Ian Stewart won his second consecutive Brownlow Medal (presented to the league player judged "the best and fairest"). In the GRAND FINAL that season, St Kilda edged Collingwood, 10.14 (74) to 10.13 (73), to win the Saints' only title.
Maybe this season will be magical, too?

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Man U celebrate while others fear the drop

They did it again.
MANCHESTER UNITED clinched a third successive PREMIER LEAGUE title following a goalless draw with ARSENAL today at Old Trafford.
The draw meant Manchester United equalled Liverpool's long-time record of 18 titles.
At the other end of the table, Middlesbrough seem doomed for the drop after losing a lead in their 1-1 draw at home against Aston Villa. Newcastle slipped back into the relegation zone after a 1-0 defeat at home to Fulham.
Tomorrow could spell the top-flight end for the team I followed as a child.
WEST BROMWICH ALBION will be relegated if the club loses at home to Liverpool.
As the end of the soccer season nears, I am beginning to miss it already!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Laugh and ROUTE 1 FRIDAY QUESTION laughs with you

ROUTE 1 readers expose their funny bones this week by answering the following FRIDAY QUESTION:
"What makes you laugh without fail?"
RICK T. -- A funny show on TV!
BEKAH P. -- Being ridiculously tired. When I get to the point of absolute exhaustion, I
giggle at everything --- even the non-funny stuff.
Otherwise, a Dave Barry column. That man cracks me up. I so want to be him.
KERI M. -- My boyfriend.
JOHN S. -- A well-timed Mel Brooks movie quote.
LAURA C. -- Playing Grand Theft Auto IV....well, OK, watching Pete play Grand Theft Auto IV...
MARY N.-P. -- Ever since the first time I saw him on any screen, Steve Martin -- he can just walk out to do a monologue and I'm cracking up already, much less when he actually DOES anything...
MIKE M. -- W.C. Field's "The Fatal Glass of Beer" is the funniest movie ever made. "It ain't a fit night out for man nor beast!"
ERIK H. -- Since I watched it this week, I'll say "This is Spinal Tap." Every time I see it, I discover another new detail or I hear a different line that makes me laugh. "We're very lucky in the band in that we have two visionaries, David and Nigel, they're like poets, like Shelley and Byron. They're two distinct types of visionaries, it's like fire and ice, basically. I feel my role in the band is to be somewhere in the middle of that, kind of like lukewarm water." -- Derek Smalls.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

An album that fits a memory

I have always been particularly attuned to the ways in which music intertwines with memory.
The band released the album in February 1992, but I will always associate it with a hot night months later -- June 5, 1992.
JILL and I were traveling west, to the West Coast, where we would reside for the next six years or so. On June 5, 1992, we drove from El Paso, Texas to PHOENIX, ARIZ., where we would remain for several days -- giving me an opportunity to show Jill the city where I spent my high school years.
We had checked into our hotel and were hungry, so I left Jill in the room and drove to a local Chinese take-out restaurant.
s I drove through the evening streets of Phoenix, "SOMEWHERE BETWEEN HEAVEN AND HELL" blared from the car stereo speakers.
I felt a rush of excitement -- the city kid finally returned to a city, the city where I had experienced so much.
Now, whenever I hear this album, I am reminded of that drive to and from the Chinese restaurant, and the feeling of being somehow back where I belong.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

It's a shame I never know how to spell "exhilarating," because this album is it!

This morning, its EXHILARATING (spelled correctly thanks to "Check Spelling" feature) groove helped me keep my tempo up on the treadmill.
Recorded April 4, 1956, in the "jazz corner of the Delaware Valley," this album features a typically incendiary performance by JIMMY SMITH, the pioneering jazz organist. Accompanied by guitarist Thornel Schwartz and drummer Donald Bailey, Smith plays at various tempos, but really rockets on the fast solos.
"The experience of traversing these sides with Jimmy Smith, while comfortably ensconced in an armchair beside your phonograph, is comparable with the sensation of sitting behind a picture window high in a mountain-top home during an electrical storm," LEONARD FEATHER wrote in the liner notes.
As I listened, I couldn't help drawing parallels with rock's virtuoso JIMI HENDRIX.
Hearing Smith launch into an electrifying solo is a similar experience to grooving with Jimi.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

A good day for the "Mexican Ramones"

A warm, sunny day like today makes me think of the band they called the "MEXICAN RAMONES."
THE ZEROS were one of the leading lights of the EARLY SOCAL PUNK SCENE, forming at a high school in Chula Vista, Calif., just outside San Diego.
The band featured Javier Escovedo (younger brother of Nuns/Rank and File/solo artist Alejandro Escovedo) on vocals/guitar and Robert Lopez (later known as EL VEZ, "The Mexican Elvis") on guitar, Hector Penalosa, bass, and Baba Chenelle, drums.
The Zeros played Los Angeles throughout 1977 with contemporaries the Germs and The Weirdos.
The band's classic first single, "Wimp" b/w "Don't Push Me Around," was released in 1977 on Bomp Records.
Click here for a look at an early appearance of The Zeros on a San Diego television station. The video quality lags at times, but I love the "aw shucks" feeling about this hard-rocking band.

Monday, May 11, 2009

"Don't point!"

I have been enjoying the weather and an extremely funny film on my day off today. "THIS IS SPINAL TAP" makes me laugh every time I see it.
Michael McKean, Harry Shearer and Christopher Guest portray metal gods David St. Hubbins, Derek Smalls and Nigel Tufnel, respectively, in Rob Reiner's spectacularly spot-on "rockumentary."
The film explores every heavy metal cliché imaginable, including the guitarist with the extensive guitar collection.
In my favorite scene, Tufnel displays his guitar collection to documentary filmmaker Marty DiBergi, played by Reiner.
Nigel Tufnel: Look... still has the old tag on, never even played it.
Marty DiBergi: (points his finger) You've never played...?
Tufnel: Don't touch it!
DiBergi: We'll I wasn't going to touch it, I was just pointing at it.
Tufnel: Well... don't point! It can't be played.
DiBergi: Don't point, okay. Can I look at it?
Tufnel: No. no. That's it, you've seen enough of that one.
The scene continues with the famous "these go to 11" line about the loudest of amps.
Surely, "This is Spinal Tap" is among the funniest films made.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Metal's maidens on Mother's Day

Happy MOTHER'S DAY to all of the mothers out there! Including mine -- HI MOM!
Nobody else is up yet today, so before we celebrate Mother's Day with JILL, I am banging my head to the hardest-rockin' female combo I know -- the extraordinarily excellent GIRLSCHOOL.
School mates Kim McAuliffe (vocals/guitar) and Enid Williams (bass) formed the all-female band Painted Lady in 1977 in South London, playing school parties and such.
By March 1978, guitarist Kelly Johnson and drummer Denise Dufort joined the band, renamed Girlschool.
Touring Britain, the band also released a debut singe, "Take it all Away," in January 1979.
Metal giants MOTÖRHEAD took notice, and offered Girlschool a management and publishing deal, as well as a support spot on the "Overkill" tour.
Girlschool had arrived!
Although there must have been some curiosity surrounding the band during the glory days of the NEW WAVE OF BRITISH HEAVY METAL (NWOBHM), Girlschool's records (I have "DEMOLITION" and "HIT AND RUN") are no novelties.
They could hold their own with any boy's heavy metal band.
Still going strong, Girlschool celebrated their 30th anniversary last year.
Check out their Web site by clicking here. It includes a tribute page to Johnson, who passed away from cancer in 2007.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Worshipping at the altar of Mott

I can't really say I have been *listening* to MOTT THE HOOPLE the past two days. It's more akin to *worshipping* the vastly underrated 1970s band.
Most of the people who have heard me chattering about how much I love the band vaguely remember "ALL THE YOUNG DUDES," the anthemic single penned and produced by DAVID BOWIE midway through Mott's career, when they seemed on the verge of splitting.
"All The Young Dudes" only tells part of the story of this great band.
"Combining the swagger of a heavier Rolling Stones and the poetic fervor of a 1966 Bob Dylan sounds like an audacious idea," writes Paul Evans in the New Rolling Stone Album Guide. "The amazing thing is that Mott The Hoople pulled it off with remarkable consistency."
Besides "All The Young Dudes," which peaked at No. 3 in August 1972, Mott reached the British Top 40 five times in 1972-74 -- "Honaloochie Boogie" (No. 12), "All The Way From Memphis" (No. 10), "Roll Away The Stone" (No. 8), "Golden Age of Rock 'N' Roll" (No. 16) and "Foxy Foxy" (No. 33).
As I listen to an iPod playlist of 45 Mott songs (including the entire "Brain Capers" album and the compilation, "The Ballad of Mott The Hoople"), I can't understand why more of these songs were not huge hits.
The musicianship is incredible, particularly with the first lineup of the band -- Ian Hunter (vocals, guitar, piano), future Bad Company founder Mick Ralphs (guitar, backing vocals, keyboards), Verden Allen (organ, backing vocals), Pete "Overend" Watts (bass, backing vocals, guitar), and Dale "Buffin" Griffin (drums, backing vocals, percussion).
Subsequent members included guitarists Ariel Bender (actually former Spooky Tooth member Luther Grosvenor) and Mick Ronson (former Bowie sideman) and keyboardist extraordinaire Morgan Fisher.
Do whatever you can to hear some Mott The Hoople. The reward is well worth the effort with this fine band.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Made in the Shade: FRIDAY QUESTION Guide to Summer Reading

Hot days in the shade just seem made for reading.
ROUTE 1 readers provide a guide by answering the following FRIDAY QUESTION:
"What is your ideal book for summer reading?"
KERI M. -- "An Extra Half An Inch" by Victoria Beckham.
RICK T. -- Travel brochures and maps. I love to travel in the summer.
ELLEN B. -- I'm going to try and read the "Twilight" series this summer!
LAURA C. -- "High Fidelity" by Nick Hornby...or, if I've got long lazy days and a balcony overlooking the sea, "All the Pretty Horses," by Cormac McCarthy.
JIM S. -- Erik pointed out the death of baseball player Dominic DiMaggio, which inspired me to suggest a great summer book. It's called "The Teammates: A Portrait in Friendship," by David Halberstam. In it, an aged DiMaggio, Bobby Doerr and Johnny Pesky take a road-trip to visit their old teammate, Ted Williams, who is dying in Florida. The lifelong friendship of these close teammates is visited through flashbacks and the present. Wonderful book. I'm going to read it again, now!

ROSEANNE H. -- Nelson DeMille's "Wild Fire"...but it won't take all summer -- more like 2 days. It is one of the "can't put down" books.
MIKE M. -- I'm thinking about starting David Tod Roy's translation of "The Plum in the Golden Vase, or Chin P'ing Mei," an anonymous sixteenth-century Chinese novel known primarily for its erotic realism, but only three of a projected five volumes have been published.
BEKAH P. -- Once a year, I crack open that terrific tome of the South -- "Gone With the Wind." I read it for the first time in seventh grade, and I have not missed my annual revisit to Tara since. Spring is usually when this venture takes place.
But for those not interested in such an epic, a new favorite of mine is "Water for Elephants." Focused on circus life, this is the easiest entertainment ever.
MIKE D. -- The Bass Pro 2009 fishing catalog.
MARY N.-P. -- A memoir about the early years in someone's life who grew up when I did (1950s and 60s) - the wilder and stranger the better...
LISA Y. -- My first book will be: "Pretty in Plaid: A Life, a Witch, and a Wardrobe, or, the Wonder Years Before the Condescending, Egomaniacal, Self-Centered Smart Ass Phase" by Jen Lancaster. I've loved her humor in her first three books.
ERIK H. -- Sean Condon's memoir of a 14,000-kilometer trek across Australia, "Sean & David's Long Drive," is full of hot, dry landscapes and laugh-out-loud humor. It's perfect for summer!

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Remembering Danny Ozark

Most of the obituaries for DANNY OZARK focus on the funny malaprops of the former PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES manager.
"Half this game is 90 percent mental," he once said.
Ozark died today age 85.
Ozark's Philly teams twice won 101 games in a season and he led the Phils to three consecutive National League East Division titles.
I remember Ozark for another reason.
The veteran coach took over as interim manager of the SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS after Frank Robinson was fired in 1984.
Ozark couldn't work his Philly magic by the bay, however, as San Francisco managed a mere 24-32 with him at the helm.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Champion of the misunderstood and unlucky

San Francisco Giants... Sheffield Wednesday... Cornell Woolrich... Something in my nature makes me support the unlucky, the misunderstood or the seemingly underachieving. I thought about this morning, as I listened to one of my favorite albums from my high-school days, "GOING DEAF FOR A LIVING" by FISCHER-Z. A British rock band fronted by guitarist/singer/songwriter John Watts, Fischer-Z (pronounced, in Brit style, "Fisher-Zed") released eight albums between 1979 and 1995. The band gained a certain infamy when their biggest hit, "The Worker" from 1979, actually slipped down the charts following a Top of the Pops television appearance. The band never really succeeded commercially in their native U.K.. "The Worker" peaked at No. 53, my favorite song of the band, "So Long," only managed to reach No. 72 and the later single "The Perfect Day" charted at No. 91. That latter song reached No. 12 in Australia, though, so someone somewhere liked Fischer-Z. I did, for example. I still have "Going Deaf for a Living" on vinyl. I have been listening to it on CD today and wondering why the band never really made it big. Then again, if they had made it big, it would probably go against my nature to like them.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Rock's tribute to dental health?

I have an appointment at the DENTIST today, which reminds me of the back of cover of an album I have been enjoying the past couple days.
"HEAVEN TONIGHT" is considered by many (including me) to be the best album by CHEAP TRICK.
"Surrender," "On Top of the World" and "High Roller" are standout tracks. My personal favorite (for perhaps obvious reasons), is the cover of The Move's "CALIFORNIA MAN."
I love the album cover, too.
Glamorous Robin Zander and Tom Petersson show up on the front cover, of course, with nerdy Rick Nielsen and Bun E. Carlos relegated to the back.
Nielsen is pictured BRUSHING HIS TEETH, which makes this album a perfect soundtrack for today.

Monday, May 04, 2009

A little "rudderless abandon" on my day off

I think this is the fifth time I have written about the 1956 KO NAKAHIRA film "KURUTTA KAJITSU (CRAZED FRUIT)" on ROUTE 1. It's probably my favorite film.
I watched it again today, during a vacation day I took to help celebrate MY BIRTHDAY.
Two brothers compete for the love of a young woman during a summer spent boating and attending parties in this film depicting the TAIYOZOKU ("SUN TRIBE"), the affluent, amoral youth left to their own devices amid the early days of Japan's postwar economic boom.
"From it's opening shot -- 16-year-old Haruji (Masahito Tsugawa), his hair cropped nihilistically short and his eyes psychotically scanning the horizon, slicing through waters as black as blood in the moonlight, at the held of a switchblade-sleek power skiff christened the 'Sun Season' -- to its climactic whirlpool of retribution and oblivion, 'Crazed Fruit' emits a scream of rudderless abandon as deafening as that speedboat's Evinrude roar," wrote film historian Chuck Stephens.
Today was a good day to experience some "rudderless abandon," even if it was only on film.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Derby Della Lanterna for my birthday!

Three red cards... 10 yellow cards... a fight... a broken nose with blood pouring down onto the pitch... a hat-trick... so many flares lit the pitch seems shrouded in fog... and it's MY BIRTHDAY!!!
I celebrated today by watching on television the 100th DERBY DELLA LANTERNA, the bitterly, fanatically contested crosstown rivalry game between GENOA and SAMPDORIA in Italy.
Ironically enough, a pair of ARGENTINES dominated the score sheet, as Diego Milito scored a hat-trick for Genoa and Hugo Campagnaro scored the only goal for Samp in the home team's 3-1 victory.
Genoa's English name (like Samp, they are based in the port city of GENOVA) derives from their 1893 foundation by British expatriates.
I don't know why (perhaps it's their famous red-and-blue-halved shirts), but I have supported Genoa since I became aware of Italian soccer -- known as "calcio" -- as a kid.
It's only fitting, then, that the big derby is played on my birthday, on television so I could enjoy it.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

"That's impossible, that's im... that's impossible, that's imposs.."

I always thought people set off for Hollywood in a bid for stardom.
TRANSLATOR took the opposite route.
Steve Barton (singer/songwriter/guitarist), Larry Dekker (bassist), Dave Scheff (drummer) and Robert Darlington (guitarist/songwriter) left LOS ANGELES to find fame in SAN FRANCISCO as Translator, one my the great Bay Area bands of the 1980s.
I was just listening to Translator while walking the dog.
Translator signed to 415 RECORDS back in the early 80s, joining the likes of Wire Train, Pearl Harbor & The Explosions and Romeo Void.
"EVERYWHERE THAT I'M NOT," the band's signature song, is one of those tunes that easily lodges itself in your head. I am still singing along and it isn't even playing!
"'Cause that's impossible, that's im... That's impossible, that's imposs... That's impossible, that's impossible."
I have been listening to a fair amount of older music the past couple days. I guess I am feeling a bit nostalgic as my birthday approaches.

"'Cause you're in New York, but I'm not. You're in Tokyo, but I'm not. You're in Nova Scotia, but I'm not. Yeah, you're Everywhere That I'm Not Yeah, you're Everywhere That I'm Not Yeah, you're Everywhere That I'm Not I'm Not, I'm Not, I'm Not."

Friday, May 01, 2009

They say it's your BIRTHDAY

It's FOUNDER'S BIRTHDAY time again here at ROUTE 1 HQ (May 3, if you're wondering).
Readers help celebrate by answering the following FRIDAY QUESTION:
"What is your favorite birthday memory?"
RICK T. -- Seeing my friends at my 50th birthday.
MARY N.-P. -- No ponies or new cars or anything. I guess it would be my 60th - a week ago, when my sister and daughter (and their men) drove/flew in to surprise me. We had a party at a favorite Mexican restaurant for everyone and they made large posters of photos from my life (many embarrassing)and gave a lot of gag gifts. It just felt good to have made it this far in good health.
KERI M. -- This past one, because I had three birthdays!
JOHN S. -- When I was 6 my parents gave me a Tonka fire truck that I could hook to the garden hose and actually spray water from the fire hoses on the truck. Man, I loved that thing.
MIKE M. -- I was a sulky adolescent, so I put on an awful pout when my parents dragged me out to "run errands," that is until I realized they were actually taking me to my then favorite restaurant, Long John Silver's, and to see the latest James Bond flick, "Moonraker," featuring the steel-toothed Jaws and enticing Holly Goodhead.
STACEY B. -- I was standing by the family car on my 13th birthday when my little sister told me to not look at my surprise birthday presents in the trunk. I still pretended to be surprised as I walked through the door of a local hotel room a half hour later for a very cool February pool party.
ERIK H. -- I have many favorites, but May 3, 1995 stands out. I turned 29 while covering a day-long meeting of the Lake County Commissioners (the Oregon version of county supervisors). A delivery person arrived in the middle of a discussion on land use bearing candy and balloons from my wife Jill. The commissioners resumed their land-use discussion while munching chocolates.