Friday, July 31, 2009

The surprising things we avoid on the menu

ROUTE 1 readers can be a discerning bunch -- when they choose not to read blogs about obscure music, cricket, weird films and soccer, I mean.
They prove to be discerning about food, too, by answering this week's FRIDAY QUESTION:
"Is there a surprising food you just don't like?"
RICK T. -- I hate liver and onions!
STEVE M. -- Are you kidding?? I'm a guy. The foods I don't like are not surprising in the least -- like liver, and I've never even given it half a chance.
BEKAH P. -- Tomatoes, although I don't know exactly how surprising that is. I have never liked them. Still don't like them. Probably never will like them.
LAURA C. -- Chocolate-dipped strawberries...or, really, any combination of chocolate with fruit...blech!
MIKE M. -- Processed "American Cheese" makes me shudder.
ROSEANNE H. -- I cannot even be in the room if someone is chopping up cilantro, let alone eat it!
BRIAN C. -- Beets. Enough said.
KERI M. -- Marshmallows on their own.
JIM S. -- Onions. Anybody who knows me won't be surprised, but almost everyone who hears about it the first time is. (Though I don't mind a little onion salt or even onions that are finely cut -- minced really -- until you can barely tell that they're onions.) But, I'm not fussy or anything.
JEFF T. -- Shrimp -- unless it has been fried into oblivion or covered with a good masking sauce!
KERSTIN H. -- French fries. I just don't like them.
ERIK H. -- It makes me an oddball in Iowa (what doesn't?), but I have never really liked pork chops. I'd much rather have a steak anytime.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

A Cub from San Francisco

I am listening to the SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS on the radio while reading about the memorable debut of a CHICAGO CUB.
ROB SPERRING was actually born in San Francisco on Oct. 10, 1949.
He grew up in LODI, CALIF., playing high school baseball for the Lodi Flames and in college for the UNIVERSITY OF THE PACIFIC.
The Cubs selected Sperring in the fifth round of the 1971 amateur entry draft.
Ironically, he made his Major-League debut on Aug. 11, 1974 against the Giants.
It was one of his best games, unfortunately.
Sperring doubled and homered, but the Giants beat the Cubs, 5-3, in a game that featured a stolen base (of all things) by San Francisco's DAVE KINGMAN.
Sperring played sparingly for the Cubs. He was traded before the start of spring training in 1977 -- the Giants, with
Bill Madlock in exchange for Bobby Murcer, Steve Ontiveros and Andy Muhlstock.
Sperring never appeared for the team from his birthplace -- the Giants shipped him to Houston on March 26, 1977 -- and he closed out his big-league career with 58 games with the Astros that season.
What ever became of Rob Sperring?
Well, I know he and his family live in Cypress, Texas and that his son, Trey Sperring, plays college ball at Oklahoma.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

An evening with "The Ladykillers"

Last night I enjoyed one of the classic comedies from Britain's EALING STUDIOS on DVD, the 1955 film, "THE LADYKILLERS."
A gang of criminals (played by ALEC GUINNESS, HERBERT LOM, PETER SELLERS, CECIL PARKER and DANNY GREEN) rent two rooms in the isolated London house of an elderly widow (KATIE JOHNSON) with three parrots.
The gang pretend to be an amateur string quartet, but instead spend their time planning a robbery involving a nearby train station.
I won't give away much more, except to say it all ends terribly for the gang and the musical instruments (or lack thereof) contribute to their undoing.
After watching Guinness in the original "Star Wars" last week, it's easy to forget how deft he was at comedy.
The Czech-born Lom and Sellers are outstanding, too. You should check out this film if you only know those two from the "Pink Panther" series.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Gunshot sounds in stereo

I was driving home to lunch just now when the sound of a bullet ricocheted throughout the car.
Don't worry, the echoing shot was merely a sound effect providing the lynch pin to the song "SHOOTER DUB," a collaboration between two of Jamaica's revolutionary record producers.
OSBOURNE "KING TUBBY" RUDDOCK helped pioneer dub reggae -- predominantly instrumental versions of existing recordings created by significant manipulation in the studio.
On "Shooter Dub," King Tubby integrated the use of a gunshot sound effect into a mix of a track originally produced by LEONARD "SANTIC" CHIN (the nickname derived from combining the nickname of his friend, drummer Carlton "Santa" Davis, and "Atlantic").
Tubby would have been familiar with the sound of gunshots.
Writing in the liner notes to "THE ROUGH GUIDE TO DUB," Steve Barrow noted that Tubby's studio "was located in the heart of the 'war zone' in the Waterhouse ghetto" of Kingston, Jamaica."
A gunshot might have been familiar to Tubby, but the sound make me jump as I drove home.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Thank goodness for the "nerdy little world"

The first chapter deals with the formative years of the members of the Pixies -- CHARLES (BLACK FRANCIS) THOMPSON, KIM (MRS. JOHN MURPHY) DEAL, JOEY SANTIAGO and DAVID LOVERING.
In an insightful passage, Thompson describes how he grew up free of the typical influences on alternative rockers of his generation:
"I used to hang out with some misfits. We weren't the stoner kids, we weren't the jock kids, we were the 'we listen to oddball music kids.' I wasn't hanging out at all-ages shows or trying to get into clubs to see bands. I was buying records at used record stores and borrowing them from the library. You didn't necessarily see a Ramones record at the used record store. You just saw Emerson, Lake and Palmer records.
"So I didn't know (punk) music, but I had started to hear about it in high school. But it was probably a good thing that I didn't know it, that I instead listened to a lot of 60's records and this religious music. It was a different diet. It wasn't mainstream at all, but it wasn't hip, for sure.
"By the time I started to write music, I heard some punk and punk-influenced things, but it was kind of a good thing that I didn't listen to all these hip records when I was 16. It was good that I was in my own nerdy little world."

I was listening to "PIXIES AT THE BBC" last night before bed, thinking how different the band might have sounded had Thompson not grown up in that "nerdy little world."

Sunday, July 26, 2009

"There's a cello in your house now"

A stuttering boy is a surprise recruit for a competitive, high-school debate team in Jeffrey Blintz' "ROCKET SCIENCE," one of the most enjoyable films I have seen in a long time.
I watched the 2007 film last night on DVD, and will watch it again before it is due back at the library.
REECE THOMPSON plays Hal Hefner, the recruit who can't say the word "pizza," let alone spit out the rapid-fire arguments of Ginny Ryerson (ANNA KENDRICK), the brilliant debater who tabbed him for the team.
Hal is falling for Ginny just as the viewer begins to suspect her motives in "ferreting out the debating talent from the masses," as she explains on a school bus ride.
"Rocket Science" is my favorite type of film -- a well-written gem that sports memorable lines worthy of repeating.
Lewis Garrles, a younger boy who lives across the street from Ginny, shows a book of Kama Sutra positions to Hal in one scene. Lewis laments that his dad doesn't keep track of all of the positions:
"He could be the Kama Sutra Barry Bonds and no one would know it."
This film is full of such lines.
The filmmakers avoid easy emotional answers, which is another reason why I love "Rocket Science."
There's a memorable scene when Hal realizes he has been betrayed, and in his anger he chucks a cello through the front window of Ginny's house.
Later, he explains: "It's one of those two, love or revenge, I'm not really sure which one. But it's one of those two that made me throw a cello through somebody's window. You figure it out."

Saturday, July 25, 2009

The wind, The Who and cloud shaped like Iceland

I was sitting outside just now, soaking up some sun, when THE WIND and THE WHO combined for a beautiful moment
I was listening to "A QUICK ONE, WHILE HE'S AWAY," Pete Townshend's 1966 "mini-opera" about infidelity and forgiveness, when I noticed the most gratifying smell: The wind was blowing the scents from a pot of fresh herbs in my direction.
It seemed like I was sitting in the kitchen of an unseen chef.
"Down your street your crying is a well-known sound," Roger Daltrey sang as I tipped my head back to soak up the smell of the herbs.
Opening my eyes, I saw A CLOUD SHAPED LIKE ICELAND, propelled across the sky directly above me.
"Fa la la la la la, fa la la la la la la," went the opening to "We Have a Remedy" as I intently studied the cloud.
It's wispy tendrils along the periphery extended like a ballet dancer's lithe arms before evaporating into the blue sky.
"A Quick One, While He's Away" is effectively a medley with six distinct sections. It sounds great when you're sitting outside, watching clouds shaped like Iceland dancing their way across the sky.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Records we can hear any time

This week, ROUTE 1 asked its music-loving readers to answer the following FRIDAY QUESTION:
Is there a record you can hear any time, without tiring of it?
RICK T. -- Vern Gosdin's "Chiseled In Stone." Great Song with a lot of meaning. Type it in on YouTube and you'll see.
KERI M. -- Mobadass. A great band from Saskatoon.
BEKAH P. -- "Sgt. Pepper's" by the Beatles. I have loved it for my entire life, and I think that statement will stay the same until I die.
JEFF T. -- Three pop to mind. "Alan Jackson - Greatest Hits Volume 1 or 2," or "Sinatra at the Sands!"
KERSTIN H. -- "ABBA Gold." I have to listen to it every time I do the dishes.
ERIK H. -- I always come back to the music on Trojan's "UK Hits" three-disc compilation of pop reggae music. Songs such as "Double Barrel" by Dave & Ansel Collins, "Everything I Own" by Ken Boothe and "Guns of Navaronne" by the Skatalites always provide comfort.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Sure they were nerds, but they were great musicians, too

I've always enjoyed listening to OINGO BOINGO, particularly on gorgeous days.
These days, I fear more people know DANNY ELFMAN for his film work. A notable Hollywood composer, Elfman's scored films include "Instinct," "The Nightmare Before Christmas," "Batman," "Spider-Man" and many more.
John M. Glionna, writing in the Los Angeles Times in 1999, described Elfman's previous claim to fame, before the film work took off:
"For 17 years, Danny Elfman was the lead nerd in a nerdy band followed mostly by nerds."
I'm guilty as charged: I'm one of those nerds who followed Oingo Boingo. With years of hindsight, I think it's plain to see the band was packed with exemplary musicians -- not just nerds.
Guitarist/co-arranger STEVE BARTEK currently composes and orchestrates for films and television. Before Oingo Boingo, Bartek played flute on the first two STRAWBERRY ALARM CLOCK albums.
Oingo Boingo keyboard player RICHARD GIBBS is also a film composer. His credits include "Dr. Doolittle," "Big Momma's House" and "Say Anything."
Oingo Boingo might have been a nerdy band, but they were also more musical than some of us nerds ever imagined.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Putting too much thought into a monster movie? Perhaps yes.

I can't decide which is more far-fetched:
1. SVEN-GÖRAN ERIKSSON, the former England manager, has joined League Two NOTTS COUNTY as director of football at the Football League's oldest club (founded 1862).
2. That the characters of "KAIJÛ SÔSHINGEKI (DESTROY ALL MONSTERS)" seem so upbeat, even though the world's major cities have been destroyed by GODZILLA, ANGUIRUS, RODAN, GOROSAURUS, KUMONGA, MANDA, MINILLA, BARAGON, VARAN and even MOTHRA (CATERPILLAR VERSION).
I realize that Ishirô Honda's 1968 film does find the aforementioned monsters turning the tables on the spooky chick aliens the Kilaaks and defeating their alien monster, GHIDORAH.
I also realize the humans have important work to do throughout the course of the film, however, I still wonder if people would really seem so non-plussed that the Tokyo outside their bunker door is completely in ruins.
If someone can explain either No. 1 or No. 2 to me, I would greatly appreciate it. Thank you.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Ready, aim, Attack of the Giant Revillos

I just watched rainwater seeping through the stone walls of our unfinished basement while I walked on the treadmill.
DUBUQUE has received more than 1.97 INCHES OF RAIN today and water continues to fall, so the treadmill seemed like a better idea than walking outside.
I listened to "ATTACK OF THE GIANT REVILLOS" to help alleviate the gloom.
When Edinburgh's brilliant pop-punk pioneers The Rezillos dissolved, vocalists Eugene Reynolds (Alan Forbes) and Fay Fife (Sheilagh Hynde) created a new band with a similar name, THE REVILLOS.
Combining 60s-flavored pop with monster-movie sensibilities, the Revillos toured and recorded throughout the early 1980s.
"Attack of the Giant Revillos" is an anthology of radio sessions, singles and studio outtakes and includes "should-have-been classics" such as "Mind-Bending Cutie Doll," "Hip City, You Were Meant For Me" and "(She’s Fallen in Love with a) Monster Man."
It was a perfect album to make me forget the increasing dampness of the basement.

Monday, July 20, 2009

"Tell me why! I don't like Mondays"

It became a mantra for working stiffs everywhere, so it seems like the right time to celebrate "I DON'T LIKE MONDAYS," the single that was released 30 years ago tomorrow.
BOB GELDOF of THE BOOMTOWN RATS wrote the song after reading about the San Diego shooting spree of 16-year-old Brenda Ann Spencer, who killed two adults and injured eight children while firing at a school playground.
I don't like Mondays, this livens up the day," Spencer reportedly told authorities in explaining her actions.
The song spent a month at No. 1 on the
UK charts. It only reached No. 73 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100, but has since become a popular song to play -- on Mondays -- on album rock stations.
I'll grab my "Best of" CD by The Boomtown Rats today. It will help liven up my day.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

"Star Wars:" A tale of two viewings

ANNIKA and I were about the same age when we saw "STAR WARS" for the first time.
Only a generation of pop cultural saturation stood between us.
I was 11 when I saw the George Lucas classic in 1977 at a cinema.
Annika watched the film for the first time last night, on DVD.
I had originally watched the film with a blank slate -- the initial shot of the massive starship chasing Princess Leia's much smaller craft taking my breath away in 1977.
Annika watched the film connecting the dots in her existing knowledge.
"When does Darth Vader say, 'Luke, I am your father?'" she said.
That's another one of the movies.
"Why did his uncle tell Luke is father's dead, when his father is Darth Vader?"
We don't find out until Luke finds out.
"If that is Luke Skywalker, which one is Anakin Skywalker?"
We learn about him later in the series.

Now, Annika wants to watch the rest of the series of films. She wants to catch up on the story that has become part of our cultural fabric in the years since 1977.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

He could sing anything

I have listened to the excellent JEFF BUCKLEY album "GRACE" several times during the past few days while reading a book-length treatise on the disc by DAPHNE A. BROOKS.
The gifted vocals of the late Buckley never cease to amaze me.
Brooks shares my view: "Throughout 'Grace,' Jeff Buckley re-imagines the use of voice in relation to guitar; he manipulates voice in similar ways to a guitar virtuoso. Moving from guttural growl to searing falsetto, from mediated whisper to aching yelps, from Sufi-influenced Qawwali scale-jumping to gospel-inflected call and response, Jeff 'plays' his voice on 'Grace' with all the fever and passion of a fast-fretting prog-rock axe man."
I turned to Jill once while we listened to "Grace" and said:
"Jeff Buckley could have been an opera singer."
What I should have said was:
"Jeff Buckley could sing absolutely anything."

Friday, July 17, 2009

Be thankful Stacy London and Clinton Kelly never read ROUTE 1

ROUTE 1 EDITORIAL INTERN KERSTIN has a new favorite article of clothing
after her birthday.
That brings up this week's FRIDAY QUESTION:
"What is your favorite article of clothing?"
JIM S. -- I have two: A flannel, long-sleeve "shirt of many colors" given to me by Kris very early on in our relationship (I believe on a Christmas - forgive me if I'm wrong, honey); and my Boston Red Sox T-shirt, bought in Boston just a few months ago on my (finally) first trip to Fenway.
BEKAH P. -- My skinny jeans. Just because I can't fit into them doesn't mean they're not my absolute favs. I think it's the HOPE of wearing them again that maintains their favored status. However, once I got them on, I think I would realize how dreadfully out-of-date they are...
SASKIA M. -- In public: Denim blue jeans. At home: pj's.
JEFF T. -- There's a tangy yellow golf shirt that my wife and I disagree on. I love it and think that it brings a ray of sunshine into an often gloomy and predictable wardrobe. She thinks that I look like Spongebob Squarepants.
RICK T. -- My FSU (Florida State Univ.) Sweat pants! Go Nole's!!!!!!!!!!!
BOB H. -- My bathing suit on a sandy beach!!!
MIKE M. -- I like my woolly mammoth pants, especially in wintertime.
KERSTIN H. -- My Mrs. Edward Cullen shirt!
STACEY B. -- It's a pair of 4-year-old blue pajama pants that are covered in paint. I
wear them whenever I paint a room, and each of the little splotches of paint is a little colorful piece of a memory.
JOHN S. -- Any one of my Cubs hats!
MIKE D. -- I've been known to wear clothes until they fall off my body. In fact, a couple of my mid-1980s T-shirts are clinging to life as grass-cutting apparel. But this summer, I came upon a second-hand pair of khaki shorts. I've been wearing them so much that my wife is pleading for me to swap them for a pair of jean shorts.
ERIK H. -- My Portland Trail Blazers hooded sweatshirt, especially on chilly days like today. Brrr!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

¡Estudiantes Campeón!

All this recent nostalgia for the late 1960s seems to have extended to the football pitch!
Inspired by the son of the player who led them to three successive COPA LIBERTADORES titles from 1968-70, Argentina's ESTUDIANTES DE LA PLATA defeated Brazil's CRUZEIRO, 2-1, in Belo Horizonte last night in the second leg of the final of South America's 50-year-old club competition.
ROUTE 1 ASSISTANT ANNIKA and I watched the match live ("en vivo") on FOX SPORTS EN ESPAÑOL.
Juan Ramon Verón led Estudiantes to the three successive titles. His son, Juan Sebastian Verón, captained the club last night.
I had also watched the goalless first leg in Argentina a week ago, and throughout the first half of last night's match, I feared I'd see another dearth of goals and the unsavoury prospect of penalties.
Cruzeiro eased those fears, taking the lead seven minutes into the second half when Henrique's long-range shot took a deflection off defender Leandro Desábato, just out of the reach of Estudiantes goalkeeper Mariano Andújar.
The Brazilian hosts didn't lead for long.
In the 58th minute, Cruzeiro goalkeeper Fábio couldn't handle a cross from Estudiantes defender Cristian Cellay and Gastón Fern
ández tapped in from a few yards out.
Mauro Boselli headed the winner in the 73rd minute from Ver
ón’s corner, and Estudiantes were well on their way to the club's fourth Copa Libertadores title and first since 1970.
At the final whistle, Fox Sports cut to the scenes in the streets of La Plata, 51 miles southeast of Buenos Aires.
The normally quiet streets were filled with dancing, waving flags and burning flares.
"I wonder if they're going to cancel work tomorrow," Annika said.
They just might, I told her. This win is a big deal.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Blues avoid a Maroon sweep

Last night's baseball All-Star game wasn't the only high-profile meeting of sports stars.
NEW SOUTH WALES prevented a series sweep by QUEENSLAND tonight, winning the third and final STATE OF ORIGIN rugby league match, 28-16 at Suncorp Stadium in Milton, Queensland.
The State of Origin is an annual three-game all-star series in AUSTRALIA. Players are selected to play for the state in which they played their first senior rugby league football. New South Wales players wear sky blue jerseys and are known as "the Blues." Members of the maroon-clad Queensland team are called "the Maroons."
Tonight's series finale was apparently a violent affair -- even by the standards of AUSTRALIAN RUGBY LEAGUE.
The visiting Blues benefited from the first "eight-point try" in Origin history. An eight-point try occurs when a penalty kick is awarded for foul play against the scorer of a try (the rugby equivalent of a touchdown).
Unfortunately, the Blues suffered a late disgrace when Trent Waterhouse was sent off one minute from the end after punching Queensland's Steve Price -- who was taken off the field by medical staff. Waterhouse became the first New South Wales player to be given his marching orders in an Origin match.
Despite tonight's loss, Queensland have won four straight series. Baseball fans could think of the Maroons as the American League in this respect.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Sweets and The Smiths

The only thing I don't like about BIT-O-HONEY is the way the wax paper can get stuck on the candy.
Otherwise, the classic combination of almond bits embedded in a honey-flavored taffy ranks right up there with any of my other favorite sweets.
I have been enjoying some Bit-O-Honey today while listening to one of my favorite compilations, "LOUDER THAN BOMBS" by THE SMITHS.
Bit-O-Honey originated in Chicago. The Schutter-Johnson Company began manufacturing it in 1924. The Nestlé Company acquired Bit-O-Honey in 1984.
"Louder Than Bombs" arrived in U.S. stores three years later. I was in college, and I absolutely adored The Smiths (I still do, actually).
"Louder Than Bombs" combined non-album singles and B-sides with a few other tracks. Although I love The Smiths' studio albums, my favorite discs are "Louder Than Bombs" and the earlier compilation, the masterful "HATFUL OF HOLLOW."
Give me either of those two albums and some Bit-O-Honey, and I am a happy man.

Monday, July 13, 2009

"The Banana Splits meet the MC5"

I've been enjoying "SUPERFUZZ BIGMUFF," the debut mini-LP by the SEATTLE grunge pioneers, MUDHONEY.
I like it because the band's songs don't sound like the clichéd sound that grunge descended into once the copyists became involved in the scene.
Instead, Mudhoney remind me of the Australian indie bands that had emerged after the demise of Radio Birdman -- New Race, the Visitors and Beasts of Bourbon.
In "OUR BAND COULD BE YOUR LIFE," Michael Azerrad writes that the way Mudhoney's "hell-for-leather garage attack was tempered by beery sing-along choruses" prompted at least one critic describing the sound as "the Banana Splits meet the MC5."
Azerrad also notes that singer MARK ARM often wrote songs mentioning either dogs or sickness, although never together.
"We kept hoping he'd come in with a song about a sick dog," guitarist STEVE TURNER said, "but he never did."

Sunday, July 12, 2009

A spoonful of Ali G helps the cricket go down

I have been watching some hilarious episodes of "DA ALI G SHOW" on DVD because I can only take so much of the miserable pessimism surrounding ENGLAND and the first ASHES TEST against AUSTRALIA -- which I have been hearing on BBC RADIO'S TEST MATCH SPECIAL online.
At tea on the fifth day, England are 435 & 169-7 against Australia's 674-6 (declared), and the hosts (although the match is really in Cardiff, Wales) are battling to avoid humiliation with a draw.
"Da Ali Go Show" is notable for providing the first looks at the SACHA BARON COHEN alter egos Borat and Brüno, as well as the "wanksta" titular character.
Baron Cohen sometimes pushes the envelope a little too forcefully for my comfort, but all too often I am laughing so hard I can't hear all of the dialogue.
"When you arrived on de moon," Ali G asks astronaut Buzz Aldrin, "was the people who lived there very friendly, or was they scared of you?"
I need all the laughing I can get after listening to sorrowful England struggling against the Aussies.
Here's a special, Ali G-influenced shout out to ROUTE 1 INTERN KERSTIN, who turns 14 today: "Big up yourself!"

Saturday, July 11, 2009

I might wear my Giants hat all day long

JONATHAN SANCHEZ had been the forgotten man of the pitching staff of the SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS -- my lifelong favorite baseball team.
While starting pitchers Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Randy Johnson and unheralded rookie Ryan Sadowski took turns contributing to the Giants' surprising season (Barry Zito who?), Sanchez had been banished to the bullpen to rediscover his seemingly lost potential.
The 26-year-old lefthander only started last night's game against the SAN DIEGO PADRES because Johnson is out injured.
Boy, what a return for Sanchez.
"Sanchy" threw the first NO-HITTER by a Giant since John Montefusco's in Atlanta on Sept. 29, 1976, the first at the club's China Basin home park, the 17th in franchise history and the first in the majors since the Cubs' Carlos Zambrano no-hit Houston last season.
The Giants won, 8-0, and Sanchez was nearly perfect. He walked none and only a Juan Uribe error kept Sanchez from tossing a perfect game.
It's another shining moment during a season of pleasant surprises for the Giants. If someone had told me in March that the Giants would be 10 games above .500 on the morning of July 11, I would have said:
"You mean the Yomiuri Giants?"
I have vowed not to take anything for granted this season. I am going to watch or listen to every game possible.
This year in particular, you never know what might happen.

Friday, July 10, 2009

The Friday Question that sleeps in a coffin

Edward Cullen seems to get all the press these days, but vampires have been swooping through popular culture for years.
Dracula, Lestat, Blacula, David from "The Lost Boys," Count Von Count...
Thinking about all these blood-drinkers brings us to this week's FRIDAY QUESTION:
"Who is your favorite vampire?"
KERSTIN H. -- OMG it's so EDWARD CULLEN!! i love his hair and yeah!
MIKE D. -- I was raised on Bela Lugosi, but a nod has to go to Joe Flaherty's Count Floyd, host of the fictional "Monster Chiller Horror Theater" on the early 1980s comedy show "SCTV." Blah, blah!
RICK T. -- There's only one REAL vampire, Bela Lugosi!!!!!!!! He scared the crap out of me when I was a kid.
INGER H. -- Oh, the girl in the Swedish film "Let the Right One In" is awesome... it's such a great movie too. Whoever gives thought to pre-teen vampires? Their troublesome need for fresh blood? Incredible movie, a must-see for anyone interested in the genre. And it's Swedish! Who would've thought?!
BEKAH P. -- I loved Lestat when I got addicted to the Interview With a Vampire series, but my favorite, by far, without any hesitation is the Sesame Street character, Count Von Count. He never sucked the fun out of numbers...
JEFF T. -- The mistletoe plant -- it feeds on the nutrients and water of host trees and gives me a great excuse to plant one on my wife during the holidays.
ERIK H. -- I liked Christopher Lee in the Hammer Dracula series.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Waking from one surreal scene to another

I just woke up from a very vivid dream about a group of teenagers emotionally crushed by the death of one of their popular friends in an accident involving:
1. A car crash.
2. A big tree.
3. Grotesque Halloween makeup worn by the victims.
I had just stepped into jam-packed funeral home when my alarm went off.
Now, about 45 minutes later, I am experiencing yet another surreal scene:
ENGLAND are at an astonishing 419 for 8 because of a couple tailenders in the second day of the first ASHES TEST.
Graeme Swann has 40 and James Anderson has 26. The pair have been swatting fours against AUSTRALIA, whose bowlers must feel like SUBCONSCIOUS I did when I surveyed the debris-strewn accident scene in my dream.
"Tailenders" are generally poorer batsmen at the bottom of the batting order. Think of a light-hitting shortstop and an American League pitcher batting in an interleague game for North American comparison purposes.
Tailenders are not generally known for blasting fours -- somewhat analogous to a ground-rule double in baseball.
Anderson just got caught out "shamefully," according to the online radio commentary of the BBC's TEST MATCH SPECIAL.
Perhaps this morning's dreamlike state is finally beginning to fade?

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

The triumphant return of cricket on the radio

"Have you discovered Twitter, Geoffrey? You're a bit of twit."
You never know what you're going to hear on TEST MATCH SPECIAL, the radio commentary on Test CRICKET from the BBC.
I am listening to TMS (as it is known) online this morning for a very special occasion: The first match of the 2009 ASHES.
One of international cricket's greatest rivalries, the Ashes is a Test cricket series played between ENGLAND and AUSTRALIA.
Played biennially -- alternately in England and Australia -- the series dates to 1882.

England and Australia lined up for the 65th time today, in CARDIFF (which isn't in either England or Australia, come to think of it).
England won the toss and elected to bat.
The "home" side are currently at 51 runs scored against one wicket taken.
England batsman ANDREW STRAUSS (confusingly born in SOUTH AFRICA) has scored 30 runs.
The Ashes includes five Test matches, two innings per match, under the regular rules for international Test-match cricket. The teams compete for a terracotta urn, reputedly containing a burnt cricket bail.
The urn's creation stemmed from a satirical obituary of English cricket following an 1882 defeat by Australia in London.
Confused yet? Try listening to the cricket on the radio!

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Mayer performs exemplary version of MJ song

I didn't see much of today's memorial to the late MICHAEL JACKSON, but the two moments I saw on television did move me.
I thought BROOKE SHIELDS delivered a poignant address full of memories -- including of her and THE KING OF POP sneaking in to see Elizabeth Taylor's wedding dress.
JOHN MAYER (pictured) also did an exemplary job -- and I am not normally a Mayer fan -- with a memorable instrumental.
"That's 'HUMAN NATURE' -- an instrumental version," I told KERSTIN while we watched during my brief lunch break during a busy work day.
"How do you know what song it is, after four notes," Kerstin asked.
"It's one of my favorite songs," I answered.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Khan Mohammad helped usher in Pakistani cricket

I realize we have been inundated by celebrity deaths recently, but please bear with me. KHAN MOHAMMAD has died in London, and I would be remiss not to mark his passing.
Born in Lahore, Punjab, Khan Mohammad was more than just a member of PAKISTAN'S first Test cricket team -- the group that inaugurated Pakistan's place on the world sports stage with a match against rivals INDIA in 1952.
An opening bowler, he holds the distinction of bowling Pakistan's first ball and taking Pakistan's first wicket in Test cricket.
It wasn't all glory for Khan Mohammad, however, as he holds a rather infamous distinction as well.
When Garry Sobers scored 365 not out in 1957-58 in Kingston, Khan Mohammad struggled against the West Indies' legend, giving up 259 runs in 54 overs. Khan Mohammad had been living in the United Kingdom for the past 40 years.
Cricket fans haven't forgotten him and his 13 Test matches. Khan Mohammad died age 81 on Sunday.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Saints win clash of the AFL titans

Did you feel the shock waves where you were?
No, probably not. With the Wimbledon men's final and a full day of baseball, it's understandable that you missed one of the epic battles in AUSTRALIAN FOOTBALL HISTORY.
Undefeated ST. KILDA beat previously undefeated defending champions GEELONG, 14.7 (91) to 13.7 (85), with Michael Gardiner kicking the winning goal in the final 90 seconds.
I have always had a soft spot for the winning Saints, because they won the AFL GRAND FINAL (the Down Under version of the Super Bowl) the year I was born.
Today's meeting of the undefeated league leaders was one of the most-hyped encounters in recent Australian sporting history. According to accounts, it more than lived up to the billing. St. Kilda held a 23-point advantage eight minutes into the fourth and final quarter.
Geelong fought back with five of the next six goals (goals count for six points, remember?) to level the scores with only five minutes remaining.
That set the stage for Gardiner to kick his fourth goal and the match-winner for the Saints -- on his 30th birthday, no less.
Nick Riewoldt (pictured, three goals) and Justin Koschitzke (two goals and a one-point behind) also helped power the St. Kilda attack.
Jimmy Bartel grabbed six marks to help propel Geelong's rally in the second half.
The rally wasn't enough, however, and now St Kilda stands proudly alone in first place with its record an unblemished 14-0.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

A book, an album and a shared Helena experience

Decemberists' singer/songwriter COLIN MELOY and I have at least one thing in common: We were both living in HELENA, MONT., when our respective parents divorced.
Our paths diverged somewhat at that point. Meloy stayed in Helena en route to indie music stardom, while I moved back to my native California en route to eventually starting this blog.
Here's another similarity: We both love "LET IT BE" by THE REPLACEMENTS.
Meloy wrote a 106-page essay on "Let it Be" for Continuum's "33-1/3" book series on classic albums.
Instead of merely reading it, I practically consumed Meloy's book this morning.
Rather than detailing the album's specifics, Meloy wrote a poignant memoir about how the 1984 college rock classic accompanied his adolescence in Montana's capital. "Let it Be" arrived in Meloy's life just as he was "listening to music like it was medicine."
"I listened to 'Let it Be' endlessly," Meloy wrote. "The record seemed to encapsulate perfectly all of the feelings that were churning inside me. The leap from seventh to eighth grade had felt like a quantum shift and my head was reeling from the changes."
As I continued reading, I learned Meloy and I have a few other things in common, including uncles living in EUGENE, ORE.
We also share a deep love of music, and are cognizant about how it weaves through the threads of our daily lives.

Friday, July 03, 2009

Do fries come with that Friday Question?

Summer and food go together like, well, like autumn and food, and winter and food and even spring and food.
Where was I? Oh yeah.
Summer and food go together and burgers seem like a quintessential summer food, so this week, ROUTE 1 readers were asked their response to the following FRIDAY QUESTION:
"What kind of burger do you like best?"
RICK T. -- BIG ole burger, grilled with two slices of cheese, catsup and pickles. Yum Yum!!!!!!!
KERI M. -- Any Cheeseburger that is BBQ'd at my sisters, brothers, boyfriends or Mom & Dads. I don't have a BBQ. A close second is Fatburgers.
LISA Y. -- Very thin, with mushrooms and Swiss....yum!
JOHN S. -- I love the Whiskey River BBQ Burger at Red Robin.
ROBERT H. -- We just got a Fuddruckers (formerly Mother Fuddruckers - I think Mother was the bakery part) here in Reno. It is and has been my favorite since they opened one in Concord where I lived many, many years ago. So for my birthday, I requested a trip to the best, build-it-yourself, ultimate hamburger joint ever, where you can order the patty (1/3 to five pounds) to your preferred doneness - I like mine pink in the middle and juicy. Then take that perfect Black Angus patty on a fresh baked bun to the produce and trimmings counter and load it up with fresh sliced tomatoes, onions, leaf lettuce and whatever else your heart desires. Yummmmmmm!
BRIAN M. -- One with all the assumed essentials (lettuce, tomato, pickle, onion) with pepperjack cheese and jalapeno peppers. Bleu cheese and bacon's pretty darn good, too.
JEFF T. -- Lately I've had a yang for a southwestern flair- a burger dressed with grilled green chilis and onions, some jack cheese, and a thick chile-verde salsa topper... MMMMMMMM......
BEKAH P. -- Big ones.
KERSTIN H. -- Cheeseburger with sautéed onions.
MIKE M. -- Frikadelle im brötchen nach einem 20k Volksmarsch ist sehr gut!
ERIK H. -- I recently had the best burger I have ever had during a stop in Schaumburg, Ill. The Chicago Uno Grill restaurant there offered a gorgonzola burger than was unbelievably good. The burger itself tasted like it had just come off someone's backyard grill. The Gorgonzola was melted along with some sautéed onions.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Their weather could help your band

Azerrad writes detailed profiles of bands that helped define underground rock in America, before the commercial breakthrough by Nirvana.
I just completed the HÜSKER DÜ profile. Later today, I will begin reading the profile of THE REPLACEMENTS.
Both bands emerged from the Twin Cities, and Azerrad describes the prominence of MINNEAPOLIS at the time:
"By 1984, Minneapolis was pop music’s ‘it’ city, thanks to the Midas touch of R&B production team Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis and a diminutive virtuoso named Prince, who was going supernova with his album and movie, ‘Purple Rain.’ And the city also boasted several critically lauded underground bands, including Soul Asylum, the Magnolias and the Replacements. Minneapolis happily embraced the attention -- it was novel for this white-bread, snowbound town to be considered hip, and for a city that had long strived to be cosmopolitan, something of a vindication." I would argue that the snowbound nature of the place helped foster its prominent place in musical annals. On a snowy, cold night, there probably wasn't much else to do but rehearse or put on shows. All of that weather-enforced practice had to have helped.