Monday, August 31, 2009

It seems like a world away

We listened to KNX 1070 online this morning to continuous coverage of the SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA wildfires.
The massive Station Fire in the Angeles National Forest nearly doubled in size overnight, threatening 12,000 homes.
We heard that the fire had burned 134 square miles of brush and trees and was just 5 percent contained.
Here, fall-like conditions meant we could see your breath when we stepped outside.
It seemed surreal that at least 6,600 homes in my native state were under mandatory evacuation orders, after burning at least 18 homes.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

And now, a word from one of Maggie's sponsors

It's a special day at ROUTE 1 H.Q., and not just because this entry marks POST No. 1,500 on the blog.
No, today's really a special day because MAGGIE ELLEN KITTLE has been baptized, thanks in (small) part to her "sponsors," ERIK and JILL.
Maggie is our second godchild, after our niece GABRIELLE.
Maggie's baptism involved, from left: Pastor John Sorenson, parents Matt and Emily Kittle, Jill and me (looking rather uncomfortable in a shirt and tie, even though I wear one four days of every working week).
The ceremony was held at LORD OF LIFE LUTHERAN CHURCH, and is hereby memorialized on ROUTE 1.
Happy times!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

A "blue sky" song for another grey day

It seems like weeks since we have seen BLUE SKIES -- that's the pervasiveness of the GLOOM that had descended upon DUBUQUE in recent days.
This morning, I made my own blue sky, listening to the wonderful, 1969 Jamaican chart-topper, "BONGO NYAH" by LITTLE ROY.
Produced by the great LLOYD "MATADOR" DALEY, "Bongo Nyah" was the first of several memorable songs by Little Roy (born Earl Lowe in 1950).
Little Roy was one of the first exponents of Rastafarianism and similarly serious themes to hit the charts, thanks to songs such as "Cross the Nation" and "Father's Call."
"Bongo Nyah" fits this cultural mode, but is so catchy you almost forget the religious overtones.
I find myself trying to sing along, even though Little Roy's accent is difficult for me to comprehend at times.
The song represents bright blue skies -- at least in my mind -- and that's good enough for me.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Nothing is as relaxing as...

ROUTE 1 staff members have been so busy lately, our heads seem to be spinning.
Readers discuss relief techniques by answering this week's FRIDAY QUESTION:
"What would be your ideal way to relax after a hard day?"
RICK T. -- Nice supper and some good TV time.
KERI M. -- Depending on the time of year, hot -- on a patio with people enjoying each others company or at the gym, cold -- napping or at the gym.
JOHN S. -- I ride my bike.
SASKIA M. -- Sit on my bed with a bottle of water next to me and the TV running in the background while surfing or "socializing" or just reading on my laptop.
MARY N.-P. -- To walk down our many garden paths and soak up the beauty (in good weather) or in cold winter months, to go up to my jewelry "studio" and create
something from beads. Don't get to do either very often!
JEFF T. -- Rub my chihuahua.
STEVE M. -- Listening to good jazz and drinking a cosmopolitan. I make excellent ones!
BEKAH P. -- I would want a big mug of apple cider, a blanket, a great book and my big comfy couch. And I would want an empty house. No husband. No cat. No phone.
KERSTIN H. -- By sitting down with a good book.
LISA Y. -- Massage comes to mind....
ERIK H. -- Last night, I sipped Pinot noir, thumbed through The Atlantic and listened to music. It was heavenly.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

I am officially sick of the rain

With an Aug. 27 record 1.74 inches today and fifth-highest in DUBUQUE history 8.74 so far this month, I am OFFICIALLY SICK OF RAIN.
I tried to battle back by listening to the "TROJAN BRITISH REGGAE BOX SET" while driving around today, but it didn't really work.
Douglas, you probably remember, became the first Jamaican-born singer to top the American singles charts with his 1974 hit, "KUNG FU FIGHTING."
There's a 20 percent chance of rain tomorrow. Then, we should expect some drier conditions for the weekend.
I can't wait to see the back of this rain.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Remembering Ellie Greenwich

"Chapel of Love" by The Dixie Cups... "Be My Baby" by The Ronettes... "Da Doo Ron Ron" by The Crystals... "Hanky Panky" by Tommy James & The Shondells...
You might not remember the name ELLIE GREENWICH, but you've probably heard the songs she co-wrote with her then-husband, Jeff Barry.
Greenwich died today age 68.
"Leader of the Pack" by The Shangri-Las was one of her songs -- she co-wrote that one with Barry and George "Shadow" Morton.
According to her biography on the Songwriters Hall of Fame Web site -- she and Barry were inducted in 1991 -- Greenwich gave up a brief high school English teaching career to begin writing songs, initially in the offices of songwriting legends Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller.
Barry and Greenwich also recorded some singles under the name, The Raindrops.
The couples' later hits included Ike and Tina Turner's "River Deep - Mountain High."
Music fans will miss her contributions to pop.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

It's euphemistically called "crowd trouble"

An anguished supporter on BBC RADIO FIVE LIVE online just described tonight's HOOLIGAN BATTLE at the WEST HAM-MILLWALL derby in the CARLING CUP as a troubling trip back in time, as football violence proved it has not been completely eradicated from the game.
A 44-year-old man was stabbed as hundreds of people clashed outside West Ham's Upton Park ground.
News reports tell of thugs chipping bricks off buildings to hurl at other supporters and police.
West Ham defeated Millwall, 3-1, and Hammers' supporters prompted stoppages of play when they invaded the pitch.
I was sickened to hear of it.

Monday, August 24, 2009

An audio pick-me-up

STRANGER COLE AND KEN BOOTHE unleashed "UNO DOS TRES" and away I went to work this morning.
I needed the BOUNCY, INFECTIOUS music from "THE TROJAN SKA BOX SET, VOLUME 2" to get me going today.
School starts tomorrow, so we woke up the girls early to help prepare them. It was a struggle.
Actually, it's 7:14 p.m., and they are *still* complaining that we woke them up. Oh, and I did I mention we woke them up an *hour* later than their regular morning wake up call when school is in session?
I needed to hear songs such as "Let's Jump" by The Maytals, "Garden of Love" by Don Drummond and "Penny Reel" by Eric "Monty" Morris.
The audio equivalent of sunshine helped erase the morning struggle, and assisted in propelling me toward a rather busy day.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Ponting run out, Potter on cricket and a morning cider

I just did something I never expected -- I poured myself a CIDER at 8:38 a.m.
It's OK, though. I have been up since 5 a.m., listening to the fourth day of the fifth and final ASHES TEST -- the cricket series between ENGLAND and AUSTRALIA.
I downed several cups of coffee listening to the play on BBC RADIO'S TEST MATCH SPECIAL online.
I ate my breakfast while Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter) and Tom Felton (Draco Malfoy) discussed their love of the game while interviewed during the Lunch break.
"Test cricket is like a play in five acts," Radcliffe said. "I prefer it to Twenty20."
Me too. There's much more ebb and flow, tension and drama in the five-day version of the summer game.
So, why the morning cider?
Aussie captain Ricky Ponting was batting with authority against England's bowlers -- each successful swat of his bat seemed to diminish England's hopes for an historic victory over their antipodean rivals.
Then, seemingly out of the blue, Australia's Michael Hussey hit the ball and called for a quick single.
English cult hero Andrew "Fred" Flintoff grabbed the ball at mid on (a fielding position somewhat akin to shortstop in baseball) and took dead-aim at the wickets.
Ponting was late getting back to his crease and Flintoff's throw beat him to the wicket.
Ponting was out!
The crowd at London's OVAL cricket ground erupted, I began dancing around the kitchen, and that's when I poured myself a celebratory cider in my euphoria.
Australia's Michael Clarke was then run out (pictured) for no runs scored in the next over, and I was positively giddy -- and not because of any fermented apple juice.

Friday, August 21, 2009

FQ's Back to School Special!

It's BACK TO SCHOOL time again!
How do we know? Because here at ROUTE 1 H.Q., we have had to purchase a back-to-school item called a "GRAPHICAL CALCULATOR" for $120.
We don't even know what that is!
We do know it's the end of the work week, and time for this week's FRIDAY QUESTION:
"What was your favorite subject in school?"*
(* bonus points if it involved a graphical calculator.)
RICK T. -- I loved geography! That's one of the reasons I became a truck driver.
SASKIA M. -- Math and English (English being a foreign language for me).
BEKAH P. -- English -- hands down. And look where that got me -- writing for newspapers.
KERSTIN H. -- English. I love every part of it except the spelling.
MARY N.-P. -- Actually there were many - I loved high school (Catholic girls academy in Boulder, Colo.), but math and science classes like biology and chemistry were just the best (so why am I in a "word" business?).
JEFF T. -- Science! And it still is today!
BRIAN M. -- History, either World History as a sophomore or U.S. History as a junior. Journalism/newspaper classes were a close second.
KERI M. -- Creative writing.
JIM S. -- I loved math, until it got too advanced (geometry and beyond tested my skills and patience). I remember in 7th grade taking the pre-test to see who would advance to algebra in 8th. I had always been advanced in math up to that point and felt I aced the exam. When I saw that my name wasn't on the list, I went home and cried. The next day, I asked Mr. Donatell to double check the results, and sure enough, I had passed. Very traumatic!
ERIK H. -- Art history. I used to sketch the pieces we studied, with little arrows and sidebars peppered around the notebook, accompanying the instructor's notes. If anyone has seen my journals, you know exactly what I mean.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Vélez Sársfield and the legend with the English-sounding name

I just watched on television as visiting VÉLEZ SÁRSFIELD snatched a 1-1 draw at BOCA JUNIORS in the COPA SUDAMARICANA.
Vélez Sársfield have always been one of my favorite clubs from ARGENTINA. The club from the Liniers neighborhood of BUENOS AIRES are famous for playing the first night game in Argentine football history (1928) and for their stadium, nicknamed "EL FORTIN (THE SMALL FORT)."
I just read about one of their most famous players.

DANIEL WILLINGTON played mostly for Talleres de Córdoba and Vélez Sársfield. The Argentina international helped lead the latter club to the title in 1968.
His last name serves as a reminder that Argentina is a nation of immigrants -- even immigrants from English-speaking locales

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Not the same without the chime

We ate dinner at our friends' house today, and when ace local guitarist MATT KITTLE pulled out his BRAND NEW 12-STRING GUITAR for some songs, I immediately thought of ROGER MCGUINN and THE BYRDS.
I love the rich, ringing, chiming sound of a 12-string.
We played some Byrds' songs on the way home.
It's difficult to conceive of songs such as "I'll Feel A Whole Lot Better," "The Bells of Rhymney" or "Chimes of Freedom" played on anything but a 12-string.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

I heard one of them tonight!

1. Unimaginative COVER VERSIONS of classic songs.
Did Hilary Duff really need to sing "My Generation?"
2. "Daddy, it's not fair! I dried the dishes and put them away the last three times. It's her turn to do it!"
3. TIM LINCECUM struggling on the pitching mound.
It doesn't happen too often, but it happened tonight. I was a bad SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS fan. I switched off the game and decided to listen to some reggae instead.
I felt bad about abandoning my team, so I switched back on the game in time to hear one of San Francisco's best comeback victories of the season.
Trailing, 5-1, the Giants rallied to defeat the Reds, 8-5, in 10 innings. RYAN GARKO drove in four runs for San Francisco.
Sorry for the momentary loss of faith!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Swinging my umbrella as I walked

I left the car at work so I could walk home this evening -- it's a form of exercise that's far more interesting than spending an identical time (30 minutes) on the treadmill.
I listened to the wonderful TROJAN JAMAICAN HITS BOX SET as I walked.
The first disc covers 1960-67 and is full of classic tracks that chart the progression from Jamaican R&B to ska and on to rocksteady, before the rhythms sped up to form early reggae.
I must have looked odd(er than normal): I swung my UMBRELLA in time with the music.
I couldn't help myself!
Songs such as "YEAH YEAH BABY" by STRANGER COLE & PATSY TODD and "TIME TO PRAY" by THE MELLOW LARKS are almost too catchy for their own good.
I'll reverse the process tomorrow morning and walk to the office.
I'll probably listen to the box set again, too. I need more umbrella-swinging music in my life.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

The wonderful world of Kaiju Eiga plotting

In the far-fetched world of Japanese monster movies -- KAIJU EIGA -- few plots seem as fantastic as the one in "GAMERA TAI DAIMAJU JAIGA (GAMERA VERSUS MONSTER X)," a movie I watched on DVD this afternoon.
After archeologists transfer a statue from a Pacific island to OSAKA, a monster comes to life and comes to Japan, intent on destruction.
The monster injects some sort of poison into kid-friendly, fire-breathing GAMERA (pictured, with telephone poles sticking out of his ears), sending the giant turtle into a coma.
Two kids take a mini-sub deep into Gamera, discovering a baby version of the island monster.
Electricity jump starts Gamera's heart after the kids discover that...
Oh, you get the picture.
This 1970 film's plot is like a dream you have after eating too much junk food before bed.
I enjoyed it.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Dream debut for one of Wigan's "Three Amigos"

I just watched live on TV as visiting WIGAN ATHLETIC defeated a rather lackluster ASTON VILLA, 2-0, to give ROBERTO MARTINEZ a victory on his PREMIER LEAGUE managerial debut.
Martinez already boasts a great playing history with the club.
Wigan chairman DAVE WHELAN brought Martinez and fellow Spaniards JESUS SEBA and ISIDRO DIAZ to northwest England in July 1995, when the Latics were a lower-division side struggling for attention in a rugby league stronghold.
The trio became known as the "THREE AMIGOS," and Martinez and Diaz became the first Spaniards to play in the F.A. Cup. It was an era when foreign players remained a novelty in the English game -- particularly in the lower leagues.
Martinez spent six seasons at Wigan, scoring 23 goals, as the club began a rise to the top tier.
He entered management at a relatively young age with SWANSEA CITY -- one of his clubs as a player.
Martinez won 63 of his 125 matches in charge in Wales. He joined Wigan as manager during the recent close season.
He enjoyed a dream start today, guiding the Latics to an opening-day away win. I was pleased to see it.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Gimme, gimme shelter... and some photos, chihuahua, cookies, iPod...

Storm sirens recently sent the ROUTE 1 crew scurrying into the well-stocked storm shelter.
Well, "well-stocked" with things like, a washer and dryer, a treadmill, a tote of old soccer magazines... it was the basement, after all.
That experience got us thinking.
"Why don't we open that tote of old soccer magazines?"
Oh yeah.
That experience also got us thinking about this week's FRIDAY QUESTION:
"What one thing would you HAVE to bring with you into the storm shelter/bomb shelter/hidden bunker?"
MIKE D. -- If it was going to be long-term, my photo albums, so my family could look back and remember all the fun times we had. If short-term, chocolate chip cookies!
KERSTIN H. -- Big Bear.
RICK T. -- Pictures of my life and my wife and kids.
MIKE M. -- My tiny Dubuque bungalow has no bomb shelter, and I don't have an iPod Touch.
DAVE B. -- Pink Floyd's "The Wall."
KERI M. -- Besides my Boyfriend? My iTouch.
BEKAH P. -- Whatever book I was reading at the time. I count on other people to bring such necessities as water, food and clothing. But eventually, they are going to get bored sitting there with their ramen noodles, and they are going to want to enjoy the escape of a good story. Then the bartering begins...
MARY N.-P. -- Hmmm...husband? nooo; cats? nooo; dog? nooo? Family photos? Nope; dark chocolate? Yup, that's it!
JEFF T. -- In addition to all human family members... Pablo- our chihuahua!
ERIK H. -- I'd make sure my family made it down there (yes, even YOU, Rory). Then, I would bring my iPod. Hey... After this week's iPod mishap, would you really expect any other answer?

Thursday, August 13, 2009

iPod update: It's a miracle!

The final Apple support tip did the trick, and my dead iPod has risen again.
Thanks for all of the condolences. Or, if you offered no condolences, at least thanks for not thinking I was too much of a DWEEB.
Even though I probably am.

Tot... Mort... Muerto... Guasto...

Please forgive me for moping, but if yesterday's demise of my IPOD doesn't exactly feel like a death in the family, it at least feels like a debilitating illness in the family.
My music collection was on that little black gadget.
Sure, about 75 percent of my music collection remains on row upon row of compact discs scattered around our house, but have you ever tried to play a CD on an iPod docking station?
I tried numerous revival methods, including overnight charging, connection to a computer and simple re-booting.
Nothing worked.
JILL says I can use her iPod -- and I am grateful to her.
Still, it will take weeks to transfer all of the CDs onto her iPod -- believe it or not, we don't share an exact taste in music.
I'll never be able to perfectly replicate the playlists on my iPod. Facsimiles were on our laptop, but a recent mishap with it meant acquiring a new hard drive. Poof! Went the playlists.
So, forgive me for moping. This music fan finds himself at a loss today.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Bustling along with Benson

Is there such a thing as "bustling" music?
I think so.
Last evening, JILL and THE GIRLS moved some furniture around while I prepared my MOM'S TACO SALAD RECIPE.
"THE GEORGE BENSON COOKBOOK" played as we bustled.
The 1966 disc is one of my favorite albums.
Benson could really swing as a guitarist (an aspect of his playing that might have diminished as his commercial standing rose). The sidemen are also top-notch.
DR. LONNIE SMITH cooks up one of his patented grooves on the organ and I've already written about the distinctive sound of RONNIE CUBER on baritone saxophone.
Add guest musicians the likes of KING CURTIS, BLUE MITCHELL and BENNIE GREEN, and you have a stellar combination.
Perfect bustling music, too.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Hey, where's that big green guy?

Thanks to the Internet, we watched some JAPANESE TELEVISION coverage of the latest EARTHQUAKE to strike the country -- today in Japan and last night here.
The magnitude-6.5 earthquake struck near the coast of Japan southwest of Tokyo, injuring 110 people, damaging buildings and a four-lane expressway and triggering automatic shutdowns of nuclear reactors.
The anchors on All-Nippon News Network -- we watched on TV ASAHI -- seemed to take the quake in stride.
Why wouldn't they? Japan was still cleaning up from a typhoon that killed 14 people in the past 48 hours.
I have to admit: As we watched the coverage of the quake, I kept expecting to see a TOWERING GREEN BEAST emerge from stage right.
"Go-Go Godzilla!"

Monday, August 10, 2009

Remembering Dravecky's comeback, 20 years on

Dravecky W (1-0) 8 IP 4 H 3 R 3 ER 1 BB 5 SO 1 HR
The above pitching line doesn't even come close to doing justice to DAVE DRAVECKY and his amazing game of AUG. 10, 1989 -- 20 years ago today.
I was living in SEBASTOPOL, CALIF., at the time and I remember it well.
A veteran left-handed pitcher for the SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS, Dravecky had been struck down the previous season by a cancerous tumor in his pitching arm. He underwent surgery in October, 1988, and began to plot his comeback -- even though doctors said that the removal of half his deltoid muscle would make pitching in a big-league game nothing short of a miracle.
It was on this date 20 years ago that Dravecky beat the long odds and returned to the mound,pitching eight innings and defeating the CINCINNATI REDS, 4-3.
The comeback was short-lived, however. Five days later, Dravecky broke his arm on the mound while pitching against the Expos.
He eventually retired from baseball and in 1991, doctors were forced to amputate his arm.
Dravecky's story is a success story, though.
By taking to the mound against the Reds that day, he proved you can defeat cancer and live your life.
Dravecky gave so many people hope.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Tune for a "tropical" day

Hot and rainy, today is as TROPICAL as it gets in DUBUQUE, IOWA.
I celebrated the ISLAND VIBE by listening to a pioneering reggae instrumental, as well as the rocksteady classic that inspired it.
Engineer/producer LYNFORD "ANDY CAPP" ANDERSON created his hit single "POP A TOP" in late 1969, using the backing track of a 1968 DERRICK MORGAN song, "FAT MAN."
Capp enlisted the help of keyboard player/singer/producer LLOYD CHARMERS, who added an organ riff that copied the guitar riff of Morgan's original.
Capp added the vocal riff, "pop a top," and he had himself a hit in the Jamaica and the UK.
I listened to Capp's infectious creation before another sound -- SEVERE WEATHER WARNING SIRENS -- sent us down into the basement for a spell.
That's Dubuque's version of tropical sounds.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Returning to the powerful "Maus"

I have been reading both volumes of "MAUS: A SURVIVOR'S TALE" by ART SPIEGELMAN the past couple days.
I had read this pioneering graphic novel several years ago. Returning to it, I am reminded about the powerful story Spiegelman tells.
Jews as represented as mice in Spiegelman's novel recounting his father's struggles as a Polish Jew during the Holocaust.
"Maus" won a Pulitzer Prize Special Award in 1992 -- deservedly so, I think.
Spiegelman's work resonates long after you set the book down.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Dream a little dream of FQ

Dreams? Do they mean anything?
They do to ROUTE 1. They mean we have more fodder for the weekly FRIDAY QUESTION:
"What is your most memorable recent dream?"
MIKE D. -- A few days ago, I dreamt that my newsroom superiors were chewing me out because I didn't blog enough on the company Web site. "But I blog three times a week!" I told them.
BEKAH P. -- Um... I don't remember. That's how it usually works. The dream is awesome, but then I wake up, and it's gone. My most memorable dream ever, however, happened when I was in grade school. I was floating down the river on a raft with Huckleberry Finn. It makes no sense, I know, but it is the only dream I have a distinct memory of.
MIKE M. -- I dreamt I interviewed Tommy Lee and Pamela Anderson for Rolling Stone magazine. They were very accommodating, even took me for a spin in their SUV made of solid milk chocolate. I kept worrying about whether I should keep meticulous notes or just write the article from memory based on my impressions.
KERSTIN H. -- I had a dream that MJ came back to haunt everyone.
KERI M. -- Making out with a local radio DJ, and watching a Rider game. I told my boyfriend, so no secrets are being revealed here.
ERIK H. -- I dreamt that I was watching soccer on TV and Manchester United had signed one of the top women players in the world. There was a free kick for United just to the right of the penalty area, and the female player stepped up and bent the free kick beyond the wall and just past the goalkeeper. She became the first female to score in men’s top-flight football, and the crowd went crazy with applause.
Manchester United were wearing blue change strips, and I was wondering why they were clad in blue when I woke up. I am not really sure what this dream means, except that I know I am looking forward to watching the Premier League on television again – with or without women scoring goals.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

The song that shook me awake

An agitated dog, concerned over the girls' absence (they spent the night at their grandfather's house), triggered a restless night of fitful sleep.
Still a bit groggy (and grumpy), I attempted to leap into the day on the back of the fiery performance of "A NIGHT IN TUNISIA," the title track of a 1960 album by ART BLAKEY & THE JAZZ MESSENGERS.
Music writer Bob Blumenthal calls this rendition "one of the greatest versions of 'A Night in Tunisia' ever recorded."
High praise, I think, considering how often artists have covered the DIZZY GILLESPIE tune.
"This 'Tunisia' is something else," Blumenthal writes. "The performance is in overdrive from the opening Afro-Latin percussion ensemble."
It helps having two of my favorite horn players involved -- trumpeter LEE MORGAN and tenor saxophonist WAYNE SHORTER.
Morgan's solo on this "Tunisia" is remarkable -- even better, I think, than his version of the song on his 1957 album, "The Cooker."
By the time of the song's rousing finale, I was wide awake. And even a little less grumpy.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Tygers: Just the right sounds blaring from the speakers

I have been able to drive our NEW CAR the past couple days, and today I plugged my iPod into the car stereo's auxiliary port for the first.
I dialed up a playlist at random, and I am glad the iPod's wheel landed on "TYGERS OF PAN TANG."
The exhilarating rush of guitars perfectly suited my driving around in the sleek car.
It was yet another example that the best-sounding music comes pouring out of car speakers.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Is Kim Deal cool?

Is KIM DEAL cool?
"Kim would come straight from work, so she had skirt-suits and office pumps on a lot, and her hair all poofty, all poofed up, typical 80s. I just thought that was so interesting, because so many of the people in that scene are trying to look cool, and meanwhile, the coolest person there is dressed like a secretary. I have to say, in a day it changed my perception of what was cool."
-- TANYA DONELLY, singer/guitarist with Throwing Muses, Belly
"Obviously, at some point, she was the coolest chick in the world. She has 1950s 'hey la, hey la, my boyfriend's back' cool."
-- COURTNEY TAYLOR, singer/guitarist with the Dandy Warhols (who have a song called, "Cool as Kim Deal").
"I was so in love with Kim that I really didn't notice the rest of the band."
-- KURT ST. THOMAS, former program director, WFNX Boston.
"Kim Deal was the first female enigma in indie rock."
-- CARRIE BROWNSTEIN, guitarist/singer with Sleater-Kinney.
"With Kim, people just love her. She can just stand up there smoking a cigarette and people are just like, 'ahhh! Kim!' For whatever reason, they love her, because she's being who she is. They can totally tell. People know, they're like, 'she's legit.'"
-- CHARLES "BLACK FRANCIS" THOMPSON, singer/guitarist with Pixies.
Verdict: KIM DEAL is cool!

Monday, August 03, 2009

Remembering Billy Lee Riley

"My gal is red hot, your gal ain't doodly squat!"
I was saddened to hear of the recent death, at age 75, of BILLY LEE RILEY.
The Arkansas native produced one of the catchiest songs of the early rock era, "RED HOT," released by Sun Records on Sept. 30, 1957.
SAM PHILLIPS reportedly stalled the progress of the would-be smash by switching his promotional efforts to "Great Balls of Fire" by Jerry Lee Lewis.
Despite releasing another classic song -- the preceding "Flyin' Saucers Rock and Roll" -- Riley's career lapsed into the relative obscurity of session work and early musical retirement until his work was "rediscovered" by a host of rock revivalists in the 1970s and 1980s.
Riley received some belated recognition in the 1990s, even releasing some critically acclaimed albums.
I have loved "Red Hot" since hearing it many years ago. Who knows? If promotional efforts had gone in a different direction, everyone might have been singing its praises.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Baseball card wisdom

Gary Sheffield was a skinny little shortstop for the Brewers. Ken Griffey and Ken Griffey, Jr., were teammates on the Mariners. Lou Pinella was the manager of the Reds. Benito Santiago went by "Benny" and played for the Padres.
I have been sipping a beer, listening to the Giants' game on the radio (via and thumbing through my complete set of TOPPS' 1991 BASEBALL CARDS.
I could spend hours studying the fronts and backs of these cards.
The backs, in particular, offer a wealth of tidbits about the players' careers. Occasionally, however, the information seems rather esoteric.
Consider the following:
"Mark made an appearance in a motion picture in 1990."
-- Mark Grace, Cubs
"Roger is one of baseball's foremost practical jokers."
-- Roger McDowell, Phillies
"Delino lists music and photography among his hobbies."
-- Delino DeShields, Expos
"Cris enjoys both bass fishing and quail hunting."
-- Cris Carpenter, Cardinals
"Scott has his own rock group, named 'Scared Straight.'"
-- Scott Radinsky, White Sox
"Al earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Accounting."
-- Al Newman, Twins
"One of Walt's favorite activities is listening to the music of Bruce Springsteen. Walt has served as a guest disc jockey on an Oakland-area rock station."
-- Walt Weiss, Athletics
"Mickey lists Froot Loops among his favorite foods."
-- Mickey Tettleton, Orioles
"Mike's favorite activities are dancing and bowling."
-- Mike Felder, Brewers
The sun is shining, I am listening to baseball and looking at baseball cards. Sounds like fun, doesn't it?

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Operating in "the zone"

I've loved the PIXIES for ages, and I have often thought this band made producing great music seem like the easiest thing in the world to master -- almost as if they were a collective of musical savants.
Now, reading "FOOL THE WORLD: THE ORAL HISTORY OF A BAND CALLED PIXIES," I find I am not alone in my assessment.
"The Pixies' story is a really good example of something that has been proven time and time again: You do your best work when you don't know you're doing it," says PAUL KOLDERIE in the book.
Kolderie was the co-founder of Boston's seminal FORT APACHE studios -- the converted warehouse where the Pixies made their studio debut, "COME ON PILGRIM."
"What you need to do," Kolderie said, "is get into this zone and you don't really know what you're doing, you have got to not think about what you're doing. The Pixies were a situation that was born out of complete freedom and a healthy lack of self-censorship."
Kolderie's theory of being "in a zone" reminds me of tales of great athletes. People like Michael Jordan, Wayne Gretzky and Joe Montana -- the absolute true greats -- often described operating almost without thought, operating in a "zone" that enabled their talents to dictate their actions.
I wonder if the Pixies were operating in that same zone.