Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Not much hair, but plenty of musical style

Before racist elements appropriated their look, Britain's original SKINHEADS of 1969-70 were known for a favored style of music, not politics.
The original skins loved a type of REGGAE that often featured faster tempos than rocksteady and typically included R&B elements.
Hammond organs often featured, and a danceable beat was a requisite.
Not just any reggae tune would do for those skinheads committed to the cause of great music. They were reggae connoisseurs.
In Nick Knight's book, "SKINHEAD," he writes that "it was the aim of skinhead devotees of this music to keep up with the latest releases and consequently, white-label, i.e., pre-release, copies of records were a mark of a skin who knew his music."
Today I listened to a great memento of those times -- the Trojan compilation, "SKINHEAD REVOLT."
In one memorable stretch of the album, Clancy Eccles' "Shu Be Doo" is followed by Eric Donaldson's "Come a Little Closer."
The often-covered or versioned "Got to Get Away" by The Paragons is on this disc, as is Busty Brown's great cover of "To Love Somebody."
I can only speculate on this music's effect on the original skinheads. I do know what it does for me, though.
It makes me move!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Ellington is just the thing to warm me

John Pinamonti, writing on the Smokebox Web site, describes the DUKE ELLINGTON ORCHESTRA of the late 1930s and early 1940s as one of those things that is "just plain brilliant."
"This group is best known for the pioneering work of bassist Jimmy Blanton and the great tenor sax of Ben Webster, hence it's often referred to as 'The Blanton/Webster Band,'" Pinamonti writes. "Everybody in this band was exceptional, and it is probably the best crew that Duke ever assembled during his long career."
I have been listening to the three-disc "BLANTON WEBSTER BAND" compilation for the past two days. It is truly remarkable.
Writing about a later reissue of this set, Larry Appelbaum wrote in Jazz Times:
"Almost every track in this collection is a gem that bears repeated listening -- from the super-swingers 'Main Stem,' 'Jack the Bear' and 'C Jam Blues' to the harmonically daring 'Ko-Ko.'"
I was drawn to this music this week because it always seems to warm me, and the sudden arrival of full-fledged AUTUMN and its chill took be by surprise.
Good thing there's 66 Ellington masterpieces on this compilation. I think I am going to need a lot of warming.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Queen guitarist solves a photographic mystery

There's a story on the GUARDIAN Web site (find it here) about BRIAN MAY solving a photographic riddle. Primarily known as the legendary guitarist of QUEEN, May is also an expert in the pioneering photography of the 1850s. May is a collector of the work of T.R. WILLIAMS -- regarded as a master of the early photographic process of daguerreotype. Williams' stereoscopic-image series, "Scenes from Our Village," captivated May, who has joined with photo historian Elena Vidal to produce a book, "A VILLAGE LOST AND FOUND." No one knew the location of the village Williams featured in his famous series.
After 30 years of snooping, May believes he has solved the riddle (there is a link to an article of about his findings on May's Web site, find it here).
May is convinced that Williams's photos were taken in HINTON WALDRIST, an Oxfordshire village that was located in Berkshire when Williams photographed the scenes. May's detective work makes for interesting reading.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

I don't have plaid pyjama bottoms

The HEADACHE that struck me this afternoon was one of the worst in recent memory.
My head throbbed. I felt nauseated.
Taking pain medication didn't help. Curling up in the fetal position didn't help.
Listening to the SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS on the radio didn't help (at least the G-Men beat the Cubs, 5-1).
Finally, I decided to soak in a HOT BATH.
Before I got in, though, I wanted to find my PLAID PYJAMA BOTTOMS, because tonight is going to be C-C-C-OLD.
I rummaged through drawers.
I cleared stuff off shelves.
I winced in the PIERCING PAIN of my headache.
"Where are my plaid pyjama bottoms?"
I didn't know where else to look. Also, my head hurt so badly, I wanted to detach it and drop it from the bedroom window.
Screw it.
I'll just take a hot bath and figure out what to do after that.
I lowered myself into the steaming water with a sigh...
"I don't have plaid pyjama bottoms," I said, the realization in the bathtub coinciding with the sudden dissipation of my headache. "They're BLACK, you dork!"
There they were. Sitting in the drawer that I had rummaged through before.
My black pyjama bottoms.
I feel much better now.
Less intelligent, but better.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Saints rue their wastefulness, Cats make 'em pay

You see it in every sport --
in soccer, when a player alone in front of goal fires wide.
in baseball, when a team gets runners on base but cannot drive them home.
in American football, when a team drives inside the "red zone" but is held to field goals.
I saw it overnight in AUSTRALIAN RULES FOOTBALL, too.
GEELONG beat my favorite club, ST. KILDA, 12.8 (80) to 9.14 (68), in a 113th AFL GRAND FINAL characterized by steady rain and one team's wastefulness.
The St. Kilda Saints three more scores, 16 more possessions inside the 50-meter line and more tackles.
On several occasions in the first half, however, St. Kilda players with good opportunities to score goals (worth six points), instead shot wide and settled for behinds (worth only one point).
In essence, the Saints dominated without snuffing out their opponents.
Paul Chapman of the Geelong Cats made them pay, ultimately, but kicking the decisive goal in the final minutes of the fourth quarter.
I stayed up until 3 a.m. to watch the contest live on ESPN CLASSIC.
I am glad I did. The match was a classic, even if the outcome didn't suit me.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Our overused words and phrases

"Rory, Get Down!" "Can you please pick up your stuff?" "It's not my turn to wash dishes, I washed dishes the last time!" "D'oh!" and "¡Ay caramba!"
It's easy to spot the overused words or phrases at the ROUTE 1 WORLD H.Q.
This week, readers reveal their own conversational standbys by answering the following FRIDAY QUESTION:
"Which words or phrases do you most overuse?"
MIKE M. -- "I beg to differ" and "I need to bleed my lizard."
RICK T. -- "Ya'll!" It's my Southern thing.
KERI M. -- "Seriously," and "I'm just sayin'."
JEFF T. -- "I'm sorry Teresa" Or... "Yes Teresa, it was my fault again..." (my wife).
STEVE M. -- "You can take this job and shove it!!!"
KERSTIN H. -- "Yeah, omg and like. Yeah."
ERIK H. -- According to the girls: "That's brilliant!" According to Jill: "There's a soccer game I want to watch this weekend."

Thursday, September 24, 2009

A tie, some jazz and thinking about my uncle

I am listening to jazz (JIMMY SMITH) while I drive around and wearing my UNIVERSITY OF OREGON NECKTIE today, both in honor of my late uncle
ROGER HOGSTROM passed away over the weekend, and his funeral is today.
I wish I could be there, in TIGARD, ORE., but distance, finances and domestic commitments here (JILL is away on a business trip this week) keep me here instead.
My uncle was a U of O grad who loved jazz.
My listening to jazz and wearing a tie are little, inconsequential details, but at least to me, they show my solidarity with other members of my family on this sad day.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The day of the dust

The scenes seem like they are straight out of a film.
The worst DUST STORM in at least 70 years raised air-pollution levels to 1,500 times their normal limit in eastern AUSTRALIA this morning.
The girls and I are listening to ABC NEWSRADIO and NATIONAL RADIO online and coverage of today's dust storm.
Sydney residents who woke to the "red dawn" initially feared another one of Australia's terrible bush fires was threatening the city.
Instead, dust clouds blowing east from Australia's drier-than-normal OUTBACK interior were blown hundreds of miles to the populated coastal areas. Contributing to the amount of dust is a record drought. At its peak, the dust cloud covered half of NEW SOUTH WALES.
One woman told the AUSTRALIAN BROADCASTING CORPORATION that the view out her window made her think of Armageddon.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The only thing I understand about grief is that I don't understand it

One of the things I understand about grief is that I will never fully understand it.
What I mean is, little things felt like a dagger to my heart yesterday -- like seeing a PORTLAND TRAIL BLAZERS media guide in the bookcase.
My uncle, ROGER HOGSTROM, was the biggest Blazers fan I know. He passed away over the weekend.
I feel rather helpless in the wake of his death. My cousin, PATTY, is an only child who feels understandably overwhelmed in the face of the funeral and its arrangements -- anybody know a jazz quartet that can play "SOMEWHERE OVER THE RAINBOW?"
I can't even proof read the obituary. Apparently, the REGISTER-GUARD in EUGENE just gives you a form to fill out, and they do the rest.
I have been able to do one thing for my cousin during this difficult time. She has asked me what to expect from grief, I have been able to share my experiences.
One thing I don't understand about grief is how it continues to dog me, years later (my dad -- Roger's brother GEORGE -- passed away in 1992). I also don't understand how it can make you see the beauty of the present, even as you struggle with the past.
My lasting regret in life is that my dad never met my daughters -- his only grandchildren. It's a regret that threatens to gnaw at me, except...
Except that occasionally I will glimpse KERSTIN or ANNIKA (pictured) and the way they do something or the way they say something will so exactly mirror my dad that I think: "Whoah! How did that just happen?"
It's times like those, when I see a spark of my dad in my girls, that I am comforted, even in my grief.
Those are the times that I think my dad must have met the girls after all, and I just don't understand how.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Remembering Roger

I was saddened and surprised this morning to learn of the death of my uncle.
One of the last times I saw my uncle in his PORTLAND condo, his place seemed like the ultimate bachelor pad. It featured stacks and stacks of jazz on wax and -- standing silently in the corner -- an UPRIGHT BASS.
My uncle loved jazz so much, he took bass lessons.
I always thought that was cool.
In recent years, my uncle moved to EUGENE, so he could be closer to his daughter (my cousin), his son-in-law and his granddaughters.
I'm pretty sure there's jazz and Blazers' basketball in heaven. I think they probably give bass lessons, too.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Kennelly's Kerry beats Cork

Four years ago this week, I stayed up into the wee hours to watch TADHG KENNELLY celebrate on TV. He had become the first Irishman to win an AFL GRAND FINAL medal, playing for the SYDNEY SWANS.
Today, I heard Kennelly celebrating again, this time at a more reasonable hour.
Kennelly's KERRY won their 36th ALL-IRELAND FOOTBALL CHAMPIONSHIP today, beating CORK, 0-16 to 1-09, at PAÍRC AN CHRÓCAIGH (CROKE PARK).
I listened online to live coverage of the final on RTÉ RADIO 1.
Cork dominated the early stages of the match and led by three points after 15 minutes.
Kerry pulled away, however, and Tommy Walsh and Colm "Gooch" Cooper scored six points each.
GAELIC FOOTBALL is a curious sport.
To learn more about it, check out this video tutorial on YouTube (click here for Part 1).
Kennelly famously danced a jig after winning his 2005 championship medal in Australia. I bet he's dancing again today.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Lefty blazed the trail. Too many follow too closely.

I work today, and I cover a personal concert the singer/songwriter ROYAL WADE KIMES is performing for a couple in POTOSI, WIS.
I haven't heard Kimes yet, but I have a feeling he will be more authentically "country" than most of the slightly twangy pop that passes for MAINSTREAM COUNTRY MUSIC these days.
I can find examples of most types of music that thrill me. Driving to work just now, I listened to a country performer who always makes me smile -- the late and legendary LEFTY FRIZZELL.
With hits such as "If You've Got the Money I've Got the Time," "I Love You a Thousand Ways," "Always Late (With Your Kisses)" and "The Long Black Veil," Frizzell produced a template for many others to follow.
That's the problem.
Too many country musicians these days are following the template or worse -- they are simplifying even that original template to reach a money making, lowest-common denominator type of music.
I would argue piracy isn't killing music, lack of originality is killing music.
Sound-a-like songs played in endless succession on country music radio stations cheapens the music, making it less of a valuable commodity.
I actually look forward to hearing Kimes today. I don't anticipate hearing someone as original as Frizzell, but I expect to hear something refreshingly different than the polished sheen I hear whenever my wife or daughters flip the radio to a current country format.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Friday Question: Chores edition

ROUTE 1 readers are a thoughtful, trustworthy and loyal bunch.
You just wouldn't hire them to perform housekeeping duties after reading the answers to this week's FRIDAY QUESTION:
"What is your least favorite household chore?"
STACEY B. -- My absolute least favorite household chore is doing the dishes. I threw away a couple mugs during my college years that had some sort of new life form growing inside them because I waited too long to actually wash my dishes.
BEKAH P. -- Cleaning the bathroom. Especially now that I live with Mr. Man. FYI-- Guys are gross, and I refuse to deal with all of that.
KERSTIN H. -- The dishes.
MIKE M. -- Balancing the checkbook and paying bills is distressing. Just being around Maggie when she does it makes me ill.
RICK T. -- Cleaning the house.
JIM S. -- Believe it or not, I love vacuuming, doing dishes, scrubbing kitchen floors, doing laundry ... even cleaning toilets. But I can't stand dusting. I guess it just seems like a losing cause.
ELLEN B. -- Laundry!
SASKIA M. -- Taking out the trash! - I live in the country (no garbage pickup) and have to take it outside and burn it.
INGER H. -- Taking out the trash...nothing like 2 flights of stairs to make you want to cram as much into a garbage bag as possible, to say nothing about the recycling and the compost!!
LAURA C. -- It's a toss-up between putting the fitted sheet back on the bed after washing it and hand-washing silverware. Most other chores-- including sweeping the floor, raking leaves and ironing -- I actually enjoy, in a zen, chop-wood-carry-water sort of way.
KERI M. -- Cleaning the bathroom.
JEFF T. -- Mountains of toddler laundry!
LISA Y. -- I hate scrubbing the floor. Even more than getting clean laundry put away!
ERIK H. -- I actually believed my vomit-cleaning days had passed, once the girls grew out of the infant stage. Then, we became pet owners. I hate cleaning cat vomit fast enough so the dog doesn't try to eat, and vice versa.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Thanks Clancy Eccles, for helping me regain some sanity

"Don't you brag, and don't you boast, grief comes to those who brag the most."
I took a deep breath, and let it out slow as CLANCY ECCLES' song spilled out of the speakers.
"Why are you crummy, you're crummy fe true? Why are you acting like a bag a boo?"
The song "BAG A BOO (aka DON'T BRAG DON'T BOAST)" provided a valuable function this afternoon -- it helped me relax after a hectic day that came as a bit of a surprise.
About one-third of the way through a NEWSPAPER SYMPOSIUM, I learned that I would be *covering* the event as well as attending.
I don't know about you, but I take different notes -- and a different approach altogether -- when I am covering something as opposed to simply attending.
"When you were down, I helped you out. Now you've reached the top, you don't remember that."
There's a bit more stress involved, stress that Eccles' song helped eradicate.
"Why are you crummy, you're crummy fe true? Why are you acting like a bag a boo?"
The late Eccles made innumerable contributions to Jamaican music as a singer, record producer and political activist. He passed away in June 2005. "When you hear this beat I know you'll move your feet. You'll begin to wonder can you upset this beat. I'm the originator of the latest craze. I am the king of the reggae, I know my music sweet."
I credit Eccles with helping me regain some sanity.
I definitely did not want to act like a bag a boo. Whatever that means.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Nazneen's plight shows a different side to London

I'm reading a variety of materials these days, preparing for my year-end trip to LONDON (see ERIK'S JOLLY OLD ALBION blog, link on the right).
My current reading list includes the MONICA ALI novel, "BRICK LANE."
Ali writes about a young Bangladeshi woman, Nazneen, who is sent from her village to London's Tower Hamlets borough to live with her arranged-marriage husband, the much older and boorish Chanu.
Nazneen tries to give in to fate's whims, but anger and frustration about her situation boils over:
"She put three pinches of salt in with the lentils, now that they were soft enough to break down. She stirred in chili powder, cumin, turmeric, and chopped ginger. The golden mixture blew fat, contented bubbles. Nazneen tasted some from a spoon and burned her tongue. But it was her heart that was ablaze, with mutiny."
Ali's novel is a great introduction to a facet of London life an outsider rarely glimpses -- the plight of the London outsider -- and I am glad I am using this novel to augment my guide books.

Monday, September 14, 2009

West's rude behavior steals the show

This morning's breakfast table conversation has centered on KANYE WEST, and his unfathomable behavior at last night's MTV VMA show.
We had tuned in to see the long-awaited, certain-to-please, extensive "NEW MOON" trailer (it's a long story), but were instead appalled to see West leap on the stage to interrupt teen starlet TAYLOR SWIFT during her acceptance speech for receiving the award for best female video for "You Belong With Me."
Swift was talking about the difficulty country artists face gaining success on MTV when West hijacked the microphone to declare that Beyoncé should have won the award.
We thought it was a planned stunt at first -- until we saw the stunned disappointment on Swift's face.
Then, the crowd began to boo West and stood for Swift.
I was genuinely surprised that MTV didn't allow Swift to finish talking once West had been hustled off the stage. Instead, the network cut to some filmed skit to promote a new artist poll.
West issued an apology on his blog, but an all-caps written statement can't return Swift to what should have been her moment in the spotlight.
West represents a new low in the increasing rudeness of society.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Banjo Bowl victory highlights banner day

The former Blue Bombers player who called people from Regina "a bunch of banjo-pickin' inbreds" did more than insult the citizens of Saskatchewan's largest city.
He also provided the name for the BANJO BOWL, the annual post-Labour Day rematch between the WINNIPEG BLUE BOMBERS and the SASKATCHEWAN ROUGHRIDERS, annually held at Canad Inns Stadium in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
The Riders won this season's Banjo Bowl this afternoon, defeating the Blue Bombers, 55-10.
Saskatchewan's Wes Cates rushed for two touchdowns and caught a touchdown pass, while Riders quarterback Darian Durant threw for a touchdown and rushed for another.
Former Saskatchewan quarterback Michael Bishop threw two interceptions for the Blue Bombers.
I followed the Banjo Bowl -- and games in two other sports -- live online this afternoon.
The SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS defeated their arch rivals, the LOS ANGELES DODGERS, 7-2, while the SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS opened the NFL season by winning, 20-16, at the ARIZONA CARDINALS.
Add the college-football victory in the wee hours of the morning by MY BELOVED OREGON DUCKS, and today was a banner sports day!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Don't count out the champions

Don't write an obituary for MANCHESTER UNITED just yet.
That was my first thought after goals by Ryan Giggs (pictured), Anderson and Wayne Rooney lifted 10-man United over TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR, 3-1 at White Hart Lane.
I watched the match live on TV, but very nearly missed the game's first goal -- a spectacular, overhead kick by Jermain Defoe. Defoe scored it within the first minute of the match, and at the time seemed to portend an ominous result for the visitors.
Nothing could have been further from the truth, even after Paul Scholes was sent off in the 59th minute for a stupid challenge.
For all this season's talk of Manchester City, Chelsea and (perhaps) Liverpool, the champions demonstrated today that they are not quite prepared to relinquish their crown.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Missing that gig

Sorry for the delay in today's post, but ROUTE 1 had a rare Friday off work, and could not pass up the opportunity to sleep in.
There are opportunities people do pass up, which brings us to today's FRIDAY QUESTION:
"Have you ever passed up an opportunity to attend a gig and regretted your decision?"
BEKAH P. -- Yes!!!! Back story: Attended a religious school where I was told secular music was of the devil. Once I transferred to public school, I discovered the glory that is the Dave Matthews Band. For years, I have wanted to go to their concert. This year, two close guy hippie friends said we'd go, if they played in Iowa. Hallelujah! The DMB is playing in Des Moines on Sept. 26. Go to buy tickets and realize... that's my wedding day. WTF?!? Another concert foiled...
RICK T. -- I can't remember, but I'm sure I have.
JOHN S. -- I passed on a lunch with Joe Biden only to find out Cher was there as well.
JEFF T. -- I was so bummed to miss Alan Jackson last summer up at Tahoe, but given our difficult pregnancy at the time, I'm sure AJ understood.
BRIAN C. -- Singer-songwriter Dan Fogelberg, an Illinois native, played the Quad Cities several years ago. I didn't go. I checked his tour schedule periodically, figuring to go the next time he was in the region. There was no next time. He was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2004 and died in late 2007. He was just 56.
JIM S. -- I have three embarrassing instances. In order of least embarrassing: 1. I turned down a chance with my wife, Kris, to see Andrew Bird at the Busted Lift. He's gone on to become a big-time indie singer, and I have seen him perform since. 2. In college, my friend Mark called and tried talking me into seeing a guy named Elvis Costello play at a small bar in Madison. I said "Elvis Who!" 3. I waited in line overnight with Mark to purchase Bob Dylan tickets in the late 1970s. As the day of the event neared, I needed some cold hard cash and sold my tickets! I got twice what they were worth, but I still regret it. Finally saw an aging Dylan in Dubuque.
ERIK H. -- I regret it, but I also don't regret passing up an opportunity to see The Smiths in 1986. The legendary indie band were playing at Berkeley's Greek Theatre as part of the "Queen is Dead" tour, and I could accompany my sister to the gig. Little did anyone know this would be the final tour for the band. However, my dad was visiting from Oregon that day, and I decided to stay with him while my sister attended the gig. The Smiths broke up, so I'll never see them. However, my dad died within six years of that day, so I am glad I was able to spend another day with him.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Kurosawa's influence looms large in this film

"KAKUSHI TORIDE NO SAN AKUNIN (THE HIDDEN FORTRESS)" seems at times like one of those 1940s serials -- filled with action, punctuated by madcap comic relief and lurching like an old roller coaster from one cliff-hanger to the next.
The 1958 film by AKIRA KUROSAWA clearly influenced GEORGE LUCAS and the making of the original "STAR WARS" film, I decided, while watching the Japanese film last night.
TOSHIRO MIFUNE plays General Rokurota Makabe, one of the last surviving samurai of the Akizuki clan, enlists the help of two greedy and almost entirely bumbling peasants, Tahei and Matashichi (familiar Kurosawa stock players MINORU CHIAKI and KAMATARI FUJIWARA), to smuggle a princess (MISA UEHARA) and the clan's remaining gold across enemy lines and into safer territory.
I could see clear parallels between the misadventures of the two peasants and the exploits of C-3PO and R2-D2 in "Star Wars."
Lucas made his bumbling pair helpful and loyal, however, in marked contrast to Kurosawa's peasants.
"Kakushi Toride no san Akunin" is thoroughly enjoyable. I highly recommend it!

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Remembering Ray Barrett

Australians probably remember RAY BARRETT for his role in "The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith."
Barrett, who died yesterday age 82, was a prolific AUSTRALIAN actor of the stage and screen.
Others may recall Barrett voicing John Tracy, THE HOOD (pictured) and numerous secondary characters on Gerry Anderson's "THUNDERBIRDS."
I watched the inaugural "Thunderbirds" episode -- featuring the evil Hood -- last night on DVD, in memory of Barrett.
I am not entirely certain what it means to be a "consummate" actor, but my definition would be an actor who fades into the background as his characters come to life.
With Barrett, I cannot recall what his "real" voice sounded like. I'll never forget the voice of The Hood, though.
To me, that makes the late Barrett a consummate actor.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

A good tune never gets old, it just gets recycled

"Forward and payaaka, manhangle and den go saaka."
The above bit of Jamaican Patwa, or creole, opens the deejay song, "DRAW YOUR BRAKES," one of the more arresting tunes on the 1972 soundtrack to "THE HARDER THEY COME" -- the album that helped spark my interest in reggae as a youth.
The song is by SCOTTY, aka David Scott, a former singer with The Chosen Few. It wasn't until later in life that I learned Scotty was toasting over an established hit from 1967, "STOP THAT TRAIN," by KEITH & TEX.
Keith Rowe and Texas Dixon for producer Derrick Harriott in the late 60s before both singers emigrated -- Dixon to Canada and Rowe to the United States.
This weekend, I created an iPod playlist celebrating the original song and some of the notable songs based on its backing track, or RIDDIM.
I open the playlist with the original, followed by "STOP THAT MAN (aka EASY RIDE)," an organ-led instrumental version released in 1969 by IKE BENNETT & THE CRYSTALITES.
The Scotty deejay version from 1971 follows the instrumental.
The playlist continues with "COOL BREEZE," a deejay song by BIG YOUTH from 1973.
I ended the playlist with "STOP THAT TRAIN," a twin-deejay version from 1983 by CLINT EASTWOOD (the Jamaican deejay, not the actor/director) and GENERAL SAINT.
There are other songs using the "Stop That Train" riddim, but I don't have them. If I do ever acquire them, I'll add them to my playlist.
A good tune, it seems, never gets old.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Hutcherson makes me drop everything

Within my growing collection of JAZZ albums, there are only a few that include a vibraphonist among the personnel, and if that vibraphonist isn't MILT JACKSON, it's likely BOBBY HUTCHERSON.
I can think of two reasons for this lack of vibraphonists:
1. It's a difficult instrument to play
2. It's a difficult instrument to play *with originality.*
Listening to "ONE STEP BEYOND" by JACKIE MCLEAN just now, I have come to the conclusion that the correct choice is probably No. 2.
I was sitting outside with the dog. She sniffed around the ground and I concentrated on PRO FOOTBALL MAGAZINES in advance of this week's Fantasy Football draft. I also listened to "One Step Beyond."
Whenever Hutcherson launched one of his vibe solos, I dropped the magazine, closed my eyes and listened as intently as I could.
Hutcherson made the vibes much more than simply banging a mallet on aluminum bars.
His improvisations were so inventive! They made me stop thinking about football statistics and start thinking about the music.
Hutcherson also stars on at least three other albums I own -- Grant Green's "Idle Moments," Eric Dolphy's "Out to Lunch" and the one currently pouring out of the speakers, "Let 'em Roll" by Big John Patton.
I sometimes think the vibes lend almost too much of a "cocktail jazz" sound to albums. Not when Hutcherson plays they don't.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

The Saints -- and Riewoldt -- keep marching on

Virtually unstoppable for most of the season, ST. KILDA moved to within a victory of an AFL GRAND FINAL appearance today.
NICK RIEWOLDT (pictured, center) kicked five goals (three in the second quarter) as the Saints beat COLLINGWOOD, 12.8 (80) to 7.10 (52), to reach a preliminary final against either WESTERN BULLDOGS or BRISBANE, who play Friday.
The Aussie Rules team who won the flag the year I was born (1966) have won 21 out of 23 contests this season at the MELBOURNE CRICKET GROUND, the spiritual home of the game.
Born in Tasmania and raised in Queensland, Riewoldt was drafted first overall by St. Kilda in 2000. His cousin Jack Riewoldt plays for Richmond.
I'll think about the Saints' win throughout this rare Sunday of working, even while covering an event that is the antithesis (I think) of Aussie Rules Football -- a ballroom dancing competition.
St. Kilda are major partners with JELD-WEN, the windows and doors manufacturers from KLAMATH FALLS, ORE., who also have plant here in DUBUQUE.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Enjoying "A Drifting Life"

Prior to about three days ago, I couldn't give two hoots about the stylistic schism that marked the maturation of adolescent-focused MANGA into the more adult GEKIGA, even though I am a lifelong admirer of all things Japanese.
Then, I began reading "A DRIFTING LIFE," the memoir/manga history by YOSHIHIRO TATSUMI.
Set in post-war JAPAN, Tatsumi's book describes -- in semi-autobiographical detail -- a young mangaka (comic artist) striving to extend his work beyond the prevailing style.
Tatsumi is now recognized as a pioneer graphic novelist -- an artist tackling adult themes in what had been a forum solely dedicated to childhood subject matter.
In "A Drifting Life," Tatsumi also offers numerous details of life in mid-20th-century Japan, when the country emerged from its humiliating defeat in the war to become an economic world power.
Even if you aren't a manga aficionado -- I certainly am not -- you will probably enjoy Tatsumi's massive, admirable work.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Always look on the funny side of life* (*may not apply for University of Oregon fans)

After watching MY BELOVED OREGON DUCKS look by turns uncharacteristically pathetic (yes, Brian M., that *was* uncharacteristic) and violently inept in their humbling, 19-8, loss to BOISE STATE last night, it's hard for me to see the funny side of anything right now.
Fortunately, ROUTE 1 readers don't share my particular pain, as they reveal by answering the following FRIDAY QUESTION:
"What is the funniest thing that has happened to you this week?"
BEKAH P. -- My Mr. Man and I were walking to the Farmer's Market. As we were walking by this large clump of trees, one of the pine trees sneezed -- or seemed to. I freaked out and jumped, and then realized there were two bratty boys in the tree branches spying on us. They saw me jump and laughed for several minutes. And they started mocking me -- out loud. I didn't find this particularly amusing, but Mr. Man did.
RICK T. -- I forgot the words to a song, right in the middle of singing it on stage.
KERI M. -- Having my cell phone dial my friend's number by itself and not realize it until I get to her house to pick her up for work.

ROSEANNE H. -- Nothing funny in this household this week - oral surgery and a colonoscopy are just plain NOT FUNNY.
MIKE M. -- Last weekend I ate the following: Queso Fundido with chorizo, fajitas with bacon and shrimp, dos Dos Equis, Little Caesars' pepperoni pizza, four hard boiled eggs, two peanut butter sandwiches, and two glasses of cranberry juice. Sunday night, I came down with this: stomach flu. Funny, but only in hindsight (pun intended).
JEFF T. -- Somewhat risk-ay... After a passing and general educational naming session for some anatomical areas earlier last week, our almost 2-year old daughter Lily was undressed and ready for a shower when she ran out into the living room, did a dance, pointed down there, and spritely chanted... "Hooo Haaa- Hooo Haaa- Hooo Haaa!"
ERIK H. -- If you mean, "funny" as in "queasy," it was watching last night's Oregon football debacle. If you mean "funny" as in "hahaha," it was opening the door to the bathroom one early morning this week and seeing cats Lorelei and Mika and puppy Rory lined up, side-by-side, waiting for me to come out of the bathroom. "Don't you guys have anything better to do? You don't even use this bathroom!"

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Face to face with Baby-Face

There's always been a shroud of obscurity over ROOSEVELT "BABY-FACE" WILLETTE.
Even the liner notes of the organist's albums from the early 1960s cannot agree on his birthplace -- New Orleans or Little Rock, Ark., are both listed -- and I have yet to read about why he slipped from the jazz scene by the early 1970s.
If they knew his music at all, jazz fans probably heard Willette on either "Here 'Tis" by LOU DONALDSON or "Grant's First Stand" by GRANT GREEN.
Before switching to organ, Willette played piano with the R&B bands of King Kolax, Joe Houston, Johnny Otis and Big Jay McNeely.
Willette only cut four albums as a leader -- "FACE TO FACE" and "STOP AND LISTEN" on Blue Note and "MO-ROCK" and "BEHIND THE 8-BALL" on Argo.
I picked up the latter two in San Francisco a couple years ago.
Today, I listened to "Face to Face" while walking to work.
Based on what I heard, Willette should emerge from the shadows.
The album is exhilarating in its propulsive groove.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

A craving for chanbara

I was craving a Japanese CHANBARA (swordplay) film, so I watched an old favorite last night on DVD.
"KIRU (KILL)" by KIHACHI OKAMOTO is actually a black-comedy -- a film that parodies many of the conventions of the traditional chanbara.
The film's characters include a peasant who wants to be a samurai (ETSUSHI TAKAHASHI) and the samurai who wants to leave the life but continually finds himself drawn back in (TATSUYA NAKADAI, one of my all-time favorite actors).
The plot elements include samurai holed up in a fortress facing long odds for survival and a treacherous samurai attempting to play both sides of the fence.
Okamoto's gift is that he can teasingly make fun of these chanbara stereotypes while keeping the viewer engaged with a fast-moving story.
After a rather stressful, two-stories-to-write day at work, laughing along to "Kiru" was the perfect way to relax.
Hey! Wasn't that last week's FRIDAY QUESTION?

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Grant Green isn't underrated in my book

It's one of those things that continually irks me.
GRANT GREEN has a one-paragraph entry in my edition of "THE ROUGH GUIDE TO JAZZ."
That makes the jazz guitarist criminally underrated in my book. He is one of my favorite musicians.
I have been listening to several of Green's albums from the 1960s the past couple days.
Green specialized in single-note playing, rather than chords, a technique that set him apart from many of his contemporaries.
Maybe he wasn't as gifted an improviser as other players, but he surely rivaled anyone for expressiveness.
After a two-story day at the office, I will be ready for some relaxation tonight.
I'll turn back to my Green CDs. He's not underrated to me.