Friday, October 30, 2009

Let's see what a little editing can do

A little editing can go a long way, so this week, ROUTE 1 cuts right to the FRIDAY QUESTION:
"If you could edit your past, what would you change?"

RICK T. -- Erase the years of drinking. What a waste of a life. Sober for over 17 years now. I learned that if you drink, you'll lose more than you'll ever know.

KERI M. -- How I was treated in school.

MARY N.-P. -- All angry outbursts and sulking -- just negativity and petulance in general (I'm working on it for the future).

JIM S. -- I never would have let my parents buy me that brown leisure suit back in '74.

MIKE M. -- Not a thing.

ERIK H. -- I would have spent more time at the beach. I feel a deep connection with the ocean -- a connection that has been missing these years in Iowa.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

"Motorin' Along" to a Philly native

Sorry YANKEES fans, but I am cheering for the PHILLIES in the WORLD SERIES.
In honor of last night's Game 1 victory, I drove around today while listening to a favorite album by a Philadelphia native, JIMMY SMITH.

"HOME COOKIN'" was recorded on three separate dates in 1958 and 1959, but this music is truly timeless.

Smith was the preeminent organist in jazz. He is joined here by guitarist Kenny Burrell, drummer Donald Bailey and a rare participant in jazz dates, the tenor saxophonist Percy France.

I drove KERSTIN to a baby-sitting assignment in the pouring rain tonight, and we listened to the track "MOTORIN' ALONG," which had been released as a single.

It seemed like a perfect accompaniment to a drive across town along rain-drenched streets reflecting street lights and stop lights.

I always return to this type of music. It makes me feel comfortable, like listening to a baseball game on the radio.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Bay Bridge nightmare from afar

We are sitting here listening to news live on KCBS ALL NEWS 740 AM & FM 106.9 online this morning.
Today's top headline in my native land is the closure of the BAY BRIDGE.
The bridge has been closed indefinitely after a rod installed during last month's emergency repairs snapped. One person was shaken up and at last one vehicle damaged in the incident.
About 280,000 vehicles cross the 73-year-old bridge every day. Commuters this morning must take BART trains or ferries from OAKLAND to SAN FRANCISCO instead. Other commuters will take a round-about route into the city, taking the RICHMOND-SAN RAFAEL BRIDGE over to the GOLDEN GATE BRIDGE.
The bridge has been closed during recent Labor Day weekends for repairs, but the traffic is much lighter during a holiday weekend than in late October.
This is one traffic nightmare I would much rather experience from afar.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

I'm ready for my closeup, Mr. Argento

If RORY THE OUTSIDE POTTY CHALLENGED PUPPY ever scripted her own personal HORROR FILM (filmed by Italian scream-master DARIO ARGENTO, of course), the scenes would play out much like our just-completed morning walk:
1. It was a morning walk. Wet pavement and leaves under paw give Rory the HEEBIE JEEBIES as a general rule.
2. The GARBAGE TRUCK drove by.
3. While Rory sniffed a tree, TWO NUT-CRAZED SQUIRRELS chased each other up the tree. Rory leaped about a foot off the ground, nearly twisting her head out of her collar.
4. The MAILMAN walked by.
5. The FIRE TRUCK -- with sirens blaring -- drove by.
At that point, I was frankly surprised Rory didn't wrestle the keys from me, race home and open the front door herself.
She is currently passed out on the couch.

Monday, October 26, 2009

There could be cheering from beyond the grandstand

I love the PORTLAND TRAIL BLAZERS because my late, OREGON native DAD loved the state's only professional sports franchise.
I think my dad loved the team so much because his brother loved them more.
That relationship makes this season -- tipping off this week -- so significant for me. It's the first Blazers season without my late UNCLE ROGER, who recently passed away.
I have been reading THE SPORTING NEWS annual NBA preview magazine the past couple days. The magazine's editors point to Portland as a team on the verge of cracking the top tier of teams.
"Portland flirted with a host of free-agent possibilities, finally settling on signing point guard Andre Miller from Philadelphia," the editors write. "Miller will get everyone involved, but it's continued success for Brandon Roy and improved play from a healthy Greg Oden that the Trail Blazers will need to take the next step."
I'm sad to think the team could take that next step without my uncle cheering them on. On the other hand, who am I to say he's not watching from beyond the grandstand?

Sunday, October 25, 2009

The battle of titans, live on television

It had the feeling of a cup final, although it was technically nothing more than an regular PREMIER LEAGUE fixture.
LIVERPOOL were staring at the shocking prospect of a worst loss of form for 56 years entering today's visit by MANCHESTER UNITED.
In the event, the hosts outplayed the visitors, with Liverpool winning, 2-0.
I watched this memorable match live on television, before heading off for a rare Sunday at work.
After a tense, goalless first half, the hosts opened the scoring in the 65th minute, with Fernando Torres bursting past Rio Ferdinand and burying a right-footed shot into the net.
The visitors attempted to answer by bringing on Liverpool old boy Michael Owen (to resounding boos by the home supporters), but substitute David Ngog left most of the Anfield crowd in a rapturous mood about six minutes into added time, when the Frenchman slotted in the home side's second.
The match featured seven bookings (Jamie Carragher receiving one, pictured) and one player from each side was sent off -- Nemanja Vidic for United and Javier Mascherano for Liverpool.
It was an engaging, entertaining occasion, and a reaffirmation of why ASSOCIATION FOOTBALL remains my favorite sport.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Enjoying an old favorite these days

Although it surrounded me as a youth, I took my time coming around to the allure of JAZZ. The past couple days, I've been listening to the album that helped me overcome my initial apathy.
"'58 SESSIONS (FEATURING 'STELLA BY STARLIGHT')" is an often-overshadowed entry in the discography of MILES DAVIS.
It's pivotal, though, and I count it among my favorite albums.
John Coltrane, Cannon Adderley, Bill Evans, Paul Chambers and Jimmy Cobb combine with Davis on this album, as they would later on "KIND OF BLUE."
Music writer Nicholas Taylor called "'58 Sessions":
"An interesting and puzzling period piece, documenting the sextet exploring a sound that would soon morph into the rich tapestry of their 1959 masterpiece... It is the snapshot of a group of musicians on the verge of greatness."
It's a thoroughly enjoyable album, which makes it easy to listen to it repeatedly -- as I have the past two days!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Funny... no one said "Raskolnikov from 'Crime and Punishment'"

Isn't fiction fun?
It has the benefits of not being real, as opposed to the cat who thought it would be a good idea to lick my head and loudly purr at 4 a.m. today. The cat was all too real.
Groggy but unbowed (well, a little bowed), ROUTE 1 hereby presents this week's FRIDAY QUESTION:
"Is there a fictional character you'd swap places with?"
MIKE D. -- Maybe Indiana Jones, until the spears started flying.
STACEY B. -- I'd swap places with Cindy Lou Who from "How the Grinch Stole Christmas." Why not live in a place surrounded by Christmas and go on an exciting adventure? I'm not sure she'd care to swap places with me, though.
JEFF T. -- I would switch places with a James for sure- James Tiberius Kirk exploring the cosmos with gunboat diplomacy, or James Bond roaming the globe, protecting the interests of Her Majesty's Government and meeting interesting people of the female persuasion...
KERSTIN H. -- OMEC! I would so swap places with Bella Swan.
MIKE M. -- "Hither came Conan, the Cimmerian, black-haired, sullen-eyed, sword in hand, a thief, a reaver, a slayer, with gigantic melancholies and gigantic mirth, to tread the jeweled thrones of the Earth under his sandalled feet."
RICK T. -- Superman! Then I'd look for all those people who bullied me when I was a kid. (Called gettin' even!)
GARY D. -- My first thought is Erik Hogstrom. I'm not sure he really exists. In lieu of that, I'd go with Gulliver, of "Gulliver's Travels."
JOHN S. -- I think it would be crazy fun to be Superman!
ERIK H. -- Since I was a kid, I have wanted to swap places with my favorite comic book character, Will Eisner's "The Spirit." Presumed dead, detective Denny Colt instead establishes a base under a cemetery and begins battling the criminal element of Central City. I loved his dress: He wore a small domino mask, blue business suit, red necktie, fedora hat and gloves. I don't think he wore socks, though, and I *know* he didn't have a cat that woke him up at 4 in the morning.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

With The Jam, even a "minor" song was brilliant

"So this is the modern world. I'm glad they told me. For an instant, I'd thought I'd been transported back to 1965."
-- Mick Farren, writing in the NME, October 1977.
This morning's COLD, WET WEATHER made me reach for "THE JAM'S GREATEST HITS" CD for my drive to work.
The brilliance of the songs made me sing along.
"What kind of fool do you think I am? You think I know nothing of the modern world."
While singing along to the October 1977 single "THE MODERN WORLD," I recalled that by The Jam's ridiculously high standards, this tune has been considered one of the band's minor works.
"Nicking the main riff from The Who's 'Pictures of Lily,' The Jam sound angry and concerned but not convincing enough to carry the song fully," wrote PAOLO HEWITT in "THE JAM: A BEAT CONCERTO." "A step sideways rather than forward, it could only reach 36 in the charts before dropping."
I admit the song pales in comparison to classics such as "Going Underground," but as I sang along en route to work, I thought:
How many bands would *kill* to have songs like this in their repertoire?

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

A funny film about redemption

Tennis Announcer 1: That's 72 unforced errors for Richie Tenenbaum. He's playing the worst tennis of his life. What's he feeling right now?
Tennis Announcer 2: I don't know, Jim. There's obviously something wrong with him. He's taken off his shoes and one of his socks and... actually, I think he's crying.
I watched one the WES ANDERSON film "THE ROYAL TENENBAUMS" on DVD last night.
The film has grown on me, and I particularly like it because of its theme of redemption.
There's forgiveness and unsuspected or emerging goodness throughout this film, even in characters not always shown in the best light.
Royal: Richie, this illness, this closeness to death... it's had a profound affect on me. I feel like a different person, I really do.
Richie: Dad, you were never dying.
Royal: ...but I'm gonna live.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

"Those are rugby uniforms?"

Visiting STADE FRANÇAIS dealt BATH a crucial defeat in rugby union's HEINEKEN CUP last night, but the discussion around our breakfast table centered on the French club's wild uniforms.
"Those are rugby uniforms?"
ANNIKA for one couldn't believe a team of tough guys would take the field in pink. Don't get me wrong: The consensus was we like the unusual color scheme.
"I like them because they're pink, and I like pink," Annika said.
Julien Dupuy kicked his seventh penalty a minute from time to condemn Bath to their second successive defeat in the European competition, 29-27.
Bath face an unprecedented challenge: No team has ever reached the cup's quarter-finals after losing their opening two group games.
Stade Français is based in the 16th arrondissement of PARIS and plays in that country's top-tier domestic competition, called TOP 14.
Stade Français was founded in 1883, and participated in the first French championship final in 1892. The club spent about 50 years in the lower divisions of French rugby, until a rejuvenation begun in 1992.
The club has captured four French championships in seven years, and apparently won the right to wear any color they wish.

Monday, October 19, 2009

It's Number One... in my head

I blame Kwasi Danquah for the song stuck in my head.
The British vocalist is better known by his stage name TINCHY STRYDER, and his collaboration with the trio N-DUBZ, "NUMBER ONE," is the song in question.
A native of LONDON'S EAST END, Danquah breaks a few of the hip-hop stereotypes. He is a college graduate, having completed his bachelor's degree in moving image and animation at the University of East London.
I don't know how many of his college film tricks were included in his video (click here to see it), but it is rather fun.
The song is catchy as hell, and became the first titled "Number One" to hit the top spot on the British pop charts. It held the summit for three weeks in May of this year.
I purchased the song this weekend on iTunes -- it is included on a collection of similarly catchy club hits: "NOW THAT'S WHAT I CALL DANCE IMPORTS." So far, however, none of the other songs have dominated my consciousness quite like "Number One."

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Funny Old Game, Beach Ball Edition

They say it's a FUNNY OLD GAME, and they're correct.
The latest bizarre episode in the long history of ENGLISH FOOTBALL occurred yesterday at the Stadium of Light in SUNDERLAND.
Darren Bent of the home side struck a ball that deflected off a BEACH BALL and into the LIVERPOOL goal for the only score of the game.
The 1-0 Sunderland victory enabled the Black Cats to leapfrog Liverpool into seventh place in the PREMIER LEAGUE.
The bitter irony for supporters of the Reds is that the ball was apparently thrown onto the pitch by one of their own.
Media reports after the match and today suggest the referee erred in allowing the goal to stand.
FIFA's "Interpretation of the Laws of the Game and guidelines for Referees" states that "the referee stops, suspends or abandons the match because of outside interference of any kind."
Given the beach ball should not have been on the field, so the referee should have stopped the match once it interfered with play.
Yep... Funny old game.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

The day my world shook -- even if I didn't feel it

I'll never forget where I was at 5:04 P.M., on TUESDAY, OCT. 17, 1989.
I was driving home, traveling west on California 116 between Rohnert Park and SEBASTOPOL, Calif., after a rather long day at work in a computer tape library in Bel Marin Keys, Calif.
I'll never forget what I was doing at 5:04 p.m., either.
I had tuned the car radio to KNBR 680 AM, so I could listen to the pregame broadcast of the third game of the World Series -- a series that featured our local teams, the SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS and the OAKLAND ATHLETICS. I hoped the Giants could improve on their Game 2 showing. The A's beat the Giants in that game, 5-1, and I was in attendance at the Oakland-Alameda Coliseum (still the only World Series game I have attended).
The road was bumpy and my car was old, so I didn't notice any unusual vibrations.
Instead, I just knew something was wrong when the radio went dead.
I tuned to a the dial locations of a few other stations. Nothing. I knew the radio worked because I could hear static.
I pulled the car into the parking lot of the condominium complex where I lived with my family in those months following college.
Residents were standing around by the swimming pool, and one stepped over to me as I climbed out of my car.
"Your cat ran away when the waves were splashing in the pool," she told me.
A large swath of northern California reeled from a 6.9-magnitude earthquake -- the biggest in my lifetime -- and I hadn't felt it. I first learned about it because roiling water of the swimming pool had apparently frightened my cat.
A neighbor and I raced up the steps to my home.
The cable was out, and we couldn't get any of the San Francisco television stations on a set using "rabbit ear" antennas.
A Sacramento television barely came in, and the details were sketchy.
Local broadcasting resumed soon enough. How can I ever forget the images of house fires in San Francisco's Marina district, the collapsed Cypress structure of Interstate 880 in my birthplace of OAKLAND and the bent upper deck of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge.
I could reach my sister INGER in Oakland. The quake smashed household items throughout her apartment.
I couldn't contact my girlfriend (eventually wife) JILL in Iowa, though, in those days before ubiquitous cell phones.
My family felt lucky to have emerged unscathed from the disaster, but a dread permeated our thoughts and conversations.
An unsettling fear and feeling of helplessness gripped people -- even those without damage. It seemed frightfully unreal to have a disaster hit so close to home.
That feeling is probably one of the reasons why I'll never forget where I was and what I was doing at 5:04 p.m., on Tuesday, Oct. 17, 1989, even though -- truth be told -- I never felt a thing.
(A similar version of this story recently appeared in the "LIFE IN THE TRI-STATES" blog on -- click here. Please visit for a wide variety of insights into daily life.)

Friday, October 16, 2009

True story: I actually traveled back in time and posted this on Wednesday

Time travel has fired the public's imagination since 1895, when ROUTE 1 traveled back in time and said to H.G. WELLS:
"Yo, H.G., you should write a story about time travel, and you could call it 'The Time Machine.' Trust us on this one."
To which H.G. replied:
"Why are you wearing a shirt that says 'Portland Trail Blazers?' I only implanted a computer chip in Dr. James Naismith four years ago to cause him to invent basketball."
Sure it complicates things, but time travel remains a popular pastime. You haven't tried it?
Oh my. Well, this week, our readers can help, offering some tips by answering the following FRIDAY QUESTION:
"You have a time machine. Where do you go, when and why?"
ROSEANNE H. -- If I had a time machine I would beam myself up and over to Rhomberg Street in Dubuque right now to see my favorite son and his family.
RICK T. -- I would go back to 1957 so I could spend some time with my dad. I was 11 years old when he died in 1960. I'd like to take him to a ball game.
STEVE M. -- To Abbey Road Studios June/July 1968 and watch the Beatles recording the White Album.
MIKE D. -- I would visit some of Dubuque's hot spots -- like Union Park and Melody Mill -- in their hey days to experience the hoopla of each era of the city's history. On the way to and fro, I'd also stop by and relive my childhood.
KERSTIN H. -- I would go to a Beatles concert in England because they rock.
JIM S. -- So many cool choices ... I'd pick Jesus' Sermon on the Mount No. 1, even if I couldn't understand his language. I'd just want to experience the aura of his presence and the wonder of the people surrounding him. Second choice would be Lincoln's Gettysburg Address. I'd squish up as close as possible to hear what this great man's voice actually sounded like. I'm sure I'd be surprised by what I heard.
MIKE M. -- I would use the machine to skip the time between Thanksgiving and New Year's. Happy Holidays!
KERI M. -- Back to when I was in Grade 1. I went to the best school ever. It is shut down now.
JOHN S. -- July 4th, 1776 to see the signing of the Declaration of Independence.
ERIK H. -- I would dial up 3:58 p.m., Oct. 3, 1951, to see Bobby Thomsen hit the "Shot Heard 'Round the World" that gave the Giants a 5-4 victory over the Dodgers and the National League pennant. I would probably start chanting "Beat L.A., Beat L.A.," though, and the rest of the people in the stands at the Polo Grounds would give me strange looks until I climbed back into the time machine.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

"No but yeah but no but yeah but no..."

I amused myself last night by watching a few episodes of the BBC series "LITTLE BRITAIN" on DVD.
DAVID WALLIAMS and MATT LUCAS shared the comedy spoils in the 2003 first series, playing a variety of off-beat characters.
One of those characters is Lucas' VICKY POLLARD, a fast-talking girl from the wrong side of town.
In her memorable first appearance, she finds excuses for not turning in a school essay:
Mr Collier (instructor): Vicky, it’s been two weeks now and I still haven’t received your essay on Lord Kitchener.
Vicky: No because what happened was was I was going round Karl’s but then this whole fing happened because Shelley Todd who’s a bitch anyway has been completely going around saying that Destiny stole money out of Rochelle’s purse but I ain’t never not even spoken to Rochelle ‘cause she flicked ash into Michaela’s hair.
The printed word cannot do justice to Lucas' Vicky, because the character is actually saying lines at what appears to be 100 mph.
Mr Collier: Vicky, I’m not interested in that. I’m more interested in your coursework.
Vicky: No because what happened was was this whole fing happened what I don’t even know nuffin about because Ashley Cramer has been going around saying that Samantha’s brother smells of mud but anyway shut up I ain’t never even stole no car so shut up.
Mr Collier: Vicky, have you even started this essay?
Vicky: No but yeah but no but yeah but no but yeah no but yeah but no because I’m not even going on the pill because Nadine reckons they stop you from getting pregnant.
Laughing along -- even during those moments when I was not entirely sure what was going on -- was a great way to relax last night.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Rod's song perfectly fits my sleepy mood

"But I'm so tired, I just got to get home. So tired, I just got to get home." It was coincidental or ironic -- I am too tired to work out which.
Driving home tonight and listening to some early solo songs by ROD STEWART, I found myself singing along to the song "SO TIRED."
I *was* tired -- quite tired -- after beginning my work day before 7:30 a.m.
I had to cover a burger-making competition at a local RED ROBIN restaurant.
By the time I got home, I just wanted a cider and some sleep. "And I'm so tired, I just wanna go home. So tired, I just wanna wanna wanna go home."

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Following the storm from afar

The strongest October storm in 47 years is sweeping through my native BAY AREA today -- it's one of those rare occasions when our weather betters their conditions.
I am listening to coverage of the storm on KCBS 740 AM online.
More than 9 inches of rain has fallen on Mount Tam, and more than 7 inches in the Santa Cruz Mountains. The Richmond-San Rafael Bridge is closed eastbound. As many as 89,000 customers are without power, and residents in areas ravaged by summer fires now fear mudslides.
The news includes a "transmission emergency" because of a blown over line in San Benito County.
We'll get our share of BAD WEATHER this year.
For now, I am happy to experience an historic storm from afar.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Later, I'll wrap myself in a Union Jack and sing "God Save The Queen"

These slate-grey skies, the cider I'm sipping, the vintage ska bubbling out of my iPod's earbuds -- it has surely stoked my anticipation for my trip to LONDON (26 Dec. to 5 Jan).
I took a VACATION DAY today -- one of those "MENTAL HEALTH DAYS" you hear so much about.
I have been dreadfully busy at the office, and never really seemed to take a breath after learning of the death of my UNCLE ROGER.
I spent the morning cleaning the kitchen while listening to BBC RADIO 5 LIVE online.
Now, I am sipping the aforementioned cider, listening to ska and wondering if I should drag out my MASSIVE TOTE OF WORLD SOCCER MAGAZINES.
I am thinking the latter sounds like a wonderful idea.
First, however, I want to try to find some information about CAMBRIDGE CIRCUS (pictured) in THE ROUGH GUIDE TO LONDON.
Hmm... I just remembered... I recently watched an episode of "LITTLE BRITAIN" on DVD... then, I purchased fish fillets and waffle fries to make FISH 'N' CHIPS for dinner tonight.
My "Mental Health Day" is turning into a 24-hour period of RIDICULOUS GREAT BRITAIN OBSESSION. What's so "mentally healthy" about that, then?
Oh, I think I might have set a record for ALL CAPS COLORED LETTERING IN A ROUTE 1 POST as well.
I love days off!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

A Stephen Gately tribute from a secret Boyzone admirer

I'll admit it. BOYZONE provided me with a secret, guilty pleasure.
I always liked the juxtaposition of STEPHEN GATELY and his sweet voice against the gruffer tones of RONAN KEATING in Boyzone, Ireland's first boy band.
That's why I am so saddened by the death of Gately, age 33, in Majorca, Spain.
Check out the video for one of the band's six UK No. 1 hits, "NO MATTER WHAT," for an example of how Gately and Keating worked so well together (click here).
I also liked their cover of the Billy Ocean song, "WHEN THE GOING GETS TOUGH" (click here).
Gately joined Boyzone in 1993 after answering an ad in Dublin to audition for Ireland's first boy band.
His announcement in 1999 that he was gay generated banner headlines. Cynics would quip about boy bands in general: "Aren't they all gay," but Gately's coming out took real courage -- the band sold millions of records to legions of female fans.
He married his civil partner, Andrew Cowles, in 2006. Cowles accompanied Gately to Majorca.
In the above photo, Gately is in the lower-right-hand corner. He had a great voice, perfectly paired with Keating's, and Gately will be missed.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Birth of a great, lost rhythm section

With the white flakes blowing outside the window this morning, it seems like a perfect opportunity to sip coffee and snuggle up to some jazz music.
I have been listening to "HERE 'TIS," a pioneering soul-jazz album by LOU DONALDSON.
I am most intrigued by the rhythm section -- one of my absolute favorites -- guitarist GRANT GREEN, drummer DONALD BAILEY and organist ROOSEVELT "BABY FACE" WILLETTE
making its recorded debut.
Willette is one of my musical obsessions. He appeared to be a rising star in the fabulous BLUE NOTE stable of the early 1960s, only to disappear into the obscurity of a South Side of Chicago jazz lounge before his early death.
Critic Bob Blumenthal wrote about the Green-Willette pairing on Blue Note:
"While Green went on to become a signature artist for the artist for the label, Willette would resume the wanderlust and obscurity that marked his early career in a matter of months. Before taking to the road again, the organist created three more memorable albums with Green, two of which ("Grant's First Stand" and his own "Face to Face") were taped within a week of "Here 'Tis."
I am going to listen all three albums today -- a surprisingly cold day with hints of winter and seemingly tailor-made for some warm jazz.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Wishes for wardrobes

You know how, sometimes you're talking about the marauding barbarians who helped bring down the Roman Empire and the conversation eventually shifts to a discussion about letterman jackets?
Yeah well, this is one of those times as ROUTE 1 readers answer the following FRIDAY QUESTION:
"Is there a clothing item you have always wanted to wear, but haven't?"
MARY N.P. -- OK, OK, Don't tell anyone else, but I always wanted to wear leather chaps and spurs (and not in a kinky way either - just in a "cowgirl" sort of way).
RICK T. -- Baseball uniform (White Sox).
KERSTIN H. -- Yes. I always have wanted to wear my pointe shoes to school for some crazy reason but haven't... yet.
KERI M. -- Skinny jeans.
JEFF T. -- A cape!
JOHN T. -- A top hat would be fun.
ERIK H. -- I have always been fascinated that the Visigoths wore cloaks created from mouse pelts. We don't have enough mice around here (thank you cats!), so I guess I would like one of those letterman-style jacket for a professional sports team, like the Portland Trail Blazers or Les Canadiens de Montréal.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

10 Things to Know about... Leyton Orient

I am accompanying my sister INGER to LONDON at year's end. You can learn more about my preparations on my companion blog, ERIK'S JOLLY OLD ALBION (link on the right).
Yesterday, we acquired tickets to a football match. We will see LEYTON ORIENT host SOUTHEND UNITED in League One (the third tier of English football).
1. Leyton Orient is the second-oldest Football League club in London, after Fulham.
2. Until the 1960s, the club was known as "Clapton Orient," after its original East End home.
3. Current chairman Barry Hearn famously purchased the club for £5.
4. Orient have only spent one season in the English top flight, in 1962-63.
5. Orient have only reached the FA Cup semifinals once, in 1978.
6. The club were known simply as "Orient" from 1966-87. The name "Leyton Orient" was originally adopted at the conclusion of the Second World War.
7. More than 40 players and staff of Clapton Orient joined the 17th Battalion Middlesex Regiment en masse at the outbreak of the First World War.
8. Three of those players, Richard McFadden, George Scott and William Jonas, died as a result of injuries in the Battle of the Somme.
9. Although it seems like a case of myth making, some of McFadden's obituaries credit him with saving the life of a boy who was drowning in the River Lea and rescuing a man from a burning building.
10. The Prince of Wales (later King Edward VIII) became the first member of royalty to attend a football match when he witnessed Clapton Orient defeat Notts County, 3-0, on April 30, 1921.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Staggering toward the weekend, in need of some musical fire

I feel like I'm staggering and stumbling toward a finish line this week.
I have the prospects of A FOUR-DAY WEEKEND ahead of me (I am off Friday and Monday, in addition to the traditional Saturday and Sunday), but the current workaday week seems like it just inches imperceptibly along.
I am hoping listening to "FREE FOR ALL" by ART BLAKEY & THE JAZZ MESSENGERS will help propel me forward.
Legendary drummer Blakey is joined on this 1964 classic by a group that had played with him for three years: Freddie Hubbard on trumpet, Wayne Shorter on tenor sax, Curtis Fuller on trombone, Cedar Walton on piano and Reggie Workman on bass.
This tight collection plays intuitively together and they never seem to lapse into the ordinary. Every tune maintains its interest.
This music is no lounge-style cool jazz, either.
It burns with a white-hot heat, or, as reviewer Ken Watkins remarked, "the music becomes as heavy as any jazz played anywhere."
I hope this wonderful album helps me reach my weekend finish line.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Former player (no, not Favre) succeeds against previous team

Last night, a former player came back to haunt his old team, helping to provide a stinging setback for previous employers.
I'm not talking about BRETT FAVRE.
I'm talking about RICHARD DUNNE.
Dunne, a defender who joined ASTON VILLA last month after nine years at MANCHESTER CITY, scored a headed goal in a 1-1 draw against Manchester that slowed City's progress up the PREMIER LEAGUE table.
Fans of both clubs applauded Dunne when he chose not to celebrate his goal, saying he walked calmly back to his half as a mark of respect to his former club.
Players often find themselves scrutinized following a goal against a former club.
Earlier this season, former Hammer Carlos Tevez refused to celebrate after he scored against West Ham for Manchester City.
City new boy Emmanual Adebayor, however, went out of his way to celebrate a goal in front of Arsenal supporters. The former Gunner was fined and suspended for his provocative celebration.
Favre? I think I noticed him celebrating a bit against the Packers last night.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

My current favorite song has an air of mystery

I always considered THE MAYTALS one of the most soulful of reggae combos.
It should come as no surprise, then, that my current favorite reggae song (a rocksteady tune, actually) features one member of that legendary trio.
NATHANIEL "JERRY" MATTHIAS teamed with producer/singer EWAN McDERMOTT to release the sublime "OH BABE (SICK AND TIRED)" in 1967 as EWAN & JERRY WITH THE CARIB-BEATS.
"Oh baby, whatcha gonna do now? I'm sick and tired -- tired -- tired girl and I'm worried over you now."
The Carib-Beats were a top Jamaican session band of the late 1960s, led by Cuban-born guitarist BOBBY AITKEN. Aitken's gently propulsive guitar keeps the song swinging along.
"Wake up in the mornin' fix you somethin' to eat, 'fore I go to work I even brush your teeth."
There's scant information online about Ewan & Jerry, but I prefer it that way.
It lends an air of mystery to their brilliant song.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Remembering Mr. Magic

I never knew his real name, until learning of his death yesterday.
I didn't have to know his real name. His nickname, "MR. MAGIC," told me everything I needed to know.
John "Mr. Magic" Rivas died of a heart attack, age 53.
He helped popularize what had been the underground sound of hip-hop in the early 1980s, with his pioneering mix show on WBLS-FM.
I heard Mr. Magic's show during a college trip to NEW YORK CITY.
Following that trip, I purchased "MR. MAGIC'S RAP ATTACK, VOL. 2," a 1987 cassette tape that I played almost continuously upon my return from the Big Apple.
"Walk This Way" by Run-D.M.C., the superb "Eric B. is President," by Eric B. & Rakim and Fresh Prince & DJ Jazzy Jeff's "Girls Ain't Nothing But Trouble" were included on that compilation, which introduced me and probably countless others to the sounds of urban America.
Hip-hop had not yet begun to dominate New York, let alone the rest of the nation or the world, when Mr. Magic co-founded the "Rap Attack" show on WBLS-FM in 1983.
Now, Mr. Magic is widely credited for introducing hip-hop to the mainstream, as well as helping to launch the careers of Notorious B.I.G. and Tupac Shakur.
I wonder how many of today's artists are aware of the trail blazed by Mr. Magic?
Hopefully, they'll incorporate some of the rampant creativity of the OLD SCHOOL into their work of today.

Friday, October 02, 2009

E-X-T-I-N-C-T Find out what it means to me!

It's a simple, three-step process. ROUTE 1 authorities pose a weekly question, loyal readers reply with an answer and at the end of every week, the world enjoys another FRIDAY QUESTION.
Here's this week's!
"If you could bring something extinct (place, thing, animal, TV show, etc.) back to life, what would you choose?"
SCOUT S. -- I break my years' long silence to tell you that I would like the series "Firefly" to have a second chance at life. Oh sure, I could vote for some goddamned cute fuzzy extinct animal, or the world trade center, or whatever, but I'm making my vote count for something IMPORTANT.
JEFF T. -- "W K R P in Cincinnati!" and a baby stegosaurus.
MARY N.-P. -- This might seem mundane, but coming from a seldom-TV watcher it's a big deal. I'd bring back the David Lynch series, "Twin Peaks," the best television ever produced (also the wildest and weirdest). Oh and the brontosaurus -- wouldn't they be a hoot clumping around fields and towns?
KERSTIN H. -- "Gilmore Girls," because it was an awesome show.
JIM S. -- It would have to be a dinosaur of some kind. Perhaps a few pterodactyls could make their homes on the bluffs near Dubuque. TH photographer Dave Kettering -- known for his photos of eagles -- could go out with his camera, get scooped up by a pterodactyl and end up taking some aerial photos. Would be fun to watch!
SASKIA M. -- Clean air and a healthy environment.
BRIAN C. -- The Chicago Cubs' World Series prospects.
MICHAEL M. -- I've heard that Varsity Laundromat at 1111 Loras Blvd., used to be Varsity Theater. I'd love to form a non-profit organization to turn the laundromat back into a movie theater, and then show the movies that were originally shown there for free.
ERIK H. -- I'll go with the passenger pigeon. As recently as 200 years ago, they were among the most common birds in North America. Pigeon meat was recognized as cheap food, especially for slaves and the poor, which led to a catastrophic hunting campaign. The last known passenger pigeon in captivity died in 1914. I would bring them back to right a grievous wrong.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

A night of "The Office" helps me recover from the, well, the office

"I don't know where we're going tonight. Obviously Finchy's a sophisticated guy, and Gareth's a culture vulture, so you know will it be opera, ballet? I don't know. I know the RSC's in town, so er... having said that at Chasers, it's Hooch for a pound and Wonderbras-get-in-free night tonight. So I don't know, I don't know who'll win, it's exciting. I'm staying out of it."
Tim's speculative view of a night on the town in Slough is just one of the highlights of what is probably my favorite episode from the first season of the original British series, "THE OFFICE."
I watched "NEW GIRL" last night on DVD.
It is consistently hilarious.
Brent hires a new secretary despite the threat of redundancies at the branch.
While he is choosing a pretty young blonde, he learns his friends' daughter, Donna, is sleeping with someone in the office.
DAVID: I'd have preferred it if you'd slept with Gareth.
DONNA: It wouldn't happen.
DAVID: Oh Why? 'Cos he didn't go to university?
DONNA: No, 'Cos he's a little weasel-faced arse.
DAVID: Yeah, you could do worse then Gareth. He hasn't missed one day in this office due to ill health. And don't call my second-in-command an arse-faced weasel, please?
DONNA: A weasel-faced arse.
DAVID: Same thing.
DONNA: Well no it's not. Gareth would you rather have a face like an arse or a face like a weasel?
GARETH: A weasel probably.
Classic stuff, and the perfect antidote following a busy day at work.