Monday, November 30, 2009

It was no nightmare: Riders suffered while I slept

I fell asleep last evening while listening to the 97TH GREY CUP FINAL on Internet radio.
Sleep spared me from hearing the heartbreaking finish for the SASKATCHEWAN ROUGHRIDERS.

When I began to doze, the Riders had given up a single but still led, 27-11.

When I awoke, I was listening to "Roughrider Round table" on "YOUR OFFICIAL GREY CUP STATION IN SASKATCHEWAN, THE SOURCE 620 CKRM" and I heard what I had missed.

LES ALOUETTES DE MONTRÉAL scored two touchdowns and a field goal in the last 7:05 of the fourth quarter -- while I dozed -- to defeat the Roughriders, 28-27.

Wait, it gets more heartbreaking:

Montréal's Damon Duval kicked a 33-yard field goal at the final gun for the winning margin.

Wait, it gets more heartbreaking:

Duval had missed a 43-yard field goal on what was supposed to be the last play of the game, but he earned a reprieve when the Riders were penalized for having too many men on the field.

I thought: How can that be? It's CANADIAN FOOTBALL, there are always too many men on the field!

It was true, and what felt like a nightmare when I woke up turned out to be sad reality for Saskatchewan.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Rory voices her Merseyside displeasure -- but why?

RORY THE PUPPY must be a LIVERPOOL supporter.
Why else would she growl at the sight of EVERTON substitute Louis Saha merely sitting on the bench?

Or does Rory support the Toffees, and growled to say Saha should be starting the 181st league meeting between the local rivals?

She fell asleep before Saha came on in the 66th minute, so I don't know the true cause of her canine displeasure.

In the event, a Javier Mascherano shot deflected off Joseph Yobo for Liverpool's opening goal in the 12th minute. Yobo then made an error that let Dirk Kuyt double the visitors' lead in the 80th minute.

Despite the 2-0 scoreline, Everton dominated for lengthy stretches of the match, and really should have scored on several occasions.
Liverpool climbed to fifth in the PREMIER LEAGUE table with the victory, while Everton continue to languish just above the relegation zone.
It's a great day for derbies, and later today I hope to see some of EL CLÁSIO, as BARCELONA host bitter archrivals REAL MADRID.

I wonder which of those clubs Rory prefers?

Saturday, November 28, 2009

In the wee small hours of Clarithromycin

The CLARITHROMYCIN I am taking for my LEG INFECTION is working well -- you can barely see any outward signs of the ailment that caused me to spend three days in the hospital.
However, the side effects are tough to take.

The drug gives me a continuous, low-level nausea that sent me to bed today. I just dimmed the lights and listened to music while sipping SIERRA MIST.

I listened to a record by someone who sounded sadder than me -- FRANK SINATRA.

Sinatra's marriage to Ava Gardner had disintegrated by 1955, when he teamed with NELSON RIDDLE for "IN THE WEE SMALL HOURS."

This record fit Sinatra's mood, according to writer Chris Ingham:

"The album mostly languishes in a hushed netherworld of subdued strings, whispering woodwind and chiming celesta, with Sinatra delivering his deepest and best ballad performances yet. He is simply magnificent."

"In the Wee Small Hours" was the perfect accompaniment to my own "hushed netherworld" of Clarithromycin-caused stomach upset.

Friday, November 27, 2009

The Giants made history twice

I've been a SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS fan my whole life, and I'll be a Giants fan for the remainder of my life, too.
I thought I knew a lot about the franchise, but the pages of the book I am reading keep surprising me.

"WILLIE MAYS: THE LIFE, THE LEGEND" is an upcoming biography of the Giants' Hall of Famer by James S, Hirsch.

I have had plenty of time to read it -- the antibiotic I am on wipes me out, in more ways than one.

I'm glad I have the time, because Hirsch has written a wonderfully detailed book.

I learned that the Giants made major-league baseball history twice in 1951 -- Mays' rookie year and the season highlighted by "The Shot Heard 'Round The World."

On June 3, 1951, in a game against the Cardinals, HANK THOMPSON, MAYS and MONTE IRVIN were on base at the same time, marking the first time in big-league history that the bases were loaded with black ballplayers.

Later, in the World Series against the Yankees, that same trio became the Majors' first all-black outfield.

It might be a little step in the civil rights movement, but it makes me proud to be a Giants fan.

A fan for life.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Still stuck in a "hospital state of mind"

This year, my list of things I am thankful for is almost too easy to compile -- family, friends, intravenous VANCOMYCIN (pictured) and being out of the hospital.

Oddly, while my body is out of the hospital, my mind doesn't feel quite at home.

CLARITHROMYCIN, the fourth oral antibiotic I have been on since my INFECTED LEG ordeal began, unfortunately causes the most nausea.

Overnight, I woke up at 2 a.m., expecting someone to flip on the lights and take my blood pressure and also searching for the WHITE CUP WITH BENT STRAW that hospitals use to provide Sprite, 7up or similar white soda.

I realized I was home. There was no bent straw.

I trudged down the steps and found the only SIERRA MIST in the fridge.

I guess one of the things I am not thankful for, is this HOSPITAL STATE OF MIND I appear to be stuck with since my release.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Out of the hospital, enjoying "simply baseball"

First, let me say I am out of the HOSPITAL and I am grateful for the prayers, well wishes and visits that helped ease my hospitalization. I am now continuing my recovery at home.
Second, it's not so easy, holding a 600-page book in one hand on your back, while Vancomycin courses into your veins through an IV tube into your other arm.

I know, because I spent my morning balancing a big book on my chest, trying not to notice the uncomfortable sensation of a taped needle sticking into my arm.

It was worth it.

My friend BRIAN lent me an advanced copy of "WILLIE MAYS: THE LIFE, THE LEGEND" by JAMES S. HIRSCH, a former New York Times reporter.

Authorized by Mays, the book arrives in stores in February.
I am 51 pages into it, and I highly recommend it.
I have read about Mays' upbringing in the industrial suburbs of BIRMINGHAM, ALA., and now I have reached the section about Mays' teenage years as a sensational young player with the BIRMINGHAM BLACK BARONS of the Negro Leagues.

Here is how Hirsch described the travelers on the Black Barons' team bus, as it made its way along the Negro-League circuit with the youngest player, Mays, sitting in the back:

"There were memorable characters, such as pitcher Nat Pollard, who was called 'the prophet' and later became a preacher, and catcher Pepper Bassett, who by reputation never met a hanging curveball or a pretty lady he didn't like. Card games drained a lot of time. Tonk, a kind of knock rummy, was the most popular. Other players sang gospel songs, told jokes, or read newspapers; third baseman John Britton studied the sports pages and told Willie how many hits (Joe) DiMaggio had made. Some players discussed their sexual conquests. But the most popular topic was simply baseball."

"Simply baseball."

That's what I want to immerse myself in while elevating my recuperating leg on my couch at home -- without IV tubes or nurses waking me up in the middle of the night to take my blood pressure.

I am so glad to be home.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Classic rockin' my way through a hospital stay

I am sitting on my HOSPITAL bed craving PIZZA, CHOCOLATE, RED WINE and CLASSIC ROCK.
All but the latter are off limits until my discharge, so I dialed up "DREAM POLICE" by CHEAP TRICK on the iPod.

Despite being bookended by the title track and "Need Your Love," this 1979 album seems a bit neglected, compared to the band's other classic releases.

Critic Robert Christgau suggested a slight dulling of Cheap Trick's magic with "Dream Police," writing:

"What's always saved this band for me was the jokes, but this time they're just not in the grooves, and there's only so much you can do with funny hats on the cover."

I agree. "Dream Police" doesn't sparkle with the same electricity as "In Color" or "Heaven Tonight."

Stuck in a hospital bed, though, it sounds just great to me.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Apprehensively listening to Weezer

My favorite story about the recording of the eponymous WEEZER debut album -- universally known as "THE BLUE ALBUM" -- tells how Rivers Cuomo and Matt Sharp practiced barbershop quartet-style singing to prepare for the album's vocal arrangements. You wouldn't necessarily realize the roots of the harmonies, listening to the album.
I am listening now, a few hours before I return to the doctor's office. My INFECTED LEFT LEG doesn't look -- or feel -- much better than it did for my last doctor's visit. I am sitting here, listening to Weezer and feeling a bit apprehensive.

I am afraid they will admit me to the hospital for intravenous antibiotics.

"The world has turned and left me here, just where I was before you appeared and in your place an empty space has filled the void behind my face."

I am not afraid, per sé, I just don't want to be away from my family or home for very long.

On the other hand, I *really* can't take much more of this sore leg.

Stay tuned...

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Vahirua won't cure me

ASSOCIATION SPORTIVE DE SAINT-ÉTIENNE reigned supreme in France when I was a kid, just learning about European soccer.
"LES VERTS," as the green-clad club is known, won 10 LIGUE 1 titles between 1967-81. Their peak came with a trio of titles -- 1974-76 -- when I was about 10 years old and soaking up soccer knowledge.

Imagine my delight, then, to see Saint-Étienne hosting FC LORIENT in a live match on SETANTA SPORTS today.

Yeah. Not so much.
If I was hoping watching Les Verts could soothe my LEG INFECTION, then MARAMA VAHIRUA (pictured) proved me wrong.
The 29-year-old opened the scoring with a fourth-minute free kick and was influential throughout as Lorient won, 2-0.

Vahirua is a Tahitian soccer player and a France U-21 international.

Based on how he looked against Les Verts (and given the fact that his goals have helped unfashionable Lorient to fourth in the table), perhaps senior France coach Raymond Domenech should give the islander a chance.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Beautiful music to soothe a leg

From the first sounds of a bowed bass, you know you are in for something special when listening to "BASS ON TOP," a 1957 album led by PAUL CHAMBERS.
I've listened to the album several times the past couple days while exiled to bed rest with an INFECTED LEFT LEG.

Chambers recorded "Bass on Top" while the 22-year-old bass player belonged to one of the most celebrated groups in jazz, the MILES DAVIS QUINTET.

On this release, as writer Joel Roberts explains:

"Chambers had obviously learned a great deal during his time with the path-breaking Davis Quintet and its young saxophone phenom John Coltrane. Indeed 'Bass on Top' sounds very much like an extension of the Davis group's work, although with a more minimal lineup of just bass, drums, piano and guitar. Chambers, whether playing with a bow or pizzicato, soloing or accompanying the rest of the quartet, is brilliant. This is quiet, thoughtful, and intelligent music played at a tremendously high level by all the musicians."

Guitarist Kenny Burrell joins Chambers, as do pianist Hank Jones and drummer Art Taylor.

They combine here to take some of the sting out of my leg. For that, I will always be grateful to this great album.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Friday Question looks at life and lessons

This week ROUTE 1 has learned a few lessons, including:
If you must elevate your infected leg on the couch, avoid allowing a cat to sit on your chest. It really doesn't seem to aid the healing process. It just makes it much more difficult to see the soccer book you are holding.

Readers share their own experiences by answering the following FRIDAY QUESTION:

"What is the most important lesson life has taught you?"

MIKE M. -- Do not attempt to de-ice a mini fridge by hacking at it with scissors.
JIM S. -- It goes on.
MIKE D. -- It is not to be so judgmental -- give folks the benefit of the doubt. I've been on both sides, and have realized that we all have our challenges to deal with.

KERI M. -- Once at first you don't succeed, try try again.

JOHN S. -- To always do your best, otherwise it won't be worth doing.

STEVE M. -- .....dust in the wind...... All we are is dust in the wind.......

Which translates into: Don't think rock and roll lyricists are philosophers, or sometimes even poets.

MARY N.-P. -- Time goes by far to quickly for our all-too-brief lives (or in concrete terms, life is too short to drink cheap tea or eat crappy chocolate)...

RICK T. -- Be kind to everyone you meet.

LAURA C. -- Every day I am offered the choice to be happy.

I know that sounds over-simplified, but I truly believe that most people, on most days, can choose whether or not to be happy.

The corollary: If it won't matter in five years, it doesn't matter now. When I'm frustrated, hurt or angry, the five-year test helps me to either work through the situation and resolve it or let it go and be happy.

And, lastly: Be sure the people you love know that you love them. Don't assume. Say it. I've lost my father and two brothers, and one of the only things that made those losses bearable is that my family is very good about expressing love. I knew that, in each case, the important things had been said....and not just at the end, but throughout our lives together. They knew I loved them because I told them (and showed them) as often as I could...and vice versa.

BEKAH P. -- To not hold back. After having one sibling die and another miraculously recover from a coma, I know you have to say what you mean when you have the chance. Now, I am spending as much time with my grandfather as I can before he succumbs to cancer. You only have now. You can't rely on the future.

ERIK H. -- Your brain's reasoning is no good when it comes to your body. If your body indicates it is in trouble, listen to your body. I'm still learning that lesson.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

A get-well message from Slovenia

You can see the extent of INFECTED TISSUE ON MY LEFT LEG: It begins about mid-thigh and travels down to my ankle -- with something approximating bad horror-movie makeup festering just below my knee.
It alternately throbs, burns and itches. I was told to let air get to it while propping it up, but that just adds cold air to an already dismal mix.

That's why I so appreciated a message from JOE HEITZ, a friend of mine living in SLOVENIA for a year:

"Hi Erik -- Slovenia just beat Russia, and my neighborhood in Ljubljana is wild right now! People are shouting in the streets, cars are honking, there are firecrackers going off... (Hope you're feeling better...)"

I did feel better after reading Joe's message.

I watched Slovenia's historic, 1-0 World Cup qualifying playoff victory over RUSSIA yesterday on television while exiled on the couch, tired of listening to music (?!?!) and with my eyes no longer willing to read. The win, in the country’s second largest city Maribor, earned the Slovenes a spot in South Africa on the away goals rule, after a 2-2 aggregate draw.

As I tried not to scratch my leg, downed my TRIMETHOPRIM tablets (I looked it up: The drug starves bacteria to death), and worried about lasting damage to my leg, I was at least comforted knowing the residents of a tiny country unfamiliar to many people were partying on into the night.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

How I let a patch of dry skin -- and my stubborn ways -- get the best of me

I spent a couple hours last night in a local emergency room, and several more hours this morning with my ACHING LEFT LEG propped up on a tower of pillows.
I should have seen a doctor a week ago (at least), but I didn't -- ironic, eh? I have written more than one story for the newspaper about the problem of men avoiding the doctor, then I put off going to the doctor until a patch of dry skin had developed into a case of CELLULITIS -- an infection of the skin and the tissue beneath it.
Here is how it all happened...
About two weeks ago, probably with the advent of colder weather and drier humidity levels, the seemingly permanent patch of dry skin beneath my left knee began to itch like never before.
I should have done something else, but instead I scratched it.
I kept scratching it. Sometimes I would scratch and I would have blood on my hand.
I should have done something else, but instead I told myself I could control my urge to scratch.
I couldn't, and the surrounding skin became progressively redder.
I should have done something else, but instead I told myself it was just the dry air. I applied moisturizer.
With hindsight, I see that was another of my contributions to the infection. Bacteria needs moisture to grow, and I kept rubbing in moisturizer -- even when the now scabbed portion of my leg began to burn. My leg felt like it was on fire and it would take me ages to get to sleep, but I kept my mouth shut.
I didn't want to bother anyone -- my mom and step-dad were visiting, after all -- so I kept quiet.
I should have done something else, but instead I told myself it would get better on its own.
Finally, my body told me enough was enough: My left foot had swollen to twice the size of the right.
"Should I be worried," I said to my mom and my wife Jill last night.
I guess. They used something called common sense and drove me to the emergency room.
So... Now I keep my leg elevated while feeling like a fool and popping massive ANTIBIOTIC PILLS.
Please use this experience as a CAUTIONARY TALE. The moral? Don't wait until too late to visit the doctor when you *know* something is wrong. You're not bothering anybody except for yourself.
Please do as I say, and not as I do.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Lessons on Queen during a trip to the university

We traveled to IOWA CITY yesterday to watch a men's college basketball game -- UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS-SAN ANTONIO beat the IOWA HAWKEYES, 62-50 -- and enjoy a post-game pizza.
Before leaving, we watched YouTube clips of Britain's X-FACTOR show, as the contestants (including polarizing Irish twins, "JEDWARD") "interpreted" various songs by QUEEN.

Why not listen to the real thing while driving down to Iowa City?

"This is my favorite Queen song," 14-year-old KERSTIN said as the Brian May-penned "Who Wants to Live Forever" seeped out of the car stereo speakers.

"Is this really their song," 10-year-old ANNIKA asked as we heard the distinctive (and much-sampled) bass line to the David Bowie collaboration "Under Pressure" began to play.

It seemed fitting that en route to a university, we enjoyed an education about Queen.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

There was an English flavor to Russia v. Slovenia

Here's one example of how the world of football has changed: RUSSIA included three London-based players and a Liverpool-based player in the first leg of their WORLD CUP PLAY-OFF match against SLOVENIA today. That would have been unthinkable when I was a kid following world football.
We watched today's match live on SETANTA SPORTS. Everton's Diniyar Bilyaletdinov scored twice to give Russia a 2-1 lead heading into Wednesday's return match in Slovenia.

Substitute Nejc Pećnik pulled back a vital away goal for the Slovenes with two minutes remaining.

Russian captain Andrei Arshavin of Arsenal looked lively, as usual, but his Tottenham Hotspur-based strike partner Roman Pavlyuchenko was relatively wasteful for the home side, and was withdrawn after 80 minutes..

I had personal reasons to cheer for Slovenia. My friend, Joe Heitz, is living in the former Yugoslav republic for a year, and the Slovene captain was Robert Koren of West Bromwich Albion -- the club I supported as a child.

I wonder how crazy the nation will seem on Wednesday, when Slovenia host the Russians in Maribor?

Friday, November 13, 2009

Plans for the holidays

ROUTE 1 jolly well knows what it will be doing for the holidays (if you catch the drift).
Readers reveal what's on their calendars by answering the following FRIDAY QUESTION:

"What are your holiday plans?"

STEVE M. -- Maybe four or five days in St. Pete, Fla., to visit the in laws, and then another few days near San Diego to visit my side. I shudder to think of the air fares.

BEKAH P. -- Wish my answer were more festive this year. Doctors diagnosed my beloved Grandpa with cancer, and this set of holidays will be his last. So, I plan on spending every moment I can enjoying his company. Though inexplicably sad, the situation reminds me of just how much loved ones truly mean, especially around the holidays.

MARY N.-P. -- Hold on to your seats because you might get carried away with excitement after reading our plans!

We'll spend Christmas day itself with my Mom at her nursing home, then head out early the next morning driving to South Dakota to spend time with my husband's elderly parents -- one is blind and the other diabetic -- and the rest of his family.
But I am excited about the idea we came up with for presents this year. Since I finally learned how to bake these lovely loaves of organic artisan bread, we're going to give a loaf of bread with little jars of my homemade jams!
JEFF T. -- A Ho-Ho-Whole lot of Thompson Family Christmas Hi-Jinks... and a trip to Arkansas!

INGER H. -- A quiet little Christmas at home followed by a spectacular, no-holds-barred, over the top birthday and new years visit to London with my brother to celebrate turning 40! Highlights include: fancy birthday dinner at Corrigan's Mayfair, a football match, a pantomime show, a flight on the London Eye on NYE and as many pub and museum and shopping stops we can fit in between!

KERI M. -- To stay at home and work as much as I can.
RICK T. -- Some good food and some TV or a movie. Gonna do some real good ME time with the wife.
ANNIKA H. -- Going to Gaby's. Yaaaaa!

MIKE M. -- I'm entertaining my brother-in-law who supposedly has "nowhere else to go."

JOHN S. -- Every Thanksgiving I do my best to remind everyone that the Spanish were here 200 years before the "pilgrims" and had two centuries of "thanksgiving feasts" with natives before Jamestown was established. I do it because I think Thanksgiving would be a lot less stressful if everyone just made tacos and nachos and drank margaritas!

STACEY B. -- I plan to spend the holidays with the craziness that is my family. After we eat a ton of super unhealthy food, we'll play a couple rounds of Phase 10 and my Grandma will create new rules for the card game so she can win. It's a family tradition.

ERIK H. -- After spending Christmas in Iowa, I'm jetting off to Blighty to spend the New Year ringing in my sister's birthday. That's what I tell people. I am really scouting locations for when I get back, and I successfully convince the family we should move to the United Kingdom. "Think of it," I'll tell them, "It will be so much easier to watch soccer... oh, and Robert Pattinson lives there." I think I might have one vote already, eh Kerstin?

Thursday, November 12, 2009

What I really need is a Shop-Vac, an AC/DC album and a bottle of "Sqrirt"

My mom and step-dad -- THE ILLUSTRIOUS OMA & OPA -- arrive from RENO in a few hours, so I am frantically completing some last-minute cleaning duties, armed with a vacuum, my favorite AC/DC album -- "LET THERE BE ROCK" -- and a bottle of the soda 10-year-old ANNIKA spells "S-Q-R-I-R-T."
I actually prefer to say "Sqrirt," instead of "Squirt." You can scrunch up your face like a chipmunk and say it. It's quite fun.
I prefer "Let There Be Rock" as well. I have always loved Bon Scott-era AC/DC, and you simply cannot go wrong with an album that includes "Dog Eat Dog" and "Problem Child" and concludes with "Whole Lotta Rosie."

Back to the task(s) at hand, I must admit the vacuum is not as effective as I would have liked around the area of the cat box.
I really need the Shop-Vac belonging to my father-in-law (THE EQUALLY ILLUSTRIOUS BOPPA).
Oh well. Now, I am browning two pounds of stew beef for something I have to throw into the crock pot before I leave for the airport.

I think I need more Sqrirt.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

He's like a United Nations in football boots!

I wasn't expecting to watch soccer last night, I just wanted to read in bed, but I couldn't pass up viewing some British football from outside the Premier League -- all long balls, ridiculously ill-timed tackles and a succession of misplaced passes.
SETANTA SPORTS broadcast a south Yorkshire derby between BARNSLEY and SHEFFIELD UNITED. I support SHEFFIELD WEDNESDAY, so I was cheering for the hometown club, nicknamed the "Tykes."

Unfortunately, Darius Henderson scored a pair of Sheffield goals from the penalty spot to earn a 2-2 draw.

I was most interested in the scorer of Barnsley's second goal -- a rangy forward who bore a resemblance to Manchester United's Dimitar Berbatov.

DANIEL BOGDANOVIC was born in Libya to Serbian parents, plays internationally for Malta and joined Barnsley from Bulgarian side Lokomotiv Sofia. He's like a United Nations in football boots!
The 29-year-old has played for nine different clubs in at least four different nations since beginning his senior career in 2000.

Among the "honest professionals" of both clubs, Bogdanovic seemed to add a touch of continental class to last night's proceedings. I just can't figure out which continent.

Monday, November 09, 2009

"Would they harm an innocent person?" "The Irish guys would never."

ROUTE 1 and reader STACEY recently swapped DVDs.
She borrowed "YINGXIONG BENSE (A BETTER TOMORROW)" by John Woo, we borrowed "THE BOONDOCK SAINTS" by Troy Duffy.
The irony is the similarity of the films.
Both the Hong Kong and the Boston films feature literal or figurative brothers on a quest to right wrongs, both films use innovative ways to present stylized violence and both plots progressively ebb away from reality, until they conclude with climaxes that border on dreamlike.
As I watched "The Boondock Saints," I decided that Duffy made this film like a film student who has been dying to make a film. He deploys a myriad of (sometimes gratuitous?) camera angles, liberal use of flashbacks and painstaking attention to diegesis -- a film study term referring to the details in the world's of the characters. If you watch the film, check out the details in "Funny Man" Rocco's apartment, and you will see how much time Duffy spent getting the diegetic details.
Leads Sean Patrick Flanery and Norman Reedus are returning this year -- a decade after the original film's limited release -- to star in the sequel to "The Boondock Saints."
It's a pity Willem Dafoe couldn't be persuaded to join them, as he stole most his scenes in the original.
Dafoe wouldn't join, eh? Perhaps the brothers should have tried the old tie-them-to-the-bar-and-light-their-butt-on-fire trick?

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Horace Silver is playing at my pity party

I am sitting here sipping coffee, listening to some HORACE SILVER albums and still feeling slightly depressed.
MY BELOVED OREGON DUCKS apparently left the defense at home in Eugene yesterday when they traveled to the Peninsula to play STANFORD.
Toby Gerhart ran for a school-record 223 yards and three scores and Andrew Luck threw for two touchdowns as Stanford held on to beat the Ducks 51-42.
The win made the Cardinal bowl eligible for the first time in eight years.
The loss for the Ducks came a week after the team gained 613 yards in a 47-20 win over USC. Gone is any chance the Ducks had at a top Bowl Championship Series game. The loss also makes it more difficult to win the conference outright.
So, I am just sitting here, sipping my coffee, listening to Silver play the piano and feeling a bit sorry for myself -- a common occurrence when it comes to my relationship with college football (and baseball... and soccer... and professional football... and hockey... and cricket... and... ).

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Giants' win proves it's a good year for baseball's elites

There's a similarity between the baseball champions on either side of the Pacific Ocean.
Days after America's most successful team, the NEW YORK YANKEES, won their 27th title, their Asian counterparts have won the JAPAN SERIES for the 21st time (but first in seven years).

Japan's most successful team, the YOMIURI GIANTS, beat the HOKKAIDO NIPPON HAM FIGHTERS, 2-0, today to win the best-of-seven series at Sapporo Dome, four games to two.

Shinnosuke Abe is the Japan Series MVP.

There's a link, of course, between the two champions. World Series MVP Hideki Matsui starred for the Giants before joining the Yanks.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Surprising super powers, anyone?

Up, up and awaaaaay!
This week, ROUTE 1 readers answer the FRIDAY QUESTION based on the premise that they are all superheroes:

"What's your most surprising super power?"

ANNIKA H. -- Me mean. Me werewolf.

MIKE M. -- My ability to freeze time. I would take a lot of naps.

BEKAH P. -- My most surprising superpower is the ability to put up with my husband. Seriously, they should bottle this stuff! Women across the world would spend trillions!

RICK T. -- Love!

KERI M. -- If I couldn't create more hours for the day, it would be speed.

MIKE D. -- I used to dream that I could fly -- taking a running start on the 6th fairway at Bunker Hill and soaring over the trees in the valley below. Then again, I always wanted to be AquaMan on the Superfriends. There was just something cool about swimming with and telepathically communicating with the marine life. Yeah, maybe mind-reading would be a cool power. Hey, wait a minute ... I know what you're thinking, Hogstrom!!!
STACEY B. -- My most surprising super power would be to control the minds of zombies. That will make life a whole lot easier when the apocalypse arrives.

KERSTIN H. -- Mine would be that I can transfer my thoughts to you and make you believe and think them. That would make my life so much easier.
ERIK H. -- In the blink of an eye, my daughters' messy rooms would be transformed into spotlessly clean examples of precise organization.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Matsui is No. 1

While the HOKKAIDO NIPPON HAM FIGHTERS and the YOMIURI GIANTS battle to decide the winner of Japan's Fall Classic, a Japanese player made history in America's original version.
HIDEKI MATSUI hit a two-run homer, a two-run double and a two-run single last night to power the NEW YORK YANKEES to a clinching victory, 7-3, against the PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES in the WORLD SERIES.

Matsui tied a World Series record with six RBIs, but more significantly became the first Japanese-born player to win the coveted World Series MVP award -- an award presented since 1955. Matsui hit .615 (8 for 13) with three home runs and eight RBIs.

Meanwhile, back in Japan, the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters head back to Sapporo tomorrow with the JAPAN SERIES tied at two games apiece after beating the Yomiuri Giants, 8-4, in Game 4 at Tokyo Dome.

Yesterday was a big day for Japanese baseball.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Carl Ballantine always made me laugh

He was funny on "McHALE'S NAVY," but I'll mostly remember CARL BALLANTINE for his hilariously incompetent magic.
Ballantine passed away yesterday, age 92.

Born Meyer Kessler in Chicago, Ballantine billed himself as "Ballantine, the World's Greatest Magician," but he aimed to be just the opposite.

(Click here, to see a bit of Ballantine later in his career, on the Cosby Show.
He might not have been able to pull a rabbit out of his hat, but Ballantine always made me laugh.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

The quotable voodoo film that launched a reggae classic

I work a later-than-usual shift today, so I just watched on DVD the VAL LEWTON production, "I WALKED WITH A ZOMBIE," directed by one of my favorite filmmakers, JACQUES TOURNEUR.
The 1943 film centers on a Canadian nurse, Betsy Connell (Frances Dee) who travels to a mysterious Caribbean island, Saint Sebastian, to care for the catatonic wife of a sugar plantation owner, Paul Holland (the suave Tom Conway).

Voodoo lurks behind the seemingly serene tropical paradise, as do half-hidden domestic troubles.

The film is also notable for its singing cameo by SIR LANCELOT, the Trinidad-born calypso star.
Sir Lancelot performs the song "Fort Holland," which -- by its other name, "SHAME & SCANDAL" -- would become a reggae standard covered by the likes of The Wailers and Prince Buster.
Here are my three favorite quotes from "I Walked With a Zombie:"

3. "That's where our people came from. From the misery and pain of slavery. For generations they found life a burden. That's why they still weep when a child is born and make merry at a burial." -- Paul Holland on the crying heard in the compound.

2. "Please remember that, Miss Connell. Particularly when some of the foolish people on the island start regaling you with the local legends. "You'll find superstition a contagious thing. Some people let it get the better of them." -- Paul Holland to Betsy Connell
, shortly after she begins caring for his wife, Jessica.
1. "Everything good dies here. Even the stars." -- Paul Holland, as Betsy Connell watches a falling star as the pair sail to Saint Sebastian.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Jedward "sing" their way to kind of fame

They look like teenage clones of Vanilla Ice, and to hear them sing, as Sinéad Gleeson noted in the Irish Times, "is like listening to someone trill along to their iPod, oblivious to the din thanks to their headphones."
Irish twins JOHN AND EDWARD GRIMES have captivated Britain -- and some of us here in the States, thanks to YouTube -- by providing a "car-crash television" experience on the singing competition "THE X-FACTOR" (the British equivalent of "American Idol," complete with SIMON COWELL).

Two weeks ago, they sang a tuneless version of "Oops! I Did it Again" dressed in what appeared to be red vinyl suits.

Last week, they performed "She Bangs" and this past Saturday, they sported two-toned hairstyles while warbling through "We Will Rock You."

"Not since the hotpant-clad Romanians, The Cheeky Girls, have twin singers divided audiences into camps of derision and support, but one thing they have in spades is enthusiasm," Gleeson wrote. "Since auditioning for this series of the singing contest, the teenagers have sung and danced as if their quiffs depended on it. No matter that they omit notes or that their choreography is cheesy and badly timed, John and Edward are car-crash TV and it has won them legions of fans. Why? They’re of the so-bad-it’s-good school of entertainment."

Will the twins win "The X-Factor?" Cowell has promised to leave Britain if that calamity occurs.

Click here to see the memorable version of "Oops! I Did it Again" as performed by the twins known in the British tabloids as "JEDWARD."

Sunday, November 01, 2009

A breakfast-less "Breakfast with The Beatles"

We listened to "RUBBER SOUL," "A HARD DAY'S NIGHT" and several other albums during a "BREAKFAST WITH THE BEATLES" journey from the DES MOINES area back to DUBUQUE this morning.
We didn't actually have breakfast, apart from a shared muffin and some trick-or-treating candy.

Oh well.

I didn't need any breakfast. I remained fully satiated following the 47-20 victory over USC by MY BELOVED OREGON DUCKS last night.

Quarterback Jeremiah Masoli threw for 222 yards and a touchdown and ran for 164 more yards with another score and the 10th-ranked Ducks trounced No. 4 Southern California.

I skipped the majority of a HALLOWEEN party to watch the game on TV, and I am so glad I did.

Redshirt freshman LaMichael James ran for 183 yards and a score as the Ducks handed the Trojans their worst loss since 1997.

Oregon could seemingly do no wrong on offense, racking up 391 yards on the ground against a team that came into the game with the fifth-best rush defense in the nation (79.9 yards a game).

Yep. The Beatles, an open road (mostly) and the lingering effects of a great football victory.

I didn't need any breakfast.