Sunday, January 31, 2010

"Every time I look around, it's in my face."

Sure, PAULY FUEMANA was a one-hit wonder, but what a hit that wonder was.
As the frontman for NEW ZEALAND duo OMC (OTARA MILLIONAIRES CLUB), Fuemana shot to fame with the 1995 single "HOW BIZARRE."

"How bizarre. Ooh baby, (ooh baby). It's making me crazy, (it's making me crazy). Every time I look around, look around, every time I look around, every time I look around, every time I look around, it's in my face."

The single reached No. 1 in New Zealand, Australia, Canada, and parts of Europe. It peaked at No. 5 in Britain and No. 4 on Billboard's Hot Airplay chart in America. "How Bizarre" remains in the playlists of radio stations to this day.

The band then sold up to four million copies of their album, also titled "How Bizarre," making it New Zealand's biggest-selling record.

I have listened to "How Bizarre" (and follow-up Kiwi single "On the Run") several times since learning of Fuemana's death, at age 40 following a short illness at North Shore Hospital near Auckland.

Of half-Niuean and half-Maori descent, Fuemana formed OMC with producer Alan Jansson. The duo broke up in 2000 but reformed in 2007 to continue making music in New Zealand.

When I learned of Fuemana's death last night, I thought that although not many people would remember the name, they probably can't forget the song.

That's surely what a performer would wish for all along.

"Want to know the rest? Hey, buy the rights. How bizarre."

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Terry in the spotlight

ENGLAND and CHELSEA captain JOHN TERRY found himself on the front page of every British newspaper this morning, after the high court lifted an injunction barring the press from reporting on his private life.
Terry is alleged to have had an affair with an ex-girlfriend of his former Chelsea team-mate Wayne Bridge.

The courts had originally granted Terry a "superinjunction," a British legal ruling that even prohibited newspapers from even revealing who had applied to stop the story on privacy grounds.
The newspapers had a field day.

"Terry cheats with Bridge's" Missus," said The Sun.

"Terry's affair with team-mate's girl," said The Mirror.

"England captain's affair with team mate's girlfriend," said The Mail.

"England captain's secret affair," said The Daily Express.

Even the venerable Times trumpeted:

"John Terry affair claims disclosed after super-injunction is lifted."

Naturally, Terry found himself center stage on the pitch today as well. He headed Chelsea's winner in their 2-1 away victory at BURNLEY.

We watched the match live on FOX SOCCER CHANNEL.

I just shook my head when Terry headed in Frank Lampard's corner late in the match.

You couldn't have scripted it.

Friday, January 29, 2010

I would have gone to ROCK ROCK ROCK 'N' ROLL high school

Senior ROUTE 1 editorial assistant KERSTIN confidently and eagerly walked the halls and met with student government members during an OPEN HOUSE AT THE HIGH SCHOOL with her parents this week.
Her nervous parents -- including yours truly -- got lost in the labyrinthine halls and wondered how we could ever survive high school if given the second chance.

Which leads us to this week's FRIDAY QUESTION:

"Is there anything you would change about your high school days?"

RICK T. -- Yes, I'd of paid more attention to school work!

SASKIA M. -- I've been thinking a lot about this week's question -- but keep coming up with the same answer: nope!

BEKAH P. -- Absolutely everything. I switched from a very private, religious school to a large, public school in the middle of my sophomore year. Needless to say, this didn't make me popular. I wish now that then I had not cared so much about what people had thought and had just went about being myself. I think it would have made things better, actually.

JOHN S. -- I would have hung out with my younger brother more.

BRIAN M. -- I would have lived with the belief and the knowledge that none of "this" matters, that the bulk of my life is forthcoming. Knowing that, I would been more confident and worried far less about what people thought about me. Also, I might have tried playing football, and I might have taken more challenges academically, instead of worrying about my GPA.

LISA Y. -- Does "just about everything" cover it?

JEFF T. -- I would have talked to girls.

KERI M. -- Maybe make me a little bit cooler.

MIKE D. -- I don't have any big regrets -- I didn't mind playing the role of the shy, scrawny, nerdy math/art geek and, as they say, I turned out just fine. But now that you mention it, I would like to slug Rich P., the kid who, for no apparent reason, assaulted me a couple of times during freshman year.

MARY N.-P. -- I would have treasured those years more -- a small private girls' academy in Boulder, Colo. with girls from all over and a bunch of cool (and a few weird) nuns just blocks from the U of C campus in the 60s - WHEW!

JIM S. -- Of course. But if I were to change the things I did wrong or the bad decisions I made, I likely would have just prolonged my growth into maturity. Still, the ONE thing I would have changed would be to have washed my thick hair just a little bit better that one morning when a "friend" gave me the nickname "Oily." It stuck until I moved out of my hometown.

ERIK H. -- I wish I would have joined the debate team. I have never felt comfortable speaking before more than one or two people, and I think the debate team would have forced me to speak more confidently while helping me organize my thoughts.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

One of the coolest films

"DUBEI DAO (ONE ARMED SWORDSMAN)" isn't one of the greatest of films, but it surely ranks as one of the coolest.
I made that observation last night, as I watched one particular scene in Chang Cheh's 1967 wuxia classic.

His arm cut off by his martial-arts master's spoiled daughter, Fang Gang (Jimmy Wang Yu) uses an old, burnt book on fighting to teach himself left-handed swordplay.

In one of my favorite scenes, Fang Gang faces an armed gang at a roadside inn. His victory is marvelous, complete with tea cups used as effective weapons.

With the theme of the lone hero against many well-armed foes, the scene merges Spaghetti Western and Samurai film traditions -- the very combination that made "Dubei Dao" such a revolutionary film in Hong Kong's cinematic history.

"Dubei Dao" provided a template for Hong Kong action films for years to come.

Last night, it was deeply satisfying watching the oh-so-cool original -- especially the scene at the inn.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Blazers' woes extend to clothes -- or lack thereof

Can this season get any worse for the PORTLAND TRAIL BLAZERS?
Judging from recent events, the only possible answer is "yes."
The team sits in fifth place in the Western Conference at 27-19, but the promise of the season has been marred by a succession of injuries.
The team is missing talismanic starting guard and leading scorer Brandon Roy, who has an injured hamstring. Backup guard Jerryd Bayless, who started in Roy's place, has since injured his left ankle.
Other players on the injured list for the Blazers include Travis Outlaw (left foot), Nicolas Batum (right shoulder), Joel Przybilla (right knee) and
GREG ODEN (left knee, pictured).
Oden has other concerns, too.
Last night,
Oden apologized for nude photos that have surfaced on the Internet. Oden said the pictures were taken with his cell phone and sent to a former girlfriend little more than a year ago.
Of course, they somehow found their way onto the Internet.
The season now goes -- incredibly -- from bad to worse for Oden, out for this season after fracturing his left kneecap during a game against the Houston Rockets on Dec. 5.
The 7-foot center was the No. 1 pick in the 2007 NBA draft and averaged 11.1 points and 8.5 rebounds in 21 starts this season.
missed his rookie season after have microfracture surgery on his right knee, so he knows about misfortune.
Trail Blazers fans such as myself are well-versed in it as well.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Jackson 5 brightened a grey day

I listened to my six favorite JACKSON 5 songs while driving around in the SNOW yesterday.
It just seemed like the appropriate response to WINTER'S CONTINUED GRIP.
I don't profess to be a Jackson 5 authority, but I know I love these six songs.
"I Want You Back," "ABC," "The Love You Save," "I'll Be There," "Mama's Pearl" and "Never Can Say Goodbye" were all hits, and they all brighten a grey day.
Usually on dull, grey days I subject myself to equally grey (but never dull) music.
Yesterday was different: I needed some sonic sun.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Dreaming about the sun

I looked it up: Our last SUNNY DAY was Wednesday, Jan. 13.
The high temperature was only 34 that day -- not exactly conducive to sun-bathing.

I think that explains my dream last night.

I dreamt JILL and I were driving around the Bay Area communities of WALNUT CREEK (pictured), PLEASANT HILL and CONCORD on a sunny day.

We visited a few shops and had the same car we do now. It was all rather mundane for a dream. Except for the bit about the sun.

I grew up in Concord, but I don't think the place was the most important aspect of this dream.
I think this dream was a subconscious yearning for some sun.

Coincidentally, I have a conscious yearning for that, too.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

"No name will be greater than his"

He was the top player in an AUSTRALIAN CRICKET TEAM so dominant the English press nicknamed them "THE INVINCIBLES."
SIR DON BRADMAN had already announced his upcoming retirement from Test cricket, and as he entered the batting crease against ENGLAND at The Oval in August 1948, "The Don" only required four runs to conclude his career with an average of 100 runs per game in Test cricket.

In a momentous surprise, England's Eric Hollies bowled Bradman out for a "duck" -- 0 runs scored -- and Bradman's Test average finished at 99.94 runs per game.

It's the only blemish on a career that many people in the world consider the greatest of any athlete in any sport.

I just read about Australia's 1948 tour of England in "STORY OF THE ASHES," a great book on the cricket rivalry I recently acquired in the U.K.

Statistician Charles Davis once analysed the careers of several prominent athletes, comparing the number of standard deviations -- how much variation there is from the average -- that they stood above the mean for their sport.

The analysis judged Bradman as the top performer of any athlete, above Pele in soccer, Ty Cobb in baseball, Jack Nicklaus in golf and Michael Jordan.

Like Wayne Gretzky in hockey, Bradman was a statistical freak.

That 99.94 run average of Bradman's is nearly 40 runs higher than anyone else in cricket history who has played more than 20 Test matches. Bradman scored centuries (100 runs in an innings) at a rate better than one every three innings. He scored his 29 centuries in only 80 Test innings. The next greatest run scorer, Sachin Tendulkar of India, required 159 innings to reach 29 centuries.

Other cricket legends struggle to describe Bradman's momentous standing in the sport.

"The word 'great' is used far too often," said Sir Garfield Sobers, the West Indies cricketer considered the sport's greatest all-rounder (combining bowling, batting and fielding skills). "You can't call Don Bradman great, and Brian Lara great, or even David Gower great as well. If Lara and Gower were great, then you simply have to invent a different word for Bradman."

I like how THE CRICKETER magazine described Bradman, in reporting on that final Test at The Oval in 1948:

"It would be superfluous to praise his greatness as a batsman. Clearly his name will live in cricket history. No name will be greater than his."

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Smiths, Pixies, Joy Division punctuate our film night

You can't go wrong with a film about fans of THE SMITHS.
That's what I thought last night, as we watched the film "(500) DAYS OF SUMMER" on pay per view.

The film, a nonlinear narrative look at a failed romance, stars JOSEPH GORDON-LEVITT as Tom and ZOOEY DESCHANEL as Summer, greeting card company employees and fans of The Smiths who strike up a conversation in an elevator when Summer recognizes the song playing through Tom's headphones -- "There is a Light That Never Goes Out."

I liked Tom's character even more when he sings "Here Comes Your Man" by PIXIES at karaoke and later wears the "Unknown Pleasures" T-shirt for JOY DIVISION.

Any film with a Joy Division reference is A-OK in my book ("DONNIE DARKO" comes to mind).

Director MARC WEBB'S nonlinear storytelling style is interesting, the characters have chemistry, and "(500) Days of Summer" had something for everyone in our household -- Jill and Annika loved the romantic comedy plot, Kerstin received a Matthew Gray Gubler fix (her celebrity crush who doesn't sparkle when the sunlight hits him) and I could play spot-the-alternative-song.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Readers' recent listening habits revealed!

Last night, I drove back from an out-of-town assignment on an ice-slickened rural highway.
Rather than become consumed by worry, I simply slowed down and turned up The Kinks.
I made it back to the office in a fine frame of mind.
That's one example of the benefits of listening (unless, of course, I had paid so much attention to the song that I had left the icy roadway and landed in a ditch).

ROUTE 1 readers provide some more memorable listening experiences by answering this week's FRIDAY QUESTION:

"What have you enjoyed listening to lately?
RICK T. -- Typing in old Country songs on YouTube and listening to them play. Love it!

SASKIA M. -- I've been listening to Regina Spektor a lot lately. The song "Eet" from her "Far" album is currently my favorite song.

STEVE M. -- Cedar Walton's most recent because I saw that quartet at the Village Vanguard in N.Y.C.

KERSTIN H. -- A lot of random things.

JOHN S. -- My new iPod.

MICHAEL M. -- I'm enjoying the digital audio edition of "Game Change" by John Heilemann and Mark Halperin. I am disappointed, though, by these "search inside this book" results from 103 results for 'iowa'; 24 results for 'des moines'; 5 results for 'cedar rapids'; 2 results for 'iowa city'; 2 results for 'waterloo'; and 0 results for 'dubuque'. Seems like a missed opportunity for Dubuque since candidates spent tens of millions of dollars in our state during a historic campaign that will be discussed for years to come.
MIKE D. -- My 4-year-old son singing with the rest of his preschool classmates at the Sunday church service.
BEKAH P. -- I go to Pandora Radio online and then listen to the Regina Spektor station. That gets me a listening experience that includes everything from Feist to Billie Holiday.

MARY N.-P. -- My husband's new full set of re-mastered Beatles CDs (which he plays pretty much non-stop, smiling broadly!)

BRIAN C. -- The soundtrack from a movie I have not seen, "Across the Universe," featuring interesting covers of Beatles songs.

KERI M. -- Josh Groban.

LISA Y. -- My boss made a CD of songs that our staff submitted to him. The songs could be favorites, someone's story, a memory, or whatever. It's a huge variety of music....very fun!
ERIK H. -- As you might have gathered from the introduction, I have been on a bit of a Kinks bender since returning from London. The Kinks seem the most "Londonesque" of the three big London bands of the British Invasion period -- including The Rolling Stones and The Who. My favorite Kinks song changes every day, but the song currently topping my "Kinks Chart" is the multiple-movement epic, "Shangri-La." Dave Davies says this song is his favorite composed by his brother Ray (Kinks singer/songwriter Ray Davies), and I tend to agree with him.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

"Idol" is all fun and games until the "lawnmower" gets arrested

One of our guilty pleasures as a family is watching "AMERICAN IDOL," particularly the early season episodes.
These are the episodes when people who think they can sing but can't unleash their "talent" on the judges and the viewing public. It's hard not to watch, even if the sounds sometimes sound like nails on a chalkboard.

Occasionally, a singing diamond in the rough appears. Last night's highlight from the Orlando, Fla., auditions was probably Jermaine Purifoy. He was a one-time Idol failure you earned a trip to Hollywood with a version of a Tony Bennett song.

The lowlight was almost assuredly the appearance of 28-year-old graphic designer Jarrod Norrell (pictured).

The judges described his rendition of "Amazing Grace" as sounding like a lawnmower.

Unanimously turned down by the judges, Norrell refused to leave. Security personnel escorted Norrell from the audition room, but he continued to resist and was eventually arrested.

Classic TV moment? Probably not.

Perverse entertainment after a busy day of work. Oh yeah.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Victorian-era cricket? Only in my dreams

There's a first time for everything.
Last night, I dreamt about VICTORIAN-ERA CRICKET for the first time.

The players all had facial hair and the spectators all wore bowlers or top hats. I think there might have even been a lengthy ocean voyage involved.

It was cricket, though, so it was nice and warm. Not like last night in reality, when I slipped on the ice in our back alley.

Almost assuredly, I experienced a rare (for me) cricket dream because I have been reading "STORY OF THE ASHES," a chronicle of the ENGLAND v. AUSTRALIA rivalry I acquired in CAMBRIDGE, during my recent trip to Britain.

The book collects numerous match reports and essays from the pages of WISDEN CRICKET MONTHLY and THE CRICKETER, a pair of esteemed, rival cricket magazines that merged in 2003.

Although I have been reading the book for days, I have only now reached 1902 -- which speaks to cricket's long history.

Before falling asleep and dreaming about cricket, I read about JACK BROWN -- England's doomed hero of 1895.

With the series against Australia level at two victories each and England chasing 297 runs to win the final Test match against Australia in Melbourne, Brown scored 140 runs to win the match. Brown scored his first 50 runs in just 28 minutes -- still the fastest recorded half-century in Test cricket.

Brown died in 1904, age just 35, of heart failure, robbing England of a legendary player.

Waking up, I had to take a few moments to realize I wasn't watching cricket during Queen Victoria's reign, and that the only rain I would experience today would be the freezing variety. That's just not cricket.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Coogan family fun

I watched an episode of "KNOWING ME, KNOWING YOU... WITH ALAN PARTRIDGE" on DVD last night.
STEVE COOGAN stars as the insufferably smug host of a faux chat show. A true comedy classic, the show verges on unbearably funny at times.
After watching that episode, I watched the YouTube video for one of the great, "lost songs" of the 1990s.
"CAN YOU DIG IT?" reached No. 18 in 1991, making it the biggest hit for Manchester band, THE MOCK TURTLES.

MARTIN COOGAN (pictured) -- Steve's older brother -- was lead vocalist of the band.
Now, I can hear how the song might become lumped in with other examples of the "Madchester" style, with its dance-influenced drums and psychedelic guitar solo.
However, it's a marvelous song in its own right.

Click here to see the video on YouTube.

Monday, January 18, 2010

I finally "Come Dancing" with The Kinks

THE KINKS are one of those bands who seem to have a high percentage of songs I could listen to forever -- "Sunny Afternoon," "Waterloo Sunset" and "Sweet Lady Genevieve" spring immediately to mind.
I used an iTunes card this weekend to flesh out my Kinks collection (or "Kinks Kollection," as they might have spelled it).

Can you believe I never had "Come Dancing" or "A Rock N Roll Fantasy" on my iPod? Shameful.

"Come Dancing" is considered a "comeback" song, although vocalist?songwriter/group leader RAY DAVIES never really went away -- it's just people weren't recognizing his genius.

"Come Dancing" became the band's first UK top 20 hit in more than a decade (it reached No. 11) the song peaked at No. 6 here in the United States.

It's yet another sign of Davies' talent, and the enduring quality of The Kinks.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Seventh heaven for a team I don't hate as much anymore

I covered a rally this morning, so I missed a rout.
While I scribbled notes at a Walk for Life event, Frank Lampard and Nicolas Anelka were scoring twice as CHELSEA defeated SUNDERLAND, 7-2, to remain one point above Manchester United in the PREMIER LEAGUE table with a game in hand.
I detested Chelsea at the beginning of the reign of the club's Russian billionaire owner, Roman Abramovich. Chelsea seemed to have purchased their way to the top, like the richest American sports teams, and their smug, then-manager JOSE MOURINHO always rubbed me the wrong way.
Now, Chelsea are no longer England's richest club -- Middle-Eastern money men have entered the frame -- and I genuinely miss Mourinho. The self-styled "Special One" at least added spice to the typically drab office of football club manager. He could hold his own in mind games perpetuated by other managers (Fergie), too.
Sitting in the HARWOOD ARMS in FULHAM a couple weeks back, I flicked through a Chelsea FA Cup programme and watched as replica shirt-wearing Chelsea supporters began filling the pub, renewing acquaintances while quaffing pre-match pints. I began to realize that my bitter animosity toward the Blues might be ebbing.
However, don't call me a Chelsea supporter yet. My lifelong affinity for the underdog -- for David against Goliath -- is too strong for that to happen.
I'll continue to hope against hope for the Owls and O's of the world.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Route 1 readers are making plans

Happy New Year everyone!
ROUTE 1 expects a busy 2010, and our readers do as well, judging from the answers to this week's FRIDAY QUESTION:

"Have you any big plans for the new year?"

KERI M. -- To move! And pay off my car.

BEKAH P. -- To move to Seattle!

JIM S. -- I'm hoping to seriously start another book. And, watch the Red Sox AND the S.F. Giants in the World Series.

BOB H. -- Yes, several big ones: 1) Get a new car - done; 2011 Kia Sorento (yes 2011 -- first Kia to be built in the U.S., Georgia plant). 2) Lose weight -- started; joined Weightwatchers with Roseanne last Saturday. 3) Remodel kitchen and dining room -- still in planning stage. 4) Spend summer in Bellevue, Iowa with "Old Man River" and family -- long way to go.

RICK T. -- Going to travel more. I love to travel.

STEVE M. -- Have or had? Just for the holidays, my wife and I went to Manhattan for six days. The big thing for me was going to the Village Vanguard for the first time! We saw the Cedar Walton quartet, and liked them very much. I was surprised at what a dive it was. I could just picture Bill Evans and his trio playing there in 1961.

JOHN S. -- I am going to do three triathlons.

KERSTIN H. -- Well, not that it's huge or anything, but I'm going to Forks!!!! My parents just don't know it yet.

JEFF T. -- I'd like to finally finish my thesis... or eat two meatball sandwiches in one sitting.

MIKE D. -- Yes. 1. Break my personal record for biggest fish, currently at 7 pounds. 2. Watch the Cubs in the World Series.

ERIK H. -- We plan to take a vacation to Oregon sometime this summer.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

What a sad day for music

BBC RADIO 5 LIVE just reported on the death of TEDDY PENDERGRASS and my heart sank.
His vocals on HAROLD MELVIN & THE BLUE NOTES classics such as "If You Don't Know Me By Now," "Don't Leave Me This Way" and "Bad Luck" made him my favorite soul star.

I'm gutted hearing of his death at age 59.

Family members blame the death on a "difficult recovery" from colon cancer surgery.

Pendergrass began his music career as a drummer, then rose to fame as lead singer of the Blue Notes.

He stepped away from the band for a solo career marked by smooth love ballads.
However, it was an horrific injury that made headlines in 1982.

Pendergrass crashed his Rolls-Royce, suffering a spinal cord injury that left him paralyzed from the waist down.

He adjusted to his disabilities and continued singing.

Nothing could still that great voice... until now.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Rockin' Rod sparks the day's song choice

ROD STEWART turned 65 over the weekend, so I listened to the marvelous FACES while driving around yesterday.
I love so many of the band's songs, but yesterday it was "Sweet Lady Mary" from the album "Long Player" that had me singing along.

"Sweet Lady Mary has to rest her poor head. Wakes in the morning with her breakfast in bed. I tried to help her but I did not know how. I tried to love her but it's all over now."

Stewart made some questionable career choices later in his career, but he was right among the best rock vocalists at his peak.

"Over the stones along the dusty old road. With every footstep one more tale is told. With every turning one more side to see. Sweet Lady Mary's seen the last of me."

I'm one of those rock fans who bemoans The Faces not getting their just recognition. We rarely hear their songs on the radio, and the tune people seem to know from films and television -- "Ooh La La" -- was sung by RON WOOD, not Stewart or second vocalist (the underrated) RONNIE LANE.

The Faces are so good, I'll probably listen to them today as well.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Reintroduction via the radio

My reintroduction to the UNITED STATES is nearly complete: KERSTIN convinced me to log onto an AMERICAN RADIO STATION as we prepared for school and work this morning.
Facilitated by the Internet and fueled by my desire to perpetuate my recent trip to LONDON, I have only been listening to BRITISH RADIO STATIONS for the past several days.
We typically get our news from the newspaper and radio stations in my native California and other states. When Kerstin discovered she hadn't heard about this weekend's earthquake in Eureka, Calif., she demanded action.
"We need to listen to an American station," she said.
We decided to listen to KNX 1070, the LOS ANGELES all-news station.
We heard about Pete Carroll about to leave USC for the NFL job in Seattle... We heard about Southern California temperatures hovering in the mid-70s (lucky!)... We heard about authorities closing the 101 Freeway because of a suspicious device found in Universal City, Calif. (pictured).
We didn't hear about British councils rationing grit for the icy roads... We didn't hear about Nick Clegg shelving Lib Dem campaign pledges because of the recession... We didn't hear about Manchester United raising £500 million to service its debt.
I miss British news already.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Pets give cold shoulder to Serie A match during "Big Freeze"

"THE BIG FREEZE" forced the postponement of today's PREMIER LEAGUE football matches, so the pets and I watched a live SERIE A match on television instead.
Ronaldinho scored two second-half goals as visiting MILAN beat JUVENTUS, 3-0, a result that piled pressure on the home side's manager, Ciro Ferrara, while prompting the unhappy home supporters to set fires in the stands.

RORY THE DISCRIMINATING, FOOTBALL-WATCHING DOG was not impressed. As Milan began stroking the ball around midfield to kill off the game, Rory fell asleep on my lap -- loudly snoring in the process.

Not even the presence of David Beckham in Milan's lineup could maintain the interest of the cats, who shrugged and returned to the bedrooms upstairs. During a Premier League match, they often drape themselves all over me as I try to watch.

I enjoyed watching the Italian game, but I admit I am ready for a thaw -- both here and at football grounds around the United Kingdom.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

"And it ain't me who's gonna leave"

I think I am in denial.
I refuse to believe I have left LONDON.

What did I watch on television today? ARSENAL and EVERTON playing to a 2-2 draw at the Emirates... in London.

What did I read today? "THE GLORY GAME," the pioneering football book by HUNTER DAVIES... a book about a club from London...

What did I listen to on the radio today? GARY CROWLEY interviewing RON AND RUSSELL MAEL of SPARKS on BBC LONDON 94.9 online... a radio station from -- well, you get the general drift, don't you?

If it is indeed denial (and most assuredly, it is), at least I am deluding myself with pure class.

The Mael brothers were absolutely delightful, speaking on the radio. They remain genuinely surprised that their hit "THIS TOWN AIN'T BIG ENOUGH FOR THE BOTH OF US" helped cement their position as legends in the United Kingdom -- and prophets with very little honor at home.

The Southern California natives have never been easy to classify, and they did not exactly fit the mold of early 1970s glam rock in Britain.

You can tell, I think, because their quirky tunes have aged exceeding well.

But, what do I know? I am apparently living under the delusion that I can walk out my door, turn a corner and hop on the tube.

Cor blimey... I am definitely in denial.

Friday, January 08, 2010

Pilgrimmage to Memphis

They began arriving early in the morning at Gate 22 of Terminal 4 at HEATHROW.
They wore lanyards around their necks with identifying cards that read:

"ELVIS 75th."

ROUTE 1 editorial apprentice ANNIKA isn't the only person with a BIRTHDAY today. "The King" was also born on this date, and some of his British fans are celebrating by visiting Graceland, then Las Vegas.

I know, because my flight from LONDON to DETROIT this week included approximately 140 members of the ELVIS PRESLEY UK FAN CLUB on a pilgrimage to MEMPHIS.

Half the men sported "Elvis hairstyles." All the men I saw boasted numerous Elvis-themed tattoos as well. About half the women did as well, worryingly.

I sat next to a nice older geezer named Alexander Strachan during the 7 1/2-hour flight to the States. The resident of Peterhead, Scotland sported his fair share of tattoos and "E" and "P" earrings adorned his left ear lobe. He was old enough to be my dad and he was making his sixth trip to Graceland.

We chatted and I helped him fill out his USA entry card. I wish I could have bid him a proper farewell, but we lost track of each other in the ridiculously long wait to clear customs.

I'm sure he's having a grand old time of it today, though.

It's the King's day, isn't it?