Sunday, February 28, 2010

Rooney leads United... again

It's probably true what the commentators say: WAYNE ROONEY is just about the best player in the world.
Rooney came off the bench today to head the winner as MANCHESTER UNITED defeated ASTON VILLA, 2-1, to win THE 50TH CARLING CUP FINAL at WEMBLEY.
We watched the match live on television this morning.
Surprisingly on the bench at the start of the match, Rooney replaced the injured Michael Owen in the 42nd minute.
Aston Villa opened the scoring early, with a James Milner penalty in the fifth minute. Villa supporters will probably argue Nemanja Vidic should have been at least cautioned for the foul that led to the penalty.
There was no disputing Owen's equaliser in the 13th minute, and I thought United always seemed the most likely to win.
The victory gives SIR ALEX FERGUSON the 33rd major trophy of his career.
I cannot abide Manchester United, but I have to give (begrudgingly) credit where it is due.
Fergie and Rooney are doing wonders.
I hope Rooney carries on in that vein for ENGLAND at the World Cup!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Good music from the Great Black North

I have plenty of albums of JAMAICAN IMMIGRANTS who continued to make music after moving to BRITAIN.
Yesterday, I purchased an album of former islanders who continued their music making after moving to CANADA.
"JAMAICA TO TORONTO: SOUL, FUNK & REGGAE 1967-1974" actually contains more R&B than reggae, but that 's no crime when the music is this good -- even if the artists are mostly new to me.
There's plenty of stuff discover.
For example, Eddie Spencer sounds like a Canadian version of Otis Redding.
The guitarist Wayne McGhie shows up on so many of these tracks that he must have been a leading light of Toronto's West Indies music scene.
The Montego Bay native wrote or performed many of the tunes on the this disc by LIGHT IN THE ATTIC RECORDS.
After listening to it about four times in 24 hours, I highly recommend it.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Good morning readers!

A light is slowly spreading across the eastern horizon and I just burned my tongue with some hot coffee -- it must be morning!
ROUTE 1 readers shrugged off the final remnants of sleep (well, most of them did) to answer this week's FRIDAY QUESTION:

"What is your favorite way to start the day?"

MIKE D. -- Two or three bowls of cereal.

BEKAH P. -- That's way too easy. I like to start my day by sleeping in! Then, it'll get even better if waking up late is followed by a marvelous brunch served with all-you-can-drink mimosas.

MIKE M. -- I enjoy taking inventory of the children and small animals who've crept into my bed during the night.

JOHN S. -- I love it when I get to use a new tooth brush for the first time.

SASKIA M. -- Sleep in, then have coffee and read news on laptop in bed.

STEVE M. -- Sleeping in. If I am up, an extended period with coffee and the newspaper.

RICK T. -- Start with a Pepsi!

KERSTIN H. -- Get up and laze around.

SANDYE V. -- With a 20-30 minute walk or bike ride (preferably when the weather is lovely.)

ROSEANNE H. -- Coffee and the newspaper!

BRIAN M. -- My FAVORITE way to start the day is waking up when I want to wake up, not when the alarm sounds at 4 a.m. A shower, a pot of coffee and the Internet are also essential to a good morning.

KERI M. -- Rolling over and seeing my boyfriend next to me and then going for breakfast together OR grabbing a Timmies and taking the long way to work while have old school 90's hip hop/rap cranked (the later I only like doing in the spring/summer).

JIM S. -- When the weather cooperates, I love starting the day with a run (usually, that's in the spring and fall) Breakfast most often is peanut butter toast and/or Honey Nut Cheerios and a mixture of fruit juices (when I'm "bad," I'll eat a small bag of Famous Amos cookies.

ERIK H. -- Lately, I have really enjoyed waking up with a cup (or three) of coffee while listening to the Chris Evans Breakfast Show on BBC Radio 2 online. Evans is an accomplished DJ, funny and engaging, and he plays some great tunes, too.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

'appen I'll sit here all night

SAMUEL SMITH'S NUT BROWN ALE is brewed in YORKSHIRE, where some of the locals use the word "happen" in place of "maybe."
"Happen I'll sit here all night" would mean: "Maybe I'll sit here all night."

I am sipping on some Nut Brown Ale right now, listening to some NICK DRAKE and unwinding.

I want to watch some Olympics on television, but the allure of just sitting here, sipping here and listening to "At the Chime of a City Clock" is just too great.

Actually, Yorkshire people sometimes fail to pronounce the "H" at the beginning of words, so what I really mean to say is:
"'appen I'll sit here all night."
And I just might.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Body to me: Get on the treadmill and listen to The Feeling

I don't get too many clear-cut messages from my body, but this morning's message was unmistakable.
I woke up with my feet simulating walking, so I knew I had to get on the TREADMILL as soon as possible.

I grabbed the iPod and dialed up a playlist loaded with BRITISH and IRISH POP.

Beginning with Glen Hansard's "Falling Slowly," I progressed through songs by acts such as Glasvegas, Joe Lean and the Jing Jang Jong, Hot Chip and the immeasurably catchy "I THOUGHT IT WAS OVER" by THE FEELING.

The latter song reached No. 9 in the British charts in 2007 and routinely finds its way onto radio playlists.

It makes us smile every time we hear it, and it worked wonders while walking on the treadmill, too.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Their hair is still rubbish

The JOURNEY classic "DON'T STOP BELIEVIN'" just played on BBC RADIO 2.
The American hit is enjoying a remarkable renaissance in Britain, where it only reached No. 62 on the charts upon its February 1982 release.

A Facebook campaign and use of the song on both "The X-Factor" and "Glee" have led to numerous digital downloads -- enough to send the song to No. 9 in the U.K. charts for Dec. 22, 2009.

I really didn't pay much attention to the song at the time of its initial release -- it was a little too mainstream for me.

"Don't Stop Believin'" has grown on my through the years, however, and I must say I enjoyed hearing it on the radio this morning.

The band's hair still looks terrible, mind you.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

America as the underdog against Canada? It happened tonight

I was thinking about it while watching CANADA versus the USA in men's Olympic hockey tonight.
There are few instances when America can be considered the UNDERDOG in relation to our neighbors to the north.

Economy? Nope.

Cultural influence? Nope.

Any sport besides hockey (and probably curling)? Nope.

So, it was odd to think of the team in red, white and blue as David to a Canadian Goliath.

Both teams sported players from the NATIONAL HOCKEY LEAGUE -- teammates faced teammates, line mates faced line mates and even roommates faced roommates -- albeit wearing differing national team sweaters. Because of the NHL presence, the gap in talent wasn't that great.

Still, the Americans were 2-10 with three ties all-time against Canada, and posted five losses and a draw since a 2-1 win in the 1960 Squaw Valley Games.

It was an upset, then, when Brian Rafalski scored twice tonight and the USA beat Canada, 5-3.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

I haven't thought of Marilyn's "Calling Your Name" for 27 years -- why start now?

"I hear you on the radio, I hear you all the time..."
We were scrambling to find "CALLING YOUR NAME" by MARILYN and other musical nuggets from the past today.

ROUTE 1 APPRENTICE KERSTIN spent the day creating a playlist that would have made her dad (that would be ME) proud.

She began the playlist with "WE ARE THE WORLD," followed it with a song from each of that charity single's soloists, then began to add a song each from the soloists from BAND-AID'S "DO THEY KNOW IT'S CHRISTMAS," concluding her playlist with that song.
We searched high and low for CDs by Culture Club, Paul Young, Willie Nelson and Billy Joel, while purchasing selected tracks from iTunes.
I was happy to help Kerstin in her endeavor. It seemed like the sort of thing I would attempt -- the creation of a unique and original playlist.

Friday, February 19, 2010

No one said "Fried HoHos"

The first few months of the new year are usually given over to resolutions, some devoted to healthy eating, and Lent has arrived with its self-sacrificing intentions often targeting food.
Thus, it is with ROUTE 1's usual lack of proper timing that readers answer this week's FRIDAY QUESTION:

"What is your favorite fried food?"

ELLEN B. -- Funnel cake! Yummy.

MIKE D. -- My doctor advises me against participating in this Friday Question.

RICK T. -- Southern fried chicken.

KERSTIN H. -- I don't have one so I'm just going to say fried Twinkies.

SASKIA M. -- Texas Roadhouse's Onion Blossom!

JOHN S. -- Chicken wings!

KERI M. -- Mars Bars!

SANDYE V. -- I don't eat fried foods very often, since I don't want to die of a heart attack before I get to retire. But I do make an exception for the sweet potato fries dunked in a spicy sauce at Star Restaurant. I first tasted sweet potato fries at a little restaurant called The Herb Garden in Angola, Ind. We go to a puppet festival near there every November and a highlight of the weekend is supper with friends at this restaurant. So I was delighted to find a local restaurant serving them. Plus, sweet potatoes are good for you, so maybe it cancels out some of the saturated fat....?

BEKAH P. -- I don't have a favorite. I like them all. But right now, I could realllllly go for some fried dill pickles. Seriously scrumptious, those!

JEFF T. -- I have a real weakness for onion rings and fried pickles... probably in my arteries!

CLINT A. -- Homemade Mashed Potatoes, mashed by hand, not whipped. . .Yukon Gold. . .garlic. . .lots of butter. . .

ERIK H. -- I didn't even know Fried Macaroni & Cheese existed until a week ago. Since, this Wisconsin delicacy has stormed to the top of my Fried Food Charts.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Samantha Fox doesn't like The Fall... or The Smiths

One of the many powers of books is the ability to lead us away from dreary, daily reality.
A personnel development at work (not involving me) has cast a sudden pall on the week, so I am thankful I can find some solace in the pages of "RENEGADE: THE LIVES AND TALES OF MARK E. SMITH," a rather rambling, book-long rant by the leader of THE FALL.
If anyone is worthy of a book-long rant, it is the acerbic Smith.

Here is a portion of his book I read yesterday, complete with a magazine review of a Fall single by pinup/"singer" SAMANTHA FOX (pictured).

Smash Hits did give us one of my favourite reviews.

Singles reviewed by Samantha Fox (1986) The Fall: Living Too Late (Beggars Banquet)

I didn't like this at all -- it's really crappy. He sounds like he's been having yodelling lessons. It seems to be the fashion of the moment to like The Smiths and these sorts of groups, and to me the lyrics are really depressing. I heard one the other day while I was in Kensington Market trying on some jeans and it gave me a headache. The Smiths, it was. Singing 'Oh my God, I can't get a job, what am I going to do?' As for this song, I listened to the first half and I had to turn it off. My mother was in the other room and she shouted, 'Nah, I don't like that one -- get it off!'

That's as good as it got inside Smash Hits: Page 3 birds airing their views. I think it's great, actually -- better than being harangued by Tony Parsons and Julie Burchill.

Monday, February 15, 2010

"My Sharona" creator dies

"We had to, didn't we," British Radio 2 DJ CHRIS EVANS said this morning, as he introduced "MY SHARONA" by THE KNACK.
Yes, they did.

American singer-songwriter DOUG FIEGER died yesterday, age 57 of cancer.

Fieger's place in pop history is assured, having co-written "My Sharona" for his band, The Knack, along with guitarist Berton Averre.

The 1979 single reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart, remaining for six weeks and dominating radio playlists at the time.

I've heard the song countless times. It remains an iconic slice of pop.

Interestingly, Fieger's brother later made headlines for his work in the courts. Geoffrey Fieger was the Michigan attorney who represented "assisted suicide" physician Dr. Jack Kevorkian.

I'll probably hear "My Sharona" several times today, as music fans pay tribute to its creator.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Up the charts for charity

We're sitting around the kitchen table, eating PITA & HUMMUS and listening to the BBC RADIO 1 CHART SHOW online.
They're up to No. 6 and "Starstrukk" by 3OH!3 (feat. Katy Perry). It is OK, but not as significant as what's coming up at No. 1.

The R.E.M. cover "EVERYBODY HURTS," by the all-star collective HELPING HAITI, debuted at the top of the British charts today.

Leona Lewis, Rod Stewart, Cheryl Cole, Mika and even Susan Boyle are among the soloists on the charity single, produced by SIMON COWELL.

We purchased it on iTunes today, as well as the newly recorded version of "WE ARE THE WORLD."
Judging from the tear-jerking video (see it by clicking here), "Everybody Hurts" will probably remain on the charts for some time.
Since the proceeds will help victims of the earthquake, while raising awareness of their plight, that's a good thing.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

It's the Scummers v. the Skates

It's called the "SOUTH COAST DERBY."
SOUTHAMPTON is a merchant port, PORTSMOUTH is a naval port, and a mere 21 miles separate the two arch rival football clubs, who met in the FA CUP today.

Portsmouth supporters often refer to their Southampton counterparts as "Scummers" and Southampton supporters refer to their rivals as the "Skates," a derogatory term for sailors (since Portsmouth is home to the Royal Navy).

So, there is no love lost between the clubs, who met for the first time competitively in five seasons.

The Premier League's basement club, Portsmouth sit 37 league places higher than League One Southampton, but the latter's future appears considerably brighter.
Financially troubled Portsmouth have struggled to pay players' wages this season, and face the real prospect of liquidation over unpaid debts.

It was the Skates' day today, however, as Portsmouth scored a quartet of second-half goals to down the home side, 4-1.

Watching it live on TV, it was easy to see how much the match meant to both sides of this bitter divide.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Desert island tip No. 1: Books, yes. Alarm clock, no.

Hello and welcome to the tried and trusted STRANDED ON A DESERT ISLAND theme (as opposed to the far-less healthy, "stranded on a dessert island theme").
I can tell you what I wouldn't want with me on a desert island -- my alarm clock, which went off today even though I am off work (something about having to help the girls get up for school).

I would like to read if I was stuck on that island, as would other ROUTE 1 readers, based on answers to this week's FRIDAY QUESTION:

"What book would you want on a desert island?"

STEVE M. -- Like the English Patient: "The Histories by Herodotus." A very soothing story about ancient history and travels, like an uncle telling you cool stories.

BEKAH P. -- How can you choose only one? I guess, if forced to pick, I'd go with "Outlander." It's a 1,000+ page smutty romance/adventure about a World War II nurse who accidentally travels back in time to Scotland during the height of the clan wars. Absolutely bloody brilliant reading! I never seem to get sick of it.

KERSTIN H. -- "Twilight." Duh.

MIKE M. -- I'd prefer an unlimited supply of blank paper, pencils and ink pens, but I'd take the final edition of "Passport to World Band Radio" if I could also take my Grundig Yacht Boy.

JOHN S. -- "Selkirk's Island."

SANDYE V. -- A big one with blank pages. And a couple of pens.

RICK T. -- "How to Survive!"

KERI M. -- "Eat, Pray, Love."

JIM S. -- Well, of course, the Bible. If not that, then a dictionary. If that also doesn't count, I'd want "War and Peace," something that will last a while.

MIKE D. -- Probably a recipe book. Or a collection of "Far Side" cartoons. Or maybe "The Compleat Angler" by Isaac Walton, which might provide some insight on survival. It might not make my list of island reading material, but my son has been reading a book called "Frindle," which is the best kid's story that I've seen in a long time.
ERIK H. -- "The Sunday Times Illustrated History of Football" wouldn't help me catch a wild island pig and eat it, but its numerous details about the game I love the most would help take my mind off my inability to open a coconut.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

20 Years of Freedom

I sang "FREE NELSON MANDELA" by THE SPECIAL A.K.A., on Feb. 11, 1990 -- the day 20 years ago when NELSON MANDELA was freed.
I'll do the same thing today.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

New (wet) face in hell

I had the kind of day when you're cleaning your bathroom, the sink's HOT WATER FAUCET comes off in your hand and WATER SPURTS like a geyser onto the bathroom light, which begins to smoke.
Literally, that's what happened to me about an hour ago.
I had to race down the stairs to the basement and shut off the water, then push the faucet back down into place.
MARK E. SMITH tends to sing about days like that in his role as leader of THE FALL.
I am reading what passes for his autobiography ("RENEGADE") and listened to one of my favorite albums by the band, "GROTESQUE (AFTER THE GRAMME)" while driving around today.
Like many Fall fans, I peg this 1980 gem among the band's top albums, along with "Hex Enduction Hour" and "This Nation's Saving Grace."
"New Face in Hell," "English Scheme" and the marvelous "Container Drivers" are among the should-have-been hits on "Grotesque."
Here is what Smith had to say about the album in "Renegade:" "They wanted a more commercial style record and I handed them 'Grotesque.' Stuff like 'Container Drivers' and 'Pay Your Rates' was very unusual in those days. Groups didn't record rockabilly country and western songs about these subjects."
"Pay your rates, pay your water rates," Smith sings on "Pay Your Rates." "If your rate's too high, write a snotty letter."
I hear that song, and I think of water gushing all over my bathroom.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Jolt out of the winter blues

The world always seems so subdued when it's covered by a blanket of SNOW. That's why I am glad the distinctive opening of "ALWAYS ON MY MIND" by the PET SHOP BOYS just came through the laptop speakers. CHRIS EVANS just played the song on his BBC RADIO 2 show, which we are hearing online. The song was just what I needed to jolt me out of some WINTER BLUES. Not even the treadmill could rouse me sufficiently, as snow fell all around our house.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Special burgers tonight

I made special BURGERS for dinner tonight.
Combined with a good salad, red potatoes with rosemary and green beans and almonds, they made for a meal that enlivened a snowy, hectic Monday.
Here is the recipe:
1 lb. ground beef
1/4 cup Lea & Perrins Worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients.
Shape into four patties.
Grill or broil to desired doneness.

They were wonderful, and highly recommended.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Who is that guy laughing in the cafeteria? Me

My wife JILL and I are sharing DANCE COMPETITION duties with ANNIKA this season. It was my turn to accompany Annika to today's dance competition, at DYERSVILLE, IOWA.
When we arrived, we learnt it was standing room only for parents in the gym, and Annika wasn't dancing for another three hours.

I decided not to stand and watch kids I didn't know, so while Annika hung out with her dance teammates, I sat in the school cafeteria (with a dozen other parents) and began reading "RENEGADE: THE LIVES AND TALES OF MARK E. SMITH."

Smith, leader of post-punk legends THE FALL, tells his life story and shares his (strong) opinions in the book -- which provides for some entertaining reading.

Here is one of his recollections from childhood:

"I used to stay with this Irish family in Salford. They were helping my mam and dad out. They were lovely people. Always singing Elvis songs and these old Dublin ballads. But they never knew the lyrics, they'd just make them up. Their version of 'All the Young Dudes' was fantastic, better than the original -- 'I'm going to Woolworths, I'm going to shag a cow to death...' Proper lyrics."

I laughed out loud. "Proper lyrics," indeed.

I eventually stood along the side of the gym and watched Annika dance.
I continued to chuckle at Smith's anecdotes as we drove home in the snow.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Depleted, besieged and better for it

It's one of my favorite psychological quirks about soccer.
A red card reduces one team to 10 men, and instead of wilting, the remaining players take on a besieged mentality that sees them through to victory.
It doesn't happen every time, but it did today,
as LIVERPOOL hosted EVERTON at Anfield in the 213th MERSEYSIDE DERBY.
I watched the match live on television before heading to work.
Everton's Marouane Fellaini and Liverpool's Sotirios Kyrgiakos converged feet first on a 50-50 ball in the 33rd minute.
Referee Martin Atkinson sent Kyrgiakos packing, with a straight red card. Fellaini could have been booked, at least, but instead limped off to be replaced by Mikel Arteta.
Everton seemed to relax after gaining the numeric advantage while Liverpool seemed to become better focused at their task.
Liverpool's Dirk Kuyt scored the game's only goal, heading from close range following Steven Gerrard's corner in the 55th minute.
The match was in its dying moments when Atkinson showed his second red card of the day, this time to Everton's Steven Pienaar.
What struck me about the match was how each team reacted to the watershed of Kyrgiakos' sending off. The depleted became stronger and won.

Friday, February 05, 2010

Now I lay me down to... ZZZZZZ

Insomniacs rejoice!
Here at ROUTE 1, we're not just concerned about sports you've never heard of, films you'll never see and music you'll never hear (that's only 99.9 percent of what we do). We also offer practical tips on practical topics.

For this week's FRIDAY QUESTION, for example, we asked readers to share their go-to-sleep secrets by answering the following:

"What do you do to get to sleep at night? Any tricks?"

LISA Y. -- Currently I just fall asleep during the news, but this past weekend I took a stress management class where we tried various relaxation tapes and they were great! I plan to check out stuff on YouTube that I might be able to use at home!

LAURA C. -- I alphabetize. The way it works is you pick a topic (say, bands of the 70s) and then you have to think of an example for each letter before moving on to the next (ABBA, BTO, Chicago...). Trick is to pick a list that's just difficult enough to distract your brain from the events of the day (or anxieties about tomorrow) without being so hard that it becomes the thing that keeps you awake. If the list is too easy (for instance, breeds of dog), I make myself think of three examples per letter. Another alphabetizing exercise I do is sort of a jump rope chant: A: my name is Adam and my wife's name is Angie and we live in Arkansas and we auction art. B: my name is Bernie and my wife's name is Bonnie and we live in Birmingham and we bake bread.... You get the picture.

BRIAN M. -- What usually works for me is staying up way too late and allowing myself only four hours sleep a night. I'm asleep as soon as my head hits the pillow.

MARY N.-P. -- I'm not a good person to ask, since I've always been a "bad sleeper,' but since you did... To get to sleep, I find it helps to read for a while as it seems to cancel out the voices in your head from the day. To stay asleep, I've resorted to a half dose of a prescription sleeping aid (non-narcotic of course) when I think I'm going to wake up in the middle of the night and stare at the ceiling for hours... (it works BTW).

BEKAH P. -- I drink copious amounts of alcohol.

ANNIKA H. -- Listen to music.

STEVE M. -- Usually I have no problem, but one nice idea is to try the alphabet game. For starters use AA, BB, CC. Think of a real person, fictional person, cartoon character, etc., that has those initials. Good luck with XX. Some Chinese guy I'm sure. After you have exhausted all the ones you know (ex: HH you could use Huckleberry Hound, or Hubert Humphrey, and there are plenty of others), go on to AB, then BC, then CD. See how far you can towards YZ (never made it that far). After you have exhausted those possibilities, skip a letter and do AC, then BD, then CE etc. Really think about an answer. You will probably be asleep by GG or HH. I also have a nice CD on next to my bed. Currently one by Antony and the Johnsons (did you catch Antony on the tribute DVD to Leoneard Cohen?). But again, usually I nod off by the second song.

INGER H. -- Well, with the insomnia I have I'm not sure I should be giving out any advice, but... if I do wake up in the middle of the night, which I do with irritating regularity, some combination of milk, old movie on TCM, and Benadryl can usually get me back to sleep. Usually.

JOHN S. -- Read the TH...just kidding.

ROSEANNE H. -- A little touch of brandy and a boring movie will do it for me.

MIKE M. -- Snuggle with my kids when putting them to bed. Odds are I'll fall asleep before they do.

SASKIA M. -- I don't need to do anything. No matter where or when: as soon as I lay down comfortably and close my eyes I fall asleep within a minute.

BRIAN C. -- Read from one of my own books. (Actually, I read biographies by other authors.)

KERSTIN H. -- None, but I need some!

RICK T. -- Close my eyes!!!!!! Dauhhhhhh!

ERIK H. -- If I am having trouble, I close my eyes and try to remember the minute details of lengthy car trips -- for example, driving from Lakeview, Ore., to Portland. I usually fall to sleep long while my mind drifts silently over some two-lane road in the middle of nowhere.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

"Even the people who love me hate me"

I work a later shift, so I spent the morning watching the ANTON CORBIJN film "CONTROL" on DVD.
A chronicle of JOY DIVISION lead singer IAN CURTIS, the film is more about the dissolution of a marriage and the disintegration of a life than it is about the rise of Britain's most influential band of the post-punk era.

It's tough viewing, seeing Curtis subsumed by an overwhelming cocktail of inadequately treated epilepsy, depression, and anxiety and guilt about a prolonged, extramarital affair.
Corbijn takes starkly beautiful, iconic photographs, and the film's look follows this lead.
SAM RILEY plays Curtis and convinces as the frontman battling fatigue and fear.

I just wish the film had fleshed out the Curtis character a bit more.

I have been an avid follower of Joy Division since high school, and I know from extensive reading that Curtis was famed among his bandmates for his humor and especially his love of practical jokes.

"Control" doesn't give us a glimpse of this side of the main character, however, and I felt a little let down at the end.

Surely, there's more to the man than a suicide waiting to happen?

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

A game as unique as a fingerprint

I have nearly reached the end of "STORY OF THE ASHES," the Wisden Cricketer history of the ENGLAND v. AUSTRALIA cricket rivalry.
The nations first played in March 1877 at Melbourne. The book concludes with a Test match in January 2007 (so the book misses the 2009 series victory by England).

I have learned so much from the book -- a collection of contemporary match reports.

I read one of my favorite passages last night, after returning home following election coverage at the newspaper.

Matthew Engel wrote in 2003:

"The appeal of Test cricket as opposed to one-day internationals rests on a simple proposition: that each Test is unique, like a fingerprint, with all kinds of whorls and loops that are never repeated. The vast majority of one-dayers, in contrast, fit into about five or six well-used alternative scenarios, like American cop dramas."

Engel's words could explain why fans return to follow any of the greatest sports -- their differences appeal to us. We never know what we might see.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

"I haven't felt that good since Archie Gemmill scored against Holland in 1978!"

I work a later shift today, so I spent the morning watching the film that ensures I will never try HEROIN.
EWAN MCGREGOR stars as Renton in the great DANNY BOYLE film "TRAINSPOTTING," one of the best films of the 1990s -- British or otherwise.

I like how the film mixes hilarious comedy and heart-breaking drama. Who can ever forget the sight of the dead baby, eh?

Or this exchange during the aborted nature hike:

Tommy: Doesn't it make you proud to be Scottish?

Renton: It's shite being Scottish! We're the lowest of the low. The scum of the f***ing Earth! The most wretched, miserable, servile, pathetic trash that was ever shat into civilization. Some hate the English. I don't. They're just wankers. We, on the other hand, are colonized by wankers. Can't even find a decent culture to be colonized by. We're ruled by effete a**holes. It's a shite state of affairs to be in, Tommy, and all the fresh air in the world won't make any f***ing difference!

Then there's the soundtrack. Dead brilliant, it is. I particularly love "Born Slippy" by UNDERWORLD at the climax as well as "Temptation" by HEAVEN 17 at the nightclub.

The actors have all gone on to bigger and better things, and most people will associate Boyle with "Slumdog Millionaire" these days.

Me? I have a soft spot in my heart for "Trainspotting."

Monday, February 01, 2010

Ice, long wait for car, but at least I have this song

"See I reckon you're about an 8 or a 9, maybe even 9 and a half in four beers' time."
I am enjoying my day off today, despite slipping on ICE (AGAIN, the third time this winter) and spending the morning waiting on an oil change and tire rotation for the car, because I am now grooving to a 12-song playlist of THE STREETS on my iPod.

"But there's just one little thing that's really really, really really annoying me about you you see, yeah yeah like I said you are really fit, but my gosh don't you just know it."

The 12 songs represent the U.K. Top-40 singles Mike Skinner (a.k.a. The Streets) released between October 2001 and September 2008.

My favorite of the dozen is "FIT BUT YOU KNOW IT," the No. 4 hit and lead single of second album "A Grand Don't Come for Free."

"So when I looked at you standing there with your horde, I was waiting in the queue looking at the board, wondering whether to have a burger or chips, or what the shrapnel in my back pocket could afford."

Released in April 2004 "Fit But You Know It" spent 15 weeks in the Top 75.

I love it because it is catchy and hilarious. It also seems perfect for a day marred by little annoyances and another dull, grey sky.

"When I noticed out the corner of my eye, looking toward my direction, your eyes locked on my course. I couldn't concentrate on what I wanted to order, which lost me my place in the queue I waited for, yeah."