Monday, May 31, 2010

Billy Boy's fun-filled blues

I've been listening to a lot of BLUES lately, and I think the girls are beginning to revolt. There are complaints the music "all sounds the same."
I am going to offer up BILLY "BOY" ARNOLD as an example that not all blues sounds the same.

One of the first Chicago bluesmen actually born in CHICAGO (as opposed to migrating to the Windy City from the South), Arnold learned the HARMONICA from his neighbor, the legendary John Lee "Sonny Boy" Williamson, and recorded with Bo Diddley early in the pioneer rocker's career.

Arnold's early work for Vee-Jay Records bristles with excitement and fun.

This blues is good-time music, made for dancing.

It's unlike most of the blues the girls have heard.

Arnold produced a "rockin' blues," so it's no surprise his songs, notably "I Wish You Would" and "I Ain’t Got You," have been covered by rock bands.

Despite his influential music, Arnold faded into relative obscurity in the late 1960s as gig opportunities became more limited. He supported his family by driving a Chicago city bus and later became a parole officer.

His career revived in the 1970s, however, and he continues to make his fun-filled music today.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Free swingin' A's, more like it

The OAKLAND ATHLETICS were known as the "SWINGIN' A'S" when I was a kid.
I am listening to today's A's game today via, and it seems like Oakland is taking its old "Swingin' A's" moniker a little too literally. They're swingin' plenty but connecting very little.
Oakland batters have struck out 16 times through eight innings at DETROIT, with Tigers' starter Max Scherzer striking out 14 in his 5-2/3 innings of work.
A former Diamondbacks pitcher, Scherzer threw 113 pitches, including 75 for strikes.
The Tigers currently lead, 10-2, but I am not sure I'll hear the end of the game. We're supposed to head for a campground so we can visit Jill's aunt and uncle.
I wish I could just lounge around here and listen to baseball.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Square dancing with The Damned

I thought my bad week had taken a turn for the worse.
Days after having my wallet snatched from a locked locker at the DUBUQUE COMMUNITY Y, my editors assigned me to cover a square-dancing festival.
Fearful I would have thumping HOEDOWN MUSIC stuck in my head the remainder of the day, I frantically loaded my albums by English punk pioneers THE DAMNED onto my iPod.
In reality, listening to The Damned provided a helpful tether between me and the familiar world. My week hadn't taken a turn for the worse, it had taken a turn for the surreal.
Here's why:
Covering the SQUARE-DANCE FESTIVAL was like glimpsing a world existing just beyond our consciousness.
The square dancers inhabit a subculture where the folksy caller is king, where a "round dance cuer" is a treasured member of the team and where dancers can somehow make sense of an intricately choreographed series of movements that makes Rubik's Cube seem like a cat toy.
I was astounded by this heretofore undiscovered world, with its strange vernacular and its abstruse rituals.
Like I said: Listening to The Damned later brought a wave a relief, like regaining my "land legs" after a particularly disorienting voyage through an unknown sea.

Friday, May 28, 2010

FQ: Ultimate Summer Vacation Edition

SUMMER is a time to escape the realities of the rest of the year.
ROUTE 1 posted the following FRIDAY QUESTION to readers this week:

"What would be your ultimate summer vacation?"

SASKIA M. -- The location is almost irrelevant if I have the following: clean environment + warm sunny weather + water + cold beverages + Internet access.

SANDYE V. -- Easy. Having the whole summer off, like when we were kids, with plenty of time to swim, ride bikes, picnic, sit in the shade and read, garden and play with puppets.

BRIAN C. -- One that never ended.

RICK T. -- Able to drive all over the US, all expenses paid. All I need to do is drive. Stop when I want, sightsee when I want. Motels and fuel all paid for too. The US is pretty, just got to get out there and see.

BEKAH P. -- Italy. But then again, that's my ultimate vacation any time of the year...

INGER H. -- I would love to spend six weeks or so renting houses in different parts of a country. For example, France: two weeks in the Dordogne, two weeks in Provence, and two weeks up in Brittany. It would give you such a great opportunity to get to know each place, and get a feel for what its like to live there....

STEVE M. -- Backpacking around Greece. This includes hopping from island to island. sleeping on the roofs of churches like Patrick Leigh Fermor did when he was writing Mani and Roumeli.

JOHN S. -- Drive the country in an RV to see every MLB team.

ANNIKA H. -- Not that hot of weather and no rain.

MIKE D. -- A fishing trip with my brothers to a remote resort on a Canadian lake. When I return, I'll take my wife and kids to Hawaii.

CLINT A. -- To paddle the Kongakut River from the Brooks Range to the Arctic Ocean. That would be sweet!

KERI M. -- Not working all summer.

ERIK H. -- It would be fun to have tickets to all the matches at one venue at a World Cup and be able to see various teams in the opening rounds and a couple matches in the knockout stages.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Dear Thieves: Sorry I left you such scant resources for a London trip

Thieves broke into my locker at the DUBUQUE COMMUNITY Y last evening and snatched my WALLET.
Pity the perpetrators: It's packed with more sentimental than monetary value (unless they really planned on filling some prescriptions with my not-yet-activated Flexible Spending Card).
Instead, the wallet contained one of my two remaining £5 NOTES from my London trip (that was the only money in it) and a used OYSTER CARD with about a day's worth of London Underground travel remaining.
So you see, thieves: You went to all that work stealing my wallet, and you won't even manage much of a London trip out of your endeavor.
Where did you get the idea that crime pays?

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Faces' revised lineup makes me anxious

I can't help thinking a FACES reunion would be much better with ROD STEWART in his customary place at the front of the 1970s rockers.
The band hit the headlines this week with the news that the Faces are due to play a world tour starting next January, after playing at a British festival this August.

There are two key replacements in the lineup. The former Sex Pistol bassist Glen Matlock will fill in for the late Ronnie Lane, who passed away in 1997.

The more controversial replacement is MICK HUCKNALL, the Simply Red singer, filling in for former frontman Stewart.

Guitarist Ronnie Wood, drummer Kenney Jones and organist Ian McLagan round out the lineup, that scored hits with "Stay With Me," "Ooh Lah Lah" and others.

I have always loved the Faces, but the thought of the Simply Red singing belting out the hits makes me anxious.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Caught in the rain with Slim

The rain caught me after lunch.
It poured down so hard the wipers couldn't keep up. Pea-sized hail fell on the car, too. Across town, so much water flowed through storm sewers it popped manhole covers out of the ground.

I just sat in the car, watching the rain and listening to SLIM HARPO.

It's a little ironic: While the music world celebrates the re-release of "EXILE ON MAIN STREET" by THE ROLLING STONES, I have been listening for days to the originator of one of my favorite songs from that classic album.

"SHAKE YOUR HIPS" is also one of my favorite Harpo songs.

Excello Records released it during the MAGICAL YEAR OF 1966, between releases by two guys I've never heard -- Lazy Lester and Shy Guy Douglas.

Their songs have fallen into obscurity, while Harpo's great songs live on.

This week, one of Harpo's songs re-entered the spotlight thanks to the Stones, and kept me dry in storm.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Great tribulation

How's this for eerie?
I am listening some particularly "dread" REGGAE, including "Two Sevens Clash" by Culture and "Great Tribulation" by Hugh Mundell while reading the GLEANER newspaper's online coverage of KINGSTON RIOTS:

"Violence rocked sections of the Corporate Area all day yesterday, as armed men brazenly took on the security forces in a sustained attack on police stations in anticipation of the apprehension of Tivoli Gardens don Christopher 'Dudus' Coke."

The U.S. views Dudus as a drug lord and wants him extradited to face charges.

The poor of Kingston's notorious Tivoli Gardens slum view Dudus as a benefactor and community enforcer.

In the absence of regular, government policing and welfare, Dudus and his gang fill the void.

The recent violence has even upset the usual (and usually violent) political divisions in the country.

More from the Gleaner:

"Gunshots rang out incessantly, causing residents in both People's National Party and Jamaica Labour Party strongholds to scurry for cover."

As I listen to the music, I wonder how many tourists in their secluded, all-inclusive resorts even know what is simmering just beyond their gates.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Waking up to Guitar Slim

I tagged GUITAR SLIM as "Blues" on my iPod, but the raucous music produced by Eddie Lang (1936-1985) really defies easy categorization.
Except to say it's great.

I am listening to the Guitar Slim compilation "SUFFERIN' MIND" while waiting for the rest of the family to wake up this morning.

Lang (a.k.a. Guitar Slim) follows in the tradition of good-time music from New Orleans. There's elements of the blues and jazz (and even rock, probably) in his blend of R&B. I wish I could have seen him perform: Guitar Slim would dye his hair to match his brightly colored suits and he would wade out into the crowd thanks to 350 feet of cord between his guitar and amplifier.

The Guitar Slim song "The Things That I Used to Do" sold more than a million copies in 1954 and is listed by the ROCK AND ROLL HALL OF FAME as one of the 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll.

Check him out... it will do you some good.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Concocting a music collection from scratch

Twin hard-drive and iPod mishaps meant ROUTE 1 has had to rebuild its computer-based music collection (i.e., load hundreds of CDs onto a computer).
Where to start?

Here is where this week's FRIDAY QUESTION might come in handy.
"If you had to rebuild your music collection from scratch, where would you begin?"

RICK T. -- That's a hard question. I just gave over half of my 45s and albums to my son. But if I had to start over, I'd add more 50s songs to it. Love the 50s slow love songs. I'd most definitely build a better 50s-60s country collection.

MIKE M. -- Considering that serendipity is the new paradigm of information retrieval, I would begin by casually browsing the extensive archives of route1.

MARY N.-P. -- Bob Marley's "Legend" and Buffy Saint-Marie's "It's My Way." And "The Fugs' First Album."

BEKAH P. -- Always, always, always with the Beatles...

JOHN S. -- Motown baby, Motown!

BRIAN M. -- I'd start with my Genesis albums on I-Tunes and then probably buy the vinyl versions just for the cover art.

ROSEANNE H. -- With you!

KERI M. -- With ABBA.

STEVE M. -- With my latest fave -- Tinariwen. Tuareg musicians from the southern Sahara who formed in Gadafi's rebel camps. They are on tour now. Playing D.C. in late June. Check them out on Pandora.

KERSTIN H. -- The Beatles, then whatever I am listening to at the time.

ERIK H. -- When I grabbed a clutch of old blues CDs and began loading them onto the computer the other day, someone in the crowd asked why. "Because you have to start somewhere." Elemental and timeless, and having influenced almost every other subsequent form of popular music, the blues of the 1920s and 30s seemed like the perfect place to start.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Thinking "pink"

It's surprising how so few people seem to know about SUNNY DAY REAL ESTATE, particularly considering how influential this pioneering Sub Pop "emo-core" band were on a generation of indie musicians.
You can hear echoes (or even downright diluted copies) of SDRE in the the sound of Death Cab for Cutie and a host of other so-called "alternative" bands.
While driving around today, I am listening to the band's second album, released following the initial breakup of the group in 1995 -- when two of the band members, drummer William Goldsmith and bassist Nate Mendel, leaving to join Dave Grohl's Foo Fighters.
Sub Pop released the second album in November 1995. The album was released without cover art or liner notes, and was distributed by Sub Pop as "LP2."
Fans call it "The Pink Album" because of its solid pink cover.
According to the story, Sub Pop asked the fragmenting band for artwork but they had nothing to offer, so Goldsmith simply said "make it pink."
A couple years later, singer Jeremy Enigk and guitarist Dan Hoerner briefly reformed the band with Goldsmith (Mendel continued with the Foo Fighters) and recorded a few more albums. More recently, all four original members reunited for tours, and perhaps a return to the studio.
Sunny Day Real Estate never hit it big among the record-buying public, but as my listening to "The Pink Album" confirms, their legacy endures.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Putting the swagger into "Swagger Wagon"

Everybody in the family has the "SWAGGER WAGON" song stuck in our heads this morning.
You might have seen this two-and-a-half minute TOYOTA commercial on Facebook or elsewhere.
Independent film director JODY HILL (of "Observe and Report" fame) created the black-and-white faux gangsta rap video in which the mother (Sonoma County actress Rachael Drummond) and father (Brian Huskey, you've seen him in a bunch of ads) boast about their mad parenting skillz and their great minivan.
"I roll hard through the streets and the cul-de-sacs," raps the dad, "Proud parent of an honor roll student, Jack. I got a swing in the front, a tree house in the back. My 'No. 1 Dad' mug says, 'Yeah, I'm the Mack.'"
The clip has drawn more than 1.9 million views on YouTube. If you haven't seen it, check it out for yourself by clicking here.
Like many commericials made my actual filmmakers, there's a uniqueness that makes "Swagger Wagon" memorable.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Given a reason to enjoy

I wish I could wave a wand and all of my CDs would magically appear on my IPOD. Instead, loading CDs has been a laborious process (if only for the fact that I prefer to include album covers with the track information). On the negative ledger, this painstaking approach to adding music means I have only reached the halfway point in the addition of my jazz collection to my iPod. On the positive ledger, my laborious task has prompted me to listen to some albums I haven't heard in months. "THE BLUES AND THE ABSTRACT TRUTH" by OLIVER NELSON is today's case in point.
It's really one of my favorite albums, perfect for driving in the car with the sunroof opened, the sun streaming through.
Nelson (1932-1975) was a saxophone player whose real strength lay in composition. On 1961's "The Blues and the Abstract Truth," he put his compositional ideas in practice while surrounding himself with a veritable all-star cast of jazz musicians: Eric Dolphy (alto saxophone and flute), Freddie Hubbard (trumpet), George Barrow (baritone saxophone), Bill Evans (piano), Paul Chambers (bass) and Roy Haynes (drums).
The result is a remarkable collection of six tunes that I might not otherwise have heard today, if not for the laborious process of adding CDs to my iPod.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Buying my dad an iPod? Only in dreams

I wanted to write this yesterday, but a BAD COLD meant I slept most of the day.
I recently read a theory that DREAMS are a product of our mind reorganizing memories to make room for new ones, like how we might reorganize a closet to fit more things.
If that's true, then the reorganization efforts become quite sloppy when we are ILL.
How else would you explain the sometimes garish, often outlandish dreams we have when feverish?
Yesterday morning while I slept, I dreamt that the girls and I were heading to a big electronics store to buy an iPod for my DAD.
This scenario seems plausible, except that my dad passed away in 1992, three years before our oldest daughter was born.
So, why did I dream this one?
I wondered about that throughout yesterday. I didn't have much else to do. I felt so miserably sick I only ate one meal and spent more time on the couch or in bed than I did upright.
I am loading my dad's favorite music -- JAZZ -- onto my new iPod. Maybe I wanted to share my music with him, even if I could only do so in my dreams.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Up to my ears in congestion and the blues

I've been enduring a DEVIL OF A COLD by listening to "THE HIGH SHERIFF FROM HELL."
(born William Bunch) was one of the most popular bluesmen in the early 1930s.

Mostly accompanying himself on piano -- although photographed holding a resonator guitar -- Wheatstraw crafted a demonic persona for himself.

In song, he called himself "THE DEVIL'S SON-IN-LAW" or the aforementioned Sheriff.

I listened to a compilation of Wheatstraw's songs earlier today, as the congestion in my head and chest seemed to have reached its peak (at least, I hope).
Wheatstraw's songs touch on gambling, gunning and trouble he found on "Cake Lane" in the slums of St. Louis.

There's something about the miserable nature of having a cold that responds to the blues.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Faves from the Fifties

ROUTE 1 is under the weather today, and apologizes for the delay in posting the answers to this week's FRIDAY QUESTION:
"What is your favorite 50s rock-n-roll tune?"

MARY N.-P. -- Oh my Lord - there are too many to begin listing, from "Johnny Be Good" to "Be Bop A Lula" to "Rock around the Clock" to "Great Balls of Fire". It is all just the best there ever was (does that show my generational era?).

RICK T. -- "Only You" (The Platters).

BEKAH P. -- There was music in the 50s? Nah, don't believe it...

SANDYE V. -- I've got to go with "The Purple People Eater." It's probably the epitome of the 1950s novelty songs. And it's had a long shelf life.

MIKE D. -- During the revival of 1950s nostalgia in the 1970s, I recall liking "At the Hop" by Danny and the Juniors. A few years later, my brother and I used to sing Jan and Dean's "Baby Talk."

BRIAN C. -- "Not Fade Away" by Buddy Holly.

MIKE M. -- My three-year-old has a tantrum if I don't play the cassette he calls the "funny tape" whenever we're in the car. And though I've heard it a thousand times, I still can't help singing along to "Along Came Jones" by The Coasters.

ERIK H. -- "Gimme the downbeat, maestro!" Every time I hear the opening to Ronnie Dawson's 1958 rockabilly gem, "Action Packed," it makes me smile. Hear me?! I said, makes me smile! Listen to the song, and you'll get that "hear me" reference I just made.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Triple murder shocks Sweden

My globe-trotting sister INGER has let her perpetual wanderlust take her home -- our ancestral home, that is, in SWEDEN.
Turns out, her trip has coincided with a major news story originating from HÄRNÖSAND, the nearest city to our ancestral home of RAMVIK.

Ragnar Nilsson, 21, allegedly killed his half-siblings and their father with an ax this week.

Swedish media reports he told police he was jealous of his 15-year-old brother and 12-year-old sister.

Nilsson reportedly admitted immediately that he was the guilty offender.

Härnösand is in shock and the crime has made national news in Sweden.

I wonder if Inger has heard about it?

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Needin' some more Hound Dog

I've been spending the morning loading BLUES albums onto my new SILVER (BIGGER) IPOD.
I just heard the song "Take Five" by HOUND DOG TAYLOR & THE HOUSEROCKERS.
I've got it on a blues compilation disc, but hearing the song convinced me I need to get some more Hound Dog into my music collection.
Born and raised in the MISSISSIPPI DELTA region, Theodore Roosevelt Taylor (1915-1975) was born with SIX FINGERS on each hand.
Taylor moved to Chicago and became one of the most celebrated blues figures in a city filled with them.
I'm not sure the six fingers made Taylor a better guitar player, but you'd be hard pressed to find a better slide guitar sound on disc.
Yeah... I need to get some more Hound Dog.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Political coverage makes me pine for London

I am toiling on some things at work while listening to coverage on BBC RADIO 5 LIVE online of the change of government in the United Kingdom.
Glancing at one of the newsroom television sets (there are six facing me), I can see live overhead footage of motorcades traveling to and from Buckingham Palace. All I can think about is how much I miss being in LONDON!
The white markings on the streets make me miss the English capital, which my sister INGER and I visited over the New Year -- the zebra crossings, the painted-on roundabouts with arrows, the jagged lines in the middle of the streets (I'm still not sure what those mean).
Inger and I could glimpse both No. 10 Downing St., and Buckingham Palace while enjoying a "flight" on the London Eye, and those memorized visions are replaying in my head as I listen to news of the politicians, the monarch and how they traditionally work together in the transition from one regime to the next.

Monday, May 10, 2010

A big day for the 209

A kid from STOCKTON witnessed another kid from the Northern California inland port make history yesterday.
My mom and step-dad are visiting the Bay Area this week, and yesterday my step-dad BOB attended the OAKLAND ATHLETICS' game with a friend.

Raised in Stockton, Bob watched Stockton native DALLAS BRADEN hurl the 19TH PERFECT GAME in the history of Major League Baseball, as the A's beat the Rays, 4-0.

Braden is only the second pitcher in A's franchise history to achieve such a feat, following Jim "Catfish" Hunter's perfect game on May 8, 1968, against the Minnesota Twins.

Sunday was also the first day of Braden's "SECTION 209" campaign, providing discounted tickets for the seating area that bears the same number as Stockton's area code.

Yesterday was a big, big day for the 209.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Moms: Don't let your kids listen to Throbbing Gristle unsupervised

"Bristling with references to abnormal psychology, avant-garde literature and the margins of performance art, Throbbing Gristle were low on form but high on content; each record was a virus of subcultural info animating a musical host."
- Drew Daniel, "33 1/3: 20 Jazz Funk Greats"

I am reading DREW DANIEL'S book in the 33 1/3 series of album essays. The Johns Hopkins University English teacher and member of the electronic group MATMOS wrote about the seminal electronic group, THROBBING GRISTLE -- pioneers of "industrial music."

Since I am reading the book, I decided to listen to "20 JAZZ FUNK GREATS" -- Throbbing Gristle's acclaimed third album -- while driving around yesterday. I worked a Noon to 9 p.m. shift, covering a college graduation for the newspaper.

Here is what happened:

1. Driving to work, the song "Beachy Head" (named for the coastal-cliff suicide spot featured on the album cover) bewitched me to the point that I DROVE RIGHT THROUGH A RED LIGHT. Thank goodness the streets were deserted!

2. Driving to and from my assignment, I was lulled into a false sense of serenity by the catchy, nearly pop songs "Convincing People" and "Hot on the Heels of Love."

3. Driving home in the darkness, I was listening to the sinister song "Persuasion" (a first-person song about a pervert who collects underpants) that I began to think THE CAR WEAVING BETWEEN LANES BEHIND ME -- was he drunk? -- was deliberately following me.
Even when I took the "long" way home, along an at-that-time-of-night empty stretch of road alongside industrial buildings, this weaving pair of headlights followed my car.

A couple quick turns opened some space between my car and the suspected (imagined?) follower, and I took two additional side streets to arrive home.

All the while, "Persuasion" is persuading me that I'm featured in the scene of some slasher movie.

So there you have it, moms, this year's MOTHER'S DAY advice from ROUTE 1:

Don't let your children listen to Throbbing Gristle unless properly supervised.

Saturday, May 08, 2010

A wacky day of soccer on the radio

What a wacky day of English football.
I worked the night shift and KERSTIN hosted a sleepover, so I stayed in the kitchen this morning, listening to live coverage of the final day's play in LEAGUE ONE and LEAGUE TWO on BBC LONDON 94.9 FM online.

LEYTON ORIENT had nothing riding on their trip to Colchester (the home side won a dull affair, 1-0), but there was everything to play for at the top of the League One table.

LEEDS began the day in the automatic promotion place of second, but a slip against Bristol Rovers (their match pictured) and results elsewhere would mean
the winner of MILLWALL versus SWINDON would go up instead. CHARLTON and HUDDERSFIELD were also potentially in the mix to join champions NORWICH in the Championship next season.
Leeds were down to 10 men and trailing by a goal and the Millwall-Swindon match was level, so Charlton leapt into second after taking the lead against Oldham. Millwall started scoring goals, though, so they overtook Charlton.
There were some plot twists to come, though, as short-handed Leeds scored twice to reclaim the second spot.
Millwall won, 3-2, Charlton won, 2-0 and Leeds held on to win, 2-1. So Leeds went up automatically, Millwall, Charlton, Swindon and Huddersfield will play-off to determine the third and final club promoted to the Championship.

It was gripping drama on the radio!

Friday, May 07, 2010

Mother's Day Friday Question

MOTHER'S DAY isn't only about purchasing cards and flowers. It's about remembering the role mothers play in our lives.
ROUTE 1 readers recall their mums' words (or actions) by answering the following FRIDAY QUESTION:

"What is the best piece of advice your mother ever gave you?"

RICK T. -- Don't steal or lie.

BEKAH P. -- The one piece of advice my mother gave to me growing up was to never go to bed angry. She said that was the key to her and my father's long, successful marriage. Now that I am newly married, I am putting it to practice -- to some success.

SASKIA M. -- Don't depend on others -- live as self-sufficient as possible.

JIM S. -- My mom married young and had four children by the time she was 21. Her world from that point on - in that era, especially - was in her hometown, raising kids and working odd jobs. She told me when I was a teenager to make sure I didn't follow in her footsteps, but rather move on and see some of the world before settling down. I'll always thank her for that advice.

ANNIKA H. -- Don't pick your nose in public.

SANDYE V. -- My mom didn't give advice. She taught by example. And that would be: say your prayers, sing a lot, drink a little, work hard and enjoy your friends.

KERI M. -- I admire who you are and how you deal with things. Never change that.

JEFF T. -- Call your mother at least once a week!

ERIK H. -- My mom taught us to work hard and believe in ourselves.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Mike Damone's five-point plan

As I read, my mind played back a scene from Amy Heckerling's 1982 classic "FAST TIMES AT RIDGEMONT HIGH."
Remember Mike Damone (Robert Romanus) doling out dating advice to Mark "Rat" Ratner (Brian Backer)?
Damone provided Rat with a five-point plan.
1. "You never let on how much you like a girl. 'Oh, Debbie. Hi.'"
"You always call the shots. 'Kiss me. You won't regret it.'"

"Act like wherever you are, that's the place to be. 'Isn't this great?'"

4. "When ordering food, you find out what she wants, then order for the both of you. It's a classy move. 'Now, the lady will have the linguine and white clam sauce, and a Coke with no ice.'"
5. "When it comes down to making out, whenever possible, put on side one of Led Zeppelin IV."
Damone told Rat that No. 5 was the most important part.
Think screenwriter CAMERON CROWE loved Led Zeppelin? Yeah, me too.
Well, he should have loved them. He was able to interview the band in his teenage years.
Recalling that scene makes me want to slip "Fast Times" into the DVD player tonight.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

My oldest media guide is older than Tim Lincecum

A baseball team's MEDIA GUIDE is a small book packed with every conceivable fact about a team.
During the past 27 years, I have had more than a dozen of these books devoted to the SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS.

I received my latest media guide in the mail yesterday, a birthday present from my sister INGER.

Media guides were originally thin volumes used almost exclusively by working media covering the team. Savvy baseball marketing people realized the books would also serve obsessive fans, and sales of the guides took off and the books themselves evolved, adding color photos and becoming more expensive.

My oldest Giants' media guide is from the 1983 season. It's older than two-time Cy Young Award winner TIM LINCECUM (pictured on the most recent guide).

I thumbed through the 2010 season guide while listening to the Giants on the radio last night (San Francisco beat Florida, 9-6, in 12 innings).

Here are three facts I learned from the book last night:

1. Infielder/outfielder John Bowker was the roommate of Colorado's Troy Tulowitzki at Long Beach State University.

2. The longest scoreless streak for a San Francisco pitcher is 40 innings, compiled by Gaylord Perry in 1967.

3. Former player Kirt Manwaring serves as a roving catching instructor for the Giants' minor-league system.

I'll continue thumbing through the guide today. An obsessive fan can never know enough about the team.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Reading about "Black Dog"

I'm reading one of my BIRTHDAY gifts -- a book-length examination of the UNTITLED FOURTH ALBUM by LED ZEPPELIN.
It's well-written, but I wouldn't expect anything less from author BARNEY HOSKYNS. I have previously read his history of The Band, "Across the Great Divide."

The first third or so of the book chronicles Led Zeppelin's formation and the first three albums.

I have reached Page 74 and a discussion of the surprisingly complicated first track on the fourth album, "BLACK DOG."

The song features a complex, shifting time signature. John Paul Jones originally conceived the tune in an impossible-to-play 3/16 time. It eventually was played as "a beat that's a count of five over a count of four, and trips and skips and stuff like that," Robert Plant said years later.
Hoskyns quotes John Reid of the Hampton String Quartet as saying the intricately complicated song actually has "something like 98 time-signature changes."
Not bad for a rock band, eh?

I like Led Zeppelin because they were such outstanding musicians. "Black Dog" shows what it was like when they were showing off for fun.

Monday, May 03, 2010

Rain delayed cricket on my birthday

I celebrated THE ERIK HOGSTROM BIRTHDAY EXTRAVAGANZAPALOOZA®! today with a good book -- Barney Hoskyns' examination of LED ZEPPELIN IV -- and by listening to some CRICKET on the radio.
I listened to BBC RADIO'S TEST MATCH SPECIAL online as ENGLAND lost their opening match in the WORLD TWENTY20 limited-overs tournament to the hosts WEST INDIES in a baffling manner.

England scored 191-5 batting first in the match in GUYANA, with Eoin Morgan (55) and Luke Wright (45 not out) leading the way.

The hosts had reached 30-0 in reply when persistent rain forced a delay.

I have often compared listening to cricket on the radio to listening to a baseball game rain delay on the radio -- there is often plenty of time to spin lengthy yarns.

Can you imagine what a cricket rain delay sounds like on the radio?

I can! I heard one today.

The commentators discussed more Guyanese history than I thought possible. They discussed the weather, old cricketers and so many other topics I lost track.

The most bizarre occurrence came when play resumed, however. Cricket officials recalculated the rain-shortened run target the West Indies would need to reach to win the match -- it was only 30 more runs from 22 balls bowled.

Laughably easy!

West Indies duly reached that target (despite some valiant England fielding) and I was left shaking my head in disbelief at the seemingly unfair method use to determine the match winner.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

"Little Shop" offers a needed laugh tonight

I needed a laugh tonight.
My IPOD froze, crashed and died this afternoon, and efforts to restore it were unsuccessful.
Jill ordered a new (larger capacity) iPod for an early anniversary present, and I can load my CDs onto the new one when it arrives.
Many of my playlists were lost, however, include some that I have been painstakingly compiling.
It might take until the end of summer before I have a new iPod even close to satisfactorily filled (and I promise -- I'll make all subsequent playlists on the computer, not just on the iPod).
So, like I said, I needed a laugh tonight.
It came in the form of the Frank Oz film adaptation of "LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS," starring Rick Moranis as florist shop worker SEYMOUR and Levi Stubbs as the voice of the murderous AUDREY II.
We loved Steve Martin's portrayal of the dentist (although the dental scenes made Jill queasy).
We were familiar with the songs, having seen a school play version of the show last weekend.
Kerstin is singing the title song right now, actually, when she should be settling down for the night.
I can stay up late -- tomorrow is
I'll be busy, though, loading CDs onto the computer in advance of the replacement iPod.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Educate yourself with "Powerage"

A friend saw ANNIKA wearing her AC/DC shirt yesterday and asked -- expecting the answer "no" -- if she really even listened to the Australian band.
"Sometimes," Annika truthfully replied.

I mentioned that we have all of the Bon Scott-era albums and a few of the Brian Johnson discs to this friend, who professed to love AC/DC.

The friend looked confused.
"Bon Scott? I'm not really familiar with him."
Oh dear.

The sun is shining today as I mark the start of my three-day weekend -- a.k.a. THE ERIK HOGSTROM BIRTHDAY EXTRAVAGANZAPALOOZA®! -- and I am listening to "POWERAGE."

This 1978 album is a great introduction to the masterful, Bon Scott-era of AC/DC.
"Rock 'n' Roll Damnation," "Down Payment Blues," "Gimme a Bullet," "Riff Raff," "Sin City," "What's Next to the Moon," "Gone Shootin,'" "Up to My Neck in You" and "Kicked in the Teeth" are the type of "all killer, no filler" tracks that mark the band's peak.
I recommended the friend listen to "Powerage" as soon as possible.

Miss this album, and you really miss the real lasting legacy of AC/DC. You really can't call yourself a fan if you miss that.