Friday, December 31, 2010

Celebrating Magazine's "After the Fact"

Poor "AFTER THE FACT" by MAGAZINE. Let us pause now to honor its memory.
I played that cassette compilation of the Manchester, England post-punk combo to death in college.

In my defense, that cassette deserved to be played until it was worn to inaudibility. It is packed with wonderful (and a few weird) songs.

Last night, I finally cobbled together enough songs from the Magazine debut "REAL LIFE" and the compilations "RAYS AND HAIL" and "SCREE" to recreate my long-lost cassette compilation on my iPod.

Things kick off in raucous fashion, with the Magazine classic "Shot by Both Sides." This classic song was co-written Magazine frontman Howard Devoto and his former BUZZCOCKS cohort, Pete Shelley.

Devoto left the Buzzcocks because he wanted to create more experimental music -- less of the "three-chord" stuff favored by the punk movement.

This experimentation comes to the fore in the third song on "After the Fact." "T.V. Baby" is dominated by a strangled saxophone and Devoto's warbled vocals.

"After the Fact" includes a Captain Beefheart cover ("I Love You You Big Dummy"), a spoken-word piece that sounds like dialogue from a horror film ("The Book"), a James Bond theme song ("Goldfinger") and enough catchy, memorable songs ("Rhythm of Cruelty," "The Light Pours Out of Me" and "A Song From Under the Floorboards") to make you play the cassette until it simply won't play any more.

Thanks to my newest playlist, I can give "After the Fact" the type of memorial it deserves: I can listen to it.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Route 1's Celebrity Couple of the Year: Katy Perry & Elmo

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

It's a Pretenders type of day

"The snow's falling down, it's colder day by day."
It must be the lyrics of "2000 Miles."

That must be why I am drawn to THE PRETENDERS on winter days.

I'm listening to a playlist of Pretenders' singles -- as well as the UB40 ones that CHRISSIE HYNDE sang on -- while driving around today.

Hynde surely knew about winter -- coming from Ohio -- and I like to think her winter memories inform these songs.

I'll try listening to The Pretenders this summer, to see if any of the songs resonate with the warmth.

Those warm days, though, seem so far away from today.
P.S. -- Congrats, ENGLAND, on retaining the ASHES for the first time in 24 years. I listened last night!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Aussies lack a legend

AUSTRALIA need a Keith Miller, or a Ray Lindwall (pictured) or any other legendary player who can single-handedly rescue their ASHES campaign from the jaws of almost certain defeat.
We ate a salmon dinner last night while listening to ENGLAND (513) close in on retaining the Ashes for the first time in 24 years, as the visitors once again dominated the hosts (98 & 169-6) at the MELBOURNE CRICKET GROUND.

If you're just tuning in, the Ashes refers to:

1. The ancient cricket rivalry between England and Australia.

2. A small urn-like perfume bottle from the 1800s that has come to symbolize the rivalry.

My sister INGER and I saw the urn under glass about a year ago, while touring the spiritual home of the game, Lord's Cricket Ground in London.

Last night, we listened online to Jim Maxwell and the other ABC GRANDSTAND commentators describe events.

England were bowled out to end their first innings, but not before Jonathan Trott scored an unbeaten 168 runs. Later, Australian batsmen had reached 99-1 in reply before Tim Bresnan took three wickets for only five runs scored against.

I sympathize with the Aussies, having visited Sydney in August.

They lack the superstars of old. They lack an all-rounder such as Miller or a fast bowler of such intimidating power as Lindwall. Without such a force, their Ashes campaign effectively ends tonight.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Singletary's end represents less-than-perfect sports year

I have heard the question many times this year, following the SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS' victory in the WORLD SERIES, the march of MY BELOVED OREGON DUCKS toward college football's national championship game and ENGLAND'S continuing efforts in the ASHES TESTS Down Under:
"This has to be your greatest year as sports fan, right?"

My response:

"Well, yeah, but you forgot about the 49ers."

For all the success of my other favorite teams, the travails of the SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS (and the BLAZERS, but that's another blog post) has been both embarrassing and frustrating.

It's no surprise, then, to learn that Niners coach MIKE SINGLETARY was fired overnight, shortly after the team lost, 25-17, to the Rams.

I wanted Singletary, a former star linebacker to succeed, but so many of the things that went wrong with the team seemed like his responsibility. His final record with the team is 18-22.
Consider these four factors:
1. A suggested playoff-caliber team, the Niners seemed unprepared for the season and lost their first five games.

2. Singletary brought in yet another offensive coordinator this season, but fired him after three games.

3. No one seemed to know who should quarterback the team, with Singletary even joking in press conferences that it would be "Smith." The joke was on us: Neither Alex Smith nor Troy Smith could do anything to lead the team.

4. Singletary was supposedly a defensive-minded coach, yet the defense continually underperformed, and young players such as Ahmad Brooks and Dashon Goldson have not developed as expected.

Some might say I am needlessly complaining about a team that has at least provided fans with five Super Bowl titles.

I'm just answering a question. Yes, the Giants, Oregon and England have made this a wonderful year for this sports fan. The Niners, though, made it less-than-perfect.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Australia's low total on Boxing Day

It's snowing a little outside again, but I am in denial of the flurries.
I'm staying up late because it's BOXING DAY Down Under, and that means it's time for CRICKET.

I'm listening online as ENGLAND (currently 62-0) are batting in their first innings, having bowled AUSTRALIA out for 98 -- the lowest Aussie Test score against England at the MELBOURNE CRICKET GROUND.

English bowlers Chris Tremlett (four wickets taken against 26 runs scored) and James Anderson (4-44) gave the hosts fits earlier this evening (our time).

A small urn called THE ASHES symbolizes the English-Australian cricket rivalry. We're fast approaching the anniversary of a tour of London's Lord's Cricket Ground, where my sister INGER and I saw the urn for ourselves, during a tour of the Lord's museum.

We've also been to Australia, so I'm following this year's series closer than I have before.

It's been great fun -- not for the Aussies today, however.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Back to the classics with the Allman Brothers

"Jessica," "Ramblin' Man" and other songs by THE ALLMAN BROTHERS BAND are spilling out of the stereo tonight.
I reached my CHRISTMAS MUSIC limit a couple of days ago, I think, when I heard the Mariah Carey Christmas song for (I estimate) the 1,187th time this holiday season.

I'm sure JILL AND THE GIRLS would want to hear more Christmas music, but I really need some classic rock right now, and the Allman Brothers are about as classic as one can get.


Thursday, December 23, 2010

Definitely in the mood for Slade

CHRISTMAS always puts me in the mood for some SLADE.
I'll listen as I drive to a shortened day at work.

For those keeping score, here is a list of Slade's No. 1 UK hits:

October 1971 -- "Coz I Luv You"

June 1972 -- "Take Me Bak 'Ome"
September 1972 -- "Mama Weer All Crazee Now"
March 1973 -- "Cum On Feel The Noize"
June 1973 -- "Skweeze Me Pleeze Me"
December 1973 -- "Merry Xmas Everybody"

A few songs just missed the top spot, landing at No. 2, including:

November 1972 -- "Gudbuy T'Jane"

October 1973 -- "My Friend Stan"
October 1974 -- "Far Far Away"
November 1983 -- "My Oh My"

I have always thought Slade's secret weapon was bassist/keyboardist/violinist JIM LEA -- the writer of some of Britain's greatest melodies.

Yes sir, I am definitely in the mood for some Slade!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Winter can't dictate everything

What a scene.
One of our cars was stuck in the icy slush of our back alley this morning.
Unable to extract the car ourselves, JILL and I woke up the girls (on their first day of winter break) to help.
With KERSTIN behind the wheel, Jill, ANNIKA and I got on our knees and pushed the car out of the slush.
I hate WINTER.
In an act of musical defiance, I blasted some decidedly summertime sounds as I drove the other car to work this morning.
The TROJAN INSTRUMENTAL BOX SET collects 50 stellar REGGAE instrumentals -- tunes that seem to drip sunshine and ooze warmth.
An overbearing winter may be all around me, but I can't let it dictate everything that happens in my life.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Celebrating the life of Glen Adams

One of JAMAICA'S finest musicians has died, age 65.
GLEN ADAMS was a singer, songwriter and organist, whose credits included writing "Mr. Brown" for Bob Marley and playing organ on the iconic Upsetters' single "Return of Django."
Fans of Jamaican music have grooved to Adams, even if they didn't realize it. As a member of the session bands
THE HIPPY BOYS and THE UPSETTERS, Adams contributed to some of reggae's greatest classics, including "Stick by Me" by John Holt and Delroy Wilson's "Better Must Come."
Adams' talents were such that he also served as an informal musical director for Duke Reid's Treasure Isle label.
Adams had relocated to Brooklyn, where he lived for more than 30 years.
He passed away late last week back in Jamaica, where he had been visiting.
I am listening to some Adams' tunes on my iPod, thankful that I could hear his many gifts.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Kirsty MacColl: 10 years gone

When push comes to shove, my all-time favorite song is "They Don't Know," famously covered by Tracey Ullman but composed and recorded by the brilliant KIRSTY MACCOLL.
MacColl was killed in a tragic diving accident 10 years ago this week.

I'm a big Kirsty MacColl fan. Just ask my sister: I dragged Inger into a rainy SOHO SQUARE late last year so I could snap a photo of MacColl's memorial bench. It seemed fitting that the bench should be drenched in rain. There's a continuing sadness about the manner of MacColl's death.

MacColl was diving with family members in Cozumel, Mexico when she was struck by a speedboat owned by Mexican millionaire Guillermo Gonzalez Nova. Questions remain as to why the boat was in a restricted area and who was actually piloting the boat at the time of the accident.

Those questions launched the "Justice for Kirsty" campaign to raise awareness and prompt a judicial review.

I am going to mark the 10 years of MacColl's passing in three ways:

1. I am going to listen to as much of her music as I have on my iPod.
MacColl's musical legacy includes songs such as "There's a Guy Works Down the Chip Shop Swears He's Elvis," "A New England" (a cover of a Billy Bragg tune), "Innocence" and "Fairytale of New York" (with the Pogues).
2. I am going to log onto the BBC RADIO 2 website when I get home so I can hear a special appreciation show hosted by MacColl friend Bragg.

3. I am going to mention her name, her music and her legacy to as many people as I can today.
Maybe I can help bring about a form of justice for Kirsty.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Debates and Life on Mars

Our debater, KERSTIN, went 2-2, with her two losses coming against the first- and third-placed competitors at the event, which drew a dozen high school debate teams from across the state.

We're very proud of Kerstin.

The two of us were tired after the day-long competition, so when we returned to my brother- and sister-in-law's house Kerstin crawled up on the couch and I found a bed and listened to "LIFE ON MARS" by DAVID BOWIE again and again and again.

"Sailors fighting in the dance hall. Oh man! Look at those cavemen go. It's the freakiest show. Take a look at the lawman beating up the wrong guy. Oh man! Wonder if he'll ever know. He's in the best-selling show. Is there life on Mars?"

The Daily Telegraph once named "Life on Mars" the top rock song, ahead of "Let it Be" by The Beatles. I'm not sure the place of "Life on Mars" is quite that exalted, but I do love the song.

Bowie sounds so impassioned, even if the lyrics seem more head-scratching than profound.

Maybe Kerstin and her opponents could debate its merits some day?

Friday, December 17, 2010

Johnson devastates England

I hadn't heard anything like it.
I was listening to the second day of the THIRD ASHES TEST on ABC GRANDSTAND live online last night.

ENGLAND had seemed to be coasting, reaching 78 runs for no loss of wicket, when AUSTRALIA struck through MITCHELL JOHNSON.

Queensland native Johnson is a left-handed swing bowler. That means he can make the ball move sideways through the air in its trajectory toward the batsman -- a notoriously tricky ball to attempt to strike with the bat, particularly for right-handed batsmen.

Johnson's swinging ball progressed beyond merely tricky.

Johnson devastated England's batsmen in a relatively short spell, taking four wickets for seven runs.

You can listen to cricket on the radio for (literally) hours and hear batsmen serenely stroke the ball around the field. Not this time.

England were eventually bowled out for 187 and now it is Australia, at 268 & 119-3, who appear to be coasting.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Summer inside

Only the sounds of the snowplows rumbling outside the window reminded me of the SNOW and COLD last night.
The sounds on my Internet radio all shouted: "SUMMER!"

I listened to the commentators on ABC Grandstand as AUSTRALIA (268 all out) struggled against ENGLAND (29-0) on day one of the THIRD ASHES TEST at PERTH.

Western Australia's distant time zone and failure to follow daylight saving time meant the match started at 8:30 p.m. in Dubuque, so I could only listen for a couple hours.

They were a memorable couple of hours, as England's bowlers -- including newly recalled paceman (think: fastball pitcher) Chris Tremlett -- took five wickets for only 69 runs scored.

Australia's middle-order batsmen scored enough to spare the hosts from humiliation, but England clearly appear to be in the ascendancy in this series between the ancient cricket rivals.

As it snowed an indeterminate amount outside my window, my mind focused on sunshine, palm trees and men in white hitting a little red ball.

That's what cricket can do for me.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Welcome to Sunny Subconscious

I think my subconscious is trying to tell me something.
In each of the past two nights, I have dreamt that friends and/or family members had relocated to SUNNY SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA.
Night before last, I dreamt my MOM AND STEP-DAD have moved from their home in Reno to the PALM SPRINGS area, and instead of their towering standard poodle, they had a cat.
Last night, I dreamt I was watching a football game on TV at a friends' house when we decided to attend a party in HOLLYWOOD.
Leaving the house, we drove past some orange groves (I said it was a dream, remember) when we were suddenly overtaken by one of those tourist trams you see at studio tours.
I generally avoid analyzing dreams, but I would hazard a guess that this pair have something to do with our current temperature of 8 degrees Fahrenheit and the WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY forecasters have issued for tonight and tomorrow.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Trying the Buzzcocks tonic

I arrived home from work last night with a HEADACHE so crushing I immediately went to bed and didn't wake up until this morning.
Stress played a part, but so did a continuing cold that struck late last week and is lingering.
I don't know if it will help, but I decided to treat myself to some BUZZCOCKS this morning -- a post-punk tonic, so to speak.
I am now putting together a playlist of the legendary Manchester band on my iPod.
If I start to lag during the day, I can dial up the lads and let them rock away my illness.
That's the theory, anyway.
Here's hoping there's some validity!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Soccer mags and jazz help battle my cold

The BLIZZARD howled outside. Inside, I struggled for breath, my joints hurt and even my jaw was sore.
COLD season has arrived at ROUTE 1 H.Q.

I slept most of yesterday. I need to recover from my cold enough to work today.

I felt awful when I wasn't sleeping, so I spent my wakeful hours thumbing through 1970s SOCCER MAGAZINES and listening to jazz.

The fine 2000 album, "BEYOND," by Bay Area saxophonist JOSHUA REDMAN played as I read contemporary reports of clubs and players from 1977-79 -- the years of my soccer awakening.

Among Redman's sidemen is the Harvard-educated pianist AARON GOLDBERG. His work on the album -- either comping Redman or soloing himself -- is stellar, and did much to comfort me as I endured my cold.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

The album that dare not speak it's name -- apparently

I was playing my favorite ROXY MUSIC album, "MANIFESTO," on a turntable in college once when someone I barely knew cracked:
"Roxy Music? Are you a lesbian?"

Rather than angry, I felt a deep sadness. This poor ignorant hick apparently had no knowledge of Roxy Music *and* couldn't properly define "lesbian." (Although I am attracted to girls, like a lesbian.)

Here's a primer on "Manifesto," for the uninitiated.

This 1979 album tends to get lost in the shuffle of Roxy Music's discography. It lacks the breath-taking experimentation of earlier albums such as "For Your Pleasure," and baring No. 2 smash hit "DANCE AWAY," the album's songs aren't regularly played on AOR or MOR radio, such as latter-day hits "More Than This" or "Avalon."

It's an absolutely beautiful album, though.
Released into the teeth of the post-punk movement, it aims for a classicism that allowed it to age far better than some of its contemporaries.

I wonder if that Roxy-hating collegian would have the same reaction if he heard this album today?
Heard against the backdrop of the auto-tuned dross on the radio today, "Manifesto" might make that jerk embrace his own inner "lesbian."

Friday, December 10, 2010

Holly jolly Friday Question

ROUTE 1 is pleased to present this year's holiday themed FRIDAY QUESTION.
As we head into the WINTER BREAK -- the F.Q. will return in three weeks -- ROUTE 1 would like to wish you a happy holiday season.

Readers kick off the celebration by answering the following:

"You can ask Santa Claus one question. What do you ask?"

RICK T. -- 50-inch color TV! Think big!

ANNIKA H. -- Give me a Wii!

BEKAH P. -- Are you single?

SANDYE V. -- What is Mrs. Claus's first name?

JEFF T. -- Do you actually manipulate time and space, or just give the reindeer performance enhancing substances?

MIKE M. -- At Kennedy Mall on Black Friday, my kids were going to ask Santa if he likes pretzel bites, but they got too excited when they met him and forgot to ask.

JIM S. -- Do the other reindeer get jealous of Rudolph and if so, what do you do to help their self-esteem?

KERI M. -- Do you ever switch up the placements of the reindeer?

MIKE D. -- How were you able to make Carol Brady regain her voice in time for the Christmas service?

ERIK H. -- When you leave North America to head for Australia, will you please take me with you? I am craving a Christmas at the beach!

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Scenes from old music videos

"Promised You a Miracle" by Simple Minds.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

The Spread versus the Stutter

KERSTIN'S recent exploits with her high school debate team prompted me to watch the debate-centered film, "ROCKET SCIENCE," last night.
REECE THOMPSON stars as Hal Hefner, a stuttering freshman recruited for his high school debate team by the ANNA KENDRICK character Ginny Ryerson, the star debater.

Ginny specializes in THE SPREAD, a common method used by debaters. It's a rapid-fire manner of speech that enables the debaters to fit a maximum amount of facts into their time-limited arguments.

Hal would do well to be able to order a pizza at the school's lunch counter.

We learn during the course of this 2007 film that Ginny's motives weren't what we suspected.
We also learn about the personality and drive behind Hal's stuttering attempts at speech.

It's also one of those movies that leaves me shocked that more people don't acclaim it.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

No debating England's dominance

KERSTIN and I listened to some CRICKET history being made last night, as I helped her find statistics for a negative case she is preparing for a HIGH SCHOOL DEBATE.
There was no debating the dominance of ENGLAND (620-5d), victors by an innings and 71 runs over AUSTRALIA (245 & 304) in the Second Ashes Test at Adelaide.

We listened on ABC Radio online as the English bowlers took care of the Australian lower order of batsmen, piling on the pressure on Aussie captain Ricky Ponting (pictured, looking frustrated).

Kerstin and I would be hunting for juvenile offender recidivism rates when I would interrupt and say:

"Listen to that! It's another wicket!"

I'm not sure Kerstin understood the state of play.

English bowler Graeme Swann took the final wicket an hour before lunch to finish with figures of five wickets taken against 91 runs scored against.

I don't think Kerstin understood the significance of the victory, either.

Here is how it stacked up historically:

* England won their 100th Test victory against Australia.

* Australia had not lost by an innings to England in 24 years

* England won for only the ninth time in 30 Tests at Adelaide.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Clash winter classics

THE CLASH just seem like a perfect band for WINTER.
I think that's because I don't particularly enjoy the coldest, snowiest season (it's the fourth-best season in my book), and The Clash produced a strident, sometimes angry but often insanely catchy brand of music that matches my mood.

Driving to the store yesterday to get egg nog, I enjoyed hearing the opening quartet to the album "GIVE 'EM ENOUGH ROPE."

"Safe European Home," "English Civil War," "Tommy Gun" and "Julie's Been Working for the Drug Squad" are four of the band's finest songs. They sound the best played in their natural order, as they appear in succession on the album. I love how catchy and aggressive they sound. "Tommy Gun," in particular, has a booming chorus that always prompts me to sing along.

I know it sounds goofy, but winter is a little more palatable with The Clash.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Stay quiet, household, 'til the music's done

I'll admit it: I love early weekend mornings when the rest of the family slumbers (even the dog is sleeping) and I can really relish the tunes I am playing.
The imperious "STAY" by SHAKESPEARS SISTER just played. What a song! Eight weeks at No. 1 in the United Kingdom and even No. 4 here in the States.

Unique for the band, Marcella Detroit sang most of the song, instead of former BANANARAMA vocalist Siobhan Fahey.

The atmospheric song switches musical gears when Fahey sings the bridge and --

Dang it!

The black cat is awake and trying to crawl on me as I type this sentence, and just as "Stay" gives way to the Kiwi classic "TEARS" by the CROCODILES on my playlist.

Not all of the family was slumbering after all.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Snowbound with a favorite disc

If it seemed like it was never going to quit SNOWING this morning that's because -- well -- it never really did quit snowing.
About 8 inches later, DUBUQUE is thoroughly blanketed and with single-digit and sub-zero lows on the horizon, this snow isn't going away any time soon.

I sought comfort in music this morning, playing "EMPIRES AND DANCE" while cleaning the kitchen and preparing a big pot of CHILI.

The third studio album by Scottish band SIMPLE MINDS released in 1980, I purchased the long-player of "Empires and Dance" while I was in high school. It remains one of my favorites.

A left-field European dance record, "Empires and Dance" sounds a million miles away from the "Don't You (Forget About Me)"-era Simple Minds sound.

The music critic Andy Kellman compared "Empires and Dance" to "a Giorgio Moroder production for Roxy Music," and he's not far off.

I swayed to the electronic rhythms of "I Travel," "Celebrate" and "Thirty Frames a Second" while keeping myself busy in the kitchen this morning -- and keeping my mind off the tightening grip of winter outside my window.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Bad behavior under the spotlight

Here at ROUTE 1, we've long advocated for a simple yet effective approach to interpersonal relations, the GOLDEN RULE.
We say "simple," but apparently the whole "do unto others..." concept escapes some people.

Readers provide their own examples of the Golden Rule gone missing by answering the following FRIDAY QUESTION:

"What behavior always rubs you the wrong way?"

BOB H. -- An elitist with a superiority complex. Wait, that's redundant.

KERI M. -- Ignorant, spoiled brats.

RICK T. -- People who think they're better than you then end up wanting to be your friend. People who will lie to you.

MARY N.-P. -- Someone multitasking when you are talking to them. Studies show humans can't do more than one or two simple things at the same time well, so they really aren't listening to you...

JEFF T. -- If you and I are talking together, and your phone rings, please don't attempt to carry on a conversation with both of us! Remember, I made the effort to be there in person!

STACEY B. -- Snapping your toes. It makes me cringe.

STEVE M. -- An interviewer who likes to talk to much. On the 45 min Keith Richard NPR interview with Terri Gross (I think), it was clear she liked to do the talking, and sometimes he had to try to break in. Like we wanted to hear HER talk, and not him. Right...

JIM S. -- Children at mostly adult gatherings who don't behave, people who overuse the F-word and big dogs that jump on you.

SASKIA M. -- Arrogance and rudeness!

SANDYE V. -- Interrupting when someone else is talking, especially jumping in to finish someone's sentence. I do it, too, and I really want to stop because I know how annoying it is.

ERIK H. -- People who think only of themselves, to the obvious detriment of others.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

He can't stay away from the woman and the dog

"Of all the 14 karat saps... starting out on a caper with a woman and a dog."
ROY EARLE, the HUMPHREY BOGART character in the 1941 RAOUL WALSH film "HIGH SIERRA," says this memorable line but he can't follow through with its sentiment.

I watched "High Sierra" on DVD last night.

Earle's attachment to MARIE (IDA LUPINO) and the dog "Pawd" prove to be the fugitive gangster's undoing. However, it's the attachment that also separates Earle from Bogart's previous characters (mostly psychotic gangsters who would have killed both the woman and the dog) and laid the foundation for Bogart's more sensitive roles in films such as "Casablanca."

Filmmakers allow us to see Earle's human side from the film's earliest scenes: One episode occurs when the just-pardoned gangster visits his old farmstead, chatting with the current residents of the place.

I would also recommend "High Sierra" for the location shooting.

We see the towering peaks of the Sierra Nevada range, Joshua trees and communities such as Olancha and Lone Pine -- all visual reminders that crowded California's east is starkly beautiful and mostly empty.