Saturday, April 30, 2011

It wasn't just the rugby making me cold

I couldn't figure out why my feet were so C-C-C-C-COLD this morning.
I was watching the WARATAHS against the REBELS in SUPER RUGBY thanks to an online TV stream, and my teeth were nearly chattering.

I pulled on a rather dirty pair of socks and kept watching.
It didn't help that the rain was pelting the players at the SYDNEY FOOTBALL STADIUM. Seeing them drop the ball and slip in the drenched conditions just made me feel colder.
Eventually I discovered the source of my chill: I grabbed another cup of coffee and saw one of the kitchen windows open. So that's it!

In the rugby, Tatafu Polota-Nau, David Dennis and Dean Mumm scored tries as the Waratahs beat the Rebels, 28-9. Kurtley Beale kicked three penalties and a pair of conversions for New South Wales.

Melbourne's points came via a trio of Julian Huxley penalties.

New South Wales now find themselves in second place in the Australian Conference ladder, eight points behind the Queensland Reds.

I am eating an English muffin and drinking coffee, and I am feeling much warmer than the start of the game.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Dark alleys, strange creatures and the Friday Question

It's dark this morning, and when I switched on the light over the couch, MIKA the sleepy cat sat up and just stared at me, as if I were some strange creature she had just met in a chilling encounter in some dark alley.
I am a strange creature, because I agreed to wake up at a ridiculous hour so that I could in turn wake up the girls in time to watch the ROYAL WEDDING.

While we wait for the monarchist nuptials to commence, how about we enjoy the following answers this week's FRIDAY QUESTION:

"What would you least like to face in a dark alley?"

KERSTIN H. -- A big scary man with a big scary dog... or a big scary cat. Either one would send me running
SANDYE V. -- A murderer.

JOHN S. -- A reporter.

STACEY B. -- Clowns. Evil, demented, horrifying clowns waiting in the dark to terrify people with "funny" tricks.

SASKIA M. -- Reptiles or insects!

INGER H. -- Probably a cassowary.

CLINT A. -- Yoda.

KERI M. -- Some of my patients.

ANNIKA H. -- Barney.

RICK T. -- A BIG, mean dog that's got "I'm gonna bite you" on his face.

ERIK H. -- A fashion "expert" reporting on the Royal Wedding for E!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

The emerging tragedy in Alabama

I spent last evening switching between listening to the SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS baseball game and watching streaming coverage of the storms tearing across ALABAMA.
I eventually gave up on the baseball -- the devastating storms were taking too great a toll.
This morning, it sounds like at least 120 people were killed last night in Alabama alone.
Another 11 people were killed in Georgia, with the Southern death toll currently at 85 and presumably prepared to keep climbing.
One of the most poignant things I read last night was a simple TWEET.
A TUSCALOOSA NEWS staff member had reached their apartment, only to find everything they owned had been whisked away. Today's issue of the Alabama newspaper features a chilling account of the efforts to rescue a UNIVERSITY OF ALABAMA student trapped under the rubble of his apartment complex -- smashed to bits in the storm.
A radio report this morning compared the number of ambulances in the streets of BIRMINGHAM to taxi cabs clogging the streets of New York.
So, you can see. There was no room for baseball when last night's tragedy began to unfold.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

A "Giant" what if...

After watching George Stevens' Texas epic "GIANT" recently, I was left to ponder what many film fans have thought after seeing the movie:
"What if... ?"
Specifically, what if JAMES DEAN had not died in a car accident before the film was released in 1956.
Where would his career have gone? Watching his performance of Jett Rink, I'm fairly certain he was separating himself from the pack of "teen heartthrobs."
Extrapolating his "Giant" appearance, I can see Dean following a route similar to Marlon Brando, with a method acting approach that would enable him to inhabit roles, not just portray them.
I don't think it's too far-fetched. Dean, along with costar ROCK HUDSON, were both nominated for Best Actor in a Leading Role at the Oscars (Yul Brynner won the nod for "The King and I").
I also paid particular attention to MERCEDES MCCAMBRIDGE. It's easy to see why she was nominated as Best Actress in a Supporting Role at the Oscars (Dorothy Malone won the statuette for "Written on the Wind"). She was so versatile.
"Giant" is a long film, and it gave me plenty to ponder.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Remembering Poly Styrene

Marianne Joan Elliott-Said died yesterday at age 53 of breast cancer.
I might never have heard of her, if she hadn't taken the stage name POLY STYRENE and led the pioneering British punk rock band X-RAY SPEX to a certain kind of glory.

Their glory was the success of creating a song that never really leaves the recesses of my musical memory: "THE DAY THE WORLD TURNED DAY-GLO."

Another X-Ray Spex classic, "OH BONDAGE, UP YOURS," was one of the first punk songs I recall hearing. It featured an atrociously squawking saxophone played by Lora Logic (Susan Whitby) and was brilliant.

I hadn't heard enough avant-garde jazz or experimental dub reggae to catch all of the influences combining in X-Ray Spex.

I also couldn't see into the future, so I couldn't know what an influence Poly and the band would have on the RIOT GRRRL mob of feminist punk rockers.

Now, I can appreciate the musical history made by Poly, and it makes her death that much more difficult to take.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Thanks for the jazz, Easter Bunny!

The EASTER BUNNY included an iTunes card in my basket, and I used it to purchase "CONTOURS," the 1965 album by saxophone player SAM RIVERS.
Rivers' music represents the avant-garde edge of my tastes in JAZZ. Any farther out, say, Cecil Taylor or some of Albert Ayler, and you've lost me.

Instead, Rivers, like Eric Dolphy, glides along the very edge of my jazz comfort zone. I love to listen with headphones, following the notes of the solos as they fly.

It helps that Rivers surrounds himself with an all-star cast. Rivers' sidemen on this outing include pianist HERBIE HANCOCK and trumpeter FREDDIE HUBBARD. Both are spectacular musicians -- giants of the jazz world. The rhythm section, bassist RON CARTER and drummer JOE CHAMBERS, are among the best in jazz annals.

I'm listening to "Contours" now, waiting for the rain on a rare Monday off work. I'll listen to it several times today. It's an album that invites multiple exploratory visits.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Easter with my mistaken-identity favorite rugby union club

Here's one of those stupid stories I like to tell that really don't mean anything, but have stuck in my mind.
I was wearing my red, white and black LEYTON ORIENT scarf while touring Lord's Cricket Ground when the old gent leading the tour asked:

"Is that a Saracens' scarf?"

He was slightly disappointed -- and probably a bit surprised -- to learn it was the O's instead.

Ever since that moment, however, I have been a fan of the 135-year-old SARACENS, the north London rugby union club who currently play at Watford's Vicarage Road ground.

I was pleasantly surprised this EASTER morning, then, to find not only a full Easter basket, but also "Sarries" on our television, playing GLOUCESTER in an AVIVA PREMIERSHIP match.

I watched the match until it was time to leave for Easter morning Mass.

South African duo Schalk Brits and Ernst Joubert ran in first-half tries and Matthew Stevens and David Strettle scored in the second half as Saracens won, 35-12, to clinch a home semifinal in the upcoming Aviva Premiership playoffs.

Saracens actually have a pair of Americans in their squad, lock Hayden Smith and fullback Chris Wyles (pictured), so perhaps its appropriate that they should be my MISTAKEN-IDENTITY FAVORITE RUGBY UNION TEAM.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Hockey Night in Dubuque

I often forget about the excitement generated by an ICE HOCKEY game.
The rush of the world's fastest team sport combines with crunching hits and the lightning-quick reflexes of the combatants to create a truly memorable experience.
Last night, my brother-in-law and his family joined us for a playoff game in the UNITED STATES HOCKEY LEAGUE -- America's top junior league -- between our hometown DUBUQUE FIGHTING SAINTS and the visiting FARGO FORCE.
John Gaudreau and Shane Sooth scored goals as the Saints beat the Force, 2-1, to take a 2-0 series lead.
Dubuque goaltender Matt Morris also starred, making a string of difficult saves. Fargo's lone goal snuck past Morris while he was screened by a group of players.
Dubuque's MYSTIQUE COMMUNITY ICE CENTER is a beautiful facility, a fitting edifice for a city that has reinvented itself in the time that we have lived here.
I really should have attended a Saints game sooner than last night, but I expect the excitement of the sport will prompt me to return.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Easter memories

We've finally reached the Sunday following the PASCHAL FULL MOON, meaning it's EASTER -- the latest Easter has fallen on the calendar since 1943.
I'm glad it's finally Easter, because ROUTE 1 readers have been itching to answer the following FRIDAY QUESTION:

"What's your favorite Easter memory?"

ANNIKA H. -- Hanging out with the cousins.

SANDYE V. -- I have many. But I especially remember gulping a cup of coffee and walking to church in the cold, pre-dawn dark on Easter morning with my mother to practice with the choir (and the trumpeters) for the sunrise service. My dad and brother were still sleeping. And the whole city seemed to still be sleeping.

ROSEANNE H. -- My parents made Easter special in so many ways - Easter egg hunts in the yard, Mom's fresh baked hot cross buns, the smell of a big ham baking in the oven. But the very best part of each Easter was sharing all of it with my kids.

RICK T. -- All that yummy candy!

KERI M. -- As a child - looking for eggs at my parents. As an adult - hoping to be called to work for stat pay.

CLINT A. -- Going to the natural foods co-op with Mom to pick out treats for my Easter basket, she was not really big on giving me a huge basket of candy, attempted to get "natural" snacks instead. I guess that is carrying forth, because I am working on a non-candy Easter baskets for Eli and Ava at the moment. . .

JOHN S. -- When I was eleven or twelve I was an alter sever at Resurrection for Easter morning mass. My mom made me wear an under shirt, a dress shirt, AND a sweater. Including the alter server garment I was wearing...I had four layers on in a hot church. So while Father was preparing the Eucharist I PASSED OUT. I fell off of the alter in front of God and everybody! When I came to, the priest was holding my feet in the air and I thought I was dead. I thought that the old guy in the white robes hovering over me was God! I will never forget that.

LISA Y. -- For the past 35 years my grandma (with the help of my uncles) has had an egg hunt for me and all of my cousins (and more recently our kids). She labeled the eggs with point values and after the crazy hunt we'd all tally up our points to see who won her prizes (usually candy and the newest coins -- my grandpa was a coin collector.) As we all got older Grandma had to post rules and we all had to swear to follow them (no pushing, biting, stealing of eggs) or she could disqualify us. Over the years it became a competition to see who could climb the highest tree to retrieve an egg, or who wore the craziest get-up (I've seen my cousin Tim hunt for eggs in a grass skirt and a kilt). Now that I am 40, my youngest cousin is 20, and most of us have kids, Grandma decided that she has retired as the Easter Bunny. My aunts are beginning the tradition with their grandkids, and those of us that are patents do it with our kids, too. I bet the little kids won't need the disqualification rules like the adults!

ERIK H. -- Eating the ears off a chocolate bunny, then holding up the bunny and saying: "What did you say? Did someone say something?" Actually, I think I do that every Easter.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Wish I could write like him

I wish I could write songs like KIMBERLEY REW.
Actually, I wish anybody else could write songs like Rew -- music would be a whole lot more enjoyable.


I just sat there and marveled at that wonderful song.

Rew actually penned two of my all-time favorites. He also wrote "GOING DOWN TO LIVERPOOL," covered early in their career by the BANGLES.

Yeah, I wish I could write songs like Kimberley Rew.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The kids from TJMS and the Girl from Ipanema

We attended last night's THOMAS JEFFERSON MIDDLE SCHOOL SPRING CONCERT (while sleet and freezing rain coated the pavements outside with ice -- some spring, eh?).
TEAM ROUTE 1 member ANNIKA did a great job, performing with the school choir and the orchestra (she's a violinist).

The school band and school jazz band also performed, and the first number by the latter was a classic and a genuine family classic.

"THE GIRL FROM IPANEMA" first burst upon the American consciousness in 1964, when ASTRUD GILBERTO sang on the version of the song by STAN GETZ and JOÃO GILBERTO. The pair were accompanied by the song's composer, the pianist ANTÔNIO CARLOS JOBIM.

The song won the 1965 GRAMMY for Record of the Year -- an unimpeachable choice, I think, even in a year when The Beatles won Best New Artist.

"The Girl From Ipanema" has since been covered by artists from every corner of the globe and in nearly every genre.

The Jefferson Middle School Jazz Band had no Astrud or Getz in their ranks, but they a fine rendition nonetheless. Their "Girl From Ipanema" featured a tenor sax solo by Isaac Slagel and a trumpet solo by Patrice Chapman.

Their rendition also put me into the mood for some GETZ/GILBERTO, which I am enjoying as I type this post.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

"The Past is a Curious Thing"

It might sound intellectually shallow of me, but I decided to read "COMING UP FOR AIR" by GEORGE ORWELL because of its suspected influence on a KINKS album.
In his book-length assessment of "THE KINKS ARE THE VILLAGE GREEN PRESERVATION SOCIETY," rock writer ANDY MILLER points out numerous thematic parallels to the 1939 Orwell novel.

I wish I had stumbled upon "Coming Up for Air" much sooner.

Orwell explores memory, nostalgia and middle age in his novel about an insurance salesman's efforts to revisit his small hometown.

Orwell writes:

"The past is a curious thing. It's with you all the time, I suppose an hour never passes without your thinking of things that happened 10 or 20 years ago, and yet most fo the time it's got no reality, it's just a set of facts that you've learned, like a lot of stuff in a history book. Then some chance sight or sound or smell, especially smell, sets you going, and the past doesn't merely come back to you, you're actually in the past."

"Coming Up for Air" is one of those books filled with passages so eloquent and memorable that I've been scribbling them down.

"Sometimes when you come out of a train of thought you feel as if you were coming up from deep water," Orwell writes.

That's brilliant.

I have read "ANIMAL FARM" and "NINETEEN EIGHTY-FOUR" several times. I cannot believe it's taken me this long to read "Coming Up for Air." It might be my favorite of the lot.

Monday, April 18, 2011

"Korbo Lorbo Jitbo Re!"

That's the title of the fight song for the KOLKATA KNIGHT RIDERS, my favorite club in the INDIAN PREMIER LEAGUE, a Twenty20 CRICKET tournament now in its fourth season.
I watched Kolkata playing the RAJASTHAN ROYALS yesterday on an Indian television station live online.
Twenty20 is an abbreviated form of cricket -- each innings is limited to 20 overs, 30 fewer than the one-day version of the game -- and the matches take about three-and-a-half hours to complete.

Reflecting India's relatively recent economic prowess, the teams in the Indian Premier League have enough cash to attract the best of their domestic players as well as top stars from around the world.

South African Jacques Kallis, Bangladeshi Shakib Al Hasan and Aussie Brett Lee were in Kolkata's starting XI yesterday.

Kolkata Knight Riders went to the top of the Indian Premier League yesterday, beating the Royals by eight wickets.

Lakshmipathy Balaji took three for 15 and Al Hasan two for 21 as the Knight Riders bowled out Rajasthan for a meager 81 runs.

It was fun to watch, especially noting the passion of the crowd at Kolkata's famous EDENS GARDEN ground.

I'm still not entirely certain what "Korbo Lorbo Jitbo Re" means, but I certainly heard it being sung.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Was Stanley Matthews in the team?

I thought I had watched the shock result of this weekend's televised FA CUP SEMIFINALS when MANCHESTER CITY edged high-flying rivals MANCHESTER UNITED, 1-0, yesterday.
Instead, I sat blinking in wonderment today as STOKE CITY scored three goals within a half hour on their way to a 5-0 rout of BOLTON WANDERERS -- the first 5-0 FA Cup semifinal since 1939.

Bolton looked absolutely baffled, and the television commentator described the scene as "undiluted agony" for the vanquished Trotters.

It was joyful amazement for the Potters, on the other hand, as Stoke reached their first FA Cup final in their 148-year history.

Gordon Banks never made it with Stoke, George Eastham never made it with the Potters (although both lifted the League Cup) and not even Sir Stanley Matthews made it to the final while wearing the red-and-white stripes of Stoke City.

What a marvelous result for Stoke.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

I need to hear more Nightingales

The weather has gone beyond dreary. After pelting us with rain yesterday, we woke to falling snow today -- April 16, by the way.
I decided I'd better listen to THE NIGHTINGALES.

The Nightingales are a British post-punk combo who played more PEEL SESSIONS than any band barring THE FALL (one of my absolute favorite bands).

The late, influential disc jockey JOHN PEEL presciently described The Nightingales when he said:

"Their performances will serve to confirm their excellence when we are far enough distanced from the 1980's to look at the period rationally, and other, infinitely better known bands stand revealed as charlatans."

I admit: My Nightingales best-of album languished in my collection until recently, when I discovered Peel was completely correct in his assessment.

Songs such as "Idiot Strength," "Which Hi-Fi" and "Urban Ospreys," among many others, stand tall as towering achievements in alternative music.

I feel shamed I ignored them as long as I did, and feel compelled to rectify my ignorance.

I need to listen to more Nightingales.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Driving pet peeves

Driving was once a relaxing endeavor. Simply turn the hand crank and point your Model T in the direction of your proposed travel.
Things are quite a bit different now, as drivers of all degrees of manners clog the roads in cars that are often smarter than themselves.

ROUTE 1 readers discuss the challenges of modern motor-vehicle travel by answering the following FRIDAY QUESTION:

"What is your biggest pet peeve about other drivers?"

BEKAH P. -- I DESPISE slower drivers lingering in the left lane. Schooch your slow toookas over!

ROSEANNE H. -- People talking on their cell phones and not paying attention to their driving.

KERI M. -- When they think that they own the road.

ANNIKA H. -- IDK I don't drive.

RICK T. -- Texting or talking on a hand-held cell phone while driving.

STACEY B. -- When they wait to use on their turning signal until they are ACTUALLY turning! Some advance notice might be helpful.

INGER H. -- For some reason, drivers in San Francisco have become allergic to three-point turns. As a result, everyone somehow thinks it's OK to come to a stop sign, stop pointing towards a right turn, then instead make a giant circular U-turn in the middle of the intersection. Let me explain something: it doesn't matter if you use turn signals when you do this, as there is no turn signal for "crazy mid-intersection U-turn."

JOHN S. -- They don't drive as well as me.

STEVE M. -- Tailgating.

SANDYE V. -- People who drive under the speed limit when there is no earthly reason to do so. Then, when you can pass them, they speed up, making it harder to pass them. (Usually, this is the little old lady who exits at the dog track. I know her tan Toyota well.

JIM S. -- Besides not using their dag-blasted turn signals, yakking on their precious cellphones or following so closely behind me that I feel almost violated ... nothing.

ERIK H. -- Not using your turn signals seems like the height of vehicular self-centered behavior. You don't care if I know where you're going, eh?

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Seagulls take flight again

An English football result caught my attention this week.
Well, they all catch my attention, don't they? I mean one result *really* caught my attention.

BRIGHTON & HOVE ALBION defeated DAGENHAM & REDBRIDGE, 4-3, Tuesday to clinch promotion from LEAGUE ONE to the CHAMPIONSHIP (English football's second-highest level of competition) with five matches remaining.

It marks a revival of a club that first caught my fancy in my youth, thanks to a thrilling but ultimately bittersweet encounter in the F.A. CUP.

The 1983 F.A. Cup Final was one of the first that I closely followed. Brighton had already been relegated from the old First Division but had made it to the cup final, where they faced favorites MANCHESTER UNITED.

In the match on May 21, Gary Stevens scored a late equaliser for Brighton, and the club nearly won in extra time of a 2-2 draw. The beleaguered underdogs of Brighton had forced a replay against mighty United.

The teams replayed the final five days later, on May 26.

This match saw the fairytale end, with Bryan Robson scoring twice, teenager Norman Whiteside adding a goal and Arnold Muhren scoring a penalty to give United a 4-0 victory and the Cup.

I remember being spellbound by the promise of a Brighton upset, only for the might of the bigger club to carry the day.

Brighton's loss marked the beginning of a sad and turbulent period for the club, which found itself homeless for a time -- their Goldstone Ground was sold out from under them -- forcing Albion to play "home" matches in Gillingham.

All was not lost, however, and a Fans United series of protests brought the plight of smaller clubs to wider attention.

These days, former Chelsea and Tottenham star Gus Poyet has guided the club into the Championship.

Feeling nostalgic, I hope it marks the return of good times for the club called the Seagulls.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Returning to an old family favorite

I relaxed after a relatively unsatisfying work day with an old family favorite last night.
I read some of "TINTIN EN AMÉRIQUE (TINTIN IN AMERICA)," the children's comic book by the Belgian cartoonist HERGÉ (GEORGES REMI).

If you're unfamiliar with "The Adventures of Tintin" books, the titular character is a young reporter who becomes enmeshed in a series of thrilling adventures, either battling crime or espionage. He's always accompanied by his faithful and resourceful dog, SNOWY.

My sister and I loved these series of books as children, and when I became a parent, I vowed to provide my daughters with a Tintin experience as well.

The series began in the 1930s and continued into the 1970s.

We have 14 of the 24 books in the series.

"Tintin in America" is the third book in the series. It was originally serialized in 1931-32 in a Belgian children's newspaper supplement called "Le Petit Vingtième."

The plot of "Tintin in America" is a little more far-fetched than in subsequent titles, I think, but Hergé's artwork is always astounding.

The book provided some well-needed escapism last night -- a role it has been providing for decades.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

A tale of British Invaders

As I read a history of THE WHO, and listen to the band's albums this week, I am reminded how my attitudes toward the BRITISH INVASION participants have changed during the years.
The Who were my favorites as a kid.
Sure, I love the BEATLES and the ROLLING STONES, but I have never been one to follow the crowd, and was instead drawn to the proto-punk excitement and color of the Who.
Now, as I age, another combo has taken its place atop my personal British Invasion pantheon.

I find myself more regularly drawn to THE KINKS, particularly the stories of middle age and nostalgia that RAY DAVIES presented on "The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society" and "Arthur."

I am only now uncovering all of Davies' brilliance, his genius.

PETE TOWNSHEND said as much in an UNCUT magazine interview from 2004:

"If you look at Who history, it's easy to forget we started with 'I Can't Explain,' which was a desperate copy of The Kinks. I obviously worship -- well, actually, worship isn't the word, I exalt -- Ray Davies, but also Dave Davies. The Kinks were spectacularly brilliant. People in America talk about 'The Beatles, the Stones, the Who.' For me, it's the Beatles, the Stones, the Kinks. They were the ones."

Monday, April 11, 2011

Monday Morning Football

The sun is still sleeping this early in the morning. Heck, even the dog is still sleeping at this hour.
Only black cat LORELEI and I are awake. She's exploring the darkened corners of the house. I'm listening to a RUGBY LEAGUE match from the other side of the world.

BRISBANE leads NEWCASTLE, 8-6, at half-time in the MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL game currently being broadcast on TRIPLE M SYDNEY 104.9.

Listening online to the rugby league is one of my favorite morning rituals.

I sit here, sipping on coffee, thumbing through my "HISTORY OF THE RUGBY LEAGUE CLUB" book and listening to the teams battling each other.

This peaceful status will become interrupted in about a half hour, as I begin waking up the girls for school (they need additional preparation time, now that they are teenagers).

I'll be prepared for my day, thanks to the sport I heard from Down Under.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

A flair for the dramatic arts

I had gone to bed by the time Miguel Tejada hit a two-run double with two outs in the bottom of the ninth last night as the SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS beat the ST. LOUIS CARDINALS, 3-2.
After eight hours at work, I had trouble keeping my eyes open by about the fifth inning.

I wasn't surprised, though, to wake up and learn of Tejada's late-inning heroics. As Giants fans learned last season, the team has a flair for the dramatic arts.

The Giants displayed this flair before the game even started, staging a WORLD SERIES RING ceremony in which the team, the ball club's employees and even living Hall of Fame former members of the team received the jewelry identified with Major League Baseball's highest on-field achievement.

For me, the magical night was completed when Hall of Fame former broadcaster LON SIMMONS joined the team's regular announcers in the radio booth.
Simmons was the VOICE OF THE GIANTS in my youth -- the voice I heard while visiting my grandmother's house, where I learned that Giants fans should expect a degree of heartache, but also shouldn't be surprised to wake up to dramatic happy endings, too.

Saturday, April 09, 2011

Morning with Ready Steady Who

THE WHO were my first musical love, and the first book I raised my own money to purchase was a history/lyrics tome devoted to the band.
I recently began reading a history of the band produced by the makers of UNCUT magazine, and this morning I listened to a playlist based on the band's "READY STEADY WHO" EP from 1966.

The EP opens with a pair of Pete Townshend originals -- "Disguises" and "Circles" -- before closing with a trio of contemporary covers.

There's Neal Hefti's "BATMAN" theme, followed by the Jan and Dean song "Bucket T" and the Regents' "Barbara Ann" -- made more famous by the BEACH BOYS.

It's an odd little collection of songs, but one that has helped wake me from a groggy state.

I need to wake up, I work today!

I'll read more of The Who history when I get home.

Friday, April 08, 2011

Snack food sand traps

People never seem to complain about eating too much fruit. Nope, it's always the cookies, cupcakes and candies we seem to devour in the extremes.
This week, ROUTE 1 readers turn their attention to snack magnetism by answering the following FRIDAY QUESTION:

"What snack food always gets you into trouble?"

MIKE D. -- My kids like to eat cheesy popcorn during our Family Movie Nights. Whenever I get into a bag, I can't seem to stop eating the stuff. I always regret it the next morning when I'm very dehydrated. Kind of like a popcorn hangover.

ANNIKA H. -- Chocolate
SANDYE V. -- Cookies are my downfall, especially when they are homemade. I can't eat just one. Gotta have a handful.

KERI M. -- All of the Tim Hortons roll up the rim coffee winners that I keep getting stolen from my pockets from in the staff room at work. Sorry, just a little bit more than pissed right now.

JOHN S. -- Cheetos. I can't stop until I have orange stained skin to my elbow!

RICK T. -- Anything chocolate.

LISA Y. -- Potato chips. Can't keep 'em in my house!

ERIK H. -- Certain ice cream products, such as those Snickers ice cream bars. Wish I had one right now!

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Things aren't always what they seem in "Frailty"

Things aren't always what they seem in BILL PAXTON'S "FRAILTY," and the actor/director seems to delight in confounding our expectations.
A friend lent me the DVD for this 2002 film, and I watched it last night.

Paxton stars as an otherwise ordinary single father of two boys in Texas who suddenly begins receiving visions. God, he tells his sons Fenton and Adam, wants the family to destroy demons who have been unleashed upon Earth in preparation of Judgment Day.

The "demons" look like the people we see every day. Paxton's character tells his boys he can tell their demons, though, when he lays his hands upon them and their evil deeds are revealed.

Young Adam (Jeremy Sumpter) believes his father, while young Fenton (Matt O'Leary) is beyond skeptical: Fenton thinks his father is descending into murderous madness, especially as the number of destroyed "demons" begins to mount.

At least, that's the tale a man calling himself Fenton Meiks (Matthew McConaughey) tells a doubtful FBI agent (Powers Boothe) assigned to a baffling case of serial murder.

"Frailty" is harrowing at times, as Paxton's everyman persona (he's a small-town mechanic) is cast at odds with behavior that includes locking the disbelieving Fenton in a cellar.

My advice: If you watch it at night, be prepared for an edge-of-the-seat experience. And prepare yourself for a few surprises.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

The The and a Golden State of Mind

MATT JOHNSON is as English as the east London pub he grew up in, but whenever I listen to his band THE THE, I always think of CALIFORNIA.
I think the connection comes from the past playlists of Bay Area alternative stations THE QUAKE and, later, LIVE 105.

They seemed to play The The by default. What should we play? Can't decide? Play The The.

I listened to the 1986 album "INFECTED" yesterday in the car, and there was just enough sunshine at times to make me think the California association wasn't all that far-fetched.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

No Irish at the next World Cup

IRELAND have been knocked out of the 2015 ICC CRICKET WORLD CUP, without a ball being bowled.
The INTERNATIONAL CRICKET COUNCIL, cricket's governing body, announced confirmed today that the next World Cup -- held in AUSTRALIA and NEW ZEALAND -- will only be contested by the 10 "full members" of cricket, i.e., those nations that play Test cricket.

That decision means Australia, Bangladesh, England, India, New Zealand, Pakistan, South Africa, Sri Lanka, West Indies and Zimbabwe are in the competition.

Ireland, the slayers of England in the group phase of this year's competition, are out. So too are the Netherlands, Kenya and Canada, who also competed at this year's event.
These so-called "Associate Nations" had been hoping to continue competing on cricket's biggest stage, as a way to foster the sport's development in their countries.

These outsiders must wait for the 2019 World Cup, which the ICC plans to operate on a qualification basis.

Monday, April 04, 2011

Rod Stewart accompanies five days of fun

My FIVE-DAY WEEKEND is coming to a close.
I enjoyed myself immensely, watching the CRICKET WORLD CUP final on Indian television, listening to loads of BASEBALL on the radio and sitting in 73-degree weather and picking hailstones out of the front yard within the space of a few hours.

For some reason, I also decided to cue up the early ROD STEWART albums on the iPod this weekend, too.
How delightful they are!
Stewart may have sold more records later in his career, but the solo albums he made while still a member of the magnificent FACES easily mark his creative peak.

His collaborations with Ronnie Wood and Martin Quittenton -- songs like "Gasoline Alley" and "Maggie May" -- are the stuff of legend.

Similarly, Stewart had a way with cover versions.

Charles Shaar Murray, writing in the NME in 1972, touched upon Stewart's brilliance with a song:

"Stewart can take songs as differentiated as 'Street Fighting Man,' 'Man of Constant Sorrow' and 'Handbags and Gladrags' and show us what these songs have in common, while simultaneously respecting the individual identity of each song."

Stewart became more formulaic as the 70s progressed into the 80s.

I prefer to think of him in the guise of early 1970s song interpreter.

That's the Rod Stewart who provided the soundtrack to a much-appreciated five-day weekend.

Sunday, April 03, 2011

A preview of the summer

I slept 11 hours last night, so I am no longer on "MUMBAI time."
I had gotten out of bed at a quarter to four yesterday morning so I could watch the CRICKET WORLD CUP FINAL on television. The hosts, INDIA, won the memorable contest over SRI LANKA.

The cricket provided a hint of the summer to come.

ENGLAND will host both finalists for Test series this summer.

Sri Lanka play Test matches May 26-30 in Cardiff (which really isn't in England, but whatever) and June 3-7 at LORD'S (which I have toured).

India come to England later, for Tests on July 21-25 at Lord's, July 29-Aug. 2 at Trent Bridge, Nottingham, and Aug. 10-14 at Edgbaston, Birmingham.

I can't wait: I can listen to cricket on the radio!

Thank goodness the time difference is only six hours to England!

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Early morning cricket on TV

I woke up at a quarter to four today so I could spend my morning with Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Yuvraj Singh, Mahela Jayawardene and Lasith Malinga, among others. I used a variety of links to watch the CRICKET WORLD CUP FINAL live on Indian television. Dhoni provided a man-of-the-match performance, scoring 91 runs not out to help INDIA (277-4) to a six-wicket victory over SRI LANKA (274-6). I watched the entire match. Sri Lanka won the toss and batted, with Jayawardene scoring a sublime 103 not out. India were given a run chase of 275, and the task looked like it might be beyond them when Virender Sehwag and Sachin Tendulkar fell early and the hosts were 31-2. Enter Gautam Gambhir (97 runs) and Dhoni, whose run-scoring helped overcome Malinga and the other fearsome Sri Lankan bowlers. The television commercials were fun, too. INDIAN TV COMMERCIALS feature cricketers and Bollywood stars hawking cellphones, cooking oil, soda pop and banking services. I am glad I sacrificed a few hours of sleep to watch cricket. Today's spectacle was worth it.

Friday, April 01, 2011

Some animals freak out everybody! (Except for Lisa Ling)

A bat buzzed the audience and swooped over television journalist LISA LING during a recent speaking engagement.
Was Ling freaked out? Hardly! As the bat flapped it's way toward Ling, she quipped:

"Do they like Asian girls from California?"

We learned that Ling must be one of those rare individuals who is not FREAKED OUT by any animal.

That's not the case for most of us, as ROUTE 1 readers reveal by answering the following FRIDAY QUESTION:

"Is there an animal that always frightens you?"

JOHN S. -- I work at an aquarium. Snakes, gators, gars, take your pick!

ANNIKA H. -- Butterflies. They're terrifying.

JEFF T. -- My two-year-old Eli, especially when he needs a nap (but won't take one).

KERI M. -- Probably a dinosaur, if it was right in front of me.

BRIAN M. -- Like Indiana Jones, I hate snakes. Never mind real ones... the perception of a poisonous adolescent snake running loose is enough for me.

CLINT A. -- I hate centipedes. They are the creepiest damn creatures out there, hands down!

INGER H. -- Not really. People frighten me way more than any animal does.

BEKAH P. -- Ugh! Snakes! Ewww! I am freaked out even just thinking about it!

RICK T. -- I hate snakes, bats, mice and bugs.

LISA Y. -- Snakes....once when I was young the boys at the babysitter's house put one down the back of my shirt. I am scarred for life.

ERIK H. -- Raccoons. After I saw one trying to capture our cat in California, raccoons have always freaked me out.