Monday, October 31, 2011

Classic crime film distilled

JEAN-PIERRE MELVILLE'S 1967 film "LE SAMOURAÏ" is like a classic crime film distilled.
Not only is extraneous dialogue trimmed from the film, it often seems some necessary speech has been discarded as well.
The spartan plot is minimalist, too: Hit man completes contract, is double-crossed, seeks revenge, tripped up by girl.
Yet Melville imbues the film with some much C-O-O-L that it always leaves a startling impression upon me when I see it, and the underlying themes of individualism and the role of honor are anything but simplistic.
I watched it again yesterday, taking special note of the Parisian setting -- including ALAIN DELON'S chase scene in the MÉTRO.
I highly recommend this film.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Early morning brain fry

It never fails.
I dog-sit for my father-in-law and visiting REBEL and our own dog, RORY, wake me at 4 a.m., needing outdoor relief.
I wouldn't mind, except I can never return to sweet slumber.
When it occurred this morning, I chose to accompany the eerie darkness of the wee hours with the eerie sonic offerings of "AGHARTA," the 1975 MILES DAVIS album chosen as No. 3 in MOJO MAGAZINE'S 2005 list of "50 ALBUMS THE WILL FRY YOUR BRAIN."
Davis recorded the sprawling jazz-rock fusion album (originally spread across four sides of vinyl) during a concert in Osaka, Japan. By all accounts, the music represents the climax of Davis' electronic experiments, and the trumpeter went on an extended hiatus (primarily because of failing health) after "Agharta" was recorded.
Writing in Mojo, critic David Sheppard describes the album as boasting a "startling, dense sound."
It is beautiful music, albeit difficult to digest initially.
Saxophonist SONNY FORTUNE and guitarist PETE COSEY are among the highlighted contributors, and both excel.
"('Agharta') presents the band in full, frightening form, a continuously shifting, grooving beast -- dissonant, ferocious, unbeatable," Sheppard writes.
Perfect for the weird hours of darkness and cups of coffee that follow an unwanted, canine wakening, eh?

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Immersed in the controversial, but rewarding, 1970s Miles

The early to mid-1970s were almost without question the most controversial period of MILES DAVIS' landmark -- unparalleled -- career.
I'm reading about the period today in Richard Cook's excellent "IT'S ABOUT THAT TIME: MILES DAVIS ON AND OFF RECORD," which could best be described as a "biography" of the trumpeter's discography.
I have been listening to albums from the period, too, including "A TRIBUTE TO JACK JOHNSON" (one of my favorites), "ON THE CORNER" (definitely what I would call a "grower") and "GET UP WITH IT" (a varied collection I need to spend more time exploring).
Many jazz purists hated this period of Davis' career, especially those contemporary fans who had followed the trumpeter's work throughout the 1950s and 60s. These purists must have felt Davis had abandoned them, as he disregarded much of what we associate with jazz (including recognizable song structures).
I take a different view. Davis hadn't abandoned the fans. The problem was the fans were unable to keep up with him.
As I listened to the dense sound scape of "Mr. Freedom X," from "On the Corner," I envision Davis' music as a jetliner on a runway. Gaining speed throughout the late 1960s, the jet soared by the early 1970s, leaving the fans running along on the tarmac in my analogy.
I imagine not many of the fans who worshiped Davis for songs such as "My Funny Valentine" were going to warm as immediately to his poly-rhythmic funk workouts of the 1970s.
Much of the 1970s Davis work is alien-sounding, but it also boasts a remarkable beauty to the open-minded listener.
Besides, there are passages on "A Tribute to Jack Johnson" that rock as hard as any metal.
Is it really jazz? Who cares? It's definitely Miles.

Friday, October 28, 2011

We'd have a blast, if I had Orioles

I've always been intrigued by this building on the corner of Central Avenue and 16th Street in DUBUQUE.
It's probably apartments now, but the facade suggests a VINTAGE NIGHTCLUB -- something of a rarity in Dubuque, where good old-fashioned Midwestern taverns tend to dominate.
The dilapidated neon sign reads "ORIOLES," which again suggests a nightclub.
I always think that if I had enough money, I would purchase the building, renovate the facade and the sign, and create my own JAZZ CLUB.
Dubuque had a jazz club a few years ago, and we listened to a combo there (a coworker and I had taken a JAZZ APPRECIATION COURSE at the same time).
Lack of patrons doomed the jazz club, perhaps predictably, and the new owners converted it into a sports bar -- like we need more of those.
Yep, if I had the resources, Orioles would be mine and I would "return" it to the former glory I imagine it having.
We'd play jazz there. We'd have good whiskey. We'd have a blast.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Wait: You mean I'm not in Argentina?!?!

I was shocked by the ALARM going off today -- not because it was morning, but because I woke to find I was not in ARGENTINA.
I dreamt I was staying with a family in LA PLATA. The family included a curmudgeonly old Italian grandfather and the whole clan were SOCCER fanatics, which suited me perfectly.
In my dream, they were teaching me about Argentina's various soccer clubs. I was at a neighborhood newsstand, thumbing through some SOCCER MAGAZINES, when the alarm jolted me back into reality.
You'd be surprised how many of my dreams end with me looking at soccer magazines. Or maybe you wouldn't.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

We're just #KeepingItPeel on #JohnPeelDay

An ANGLOPHILE kid growing up in CALIFORNIA and ARIZONA, I sadly didn't get enough opportunities to hear the British radio that formed a generation or more of my kindred spirits.
I remember cherishing every little scrap of shortwave radio blast or cassette mix that included the DJ work of luminaries such as KID JENSEN and JOHN PEEL. (They are wearing shirts bearing the names of the other person in the above photo.)
The legendary Peel ("influential" in this case is too mild a word) passed away seven years ago today, and the tributes are so extensive that #KeepingItPeel is trending rather loftily in the United Kingdom today.
I don't have much to add, but I do recommend you visit our allies at FOOTBALL AND MUSIC (see the link to the right), where an excellent podcast of football-related Peel broadcasts is available for download.
That way, you can help keep it Peel, too.

Monday, October 24, 2011

A result like a thunderbolt

The pundits had predicted a cagey match -- like a cup final -- and I had no reason to disagree.
Those expectations are why yesterday's result of the 161st Manchester derby reverberated like a thunderbolt.
The champions were well and truly blitzed, having a man sent off and conceding six goals in a top-flight home match for the first time since Sept. 10, 1930.
I watched the encounter live on television. I couldn't believe what I was seeing.
I recognized that Roberto Mancini's side was full of talented players. I was surprised at how Manchester United seemed to have no answer for the creativity of David Silva and James Milner.
I recognized all eyes would be on Mario Balotelli, who hours before had set part of his house on fire by shooting off fireworks. I was surprised he rose to the challenge, scoring Manchester City's first two goals (and showing a sense of humor with his T-shirt message: "Why Always Me?").
I recognized that the champions were probably not as strong as last season. I was surprised by the way in which they seemed to switch off mentally in the game's final moments, enabling the visitors to score three goals from the 89th minute on.
It was certainly a memorable match. I feel fortunate to say I witnessed a little history.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Slowly, enjoyably working my way through Miles Davis' life, work

RICHARD COOK takes a rather unique -- yet seemingly appropriate -- approach to his biographical subject in "IT'S ABOUT THAT TIME: MILES DAVIS ON AND OFF RECORD."
Cook presents Davis' life in discographical order, detailing the tracks of each album as he relates what was happening in the trumpeter's life at the time. I have been reading it slowly, with purpose.
Once I arrive at a chapter on an album I own, I stop, listen to the record, then read the chapter. I re-listen to segments of the album as well, based on Cook's insights that I have just read. (It helps that we have approximately 23 hours of Davis' music on CD/iTunes.)
It makes for slow-going, but highly enjoyable, progress through a book.
I read about/listened to "KIND OF BLUE" and "SKETCHES OF SPAIN" today. I am going to save "SOMEDAY MY PRINCE WILL COME FOR TOMORROW."
Listening to jazz in between watching sports on television is a fantastic way to spend a weekend. I already knew that, but this weekend has cemented that opinion.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Watching the Baggies big win

A dodgy sending off helped as WEST BROMWICH ALBION accomplished a feat that last occurred back in the days of the great Cyrille Regis.
The Baggies won at Villa Park in the league for the first time since 1979, beating 10-man ASTON VILLA, 2-1.
I watched the match live on television, cheering on the club I supported as a boy.
Villa had taken an early lead through a 23rd-minute penalty by Darren Bent.
The match turned on a controversial play 12 minutes later, when Villa's Chris Herd was controversially sent off by referee Phil Dowd, presumably for stamping on the Baggies' Jonas Olsson.
Olsson then equalized 10 minutes later.
West Brom took the lead in the 57th minute, thanks to a great goal by Paul Scharner (pictured).
Roy Hodgson's men then passed the ball around the park for the remainder of the match, and the first-in-a-generation victory was secured.
It was all great fun for me, as I recalled those days so long ago, when I might catch West Brom's score on BBC WORLD SERVICE or snatch a bit of news from an imported copy of SHOOT! magazine.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Friday Question left out in the cold

The dog just broke her individual record for shortest outdoor excursion to relieve herself.
Because it's C-C-C-C-COLD outside!
ROUTE 1 readers recall chilling times of old by answering the following FRIDAY QUESTION:
"What is the coldest you've ever f-f-f-felt?"
KERI M. -- One year, my brother was playing outdoor hockey and my sister and I had to stay and watch him, because we were too young to walk home by ourselves. We exchanged clothing and hid behind a garbage dumpster until he was done. I still remember how my fingers felt.
INGER H. -- Pretty much any time I wade in the surf at a northern California beach... Yow!!! It hurts!!!
BRIAN M. -- That's easy. It was a point in December 1990 in Lakeview. It was my first full winter there and not quite two years before you and Jill arrived. We had a stretch of weather where the temperature dipped to zero and below, and dropped to -20 degrees at night. I remember one one of these 0 degree days, with the wind howling, a friend and I moved my stuff from the south end of town to the apartment at which I spent most of my time in Lakeview.
JOHN S. -- One year at Ice Fest I put on Troy Henkels' dry suit and went into the river. I was dry, but damn cold!
KERSTIN H. -- I've been very cold but the coldest would be when. I was waiting for the bus the day when it was only like -30 below... even tho I was only there for like 5 minutes it still felt like it took me all day to warm up again!
JIM S. -- I distinctly remember this, even though it was so long ago. One night when I was a junior in college, I was walking the mile or so from campus to my Regent Street Apartment complex in Madison, Wis. As is common with students (male students?), I wasn't dressed warm enough for the evening (no hat). It was about 10 degrees, but the wind was whipping in my face as I walked down some railroad tracks, which was a shortcut. I tried jogging, but it made it worse. It was the longest mile I've ever trekked.
SANDYE V. -- One winter in the 1990s (I think) we had an actual temp of about 30 below (not the wind chill -- the real deal) and it was so cold that we'd have to fire up the car and drive it around on our lunch break so that the gasline didn't freeze. And it was wear-your-longjohns-in-the-office weather, too.
RICK T. -- Eight years ago on the dock at Roadway Express in the middle of winter! Never again!
BEKAH P. -- Once, as a child, I fell through ice into a small creek in my grandparents' timbers. My brother, who could run faster than me, chivalrously offered to run back and get Grandpa, who would come and pick me up with the truck. About an hour passed, and by this point, my clothes were freezing to me. I trudged up to my grandparents' house, where my brother was drinking hot cocoa. He had forgotten about me. The jerk.
MIKE D. -- The coldest my HANDS ever felt was probably during my days at Loras College, circa 1982. Of course gloves weren't cool for walking between classes on campus. I remember one day when I went from Keane Hall to the basement (actually, it might have been the boiler room) of Old St. Joe's for a sculpture class. My left hand was wrapped around textbooks and an oversized spiral notebook. When I got to class, my hand was so frozen, I didn't think I'd be able to straighten my fingers to do any work.
BRIAN C. -- Christmas break 1975-76. Drove from Columbia, Missouri, to suburban Chicago with a malfunctioning climate system (automatic, with no blower switch) blowing out air conditioning air the entire time. Driving and scraping the inside of the windshield for 7 hours! I didn't thaw out until 1982.
ROSEANNE H. -- Standing on a pier in northern Holland overlooking the sea with the wind blowing in November. My tear ducts froze and I have problems now with any wind in my face. IT Was way too cold!
ERIK H. -- I have lived in some pretty cold places (here, for example), but the coldest I have ever felt was during what should have been a delightful, nighttime stroll across the Brooklyn Bridge. A native Californian with no real conception of winter -- despite the fact I was attending college in Iowa -- I wore only a sweatshirt for the January trek across the glorious old span. I still shiver th-th-thinking about it.
ROUTE 1 FRIDAY QUESTION will return in two weeks -- after we thaw out.)

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Savanna Army Depot: You'll have a blast (possibly literally)

I spent most of yesterday exploring SAVANNA, ILL., part of a "day-trip" series of stories I am writing for the newspaper.
En route home, I was able to visit a portion of the former SAVANNA ARMY DEPOT site. The 13,062-acre area was a weapons-testing facility from 1917 to 2000. A portion is being converted to business-park space and another large area of the former depot has been designated a National Fish and Wildlife Refuge.
The vast majority of the site is off-limits to visitors -- there's the little problem of UNEXPLODED ORDNANCE remaining from decades of firing weapons and storing ammunition.
I was able to catch glimpses of the area's military past, with strange, decaying buildings behind towering barbed-wire fencing.
I thought the buildings would provide excellent sets for science fiction or horror films.
There are also plenty of signs warning visitors of the area's hidden, explosive legacy.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Post No. 2,195: In which our hero salutes the cassette tape

Compilers of the OXFORD ENGLISH DICTIONARY have excised "CASSETTE TAPE" from the "Concise" edition, another sign of shifting technologies and once-ubiquitous daily items now rendered obsolete.
I admit that I am among the mourners.
During my college days, I would not have survived without my cassette tapes. There was no local radio station in CEDAR RAPIDS, IOWA that would play JOY DIVISION, ECHO & THE BUNNYMEN, THE CURE or similar bands back then -- hell, there probably isn't a local radio station in C.R. now that will play that stuff -- so I depended on cassettes as a link to the music I loved.
My first college work-study job involved sweeping out the system of subterranean pedestrian walkways that connected buildings on the MOUNT MERCY COLLEGE (now "Mount Mercy University") campus.
The task gave me a nickname that stuck -- "TUNNELMAN" -- while giving me an opportunity to listen to cassettes on a WalkMan.

Did you know "UNKNOWN PLEASURES" is a perfect album to hear while sweeping dust down a seemingly endless tunnel? I learned that lesson the hard way, thanks to my cassette tapes.
Later, I would tape all my albums so I could listen in the car.
Drives along the astonishingly beautiful coast of SONOMA COUNTY, CALIF. -- which I consider to be "home" -- were punctuated by alternative music, R&B rarities, reggae and even jazz on cassette. Years went by and you could identify my car by the shoebox full of cassettes in the passenger side.
Yes, the iPod era is much easier for storing a music collection. I just don't think the current era is as cool as a shoebox full of eclectic cassettes.
R.I.P., cassette tape.

Monday, October 17, 2011

3 things to do

Things to do this week:
1. Bundle up. It's going to be COLD, with overnight low temperatures forecast for the 30s all week.
2. Finish reading my book. Nick Reding's "METHLAND" is a fascinating and disturbing look at how increasingly industrialized agriculture and global pharmaceutical practices helped facilitate the methamphetamine epidemic in rural America. You'll never look at small-town life the same way.
3. Listen to more JAZZ. When days shorten and the autumnal nights lengthen and grow colder (see above), my mood shifts to jazz. Today, I am listening to the 1959 album "CANNONBALL ADDERLEY QUINTET IN CHICAGO." Alto-saxophone player Adderley is joined by other members of Miles Davis' legendary sextet, including John Coltrane, Wynton Kelly, Paul Chambers and Jimmy Cobb. It's wonderful music.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

More excited by the result, not the fracas

Alex Smith's fourth-down, 6-yard touchdown pass to Delanie Walker effectively won the game as the visiting 49ERS defeated the previously unbeaten LIONS, 25-19, but all the media focus following the contest seems fixated on the coaches.
San Francisco's Jim Harbaugh and Detroit's Jim Schwartz had to be separated after the customary postgame hand shake.
We watched the game on television this afternoon.
Schwartz took offense to something Harbaugh did or said after the game and charged his opposite number as the teams left the field.
Exciting, eh?
I'm more excited by the way the 49ers have opened the season. They are winning "big games" in a way they have been unable to accomplish in years.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Drums drums drums drums drums galore

Does the sound of various types of DRUMS help you work hard?
It does for me, as I experienced earlier today.
I gave the bathroom a thorough cleaning to the sound of "ORGY IN RHYTHM," the percussion album led by ART BLAKEY in 1957.
Accomplished percussionist Blakey recruited three more top-notch drummers, Art Taylor, Jo Jones and "Specs" Wright -- with the latter two also playing tympani.
Blakey also called in bongo and timbales legend Sabu, conga players "Potato" Valdez and Jose Valiente, timbales man Ubaldo Nieto and multi-percussionist Evilio Quintero, who played cencerro, maracas something called "tree log," which must have been exactly what the name implies.
The result is a drums feast, aided by Herbie Mann on flute, Ray Bryant on piano and bassist Wendell Marshall.
Afro-Cuban sounds dominate this Blue Note records classic, but the instrumental combination really produces a sound unlike I or many others had heard before.
"Side one opens with Jo Jones on tympani, the mournful flute of Herbie Mann and Sabu crying the 'Buhaina Chant' in a manner somewhere between a muezzin and a cantor," Ira Gitler wrote in the original liner notes. "Then Art explodes into the forefront and after a while the Latin rhythm joins him."
The eclectic mix of rhythm must be heard to be believed, and believe me -- it provides an excellent soundtrack to some hard work.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Favorite drives

ROUTE 1 assistant KERSTIN receives her license this week, prompting the following FRIDAY QUESTION:
"What is your favorite drive?"
RICK T. -- A ride along US highway 98 (Coastal Highway) in Florida.
KERI M. -- Right now - to work (a 15 min drive) and back. There is a "Wired 963 Traffic Jam" mix show that I love driving anywhere to. She would love it.
JIM S. -- There's a short drive near Kieler, Wis., called Peddle Hollow Road that is very pretty and relaxing. It's just past the Kieler Bank and gas station heading toward Dickeyville. Take it about two miles and you'll run into other pretty drives along Timber Lane and Bluff Hollow Road - all fairly close to the Mississippi River. I've also taken some runs along Peddle Hollow Road.
MIKE D. -- About this time of year, my family always takes a drive to enjoy the fall foliage along the Great River Road in Iowa and Wisconsin.
ROSEANNE H. -- Along the Sonoma County and Mendocino County coastlines.
SANDYE V. -- Wisconsin Hwy. 23 from Dodgeville north to Spring Green. Any time of year, it's absolutely gorgeous, curvy and hilly with stunning views of the bluffs and valleys. And then when you get there, you can look at Frank Lloyd Wright stuff at Taliesin.
MARY N.-P. -- Actually, my daily commute to and from work - a 30-minute drive along US 52 from Bellevue to Dubuque which includes stunning scenery, interesting wildlife and little traffic - a great way to start and end each day of the past 13 years.
JOHN S. -- Old Highway 20.
KERSTIN H. -- The old highway cause I know it really well and its nice knowing that all I have to focus on is the driving part and not the where do I turn at part.
ERIK H. -- Sebastopol, Calif., to Jenner, Calif., via Bodega Bay and coastal Sonoma County will always be my favorite drive.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Losing two legends of League

RUGBY LEAGUE has lost a pair of legends the past two days.
KEITH HOLMAN (1927-2011) starred at halfback for the WESTERN SUBURBS MAGPIES, scoring 381 points in 203 games. He also played 32 times for AUSTRALIA (1950-58).
Pictured above, DICK THORNETT (1940-2011) was one of only five Australians to represent the country in three sports. He played WATER POLO at the 1960 Olympics in Rome before playing RUGBY UNION.
After two seasons of union, he joined his brother Ken playing league for the PARRAMATTA EELS.
He scored 173 points in 160 matches for the Eels, then played part of the 1972 season with Easts.
The sport will miss both of these legends.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Intellectualism as rock revolution

I'm listening to "ALADDIN SANE" by DAVID BOWIE today, drawn to some classic glam rock by a forecast of three days of dreary rain.
It's difficult now to relate to the sensation Bowie caused as he rocketed to stardom in the early 1970s, setting a different course for pop with his changing personas from album to album.
Writing in the NME in 1973, Ian MacDonald defended Bowie against critics who couldn't see beyond the artifice -- or couldn't recognize the artifice as an experiment in pop culture:
"They feel that he is being more than pretentious, he is being callous -- enjoying a huge ego trip at the expense of people, feelings and situations. He is, in fact, as far from the singer-songwriter ethos -- as embodied by its initiator, Bob Dylan -- as you can comfortably get, and he's alone in taking up this position. For good or ill, David Bowie's intellectualism is a revolution in rock."

All I know is that "Aladdin Sane" still sounds great, 38 years after its release.

Monday, October 10, 2011

From 8-track to iTunes

I can remember owning three or so 8-TRACK tapes when I was a kid (there were probably more, but I only remember three).
Don't bother looking for a pattern, they were a rather random trio:
I had "PRESENCE" by LED ZEPPELIN, something by KISS (probably "LOVE GUN," but it could have been "ROCK AND ROLL OVER") and "FRENCH KISS" by BOB WELCH.
Of the latter, some of you might be thinking: The Dodgers and A's pitcher made a record?
A select few are correctly remembering: Oh yeah, that guitarist from FLEETWOOD MAC before Nicks and Buckingham made them famous.
I renewed my acquaintance with Welch's 1977 album, "French Kiss," thanks to a recent iTunes purchase.
"Sentimental Lady," "Hot Love, Cold World" and "Ebony Eyes" were hit singles from "French Kiss."
My reunion with the album -- after decades -- revealed some other gems as well.
"Mystery Train," "Easy to Fall" and "Carolene" are a few more great songs from "French Kiss."
Listening this weekend, I could barely remember enjoying the album on 8-track. It was one of the select few albums I enjoyed until high school and ALTERNATIVE ROCK swept all else aside, at least for a little while.

Saturday, October 08, 2011

Surreal scene at Miller Park

The surreal scene at the conclusion of last night's 3-2, 10-inning victory by the MILWAUKEE BREWERS over the ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS in Game 5 of the NATIONAL LEAGUE DIVISION SERIES wasn't the sight of complete strangers running up to offer congratulatory high-fives.
That happens every time a success-starved community celebrates an unexpected victory.
No, for me the surreal scene occurred as sat in the parking lot, enjoying some postgame tailgating while a long line of cars attempted to exit.
Looking up into the night sky, we could see some of the golden, shiny confetti dumped on the stands being blown up and through the open roof of Miller Park.
Caught in the parking lot lights, the confetti looked like sparks emitted from a volcano.
Until they came fluttering down to earth, when the shiny confetti looked like double-sized, golden fireflies.

It was a remarkable scene after last night's remarkable game.

Friday, October 07, 2011

Pardon the interruption of your nirvana, but here's the Friday Question

The vast majority of ROUTE 1 readers live in a happy-go-lucky, sunshine-y, bubblegum-infused puppy-dog-tail world filled by bliss after bliss after bliss.
We can safely assume this state of affairs because so few people answered this week's FRIDAY QUESTION:
"When was the last time you let out a good rant and what was it about?"

Today, we celebrate the following curmudgeons:
JOHN S. -- It was about the major league conspiracy to keep the Cubs down, and I rant about it every June!
MARY N.-P. -- Oh Lord - it was not long ago and about politics, but that's all I can say without getting into trouble...
ERIK H. -- It drives me to distraction (and ranting) when sports journalists -- often East Coast-based -- pass off their hyperbole as accepted truths. No, I don't think the Phillies rotation is the greatest of all time. I think the 1971 Baltimore Orioles staff (just to name one), would have out-pitched them every time. Please, ESPN, don't belittle our ability to remember true greatness from other eras just so you can hype people into continuing to watch your coverage.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Go ahead and try to "Beat Dis." You can't

Thursdays before a Friday off work are special.
I marked the occasion of today's such Thursday by listening to some classic DANCE MUSIC when I arrived home from work, highlighted by the towering 1987 single "BEAT DIS" by BOMB THE BASS.
Brixton-born TIM SIMENON was his name, and blazing a trail for British dance DJs was his game.
I loved "Beat Dis" when I first heard the song in college.
Sampling was relatively new at the time, and Simenon added sounds like a magpie.
What do Kurtis Blow, Fiorello LaGuardia, Jayne Mansfield, Prince and the "Thunderbirds" puppet television series have in common? Samples of their sounds were included in "Beat Dis."
I'm going to settle down to watch MY BELOVED OREGON DUCKS on television tonight, but my long weekend kicked off with dance music of the classic kind.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Taking my eyewear cue from a jazzy source

If I need to wear GLASSES, I might as well make them stylish enough to fit my personality.
That was my thinking when picking out frames for my prescription "work glasses," tailored to allow close focus while reading and to allow me to see what I am posting to ROUTE 1.
Since their Friday arrival, my glasses have become a source of annoyance to me -- I feel like I am wearing safety goggles -- and a source of speculation for my friends.
"Is he trying to look like Elvis Costello?"
Not really. The musical inspiration for my choice of frames -- BANANA REPUBLIC CHANNING 086 (TORTOISE SHELL) -- goes back farther than "OLIVER'S ARMY."
I was really aiming for BILL EVANS on the cover of the jazz pianist's 1959 album "PORTRAIT IN JAZZ."
It was recorded eight months after Evans teamed with MILES DAVIS on the landmark "KIND OF BLUE," and "Portrait in Jazz" continues in the modal vein Evans explored with the trumpeter. There are even a couple versions of "BLUE IN GREEN."
I was never going to choose those rectangular, minimalist frames that seem de rigueur these days.
Nope. My furrow has always been my own.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Cannot wait for "Arrested Development" to return

I love "ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT," the 2003-06 TV series created by MITCH HURWITZ.
Thrilled to hear reports that the show is coming back, perhaps next year, I watched the first three episodes of the first season last night on DVD.
The casting, the writing and the faux-documentary shooting style keep the show head and shoulders above its competitors.
JASON BATEMAN as Michael Bluth provides the center of the show, and Bateman is consistently brilliant in his role. Supporting cast members such as WILL ARNETT, DAVID CROSS and PORTIA DE ROSSI, to name just three, also bring a wealth of talent to the show.
I cannot wait until it returns.

Monday, October 03, 2011

Renewing an old cassette acquaintance

As introductions to jazz go, you can't go wrong with "STAN GETZ AND THE OSCAR PETERSON TRIO."
I know, because my late DAD gave me this Japanese-reissue cassette of the album when I was in college, and I nearly wore it out listening.
Getz was the legendary tenor saxophone player who gained his greatest fame playing Brazilian-influenced music in the 1960s.
Peterson was the Canadian pianist who was revered, winning seven Grammy Awards and releasing more than 200 recordings.
Peterson led a drummer-less trio, with guitarist Herb Ellis and bassist Ray Brown.
Getz and Peterson paired on this album in 1957.
Critic Michael G. Nastos describes the musical interaction between the players "approaches telepathic or magical."
I downloaded the album on iTunes the other day, and I plan on renewing my acquaintance with it as I drive today.

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Manly rides to glory thanks to "Greatest Show on Earth"

A sign in the ANZ Stadium crowd today read:
"Stewart Bros. Circus: The Greatest Show on Earth."
The sign proved prescient in today's 2011 NRL GRAND FINAL, as siblings BRETT AND GLENN STEWART became the first set of brothers to score tries in an Australian rugby league decider, powering the MANLY-WARRINGAH SEA EAGLES to a 24-10 victory over the NEW ZEALAND WARRIORS.
Watching the game on TV capped a season in which I followed Aussie rugby league like never before. I listened to online radio coverage of matches every weekend, and even recorded a radio spot that was broadcast on TRIPLE M'S MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL pregame show.
I was happy Manly won today. My sister INGER and I enjoyed ourselves immensely during our visit to the seaside suburb last year.
I cheered for New Zealand, too. The Warriors have two of the most exciting players I followed this season in Krisnan Inu and Shaun Johnson. Johnson and Manly's Daly Cherry-Evans today became the first rookie halfbacks to oppose each other in a Grand Final in 64 years.
Today's match was memorable, and I am so thankful I was able to see it on TV.
I really look forward to the beginning of next season.

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Celebrating 40 years of rugby in Dubuque

I like the idea that we have RUGBY UNION in our town.
Dubuque won, 42-10, in a match that marked 40 years of the sport in town.
Watching, I was able to explain lineouts, scrums and conversions to Annika -- it was fun to educate her on a sport rarely seen on TV.
I like the idea that we have rugby union in our town because it's special and unique.