Some words of "Reservoir Dogs"
I watched QUENTIN TARANTINO'S "RESERVOIR DOGS" again over the weekend.
Here are five memorable quotes from the 1992 film:
1. "Eddie, if I was a butt cowboy, I wouldn't even throw you to the posse."
-- Mr. Blonde
2. "I'm very sorry the government taxes their tips, that's f***ed up. That ain't my fault. It would seem to me that waitresses are one of the many groups the government f***s in the ass on a regular basis. Look, if you ask me to sign something that says the government shouldn't do that, I'll sign it, put it to a vote, I'll vote for it, but what I won't do is play ball. And as for this non-college bullshit I got two words for that: learn to f****in' type, 'cause if you're expecting me to help out with the rent you're in for a big f***in' surprise."
-- Mr. Pink
3. "German shepherd starts barking. He's barking at me. I mean, it's obvious. He's barking at me. Every nerve-ending, all my senses, blood in my veins, everything I have is screaming, 'Take off, man! Just bail, just get the f*** out of there!' Panic hits me like a bucket of water. First there's the shock of it... -BAM!... -right in the face. I'm standing there drenched in panic. All these sheriffs looking at me, and they know, man. They can smell it. Sure as that f***ing dog can, they can smell it on me."
-- Mr. Orange
4. "Boy that was really exciting. I bet you're a big Lee Marvin fan aren't ya. Yeah me too. I love that guy. My heart's beatin' so fast I'm about to have a heart attack."
-- Mr. Blonde
5. "So if this fruit's a Brewer's fan, his ass gotta be from Wisconsin."
I love the FA CUP.
I especially love the world's oldest and premier domestic cup competition this season. LEYTON ORIENT are through to the last 16 for the first time in 29 years!
The O's edged Swansea, 2-1, yesterday to book their place in the Cup's fifth round.
Orient are now one of three League One sides to face Premier League opposition in the fifth round, hosting Arsenal.
Another of my favorite clubs, SHEFFIELD WEDNESDAY, are another of the League One trio. The Owls travel to Birmingham. Brighton face Stoke in the third League One-Premiership match-up.
CRAWLEY TOWN made some wonderful history this weekend as well. They beat Torquay to become the first non-league side in 17 years to reach the fifth round. The minnows have been paired with the biggest of giants in the round -- Crawley travel to Old Trafford to face Manchester United.
This morning we watched a rather minor FA Cup upset on television, as FULHAM beat 10-man TOTTENHAM, 4-0, to advance to play the winner of a Bolton and Wigan replay.
Yes, it's been an enjoyable cup competition thus far.
Frequent viewing required and rewarded
I can't watch the four-hour SERGIO LEONE gangster epic "ONCE UPON A TIME IN AMERICA" just once. The film has layers of meaning and story that reward continued viewing.
I had to watch the film in halves yesterday -- the first two hours before work and the concluding half after I returned home late in the evening.
Robert De Niro and James Woods star as friends and fellow gangsters in a film that explores numerous themes, including betrayal and memory.
Leone's work is masterful. I have always admired the Italian's shot composition -- and some of his shots in this film are expertly and interestingly framed. He also famously juggles the narrative, too. The film jumps from 1923 (the gang's youthful origins) to 1933 (their eventual demise as Prohibition concludes) and 1968 (an aged De Niro returns to New York to solve a mystery).
The narrative ploy proved too controversial for the movie studio. It infamously and ruthlessly edited the film before release, shedding the film of much of Leone's startling originality. My DVD thankfully presents "Once Upon a Time in America" as Leone intended.
I work again today, and when I return tonight, I'll probably review some scenes of "Once Upon a Time in America." It's a film that rewards frequent review.
Cheating, boots, guns, trucks, a dog... it's all here
In the Steve Goodman and John Prine-written song "You Never Even Called Me By My Name," country star David Allan Coe famously complains to Goodman that the writer had not penned the "perfect country song" because he neglected lyrical staples such as "mama, or trains, or trucks, or prison, or getting drunk."
Goodman responded by dutifully adding a final verse full of those missing clichés, to hilarious effect.
ROUTE 1 readers decide what belongs in a country song this week, by answering the following FRIDAY QUESTION:
"What should always be included in the words to a country song?"
JOHN S. -- Boots.
SANDYE V. -- A mute button!
RICK T. -- Love! Almost every country song is about love or heartbreak.
BEKAH P. -- Cheat, dog, trailer, boots, gun and truck.
JIM S. -- Well, shoot, it's got to be "honky tonk" or "tears in my beer."
SASKIA M. -- Kinda hard for me to answer because the general "American Country music" is the one and only type of music that I can not stand! But here it goes: cheating - beer - bar - god - truck?
BRIAN C. -- Cheating, pick-up truck, boots.
INGER H. -- A "hound dog", preferably a sad or lonesome one.
ERIK H. -- Heartbreak. Happy country songs are really only pop disguised in twang.
Charlie Louvin: Hall of Fame kindness
There was a Country Music Hall of Famer so nice that he shared an e-mail correspondence with a fan he never met six years ago, acting as gracious as if the two people had been relatives.
CHARLIE LOUVIN was the Hall of Famer. He passed away yesterday, age 83, of complications from pancreatic cancer.
I was the fan, and Charlie and I e-mailed back and forth about the music he made with his late brother, IRA, as the duo known as the LOUVIN BROTHERS.
The pair specialized in gospel and later secular country songs that highlighted the brothers' close harmony style. Their sound had a tremendous (and acknowledged) impact on later acts such as the Byrds and the Eagles.
Their songs have been covered by Gram Parsons, Uncle Tupelo and many others, and Charlie Louvin's musical legacy has been highlighted in all of the obituaries I have read.
I wanted to express my respect and gratitude for his kindness. It was of Hall of Fame quality, too.
Happy Australia Day: Sydney scenes
Journey to Guitar Town
I took a country music journey yesterday, listening to some 1940-50s Texas jukebox hits, including the great night-shift lament, "WARMED OVER COFFEE," released by the LONE STAR PLAYBOYS on Blue Bonnet records in 1954.
I also listened to some MERLE HAGGARD and concluded with one of the great debuts of the 1980s -- in any genre.
STEVE EARLE (pictured) released "GUITAR TOWN" in 1986 on MCA, after years of honing his songwriting in Nashville.
His outlaw stance, legal troubles and political leanings would eventually push Earle far outside country's mainstream. Here on his debut, Earle offers such a fresh take on a musical style that certainly needed rejuvenation (much like its status today).
The title track reached No. 7 on the country singles charts and its legacy continues -- I heard it on BBC Radio 2 the other morning.
"My Old Friend The Blues," "Someday" and "Fearless Heart" are other standouts, although, really, the 10 songs on the debut are all top-class.
I don't know quite what put me in the country mood yesterday, I'm just glad the mood eventually took me to Guitar Town.
The game gone global
Gone are the days when having an Irishman in the team lent an air of exoticism to English top-flight football.
I thought about those long-gone days yesterday, while watching BLACKBURN ROVERS defeat WEST BROMWICH ALBION, 2-0, in a PREMIER LEAGUE match live on television.
The match was notable when Rovers' Jason Roberts entered as a 64th-minute substitute. Roberts, who represents Grenada in international football, marked the record 22nd different nationality to take the field.
Football has become a truly global game, I thought, as the team lists were announced.
Visiting West Brom (my favorite club when I was a kid) had a starting XI with 11 different nationalities, and the two substitutes they used were different nationalities as well.
Blackburn's team included nine nationalities outside the 13 representing West Brom, including an American and a Canadian.
Only three Englishmen took the field, and ironically there were no players from the Republic of Ireland.
Here are the teams and the 22 different nationalities (with duplicates in parentheses).
1. Paul Robinson - England
2. Michel Salgado - Spain
3. Christopher Samba - Congo
4. Gael Givet - France
5. Martin Olsson - Sweden
(David Dunn - England)
6. Jermaine Jones - United States
7. Morten Gamst Pedersen - Norway
8. David "Junior" Hoilett - Canada
9. Nikola Kalinic - Croatia
10. Roque Santa Cruz - Paraguay
11. Jason Roberts - Grenada
(Steven N'Zonzi - France)
12. Grant Hanley - Scotland
13. Boaz Myhill - Wales (born in California)
14. Gonzalo Jara - Chile
15. Gabriel Tamas - Romania
(Jonas Olsson - Sweden)
16. Marek Cech - Slovakia
17. Chris Brunt - Northern Ireland
18. Youssuf Mulumbu - the Democratic Rep. of Congo
(Jerome Thomas - England)
19. Paul Scharner - Austria
(James Morrison - Scotland)
20. Peter Odemwingie - Nigeria (born in Uzbekistan)
21. Somen Tchoyi - Cameroon
22. Roman Bednar - Czech Rep.
It truly has become the global game, with this meeting a truly global match.
A tale of two character transformations
I watched both "THE GODFATHER" and "THE GODFATHER, PART II" on DVD in the space of a few nights.
I'll weigh in on the great debate about which film is better: I actually prefer the first film. I prefer the original, I think, because of the character of MICHAEL CORLEONE (AL PACINO).
The first film features an arc of character development unseen in the sequel -- at least in Michael. Michael begins that first film as an outsider, wary of the criminal activities and the dangerous brutality of his family. By the end, his character has hardened into the very thing he despised.
At the beginning, though, Michael is very much a sympathetic character.
That isn't the case in the sequel, where Michael's brutality flows throughout the film.
One could argue that the character of young VITO CORLEONE (ROBERT DE NIRO) makes a similar progression, from good to evil, on the streets of early 20th Century New York. However, I view Vito's transformation as one of adapting for survival in a somewhat lawless, alien community. I don't see his character's metamorphosis in the same light as Michael's transformation in the original.
Here I go, thinking too hard about movies again. Hey, it could be worse: I could be agonizing over the two consecutive games of COMPUTER HEARTS I've just lost. Lost badly. Dang it.
At peace with the Quintet
I love weekend early mornings when I'm the only one up (apart from black cat LORELEI, who keeps trying to climb on me) and I can listen to JAZZ.
Even RORY the dog has gone back to sleep after being let out twice and eating.
I've listened the past two days to one of those combos that often gets mentioned when discussing "the greatest jazz groups."
The first MILES DAVIS QUINTET was a truly remarkable collection of musicians, with MILES DAVIS (trumpet) joined by JOHN COLTRANE (tenor saxophone), RED GARLAND (piano), PAUL CHAMBERS (bass) and PHILLY JOE JONES (drums).
Part of Davis' genius was the ability to scout true talent and surround himself with the best. He succeeds with this group. Davis and 'Trane seem particularly in tune with each other's playing, and the rhythm section really swings throughout.
We only have three albums containing the Quintet -- "COOKIN'," "RELAXIN'" and "'ROUND ABOUT MIDNIGHT" -- and I want to get more.
Songs such as "My Funny Valentine," "If I Were a Bell," "Oleo" and "Bye Bye Blackbird" -- just to name a few -- are uniformly superb and provide the perfect complement to a quiet morning of jazz.
Morning rituals (count how many involve coffee)
Just another morning at ROUTE 1 H.Q.: I stepped over two cats while letting the dog out, cleared a path of girls' clothes so I could reach the bathroom, froze my feet letting the dog back inside, turned on the coffee pot, set up the laptop, woke up my oldest daughter (while stepping over the same two cats), grabbed a cup of coffee, collapsed in my chair and began recording this week's answers to the following FRIDAY QUESTION:
"What's one thing you always have to do in the morning?"
JOHN S. -- Brush my teeth.
KERSTIN H. -- Tell at least one cat to stop eating Rory's food.
SASKIA M. -- Start the coffee machine before I go outside to walk the dogs -- then drink my coffee when I get back inside.
ANNIKA H. -- Be woken up three times.
KERI M. -- Have coffee.
JEFF T. -- Wrangle toddlers... while making coffee.
INGER H. -- At first I didn't want to get rid of cable, cause it would mean that I could no longer watch Sal Casteneda on the channel 2 morning news tell me about the horrible traffic everywhere and any possible BART delays. Then I got an HD antenna. And now everything is great.
LAURA C. -- The dishes from the night before.
ROSEANNE H. -- Make coffee and go out and get the paper.
SANDYE V. -- Make a pot of coffee. Drink the coffee. Ahhhhh...
BEKAH P. -- Shower. And I think everybody should back me up on that, and perhaps adopt it as their own must-do routine.
RICK T. -- Check my e-mail and Facebook.
ERIK H. -- Sip coffee and check West Coast sports scores. It's hard being a Bay Area sports fan from two time zones away.
Apollonia's role in Michael's transformation
"In Sicily, women are more dangerous than shotguns," Sicilian bodyguard Calo tells Michael Corleone during the latter's exile from America in FRANCIS FORD COPPOLA'S "THE GODFATHER."
I watched the 1971 classic on DVD last night. Although I have seen the film many times, each additional viewing reveals another detail or aspect I missed the previous times.
That's the hallmark of a great film.
Last night, I paid attention to AL PACINO'S Michael, his transformation from idealistic civilian to hardened mob boss, and the role that Sicily might have played.
Certainly, the death of Michael's Sicilian wife, Apollonia (SIMONETTA STEFANELLI) in an assassination attempt meant for him, helped complete Michael's transformation, which began in America with the murders of Virgil "The Turk" Sollozzo (Al Lettieri) and the corrupt Capt. McCluskey (the always great Sterling Hayden).
Michael seems changed before Apollonia's death, but is absolutely transformed by the time of his American return.
Was it the loss of someone he loved that turned Michael completely over to the dark forces? Perhaps women are more dangerous -- or at least more influential -- than shotguns.
That was a theory to ponder at the film's conclusion.
That's another hallmark of a great film: There's always something else to ponder.
I don't think I would listen to LED ZEPPELIN much in the summer.When we swelter, I would rather chill to acoustic blues, reggae and some soulful jazz.
When it turns colder, though, when it really feels like "we come from the land of the ice and snow, from the midnight sun where the hot springs blow," that's when I turn to Led Zeppelin for some musical warmth.
Now, as I wait in vain for the hammer of the gods to drive my ships to new -- presumably warmer -- lands, I've been spending time listening to various Led Zeppelin albums while reading ERIK DAVIS' book-length examination of the mythology attributed to the band's untitled fourth album.
I just completed reading the section on the band's epic "STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN."
"'Stairway to Heaven' isn't the greatest rock song of the 1970s, it is the greatest spell of the 1970s," Davis writes. "Think about it: We are all very sick of the thing, but in some primordial way it is still number one."
I decided to test the continuing attraction of "Stairway" by creating a playlist devoted solely to the song. Does it continue casting its spell in multiple versions?
I began with the way many contemporary listeners would have first heard the song. The "Stairway" from the BBC Session compilation dates from April 1971 -- months before the release of Led Zeppelin's fourth album.
The album version follows in my playlist, followed by a pair of live, in-concert versions -- the July 1972 version from "How the West Was Won," followed by the July 1973 version from "The Song Remains The Same."
Are four versions of "Stairway to Heaven" too many? I'm about to listen to my playlist and find out.
I would never attempt this task in the summer.
I'd much rather settle down under the covers
It's been steadily SNOWING since I woke up, and I really wish I could stay home today like JILL AND THE GIRLS.
I have a doctor's appointment, then a full day of work.
It would be so much nicer to stay under the covers and wait for a JANUARY THAW.
A thaw is unlikely any time soon, however, with forecasters calling for single-digit high temperatures at the end of the week.
It could "warm" to 22 by Sunday, but is that really a "thaw?"
Give me goalless drama
I'm surrounded by CHICAGO BEARS and GREEN BAY PACKERS fans, salivating at the prospect of their teams battling for a Super Bowl berth.
Is it much of a surprise I was much more interested in TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR and MANCHESTER UNITED clashing at White Hart Lane this evening?
We watched on television as the clubs played to a goalless draw that had more drama than many other matches that do feature goals.
Rafael was sent off, meaning the visitors played the final 16-plus minutes a man down.
Wayne Rooney lashed several frightening looking shots, but saved his most hideous attack for a rant against the referee.
Luka Modric was his old mercurial self for the hosts, but Spurs never quite fulfilled their promise.
The result finds Manchester United back atop the Premier League on goal difference -- and with a pair of games in hand. Spurs remain just outside the top four.
I'll probably pay more attention to the Bears and Packers as next weekend approaches -- it will be hard to escape the clash in this part of the country. For the moment, though, I am more interested by the round-ball game.
"Tous en Scène," red pants and orchestra horror
The second-funniest thing about LED ZEPPELIN'S June 19, 1969 performance on the TOUS EN SCÈNE television show in Paris is the sight of ROBERT PLANT and JIMMY PAGE in matching red pants.
That's only the second-funniest, because the funniest thing concerns the SALVATION ARMY ORCHESTRA sitting in the orchestra.
One woman member of the orchestra views the band with a mixture of disdain, horror and rapt fascination on her face.
The French television performance was broadcast on Sept. 5, 1969 and repeated on Nov. 28, 1970. It also appears as one of the bonus clips on the Led Zeppelin DVD.
The band play "Communication Breakdown" and "Dazed and Confused," and many people in the audience appear to be the latter, as they watch perplexed. Some people in the audience turn to their mates and exchange words during Led Zeppelin's performance.
I watched last night and wondered what the audience members were thinking.
Were they disgusted? Were they amused? Were they converted to this revolutionary brand of rock 'n' roll Led Zeppelin were unleashing on the unsuspecting?
What did they make of the bowed guitar opening to "Dazed?"
What did they think about those matching red pants?
Rory, that's enough! I'm trying to type the Friday Question!
BARK! BARK! BARK!
What sound could be worse than a dog's bark that wakes you up a half hour before the alarm goes off on a Friday morning?
I'm not coming up with an answer to that question this morning.
BARK! BARK! BARK!
Thankfully, ROUTE 1 readers have plenty of answers for this week's FRIDAY QUESTION:
"When was the last time you sang along to a song in the car?"
KERSTIN H. -- Yesterday, I sang along to almost every Westlife song we have.
RICK T. -- Yesterday, and everyday. Music is part of my life.
JIM S. -- Last week when "867-5309/Jenny" by Tommy Tutone came on the radio.
Brought back memories of when it was released in 1982. My friend, Vic, and I "screamed" along with it as it played on a jukebox in a near-empty bar in Gillette, Wyo.
KERI M. -- I can't remember if it was the Glee version of "Baby It's Cold Outside" or "Northface Girl" by The Friars.
ANNIKA H. -- Today.
MARY N.-P. -- Actually as an adult, I don't sing or hum along with music/songs, but as children, we kids, lead by our parents, sang long, involved songs for hours on cross-country road trips - mostly old ethnic or (at the time) popular songs of their era (30s and 40s). Great bonding experience, but it didn't improve my singing ability at all....
JOHN S. -- Um, today. "What it Takes" by Aerosmith.
ERIK H. -- "How can they hear me say those words, still they don't believe me? And if they don't believe me now will they ever believe me?"
I was driving to cover an event this week, listening to the live album "Rank" by The Smiths, when I suddenly found myself singing along to "The Boy With the Thorn in His Side."
I lost myself in a reverie, I guess, as I chanted the words to this song I have heard countless times before.
It was so much fun.
"The boy with the thorn in his side, behind the hatred there lies a plundering desire for love."
A dose of Earl's Court, 1975
After work last night, I popped the LED ZEPPELIN DVD into the player and watched the six songs performed at the band's EARL'S COURT gigs in May 1975.
That portion of the DVD opens with JOHN PAUL JONES, ROBERT PLANT and JIMMY PAGE sitting on stools and performing a trio of acoustic songs: "Going to California," "That's The Way" and "Bron-Yr-Aur Stomp."
Drummer JOHN BONHAM joins for the last of those songs -- banging on his kit with his hands -- before the band gather up their electric instruments for more rock.
There is an 11-minute version of "In My Time of Dying," when Page displays his slide technique on his Danelectro guitar.
Physical Graffiti's "Trampled Under Foot" features Jones on an organ and the band in one of its funkiest guises.
This portion of the DVD concludes with a 10-minute version of "Stairway to Heaven" and a stirring version of *THAT* guitar solo.
The Earl's Court gigs are notable for the band's use of its 40-ton stage and light show -- flown over from America. Based on what I saw and heard last night, Earl's Court should be notable for the music, too.
The Led Zeppelin presented here appear to be at the peak of their considerable powers.
All I need to know (about soccer)
I'm into my second decade as a subscriber to WORLD SOCCER, a British magazine that helps connect fans (fanatics?) to Earth's most popular sport.
I've buried my nose in this month's edition for the past couple of days.
Here are five things I learned from this month's edition:
1. Icelandic striker Alfred Finnbogason, 21, of Belgian side Lokeren, spent part of his youth in Edinburgh, and remains a supporter of the Scottish city's club, Hibernian.
2. Once mighty Bayern Munich struggled during the first half of the Bundesliga season in Germany, stuck in seventh place, 17 points behind leaders Borussia Dortmund.
3. Surprise French club Rennes can thank a quintet of young starlets for their rise: Yacine Brahimi, Romain Danze, Jires Kembo Ekoko, Sylvain Marveaux and Kevin Theophile-Catherine. All could figure in the French national side.
4. Coach Ever Almeida hopes to guide Guatemala to the country's first World Cup appearance.
5. The capital Montevideo is home to 15 of Uruguay's 16 top-flight clubs, including the historically dominant pair Nacional and Penarol.
You might think a magazine such as World Soccer would lose its relevance in the Internet age. I actually think the opposite is true. Information is ridiculously scattered across the World Wide Web. How would you know what to look for or where to find it?
World Soccer acts as a guide to the information that really matters... to a soccer fanatic such as myself, mind you.
Disappointment, sure, but Duck pride too
Sure, I'm disappointed AUBURN defeated MY BELOVED OREGON DUCKS, 22-19, in last night's NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP GAME.
Don't get me wrong, though -- I'm pretty proud, too.
The Ducks made some uncharacteristic mental mistakes -- examples include quarterback Darron Thomas making an incorrect read on a running play by the goal line and defenders allowing Auburn's Michael Dyer to get up and continue running after it initially appeared he had been brought down.
The Ducks made some fine plays, too -- examples include the defense making "superhero" Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton appear merely human (265 yards passing and 64 yards rushing, but a pair of sacks with 13 yards lost and an interception) and a converting an audacious fake punt for a first down.
My late uncle was an Oregon alum, and my late dad was a massive Ducks fan, so I have been cheering for the green-and-yellow- (and silver, and whatever other color happens to be in the locker)-clad Ducks for ages.
With the Giants winning the World Series, I guess one life-defining surprise championship is all I get in one season.
Remembering Peter Yates
PETER YATES, the British filmmaker who passed away this weekend age 82, began his career as an assistant director in his native U.K., made a few films in Britain, and then made his American debut with "Bullitt."
I barely remember his "Mother, Jugs & Speed" from when I was a kid, but I can never forget what is arguably his best work, "BREAKING AWAY."
Screenwriter Steve Tesich took home an Oscar for the 1979 film, and Yates scored a Best Director nomination, for this film about a group of Bloomington, Ind., natives who compete against elitist racers from Indiana University in the school's annual Little 500 cycling race.
The natives adopt the label "Cutters," a derogatory term for residents of southern Indiana that refers to a history of stonecutting in quarries.
Dennis Christopher plays Dave Stoller, the cycling obsessive at the heart of the film.
If his legacy stands on nothing else, Yates at least made "Breaking Away," a film that certainly inspired me.
Welcome to Friday Question
2010, er... 2011
Welcome to the 2011 edition of ROUTE 1's FRIDAY QUESTION.
Just like on checks, we typed "2010" before correcting ourselves -- the year is still so new!
Here's how readers are responding to the arrival of 2011, by answering the following question:
"What do you look forward to in 2011?
RICK T. -- A better year! Seriously, I've lost several friends this past year and started out this year losing another. I'm looking to possibly make a large move to Florida later this year.
KERI M. -- Summer holidays, and all school breaks in between.
JOHN S. -- Nov. 11.
SANDYE V. -- That's easy! My new work schedule is 30 hours a week, which translates to a four-day workweek, which translates to 52 more days off per year. More time for puppets, gardening and figuring out my Kindle.
MARY N.-P. -- Besides all those general wishes for everybody - you know, peace and health to all, etc. etc, I have some selfish hopes:
- another trip to New York (with less snow!),
- a possible first grandchild (not up to me),
- a successful second "fairy house tour" for our humane society (that we organize)
- further employment for my husband who will be jobless as of end of May (but something that fits him well)
ANNIKA H. -- Getting my left split down. It's my resolution.
JIM S. -- My oldest son finishing grad school and getting into the workforce, my youngest son reconciling where he wants to go to school as a junior, and my wife and I taking a trip to the Grand Canyon.
ERIK H. -- Heading to San Francisco in May for a birthday trip to the "Old Country."
Misery loves cricket company
The headline in today's DAILY TELEGRAPH says it all: "Put us out of our misery."
I listened on ABC GRANDSTAND online last night as the miserable southern summer continued for AUSTRALIA.
While record floods continued to dog Queensland, record ENGLAND runs plagued the cricket team in SYDNEY.
Matt Prior scored 118 runs from 130 balls bowled as England made their highest Test match score on Australian soil with 644. The previous record, 636, was also set in Sydney, back in December 1928.
It's been that kind of a tour for England, who are on the verge of a 3-1 series victory. As evidence, note that the third-highest score on Aussie soil, 620-5 declared, was also set during this series -- last month in Adelaide.
The Australian newspapers have been full of stories about the current state of disarray facing Australian cricket.
I'm sure they'll be back to top form eventually -- the weather is better than in England, for one thing, giving young Aussie cricketers more practice and game opportunities throughout the year.
It's not all that sunny Down Under at the moment.
Remembering Rafferty, Karn
We lost a pair of distinguished musicians yesterday.
The Scottish singer/songwriter GERRY RAFFERTY died age 63.
He was best-known for "Stuck in the Middle," performed with the band Stealers Wheel, and his solo hit "Baker Street."
I just listened to "Baker Street." It has an enduring quality, a timelessness that belies its age (it was released in 1978).
The Cypriot/English musician MICK KARN (born Andonis Michaelides) died age 52.
He played bass for the elegant art-rock band JAPAN.
Although lumped in with the New Romantic movement, Japan's superior musicianship always set them apart from the crowd. Their hits included "Ghosts" and "The Art of Parties."
I'm listening to a Japan compilation as I type these words.
Both these artists contributed mightily to music, and will be missed.
I rocked down to Electric Avenue
A year ago, I strolled down ELECTRIC AVENUE, the market lane in south London's BRIXTON.
I decided to commemorate the event by listening to some tunes by the British singer who popularized Electric Avenue, EDDY GRANT.
Only a trio of Grant's solo singles broke into the Top 100 in America -- the aforementioned "Electric Avenue," as well as "I Don't Wanna Dance" and "Romancing the Stone."
Grant scored many more hits in Britain, including classics such as "Living on the Front Line," "Do You Feel My Love" and the anti-apartheid anthem "Gimme Hope Jo'anna."
It's fun listening to his "sunny" music on a cold day.
A punk address
A year ago today, I stood snarling outside 430 KING'S ROAD, London -- a place that helped put the snarl back into Rock 'n' Roll.
You might know the address as that of SEX, a boutique run by the late MALCOLM McLAREN and VIVIENNE WESTWOOD and the site of the founding of the pioneering U.K. punk band, the SEX PISTOLS.
Having my photo snapped outside 430 King's Road was a particular goal of mine during the trip to London my sister INGER and I took a year ago. It was my way of paying homage to a musical and style revolution that helped inform the person I have become -- one who refuses to accept the popularity of a mainstream without creative merit.
Pistols' guitarist Steve Jones spoke in Julien Temple 's documentary, "The Filth and the Fury," about the importance of 430 King's Road:
"We thought the Kings Road was it, we used to go down there regularly every week really, we would hit the Kings Road and then Malcolm's shop. We'd always go, that was one of the more exciting elements of Kings Road , we'd end up at his shop every week."
I'll listen to the Pistols while driving around today, and hope that other people will grow to question the status quo, just as the youth who frequented 430 King's Road did, so many years ago.
Engaging tale from the rough side of town
It's a few hours before I head to work, so I am reading a couple more pages of an interesting tale.
"EASTER RISING: A MEMOIR OF ROOTS AND REBELLION," by MICHAEL PATRICK MACDONALD, is an engaging account of growing up in the poverty stricken Irish-American neighborhood South Boston ("SOUTHIE") during the late 1970s.
Seeking respite from the poverty and violence of the Old Colony housing project where he lives, MacDonald connects with the ragtag collection of outsiders fueling Boston's emerging PUNK ROCK scene.
At gigs featuring local bands such as Mission of Burma and U.K. icons such as Siouxsie and the Banshees and The Clash, MacDonald discovers a personal identity apart from the one claimed by his brothers and neighbors -- that of tough Irish-American youths.
Crime-related deaths in his family force MacDonald further from the decrepit streets of Southie and closer to his ancestral roots across the ocean.
"Easter Rising" is actually a sequel to MacDonald's first memoir about the rough neighborhood of his youth. I haven't read "All Souls: A Family Story From Southie," but if it's anywhere near as good as "Easter Rising," it will be one of the first books I seek in this new year.
Green makes a hard morning easier
HAPPY NEW YEAR everyone!
Well, 2011 began like so many mornings in 2010.
RORY THE INSOMNIAC DOG woke me up waaaaay too early.
I can never get back to sleep once the cold air of the outdoors hits my feet -- Rory really had to go out, apparently -- so I am sitting here listening to some blues while the rest of last night's revelers slumber (heck, I think Rory even went back to sleep).
Sometimes you hear about so-called "guitar gods" and think: Yeah, whatever. I never think that about PETER GREEN.
I just heard his absolutely stunning work on the instrumental, "The Supernatural," on the classic British blues album, "A HARD ROAD," by JOHN MAYALL & THE BLUESBREAKERS.
Green would eventually form Fleetwood Mac, but in 1966 he had the unenviable task of replacing Eric Clapton in Mayall's band.
The next year, Green proved any doubters wrong with his great work on "A Hard Road," then he struck out on his own with former the Bluesbreakers rhythm section, drummer Mick Fleetwood and bassist John McVie, in Fleetwood Mac.
As ever, Mayall simply retooled, and future Rolling Stone Mick Taylor joined the band -- basically a nursery for the best British guitarists in a generation.
This album is so good, it just about makes up for the early morning doggy wake-up call.