The day's upset special
With "THE KING'S SPEECH" claiming many of the top honors, upsets were rare at last night's OSCARS.
You have to head to WEMBLEY for the day's biggest surprise.
It was there that Obafemi Martins' late goal lifted BIRMINGHAM CITY to a 2-1 victory over ARSENAL in the CARLING CUP FINAL -- the Blues' first major trophy since the 1963 League Cup final.
I watched yesterday's match on television, supporting the underdogs from Britain's second city against the moneyed favorites from the capital.
Goalkeeper Ben Foster starred for Birmingham, his saves helping preserve a 1-1 score that remained until Martins' heroics off the substitutes' bench.
Birmingham City's players and supporters -- called "Bluenoses" -- launched into a joyous celebration at the final whistle. One of the commentators wondered if the historically successful Arsenal would have celebrated with such boundless enthusiasm.
I don't think so. It was the upset special of the day.
No rain for us, please. We're driving
There was an ironic moment during our rather harrowing trip from DAVENPORT to DUBUQUE last night.
Shortly after waiting out a nearly hour-long road closure and then passing the shocking car accident scene that precipitated the accident, the CANADIAN PLAYLIST on the iPod served up THE COUGARS and their cover version of "I WISH IT WOULD RAIN."
It was a late afternoon of FREEZING RAIN that had turned our hour trip home into a nearly two-and-a-half-hour ordeal. The absolutely last thing we wanted was more rain and more of the dangerous travel conditions it can cause during winter.
We had exited Davenport North High School and a dance competition featuring ANNIKA and her Xtreme Dance team, surprised when we nearly skidded out the door. All the surfaces in the school parking lot had been coated in thin ice.
I imagine The Cougars faced their own moments of icy travel. Formed by Jamaican immigrants in Toronto, the R&B combo spent much of the late 60s and early 70s on the road -- primarily in Ontario and Québec. Surely, some of those trips to Montréal would have been icy adventures as well.
Cougar vocalists Jay Douglas and Jackie Richardson remained in show business after the demise of The Cougars. I'm sure they appreciated the irony of their rainy cover version, too.
Tim Booth of James through the years
Plenty of protests, not enough protest songs
There are protests all over the world these days -- Benghazi, Libya (democracy), Madison, Wis. (budgets & bargaining rights) and 1113 Rhomberg Ave. (whose turn it is to do the dishes) -- but seemingly very few protest songs.
ROUTE 1 readers respond to the current events by answering the following FRIDAY QUESTION:
What would you write a protest song about?
MIKE D. -- Smokers throwing their cigarette butts out their car windows. The song would be called "Hold Onto Your Butt."
SANDYE V. -- Obviously, it would be against the expression "puppet government."
People, people -- If Kermit, Kukla and Witch Hazel Green were in charge, the world would be a better place!
Up with puppets! Down with dictators!
JOHN S. -- Liberal football hooligans in the press.
ANNIKA H. -- Having to do the dishes.
RICK T. -- Not enough love in this world.
BEKAH P. -- I would protest against stupidity. Seriously, it's everywhere. And it annoys me to no end.
ERIK H. -- Teen and tween girls who don't carry their dirty clothes from the floor of the bathroom to a hamper. I'd title it, "Get Those Clothes Off My Bathroom Floor Blues."
Keeping Feelgood's memory alive
Listen to DR. FEELGOOD now, and it's easy to forget how revolutionary they were when they launched in the early 1970s, in the pubs of Essex.
The band's stripped down, R&B-influenced rock was worlds away from the prevailing trends in British music -- stomping glam rock or the 10-minute guitar solos of the prog rockers.
Dr. Feelgood's late vocalist Lee Brilleaux summed up the band's back-to-basics approach -- an approach that influenced the original U.K. punk rock crowd:
"You don't have to be a musician to play rock 'n' roll. You've just got to love it and want to play it."
I've listened to Dr. Feelgood the past couple of days. Their music somehow seems to suit our relentlessly grey days.
Filmmaker Julien Temple once described Dr. Feelgood as a band that felt like it had never existed, because they have fallen out of the public consciousness:
"There was this band that was the biggest in England for 18 months, that no one remembers."
I'm doing my little part to promote their memory. They deserve it.
"Power, Corruption & Lies" revisited
I remember one night on the college dorm floor my freshman year that now seems like a meeting of the alternative music minds.
A kid down the hall was enraptured, playing the NEW ORDER album "POWER, CORRUPTION & LIES" repeatedly.
He had never heard New Order's predecessors, JOY DIVISION, so that's how I fit into the scene. I was the dorm floor's Joy Division adherent.
We spent the next several hours playing albums by both bands.
I remembered that moment this week, as I felt nostalgic and listened to "Power, Corruption & Lies" on an especially gloomy day.
At the time, I remember thinking that although New Order included three-fourths of Joy Division, "Power, Corruption & Lies" sounded nothing like the Joy Division albums "Unknown Pleasures" and "Closer."
Now, after decades spent hearing these Manchester masterpieces, I can better understand how the Joy Division work pointed toward the future, pointing toward the slick-sounding dance tracks on "Power."
Following the quake disaster
The dog woke me up at 1:30 a.m., and although I tried to go back to sleep after letting her out, slumber wouldn't return.
A text from my sister INGER told me CHANNEL NINE coverage of the NEW ZEALAND EARTHQUAKE was streaming online, so I tuned in.
Inger and I were in AUSTRALIA when a major earthquake last struck CHRISTCHURCH in September.
Apparently the difference between this quake and the last is the depth of the tremor.
Although not as strong (6.3-magnitude compared to 7.1), this quake struck at half the depth of the September temblor -- a mere 5 kilometers underground.
I grew up amidst earthquakes (while rarely actually feeling them) in CALIFORNIA.
I appreciate the terror felt in the "Shaky Isles" today.
Orient set for more than one pay day
The glow from JONATHAN TÉHOUÉ'S late equaliser continues to warm me this morning, nearly a day after League One LEYTON ORIENT earned an FA CUP fifth-round replay at ARSENAL, courtesy of a dramatic 1-1 draw at home.
I tried to explain the significance of Orient's feat to Jill and the girls, but they were only half listening:
"Orient lie 53 places below Arsenal in the football pyramid, and Arsenal had beaten mighty Barcelona earlier this week!"
Orient will get a share of the gate receipts from the replayed match at Arsenal's giant Emirates Stadium. The influx of cash could do wonders for the little club -- they could turn a profit for the first time in 16 years.
Orient chairman Barry Hearn was impressed enough to offer to take the squad to LAS VEGAS at the end of the season.
Who knows what else is in store for the team from east London?
With 17 league games remaining, Orient sit 11th in League One, just five points off of a promotion play-off place.
There might be a bigger payoff than Vegas in store for the O's.
Krazy for the Kinks
I'm crazy for THE KINKS.
I just completed the finishing touches on a pair of iPod playlists devoted to the legendary English rockers -- a 50-song compilation of singles, A and whatever B sides I had, and a six-and-a-half behemoth filled with every Kinks track I have in my possession, in chronological order, of course.
OK, I might just be crazy. Period. Kinks or otherwise.
I have no qualms admitting my reverence for RAY DAVIES. I simply cannot think of a better songwriter in the rock idiom -- sorry Lennon/McCartney, that's just how I feel.
"Waterloo Sunset," "Sunny Afternoon," "Victoria," "Days" and the colossal "Shangri-La" are among the greatest songs in rock's canon, I think.
Toss in "forgotten" singles, such as "Sweet Lady Genevieve" from 1973, and I'm hopelessly hooked on the band.
This morning, I incorporated my two latest Kinks albums into the playlists: "MUSWELL HILLBILLIES" from 1971 and "THE SONGS WE SANG FOR AUNTIE: BBC SESSIONS, 1964-77."
I fit the BBC session tracks into the playlist based on the order in which they would have been heard by listeners -- based on broadcast date.
See? I'm crazy about the Kinks. Or just crazy.
Waking up on Monday: The Verdict
Getting up on Fridays is easy.
You're on the verge of a weekend... there's four days of toil behind you... there's FRIDAY QUESTION answers to read.
That reminds me. ROUTE 1 readers chimed in on the following question, about a different day of the week:
"What's the hardest thing about getting up on Mondays?"
BEKAH P. -- Just that --- the getting up part. I don't like actually rolling out of bed. It's just horrible!
RICK T. -- Knowing you have to fill the whole week with things to do. (Remember, I'm retired!)
KERI M. -- Getting up early and following that with going to a job where I am not happy.
ANNIKA H. -- Getting up.
SANDYE V. -- Not hard at all, now that I'm working four days a week and have Mondays off!
LISA Y. -- Getting up!
ERIK H. -- Knowing I will struggle to get all the other people in my family out of bed.
"Un riot ist un ungly tink"
After I learned about the death this week of KENNETH MARS, I knew I had to watch "YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN."
I watched the 1974 MEL BROOKS' classic last night on DVD.
Mars played Inspector Kemp, the authority figure with the wooden right arm, the tendency to cheat at darts and the accent so thick most of the villagers fail to understand him.
"Vee had better confeerm de fect dat yunk Frankenshtein iss indeed vallowing een ees gandfadda;s vootshtaps."
Mars was among a stellar cast, including Gene Wilder, Peter Boyle, Marty Feldman, Madeline Kahn, Cloris Leachman and Teri Garr.
Behind the scenes, Mars provided his voice to numerous cartoons. You might also remember Mars as the helmet-wearing playwright Franz Liebkind in "The Producers" or as Otto in "Malcolm in the Middle."
Mars was 74. He was a funny man, and will be missed.
I'm ridiculously excited about Orient being on TV
A football club I've watched in person, the one whose scarf I've worn all winter, will be shown on my television set here in the States. Heck -- I even have some of their club songs on my iPod!
LEYTON ORIENT host Premier League club ARSENAL Sunday in the fifth round of the F.A. CUP.
FOX SOCCER CHANNEL will show the match live at 10:30 a.m., Central time.
I'm going to gather around the family for this one, so I can cheer once again for Orient.
The O's might be beat, but at least I can see them again.
A Canadian classic
I've been collecting various CANADIAN songs to reconstitute my "O CANADA" playlist.
I'm up to songs by 83 artists, but I know there's some more out there I need to track down amongst various CDs.
One song I heard last night took me back to the old days: "GO FOR A SODA" by KIM MITCHELL.
Mitchell was the guitarist of the Canadian band Max Webster. He departed that band for a solo career and "Go For A Soda" became an international hit in 1985.
The video is delightfully cheesy, pure 1985.
You can see it here, and enjoy a Canadian classic.
Lady Gaga and Spinal Tap: Degrees of separation decreasing
GLAM ROCK, how soon we forgot about you.
I bemusedly watched E! Network reporters marveling at the "never-before-seen" arrival of LADY GAGA at the Grammys last night.
I don't think I'm alone in wondering: How was her "outrageousness" any different or more outrageous than ALICE COOPER'S height of infamy?
"Who's Alice Cooper?" KERSTIN just asked.
"The snakes? Schoooool's out for sum-merrr!"
Now she remembered.
Not many other people remembered, I guess.
Wasn't it once said that people who cannot recall history are doomed to repeat it? It applies to pop stars in plastic eggs, too.
By the way, SPINAL TAP did the emerging-from-the-plastic-pod thing with so much more panache.
The 10cc Hangover Cure
I'm beginning to feel better, finally, at 3:16 p.m.
A little too much JAMESON IRISH WHISKEY at last night's U.W.-PLATTEVILLE baseball banquet knocked me into a regrettable HANGOVER, but I'm beginning to feel better.
A little 10CC.
Oh, I'm sure the sleep, Sierra Mist and that little bit of toast with honey on it helped, but I have only begun feeling like myself again after watching some videos of 10cc television appearances in the 1970s.
Technically brilliant, armed with catchy melodies and often hilarious lyrics, 10cc were perhaps a little too smart for mainstream American success.
The band chalked up a trio of No. 1 singles in Britain -- "Rubber Bullets," "I'm Not in Love" and "Dreadlock Holiday."
I adore the song "Rubber Bullets." I tried to describe it to someone yesterday and only managed to say "it sounds like 'Jailhouse Rock' written by Weird Al Yankovic and sung by the Beach Boys," but that doesn't really do justice to 10cc.
Graham Gouldman, Eric Stewart, Lol Creme and Kevin Godley were outstanding musicians and songwriters. So accomplished, in fact, that when Creme and Godley departed in 1976, Stewart and Gouldman continued to create such perfectly realized classics as "The Things We Do For Love."
Yeah, this 10cc hangover cure works so well, I might start marketing it. No more first-person testing, though, I'm not going to touch another drop of that whiskey for a while.
ROUTE 1 post No. 1966 seems an appropriate occasion to return to the topic of ENGLISH FOOTBALL.
Back in March, I wrote about a scarf illustration in the book "The Soccer Tribe" that mapped club loyalties in LONDON.
I wondered how club-support boundaries might have changed in the (now 30) years since the book's publication.
Reader RogField, apparently a Tottenham Hotspur supporter, recently alerted us to an updated version of the club loyalties map.
The map lists boroughs and denotes football club grounds. With coloured coding it also shows the spread of a club's loyalty over the capital.
I was interested to see the spread of Chelsea supporters on both sides of the River Thames, the clearly delineated enclaves of Queens Park Rangers and neighbours Brentford and Fulham and the blurred borders between Spurs and Arsenal in north London.
The amount of Arsenal support south of the Thames was also a surprise to me -- and probably provides a source of much disappointment for the people attempting to sell tickets to Crystal Palace, Millwall and Charlton home matches.
The mapmakers credit "The Soccer Tribe" for inspiration and also offer the caveat that this new map remains a work in progress.
How will loyalties look on the next map?
Some things, like the sun rising each day, taxes, dogs barking at the dog across the street at 1 a.m., and my incessant tinkering with song order on my iPod playlists come as no surprise.
Other things are big surprises, as we learn when ROUTE 1 readers answer the following FRIDAY QUESTION:
"What is one thing that surprised you this week?"
BEKAH P. -- I was absolutely SHOCKED to discover that the kid who played Darth Vader in the popular Volkswagen Super Bowl commercial has never seen Star Wars. I was even further HORRIFIED to hear his mother admit this on national television as if this was no big deal. Oh, it is. I assure you, it is. Makes me view the ad in a completely different light!
KERI M. -- How much sleeping in through Hot Yoga on Sunday affected me.
BRIAN C. -- That Josh Jasper, the executive director of Riverview Center, the agency that assists victims of sexual abuse and domestic violence, was flooded by hate messages from around the country because of his innovative "Bingo" game to call attention to the Super Bowl commercials that degrade and objectify women and promote violent messages. There are lots of scary and misguided people out there.
JOHN S. -- The snow on Saturday caught me off guard.
ROSEANNE H. -- Our 60+ degree weather and I'm lovin' it!
RICK T. -- I've gained so much weight.
JEFF T. -- Our family ended up on the front page of the newspaper.
JIM S. -- How poorly the Badgers shot against Iowa Wednesday night and how improved the Hawkeyes are becoming.
ERIK H. -- That the veggie burgers Kerstin made for dinner the other night actually tasted good. Not exactly like hamburgers, mind you, but something savory and hearty.
3 things I learned yesterday
I have been spending this week reading "THE OXFORD HISTORY OF IRELAND" -- I am up the mid-1100s -- tinkering with my Irish music playlist, named LÁ FHÉILE PÁDRAIG after St. Patrick's Day and watching "NAPOLEON DYNAMITE" and other films.
The playlist is up to six-and-a-half hours of music by 108 unique artists -- all from Ireland (Northern Ireland included).
Reading, listening to music and watching the occasional film really seems to have broadened my knowledge this week.
Three things I learned yesterday:
1. There was an English pope. Adrian IV, born Nicholas Breakspeare in Hertfordshire, was pope from 1154 to 1159. He urged King Henry II of England to invade Ireland to bring its Christian church under the Roman system.
2. Bluesville with Ian Whitcomb were the first Irish band to reach the American Top 10, with "You Turn Me On" in 1965.
3. Aaron Ruell (Kip from "Napoleon Dynamite") is an accomplished television commercial director. His credits include the Flo TV "Injury Report" commercial featuring CBS sports commentator Jim Nantz and the NBA's "Jerseys" ad, in which Kevin Durant walks from the locker room to the court, removing layers of his previous basketball jerseys until he reaches his professional jersey.
"It's like a lion and a tiger mixed... bred for its skills in magic"
You know a film strikes a chord with people when you post a screen shot on FACEBOOK and multiple people comment by posting their favorite lines of dialogue.
That scenario occurred last night, when I posted a photo from "NAPOLEON DYNAMITE."
The death of a close friend's mother blackened my mood considerably, and I needed a small measure of laughter as medicine.
I chuckled throughout "Napoleon Dynamite," as I do every time I watch it. Just that little laughter helped.
Here are some of my favorite lines from the film:
"Last week, Japanese scientists explaced... placed explosive detonators at the bottom of Lake Loch Ness to blow Nessie out of the water. Sir Cort Godfrey of the Nessie Alliance summoned the help of Scotland's local wizards to cast a protective spell over the lake and its local residents and all those who seek for the peaceful existence of our underwater ally." -- Napoleon Dynamite.
"I'm Rex, founder of the Rex Kwan Do self-defense system! After one week with me in my dojo, you'll be prepared to defend yourself with the strength of a grizzly, the reflexes of a puma, and the wisdom of a man." -- Rex.
"I think it would be good to have some holy santos brought to the high school...to guard the hallway and to bring us good luck. El Santo Niño de Atocha is a good one. My Aunt Concha has seen him." -- Pedro.
Genius at work
I had the distinct pleasure of watching a genius during my day off yesterday.
I watched "FRANCE 1969," a DVD of two French television broadcasts by JIMMY SMITH.
A soul-jazz pioneer, aficionados view what Smith did with the HAMMOND B3 ORGAN similarly to what Jimi Hendrix did for the electric guitar.
Smith took a previously church-bound instrument and made it swing like the jazziest horn player.
On the DVD, Smith performs in a trio setting with guitarist EDDIE McFADDEN and drummer CHARLES CROSBY.
Those two guys are good, but the real revelation is watching Smith. His hands flutter, crash, stab and dance across the top and bottom keyboards of the B3. At times, Smith seems to twist his arms in knots as he plays. Meanwhile, he is modulating the sounds and providing his trio with a bass by manipulating the various pedals at his feet.
It's amazing to watch Smith play with both hands and both feet simultaneously. I'm one of those people who can't even rub my stomach and pat my head at the same time!
Smith was a true genius, easily recognized after watching him perform in concert.
No mistaking Moore's greatness
I had the quintessential NEWSPAPERMAN'S NIGHTMARE overnight.
I dreamt I had so many "corrections" -- mistakes acknowledged in the next day's newspaper -- that I went home feeling ill, only to find myself sitting in a crowded car with a woman whose name I had gotten completely wrong.
I am actually off work today, but that's because I work next Saturday.
There's no mistaking the greatness of the guitarist I am remembering today, as I tinker with my IRISH MUSIC playlist.
GARY MOORE passed away this weekend, age 58, while on holiday in Spain.
A boyhood friend of THIN LIZZY founder BRIAN DOWNEY, Moore spent two short periods in the legendary Irish band, producing exemplary work on the song "Still in Love With You" from 1974.
He was in a teenage band with Thin Lizzy's vocalist, the late PHIL LYNOTT, and with Lynott made a name for himself. The pair recorded "Parisienne Walkways" in 1979 and the hit "Out in the Fields" in 1985.
These songs help form Ireland's modern musical foundation, and highlight the beauty of Moore's guitar playing.
Moore was born in Belfast and was regarded as a prodigy, joining his first band at 13. His first love was the blues, and he made numerous solo albums in this genre.
I wanted Torres to fail
I'll admit it.
I wanted FERNANDO TORRES to fail today.
The £50 million signing for CHELSEA faced his former club, LIVERPOOL, in the top PREMIER LEAGUE match of the day.
Torres wanted to leave Merseyside, thinking he had a better chance at titles in London than Liverpool. Did he really leave for a bigger pay check?
I don't mind Chelsea -- I enjoyed visiting Stamford Bridge and I occasionally wear a club polo shirt to work -- but I can't stand blatant disloyalty, which is how I thought Torres has conducted himself at Liverpool for much of this season. He practically pouted on the pitch.
We watched today's match live on television. It proved to be a fantastic result for the visitors in red shirts.
An ineffective Torres only lasted 65 minutes, Raul Meireles scored four minutes after Torres was substituted, and Liverpool won, 1-0, to move into the top six in the league.
Next up is the SUPER BOWL.
While we wait, I am enjoying the initial failure of a big-money signing -- one who never really demonstrated loyalty to anything other than the pound.
An old winter favorite
I'm listening to an old WINTER favorite today.
"FAITH," the 1981 third album by THE CURE, has accompanied me through many bleak, cold, grey days of winter.
I cherished my cassette of it in college -- when I was a California boy in the alien, wind chill-swept land of Iowa. Even the cover looked like the winter days I was experiencing for the first time!
Often viewed as The Cure's mopey peak, "Faith" doesn't always get the type of accolades lavished upon the follow-up album, "Pornography." That's one of the reasons I like "Faith," I guess. It has an underdog status, but there's more to the album than initially meets the ear.
Nitsuh Abebe on the Pitchfork website summed up the album well:
"This album winds its way from ultra-sophisticated pop thrills ('Primary') to synth mope ('All Cats are Grey') to fierce snarls ('Doubt') to snakey exoticism ('Other Voices'), all without ever changing its raw, minimalist instrumental setup or really seeming to shift course at all."
Raw... minimalist... and seemingly perfect for a grey winter's day. That's "Faith."
Childhood memories in song
Life seemed a lot simpler when we were children. For example, we didn't have to dig our cars out of snowdrifts by ourselves back in our childhood. Of course, that's because we never had snow drifts, what with living in a temperate region of California.
Yep... life was so much simpler.
ROUTE 1 readers reach back into those simpler days by answering this week's FRIDAY QUESTION:
"Hearing what song always takes you back to your childhood?"
KERI M. -- Oh wow, where to start...
RICK T. -- A Porter Wagoner song called "Today I Burned Your Old Love Letters." My mom would walk around the house singing that song all the time. My mom is why I'm singing in a band today.
STEVE M. -- "Happy Together" by the Turtles.
JIM S. -- Too many to name, but here are three: "Playground in My Mind," by Clint Holmes ('My name is Michael, I got a nickel ...'), "I Woke Up in Love This Morning," the Partridge Family and "Maggie May," Rod Stewart.
SANDYE V. -- "The Tennessee Waltz." It was on radio all the time in the early 1950s and I remember being very concerned about "the old friend" in the storyline.
MIKE D. -- "Billy, Don't Be A Hero" and "Band on the Run" always take me back to the summer of 1974 because my oldest sister had recorded them on a cassette tape and played them constantly.
LISA Y. -- "Afternoon Delight." I remember us belting that our while my mom drove her little orange VW around town, me in the front set, no seatbelt, sittin' on my knees. Good thing I didn't know what it meant -- and that we never got in an accident!!
ERIK H. -- It came out when I was 12 and has been on the radio ever since. Still, whenever hear that saxophone riff by Raphael Ravenscroft that heralds the start of the late Gerry Rafferty's "Baker Street," I always think back to my youth in Concord, Calif., and listening to the hit songs on the radio station KFRC.
Memorable Movie Scenes No. 417
Waking up to a blizzard
I just woke up and grabbed RORY so I could let her outside.
JILL handed me a leash.
"You're gonna need this," she said.
When I could only open the front door halfway, I began to understand.
When I stepped off my front porch into a snow drift, I *REALLY* began to understand.
When Rory did her business on the porch and quickly turned to go back inside, that's when the full impact of our BLIZZARD began to sink in for me.
Boz on a blizzard day
I feel a COLD sneaking up on me, and I can't decide which is worse -- being sick or being on the brink of sickness.
We're also on the brink of a BLIZZARD, according to the forecasts.
Even if we "only" get about 8 inches, strong winds will blow it around and make life miserable.
It sounds like a good time to crank up the BOZ SCAGGS.
"SILK DEGREES" came out when I was 10 years old, and I remember the songs being *all* over the radio when I was a kid.
Although my sister and I were listening to Top 40 on SAN FRANCISCO'S KFRC at that time, our mom listened to more adult-oriented radio fare. It was here that Boz was king. "Lowdown," "It's Over," "Lido Shuffle" and so many of the other songs from the album were in almost continuous rotation.
It probably helped that we were listening to Bay Area stations, and that Boz was a local boy.
Hearing the songs now produces a warm nostalgia.
It can snow all it wants today -- I can nothing about that. A cold can quit sneaking and start striking at me, too, and there's nothing much I can do about that, either.
I can help myself to some Boz Scaggs, though, which I fully intend to do.