Let's face facts: I'm a spoiled rotten Giants fan
I was reminded today why last year -- when the SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS won the WORLD SERIES for the first time in my lifetime -- was so special.
As I listened to today's dreary 9-0 loss to the CINCINNATI REDS, it dawned on me that most of my Giants fandom has been as much about suffering as it has been about celebrating.
The club has 19 losing seasons in the 45 years I have been alive, and I didn't really start following the Giants until the early 1970s, after the club began to slide away from its Willie Mays-era high perch. The team have only finished first seven times in my lifetime.
I realize this must seem like unnecessary moaning, particularly to fans of teams that have never reached the top. I also realize this is a "half-empty" way of looking at what is, in fact, a relatively successful franchise.
I guess that's baseball, though. In a sport where the best hitters fail seven out of 10 times at the plate, you can't really expect continuous success.
Except I seem to expect it, now that the Giants have won a World Series. Is it fair to the team that I hold them to an elevated standard, after only one championship success? Hmm... Seems to me I remember feeling a similar unrealistic sense of entitlement in the 1980s... isn't that right, SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS?
Taylor's so good, even the bad chores seem good
There's no chore more despicable, I think, than cleaning out the refrigerator and tossing out the remnants of food that -- through the miracle of bacterial growth and the power of mold -- has been rendered unrecognizable from its original guise.
I just completed that task, with a smile on my face, thanks to the brilliance of MICK TAYLOR.
Recently I put together of a list of Taylor's greatest solos with THE ROLLING STONES. Taylor played lead guitar for the Stones from 1969-74, more than merely bridging the gap between the Brian Jones original period and the present-day era of Ronnie Wood.
"Hide Your Love," "Sway" and "Winter" open the 10-song playlist, followed by what I consider to be Taylor's career highlight: The virtuoso solo jam that closes the song "CAN'T YOU HEAR ME KNOCKING," off the "STICKY FINGERS" album.
I'm not going to gush about this track, I am going to let the Stones themselves gush about the track, courtesy of quotes from the wonderful TIME IS ON OUR SIDE Rolling Stones website.
Take it away, Stones:
"(From the Mick Taylor period,) I love 'Can't You Hear Me Knocking.'"
-- Keith Richards, 2002
"'Can't You Hear Me Knocking'... is one of my favorites... (The jam at the end) just happened by accident; that was never planned. Towards the end of the song I just felt like carrying on playing. Everybody was putting their instruments down, but the tape was still rolling and it sounded good, so everybody quickly picked up their instruments again and carried on playing. It just happened, and it was a one-take thing. A lot of people seem to really like that part."
-- Mick Taylor, 1979
"As a lead, virtuoso guitar, Mick (Taylor) was so lyrical on songs like 'Can't You Hear Me Knocking,' which was an amazing track because that was a complete jam, one take at the end. He had such a good ear, and I would help push him along."
-- Charlie Watts, 2003
It's such a good track, I might add, that not even the dregs of the refrigerator can bring it down.
Brown bag specials
What day is today? Thursday?
Are you kidding me? Friday already? Where did the week go?
While ROUTE 1 determines how two or three days slipped through our fingers this week, readers respond to the following FRIDAY QUESTION:
"What's your favorite item in a brown-bag (or similarly packed) lunch?"
BRIAN M. -- Always the sandwich. Pastrami and Pepperjack or Swiss, on white.
RICK T. -- Ham and cheese sandwich.
STACEY B. -- A good old-fashioned peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Yummy.
KERSTIN H. -- Chips and the pop I sneak in it!
MIKE D. -- When I was a kid, there was nothing better than a bologna sandwich on buttered bread with ketchup, warmed for several hours in your school locker. Mmmmm!!!
ANNIKA H. -- PB and J.
BEKAH P. -- Leftover beef/veggie stir fry. It's one of my go-to supper dishes, and it's super easy to make extra to pack for lunch. It's great either cold or re-heated. Yum.
JOHN S. -- PB&J.
ERIK H. -- A small bag of Oreos. Nothing makes me eat all of my carrots (or other veggies) like knowing I have three (or so) Oreos waiting for dessert.
In praise of the other Mick
I just listened to his solo on "100 YEARS AGO" -- on the "GOATS HEAD SOUP" album -- and that was enough to prompt me to join the FACEBOOK group, "MICK TAYLOR RULED WITH THE ROLLING STONES."
After his career beginning with JOHN MAYALL'S BLUESBREAKERS, Taylor played on the following Stones albums:
1. Let it Bleed ("Country Honk" and "Live With Me.")
2. Get Yer Ya-Ya's Out
3. Sticky Fingers
4. Exile on Main Street
5. Goats Head Soup
6. It's Only Rock 'n Roll
He helped bring the band back to the blues, playing during what many fans considered the band's peak.
"Aftermath" on Mick's 68th birthday
Thanks to ROUTE 1 reader GARY D., I am listening to "AFTERMATH" by THE ROLLING STONES on MICK JAGGER'S 68th birthday.
Sixty eight? Take that, "27 CLUB."
I am listening to the British version of the 1966 album. It opens with the marvelous "Mother's Little Helper" before the catchy but misogynist "Stupid Girl."
BRIAN JONES (a founding member of the aforementioned 27 Club) expands the band's sound on this wonderful album, playing marimbas on "Under My Thumb," a dulcimer on "Lady Jane" and (the underrated) "I am Waiting" and harmonica on a couple of tracks.
I wonder how the Stones' history would have been different if Jones could have kicked his substance abuse problems, instead of ending up floating in a swimming pool.
Well, happy birthday Mick. You and Keith are two of rock's ultimate survivors.
Green Machine memories
Josh Dugan scored his second try in the last minute as the CANBERRA RAIDERS beat the ST. GEORGE ILLAWARRA DRAGONS, 24-19, in today's MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL match -- reminding me of my introduction to AUSTRALIAN RUGBY LEAGUE while I listened online.
PRIME SPORTS NORTHWEST was the name of a cable network we watched when we lived in OREGON in the early 1990s. Besides local college sports, English soccer and Australian Rules Football, the network broadcast Australian Rugby League.
I paid particularly close attention during the 1994 season.
Dubbed "The Green Machine," Canberra were among the top-class clubs in the league, finishing third during the regular campaign and beating Canterbury in the Grand Final.
Coached by Tim Sheens, the Raiders included a clutch of stars -- household names Down Under and in one house in Lakeview, Ore. -- Mal Meninga, Noa Nadruku, Laurie Daley (pictured), Ricky Stuart, David Furner and Bradley Clyde, among others. They were a stylish team and a successful one, having won titles in 1989 and 1990 and finishing as runners-up in 1987 and 1991.
I was unable to watch rugby league after our tenure in Oregon, and it wasn't until my trip to SYDNEY last year that I reconnected with the sport.
Now, I listen when I can on the radio online, like today, when I heard a bit of that Green Machine magic once again.
Thunderstorm wakeup call leads to exciting cricket
For once, I am not too upset that a raucous THUNDERSTORM jolted me out of bed way earlier than I had wanted.
This morning's rude awakening prompted me to listen to CRICKET on the radio (online) earlier than expected, and I have heard some exciting developments.
ENGLAND (47-8 dec. & 62-5 currently) were cruising against INDIA (286) when the visitors struck, taking three wickets for only one English run scored in 10 balls bowled.
In cricketing terms, that's akin to India pulling a rug from under England's feet. The match is being played at LORD'S CRICKET GROUND, which will always be a special place for me, having toured it with my sister Inger during a trip to London.
This meeting between England and India is the 2,000th Test match in the long history of cricket.
It's one of the most enjoyable to hear, too. Thanks thunderstorm!
A perfect song to soothe
"CEASE THE BOMBING" is the perfect song for me right now.
I am listening to "THE BEST OF GRANT GREEN, VOL. II" and the EARL NEAL CREQUE composition (from 1969's "CARRYIN' ON") sounds so beautiful and soothing.
News of the escalating death toll in the NORWEGIAN MASS MURDER sickened me overnight. I needed something like "Cease the Bombing," with GRANT GREEN'S signature, brilliant guitar work allied with Creque's electric piano and the vibes by WILLIE BIVENS.
I love Green, and I am not quite so purist that I dismiss his FUNKY ACID-JAZZ work of the late 1960s and early 1970s; good music is good music, as far as I am concerned.
Besides, any tune with the drumming of IDRIS MUHAMMAD/LEO MORRIS can't go too far wrong. He is one of my favorite drummers in any genre of music.
Skies are gloomy, I am alone with the cats, and songs such as "Cease the Bombing" are sounding so good this morning.
Pray for the Norway victims and their families, too. What happened caused too much hurt for too many people for a song to cure.
Temps get hot, answers stay cool
You know it's been hot when the heat index reaches 104 and you say:
"At least it's *only* 104."
The current HEAT WAVE prompted ROUTE 1 readers to answer the following FRIDAY QUESTION:
"How are you keeping cool this week?"
RICK T. -- Staying inside with the air conditioner on. TV, snacks, soda pop, I'm good!
KERI M. -- We just got air conditioning.
JIM S. -- Along with staying in where it's air conditioned as much as possible, I am going to try to stay cool in my mind. I have a bad habit of getting psyched out by these hot stretches. So, I am vowing to not say anything out loud that is negative about the heat this week. It's here and there's nothing I can do about it. It, too, will pass.
KERSTIN H. -- I'm not going outside unless I have to.
BEKAH P. -- I plan on going to the air-conditioned movie theater and watching the final Harry Potter over and over and over and over....
ANNIKA H. -- Staying inside with fans.
INGER H. -- That hasn't really been something I have to worry about. The hotter the rest of the country, the colder it is in S.F.
BRIAN M. -- I don't have to do anything, it appears. It's 71, cloudy and raining today (Monday), is expected to rain tomorrow and the temp is expected to budge no higher than 83 in Grants Pass, Ore., the rest of the week.
JEFF T. -- By living in Reno!
SANDYE V. -- The second floor in our house does not cool off as well as the main floor, so we're blocking the top of the stairway with a big sheet of cardboard and redirect the feeble central air currents with fans. I've tried sleeping in the basement where it's the coolest -- but it's also soggy, even with a dehumidifier gurgling away.
ERIK H. -- By sipping water and listening to the cool sounds of Al Green.
An Al Green prescription
I felt sickened by the HEAT WAVE last night, after spending time outside and not drinking as much water as I had planned.
I came home at the end of the day and recovered with some AL GREEN.
I sat on the couch, sipping water in front of a fan and listened to "AL GREEN GREATEST HITS" on my iPod.
"Tired of Being Alone," "Let's Stay Together," "Here I am (Come and Take Me)" and "Love and Happiness" are among the Green songs that simply make a person feel better.
Green's greatest commercial success -- resulting in the songs that have become soul classics -- resulted in his pairing with producer and arranger WILLIE MITCHELL of Hi Records in Memphis. The two of them created a stylish, distinctive sound that helped soothe my overheated health.
I fully recommend it.
Suarez fires up a cold night -- for them, not us
It was an odd sight.
While we were sweltering in the worst HEAT WAVE in at least five years, fans at the COPA AMERICA soccer semifinal in La Plata, Argentina last night were bundled up against the cold -- draped in coats and capped with ski hats.
Luis Suarez was on fire, though.
The Liverpool man's goals in the 53rd and 58th minutes gave URUGUAY a 2-0 win over PERU and a spot in the final of SOUTH AMERICA'S continental championship.
I watched the game on Spanish-language broadcaster, UNIVISION, from the comfort of my air-conditioned living room, where I was chilled but not as cold as the Uruguayan or Peruvian fans in La Plata.
It's been an entertaining tournament, made more so by the presence deep in the competition of surprise teams such as Peru and VENEZUELA, who play PARAGUAY in the other semifinal tonight.
South American heavyweights Argentina, Brazil, Colombia and Chile all fell at the quarterfinal stage, allowing some of the continent's other soccer-crazed nations to emerge.
Marking the demise of Borders
BORDERS BOOKS is going out of business, closing all of its remaining stores. I prefer independent bookstores, but I did rely on Borders for my occasional purchases of British music magazines and certain movies and jazz albums.
I'll also grieve the passing of the Borders in DUBUQUE for a journalism reason. KERSTIN accompanied me to our local Borders in 2009 to cover the release party of the first "TWILIGHT" DVD. She wrote a column that accompanied my story on the front page of the newspaper, and it made me prouder than seeing any of my stories in print.
While pundits point to Borders' demise as a tipping point for the arrival of the digital age, I remember buying beloved foreign film DVDs, jazz CDs and baseball preview magazines when their content provided the only hint that spring would finally emerge from months of bleak winter.
I am a little sad about it.
Time to appreciate a soul songwriter
You might not know the name JERRY RAGOVOY, but you've probably heard a few of his songs.
The American songwriter and producer recently died, age 80.
I've been thinking about some of the Ragovoy notable competitions this morning.
He wrote "Time is on My Side," popularized by The Rolling Stones. He wrote "Piece of My Heart" by Janis Joplin with Big Brother and the Holding Company (cover) and Erma Franklin (original). Underrated soul crooner Garnet Mimms sang the Ragovoy composition "Cry Baby."
Ragovoy also wrote several songs for Lorraine Ellison, including the classic "Stay With Me."
These soul songs would make for a great iPod playlist during our current HEAT WAVE.
I'll put one together this morning, in appreciation for Ragovoy's work.
Psychedelic summer heat and humidity
I feel like I have experienced the full flowering of PSYCHEDELIA during this morning's walk.
It wasn't because I listened to "THEIR SATANIC MAJESTIES REQUEST" -- the underrated but truthfully not very psychedelic 1967 album by THE ROLLING STONES -- but was instead due to the mind-bending and forehead-melting HEAT AND HUMIDITY.
Forecasters have warned of the region's worst HEAT WAVE for five years and if the 8:30 a.m. conditions are anything to go by, the weather prognosticators won't be far off in their predictions.
I walked through what felt like tangible waves.
The air temperature of 79 degrees didn't seem bad, until wedded to the 82 percent relative humidity. As a result, I journeyed through a slightly sweltering haze you could feel.
"Sing This All Together," the brilliantly punk "Citadel" and the Wes Anderson favorite "2000 Man" played on my iPod, producing scenes that seemed off-kilter and slightly dreamlike.
A shirtless old man slowly pirouetted around a field with a metal detector, a glum-faced man painted his white front porch and a swinging yet diminishing ponytail suggested a female jogger far ahead of me while I strode down otherwise deserted sidewalks.
Perhaps I should have carried a water bottle. Perhaps I should have returned early to my air-conditioned home. Perhaps nature displays a far more psychedelic side than music ever could aspire.
Muslera saves Uruguay's night
Tired after a six-and-a-half hour drive home from a health journalism seminar in SIOUX FALLS, S.D., I relaxed this evening by watching a thrilling soccer match.
URUGUAY ousted hosts ARGENTINA from the COPA AMERICA, winning tonight's quarterfinal 5-4 on penalties after the back-and-forth match finished, 1-1, after extra time.
Uruguay's goalkeeper, Fernando Muslera, saved a spot-kick attempt by Carlos Tevez for the difference in the shootout. Muslera plays for Lazio in Rome, and was ironically born in Buenos Aires.
I watched the match on UNIVISION, knowing just enough soccer-related Spanish to get by.
Uruguay face another upset winner in the competition's semifinals, after PERU topped COLOMBIA, 2-0.
Now, my energy is beginning to flag. I blame too much driving, and an exciting finish to the soccer match.
Fueling up with music for my trip
I've finished packing for a trip to SIOUX FALLS, S.D., now I am lining up some music for the six-and-a-half-hour drive.
I travel to Sioux Falls to participate in the first event of an ASSOCIATION OF HEALTH CARE JOURNALISTS fellowship, which I received earlier this year.
Having selected the clothes, notebook, pens and toothbrush necessary for the trip, my thoughts are on the tunes for the car ride.
I want to save my iPod for the motel room, so I have selected a stack of CDs to accompany across portions of Iowa, southern Minnesota, and on to South Dakota's largest city.
Iowa is rural, so how about some STEVE EARLE? I'll take "Guitar Town."
I'll be driving through Minnesota, so how about some REPLACEMENTS? "Sorry Ma, Forgot to Take Out The Trash," "Stink," "Hootenanny," "Let it Be," "Tim" and "Pleased to Meet Me" -- heck, I'll bring all my 'Mats CDs along for the ride.
I've been aching to hear some FACES lately, so I will bring the box set. Might as well bring my ROD STEWART CDs, too, just in case.
Finally, it will be hot on the drive back, so how about some OINGO BOINGO?
Listening to that band always makes me think of hot, sunny, summer days.
Obviously, this is more than enough music to cover my trip. I just want to be prepared.
Sweet Sixteen Candles
KERSTIN and I watched the JOHN HUGHES classic "SIXTEEN CANDLES" on DVD yesterday -- Kerstin's 16th birthday.
The story of the girl (Molly Ringwald) whose family forgets her 16th birthday provided a fun way to help celebrate Kerstin's own "Sweet 16."
The 1984 film rewards frequent viewing, whether it's to enjoy the memorable quotes ("Relax, would you? We have $70 and a pair of girls underpants. We're safe as kittens."), to spot future stars in the cast (Jamie Gertz is in there) or to remember the great music of the time period (Oingo Boingo, the Specials and Tim Finn provided tunes that are little-heard today).
"Sixteen Candles" provided a great opportunity to share my daughter's 16th birthday while enjoying something we both love. I'm so glad we watched it.
Don't try this at home: Quiet Rolling Stones
It's not really recommended, but I am currently attempting to listen to "BIG HITS (HIGH TIDE AND GREEN GRASS)" quietly.
I just took duplicated the track listing of the 1966 compilation for an iPod playlist, using songs from a singles collection by THE ROLLING STONES.
JILL and the girls returned home late last night from a trip to ST. LOUIS, and it is KERSTIN'S birthday, so I playing the playlist **very quietly** on the computer, giving the rest of my family an opportunity to sleep longer into the morning.
I don't really recommend playing these songs quietly.
I based my playlist on the American version of the compilation -- one of the first Stones' albums I heard as a kid. It kicks off in grand style, with "(I CAN'T GET NO) SATISFACTION," a song which resolutely refuses to be played quietly.
Right now, "As Tears Go By" is playing. It works well as a quiet, subdued musical interlude. "Time is on My Side" is next, however, and that's a song I have always liked to sing along with. You can't really do that while playing the song quietly, can you?
Hopefully, everybody will wake up by "Get Off of My Cloud." I'll never be able to play that tune without turning up the volume. Sigh...
Gojira brought to troubling life
Substitute a relentless, towering monster from the sea with a relentless, towering wave from the sea, and the differences seem insignificant. Devastation and tragedy inevitably follow the appearance.
I considered this substitution yesterday, while watching ISHIRO HONDA'S original "GOJIRA" on DVD.
It marked the first time I had watched the film Americans know as "GODZILLA" since the tsunami struck Japan.
Meant as warning about the unknown dangers of atomic power, "Gojira" instead seemed like a premonition of heartache to come for JAPAN.
The Gojira series became increasingly less serious as the number of sequels multiplied. It's original incarnation is a bleak film, with scenes of destruction and human sadness that would have appeared too close for comfort for many Japanese, still struggling from the after effects of the war and atomic bombings in 1954.
Watching the film now, I couldn't help but pair the film's horrific imagery with the non-fiction yet surreal carnage displayed on television during the tsunami disaster.
The tsunami really was a horror film brought to troubling life.
Deaf forever, thanks to Würzel
"Deaf Forever," "Orgasmatron," "The One to Sing the Blues" -- I'm sipping coffee and listening to some of the MOTÖRHEAD classics that featured the guitarist WÜRZEL (pictured, far left), who died yesterday age 61.
I've always liked Motörhead -- close your eyes, and you can convince yourself they were one of the first-generation punk acts, such was their energy. Their ideology wasn't far away, either -- have you ever heard the song, "Eat the Rich?"
Würzel (known as Michael Burston to his family) arrived on the Motörhead at an important juncture for the band. Ace guitarist Brian Robertson had just left.
Motörhead leader LEMMY auditioned potential members, and liked two -- Würzel and Phil Campbell.
"I got them to play together and they seemed to fit, so I thought, 'Why not? I'll keep them both," Lemmy said at the time.
Fans of loud, fast and aggressive -- did I mention fun? -- music are glad that he did, and are saddened by Würzel's passing.
Fred stops Paraguay's happy dance
Mere minutes away from defeating BRAZIL in the COPA AMERICA today, and Brazilian substitute Fred goes and dampens the dream with a 90th-minute goal.
The two sides drew, 2-2, in a match I just watched on television.
Brazil opened the scoring in the 39th minute, through a long-range strike by Jadson. Rogue Santa Cruz and substitute Nelson Haedo Valdez tallied for Paraguay in the second half, and the red-and-white clad fans were dancing in the stands at the stadium in Cordoba, Argentina.
I supported Paraguay in the match, but was happy for the exciting young Brazilian playmaker Ganso, who assisted on both his country's goals.
If only he would sign for LEYTON ORIENT.
ROUTE 1 editorial assistant KERSTIN turns 16 in a matter of days, leading to this week's FRIDAY QUESTION:
"What do remember about turning 16?"
KERI M. -- My friend who had cancer came to my birthday party. I still have a recording of my party on VHS.
ROSEANNE H. -- My friends gave me a huge surprise party. I can still remember it.
JIM S. -- As with many of you, I remember the driver's license. But our setup was to take classes in school, so I had to wait until the second semester for Driver's Ed. And, since my birthday is in Feb., I was 16 for a few months before I got my license. I was an impatient teen and hated waiting.
BRIAN M. -- That since my birthday's so close to the start of school year, I was going to go out for cross country, if only to get in shape for basketball (not that a scholarship to Oregon State was ever in the offing) and started running on my own... a little. I also remember Men at Work being on the radio for the first time.
ANNIKA H. -- Nothing. I'm 12.
ERIK H. -- I remember that year as being a renaissance of sorts for the Giants, with Chili Davis, Joe Morgan, Darrell Evans and Jack Clark playing well. Of course, they lost on my birthday, 5-3 to the Phillies.
** FRIDAY QUESTION RETURNS IN TWO WEEKS **
A good night for "Rushmore"
"Oh that's great. I wrote a hit play and directed it, so I'm not sweating it either."
My days at work have been beyond busy this week, with afternoon out-of-town assignments following office work each morning.
Last night, I needed a break, so I settled down to watch one of my favorite films.
"RUSHMORE" is the 1998 second feature by WES ANDERSON, and stars JASON SCHWARTZMAN as Max Fischer, a student struggling with school work, love and the intricacies of friendship, loyalty and betrayal, but so full of self-belief that he invariably finds his way back on top.
The film is full of funny lines and memorable characters.
Of Anderson's films, I really like "BOTTLE ROCKET" and "THE ROYAL TENENBAUMS," too, but "Rushmore" is the one for me.
It certainly helped take my mind off this busy work week.
Domination Down Under
The maroon-clad warriors of QUEENSLAND have stamped their domination on the sport of RUGBY LEAGUE in AUSTRALIA.
I witnessed this domination on television this morning, as I watched the Maroons defeat the NEW SOUTH WALES BLUES, 34-24, to win the STATE OF ORIGIN series once again.
An annual series between the best players originally from Queensland against the best players originally from New South Wales -- hence the name -- the State of Origin series has been remarkably one-sided of late. Queensland have won every series since 2006.
Today in Brisbane, the home side raced to a 24-0 lead after playing more than 80 percent of the first 30 minutes in New South Wales' half of the field.
Greg Inglis scored two tries and Johnathan Thurston kicked four conversions before leaving with a knee injury, but the focus for Queensland was on Darren Lockyer.The 34-year-old Brisbane native is one of Australia's greatest-ever rugby league stars, and was playing in his final Origin match.
He went out a winner, as usual for Queensland.
Independence Day soccer
I capped a fine INDEPENDENCE DAY weekend with some soccer on television last night.
Esteban Paredes and Arturo Vidal scored second-half goals as CHILE rallied to beat a young MEXICO side, 2-1, in the COPA AMERICA in ARGENTINA.
It was one of those matches that proves the adage about association football being a "funny old game."
Chile dominated possession in the first half -- a 45-minute spell when Mexico seemed incapable of stringing more than three passes together -- yet it was the Mexican fans who cheered a goal. Nestor Araujo's header gave Mexico a 41st-minute goal, completely against the run of play.
By the second half, Mexico actually played better, but Chile finally found a way to turn their goal-scoring opportunities into goals.
Scoring has been down early in the tournament -- the South American equivalent of the European Championship -- with only eight goals scored in the first six games (and a pair of goalless draws).
We can watch some of the games on UNIVISION, an American Spanish-language network.
Independence Day with the Singing Brakeman
If music is really "COUNTRY," it has some of JIMMIE RODGERS' DNA in it.
"The Father of Country Music," Rodgers was among the first recorded country musicians, and he was an early musical superstar from 1927 until his death from tuberculosis in 1933. Fred Rose, Hank Williams and Rodgers -- "The Singing Brakeman" -- were the first three inductees into the COUNTRY MUSIC HALL OF FAME when it was established in 1961 -- that gives you a sense of Rodgers' brilliance, importance and legacy.
"Blue Yodel No. 1 (T for Texas)," "In the Jailhouse Now," "Blue Yodel No. 2 (Lovin' Gal Lucille)," "My Rough and Rowdy Ways" and "Blue Yodel No. 8 (Mule Skinner Blues)" are among the Rodgers classics that became country music standards.
I decided to open INDEPENDENCE DAY by listening to Rodgers, a true American original.
When I hear contemporary country music, I use a simple litmus test for its authenticity. If I can hear a hint of Rodgers (or fellow pioneers THE CARTER FAMILY) in the tune, then I know it's the real thing, and not just pop with twang.
Spotting the Agee in "Night of the Hunter"
Having read more than half of "LET US NOW PRAISE FAMOUS MEN," the landmark Depression study featuring the poetic prose of JAMES AGEE, I thought it was a good idea to watch "THE NIGHT OF THE HUNTER."
CHARLES LAUGHTON'S 1955 film stars ROBERT MITCHUM -- in arguably his finest role -- as a serial murdered posing as a preacher, pursuing a pair of children for hidden bank robbery proceeds.
Agee wrote the screenplay based on a DAVIS GRUBB novel. My experience with "Let Us Now Praise Famous Men" helped me identify those nuggets of "pure Agee" in the film's script.
"Down there in the deep place... her hair wavin' lazy and soft like meadow grass under flood waters, and that slit in her throat, just like she had an extry mouth."
The film's similes and metaphors seem to be Agee's work, just as the reflections on the inequities of the Depression seem to be sprung from his pen.
"That's right, Preacher. I robbed that bank because I got tired of seein' children roamin' the woodlands without food, children roamin' the highways in this year of Depression, children sleepin' in old abandoned car bodies on junk-heaps; and I promised myself I'd never see the day when my youngins'd want."
"The Night of the Hunter" is a film I can always view again. It is as deep as it is absolutely chilling, and now I can try to spot the "Agee-isms," too.
"Wife's logic fails to explain strange bedfellow to drunkard"
I'm listening to HARRY E. SMITH'S landmark 1952 music collection, "ANTHOLOGY OF AMERICAN FOLK MUSIC" while completing some chores this morning.
The songs helped provide material for the folk revival of the 1950s and 60s.
The old blues, country and Cajun tunes help me pass the time while working.
Whenever I take a break, I read Smith's original liner notes. Smith famously provided brief synopses for many of the songs in his collection of 84 tunes. The music collector's descriptions read like odd newspaper headlines:
"MEDIEVAL WOMAN DEFEATS DEVIL DESPITE HUSBAND'S PRAYERS" (for "Old Lady and the Devil" by Bill and Belle Reed, 1928).
"MOTHER HOSPITABLE, BUT GIRLS FIND SHODDY OLDSTER'S ACTIONS PERVERSE" (for "Old Shoes and Leggins" by Uncle Eck Dunford, 1929).
"BOLLWEAVIL SURVIVES PHYSICAL ATTACK AFTER CLEVERLY ANSWERING FARMER'S QUESTIONS" (from "Mississippi Boweavil Blues" by Charley Patton recording as "The Masked Marvel," 1929).
"DISCOURAGING ACTS OF GOD AND MAN CONVINCE FARMER OF POSITIVE BENEFITS IN URBAN LIFE" (from "Got The Farm Land Blues" by the Carolina Tar Heels, 1932).
and my personal favorite:
"ZOOLOGIC MISCEGENY ACHIEVED IN MOUSE FROG NUPTUALS, RELATIVES APPROVE" (from the bizarre "King Kong Kitchie Kitchie Ki-Me-O" by Chubby Parker, 1928.
Deeper into the collection, Smith includes some pioneering gospel or recorded sermon numbers, and his song descriptions lengthen and seem to become almost frantic:
"JUDGEMENT MORNING, GOD, JESUS, COMING UNAWARES. CLOUD BEARS HORSES. GET MORNING GARMENTS, STAFF IN HAND. GAMBLER, LIAR, DRUNKARD, ADULTEROUS, HYPOCRITE, PRETEND US, WASTE TIME. JUDGE YOUNG AND OLD. BETTER GET READY FOR JUDGEMENT" (from "Judgement" by Sister Mary Nelson, 1927).
When I reach those descriptions in the liner notes, I know it's time to go back to cleaning the bathroom.
On the eve of a long weekend for many of us, ROUTE 1 readers take a break from our toils to answer the following FRIDAY QUESTION:
"What is the hardest or most difficult work you've ever done?"
RICK T. -- When I was in Junior High School the City of Dubuque had summer jobs for kids. It was cutting down trees and swamp grass on 16th Street City Island. They were making clear of the land for what is now Miller Park Camp Grounds. Lot of hard work.
BEKAH P. -- There is nothing on the face of this planet more difficult than picking up the phone, calling the family of someone who just died in some tragic way, and then asking if they want to talk with you so you can write a story about their feelings. Seriously, it sucks, and reporters don't get paid nearly enough to do that sort of work.
BRIAN M. -- The hardest, in a physical sense, work I've done was when I was on an Oregon Department of Transportation Litter Patrol between my freshman and sophomore years in college. A lot of walking, in the hot Southern Oregon sun, just beyond the guardrail from the rushing traffic on Interstate 5, anywhere from Mount Sexton to Rogue River. The most difficult job I've ever had was when I worked for the Oregon Justice Department as a court clerk in Jefferson County (Madras) in 2006. Every day, I felt like there was potential to screw up something really badly, beyond my best efforts.
SANDYE V. -- Twice I quit jobs after one day because they were so awful. One was selling ads for a shopper and the other was working in a call center (such a long time ago that it was a rotary phone!) but really, the hardest and most difficult work I've ever done was raising four kids.
JIM S. -- Harvesting tobacco - in August, in south central Wisconsin. At least I sweat more doing this than anything else I've ever done. From bending over and chopping the plants down with an ax on a muggy morning to piling the heavy suckers into piles in the hot afternoon sun to hanging them up high in a dusty tobacco shed, this was very tough. Glad I experienced it.
SASKIA M. -- Working as a customer service manager in retail and responding polite and calm to rude and loud customers.
ERIK H. -- Although nothing makes me as nauseous as remembering my days behind the cash register of a small retail outlet, I at least stuck it out at that job. I once quit a job after one day. It was when I worked for the mailroom at Lucasfilm's Skywalker Ranch and I almost crashed the company van into George Lucas' BMW. Yeah, that would not have been good.