Monday, April 30, 2012

BiRtHdAy WeEk begins with the blues

Here at ROUTE 1, we can never understand why people don't like celebrating their birthday.
What's not to like? It's a holiday invented just for you!
Last night after an unusually stressful Sunday at work, I kicked BiRtHdAy WeEk with a couple of cold beers and two of my favorite bluesmen.
New Orleans' GUITAR SLIM (a.k.a. Eddie Jones) was a formative influence on rock-n-roll with his rollicking take on R&B.
MAGIC SAM (a.k.a. Samuel Maghett, pictured) came out of Chicago's West Side tradition of young gunslinging guitarists, alongside Otis Rush and Buddy Guy.
Highly influential, Sam died suddenly of a heart attack age 32, his career cut short.
Songwriter/producer WILLIE DIXON said of Sam:
"He had a different guitar sound. Most of the guys were playing the straight 12-bar blues thing, but the harmonies that he carried with the chords was a different thing altogether."
Listening after a work day was a great way to launch my BiRtHdAy WeEk.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Crackers, Dodgers and Atlanta's integrated series

I've been reading about ATLANTA'S MINOR LEAGUE BASEBALL HISTORY since returning from my trip, including the lengthy history of the ATLANTA CRACKERS.
The Crackers were longtime members of the Southern Association, displaced when the BRAVES moved south from Milwaukee.
The team played at Ponce de Leon Stadium, which was filled to overflowing on April 8, 1949.
That date marked the start of a three-game exhibition series against the BROOKLYN DODGERS -- and gained fame as the first integrated professional baseball game in then-segregated Atlanta.
African-American fans converged on the ballpark to see Georgia native JACKIE ROBINSON, the man who had integrated Major League Baseball in 1947.
However, because Atlanta's ballpark remained segregated, most of the black fans in attendance had to sit along the outfield signs and wall.
Black stars like Michael Bourn and Jason Heyward now play nightly for an Atlanta baseball team.
Sometimes, it's hard to comprehend there was a time blacks not only couldn't play, but were restricted to the periphery of the stadium as well.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Niners and Ducks in rare Hogstrom synchronicity

In a move that had me dancing around and whooping while my family tried to watch a movie on TV, the SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS selected LAMICHAEL JAMES, star running back of MY BELOVED OREGON DUCKS in the second round of tonight's NFL DRAFT.
I joked that the selection was like the "George Walter Hogstrom Memorial Pick," because my Ducks-and-Niners-loving late father would certainly approve.
I cannot wait for "LaMike" to take to the field in the red and gold.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Down-home and daring music from Minnesota via Georgia

I've been obsessed with ALT.COUNTRY since returning from GEORGIA -- perhaps the spirit of GRAM PARSONS seeps up to ATLANTA from WAYCROSS.
Whatever the reason, I've been listening to nothing but the OLD 97's and the JAYHAWKS (pictured) for the past three days.
I'm listening to the latter band now and wondering what the Twin Cities scenesters must have made of their twangy, Parsons-infused sound when it emerged during the heyday of the Replacements and Hüsker Dü.
Founders Mark Olson and Gary Louris could meld harmony vocals just like their country rock heroes of the past, and as a result, these Jayhawks' songs sound as timeless as their forebears.
I'm glad Georgia swept me into an phase. This music is both daring and down-home.
Bring on the UNCLE TUPELO!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

It's a funny old game, innit? Part 4,644,900

"Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.... Un-bee-leev-uh-bull!"
Gary Neville's seemingly orgasmic commentary on Fernando Torres' last-minute goal became an instant classic overnight, with videos and MP3 files popping up all over the Internet.
The Sky Sports' broadcaster's exclamation, and the breakaway goal by the much-maligned, seldom-scoring Torres that prompted it, merely capped an extraordinary game filled with similar wonderment.
CHELSEA played for just under an hour with 10 men after John Terry's sending off, but Torres' goal allowed the visiting Blues to claim a 2-2 draw (and 3-2 aggregate win) against BARCELONA -- universally proclaimed as the "Best Team in the World" -- for a berth in the CHAMPIONS LEAGUE final.
Missed penalties, crucial injuries, traded goals and a Chelsea rally were among the plot points in a game that reminded me why SOCCER remains my favorite sport.
Besides, you don't hear shouts like Neville's too often elsewhere. At least in public.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Back from a Deep South excursion

It could take me a little time to recover from my SOUTHERN EXCURSION.
I attended a conference of HEALTH CARE JOURNALISTS in ATLANTA, while attempting to pack sightseeing into my spare time.
I wanted to experience this major city of the Deep South, so I ate chicken and waffles, hiked on part of STONE MOUNTAIN, visited the WORLD OF COCA-COLA and tried to compose myself after experiencing the extraordinarily moving MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. NATIONAL HISTORIC SITE.
I enjoyed Atlanta, and I told my family upon my return yesterday that I would like them to accompany me down there for additional exploration.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

A little XTC calms nerves before trip

I always get a little (or a lot, depending upon whom you ask) N-E-R-V-O-U-S before a major trip and I leave for six days in ATLANTA early tomorrow morning, so I am attempting to calm myself by listening to some XTC today.
XTC were one of the earliest bands to trigger an obsession -- I began collecting their releases in high school with the wonderful "DRUMS AND WIRES."
Otherwise, I've printed my eTicket and my hotel confirmation. That should help calm my nerves. I'll stop and get cash for the taxi and finish packing later (there's not much to pack, thankfully).
Now, I am signing off on ROUTE 1 for the duration of my journey.
I'll share some experiences when I return.

Monday, April 16, 2012

The Tubes: Not an insomnia cure

Don't listen to THE TUBES if you are struggling with INSOMNIA.
I tried that tactic the other night, and I found myself laughing and thinking instead of snoozing and snoring.
Originating in PHOENIX before establishing their base in SAN FRANCISCO, the band were a satirical, theatrical band that took glam rock to the extreme that would eventually produce punk.
The Rough Guide to Rock once described the band's stage performances as "'Starlight Express' costumed by suppliers to peep shows."
"White Punks on Dope," "Don't Touch Me There" and "Mondo Bondage" are songs that sound like the results of ironic art and drama students given the keys to the music room -- which is essentially what happened.
I always thought the 1980s output -- including hits "Talk to Ya Later" and "She's a Beauty" -- was a little too close to the corporate rock the Tubes were presumably satirizing, but there is no denying the strength of the songs.
In short, there is too much to think about and enjoy with the Tubes for the band to ever serve as an insomnia cure.
Awake at midnight? Seek your slumbering solution elsewhere.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Liverpool edge Everton in a true game of two halves

Football really is a game of two halves, proven indelibly during today's FA CUP SEMI-FINAL.
EVERTON lorded over their Merseyside rivals LIVERPOOL during the first half, then seemed to run out of steam in the second. I watched live on television.
The result was a 2-1 victory for the red half of Merseyside, and a redemption tale starring much-maligned Liverpool striker ANDY CARROLL.
Carroll's glaring miss early in the second half suggested Everton's good fortune would re-establish itself during the second 45 minutes.
It was not to be.
A glaring defensive mistake by Sylvain Distin gifted Luis Suarez an equaliser. Everton's Nikica Jelavic had scored the lone goal of the first half.
Then, three minutes from time, Carroll scored to lift Liverpool into the final -- and a chance for a cup double for the winners of the LEAGUE CUP earlier this season.
Everton simply seemed to lose focus and stamina as the second half wore on, while Liverpool gained confidence and -- ultimately -- the glory.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Favorite foods when we were kids

In the days before confit de canard, anago nigirizushi and Qorma palao there was something called STUFF WE ATE WHEN WE WERE KIDS.
ROUTE 1 returns to those simpler, narrower-palate times with this week's FRIDAY QUESTION:
"What was your favorite food as a kid?"
INGER H. -- Probably Mac and Cheese. It's still my go-to comfort food. Oh, and I'm not talking about your fancy "truffle-oil-and-gruyere" nonsense, I'm talking about the stuff made from bright orange powder. Mmmm.... powder.
MIKE M. -- Chicken fried steak with cream gravy and white rice -- my favorite as kid and adult.
JOHN S. -- My mom's roast beef.
ROSEANNE H. -- Venison steak.
KERI M. -- Peanut butter and banana sandwiches.
KERSTIN H. -- I have always loved anything pasta or seafood.
STACEY B. -- Cupcakes baked in ice cream cones. Yummy!
SANDYE V. -- Corn on the cob!
MIKE D. -- I was a very picky eater. Among my limited menu was hot dogs, scrambled eggs, butter-fried noodles and buttered bread with baked bean juice. School lunch was a bologna or grape jelly sandwich. And my favorite snack was cookies!
BEKAH P. -- That cheap boxed macaroni and cheese. I've grown up a bit, in that I like homemade mac and cheese with expensive, fancy cheese. Yummy
JIM S. -- I really liked what my mom called her "hot dish." It was a simple casserole she created that included hamburger, potatoes and carrots, mixed with cream of mushroom soup. As a horribly fussy eater in those days (not much better today), I thought I was quite the connoisseur to be able to eat such a "complex" meal.
ERIK H. -- I loved my mom's taco salad (still do), but my greatest passion was an afternoon spent watching Japanese monster movies with a big plastic cup full of sugared cereal and milk.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

"Zoolander" makes me feel like I'm taking laughing pills

"Who cares about Derek Zoolander anyway? The man has only one look, for Christ's sake! Blue Steel? Ferrari? Le Tigra? They're the same face! Doesn't anybody notice this? I feel like I'm taking crazy pills!"
Whenever I watch "ZOOLANDER" I feel like I'm taking LAUGHING pills.
BEN STILLER'S 2001 film follows the adventures of a dim-witted male model who is brainwashed to kill the prime minister of Malaysia.
The plot is secondary to the characters, who are all memorable:
Stiller plays the title role, a model who wonders if there is more to life than "being really, really, ridiculously good looking."
Will Ferrell plays the evil mastermind behind the assassination plot.
Owen Wilson plays Hansel, Zoolander's principal rival.
Christine Taylor (Sally Sitwell in my beloved "ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT") plays it straight -- somebody had to -- as a journalist unraveling the assassination scheme.
The film boasts so many funny lines it's difficult to keep track, so I don't. I just watch and laugh and laugh.
"How can we be expected to teach children to learn how to read... if they can't even fit inside the building?"
"If there is anything that this horrible tragedy can teach us, it's that a male model's life is a precious, precious commodity. Just because we have chiseled abs and stunning features, it doesn't mean that we too can't not die in a freak gasoline fight accident."

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Key to middle school track? Just keep moving

As always, the kids had it figured out.
Keep moving, and you could withstand the 30-degree wind-chill readings at yesterday's MIDDLE SCHOOL GIRLS TRACK MEET.
Sit on the grassy slope to watch, as I did for much of the competition, and you were doomed to numbed extremities and chattering teeth.
ANNIKA (second from left) participated in the LONG JUMP and the 100-METER DASH.
She enjoyed herself and we enjoyed cheering her efforts -- once we had figured out that strolling the side of the track meant blood kept circulating -- bringing welcomed warmth to body parts that were beyond chilled.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Shivering along to Supertramp

I'm having blood drawn for a story today, so I'm fasting on a cold morning, sneaking thirsty glances at the brewed coffee in the pot.
Not an ideal situation, surely, but at least I am reminiscing about my younger days while listening to some SUPERTRAMP.
I always eyed the English band with suspicion as a child -- long-haired beardies is what they seemed -- but the music always seemed to be playing somewhere in the background.
"Dreamer," "Bloody Well Right," "Give a Little Bit," "The Logical Song," "Breakfast in America," Goodbye Stranger" "Take the Long Way Home" and "It's Raining Again" were among the catchy hits -- I still have the latter on 45 somewhere around here.
So, although I am shivering on a cold morning (28 degrees outside) with no coffee, I can at least smile about the music.
Through chattering teeth, of course.

Monday, April 09, 2012

Ahoj! Who's up for a (pretend) trip to Prague?

The problem with reading "THE LONELY PLANET GUIDE TO EASTERN EUROPE" is that I tend to convince myself that I need to visit every location I read about.
That's why I have decided I want to visit PRAGUE.
I want to see the castle and the other fine buildings, sure, but I also want to sip PIVA (beer) in a tavern, watch DUKLA PRAGUE play football and gaze up at the ŽIŽKOV TELEVISION TOWER.
I realize I'll probably never actually arrive in Prague, but it's important for me to have that dream. It helps keep my curiosity nice and healthy.
The next chapter of the book is about ESTONIA, so watch this space for a short essay on my new-found love for TALLINN.

Sunday, April 08, 2012

An Easter strut with the Stray Cats

Happy EASTER everyone!
Along with Peeps and Reese's peanut- butter-and-chocolate Easter eggs, the famous BUNNY apparently implanted a song in my head -- I woke up singing along to "STRAY CAT STRUT."
I decided I would follow the lead and listen to some real STRAY CATS music while I prepared for work this morning.

The Stray Cats' story is one that always makes me smile. Rockabilly prophets without honor in their own country, the band had to relocate to Britain for any recognition. Only having captivated the Brits could the band return to the States as conquering heroes.
I tried to explain the Stray Cat phenomenon to the girls the other day. Basically, rockabilly music was thought to have been extinct by most people. It was the loosening of musical bonds wrought by punk that enabled its practitioners to emerge from the shadows.
Yeah, Stray Cats seems like a good band to enjoy today.

Saturday, April 07, 2012

Let's hear it for the "Lord of Loud"

I've been listening to some songs from the NEW WAVE OF BRITISH HEAVY METAL this weekend in honor of the late JIM MARSHALL.
"THE LORD OF LOUD," Marshall pioneered guitar amplification and his company created the iconic amps that bear his name.
Marshall was a music shop owner when he was approached by PETE TOWNSHEND of THE WHO. Townshend wanted an amp with a louder sound, and the Marshall amp was born.
Stack some Marshalls on top of one another, and you have an enduring symbol of rock.
Marshall died last week, age 88.

Friday, April 06, 2012

Big city attractions

ROUTE 1 heads to CHICAGO this weekend, leading to the FRIDAY QUESTION:
"What do you like to do when you visit the "big city?"
BRIAN C. -- Get on Lake Shore Drive and run.
SANDYE V. -- We hardly ever do anything but visit the relatives, but when there's time -- and we should make time more often --- we like to go downtown and spend some quality time at the Art Institute.
MIKE D. -- Most of my trips have involved a visit to Wrigley Field to watch the Cubs!
RICK T. -- Look at the big buildings and go, "Aaaaaaaahhhhhhhhh!
JOHN S. -- Wrigley Field!
ERIK H. -- I love going to good restaurants and bookstores.

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Remembering Sarajevo

Twenty years ago today, the first sniper shots signaled the launch of the siege of SARAJEVO.
Let us pause and think about the more than 100,000 who were killed in the conflict during the next three-plus years.

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Dread deejays' day in the sun

Combining DREADLOCK deejay chants about praising Jah and hunting barbers with BUNNY LEE'S echoing effects of dub-style production tricks produces an atmospheric, other-worldly form of REGGAE that sounds great while driving around in bright, late-afternoon sunshine.
I know, because that's what I did yesterday.
I was listening to "IF DEEJAY WAS YOUR TRADE," a compilation of tracks Lee produced in 1974-77.
"Jah is I Guiding Star" by Tappa Zukie, "Bury the Barber" by Jah Stitch and "Regular Girl" by Dillinger are among my favorite tracks on the album.
The weather has warmed, so my love affair with reggae has done the same. A memorable song such as "Gal Boy I Roy" by Prince Jazzbo helps fuel the passion.

Monday, April 02, 2012

Visiting Argentina by proxy

Not for the first time, I've been traveling vicariously this week through the adventures of my sister INGER.
She is visiting ARGENTINA and URUGUAY, snapping photographs, eating sushi and traveling on ferries.
I know that sounds like her usual activities back home in SAN FRANCISCO, but trust me, she is in BUENOS AIRES.
I have always wanted to visit B.A., because of the architecture, the pizza and the FUTBOL, mostly.
This time, I must be content with enjoying her photographs of street art, colonial-era cobblestone streets and ice-cold glasses of beer.
I'll get there someday...

Sunday, April 01, 2012

Damn that sinking kick

GREG INGLIS' kick snuck over the crossbar and the SOUTH SYDNEY RABBITOHS celebrated.
The shocking result seemed like some sort of APRIL FOOL'S DAY prank, as I lamented not being able to see my WESTS TIGERS wrap up a victory in the first televised match I've seen them play since my 2010 trip Down Under.
Souths stunned Wests, 17-16, in golden-point extra time in the NATIONAL RUGBY LEAGUE today.
I watched on TV while preparing for work today.
The Tigers led, 16-4, in the first half before a furious Souths rally, sparked by ISAAC LUKE'S two tries.
Down Under, the game was broadcast nationally on the NINE NETWORK, so legendary commentator RAY WARREN spent some time explaining some of the sport's finer points to Aussies who normally follow other football codes more closely.
I thoroughly enjoyed myself -- for about 79 of the 80 or so minutes, or until Inglis' sinking kick sank my Tigers.