Thursday, August 30, 2012

Jazzy start to my vacation

I'm enjoying a JAZZY start to my SIX-DAY VACATION, listening to a playlist devoted to the tenor saxophone player JOE HENDERSON (1937-2001).
I've got a quartet of Henderson's albums as a leader -- "PAGE ONE," "OUR THING," "IN 'N OUT" and "MODE FOR JOE" -- that I have combined on the playlist with albums by Kenny Dorham, Grant Green, Lee Morgan, Andrew Hill, Horace Silver and Larry Young on which the Ohio native provided excellent support.
Henderson's versatility made him a sought-after sideman.
Hill said in the liner notes for the pianist's "Point of Departure" album that:
"Joe Henderson is going to be one of the greatest tenors our there. You see, he not only has the imagination to make it in the avant-garde camp, but he has so much emotion too. And that's what music is - emotion, feeling. Joe doesn't get into that trap of being so technical that emotions don't come through."
That's why I love listening to Henderson, too. The emotion sweeps me away.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Riding the Lewton Bus to "Cat People"

It's an iconic scene in film history.
Something sinister seems to be pursuing Jane Randolph's Alice Moore down a lonely stretch of road in "CAT PEOPLE," the 1942 horror film produced by VAL LEWTON, directed by JACQUES TOURNEUR and edited by MARK ROBSON -- a trio of pioneering, frequent collaborators.
Looking over her shoulder in terror at the unseen danger, Randolph instead recoils at the hissing air brake of a bus coming down the opposite side of the road.
It's a device now called the "LEWTON BUS," and it would become a common convention of the horror filmmaker.
Rob White quotes Robson in the book, "British Film Institute Film Classics: The Best of International Cinema 1916-1981:"
"In each of these films we had what we called the 'bus,' an editing device I had invented by accident, or possibly by design, on 'Cat People,' that was calculated to terrify people and make them jump out of their seats."
The Lewton Bus is just one of the joys of "Cat People," a film I watched tonight to kick off a brief vacation.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Cole Porter soothes the library shamed dreamer

I woke up from a NIGHTMARE about the PUBLIC LIBRARY early this morning.
Yes, that's right. I dreamt we had so many overdue items the library staff attached little flags to a notice. On the flags were the names of all of the boys and girls who were disappointed by the unavailability of our overdue items.
How does one overcome such SUBCONCIOUS LIBRARY SHAMING?
I thought I'd try by listening to some COLE PORTER this morning.
As luck would The girls are awakening to the musical and lyrical brilliance of the songwriter, and you can hear snatches of "Anything Goes," "I Get a Kick Out of You" and "Let's Do It (Let's Fall in Love)" from various locations in the house.
ELLA FITZGERALD is currently singing "I'm Always True to You in My Fashion," a song I would love to sing for the library right now. Maybe then they would quit haunting my dreams.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Not so fast, Bruins. Stunning Oregon doesn't ring true

Bruins stun Oregon 21-20
%reldate(2012-08-27T20:36:14 Eds: APNewsNow. UCLA 21, Oregon 20.
PASADENA, Calif. (AP) — Bob Jones threw three touchdown passes, including the game-winner with 10 seconds left, as UCLA stunned Oregon 21-20 on Saturday night.

You really can't believe everything you read online -- except for ROUTE 1 of course, where we deliver bite-sized and easily digestible portions of the GOSPEL TRUTH every day.
There was a humorous example of a widely repeated fallacy for the DIGITAL AGE this afternoon, when the ASSOCIATED PRESS released the above news item.
Here are three problems with this news item:
1. Today is Monday, not Saturday.
2. Football season doesn't actually begin until this weekend.
3. MY BELOVED OREGON DUCKS and UCLA don't even play this season.
Apparently some sort of test, this item instead hit the wires and was repeated as the truth on hundreds of NEWSPAPER AND TELEVISION STATION WEBSITES across the country -- newspaper and television websites that rely upon automation to populate their pages with news updates.
We don't have that problem at the newspaper where I work.
Nope, we populate our website the old-fashioned way... by hand.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

"Mode for Joe" provides musical beauty, intelligence

I arrived home from work, ate dinner with the family, then dialed the 1966 JOE HENDERSON album "MODE FOR JOE" on my iPod and left the music carry me off.
It's one of those classic jazz albums with a twist.
Henderson employs six other musicians to make the lineup a SEPTET, with trumpeter Lee Morgan, trombonist Curtis Fuller, vibraphonist Bobby Hutcherson, pianist Cedar Walton, bassist Ron Carter and drummer Joe Chambers.
The inclusion of trombone and vibraphone, in particular, lends this album a full sound with unique musical ingredients.
The album's beauty and complexity prompted Leonard Feather to pen in the liner notes:
"As the six tracks on these sides fluently indicate, (Henderson) is well on his way to becoming one of the major new jazz figures of the late 1960s."
I like it because it is an album I can "sink my teeth into," meaning, there is so much musical invention occurring, I am always delighted and surprised when I listen.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

The welcome return of The Darkness

THE DARKNESS is back, and I'm glad.
Putting aside the drug-addled differences that had splintered them, the British band returned this month with an album called "HOT CAKES."
I purchased it yesterday and I am loving it. The album reestablishes The Darkness as purveyors of classic rock served with a healthy portions of knowing humor.
The first verse of the first track, "Every Inch of You," sets out the band's stall, as JUSTIN HAWKINS sings:
"Oh baby, I was a loser -- several years on the dole. An Englishman with a very high voice doing rock and roll."
The Darkness "reintroduced preposterousness to mainstream guitar music," according to Kitty Empire in The Guardian.
However, the band members seemed almost obligated to live the rock excesses they exalted on albums "PERMISSION TO LAND" and "ONE WAY TICKET TO HELL... AND BACK."
It was little wonder the journey came to an end in rehab and acrimony.
That's why I'm so pleased with the current -- and hopefully permanent -- reunion. The Darkness sound like they're having fun again, and that means rock lovers have fun, too.
"I wanted to be a doctor. I wanted to be a vet. Until I heard 'Communication Breakdown' on a TDK 90 cassette."

Friday, August 24, 2012

First day of school memories revisited

SCHOOL resumed this week after the summer break.
ROUTE 1 readers celebrated the occasion by answering the following FRIDAY QUESTION:
"What do you remember about the first day of school when you were a kid?"
ANNIKA H. -- Getting my picture taken.
MIKE D. -- Riding a bus for the first time! Kindergarten was the only year that I did. I always wanted to sit in the seat where the raised wheel well was located. My cousin, who got on the bus with me, always followed my lead but wanted to sit in the front row. The one day that I was absent with a sore neck, he got his wish.
RICK T. -- Wearing nice clothes.
JOHN S. -- I remember the smells of new school supplies.
JIM S. -- The anticipation and excitement. The smell of a new school shirt and the snug feel of new Hush Puppies. The laughter outside before the school doors opened. And, finally, seeing what the new teacher looked like and discovering which friends were in your class. (I loved school, if you can't tell.)
SANDYE V. -- They were stringing colorful wooden beads and I thought oh boy and I sat down and started stringing. I never waved good-bye to my mother who reminded me of it for the rest of her life!
ERIK H. -- My sister and I were always dressed well. Better than the rest of the school year in my case!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Musical mystery No. 416: Led Zeppelin's telephone

"Hello? Yes, this is Led Zeppelin. Who? Yes, but he can't come to the phone right now -- we're playing Knebworth at the moment."
Seriously. Why is there a telephone on John Paul Jones' keyboard?
"Jonesy, order us a takeaway curry. That's a good lad."

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

5 signs school has resumed

Five signs that SCHOOL resumed today after summer vacation:
1. Bathroom deadlines.
2. Agitated RORY THE DOG.
4. Who drank all the coffee?
5. A sudden silence after the girls have left for school.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Turned back on to Britpop's origins

No offense meant to Damon and the lads, but whenever I listen to BLUR for an extended period of time, I always follow up by listening to THE KINKS.
Blur's Britpop "Englishness" and even hints of music hall style suggest a debt to the Kinks that Damon Albarn readily admitted.
With cricket on the radio and cooler temperatures marking our late summer, these days seem perfectly suited to renew my own loving acquaintance with The Kinks.
I'm listening to a playlist of their wonderful 45s today -- inspired by a bit of Blur to return to the origins of Britpop.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Resnais' revolutionary approach to flashbacks

One of my highlights of the weekend was watching ALAIN RESNAIS' revolutionary 1959 film, "HIROSHIMA MON AMOUR."
Resnais famously uses fragmentary flashbacks to inject memory (and perhaps, fantasy) into the extended conversation of lovers in the atomic bomb-scarred city.
Kristin Thompson and David Bordwell, writing in "Film History: An Introduction," explain the effects of Resnais' experimental approach to time and memory in the film:
"Often, the viewer does not know if the soundtrack carries real conversations, imaginary dialogues, or commentary spoken by characters. The film leaps from current story action to documentary footage,usually of Hiroshima, or to shots of the actress' youth in France. While audiences had seen flashback constructions throughout the 1940s and 1950s, Resnais made such temporal switches sudden and fragmentary. In many cases, they remain ambiguously poised between memory and fantasy."
It's a beautifully shot film, too. I recommend it.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Cats, cider and the beautiful game

It's a tradition during the ENGLISH FOOTBALL season, which began in earnest today.
I listen to some British radio online, hearing the pundits size up the day's matches.
Then, as kickoff approaches, I grab a handful of well-read soccer books and spread out on the floor in front of the television -- ready for the action.
The books aren't really for reading. Rather, they provide a small platform for our cat LORELEI to pounce upon -- trying her hardest to obscure my view of the match.
By halftime, if I am lucky, two things occur.
1. Lorelei decides she's too tired to continue pestering me and begins a lengthy nap on the couch.
2. I grab an ice cold CIDER.
I know, I know... because of the time difference it's actually morning on this side of the pond.
I'm spiritually over *there,* though, so it really is a decent-enough time for a pint, innit?
Today we watched as my boyhood club WEST BROMWICH ALBION defeated LIVERPOOL, 3-0.
I love soccer. And the cider tasted great.

Friday, August 17, 2012

What did you hear while exercising?

Music helps get us up and going.
ROUTE 1 readers show us how this week by answering the following FRIDAY QUESTION:
"What did you hear while exercising this week?"
ANNIKA H. -- Born this way! (Dance)
SANDYE V. -- Birds chirping, traffic and the wind going through my helmet.
KERI M. -- It is very important to keep your focus while in these poses. (@ Hot Yoga)
RICK T. -- My bones cracking.
JIM S. -- My iPod, on shuffle. I'd list them one-by-one, but suffice it to say it was an eclectic group of songs.
ERIK H. -- Inspired by some Blaxploitation films, I've been listening to some 1970s R&B.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Music lifts Dolemite from the depths

The 1975 BLAXPLOITATION flick "DOLEMITE" perhaps rightly earned its bad film reputation, with wooden acting, cheap sets bordering on "bare rooms," ludicrous fighting and lovemaking scenes and visible appearances by the boom mic, to name a few of its faults.
The RUDY RAY MOORE vehicle also boasts a homemade charm, however, that causes film nuts like myself to lovingly adorn "Dolemite" with the "so-bad-it's-great" tag.
I watched it again last night and decided there was one aspect of the film that seems peerless.
The music is wonderful -- a mid-70s representation of Moore's proto-rap and the greasy funk and soulful ballads of performers such as SACRAMENTO native MARY LOVE.
Added to the outrageous clothing and language, the music helps make "Dolemite" a wonderful slice of escapism, and not just a film with many faults.
The music is a delight and a

Monday, August 13, 2012

Really? This is the best you can do: "TheWho after AnimalPractice :)"

Delighted with the over-the-top spectacle on television, we were soon left outraged in our household last night.
NBC excised RAY DAVIES, ELBOW and MUSE from its coverage of the CLOSING CEREMONIES of the LONDON OLYMPICS, then told viewers to wait an hour -- following the broadcast of a show the network promoted called "Animal Practice" -- before showing the finale of the ceremonies, featuring THE WHO.
The problem with this tact is that the ceremony had actually occurred hours earlier, and many viewers knew what to expect because of Internet and social media coverage that preceded NBC's broadcast.
Disappointment reigned, at our house and beyond.
The reaction on social media such as TWITTER was immediate and angry.
"I have never Twitter more united than at the reactions to having to sit through Animal Practice just to see The Who," wrote one woman.
"Viewers outraged after NBC cuts away from closing ceremonies," read the headline.
Much of the criticism sounded a similar theme: Since the broadcast was tape-delayed, why didn't the network simply time its coverage in accordance with the ceremony?
Television continues to operate as if it continues to hold a monopoly on immediacy in media. How long until TV executives realize the digital age has already won that battle?

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Johnny Rodriguez, another post-prison country crooner

Besides the music he made, I think I like JOHNNY RODRIGUEZ for one of the classic COUNTRY MUSIC stories he represents:
The unknown who becomes a star after her emerges from prison (see also: "Lefty Frizzell," "Merle Haggard," etc.).
Texan Rodriguez was serving a jail term when music promoters discovered his talents.
By the early 1970s, he had No. 1 hits such as "You Always Come Back (To Hurting Me)" and "Ridin' My Thumb to Mexico."
Rodriguez also released one of the best covers of "Desperado," in 1977.
I've been enjoying listening to Rodriguez the past couple days. I like his classic discovery tale, too.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

¡Viva México! Golden in soccer!

The LONDON OLYMPICS are ending with a bang, as MEXICO stunned BRAZIL, 2-1, to deservedly win the gold medal in men's soccer.
Santos Laguna's Oribe Peralta scored after only 28 seconds and again in the 75th minute to lead Mexico to their first soccer gold.
Hulk scored a stoppage-time consolation for the Brazilians.
Kerstin and I watched the match at home, cheering for Mexico to pull off the upset.
It was a fantastic performance and an absorbing match.
It definitely put me into the mood for the English season's start.

Friday, August 10, 2012

All creatures great & small -- well, the ones in zoos

Here at ROUTE 1, we appreciate all animals, except when they are trying to snag my reading glasses off my face while I am deeply involved in the book I'm reading and "Mika! Get down from the table you know you're not supposed to be up there" and -- aw man, that d***ed dog pooped right in front of the door again.
We especially appreciate them in zoos, which leads us to this week's FRIDAY QUESTION:
"What is your favorite animal at the zoo, and why?"
INGER H. -- This guy (link). Why?! How could you even ask?!
KERI M. -- Giraffes. I love then. Of course, they aren't at OUR Zoo, because I live in Saskatchewan.
RICK T. -- Penguins, cause they're always dressed up to see you! lol
BRIAN M. -- The giraffe. The giraffe is tall, spotted and unique. There is nothing like the giraffe, yes?
ANNIKA H. -- Monkey!
STEVE M. -- The lion, because they are natural born killers.
SANDYE V. -- The giraffes. When I was little and had a sore throat, my mom would say, "Be glad you're not a giraffe." I would imagine the giraffes at the Brookfield Zoo (a short bus ride away) with a lot of Vicks Vaporub and very long scarves wrapped around their necks.
KERSTIN H. -- The panda bear because they are cute and I've always loved them.
ERIK H. -- I've always been partial to the big cats.

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Olympic joy for Montenegro

I spent part of my day off watching the LONDON OLYMPICS on television, capping my viewing with a stirring victory by newcomers to the Games.
MONTENEGRO beat SPAIN, 27-26, to advance to the WOMEN'S HANDBALL gold-medal final against reigning world champions Norway.
A former portion of Yugoslavia, Montenegro have only been an Olympic nation since 2007.
Now, the Balkan nation is assured of its first medal.
The thrill of today's match, and the emotion of the Montenegrins, provided evidence of why we cherish the Olympics.

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

We don't take our trips on LSD. We take them with a bunch of bats swarming around us

I just had to momentarily halt my morning walk so a dozen tardy BATS could swarm around me toward their daytime homes.
Really, bats?
It was jarring, and it reminded me of another jarring sensation this week.
I was watching OLIVER STONE'S 1986 Vietnam War film "PLATOON" when the scene shifted from the soldiers' drug hangout to Kevin Dillon's Bunny character, who is blaring the MERLE HAGGARD song "OKIE FROM MUSKOGEE" from a stereo.
Really, Oliver Stone?
It was jarring because "Okie" was released in September 1969, more than a year *after* the scene with Bunny was supposed to take place.
I know it's only a movie, but the rest of the film seems to keep such anachronisms and gaffes to a discrete minimum.
That's why "Okie" seems so jarring.
Oh yeah, and I'm leaving a little later for my morning walk tomorrow. I want to give the dawn more opportunity to shoo those bats back home.

Monday, August 06, 2012

Marion Worth deserves more than a musical footnote

You can't find much online information about MARION WORTH, which is a shame.
She's the type of musician whose legacy threatens to become lost to the passage of time, despite the vast repository of information kept on servers around the world.
Sure, she has a WIKIPEDIA and other pages devoted to her biography.
The information sure seems scant, though, when I consider the beauty of her 1960 No. 7 country hit, "I THINK I KNOW."
"It seems that you don't love me, It seems that your arms have grown cold," Worth sings on the track, a classic country tale of lost love. "I've got to know, do you want me? Or have you found a new love to hold?"
Worth's 1999 obit referred to her as a "sultry ballad singer on the Grand Ole Opry for 17 years," but more impressively, as "one of the first country music performers to appear at Carnegie Hall."
I read her obit this evening after a long, tiring day at work, as I reveled in the beauty of "I Think I Know."
"I believe deep down you will hurt me, while with all my heart I pray 'No.'  Darling, will you stay, or will you leave?"
Worth proved to be a pioneer. Alongside Loretta Lynn and the recently deceased Kitty Wells, Worth proved a woman could perform beyond the role of background singer on a country music song.
Her living legacy earned her the nickname "Lady," but a search online yields only the basics of a life of song.
That's just unfair.
"Don't say it, don't tell me, I think I know."

Sunday, August 05, 2012

The link between At The Drive-In and my beloved jazz

Somebody hearing the tunes blaring out of my car stereo might be shocked.
The two might sound dissimilar initially, but the JAZZ I had been enjoying for days is actually close to the post-hardcore jams of AT THE DRIVE-IN that have dominated my personal soundtrack yesterday and today -- at least in musical approach.
"At The Drive-In developed an original sound by mixing the hardcore sounds of Fugazi and Bad Brains with progressive rock and a dash of pop," wrote music critic Eric Segalstad.
This mixing and blurring of sounds by band members Cedric Bixler-Zavala, Omar Rodriguez-Lopez, Jim Ward, Paul Hinojos and Tony Hajjar is what draws me to At The Drive-In, and it's what links them with the creativity of jazz that I so admire.

Saturday, August 04, 2012

Obsessed with a "perfect" film

I've been a little obsessed with "STAGECOACH" lately.
JOHN FORD'S 1939 is rightly beheld as one of the greatest of film classics.
During the past few days, I've watched the film, watched it with the insightful audio commentary of film historian JIM KITSES and I've watched documentaries devoted to the masterpiece.
In breaking numerous film conventions, both visually (with ceiling shots and other innovations) and in characterization (with leading characters who prove to be the opposite of the supposed traits of their life's station) "Stagecoach" continues to demonstrate how to revolutionize both a genre and an entire medium.
"John Ford was my teacher," Orson Welles said. "My own style has nothing to do with his, but 'Stagecoach' was my movie textbook. I ran it over 40 times. I wanted to learn how to make movies, and that’s such a classically perfect one."
French critic André Bazin said:
"John Ford struck the ideal balance among social myth, historical reconstruction, psychological truth and the traditional theme of the Western mise en scène. None of these elements dominated any other. 'Stagecoach' is like a wheel, so perfectly made that it remains in equilibrium on its axis in any position."
I think that helps explain my obsession with "Stagecoach." It's so perfectly realized, I enjoy it from every conceivable angle.

Friday, August 03, 2012

Readers' favorite Olympic events

Every four years the world gathers to celebrate sports,and every once in a while ROUTE 1 remembers to deliver a truly topical FRIDAY QUESTION.
Today is one of those times.
"What is your favorite event at the Olympics?"
BEKAH S. -- Gymnastics --- it is a love affair that started at a very young age.
MIKE D. -- With our three sons on our local swim team, our favorite Olympic event is now swimming. My 7-year-old can't bear to watch the close races!
JIM S. -- Track & field, most specifically, the 1,600 meter run, 100 meter dash, high jump, pole vault and decathlon (but just about any of the other ones, as well). Boxing - they cram a lot of action into three rounds - and wrestling are up there, as well. (I can live without gymnastics.)
BRIAN M. -- In summer, I'm mostly interested in track and field, but now, I think I'm more interested in the soccer tournaments, more so even than the basketball tournaments. In winter, hands down, it's the men's hockey tournament, but I love watching the bobsled and luge.
ANNIKA H. -- Trampoline.
SANDYE V. -- It's hard to pick but probably the diving. The synchronized diving looked so amazing, I don't know how they can find fault with any of it! Give them all gold medals!
Wait. My favorite event was the awesome opening ceremony.
ERIK H. -- I've been loving the team handball this year. It's like water polo without the water, a strange brew of elements of basketball, hockey, indoor soccer and Scandinavian superiority.

Thursday, August 02, 2012

A vintage Western taste

I went way back to 1917 to quench my thirst for a WESTERN film last night.
I watched "BUCKING BROADWAY," a JOHN FORD silent, on DVD.
HARRY CAREY plays Cheyenne Harry, a Wyoming ranch hand who travels to New York to win back his love interest, Helen, played by MOLLY MALONE.
The 53-minute film offers an interesting view of the Western genre, before it really emerged with talking movies. The ranch scenes seem far more realistic, for example, than subsequent works, and the cowboys seem less like actors and more like actual working ranch hands.
Carey is an expressive actor, with a ruggedness that was perfect for the genre.

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

A quick-paced intro to a classic's sedated version

CHEAP TRICK'S "IN COLOR" kept my pace quick during this morning's walk.
It's funny, though, to hear the difference between the album version of "I WANT YOU TO WANT ME" and the live version that supplanted it as a rock classic. The album version is, well, a little sedate...
"The 'In Color' version lacked anything resembling balls," wrote John M. Borack in "Shake Some Action: The Ultimate Power Pop Guide."
Borack accuses the song as being "slightly twee" but notes this lack of "oompf!" was remedied on the live version from Japan's Budokan concerts, where the frenzied crowd acts as an additional band member, fueling the song with unbridled adoration.
Add the classics "Southern Girls," "Hello There" and "Come on, Come on," and "In Color" is an ultimate accompaniment for a quick-paced, early morning walk.