Saturday, September 29, 2012

One "Barassi Line" swoop down; another to come?

Imagine if basketball was only really popular in the Eastern and Midwestern areas of the United States, and football was really only dominant in the South and West.
As strange as that seems, that's a simplified analogy to describe the sports scene in AUSTRALIA, where the imaginary BARASSI LINE divides the RUGBY LEAGUE areas of New South Wales and Queensland from the other Australian states, where love of the AUSTRALIAN FOOTBALL LEAGUE holds sway.
I thought about the unique, sporting demarcation Down Under this morning, as I watched on TV as a team from the rugby league side of the Barassi Line swooped in and won the AFL's greatest prize.
The SYDNEY SWANS defeated Melbourne's HAWTHORN HAWKS, 14.7 (91) to 11.15 (81) to win the 2012 Grand Final.
The Swans have resided in Sydney since 1982, when the South Melbourne club left a Victorian capital crowded with footy clubs.
The relocated Swans also won the title in 2005.
Ironically, another Barassi Line swoop could come tomorrow, when Sydney's CANTERBURY BULLDOGS welcome the MELBOURNE STORM to town to contest rugby league's greatest prize.
Stay tuned...

Friday, September 28, 2012

Dreams that make us go: "Wuz dat?"

Sometimes dreams are fun but sometimes dreams make you sit up in bed and say:
"Whuggufuggadugga wuz dat?!"
This week, ROUTE 1 readers consider that latter category of dreams by answering the following FRIDAY QUESTION:
"What's the last dream that made you wake up in the middle of the night?"
KERSTIN H. -- I had a dream that I was me and I was driving when it was foggy. I saw this old lady walking across the road and yet I couldn't stop so I hit her. when I got out of my car to help her I looked down and it was like 80 year old me.
KERI M. -- I had a dream that my husband and dog were being taken out of my house in the middle of the night.
STACEY B. -- War. I was running for my life. Suddenly, I was in a room with my uncle (who passed away years ago). I woke up with a competing sense of dread and calmness. At that moment, my husband laughed evilly. He sleep laughs. It's not funny.
ERIK H. -- They always seem to be "work dreams" in which something completely unexpected occurs to derail my efforts to cover a story, such as the dream in which I was interviewing a rural school official about the progress of a construction project and her speaking suddenly became an appearance on "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart."

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Why don't I watch "Out of the Past" more often?

Double-cross, triple-cross, heck, I lost count of the number of betrayals presented in JACQUES TOURNEUR'S classic film noir, "OUT OF THE PAST," but like Jeff tells Kathy in Acapulco:
"Baby, I don't care."
I watched the 1947 film on DVD last night and after it ended I asked myself the same question I ask myself every time I see it:
"Why don't I watch this film more often?"
ROBERT MITCHUM is the ultimate cool private eye, even when he is retired from the profession and owning a gas station.
KIRK DOUGLAS is fantastic as the stylishly polite gambler-villain who seethes under his smooth, outward presentation.
JANE GREER is stunning as the scheming, betraying, yet utterly charming Kathie. Heck, even I was falling for her!
I had forgotten the real pleasure of watching this film. I think I'll watch it again -- much sooner this time.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Organ jazz sounds just fine these days

Critics haven't always warmed to their sound, but I sure have been enjoying some ORGAN JAZZ records these past few warm days.
Ben Ratliff, writing in "Jazz: A Critic's Guide to the 100 Most Important Recordings," explains the working-class roots of the music driven by the HAMMOND B-3, a type of jazz he refers to as "essentially tavern stuff.":
"It is blues-based music with gospel tinges that connected strongly with audiences in small clubs in black neighborhoods around the northeast (big organ-jazz towns: Buffalo, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Newark, and -- less so -- uptown Manhattan), the Midwest, and a little bit on the West Coast. It has never lost its functionality, and it has never been expressive enough to become a black art for tourists."
Ratliff also notes the time when the organ-jazz subgenre emerged from it's relatively shadowy obscurity:
"It stayed in its own box, benefiting from outsiders' patronage only indirectly and after a long wait, when the sampling technology of international dance-floor music in the late 1980s and 1990s borrowed some of its grooves."
The music certainly has grooves enough to share, which is why I enjoy it so much on these beautiful days spent driving with the windows rolled down.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Did you hear about the ending of Monday Night Football?

Obama and Romney could be making out at the Cairo premiere of the anti-Muslim movie and this is *still* what people will be talking about today.

Monday, September 24, 2012

A little Dexter Gordon to keep me warm(ish)

It's cold (about 17 degrees below normal -- 32 degrees this morning), and I need some JAZZ to keep me warm.
There is little warmer than the tenor saxophone playing of DEXTER GORDON.

The 1963 album "OUR MAN IN PARIS" is a fine example.
Gordon famously linked the original bebop style with the more harmonically challenging styles to come in the later 1960s.

Ben Ratliff explained the importance of the album in "Jazz: A Critic's Guide to the 100 Most Important Recordings."
"Recorded with Bud Powell and Kenny Clarke -- which is to say, the man who invented bebop piano and the man who invented bebop drums -- Gordon makes what might be the last of the real-thing, nonnostalgic bebop records. It closed an era nicely."
It's also giving me a warm feeling, even if the bone-chilling environment conspires against me.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Giant celebration leaves me groggy

I'm still a little groggy from last night, an historic night in which the SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS won the EIGHTH DIVISION TITLE in my lifetime.
It's been a lifetime of cheering for the Giants for me.
My late grandmother MARGE "MIMI" SMITH taught me about baseball and her favorite team -- transplants from New York who forever battle rivals called the Dodgers.
I took up the cause as a kid, which meant cheering for the Giants through good times and (mostly) bad.
Only relatively recently have the Giants become seemingly perennial contenders.
I was able to watch last night's 8-4 clinching victory over the SAN DIEGO PADRES on television. I savored every minute of it.
Today's grogginess was worth it.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Wood fires not permitted at Kinnick... but they should be

The UNIVERSITY OF IOWA prohibits wood fires in parking lots used for tailgating, and probably would have frowned upon my actions had I lit one this morning in front of SECTION 215, ROW 29, SEAT 20 in the SOUTH END ZONE, too.
I sure could have used a wood fire, though.
I froze most of CENTRAL MICHIGAN'S shock, 32-31 win over the HAWKEYES at Kinnick Stadium today.
I didn't dress in enough layers for what is euphemistically referred to as "FOOTBALL WEATHER," but what is actually wind-chill values of 37 degrees in the shade.
Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz probably wished wood fires were allowed on the field, too. He probably should have lit some under the defenders who enabled Central Michigan to score nine points in the final 45 seconds of the game, gifting the visiting Chippewas the upset victory.
Yep... Iowa might want to consider clarifying its wood fire policy after this game.

Friday, September 21, 2012

"If your life was a movie it'd be_____"

We've been watching a lot of movies lately here at ROUTE 1 H.Q.
Comedies, mysteries, war dramas, documentaries... you name it.
Which got us thinking, what would the movies be like of our life stories? 
Readers provide some insight by answering the following FRIDAY QUESTION:
"How would you describe a film about your life?"
RICK T. -- A comedy!
KERSTIN H. -- An 80s movie that has really bad dancing and amaze-balls music.
KERI M. -- I can't think of a movie, but TV show would be "Mad About You" with Helen Huny and Paul Reiser.
SANDYE V. -- A melodramatic dark comedy/tragedy relieved by bursts of puppetry and soaring music.
BRIAN M. -- It'd be like a two-hour episode of "Curb Your Enthusiasm."
ANNIKA H. -- Crazy, weird, happy, funny.
STACEY B. -- The scene from "Shaun of the Dead" with the zombie-like workers.
ERIK H. -- Like an early Wes Anderson film without the really funny bits but leaving the fantastic music intact.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Dubuque's small role in "The Big Sleep"

It's funny how you can return to a favorite book and become surprised by little, forgotten details.
I read RAYMOND CHANDLER'S 1939 novel "THE BIG SLEEP" this week for the first time in several years, prefacing the return by reading both "KILLER IN THE RAIN," a 1935 short story that formed the basis of the indecent literature blackmail plot and "FINGER MAN," the 1936 short story that provided the basis for the Eddie Mars gambling den segment of the novel. Chandler frequently "cannibalized" his short stories for his later novels.
Having read the earlier stories provided me the opportunity to see Chandler at work, fleshing out the original plots as he folded them like ingredients into his "Big Sleep" concoction.
However, they didn't prepare me for the surprise of seeing the DUBUQUE reference in "Big Sleep."
The parents of Owen Taylor, the Sternwood's dead chauffeur, are said to be from the Key City, and Dubuque makes two appearances in print in "Big Sleep." I laughed seeing the city mentioned -- I had completely forgotten that little detail from previous readings of "Big Sleep."
I'm considering devoting most of my autumnal reading to HARD-BOILED FICTION.
I doubt if Dubuque will show up again within the pages, but I'm prepared to be surprised.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Mellow Dixie rockers mark trip

JILL travels to ATLANTA this week. It's one of my favorite places to visit. Now, she gets to experience the Georgia capital.
We're marking the occasion by listening to the ATLANTA RHYTHM SECTION.

The band that scored hits such as "So Into You" and "Imaginary Lover" began as a collection of top-ranked session musicians, and their professional sound reflects their musicality.
Atlanta Rhythm Section are the most mellow of the bands on my 13-artist, 130-song SOUTHERN ROCK playlist. They don't really fit with Black Oak Arkansas, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Molly Hatchet and the rest; but I like the diversity.
Despite their musicality, the Atlanta Rhythm Section weren't critical darlings. Robert Christgau once wrote about the band that "you can tell these guys are from Atlanta -- it says so right in the name. So why do they sound like lazy Eagles?"
Lazy Eagles or not, Atlanta Rhythm Section is providing a nice, send off for Jill's trip to Dixie.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

"Don't forget illegal zebras in bars"

Our regular car is in the shop for at least two weeks (thanks a lot, deer) so I am driving a "loaner" around town.
It reminded me of something I couldn't quite place... until I drove back from a work assignment this morning.
Indeterminate, slightly dated domestic model... absolutely no distinguishing features... no reason why anyone would ever look at it twice or even remember seeing it pass...
The only thing missing is the little portable flashing red light to stick on the roof on the way to the homicide scene.
And, because I am listening to JOHN COLTRANE while driving around today, I now feel like I am stuck in some ARTSY CRIME FILM.
Albeit, an artsy crime film set in DUBUQUE, so it would be among the *most boring* artsy crime films of *all time.*
"He waged an unending war! Against public intoxication and criminal mischief complaints!"

Monday, September 17, 2012

Music to lift me out of the doldrums

The "CANNONBALL ADDERLEY QUINTET IN CHICAGO" album provided the perfect accompaniment for driving around today.
Adderley was the wonderful alto saxophone player who spent time with Miles Davis, and his sidemen on this 1959 gem includes four more Davis regulars, bassist PAUL CHAMBERS, drummer JIMMY COBB, one of my favorite pianists, WYNTON KELLY and the one and only tenor giant JOHN COLTRANE.
The group sounds beautiful on such numbers as "Stars Fell on Alabama" and "You're a Weaver of Dreams."
Today was gloomy, dreary (sometimes) drizzly and overall a quintessential blue Monday.
That's why this music was so perfect -- it lifted me right out of the doldrums.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

NASCAR truck racing offers (sorry) "change of pace"

I know what you're thinking, because I have thought the same thing. NASCAR TRUCK RACING would be better with three additions:
1. Dogs in the back.
2. Gun racks.
3. Pulling trailers.
I decided to watch the NASCAR truck race on television last night for a (no pun intended) change of pace from my usual activities.
I'm pleased to report it was thoroughly enjoyable.
Limited fuel capacity in the modified trucks and limits on tire changes mean pit stops occasionally occur while the remainder of the field continues racing. These variables and a few others create a highly competitive format for the truck racers. There seems to be more action than when the big NASCAR stars race -- more surprises.
Last night's race ultimately belonged to RYAN BLANEY. The 18-year-old son of Sprint Cup series driver Dave Blaney managed to keep ahead of his rivals during a series of late-race restarts to win the NEWTON, IOWA event, becoming the youngest winner in what is known for sponsorship reasons as the "Camping World Truck Series."
I thoroughly enjoyed watching, even without the dogs and gun racks.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

"The Killing" continues to impress

I'll never forget the first time I saw "THE KILLING," the innovative heist film by STANLEY KUBRICK.
It blew me away.
I couldn't believe the fragmented narrative style, in which the details of the heist are revealed by a succession of different characters' perspectives (QUENTIN TARANTINO was certainly watching and learning).
I couldn't believe the extreme double-crossing in the plot of this FILM NOIR.
I couldn't believe it didn't really make money on its release, either, and had to build its fanbase with a growing, continuing cultlike following.
I first watched the film in college. My initial impressions came back to me last night, as I watched "The Killing" again on DVD.
My initial reactions to the film have only been cemented during the intervening years.
I clapped after seeing it last night, just as I did in the college theater. "The Killing" deserves its applause -- even if it's just me and a DVD player.

Friday, September 14, 2012

What can you do in autumn?

Leaves change, nights chill and pigskins fly. Why?
Because it's finally AUTUMN.
ROUTE 1 marks the dawn of a new season by posing the following FRIDAY QUESTION:
"What do you like to do in autumn that you can't do other times of the year?"
STACEY B. -- Explore pumpkin patches and apple orchards!
JIM S. -- Rake leaves. No, really, I like doing it.
ANNIKA H. -- Step on all the crunchy leaves!!!!!! And wear uggs and sweaters.
JEFF T. -- Blow leaves into the neighbor's yard! Just kidding... sort of.
RICK T. -- Enjoy the weather!
ERIK H. -- Watch an Australian rugby league match in the morning, an English soccer match later in the morning and a college football game in the afternoon.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Happy anniversary, New Gold Dream!

OK, now I feel old.
Today marks the 30th anniversary of an old friend of mine -- "NEW GOLD DREAM (81-82-83-84)," the fifth album by SIMPLE MINDS.
I feel old, because I purchased the album on vinyl when it came out, and although it sometimes seems like just yesterday, the calendar and today's milestone offers irrefutable proof that it was not.
The singles "PROMISED YOU A MIRACLE" and "GLITTERING PRIZE" preceded the album, and I loved every track.
"SOMEONE SOMEWHERE IN SUMMERTIME" kicks off the album that reached No. 3 in the UK and made an immediate and lasting impression on alternative music lovers in the United States -- like me.
Returning to tracks such as "HUNTER AND THE HUNTED," featuring a guest keyboard solo by jazz genius HERBIE HANCOCK, is like welcoming an old friend back into the fold.
I guess that's why I feel so old today. I realize just how "old" my "old friend" has become.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Hoping for Hillsborough justice

I hope the release of official government and police documents will finally pave the way for justice to be served in the wake of the HILLSBOROUGH DISASTER.
Never forget: 96 innocent people lost their lives, just for attending a FOOTBALL match.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Enjoying Toy Caldwell's jazzy guitar licks

I've been spending time refining a SOUTHERN ROCK playlist lately.
Fueled by guitars and rebellion (naturally), it provides an appropriate accompaniment for driving with the windows rolled down and the stereo cranked up.
One of the guitarists who has really caught my ear is TOY CALDWELL (1948-1993), who played for the MARSHALL TUCKER BAND.
Caldwell's solos were kept short and sweet on the singles versions of Marshall Tucker songs, but on live tracks and album cuts his fretwork really shined.
Caldwell received his early musical education from his father, a country guitarist who never used a pick.
Eschewing a pick himself, Caldwell developed a thumb-based soloing style closer in style to jazz great WES MONTGOMERY than rock contemporaries.
Guitarist and journalist Pete Prown described Caldwell's solos as "uniformly dazzling, blending fast jazzy phrases with a plethora of country-styled licks."
Caldwell's death at the age of 45 robbed us all of an outstanding talent.
I've really enjoyed listening to his efforts on my Southern rock playlist.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Pacing, biting nails... yep, the 49ers are back!

Pacing... biting nails... holding my head in my hands... followed by the release that only sweet relief can bring.
Yep. The SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS are playing again!
I grew up a Niners fan, schooled in loving the NFL team by my late dad, who had season tickets in the 1960s.
During my teens, following the team seemed like a continuing, Super Bowl-winning circus.
Joe Montana... Jerry Rice... Roger Craig...
The team boasted the league's top stars and were expected to win.
After another golden age led by Steve Young, however, the Niners fell on decidedly hard times.
They appear to be clawing their way back to greatness, however, based upon last season's evidence.
That didn't stop me worrying about yesterday's game with the GREEN BAY PACKERS.
The 49ers did hold on to win, 30-22, and I breathed a deep sigh of relief.
The season, and my emotional connection to the team, has resumed.

Saturday, September 08, 2012

"Fair dinkum, they're a rabble at the moment"

I've loved AUSTRALIAN RUGBY LEAGUE for years, an affair that intensified following a 2010 trip Down Under.
The sport celebrated the opening of its finals this weekend, with the top eight teams of the National Rugby League beginning their journeys to a potential title.
Yesterday, I listened to live radio commentary online as CANTERBURY beat MANLY, 16-10, to advance to a Grand Final qualifier.
Today, I watched on television as the MELBOURNE STORM advanced to the preliminary finals with an efficient, 24-6 victory of the SOUTH SYDNEY RABBITOHS.
The hometown Storm played conservative football, waiting for the Bunnies to make mistakes. Souths obliged, committing errors and conceding harmful penalties.
"Fair dinkum, they're a rabble at the moment," one of the television commentators said of the poorly performing Rabbitohs during the second half.
Ryan Hoffman, Billy Slater, Sisa Waqa and Mahe Fonua scored tries for the Storm.
Eddy Pettybourne scored a late, consolation try for Souths.
Later today, the BRISBANE BRONCOS were dumped from the finals, losing to state rivals the NORTH QUEENSLAND COWBOYS, 33-16, in the first elimination final.
It's a great time of the year to love rugby league.

Friday, September 07, 2012

Delicacies of the week

The peanut butter and jelly sandwich we had last night notwithstanding, this has been a great culinary week at ROUTE 1.
Readers share their own cooking highlights by answering the following FRIDAY QUESTION:
"What is the best thing you made to eat this week?"
STACEY B. -- Chocolate brownie cookie sandwiches with white chocolate ganache and strawberry preserves.
KERI M. -- Enchillada Casserole with homemade fries.
RICK T. -- BBQ pork ribs, sweet tater and corn on the cob!
JEFF T. -- Reservations!
AMY G. -- I made soup, which seems a little out of season, but it's made with roasted corn on the cob and roasted hatch peppers, so tis the season for this soup. It was so incredibly good I made twice this week.
SANDYE V. -- That's easy! I made pasties for my town's Labor Day festivities. (Every household is asked to contribute one or two for a fund-raising dinner for the fire dept.)
For the uninitiated who think I have whimsically mispelled pastries, a pasty (rhymes with nasty) is a savory meat-potatoes-and-onion pie. It originated in Cornwall, England, and was a staple among the lead miners who immigrated to southwest Wisconsin, among other places.

STEVE M. -- Pesto made with basil from the planters on our deck.
ERIK H. -- A vegetable-based pasta sauce to serve with polenta. It included two different types of Farmers Market tomatoes with garlic sauteed in red wine and olive oil. Mmm.

Thursday, September 06, 2012

Joe South's songs stand the test of time... and genre

Before you say, "who's he?," let me introduce you to some of the late songwriter's creations:
"I could promise you things like big diamond rings but you don't find roses growin' on stalks of clover, so you better think it over. Well if sweet-talkin' you could make it come true, I would give you the world right now on a silver platter. But what would it matter?"
"Hush, hush. I thought I heard her calling my name now. Hush, hush. She broke my heart but I love her just the same now."
"Oh, the games people play now. Ev'ry night and ev'ry day now. Never meaning what they say now. Never saying what they mean."
The prolific American songwriter Joe South died this week, age 72.
Don't worry if you don't recognize the name -- he wrote songs that will stand the test of time, such as the three referenced above: "(I Never Promised You a) Rose Garden," "Hush" and "Games People Play."
Not only indelible, the songs South wrote were adaptable, covered by artists as diverse as the Osmonds and Coldcut.
I've got country, new wave and reggae versions of South's songs in my collection. Surely, that alone speaks to his greatness?

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Monte Walsh and the Old West's demise

Yesterday marked my sixth and final day off work.
I spent the morning watching a film that blends humor and melancholy as it shows the end of the "Old West" era through the experiences of an aging cowboy.
"MONTE WALSH" stars LEE MARVIN as the aging titular cowboy who finds himself increasingly displaced as corporations and barbed wire fences claim the range that had been the domain of his profession.
His best friend Chet, played by the wonderful JACK PALANCE, has already found a new life. Chet married the local "hardware widow" and sets up shop with her.
Other cowboys, such as Shorty (MITCH RYAN), turn to a life of crime when cowpoke opportunities diminish.
The film's supporting cast includes such stalwarts as Michael Conrad ("The Longest Yard," "Hill Street Blues"), G.D. Spradlin ("The Godfather: Part II," "Apocalypse Now") and Jim Davis (Jock Ewing in "Dallas").
Directed by WILLIAM FRAKER, "Monte Walsh" feels particularly truthful as it portrays a seldom-seen aspect of the Old West -- its quiet but inevitable demise.

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Black Oak Arkansas adds grit to my polenta

I spent much of yesterday perfecting a vegetable-heavy Italian sauce to accompany POLENTA, the corn-grit comfort food that is a Hogstrom family specialty.
A dose of SOUTHERN ROCK helped fuel my kitchen endeavors.
I kicked off a Southern Rock playlist with CHARLIE DANIELS singing "The South's Gonna Do it Again," then followed with alternating tracks by THE ALLMAN BROTHERS BAND, MOLLY HATCHET, .38 SPECIAL, LYNYRD SKYNYRD and BLACK OAK ARKANSAS.
Led by gruff-voiced Jim "Dandy" Mangrum and named for their hometown, Black Oak Arkansas blazed a trail for Southern rockers.
"Their monetary success compelled the record industry to notice other Southern rock bands in the 1970s," writes Cecil Kirk Hutson in "The Guide to United States Popular Culture."
Hutson notes that Black Oak Arkansas:
"Helped open the way for hard Southern rock when the band appeared on Wolfman Jack's 'Midnight Special' four times, performed on 'Don Kirshner's Rock Concert,' and played at the California Jam. Other rock musicians such as Lynyrd Skynyrd, Marshall Tucker, .38 Special, and Molly Hatchet followed in Black Oak's footsteps."
Black Oak Arkansas certainly added grit to my playlist.
Ironic, then, that I listened to them while making what amounts to the Italian version of corn grits.

Sunday, September 02, 2012

Having a feeling for all of music's possibilities

I'm waking up with MEUSLI and JAZZ after staying up late last night to watch MY BELOVED OREGON DUCKS on television.
The Ducks beat visiting ARKANSAS STATE, 57-34, in what resembled a glorified exhibition gam: Oregon's top starters were finished for the night before the end of the second quarter.
This morning, I am enjoying more JOE HENDERSON (1937-2001), the tenor saxophone player who contributed greatly to some of the finest jazz albums of the 1960s.
I love the versatility of his playing.
"I would never want to play in only one bag," Henderson said in the liner notes to his 1965 album "Inner Urge." "When you do, eventually you get bored. And if you get bored, the listener will. And basically, it doesn't make sense to play all funk or all hip. Music covers a much wider range than just one approach. I like to think of myself as having a feeling for all of music's possibilities."
That's a great approach to listening, too.

Saturday, September 01, 2012

More than a "Great ape on a football field"

Twelve hours later, I am still digesting LINDSAY ANDERSON'S "THIS SPORTING LIFE," the 1963 film that explores the complicated relationship between a rugby league player and his widow landlady.
RICHARD HARRIS is magnetic as Frank Machin, the player dubbed a "GREAT APE ON A FOOTBALL FIELD" because of his capacity for powerful aggression.
Machin's emerging sensitive side complicates his life, however, as he yearns for love without realizing the organic nature of its development and growth.
Harris smolders like a Brando, Dean or De Nero whenever he's on screen.
RACHEL ROBERTS is Mrs. Hammond, Machin's landlady and love interest. She has shut herself away from the possibility of love, besieged by guilt that her husband's death could have been suicide rather than an industrial accident.
Rugby league provides the backdrop, and it's perfect -- a working class sport that thrives when players unleash powerful aggression upon themselves.
Machin thrives in this environment, but flounders in the world he wishes he could inhabit -- the sitting room, the bedroom, the restaurant or anywhere else where he could impress upon Hammond that he is more than just "a great ape on a football field."
It's a truly remarkable film, and I am still coming to terms with it, hours after my first viewing.