Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Remembering the Islanders' dynasty days

While watching last night's BOSTON BRUINS and NEW YORK ISLANDERS hockey game on television, I couldn't help but remember the dominance of the Isles during my youth.
Boston won last night's game, 4-1, despite sustained pressure by current Islanders such as John Tavares, Matt Moulson and Kyle Okposo.
The Isles really could have used Mike Bossy, Denis Potvin and Bryan Trottier -- three of the players that lifted the Long Island team to the heights of a dynasty when I was in middle and high school.
Those Islanders won STANLEY CUPS in a dominating, four-season span -- 1979-1983.
Clark Gillies, Butch Goring, Ken Morrow, John Tonelli, Bob Nystrom and the ridiculously good goaltending pair of Glenn "Chico" Resch and Billy Smith were among the other stars of those Islander glory days.
The team wears the same uniform today, but so far struggles to reach the same level of play as their spectacular forebears.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Featuring 100 percent Canajan content

I've been looking all over for this book.
I finally found "CANAJAN, EH?" by MARK M. ORKIN standing upright in a book shelf.
PEEK YOU: A plitti cull pardy in Kwee Beck.
Purchased during an early '80s trip to CANADA, the book helped me live my life as a "Closet Canadian" for years.
In it, Orkin pokes fun at Canadian culture and dialect by creating a glossary of the way the nation's Anglo residents actually speak, not the official English spoken in "Parl Meant" or on the "See Beesee."
JAMEENYA: Interrogative, usually expressive of surprise or mild disbelief. As in: "Jameenya reely sawm wither?"
Orkin also touches on Canadian history, with entries devoted to "nash null he rows" like "Lora C. Cord (Laura Secord)" and "fail yours" such as "Looie-Joe Pappy No (Louis-Joseph Papineau)" and "William Lyin Mackenzie (William Lyon Mackenzie)."
Think of SCTV's famous duo BOB AND DOUG McKENZIE and you get a sense of the Canadian stereotypes Orkin was targeting in his humorous piece of "litter choor."
STINK UP: To play hockey inadequately in a given location. As in: The Leafs stunk up the Gardens lass nite.

Monday, February 25, 2013

IKEA meatballs linked to horse meat? ABBA to the rescue!

Today's banner headlines constitute what must amount to a Nordic nightmare:
That's a blow to the country's sparkling image! What's next? Performing-enhancing drugs used by DALA HORSES?
I'm commiserating with the land of my ancestors by listening to ABBA today.
Specifically, I'm listening to a playlist that runs through the group's singles, from "Ring Ring" down to "Thank You For the Music," with added bonuses such as a Swedish version of "Waterloo" and a Spanish-language version of "Fernando."
It's great WINTER music -- I can't help but think of ice and snow drifts and sunless days when I hear it.
On a sad day for Sweden, I'm hoping this music will help.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Kars4Kids jingle ends musical duel like "nuclear option"

The girls embarked on a dangerous game yesterday afternoon.
First, KERSTIN would play a song she knew ANNIKA hated, then Annika would follow with a tune she knew drove her sister mad.
They played a succession of country songs, electronic dance pop songs and the occasional One Direction song.
I listened like one would keep eyeing a car crash scene.
What would happen next? Would anyone get hurt? How badly?
The MUSICAL DUEL ended with Annika's head in her hands, after Kerstin played what could only be considered "THE NUCLEAR OPTION."
Kerstin played the "KARS4KIDS" jingle.
If you've listened to a news radio station from one of America's big cities you've heard the commercial that features the jingle.
"One-eight-seven-seven Kars 4 Kids, K-A-R-S Kars 4 Kids, donate your car today."
I only have a vague idea of what the Kars4Kids organization does, but I unfortunately know all about the jingle.
It's an infuriatingly catchy, sing-songy jingle sung in children's voices that bores itself into your head and refuses to leave.
"Nooooo! This song haunts my dreams," Annika cried as the first notes of the jingle began to play.
We've heard the jingle many times while listening to news radio in the mornings before school and work.
While the jingle played yesterday, Annika buried her head in her hands and Kerstin had won the musical duel.
Annika told us repeatedly the remainder of the night that she hated us, and she threatened to wake me up by playing the jingle at 1 a.m.
So, you can see, the "Kars4Kids" jingle is a dangerous thing.
Only play it if you really need to end a musical duel.
Even then, you'll be sorry.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

You can't have a Canadian playlist without a little Saga

Remember SAGA?
The Oakville, Ontario band is one of 100 acts on the CANADIAN playlist I recently compiled.
It was snowing, I was craving poutine, so I looked toward our neighbors to the north for musical inspiration.
The Saga song on my playlist, "Wind Him Up," reached No. 22 in their home country and No. 64 here in the States. 
"On The Loose" was Saga's big hit over here, reaching No. 26 on Billboard's Top 100 and No. 3 on the rock chart.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Our brushes with fame

"Remember my name -- fame! I'm gonna live forever, I'm gonna learn how to fly -- High!"
Err... hi. Sorry about that. We here at ROUTE 1 were just channeling our inner Irene Cara while contemplating this week's FRIDAY QUESTION:
"What is your closest brush with fame?"
KERI M. -- Meeting Olympic gold medalist Hayley Wickenheiser.
RICK T. -- Opening for Country Music Great, Gene Watson!
JOHN S. -- I had lunch with Vice President Biden.
STEVE M. -- Front page pic in Detroit News, mid-to-late '80s. Back to camera, wearing cool Levi jacket, holding hands in chain for Hands Across America. Remember that?
JIM S. -- A friend of mine named Merry got her husband and I (the three of us) into a pre-concert meet-and-greet with the members of Hootie & the Blowfish before their 2003 concert at the Dubuque County Fairgrounds. She sweet-talked the guard at the gate! I also was on a flight with Orville Redenbacher once, but he didn't share his popcorn.
MIKE D. -- In 1988, when our band opened for Limited Warranty, a Minneapolis group that had charted a Top 100 hit a couple of years earlier with "Victory Line." (But my first brush with fame was in 1971, when I got my name in the newspaper for writing a letter to -- and getting a response from -- the astronauts of Apollo 14.)
ERIK H. -- My brush with fame could be called "Bono" and "Bono Redux." My sister and I saw U2 in San Francisco in December 1984, during the third leg of the Irish band's "Unforgettable Fire" tour. We waited with a few other fans outside the venue doors and for once the wait was not in vain. Bono himself came out to greet fans. My sister kissed him on the cheek and we both got his autograph. Then, in November 2002, I helped cover a Dubuque stop on an AIDS-awareness tour conducted by Bono and Ashley Judd. That was strictly no business, with no autographs requested.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Wodehouse lifts my spirits

My spirits needed lifting last night, so I turned to P.G. WODEHOUSE.
The English humorist (1881-1975) provided just the antidote.
I read his 1936 short story, "THE CRIME WAVE AT BLANDINGS."
Plotted like a screwball comedy, the story concerns "sister-pecked" landowner, Lord Emsworth, who is seemingly unable to stand up to the demands of his sister, Lady Constance, who seeks to impose her will on various other family members.
An alluring air gun plunges Lord Emsworth both into and out of trouble, thanks to a remarkable series of plot twists.
Apparently, the story has been adapted for television by the BBC this year. I would love to see it. Apparently, both Jennifer Saunders and David Walliams appear, as does Timothy Spall ("Harry Potter," "The Damned United").
If you're ever feeling down, may I recommend some Wodehouse? It's a perfect antidote to the blues.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Learning the "Wallflower" perks

The girls introduced Jill and me to their favorite film last night, as we watched "THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER" on DVD.
Rising actor LOGAN LERMAN (we have seen him previously in "PERCY JACKSON & THE OLYMPIANS: THE LIGHTNING THIEF") plays a shy high school freshman with undisclosed mental-health issues. Although it is difficult for him to make friends, he does meet a memorable pair of seniors.
EMMA WATSON plays Sam, an "alternative" type of girl into The Smiths and "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" and her stepbrother, EZRA MILLER as Patrick. Patrick's openly gay lifestyle is complicated by his closeted relationship with the high school football quarterback.
I can see why the girls love the film.
The primary characters are smart, flawed individuals, attempting to navigate the time-honored, dangerous waters of high school and the attendant peer pressure.
I liked it, because I like all movies where the hero of the piece is the ENGLISH TEACHER (played by PAUL RUDD).
Not only do the girls love the film, but they have both read the book -- heck, they each have their own copy of the book. KERSTIN has the book with the film-inspired cover, but ANNIKA just doesn't buy books with the film-inspired covers.
Oh dear God, they do both have a lot of their dad in them. Sorry.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Loving the Golinski Brothers. That's me and John Peel

THE GOLINSKI BROTHERS summed it up for many people who get fed up with the long, dreary days of winter:
"I'm gonna go where they've never seen snow. Send my giro to Cairo."
I'm fed up with winter myself, but I really like the Golinski Brothers. 
The BRIGHTON punks and their most "famous" song, "BLOODY" is on a 120-song PUNK playlist I've been enjoying today.
"I can't stand another day. I gotta get away. I'm not impressed, my life's in a mess. I get so depressed. Still, you gotta have a laugh -- ha ha ha ha. What am I bloody well s'posed to do? Got my bloody well self bloody stuck on you."
 The song is as catchy as any other from 1979-80, and no less an authority than the late, legendary DJ JOHN PEEL thought so, too:
"Well, this is the best record in the world for this week, from the Golinski Brothers on the LP Vaultage '79 on Attrix Records, this is called "Bloody". People have been given the OBE for less, a lot less, and I shall be very happy to have it on a loop so I could listen to it again and again and again."
I sadly don't know much more about the Golinski Brothers.
Apparently there were not one but two saxophone players in the band and guitarist Bob Golinski became a barrister.
Really, all I need to know is their great song, "Bloody."

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Not bad for a bunch of Irish punks

I spent the weekend tinkering with various PUNK playlists on iTunes -- the great, vintage stuff circa 1976-82.
Among the playlists is one devoted to THE RADIATORS FROM SPACE, the pioneering punk band from IRELAND.
Although the band definitely left its mark with songs such as "Television Screen," "Enemies," "Let's Talk About the Weather" and "Song of the Faithful Departed," the core members of the Radiators are arguably more famous for what happened after they left the band.
PETE HOLIDAI -- The guitarist became a producer of Irish artists such as Mundy and Brilliant Trees. Hot Press magazine named Holidai the Producer of the Year for 1991.
PHILIP CHEVRON -- The guitarist joined the Pogues, where the band benefited from his guitar playing and his songwriting ("Thousands Are Sailing," among others).
STEVE AVERILL -- The original vocalist became a designer who gained fame by suggesting the name "U2" to a band some of his friends had formed and then designing their iconic album covers, such as "War" and "The Joshua Tree."
Not bad for a bunch of Irish punks, eh?

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Luton v. Millwall, without the hooligans

LUTON v. MILLWALL was the FA CUP tie I most wanted to watch this weekend.
I remember only too well the events of 13 March 1985, when, as an American learning to love English football, I was introduced to the game's dark side.
I remember the news reports: Millwall supporters in Luton for an FA Cup quarterfinal ran riot during a televised match. The south London club's supporters ripped out seats at Luton's Kenilworth Road ground before smashing shop windows and trains.
The British government announced HOOLIGANISM had become a crisis, wheeling out various schemes to stem the problem -- although most fell by the wayside.
Today's match at Kenilworth Road was decidedly tame by comparison, with Millwall running out 3-0 winners.
James Henry, Rob Hulse and Dany N'Guessan scored as the Championship side denied Luton's bid to become the first non-league side in 99 years to reach the FA Cup quarter-finals.
Heavy police presence marked today's match, but there was little sign of trouble. I enjoyed watching it on TV, while recalling those darker days.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Romantic scenes we love

Yesterday was VALENTINE'S DAY, a day of candy boxes, flowers, red dresses, greeting cards and most of all romance!
We're romantics at heart here at ROUTE 1 (and not just about mid-1970s British soccer magazines), which brings us to this week's FRIDAY QUESTION:
"What is your favorite romantic scene in a movie?"
SANDYE V. -- When Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr finally get together at the end of "An Affair to Remember." It's corny but I love it.
KERSTIN H. -- When Sam and Charlie are in the bedroom right before she leaves for college in "The Perks of Being a Wallflower."
RICK T. -- The final kiss in "Ghost." When he kissed her goodbye for the last time.
ANNIKA H. -- "Harry Potter."
JIM S. -- The scene in "Ghost" where Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore -- through Whoopi Goldberg -- get one last physical embrace. It has a strange start, but it ultimately is very emotional and transcendent.
ERIK H. -- When the ambitious politician played by Brian Donlevy realizes he has fallen in love with Muriel Angelus' character, whom he had originally married only for political convenience, in Preston Sturges' "The Great McGinty."

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Scíthe ar Céadaoin an Luaithrigh

It was the type of day where a phone interview for one NEWSPAPER story occurred while I was writing another. I didn't have time to switch files, so I typed the notes into the wrong story, copying and pasting later so a heart disease story didn't contain unnecessary references to foster care.
Now is the time for relaxing.
How should I relax on this ASH WEDNESDAY evening?
I'll sip some BUSHMILL'S IRISH WHISKEY while listening to Horslips, Clannad, Moving Hearts, Sinéad Lohan and some other musical artists from ÉIRE.
After we eat TUNA AND NOODLE CASSEROLE, of course.
No beef jerky for me tonight, thanks, it's Ash Wednesday.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

It's spring somewhere... spring training, that is!

CLOUDY skies and temperatures in the 30s await us here, so it's good to know it is spring somewhere...
Pitchers and catchers report to SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS' spring training today, with the full squad joining on Friday.
Since living in the Midwest, spring training has always served as a sign that the days of snow, sleet and freezing rain are numbered (even if reality shows they can continue into late April).
This year, I am even more excited about spring training. To be honest, it's only now starting to really sink in for me that the Giants won last season's WORLD SERIES!
Even typing that sentence makes me smile, so, yeah, I'm ready for spring -- and spring training.

Monday, February 11, 2013

"And the Rodneys are queuing up, God forbid"

Oh gosh, there were long stretches of time in COLLEGE when all I would listen to was THE STRANGLERS.
I thought about that while driving home for lunch, as the band's classic 1979 single "DUCHESS" blared from the car stereo speakers.
The Stranglers were lumped in with punk, although their sound -- punctuated by Jean-Jacques Burnel's melodic bass and Dave Greenfield's prominent keyboards -- never really fit the D.I.Y. template.
I mean, seriously, what punk band features keyboard solos?
I couldn't care less about a label. I cared that The Stranglers always sounded so cool. I loved listening to their songs.
"Duchess" was no exception, and hearing it today warmed my heart in the way reserved for the music we love the best.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Waking up to the classic Cars

"You're always dancing down the street with your suede blue eyes."
I'm waking up, preparing to go to work, while sipping coffee and enjoying the string of classic songs released by THE CARS.
"Just What I Needed," "My Best Friend's Girl" and "Good Times Roll" were the first three singles out of the chute for the BOSTON band, which is remarkable when you think about it.
Each of the trio retains a unique place in music -- hear them, and the recognition is immediate and satisfying. It's hard not to listen to "Good Times Roll," for example, and not be reminded of good times.
In hindsight, The Cars' music became some of the first tunes from the "NEW WAVE" era to gain its place in the pantheon of CLASSIC ROCK.
They still sound great today, a rather drizzly, gloomy Sunday.

Saturday, February 09, 2013

I might nap and dream of rugby league

Ben Cockayne scored a hat-trick of tries as WAKEFIELD defeated HULL KINGSTON ROVERS, 36-20, in a SUPER LEAGUE match we watched on TV today.
The match was entertaining and punctuated with a pair of painful, rather frightening-looking hits.
The match livened up an otherwise drab day here, with half the house under the weather and the other half having difficulty fending off the siren's call of a long nap.
I might yet nap, dreaming of rugby league while I slumber!

Friday, February 08, 2013

Ulster could have used a mountain troll

I knew it was all over for ULSTER RUGBY today when OSPREYS sent on a bloke who looked just like Hagrid out of "Harry Potter" and the Ulstermen couldn't counter by sending on a mountain troll.
Instead, Ryan Bevington scored the game's lone try and the visitors from Swansea beat Ulster, 16-12, in a RABODIRECT PRO12 match I watched live on TV today.
The match was a defensive struggle, with Ospreys in particular holding their line effectively.
Ruan Pienaar kicked three penalties and substitute Stuart Olding added another for Ulster.
It wasn't enough.
If only the Ulstermen could have sent on the troll. Or Voldemort.

Thursday, February 07, 2013

And I'm craving IKEA meatballs, too...

It must be some SWEDISH genetic thing. It must be some DNA strange lit up like blue-and-yellow streamers.
I woke up with ABBA stuck in my head -- and I haven't actually heard any ABBA in months!
Call in the investigators!

"Oh yes, I wanna know, the name of the game -- I was an impossible case -- Does it mean anything to you? -- But I think I can see in your face -- That it means a lot. What's the name of the game?"
I have only one question, really...
Do FINNS wake up with TURMION KÄTILÖT stuck in their heads?

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Remembering Cecil Womack

Lost in the flood of news this week has been the death of CECIL WOMACK.
One of the illustrious Womack brothers (including Bobby), Cecil gained fame in the 1980s as WOMACK & WOMACK, performing with his wife Linda (the daughter of soul legend SAM COOKE -- an early mentor for the Womack brothers).
I only have one Womack & Womack song on iTunes, but it's a good one.
"LOVE WARS" reached No. 14 in the U.K. singles chart in 1984 and it's a great example of a rhythm-and-blues duet -- infused with plenty of soul.
Cecil Womack was 65.

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Irish playlist: Guaranteed no horse DNA

It's that time of the year.
I've been tinkering with my 100-song IRISH playlist.
I like to have a lengthy, all-island (Republic and Ulster) playlist suitable for LÁ FHÉILE PÁDRAIG (ST. PATRICK'S DAY).

This playlist blends rock (U2, Thin Lizzy, Future Kings of Spain), pop (Westlife, B*Witched, The Corrs) with Celtic (The Chieftains, Planxty, The Dubliners) and even punk/alternative (Stiff Little Finger, Virgin Prunes, Fight Like Apes).
I've tried to make room for the IRISH DIASPORA, too, including New York band Black 47 and a wonderful song, "THOUSANDS ARE SAILING" by London's THE POGUES.
Now, I just have to get these 100 songs in the right order.
That might take until mid-March!

Monday, February 04, 2013

49ers come up short

Well, try it again next season.

Saturday, February 02, 2013

Difficult to imagine rock 'on the bones'

One of the striking episodes of Soviet life related by DAVID REMNICK in his book, "LENIN'S TOMB: THE LAST DAYS OF THE SOVIET EMPIRE," involves the furtive ways Russians were introduced to Western ROCK 'N' ROLL.
It was a challenge in the days when records were unavailable behind the IRON CURTAIN and audio cassettes were difficult to obtain.

Underground rock fan Kolya Vasyn explained to Remnick his introduction to the sounds of rock's pioneers:
"We had friends who worked in medical clinics and they would steal used X-rays. Someone would have a primitive record-making machine and you would copy the music by cutting the grooves in the material of the X-rays. So you'd be listening to a Fats Domino tune that was coming right off of the X-rays of someone's long-forgotten broken hip. They called that 'on the bones.'"
It's difficult to imagine -- in this digital age of iPods and endless playlists (and freedoms in Russia) -- the lengths to which some people had to go just to hear music.

Friday, February 01, 2013

Our favorite sports memories!

You might have heard there's a "big game" this weekend.
It's true!

That's why ROUTE 1 readers are answering the following FRIDAY QUESTION this week:
"What's your favorite sports memory?"
RICK T. -- Going to Chicago to watch my first baseball game. It was at the old Comiskey Park and Carlton Fisk was catching and a young Frank Thomas and Ozzie Guillen was playing.
KERSTIN H. -- Saturday "football" with the family and pets. My favorite part of most weekends, especially when it's Manchester United winning and Chelsea losing!
JOHN S. -- Seeing UNI beat overall No. 1 seed Kansas State to advance to the Sweet Sixteen!
SANDYE V. -- At first I thought: I've got nothing. But then I remembered when the Benton (where I live) boys basketball team won the state championship for the first time ever in 2009. That was pretty special. There were 4,000 spectators on the Zephyr side at the Kohl Center in Madison. Pretty good for a town of 1,000!
JEFF T. -- It was "the hit." (Ole Miss upset the 13th-ranked Arkansas Razorbacks 21-17 before a sellout crowd of 54,890 at War Memorial Stadium). I was in the crowd when Chris Mitchell made an epic hit on the 1-yard-line to knock the Arkansas back (Ron Dickerson Jr I think) out of bounds and keep him out of the end zone as the clock ticked off.  The Razorbacks were stunned and never recovered that season (1990), losing almost every game in their last season in the Southwest Conference.
STEVE M. -- Dad taking me to my first Dodger game. Drysdale beat the Mets at Dodger stadium.
INGER H. -- Without question, watching the SF Giants win the World Series at 3 a.m. in a bar in London with a few dozen other San Franciscans. I'll never forget it!
JIM S. -- Since sports has been a major part of my life, I have three:
Watching: (tie) As a sports reporter, covering Iowa basketball in Seattle at 1987 Sweet 16 tournament and covering Wisconsin at the 1993 Rose Bowl in Pasadena.
Coaching: Leading the Kieler boys basketball team to four wins in the end-of-season tournament, beating powerful Cuba City in the title game (late 1980s).
Playing: Scoring 10 points in my final alumni basketball tournament game at age 53 against a team of 30-year-olds.
ERIK H. -- The first San Francisco Giants' World Series victory in 2010 was an emotional moment for me. I couldn't help thinking about two people in my life who had taught me about baseball and to be a lifelong Giants fan -- my late grandmother, Marge Smith, and my late dad, George Hogstrom. I knew they were celebrating somewhere -- dancing around in black and orange just like me.