Saturday, November 30, 2013

Some of my musical heroes -- The Rezillos

THE REZILLOS have always been musical heroes for me.
The Scottish band proved that art students could create a band that avoided the ponderous and just had fun with rock.
Alan Forbes and Sheilagh Hynd rightly knew that an arty and alternative rock band should be bigger than life, so they took the stage names Eugene Reynolds and Fay Fife and never looked back.
They were aided by Jo Callis, the guitarist who would prove to be among the best songwriters of the New Wave era ("Don't You Want Me" comes to mind).
The Scotsman once wrote:
"Having formed at Edinburgh College of Art, the band’s colourful comic-book image swiftly produced luridly catchy songs to match."
The results included "Top of the Pops," "Destination Venus," "Flying Saucer Attack" and other punky pop gems.
I'm celebrating the Rezillos' quirky legacy this morning, with the volume cranked up!

Friday, November 29, 2013

Thanks for the grey hairs, 117th Civil War game

I have a few more grey hairs after tonight.
Marcus Mariota threw three touchdown passes to Josh Huff -- including the final scoring toss with 29 seconds remaining -- as MY BELOVED OREGON DUCKS outlasted their dreaded rivals, the DANGED OL' BEAVERS, 36-35, in the 117th CIVIL WAR game between the schools.
Once flying high in national title contention, the Ducks have spectacularly sputtered this month, not only losing to Stanford and Arizona, but looking almost completely over-matched in the defeats.
As a lifelong fan of UO, it's been a nightmarish endurance, rather than a final month of a college football season.
Oregon State seriously threatened to make the nightmare complete in Eugene tonight.
The Beavs scored a touchdown with only 1:38 left for a 35-30 lead. I was feeling woozy, watching it unfold on TV.
When Huff scored his third and final touchdown of the night, my exclamations were actually more from relief than the flush of victory.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

At least my hectic work day doesn't include travel chaos

Today is always one of the most hectic WORK DAYS of the year.
Tomorrow is THANKSGIVING, so many last-minute tasks await completion and deadlines are earlier. Conditions combine for a stressful darkness before the holiday's dawn.
It could be worse, though.
I'm listening to the PHILADELPHIA'S KYW NEWSRADIO 1060 and coverage of emerging traffic chaos.
A powerful storm has triggered flooding and contributed to an accident on the busy Schuylkill Expressway that killed one person and injured seven others.
Philly's travel problems are merely examples of region-wide traffic headaches on the eve of the holiday.
Their stress must be much greater than mine.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Relaxing with a Rider win

I relaxed after work last night by listening to the 101st GREY CUP FINAL on the radio.
Kory Sheets rushed for a final-record 197 yards and a pair of touchdowns as the host SASKATCHEWAN ROUGHRIDERS beat the HAMILTON TIGER-CATS, 45-23, to win their fourth title.
I cheered for the Riders, and caught myself surprised at the differences between the games on either side of the border.
Last night's game included "two-and-outs" and "kill shots" to the end zone, as well as teams beginning drives on their own 50 yard lines.
The weather was conducive to listening to Canadian football, too. Dubuque has been chilled by temperatures 20-degrees below normal recently.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

A great match to end a vacation

I marked my final day off of a lengthy VACATION period yesterday by enjoying a riveting MERSEYSIDE DERBY on TV.
Daniel Sturridge scored a late equaliser as visiting LIVERPOOL secured a 3-3 draw at EVERTON.
Romelu Lukaku scored twice for the hosts, who twice came from a goal behind to take a short-lived lead.
Luis Suarez contributed a brilliant free kick for the Reds as part of the highest-scoring, top-flight Merseyside derby since 1935.
It was a great advert for the sport.

Friday, November 22, 2013

I fell in love with an Irish TV show

I never expected my SAN FRANCISCO trip would trigger a love affair with an IRISH television show.
Then, my sister introduced me to the RTÉ drama, "LOVE/HATE."
The Irish Film & Television Award-winning drama follows the exploits of Dublin gang members, including mates Darren Treacy (played by Robert Sheehan), Tommy Daly (Killian Scott) and the charismatic Nidge Delaney (Tom Vaughan-Lawlor).
Nidge steals his scenes, particularly when his narcissism prompts him to film himself highlighting the virtues of his favorite weapon:
“The Glock 17. Preferred weapon of choice of the NYPD, US Air Force & bad fookers the world over.”
My sister introduced me to the drama in the third series.
Upon returning home, I logged onto NETFLIX to watch the four episodes that make up the whole of the first series, which originally aired in October 2010.
The cast is amazing, including Aidan Gillen as the steely gang leader, John Boy Power, and Brian Gleeson as his drug-addled, violent brother, Hughie.
I highly recommend this show, which is readily available on the aforementioned Netflix.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Heading back to my revival place

I head back to the place I consider "home" tomorrow.
I fly to SAN FRANCISCO to visit my sister, explore some freelance writing opportunities and recharge my batteries.
The latter activity comes naturally when I am back in CALIFORNIA.
Somehow, a combination of the West Coast sunshine, family and friends, and memories of my youth help revive me.
Everybody benefits.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Hockey Night in Canada after debate day in Iowa

KERSTIN and ANNIKA competed in five rounds of LINCOLN-DOUGLAS DEBATE and I judged five rounds during an exhausting Saturday.
All we wanted to do was vegetate when we arrived back home.
It was time for a slice of Canadian life.
I switched on the NHL NETWORK, which was simulcasting the CBC'S HOCKEY NIGHT IN CANADA broadcast.
I sat back with a cold MOLSON CANADIAN beer and watched pregame coverage followed by BOSTON'S 3-1 victory over TORONTO.
Patrice Bergeron scored twice and Tuukka Rask made 33 saves for the Bruins.
It was a great way to relax after a mentally taxing day.

Friday, November 08, 2013

Thanks a lot, Stanford. Now I have to listen to ska to feel better

SKA has always been my comfort music.
I can play it and feel better, almost instantly. Good thing, too, because I need it today.
I'm listening to the compilation, "ISLAND RECORDS PRESENTS SKA," today after a disappointing sports night.
MY BELOVED OREGON DUCKS had their title aspirations derailed once again by the bigger and stronger STANFORD CARDINAL, 26-20, in college football action last night.
A championship team must always have the tools to beat its toughest challenger, but the Ducks have lacked those particular tools the past two seasons.
They simply can't beat Stanford.
That's why I am listening to the Jamaican music today. Lord Tanamo, Stranger Cole, Don Drummond, The Skatalites and a host of other classic artists are serving as a balm -- not for the first time, either.

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

A song that serves as a time machine

I can hear some songs and am immediately transported to a specific time and a specific place.
The nexus of music and memory often ushers us along that path.
When I hear "NEVER STOP" by ECHO & THE BUNNYMEN, I immediately find myself walking the chilly streets of CEDAR RAPIDS, IOWA, during my sophomore year in college.
"Never Stop" was the first track on a 1984 extended play release of the same name I had on cassette -- a cassette I would play on walks away from campus in the years before I had a car.
"Good God, you said, is that the only thing you care about, splitting up the money and share it out."
I just need to hear the song's first line, close my eyes, and I begin to feel a stiff, cold breeze and the variety of smells that characterized Cedar Rapids, an agricultural/industrial center that specialized in the production of cereals made by the grains grown on Iowa farms.
"Measure by measure, drop by drop and pound for pound we're taking stock of all the treasures still unlocked. The love you found must never stop."
I know the words by heart, thanks to countless times singing them to myself as the song played on my Walkman.
I'd rotate tapes in the Walkman, of course. Some days, Joy Division or The Bluebells or The Undertones would be accompanying my travels.
Now, though, it's primarily "Never Stop" that triggers detailed memories of my Cedar Rapids walks, not any songs by those other great bands.
I don't understand the exact way music and memory combine to take us someplace in the past. I don't complain about it, either.
"The king is dead and long live the people who aim above all the simple stuff never understood like right from bad and wrong from good. Deny that you were ever tempted by the lie that there's an answer in the sky."

Monday, November 04, 2013

The Undertones album that demands maximum volume

I had the car stereo turned up a little too high while driving around yesterday.
I couldn't really lower the volume, though, because I was listening to THE UNDERTONES.
The Northern Irish band's 1980 album, "HYPNOTISED," sounds almost like a "greatest hits" compilation, packed with gems such as "More Songs About Chocolate and Girls," "There Goes Norman," "The Way Girls Talk," "Wednesday Week" and what might be the most perfectly realized result of their pure-pop vision, "My Perfect Cousin."
These songs sound best when loud, so I duly cranked. It wasn't until I returned home from work that I realized the car stereo's volume level.
I just shook my head: Captivated by The Undertones, again.

Sunday, November 03, 2013

Hockey. Beer. CBC. All I was missing was some poutine

Thanks to the NHL NETWORK, I was able to watch the CBC'S HOCKEY NIGHT IN CANADA broadcast from Vancouver last night.
It was a special night: The CANUCKS retired the No. 10 jersey of former star PAVEL BURE -- "The Russian Rocket."
The speedy goalscorer was my favorite player two decades ago.
Following the ceremony, Roberto Luongo made 21 saves for his second shutout of the season as Vancouver beat TORONTO, 4-0.
Daniel Sedin, Zack Kassian, Chris Higgins and Dan Hamhuis scored for Vancouver in a rather intense game featuring several fights.
The Canadian broadcast was interesting to watch. Our neighbors to the north take hockey seriously, a trait reflected throughout the broadcast.
I sipped some Molson Canadian beer while watching the game. I was only missing some hot poutine.

Saturday, November 02, 2013

Newcastle's French legion too much for out-of-sorts Chelsea

Jose Mourinho hadn't won a league match at St. James' Park entering today and after today he still hasn't claimed the elusive victory.
Yoan Gouffran and Loic Remy scored as NEWCASTLE UNITED beat CHELSEA, 2-0, in a PREMIER LEAGUE match I watched on television this morning.
The Toon gained strength in the second half while an out-of-sorts Chelsea seemed to wilt in the pelting rain.
The visitors missed an opportunity to go top of the table -- at least briefly top -- and never seemed likely to brush the Geordies aside.
Well, I suppose you can call the Newcastle side "Geordies," despite the fact the starting 11 featured six Frenchmen and one of the three subs was from France as well.
The Gauls proved the difference, too, at least in providing the goal scorers.