06.20.11 – a monday

word

Golgotha [gol-guh-thuh] n. 1. a hill near Jerusalem where Jesus was buried; Calvary 2. a place of suffering or sacrifice 3. a place of burial

birthday

Errol Flynn (1909), Audie Murphy (1924), Martin Landau (1928), Danny Aiello (1933), Brian Wilson (1942), Anne Murray (1945), Bob Vila (1946), Lionel Richie (1949), John Goodman (1952), Nicole Kidman (1967), Josh Lucas (1971), Mike Birbiglia (1978)

standpoint

I’m sitting here watching Return of the Jedi and wondering if SPIKE TV airs anything other than the six Star Wars movies. I’m not knocking it. Just wondering.

By my own estimation, this must be my 50th viewing of Jedi (don’t judge) and it’s one of several movies that I can quote verbatim. And, while I’m an above average fan of most things Star Wars, I dislike most everything about Luke Skywalker. I like the actual character but I think the casting of Mark Hamill might be one of the biggest cinematic blunders ever. Whenever his whiny ass is featured prominently in a scene, my mind wanders.

And now I’m thinking of the other night, while I was bartending, when one of my regular customers asked me a question that people pose when they’re running out of discussion topics: If you could have dinner with five people, alive or dead, who would they be?

First, and I didn’t always feel this way, but I tend to pick people that are alive. It’s drastically more feasible.

Second, depending on what I’m into in terms of reading, music, entertainment in general, I’m likely not to list the same five people from one day to the next. I’m fickle like that.

Third, I don’t want to have dinner with all five people at the same time. That would be awkward and futile. Dinners typically last two hours when they’re going well. 25 minutes per person? No. As long as we’re playing an adult version of make believe, I prefer to name five people I would have dinner with on an individual basis.

IN ANY CASE, here’s the five people I would currently select.

Kevin Nealon – Even though he was on SNL for several years he never struck me as particularly hilarious. But I saw him on Real Time over the weekend and I now think the two of us might hit it off.

Stephanie Courtney – You’re probably asking, “Who the hell is that?” Well, it’s Flo from those Progressive commercials and, yes, I understand she’s playing a part.

Bob Mould – I’m not in love with every song he’s ever made but he’s responsible for more than a few of my favorites and the progression of his career fascinates me. I’m definitely going to read his autobiography, See A Little Light: The Trail of Rage and Melody.

A. J. Jacobs – If you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time, you’ve figured out I’m a gigantic fan of this guy and his perpetual curiosity. I’m halfway through My Life As an Experiment: One Man’s Humble Quest To Improve Himself and it’s pretty great. (Thanks, Samantha.)

Louis C. K. – I consider him to be the funniest guy around right now and if we had dinner I’d probably be so intimidated I wouldn’t talk at all. And that would be weird for the both of us. I’m really looking forward to the second season of Louie.

All right, that’s it for now, I’m gonna watch the final assault on the Death Star and then head to bed.

quotation

Love is the only sane and satisfactory answer to the problem of human existence. ↔ Erich Fromm

tune

I mentioned him above so I thought I would share one of the songs that first made me dig Bob Mould, “Compositions For the Young and Old.”

gallimaufry

I’m a little late with this but several of you emailed me this video after I wrote about how going to the movies nowadays is a microcosm of what a shitty society we’ve made.

Obviously, I love that the Alamo Drafthouse did this.

→ Even if you’re not a golf fan, you must give props to Rory McIlroy for what he did at the U.S. Open over the weekend. Truly amazing stuff.

→ C’mon, Bill Murray. Get off your high horse and make this happen. I realize you consider yourself above this kind of thing now but it’s what the people want.

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05.25.11 – a wednesday

word

languid [lang-gwid] adj. 1. lacking in vigor or vitality; slack or slow: a languid manner 2. lacking in spirit or interest; listless; indifferent 3. drooping or flagging from weakness or fatigue; faint

birthday

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803), Dixie Carter (1939), Ian McKellen (1939), Frank Oz (1944), Mike Myers (1963), Anne Heche (1969), Stacy London (1969), Jamie Kennedy (1970), Demetri Martin (1973), Molly Sims (1973), Lauryn Hill (1975)

standpoint

Today’s standpoint will have to wait. But it’s gonna be a good one.

quotation

It is easier to act yourself into a new way of thinking, than it is to think yourself into a new way of acting. ↔ A. J. Jacobs

tune

XTC is another one of those bands that simply doesn’t get enough credit in the history of modern/alternative music. Here’s one of my favorites – “Love On a Farm Boy’s Wages.”

gallimaufry

Seriously? For real? Are these people out of their minds? Sadly, yes. Folks, I’m just too charged up to coherently comment on this absolutely ridiculous nonsense.

→ Another one of those great headlines: “Confirmed: Tennis Star Anna Kournikova Joining ‘The Biggest Loser’ As Trainer.” How awesome is your life if some editor pokes his head into your cubicle and says, “Hey, rumor has it Anna Kournikova might be a new trainer on ‘The Biggest Loser,’ I need you to get confirmation on that.” Keep marching on, society…keep marching on.

→ If you dislike confusing and pitiful behavior, please don’t click this link. I can’t decide which is worse, the completely biased nature of the article or the ignorant comments from every side of the political spectrum.

09.09.09 – A Wednesday

Word

obdurate [ob-doo-rit, -dyoo-] adj. 1. unmoved by persuasion, pity, or tender feelings; stubborn; unyielding 2. stubbornly resistant to moral influence; persistently impenitent: an obdurate sinner

Birthday

Aurelian (214), Leo Tolstoy (1828), Harland Sanders (1890), Jimmy “The Greek” Snyder (1919), Otis Redding (1941), Pamela Des Barres (1948), Garry Maddox (1949), Joe Theismann (1949), Tom Wopat (1951), Hugh Grant (1960), Mario Batali (1960), Adam Sandler (1966), Rachel Hunter (1969), Henry Thomas (1971), Michael Bublé (1975), Soulja Slim (1977), Michelle Williams (1980) 

Standpoint

Normally, even I don’t like the person or people I’m looking at, I like the cover of Rolling Stone. A recent issue, though, kind or irked me.

The image is of President Obama and the caption at the bottom of the cover reads, “Obama So Far.” Around his head a banner, or maybe a halo, that reads “Will He Take Bold Action or Compromise Too Easily?” Inside the issue is a very fair and informative presentation of the thoughts of Obama‘s presidency by David Gergen (expert political consultant), Paul Krugman (Nobel Prize winning writer), and Michael Moore (douchebag documentarian).

The question on the front, though – “Will He Take Bold Action or Compromise Too Easily?” – is emblematic of lots of things I hate about the media in this country. I’ll admit fully understand that, especially in this age of the dying print media, Rolling Stone needs to sell magazines more than ever. But, in trying to grade the job done by Obama, and the future of his administration, why must the only two choices he has are to (a) “Take Bold Action” or (b) “Compromise Too Easily?”

It doesn’t have to be one-way-or-the-other. It could be that Obama will find the middle ground. Sometimes, he might take some bold action. Other times, he may compromise too easily. But more likely, he’ll find a way to act in ways that aren’t always bold and compromise in a way that’s not-so-easy.

My problem with pretty much boils down to this: We’ve all forgotten that not everything is black-and-white. And not just when it comes to our government. This one-way-or-the-other mentality is going to slowly mess everything up before we know it.

Quotation

Men feel that women somehow drag them down, and women feel that way about men.  It’s possible that both are right.Mignon McLaughlin

Tune

I just started to get into an English indie-pop group named Fanfarlo. So far, I like what I hear. Try out “Luna.”

Gallimaufry

→ Obviously, today is September 9th, 2009. Or 09/09/09. Triple nines. Find out why this date is so special to so many people. I like that the new Tim Burton movie, 9, is coming out today. Actually want to see it. Looks strange, spooky, kind of kickass cool.

→ You ever wonder how people can be so smart and dumb at the same time? Well, I do. Check out the Valley Monkey – a guy who wears a monkey mask in an attempt to avoid tickets. A nice idea if he wasn’t doing it in his own car.

→ My boy A.J. Jacobs has released a new book, The Guinea Pig Diaries. If it’s even half as good as his other stuff, you should go read it right now.

05.12.09 – Tuesday

Word: augur [aw-ger] n. 1. one of a group of ancient Roman officials charged with observing and interpreting omens for guidance in public affairs 2. soothsayer; prophet ∞ v. tr. 3. to divine or predict, as from omens; prognosticate 4. to serve as an omen or promise of; foreshadow; betoken: Mounting sales augur a profitable year ∞ v. intr 5. to conjecture from signs or omens; predict 6. to be a sign; bode: The movement of troops augurs ill for the peace of the area

Birthday: Florence Nightingale (1820), Henry Cabot Lodge (1850), Katharine Hepburn (1903), Archibald Cox (1912), Mary Kay Ash (1915), Julius Rosenberg (1918), Yogi Berra (1925), Burt Bacharach (1928), Tom Snyder (1936), George Carlin (1937), Ron Zeigler (1939), Steve Winwood (1948), Gabriel Byrne (1950), Billy Squier (1950), Ving Rhames (1959), Bruce McCullouch (1961), Emilio Estevez (1962), Vanessa A. Williams (1963), Stephen Baldwin (1966), Tony Hawk (1968), Kim Fields (1969), Samantha Mathis (1970), Jason Biggs (1978)

Standpoint: Depending on who’s talking, internet porn is either (a) an addiction as strong as alcoholism and gambling, (b) a productive way for couples to keep things fresh or (c) the downfall of society as we know it. As I see it, it’s just like everything else in that it depends on what you do with. If you’re one of those people who can’t leave the house to do basic things like go to work or buy groceries because you’re too busy sitting at your desk watching people have sex, it probably be best for you to unplug your computer and drop it off the roof. If you’re someone who enjoys it on a casual basis without breaking any laws or hurting anyone else, go ahead and have some fun. If you think that internet porn is going to turn your husband and children into sex-worshipping zombies, you should probably try to get out of the house more.  

The opinions are as numerous as they are debatable. But one thing you can’t really argue with is internet porn is easily accessible. When I started my first blog, I relied heavily on pictures to accent every post. So I used Google Image Search a lot. Probably far more than was originally intended. And I always found that, no matter what word or phrase I typed in, I would inevitably come across some sort of lewd sexual activity.

So, I thought it might be interesting to see if that is actually true.  Have we, as a society, found a way to make just about anything erotic? Could I put any word into Google Image Search and find naked people involved in sexual acts? I decided to try it.

For the purposes of this experiment, I defined porn as anything that couldn’t be shown on network television. It might not be the accepted gauge but it’s how I did it. Also, in the interest of keeping this blog respectable, I’m not going to go into detail about the particulars of any of the images. You’ll just have to take my word for it. Or try it yourself. Here’s a list of  random words that I used – starting with items that were in front of me at the time and continuing with whatever popped into my head – and how many images I had to go through to find some inappropriate content:

  • “camera” – 95th image
  • “bottle” – 5th image
  • “key” – 24th image
  • “phone” – 37th image
  • “book” – Search Expired (Google only allows the first 1000 images to be viewed)
  • “sidewalk” – 188th image
  • “brick” – 262th image
  • “desk” – 467th image
  • “chair” – 223rd image
  • “office” – 16th image
  • “girlfriend” – 11th image
  • “boyfriend” – 42nd image
  • “wife” – 2nd image
  • “husband” – 115th image
  • “pregnant” – 11th image
  • “female” – 4th image
  • “male” – 4th image
  • “woman” – 9th image
  • “man” – 26th image
  • “bear” – 40th image
  • “arm” – 200th image
  • “leg” – 16th image
  • “foot” – 5th image
  • “hand” – 10th image
  • “breakfast” – 924th image
  • “brunch” – 461st image
  • “lunch” – Search Expired
  • “dinner” – Search Expired
  • “snack” –  Search Expired 
  • “love” – 64th image
  • “romance” – 229th image
  • “flirting” – 59th image
  • “big” – 1st image
  • “crazy” – 6th image
  • “fun” – 94th image
  • “great” – 6th image
  • “boredom” – 62nd image

So what did all the image searching tell me about internet pornography?

I’ll let you know tomorrow in Part 2. For now, have a look over the results and tell me what conclusions you come to.

Quotation: Freedom lies in being bold.Robert Frost

Tune: They’re called People Under The Stairs. The song is “Plunken ‘Em.” Listen to it. Good, right?

Gallimaufry: There’s some rumblings about A.J. Jacob’s The Year of Living Biblically being made into a feature film. I wonder if it will stir up any controversy? ∞ Am I alone in feeling that if Carrie Prejean were to smother herself with her own breast implants, wait, I don’t even care enough to finish that sentence. ∞ If you’re not a hockey fan, tomorrow night’s Game 7 between the Capitals and the Penguins might just make you one. It promises to be one of the best Game 7’s in recent history. Check it out.

Incoming: Tomorrow – Part 2 of my Image Search experiment. Thursday – Your latest entries for Annoying Sayings & Misused Words. Friday3 Things To Do In Philly When You’re Dead.

03.20.09 – Friday

Whereabouts: Philadelphia, PA

Word: halcyon [hal-see-uhn] adj. 1. calm; peaceful; tranquil  2. rich; wealthy; prosperous  3. happy; joyful; carefree

Birthday: Napoleon II (1811), Henrik Ibsen (1828), Ozzie Nelson (1906), Jack Barry (1918), Carl Reiner (1922), Fred Rogers (1928), Hal Linden (1931), Lee “Scratch” Perry (1936), Jerry Reed (1937), Paul Junger Witt (1943), Pat Riley (1945), Bobby Orr (1948), William Hurt (1950), Jimmie Vaughn (1951), Spike Lee (1957), Holly Hunter (1958), Sting (1959), A.J. Jacobs (1968), Michael Rappaport (1970)

Occurrence: 1985Libby Riddles becomes the first female ever to win the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. Women everywhere rejoice. Dogs everywhere still pissed.

Standpoint: Why? That’s the only question I have for Joaquin Phoenix. Furthermore, that’s probably the question the dude should’ve asked himself before deciding to retire from acting to become the next Matisyahu, with brother-in-law Casey Affleck in tow to film the whole debacle. Has Phoenix never heard of Keanu Reeves? Jared Leto? Juliette Lewis? Don Johnson? They’re all actors who tried their hands in the music biz and came up with less-than-spectacular results. (Oddly enough, the same doesn’t hold true for musicians who make the leap into acting. See Will Smith, Jon Bon Jovi, Queen Latifah, Justin Timberlake.) Hopefully, the talented actor regains his senses and comes back from his trip to Jupiter. Odds are he will. After the novelty of his act wears off, people will stop buying tickets and Phoenix will undoubtedly have to return to acting. Just a matter of time.

Quotation: I don’t think that there are any limits to how excellent we could make life seem.Jonathan Safran Foer

Stupefaction: In Florida, scientists are firing rockets at lightning. Seriously. I hate to ruin the ending for you but the lightning won, remaining the undefeated champ of shit you don’t wanna screw around with.

Tune: Be honest. If you went to high school or college in the 90s, there was at least one time you drove around with the windows down listening to “I’m Free” by The Soup Dragons.

Link: FutureMe – Send an email to your future self.

Weekend (Fridays only): Do you long to hear 80s music sung by an all-male chorus? I thought so. Check out “That 80s Show” performed by the Philadelphia Gay Men’s Chorus at Prince’s Music Theater tonight and tomorrow night…For all of you with little ones, The Berenstain Bears’ Family Matters starts this weekend at the Walnut Street Theatre For Kids and runs through April 4th…Also on Saturday, why not check out one of the few remaining home games of The Philadelphia Phantoms as they take on the Binghamton Rangers at the Wachovia Spectrum – 7:05pm…Amazingly, tickets are still available for Morrisey’s show at The Academy of Music this Sunday (3/22) starting 8:00pm.

Gallimaufry: This week, California took time out of its busy schedule fighting gay marriage (see Prop 8) to debate whether legalizing marijuana would properly stimulate its flailing economy. Now there’s a debate worthy of everyone’s time and energy…March Madness is officially upon us and I still don’t care…I haven’t completely wrapped my head around it (who has?) but this bailout process reminds me of a video I once saw where a log sunk into quicksand…Want to feel better about yourself by listening to an audio clip of someone sounding like a jackass? Check out Lou Dobbs’ rant about St. Patrick’s Day…Following up on yesterday’s post, here is a link to the entire interview Jon Stewart conducted with Jim Cramer on The Daily Show…That’s it for me this week. Come back Monday for some more.

03.17.09 – Tuesday

Whereabouts: Philadelphia, PA

Word: stultify [stuhl-tuh-fahy] verb to make, or cause to appear, foolish or ridiculous

Birthday: Nat King Cole (1919), John Wayne Gacy (1942), Patrick Duffy (1949), Kurt Russell (1951), Gary Sinise (1955), Casey Siemaszko (1961), Rob Lowe (1964), Billy Corgan (1967), Mia Hamm (1972)

Occurrence: 1854 – The rubber band is first patented. Interesting, but I would like to know the first time someone figured out how to wrap it around their hand and point at people like a gun.

Standpoint: In today’s NFL, you’re just not a viable wide receiver until ESPN shows a clip of you getting arrested or questioned by the police. Apparently, it’s a rite of passage. This past Saturday morning, Donte Stallworth struck and killed Juan Sanchez, a man who had just finished his shift. Stallworth has now joined the ranks of Plaxico Burress, Javon Walker, Marvin Harrison and host of other professional wideouts who can’t seem to help but get busted for (or suspected of) criminal acts. Originally, it was reported that charges would not be brought up against the Cleveland Browns player, but now it seems a definite possibility. The most amazing aspect of this current trend of “bad boy” wide receivers is that, for the most part, every one of them is, or has the potential to be, an elite player. Randy Moss. Terry Glenn. Brandon Marshall. Koren Robinson. All great talents. All ended up destroying or diminishing their own careers for participation in events that, to the rest of us, seem completely absurd. The problem is well-documented. This is news to no one. So when does Commissioner Robert Goodell drop the hammer and start kicking these guys out of the league? And when do the teams start sending a real message by not signing these guys, no matter what their level of talent may be? The NFL has become a safe harbor for individuals who continually break the law (see Matt Jones), learn nothing from their actions and have the bank accounts to mount defenses O.J. Simpson would drool over. I’ll take drama-queen Terrell Owens over any of these guys. He may be a big problem in the locker room and a seemingly below-average human being but at least I know when I walk out of work he’s not going to run me over in his Bentley.

Quotation: How do I know what I think until I see what I say?E.M. Forster

Soupçon: The original Greek question mark became the English semicolon (;). I know I keep ripping off A.J. Jacobs but can you really blame me? I maintain a daily blog that includes an interesting fact section and I’m reading a book chronicling a man’s search for knowledge. I’ve just gotten to the “R” chapter of The Know-It-All so I’m almost done ripping it off.

Tune: Besides being great guys, Backyard Tire Fire is an outstanding live band. About a year ago, my brother and I went to The North Star to see The Beautiful Girls. BTF was the opening act and they put on a great show. After their set, I had lost my interest in seeing the main act and spent the rest of the night at the bar with the band. Great night. Check out “Corrine”.

Link: Bag of Songs – Superlative Philadelphia-based blog covering the world of music.

Gallimaufry: Not everyone is hurting during the recession. Condom sales are up due to, among other factors, people staying in more and couples holding off on having a child. Read Amanda Ruggeri’s article “10 Winners in the Recession” from U.S. News & World Report to see who else is prospering…Paste Magazine has made a list of the best independent movie houses in the country. Surprisingly, none of Philadelphia’s made the list…Looks like tough times ahead for Atlantic City, NJ. Casinos are experiencing record losses right now. Hope the Borgata is still there May 23rd when I’m going to see Joel McHale for my birthday. Fingers crossed, people…Hope everyone has a SAFE St. Patrick’s Day. Lots of drinking rookies out there. Be careful and don’t drive.

03.06.09 – Friday

Whereabouts: Philadelphia, PA

Word: reductio ad absurdum [ri-duk-shi-oh ad ab-sur-dŭm] Latin 1. proof of falsity by showing an absurd logical consequence  2. proof of truth by demonstrating the falsity of alternatives  3. the carrying of a  principle to impractical lengths

Birthday: Michelangelo (1475), Cyrano de Bergerac (1619), Lou Costello (1906), Ed McMahon (1923), Wes Montgomery (1925), Alan Greenspan (1926), Marion Barry, Jr. (1936), Ivan Boesky (1937), David Gilmour (1946), Rob Reiner (1947), Tom Arnold (1959), D.L. Hughley (1963), Shaquille O’Neal (1972),

Occurrence: 1899Aspirin becomes a registered trademark of Bayer. Still the best thing for a headache, in my opinion.

Irksome: An impoverished Michael Jackson held a news conference yesterday in London’s O2 arena announcing that the 10 farewell shows scheduled there for July of this year would be his last. The King of Pop uttered, by my count, 12-15 full sentences. The rest of the press conference amounted to, judging by the footage, a mostly adult-male audience screaming “Michael!” at the top of its lungs. Besides his brief statement, Jackson managed to bust out some impromptu moves and concluded the event by jutting his fist out in defiance (most likely aimed at his depleted bank accounts), poignantly staring at the crowd and blowing kisses, presumably at some of the younger members in attendance. People love to debate whether Jackson is still technically a member of the male gender. After watching yesterday, I’m inclined to debate whether he is still technically a member of the human race. At this point, I’m reasonably sure that he is the sole member of his own species.

Quotation: Damn, it feels good to disagree with the towering minds of the past. – A.J. Jacobs

Tidbit: The Lovenstein Institute of Scranton, Pennsylvania estimates that George W. Bush’s IQ score is 91. It puts Bill Clinton’s at 182. Click HERE to see how these conclusions were reached.

Song: You’ll either think “Jesus Was Way Cool” by King Missile is really funny or really stupid. There is no in-between.

Link: The Onion – Great site that makes fun of just about everything. Not a huge fan of the layout but the content can’t be denied.

Gallimaufry: Click HERE to listen to Miley Cyrus talk about how she is going to “ruin” Radiohead. Wow…Anyone out there want to explain the value of Twitter to me? I’m ready to listen…I’m becoming more and more embarrassed to be a member of a society that is actually debating Prop. 8. With all of the world’s problems, I find it unbelievably ridiculous that so many people waste energy on denying same-sex couples the opportunity to be happy…If you are looking for something to do this Saturday night, catch Ben Arnold at The Tin Angel. Showtime is 7:30pm…On a personal note, I would like to thank everyone for reading during the inaugural week of this blog with over 700 hits this week. I was hoping for 400. Keep coming back and remember to post comments. Let’s get some chatter started, people. Next post on Monday. Have a great weekend.