04.19.10 – A Monday

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word

proxy [prok-see] n. 1. the agency, function, or power of a person authorized to act as the deputy or substitute for another 2. the person so authorized; substitute; agent 3. a written authorization empowering another person to vote or act for the signer, as a meeting of stockholders 4. an ally or confederate who can be relied upon to speak or act in one’s behalf

birthday

Roger Sherman (1721), Eliot Ness (1903), Dick Sargent (1930), Jayne Mansfield (1933), Dudley Moore (1935), Tim Curry (1946), Mary Jo Slater (1946), Paloma Picasso (1949), Suge Knight (1965), Dar Williams (1967), Ashley Judd (1968), Jesse James (1969), Kate Hudson (1979), Hayden Christensen (1981), Maria Sharapova (1987)

standpoint

I’ll admit I didn’t think the Philadelphia Flyers, after barely squeaking in, would do much of anything in this year’s Stanley Cup Playoffs. After last night’s 3-2 overtime win against the New Jersey Devils, it appears I may have been mistaken. The Flyers look hungry and, unlike the last couple weeks of the regular season, ready to play like a team.

So I thought now would be as good a time as any to share my Top Five Flyers Of All Time. I do want to concede here that I only got into the Orange and Black fifteen years ago, so my list isn’t going to include fan favorites like Bobby Clarke, Tim Kerr or Pelle Lindbergh. But, it’s my list and not yours, so deal with it.

5. Roman Cechmanek – Drafted by the Flyers at ripe age of 29 in 2000, he played three seasons before being shipped out to the Los Angeles Kings. During his short stint he had 92 wins, 20 shutouts and GAA of 1.96 and was the Vezina Trophy runner-up in his first season.

4. Jody Hull – The right wing played from 1998 – 2001 and wasn’t exactly a scoring machine but was the consummate defensive forward, one of many I feel the team discarded too soon.

3. Eric Desjardins – Coming to the Flyers in the historical 1995 trade with the Montreal Canadiens that brought him, John LeClair and Gilbert Dionne for Mark Recchi, he became one of the best ever blueliners, finishing only second in overall points behind the legendary Mark Howe with 396 points in 738 games.

2. Shjon Podein – November 12, 1998 was one of the saddest of all the days I’ve been a Flyers fan. That was the date Podein was traded to the Colorado Avalanche for Keith Jones, another player I became a big fan of. But I’ve always missed the personality and grit “Pods” brought to every game. A truly stand up individual.

1. Eric Lindros – I’ll just say this about Lindros: If he started out now in today’s NHL, with Alex Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby, he may just be the guy to break all the unbreakable records set by Wayne Gretzky.

You may agree or disagree with my picks but, hey, you’re entitled to your opinion.

quotation

The bed is a bundle of a paradoxes: we go at it with reluctance, yet we quit it with regret; we make up our minds every night to leave it, but me make up our bodies to keep it late. ↔ Charles Caleb Colton

tune

As far as jazz goes nowadays, there’s not much new being brought to the table. One band who’s bucking that trend is The Bad Plus. At least, the last time I checked in on them, they were. Here’s “Big Eater.”

gallimaufry

→ As soon as everyone involved in this debacle realizes it’s not going away, the quicker it actually will. Just come clean, Lower Merion Township.

→ A few weeks ago, we were all joking around about this but I think it’s time we got a little more focused. No Thomas Jefferson?

→ Why this dude is trying to admit to this is something I’ll never understand.

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09.17.09 – A Thursday

Word

logorrhea [law-guhreeuh, log-uh-] n. 1. pathologically incoherent, repetitious speech 2. incessant or compulsive talkativeness; wearisome volubility

Birthday

Jonathan Alder (1773), William Carlos Williams (1883), John Willard Marriott (1900), Warren Burger (1907), Hank Williams (1923), Roddy McDowall (1928), Anne Bancroft (1931), Ken Kesey (1935), Reinhold Messner (1944), Phil Jackson (1945), John Ritter (1948), Rita Rudner (1956), Baz Luhrmann (1962), Dustin Nguyen (1962), Bryan Singer (1965), Doug E. Fresh (1966), Anastacia (1968), Bobby Lee (1972), Mirah (1974), Constantine Maroulis (1975), Alexander Ovechkin (1985)

Standpoint

It’s pretty much a universal belief that the iPhone is the single greatest invention of this, or any other, era. Maybe. They seem pretty great. The whole bumpin’-iPhones-to-exchange pics app looks maybe somehow maybe somewhat useful. The holding-your-iPhone-to-a-speaker-in-a-public-place-to-find-out-who-is-performing app seems more than useful, if not a blatant attempt by Apple to get iPhone users to buy songs while inebriated in a bar. I bet it works more often than not. Kudos, Apple geniuses. I don’t own an iPhone, so I don’t truly know what it is everyone is yammering about.

However, I do know this: the iPhone is destroying something near and dear to my heart. Being both a bartender and an avid bar customer, I’m a huge fan of the mostly meaningless, often illogical and mainly unfulfilling pastime of bullshitting from a bar stool. Once upon a time, you could go to a local watering hole with a group of your buddies, and, after a few drinks, start up some nonsensical debate, usually about (a) sports, (b) music, (c) movies, and, even sometimes, (d) historical events. These are the kinds of debates that, even when highly intelligent individuals are involved, can go on for hours due to the emphatic way each person “swears to God” they’re right, and the increasing amounts of alcohol consumed.

For me, these deliberations are highly entertaining due to the simple fact it’s inconsequential who’s right and who’s wrong. The winner is the person who can convince everyone else involved they are, in fact, wrong, and he, in fact, is right. Even when he’s completely wrong and everyone else is exactly right. Whichever side of the bar I find myself on, it’s something I excel at. As a bartender, I love manipulating a bunch of drunk conversation in one way or another, nudging them along with supposedly innocous statements. As a bar customer, I more enjoy stating a fact or taking a position I know to be erroneous, and coaxing everyone to accept it as gospel truth. I’m kind of a dick that way.

IN ANY CASE, the iPhone has turned almost all of these disputes, once a nightlong event, into a simple matter of pulling a device out a pocket, and providing an irrefutable answer to whatever the hell it was everyone was discussing, reducing it to a matter of minutes, sometimes seconds.

The topic is trivial. Did Jason Bateman play a swarmy kid in the Ricky Schroeder sitcom “Silver Spoons?” Some people say yes, some say no. The argument could go on forever. Meanwhile, in the course of all that banter, the immediate topic gets put aside for a time, other topics emerge and are chewed on. Eventually, someone remembers how it all started and the original question is loudly thrown back onto the table. More hemming and hawing. No conclusion can be reached. But everyone had a helluva time trying to figure it out.

But now, when the Jason Bateman-“Silver Spoons” question comes up, at least three people, one of which was some loner eavesdropper no one knows, will whip out their iPhone (or its ugly cousin, the Blackberry), go to IMDb.com and tell everyone, yes, Jason Bateman was on the “Silver Spoons,” playing a characater named Derek for 23 episodes between 1982 and 1984.

And that’s it. End of discussion. Hours of fun averted.

I love all this technology, but there are some things that will go away because of it, that will make everything just a little less fun.

Quotation

The thing about being a professor is that if you can make just one student successful, if you can make just one student see the light, if you can make just one ready for the outside world, then you’re still stuck with nineteen failures. ← Mel Helitzer

Tune

Recently, someone described my music listening tastes as, “mostly lyric-driven.” OK, I’ll buy that. Probably true. Guess that’s why Brendan Benson‘s song, “What I’m Looking For” has been my on-again, off-again theme song for the past several years. I’m reasonably sure some of the most well-written lyrics ever.

Gallimaufry

Judging from my experiences with most of you out there in the world, some of you could really benefit from reading “10 Ways to Keep Your Mind Sharp.” Seriously, people, take a look at it. For me.

According to some dude named Sam McCaig from THN.com, The Philadelphia Flyers have all but sewn it up for the upcoming season. No reason to play the games, fellas. We’ll just take The Cup whenever it’s convenient for you to run it down this way. I hate articles like this because they never ever come true.

→ Despite the fact that just about everyone was saying it would never happen, Pavement’s decided it’s time for a reunion. Indie-rocker nirvana starts now.

07.16.09 – Thursday

Word: aberrant [uhberuhnt, ab-er-] adj. 1. departing from the right, normal, or usual course 2. deviating from the ordinary, usual, or normal type; exceptional; abnormal n. 3. an aberrant person, thing, group, etc

Birthday: Samuel Huntington (1731), “Shoeless” Joe Jackson (1888), Orville Redenbacher (1907), Barbara Stanwyck (1907), Ginger Rogers (1911), Cal Tjader (1925), Dick Thornburgh (1932), Desmond Dekker (1941), Jimmy Johnson (1943), Stewart Copeland (1952), Tony Kushner (1956), Michael Flatley (1958), Phoebe Cates (1963), Phil Hellmuth (1964), Will Ferrell (1967), Barry Sanders (1968), Rain Pryor (1969), Ed Kowalczyk (1971), Corey Feldman (1971), Jeremy Enigk (1974), Taj Anwar (1978), Adam Scott (1980)

Quotation: In the country the darkness of night is friendly and familiar, but in a city, with its blaze of lights, it is unnatural, hostile and menacing.  It is like a monstrous vulture that hovers, biding its time.Somerset Maugham

Tune: In many conversations/monologues I’ve been party to on the subject, I’ve often been referred to as a “music snob.” It’s an unfair accusation, however. Exhibit A? I still enjoy the entire musical catalog of 90’s alternative band Toad the Wet Sprocket. Judge me if you will. But only after you listen to “Crazy Life.” After you do, your opinion probably won’t have changed in the least bit. And you’re entitled to your (completely wrong) opinion.

Gallimaufry: Ever read something that makes you wonder how in the fucking world anyone ever saw fit to publish it? Well, if you haven’t, check out ESPN’s Scott Burnside’s “Winter Classic has right venue, wrong team.” In it, Burnside criticizes the NHL for picking the Philadelphia Flyers to play the Boston Bruins in Fenway Park for this year’s NHL Winter Classic. Instead, he’s arguing the Washington Capitals, and their star forward Alex Ovechkin, should’ve been the team chosen. He complains the Bruins-Flyers matchup isn’t in line with last year’s – a game that pitted two of the Original Six teams against each other, the Detroit Red Wings and the Chicago Blackhawks. So, in keeping with Burnside’s logic, how in the world does it make sense to pick the Capitals? Granted, they’ve had their good teams in the past, but they’ve got nothing in terms of hockey history and tradition held up next to the Flyers. Sorry. Usually, I try to stay clear of homer nonsense, but I need to make an exception here. Burnside, you’re flat-out wrong. Next. Ukraine is under fire by some for its decision to ban the movie Brüno. It’s a move perceived as a bit of uptight. But, really, maybe Ukrainians are just exercising their right to watch only worthwhile movies. I support the decision. Sacha Baron Cohen is not funny. He represents the basest, but unfortunately most popular, form of comedic entertainment – neither original or thoughtful, mainly inane.

05.20.09 – Wednesday

Word: swagger [swag-er] v. int. 1. to walk or strut with a defiant or  insolent air 2. to boast or brag noisily ∞ v. t. 3. to bring, drive, force, etc., by blustering ∞ n. 4. swaggering manner, conduct, or walk; ostentatious display of arrogance and conceit

Birthday: Honoré de Balzac (1799), John Stuart Mill (1806), James Stewart (1908), Gardner Fox (1911), Lee “Scratch” Perry (1936), Joe Cocker (1944), Cher (1946), Ron Reagan (1950), Jane Wiedlin (1958), Israel Kamakawiwo’ole (1959), Bronson Pinchot (1959), Ted Allen (1965), Mindy Cohn (1966), Busta Rhymes (1972)

Standpoint: Monday night, as I was watching the Pittsburgh Penguins take on the Carolina Hurricanes in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, it was impossible to miss Sidney Crosby. Even when he was doing absolutely nothing, the spotlight shown in his direction. He’s the new poster boy for the NHL, who would love for him to become the next Wayne Gretzky, whose combination of pure skill and squeaky-clean good looks brought the league into prominence in this country two decades ago. The problem is Crosby is no Gretzky. Even in this early stage of his career, he’s not popular with the fans or among his peers. And here’s why.

Most professional sports are just a live enactment of good vs. evil. In any contest, there are the good guys – those we ‘re all waiting to see win in dramatic fashion – and the bad guys – those we are waiting to fall miserably on their faces. And we enjoy watching either one because wishing for a team to lose is just as much fun as wishing for it to win. Sometimes even more so.

Take Joe Montana. With a name like that, he was destined to occupy a place among the good guys. Besides the name, the man possessed all of the qualities that one needs to become one of America’s heroes. In short, Joe Montana was a guy that no one thought would be anything more than a capable quarterback. Of course, as is often the case, people ended up eating their words as he led the San Francisco 49ers to some of the most famous comebacks during one of the greatest dynasties in sports history. His losses were sometimes just as spectacular as his wins. We all rooted for him. Whichever team was playing against Joe Montana became the enemy.

 Then we have Kobe Bryant, who was marked by the NBA to be its replacement for Michael Jordan, its most celebrated good guy. But things went wrong. The Los Angeles Lakers‘ superstar distinguished himself by openly feuding with Shaquille O’Neal and being the only guy in human history capable of pissing off Phil Jackson. Oh yeah, being accused of sexual assault didn’t really help, either. Still, Kobe prevailed and is currently one of the top basketball players in the world. But no one is happy about it and we all root against him. Whichever team is playing against Kobe Bryant becomes the favorite.

So we all loved Montana. And we all love to hate Bryant. But what about Crosby? What group does he fit into? Well, he’ll probably never be shown the kind of love the good guys enjoy. At least not outside of Pittsburgh. On the other hand, he’ll never earn a spot with the bad guys as one of professional sports’ villains. And that’s because he’s more disliked than he is hated. And you might think that being disliked doesn’t sound as bad as being hated. But it is.

Because, no matter what the particular sport or situation, what we’re all looking for is entertainment. And being a human highlight reel is only so entertaining for so long. Here’s what the San Jose SharksJeremy Roenick has to say about Crosby: I think he’s too quiet, too hum-drum, too cliched. I love the kid as a hockey player, but I think he can be more spectacular if he steps up and shows a little personality. Now while the outspoken Roenick might not be the best judge about the proper use of “personality,” his remarks mirror the public sentiment. Mainly, we find the guy boring. Outside of whining to officials about everything imaginable (he complained to the referee during a recent game against the Washington Capitals because he thought the fans were throwing an excessive amount of hats on the ice after a hat trick by rival superstar Alex Ovechkin), and his admittedly sick amount of talent, Crosby is vanilla. And while vanilla is good it doesn’t get anyone fired up.

The impression that he gives is a neutral one. Like maybe he’d be OK playing out the season in spectator-less arenas and simply concentrating on hockey. And, while that may not be true, it’s the vibe he gives off and one thing sports fans won’t tolerate is an athlete who refuses to acknowledge their part in the process.

What really sucks about all of this is, if the Penguins somehow manage to win the Stanley Cup, when Crosby lifts it over his head, most hockey fans will fill ripped off because we;ll feel neither the good guys or the bad guys triumphed. The boring whiner did.   

Quotation: By night, an atheist half believes in God. Edward Young

Tune: On advice from my brother Jeremy, I’m attempting to get into Say Hi To Your Mom. So far, I like what I hear. Try “The Death of Girl Number Two.”

Gallimaufry: Declining honeybee populations represent a potentially disastrous problem for the world’s ecosystem. And no one’s really been able to explain how it’s happening. But it looks like there might be hope. ∞ Hollywood is one step closer to completing its mission of destroying everything from my past. The most recent victim? Footloose, the 1984 Kevin Bacon classic that was so dorky-cool most guys didn’t seem to mind it was about dancing. If the initial casting choices for the remake are any indication, this movie is going to absolutely blow. ∞ Blink-182 has reunited and I’ve watched them the past two nights on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. I’m a huge fan of the band’s albums. Ask anyone. But they’ve always been considered a shitty live act and, from what I’ve seen, that’s not a perception in danger of going away anytime soon.

Incoming: TomorrowAnnoying Sayings & Misused Words. Friday3 Things To Do In Philly When You’re Dead and more.

03.26.09 – Thursday

Whereabouts: Philadelphia, PA

Word: elucidate [i-loo-si-deyt] 1. verb (used with object) to make lucid or clear; throw light upon; explain: an explanation that elucidated his recent strange behavior  2. verb (used without object) to provide clarification; explain

Birthday: Nathaniel Bowditch (1773), Robert Frost (1874), Tennessee Williams (1911), Gregory Corso (1930), Sandra Day O’Connor (1930), Leonard Nimoy (1931), Alan Arkin (1934), Harry Kalas (1936), James Caan (1940), Erica Jong (1942), Bob Woodward (1943), Diana Ross (1944), Steven Tyler (1948), Vicki Lawrence (1949), Teddy Pendergrass (1950), Martin Short (1950), Leeza Gibbons (1957), Jennifer Grey (1960), Michael Imperioli (1966), Kenny Chesney (1968), James Iha (1968), Amy Smart (1976), Keira Knightley (1985)

Occurrence: 1969John Kennedy Toole commits suicide outside of Biloxi, Mississippi. Eleven years later, A Confederacy of Dunces is first published. In 1981, Toole posthumously is awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.

Standpoint: “In the future, everyone will be famous for 15 minutes.” Andy Warhol said that. It became a cliché. Even Warhol grew tired of it. Whatever he was talking about, however, is no longer relevant. Fame has changed. It’s no longer fleeting. Once a human being becomes famous, he is famous forever. A while back, television executives discovered something: we don’t want celebrities to go away. Shows like “Dancing With the Stars”, “Celebrity Apprentice” and “Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew” feature individuals that, once upon a time, we would’ve never heard from again. Jeff Conaway? Tom Green? Steve-O?!? People who were once deservedly in the public spotlight (maybe) continue to reside in it because no one is asking them to leave. We encourage them to hang out and simply remain famous. And it’s because we either (a) associate the celebrity with some sort of nostalgia or (b) are patiently waiting for the celebrity to fail. Why else would we care what Ozzy Osbourne and his family are up to? Or Hulk Hogan and his family? Fame is no longer reserved for the unique and talented. Nowadays, you just need a marketing strategy. Is there any other reason why Kathy Griffin is not the manager of a Los Angeles-area GAP?

Quotation: Without music, life would be a mistake Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche

Digit: 17 – It’s proven as the least random number, meaning when asked to come up with a random number, people will pick 17 more often than other numbers.

Tune: Last night, I heard one of the most ridiculous songs I’ve heard in a while. Listen to Jazmine Sullivan’s “Bust Your Windows” and tell me you don’t agree. I dare ya.  

Link: Worldometers – Think overpopulation isn’t a problem?

Gallimaufry: I like Alexander Ovechkin but his “Stick on Fire” celebration after scoring his 50th goal was lame. That kind of crap belongs in the NFL not the NHL…More hockey. This article by Seth Rorabaugh about his experience with Philadelphia FlyersScott Hartnell shows how NHL players are different from other professional athletes…Are you a fan of circular logic? If so, you’ll love what is happening with the vitamin B-6…Make sure to check back tomorrow for things to do in Philadelphia over the weekend.