04.27.10 – A Tuesday

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word

extirpate [ek-ster-peyt, ik-stur-peyt] v. used w/ obj. 1. to remove or destroy totally; do away with; exterminate 2. to pull up by or as if by the roots; root up: to extirpate an unwanted hair

birthday

Mary Wollstonecraft (1759), Samuel F. B. Morse (1791), Ulysses S. Grant (1822), Jack Klugman (1922), Casey Kasem (1932), Frank William Abagnale, Jr. (1948), Kate Pierson (1948), Ace Frehley (1951), Sheena Easton (1959)

standpoint

This past weekend, the NFL conducted its annual draft and it was all anyone could talk about. I didn’t really pay much attention. The only time I care about football is when it’s actually being played. To me, the draft seems to be just another reason for NFL fans, most of whom I regard as whiners, to bitch and moan, ask each other why their particular team took one guy and not another, failed to draft a player at one position and not another, and so on and so forth.

For the past several years the relationship between the NFL and its fans has fascinated me. Football enthusiasts are mostly fanatics, highly devoted folks who expect a lot from their chosen organization. Curiously, though, the same expectations do not extend to the individual athletes. And here’s why I think that’s so.

First and foremost, I’m a hockey fan. Training camp for the NHL begins at the end of each summer and the Stanley Cup Finals usually wrap up sometime in early summer of the next year. By comparison, NFL training camps start in early August and the Super Bowl is usually played the first week of February. In addition, football teams play once a week while hockey (and basketball and baseball) teams might play several times in the same amount of time. Bottom line, football fans feel an urgency, a need to do as much as they can with the little time afforded them. It’s the reason fall/winter Sunday afternoons and, to a slightly lesser extent, Monday nights have been bestowed with an almost venerable aura. There’s an almost obligatory sense to watch football when it’s on. You didn’t watch the game yesterday afternoon? Why not? You’d better have a bulletproof alibi.

The brevity of the NFL season also has an impact on its players. It provides them more time to pursue other interests with the massive amounts of cash they accumulate over the year. The majority of the athletes go home to their families, maybe investing in a hometown restaurant or contributing their time in a charitable fashion. But there are those who don’t make the best choices when it comes to how they spend their money and time in the offseason, getting in trouble with the law in a variety of ways. It seems you can’t turn on SportsCenter without seeing a new feature on some NFL knucklehead being brought up some kind of charges. Their actions are part bad decision making, part too much time and money on their hands. Someone’s bound to get into trouble.

When these stories come out, there’s always a heavy dose of public outrage by NFL fans and pundits. But it’s never sustained. The player always pays the fine or, less often, does the time and then it’s back to business as usual. An odd thing about the NFL is that, despite its massive fanbase, most of its teams flat-out suck, which means there’s always teams out there willing to take a chance on a skilled player. Even if that player beats his girlfriends, or fires guns at nightclubs, or recently completed yet another stint of drug rehab. When a team signs a guy like that, its fans, more concerned with a Super Bowl parade than a strong sense of morality, always jump on board.

In the weeks after Michael Vick was paroled, rumors surfaced about Dallas Cowboys’ owner Jerry Jones tinkering with the idea of signing him. Every football fan in Philadelphia was laughing, shaking their heads and telling each other how perfect Vick would fit in with the rest of the criminals the Cowboys have gained a reputation for bringing aboard. Then the Eagles signed Vick. For a day or two, people seemed a little put off the organization would sign a convicted animal abuser. But within a week, no one was talking about dogs, but about another animal: the wildcat. As in the “Wildcat Offense” and how Vick would flourish in it. Nowadays, if you bring up the fact the guy used to beat dogs to death people roll their eyes and tell you to give it a rest. No wants to hear it. In essence, he’s been exonerated in the public eye because he puts on an Eagles’ uniform every Sunday (and the occasional Monday) for a few months out of the year.

And Vick’s not even a close to be the only one. He’s a member of a rather large club. Ray Lewis may have been acquitted of his murder charge but everyone knows he at least had something to with the deaths of those people. Baltimore Ravens fans don’t care. Adam “Pacman” Jones has a criminal record detailing a wide array of offenses. Detroit Lions fans won’t care if the team signs him. Ben Roethlisberger most definitely has a problem with sexually assaulting women, although he escaped formal charges. After he serves his upcoming six-game suspension and leads the team down the field for a touchdown, Pittsburgh Steelers fans won’t care. These are guys you wouldn’t want working in your office building, but if they’re playing football, fans will rationalize why it’s okay to forgive, and even cheer, for him.

Sometimes, guys wake up and take advantage of a second (or third) chance like Cris Carter. But, unfortunately, most of them will end up like Rae Carruth.

For the record, I don’t hold the NFL owners in any contempt for signing or retaining criminals. They’re running a business. In terms of dollars and cents, it makes sense for them to take the chances they do and, sometimes, as in the Roethlisberger situation, they have no other choice.

But what’s the fans excuse? How can the rationality of all this be explained? If these guys weren’t playing football, they’d be in jail and no one would give a rat’s ass what they were up to. Lucky for them, that’s not the case. They continue to get the love and respect of millions of people despite the fact, outside playing a game, they’ve done nothing to deserve it.

It’s comical and pathetic.

quotation

Whenever I hear people talking about liberal ideas, I am always astounded that men should love to fool themselves with empty sounds. An idea should never be liberal; it must be vigorous, positive, and without loose ends so that it may fulfill its divine mission and be productive. The proper place for liberality is in the realm of the emotions. Johann von Goethe

tune

I’ve shared this before but I’m going to do it again because, well, I do what I want. I’m of the opinion Chuck D is a pretty solid dude. I present Public Enemy‘s “Harder Than You Think.”

gallimaufry

→ I think Stephen Hawking might be watching Independence Day a little too much. And who can blame him? It’s a good movie mostly. But he may not be completely wrong here.

→ Sometimes something as simple as a sandwich can be a strong indicator of where we’re headed as a society. People, we’re driving in the wrong direction here.

→ My favorite show on ESPN? It’s SportsNation. I’m sure some of you out there now think a little less of me.

04.14.10 – A Wednesday

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word

pastiche [pa-steesh, pah-] n. 1. a literary, musical, or artistic piece consisting wholly or chiefly of motifs or techniques borrowed from one or more sources 2. an incongruous combination of materials, forms, motifs, etc., taken from different sources; hodgepodge

birthday

Anne Sullivan (1866), Thomas Schelling (1921), Rod Steiger (1925), Loretta Lynn (1935), Pete Rose (1941), Richard Jeni (1957), Brad Garrett (1960), Robert Carlyle (1961), Anthony Michael Hall (1968), Adrien Brody (1973), Sarah Michelle Gellar (1977), Win Butler (1980),

standpoint

Tomorrow, the Stanley Cup Playoffs begin. And I’m certain not too many of you are overly concerned about that but I thought I’d share some facts here anyway.

→ No team has repeated as Stanley Cup Champs since the Detroit Red Wings did it back in 1997 and 1998.

→ The Chicago Blackhawks are in possession of the longest streak of not winning a Stanley Cup – 47 years. They’re the second seed in the Western Conference this year, and it’s not out of the question they could make a run for it.

→ The Philadelphia FlyersBlair Betts is the current owner of the individual streak for games without a playoff point at 24. He hasn’t registered on the score sheet since April 12th, 2007.

→ Teams trailing 3-1 in a seven games series have come back to win it only 8.97% of the time. Flyers fans would like to forget when the New Jersey Devils, Philadelphia’s current first-round opponent, did it back in 2000. I still don’t have the strength to get into the Scott Stevens hit on Eric Lindros.

→ The record holder for most overtime playoff goals in NHL history is Joe Sakic with 8. Of players actually in this year’s playoffs, the leader is the New Jersey Devils’ Jamie Langenbrunner with 4.

→ Of this year’s playoff goaltenders, the Washington CapitalsJose Theodore has the highest winning percentage at .630, 17 wins and 10 losses.

Those are stats I thought pretty interesting. Of course, the stats don’t matter much in hockey.

My prediction, I’ll be shocked as hell if the Washington Capitals don’t win the Cup. But, even though I know more about hockey than you, the knowledge never translates into being right.

quotation

If you’re in a bad situation, don’t worry it’ll change. If you’re in a good situation, don’t worry it’ll change. John A. Simone, Sr.

tune

I’m aware of the lack of love out there for in the hipster music community for North Carolina band Jump, Little Children. But I think they’re pretty damn solid, especially in lyrical terms. The part of  “The House Our Father Knew” where Jay Clifford shouts out, “Don’t you hear the deafening roar?,” is something I know I’m supposed to dismiss as cheesy, but I just can’t.

gallimaufry

→ What was Ben Roethlisberger thinking? After the authorities failed to bring him up on charges no one was going to come out and say what we all know he did was wrong? Usually, I think Terry Bradshaw is a windbag, but he I think he got it on the money here.

This country is facing a shorting of 150,000 doctors in 15 years? It’s just one thing after another, isn’t it?

→ I, for one, wouldn’t have blamed Donovan McNabb if he’d actually said all of this. It would’ve been completely understandable if he’d “apologized for his failure to shore up the Eagles defense and his inability to keep Brian Westbrook healthy while leading the team to five NFC Championship games.”

03.08.10 – A Monday

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word

narcissism [nahr-suh-siz-em] n. 1. inordinate fascination with oneself; excessive self-love; vanity 2. Psychoanalysis. erotic gratification derived from admiration of one’s own physical or mental attributes, being a normal condition at the infantile level of personality development

birthday

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. (1841), Mississippi John Hurt (1892), Alan Hale, Jr. (1921), Lynn Redgrave (1943), Micky Dolenz (1945), Gary Numan (1958), Aidan Quinn (1959), Camryn Manheim (1961), Shawn Mullins (1968), Freddie Prinze, Jr. (1976), James Van Der Beek (1977)

standpoint

I was all ready to go off on The 82nd Annual Academy Awards but if you haven’t yet figured out how much crap The Oscars are, well, then I’m going to have a hard time figuring out a way to let you down easy. So let’s move on, shall we?

“What are your top 5 albums of all time?”

I get this question a lot. Really. For some, this might be something readily apparent. But, for me, not so much. I mean, I’ve albums I’ll never tire of but I’m not sure that’s the proper criteria. I’ve had albums I’ve listened to non-stop for a month or two but inevitably found myself burned out on. There’s also been those I didn’t like at first but sort of grew into and, now, can’t do without. In addition, there’s albums that fit seamlessly into my life at the right place and time but, now, have lost some, if not all, of their meaning.

Listening preferences, from one stage of life to the next, are fickle and subject to change. Or at least they should be. I can’t imagine what it would be like to plug the same exact album into my CD player for the rest of my life. As a matter of fact, I’m pretty sure that if there’s a hell and I make it there, it’ll be my fate to listen to Led Zeppelin or Yes or Journey or The Steve Miller Band or something similarly dreadful for all of eternity.

The way I see it, listening to music goes hand-in-hand with living life. When someone stops searching for that new sound, that new anything at all, that gets their blood pumping at a different rate than what’s come before, that’s the exact moment someone has concluded that, right then and there, life’s offered all it’s going to. That person is content to listen to the same old songs, wear a Pink Floyd concert t-shirt to summer barbecues and preach about the “fundamental soundness” of classic rock.

And that’s fine for that person. But not for me. I’ve been accused of “liking things no one else knows about” just because no one else knows about them. I’ve been told I probably don’t like the music I listen to and I’m just being different for the sake of being different. Fair enough. Guilty as charged, I guess.

But I’ll never be swayed by anything due to a mild degree of likability, or moderate amount of soundness, and I’ll always be looking for new things to recapture my sense of awe in the world, and not just in music but in all things. That’s how you stay young, no matter what you got going on in that crazy life of yours.

quotation

They’re out there. You can see them in the audience – seemingly witty, attractive and cool. You can imagine talking to them about the short stories of Denis Johnson, or explaining the ever-so-multi-layered metaphors in that one song, the one during which you saw them stifling a lip-sync. Will you ever actually speak to them? Doubt it. Most people that are actually like you think bands are too cool to talk to them. ↔ Mike Doughty

tune

Apparently, I don’t pay as much attention to music as I boast. Turns out, The A-Sides, a Philadelphia band that I really like, broke up about two years ago without letting me know. Not exactly sure why but, hey, shit happens. Two of the guys went on to form a band named Sun Airway. In any case, I always liked “Sidewalk Chalk.”

gallimaufry

Dear Professional Athletes, what in the world is wrong with you? You guys got the money, the fame and every other possible advantage when it comes to attracting pretty much any female you want. Get a grip, will you? Not sure if anyone’s ever explained it to you but women simply frown upon sexual assault. And rightfully so, douchebags. Ever see those relatively unattractive dudes who are dating or married to women they’ve most likely have no business with? Yeah, well, they put in the work and if you did a fraction of it, you’d be level-jumping like the champion you are on the playing field. This is just laziness on your part and, for that, you’re not going to get sympathy on either side of the aisle, male or female.

The City of Brotherly Love has finally come into its own. After all the fighting and scratching and clawing, we’ve got it. That’s right, long considered the benchmark for how big a city truly is, the Red Bull Flugtag is going to grace us with its presence. Not only will you get the opportunity to risk your life by careening off a flight deck in a contraption you made with your best buds evenings after work in your backyard, but you’ll also get to test your body’s ability to fight off infection after a dip in the Delaware River. And I’ll probably be there watching it.

→ I know I’m picking on this lady a little too much lately but I’m certain she’ll have no problem falling asleep tonight on her huge money-stuffed mattress atop her gigantic golden bed.

03.02.10 – A Tuesday

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word

brouhaha [broo-hah-hah, broo-hah-hah, broo-hah-hah] n. 1. excited public interest, discussion, or the like, as the clamor attending some sensational event; hullabaloo: The brouhaha followed disclosures of graft at City Hall 2. an episode involving excitement, confusion, turmoil, etc., esp. a broil over a minor or ridiculous cause: A brouhaha by the baseball players resulted in three black eyes

birthday

Sam Houston (1793), Dr. Seuss (1904), Mel Ott (1909), Desi Arnaz (1917), Mikhail Gorbachev (1931), Tom Wolfe (1931), John Irving (1942), Lou Reed (1942), Rory Gallagher (1948), Gates McFadden (1949), Karen Carpenter (1950), Laraine Newman (1952), Jon Bon Jovi (1962), Daniel Craig (1968), Chris Martin (1977), Ben Roethlisberger (1982), Elizabeth Jagger (1984)

standpoint

So the 2010 Winter Olympics Games in Vancouver are officially over and I can honestly I’m going to kind of miss them. For many reasons, I was much more enthralled this time around.

While the rest of the world searches for the next big thing to fixate on, I’d like to dispense my final salvo on this year’s games. And, yes, I completely understand I’m a day late.

→ I’m genuinely curious to see what new oddity people will discuss now that curling won’t be on television 24 hours a day. Check out this article. Maybe one of these will become the subsequent cult sport.

Team USA was, by far, the best in the Men’s Ice Hockey tournament. Hands down. Sure, they walked away with the silver after a hard fought overtime loss to Team Canada, but they played some of the best and biggest hockey ever. Ryan Miller was the tourney’s best netminder but it was the play of guys like Ryan Kesler, Patrick Kane, Zach Parise, Brian Rafalski and Ryan Suter that made it truly special to watch. Hopefully, the NHL and the NHLPA can agree to let its players participate in 2014, when Team USA will be even better and, most likely, the favorite.

Sidney Crosby, the captain of Team Canada and one of the most annoying people on the planet, scored the gold medal winning goal to capture the top spot for his country, further proving my belief the shithead obviously signed some kind of a deal with the devil. Crosby wasn’t that effective in the tournament but, as usual, he managed to to grab the limelight and snatch up a prize he didn’t necessarily deserve. It’s such a weak-minded character flaw to dislike the dude so much, but I just can’t help myself. Also, he looks like SNL cast member Andy Samberg, who I like.

USA snowboarder Shaun White is one of those annoying athletes who knows he’s good, tells people how good he is and then proceeds to never fall flat out on his face. I’m glad he’s on our side.

→ I’m never going to like Ice Dancing. Never. A sport’s got have some sort of attainable points outside the arbitrary opinions of a bunch of strangers. If that’s not a rule, it should be.

→ Watching the Men’s 50K Mass Start Classic Cross Country Race was maybe the longest couple of hours of my life and even made me entertain the notion of maybe putting on NASCAR. Yeah. It was that exhausting.

Overall, I think everyone got what they wanted out of this year’s games. The American people were able to participate in many discussions and enjoy the fine art that is speculative bullshitting. The USA also received the most medals, which again we like because we don’t need to have the best of everything, just the most of it. And Canada won the most gold medals, including the two for ice hockey, which apparently the country desperately needed. Lastly, I’m pretty sure there were some other nations involved in the whole ordeal but, in all the excitement, I didn’t catch any of their names.

quotation

Happiness, not in another place but this place…not for another hour, but this hour. Walt Whitman

tune

After many years, I’m ready to admit that, in my youth, there was a two or three month period when I was a huge fan of 50s rocker Ritchie Valens. It was most likely right around the same time La Bamba came out. I remember finally seeing an actual picture of the 17-year old Chicano rock ‘n’ roll pioneer and feeling conned – he didn’t look anything at all like Lou Diamond Phillips. Anyway. I always liked “Come On Let’s Go.”

gallimaufry

As much as I became entranced by Olympic hockey, I’m glad the NHL is back in session. Trade deadline is tomorrow at 3pm EST and there should be some serious moves this year. I’m sure close to nine of you are even remotely interested.

→ Last night, I got into a moderately heated debate on Sarah Palin with my mother, who views the ex-governor from Alaska as some sort of victim. For all of you who share that point of view, I offer this. And, for the record, I mean no disrespect to the woman who birthed me. She’s awesome. It’s healthy for people to disagree.

→ Sheesh. Would everyone please get off the back of American singer Elliott Yamin for tweeting during and after the earthquake in Chile? Apparently, the guy helped ease some people’s fears. However, it’s still fair game to make crazy fun out of him for being on Americal Idol.

07.23.09 – Thursday

Word: chagrin [shuhgrin] n. 1. a feeling of vexation, marked by disappointment or humiliation v. 2. to vex by disappointment or humiliation: The rejection of his proposal chagrined him deeply.

Birthday: Pope Clement XI (1649), Raymond Chandler (1888), Pee Wee Reese (1918), Guy Fournier (1931), Claude Fournier (1931), Don Drysdale (1936), Anthony Kennedy (1936), Ronny Cox (1938), Charles Harrelson (1938), Don Imus (1940), Martin Lee Gore (1961), Woody Harrelson (1961), Eriq La Salle (1962), Slash (1965), Philip Seymour Hoffman (1967), Stephanie Seymour (1968), Charisma Carpenter (1970), Alison Krauss (1971), Joel Stein (1971), Marlon Wayans (1972), Monica Lewinsky (1973), Daniel Radcliffe (1989)

Quotation: The whole conviction of my life now rests upon the belief that loneliness, far from being a rare and curious phenomenon, peculiar to myself and to a few other solitary men, is the central and inevitable fact of human existence.Thomas Wolfe

Tune: Remember when, according to indie rock dweebs everywhere, Philadelphia-based then Brooklyn-based Clap Your Hands Say Yeah were supposed to be, like, the next Arcade Fire? Whatever happened with that? Haven’t heard a peep from them recently. Their website hasn’t been updated since May. Let’s get on the stick, fellas. In the meantime, you can listen to my personal favorite song by the band – “Over and Over Again (Lost and Found)”

Gallimaufry: In a season when it seems so many of our culture’s greatest legends are dying, the hits just keep on coming. On Tuesday night, after 15 years of glorious stardom, Gidget died. No. Not Sally Field. The chihuahua from the Taco Bell commercials. Truly, when will this all end? At the risk of sounding insensitive, I’m calling bullshit on the lady who’s accused Ben Roethlisberger of raping her last year in Reno. In my opinion, rape is probably the most heinous crime one can commit due to the fact it’s equal parts mental and physical abuse. Rapists should have their own prisons where the public is allowed to visit and throw rocks at them. In this case, however, I do believe this woman might be a bit unhinged and looking to get some money out of a highly-visible, very popular sports celebrity. Maybe I’m wrong, but my gut’s telling me no. Let the one-can-never-have-too-many-shoes jokes begin. Amazon.com has purchased Zappos.com for $850 million. Amazon’s going to paying Zappos’ employees $40 million in stocks and cash and none of them will be losing their jobs. It’s unclear what motivated the mega-deal or if Zappos’ super-awesome free shipping and return policies will be effected.

03.02.09 – Monday

Whereabouts: Philadelphia, PA

Word: sacrosanct [sak-roh-sangkt] – 1. extremely sacred of inviolable 2. not to be entered or trespassed upon 3. above or beyond criticism, change or interference

Birthday: Sam Houston (1791), Dr. Seuss (1904), Desi Arnaz (1917), Mikhail Gorbachev (1931), Tom Wolfe (1931), John Irving (1942), Lou Reed (1942), Karen Carpenter (1950), Jon Bon Jovi (1962), Ben Roethlisberger (1982)

Occurrence: 1962Wilt Chamberlain scored 100 points for the Philadelphia Warriors against the New York Knicks in a single game. This record has never been broken and, chances are, it never will be.

Irksome: As I write this, it is Sunday evening and it is snowing heavily outside. The forecast is calling for 6”-10” of snow for Monday morning. In the city of Philadelphia, a snowstorm brings out three distinct groups of people:

  1. Alarmed – You walk around your workplace, ask for a weather update every other minute and express absolute astonishment that it might snow as if you live in Mexico City. After work, you drive as fast as you can to the supermarket, buy enough groceries for approximately 6 weeks, speed home, gather your family around, tell them how much you love them and hope that the sun rises in the morning. The sun does rise in the morning and you now have to find a way to use 12 cartons of milk before they spoil.
  2. Ecstatic – You can’t wait for the snow because it means (a) you don’t have to work the next day, and (b) you can get completely drunk like there is no tomorrow. The next morning at 6AM, you wake up to a call from your boss saying that you indeed have to work and you spend the rest of the day cursing “the goddam weatherman.”
  3. Stoic – You are prepared for it to snow. You half-believe the weatherman. You live your life like it is just an ordinary day. The next day is business-as-usual.

Quotation: “Some days it’s incredibly easy to write four thousand words in an afternoon. Other days, it’s impossible to write two sentences. There’s no consistency with the difficulty of the process.”Chuck Klosterman

Tidbit: The term five-hole in hockey refers to the space between the goalies legs. The other holes are the four corners of the goalmouth. As long as I’ve watched hockey and I didn’t know that until this weekend.

Song: Army Navy’s rendition of Maxine Nightingale’s 1975 “Right Back (Where We Started From)” is a cover that makes me realize that even dopey songs from the 70s have some kind of musical value.

Gallimaufry: Click HERE to read all about the feud between The Chestnut Hill Local and The Chestnut Hill Community Association…Saw Milk last night. Great movie. After Into The Wild, I planned on boycotting Sean Penn for eternity, but I lifted the ban last night and thought it was one of the best portrayals ever. Also, James Franco was fantastic. Go see it…There are over 70 sites in the Greater Philadelphia area housing sex slaves. Click HERE to read Tara Murtha’s article about in Philadelphia Weekly.