12.30.09 – A Wednesday

WORD

onerous [on-er-uhs, oh-ner-] adj. 1. burdensome, oppressive, or troublesome; causing hardship: onerous duties 2. having or involving obligations or responsibilities, esp. legal ones, that outweigh the advantages: an onerous agreement

BIRTHDAY

Titus (39), Rudyard Kipling (1865), Bo Diddley (1928), Del Shannon (1934), James Burrows (1940), Michael Nesmith (1942), Fred Ward (1942), Davy Jones (1945), Patti Smith (1946), Jeff Lynne (1947), Meredith Vieira (1953), Suzy Bogguss (1956), Matt Lauer (1957), Tracey Ullman (1959), Heidi Fleiss (1965), Tiger Woods (1975), Tyrese (1978), Eliza Dushku (1980), LeBron James (1984)

STANDPOINT

Well, tomorrow is New Year’s Eve and that means 2009 (thankfully) will be going away forever and 2010 will be ushered in with lots and lots of wishful thinking.

I know I, for one, will be happy to see 2009 end.

Every year, around this time, I can’t help but look back on what was going on 365 days previous and if I’m where I thought I’d be. (Fortunately, I’m not.) I’m relatively certain that’s what most everyone else does, too. Makes me wonder about how some of this year’s newsmakers thought this year would turn out…

Richard Poplawski was probably cleaning one of his many guns, unaware a mere four months later, he’d become one of the most despicable assholes ever by killing three police officers responding to a call from his mother.

Tiger Woods was most likely spending time with his family, sporadically scurrying to the bathroom to text message one of several women he was seeing on the side, unable to comprehend a year that saw him go from arguably the world’s most popular athlete to its biggest punchline.

Billy Mays, Brittany Murphy, Michael Jackson, Natasha Richardson, Patrick Swayze and Steve McNair were all as likely as not unknowingly ushering in their last change of the calendar year.

Barack Obama was, in all probability, conjuring the first year of his Presidency, one without all the fucking smoke-and-mirror nonsense perpetrated by his political rivals.

George W. Bush was definitely daydreaming about spending some quality time, sitting on the edge of his bed and staring at a blank wall.

Brett Favre was apparently relatively close to finally retiring, after three years of indecision. And that’s exactly what he did. Shortly after, he signed with the Minnesota Vikings.

Michael Vick was languishing in the midst of an 18-month stint in prison for slaughtering defenseless dogs, no doubt curious of where the end of 2009 would find him. Several months later, he’d find himself as the least productive member of the Philadelphia Eagles. Don’t worry, though, the initial outrage demonstrated by animal rights advocates was short-lived due to this country’s unnatural obsession with the NFL.

Yes, indeed, 2009 was kind of a screwy fuck of a year. Let’s hope we can get our act together for 2010.

QUOTATION

New Year’s eve is like every other night; there is no pause in the march of the universe, no breathless moment of silence among created things that the passage of another twelve months may be noted; and yet no man has quite the same thoughts this evening that come with the coming of darkness on other nights.Hamilton Wright Mabie

TUNE

I’ve always loved “Hide and Seek” by Imogen Heap. I just do. That’s it.

GALLIMAUFRY

Tomorrow night will be special, not only because it’ll be New Year’s Eve, but because it’ll feature a blue moon. And that’s not quite what you think it is.

→ Christ. David Goldman, who recently won a nine-year legal battle to get his son back, was flown home by NBC and some journalists’ group is upset for what their calling “checkbook journalism.” Mainly, I think they’re all pissed because NBC beat them to the punch. People will bitch about just about anything.

Van Morrison, 64, has proven it’s never too late to become a daddy. Again.

That’s it for me this year. I hope everyone has a fantastic New Year’s Eve. Be safe. Don’t be an idiot.

All of next week, starting Monday, I’ll be concentrating on more of looking back on 2009. Come back then for some more. And thanks for reading.

07.20.09 – Monday

Word: propitious [pruhpishuhs] adj. 1. presenting favorable conditions; favorable: propitious weather 2. indicative of favor; auspicious: propitious omens 3. favorably inclined; disposed to bestow favors or forgive: propitious gods

Birthday: Alexander the Great (356 BC), Francesco Petrarch (1304), Edmund Hillary (1919), Chuck Daly (1930), Natalie Wood (1938), Kim Carnes (1945), Carlos Santana (1947), Donna Dixon (1957), Billy Mays (1958), Frank Whaley (1963), Chris Cornell (1964), Stone Gossard (1966), Vitamin C (1969), Sandra Oh (1971), Omar Epps (1973)

Quotation: There’s nothing like getting arrested or winding up in the emergency room at Cedars to make you think you might not be a “social drinker.”Ed Begley Jr.

Tune: In the ongoing exploration of the thousands of unlistened to songs on my iPod, I’ve come across anothe song that I’m quite fond of – “Hidden Thieves” by Israeli band, missFlag.

Gallimaufry: “Had I known I was going to live this long, I might not have stepped down from the anchor desk so soon and missed out on a lot of the dandy stories of this last quarter century. However, I would not change the opportunities and the fun I’ve had with my family and friends, and the folks I’ve met sailing and traveling in these ensuing years.” Those were written a few years back by legendary anchorman Walter Cronkite and published in Charles Grodin‘s book, If I Only Knew Then…Learning From Our Mistakes. This past Saturday, Cronkite died at the age of 92, just three days before the 40th anniversary of the first moon landing, an event to which he will always be linked. Truly, an important and honorable man. For those of you who watched the final round of yesterday’s 2009 British Open, how heartbreaking was it to watch the 18th-hole collapse of 59-year old Tom Watson? The bogey put him in a four-hole playoff with Stewart Cink, who eventually captured the win after Watson triple-bogeyed the the 17th-hole. I’m not going to lie. I, like most everyone else watching, was pulling for Watson, who is probably unlikely to find himself in a situation like that in a major championship ever again. Jack Nicholson and Paul Rudd have been seen in Philadelphia as of late. They’re here for filming of a as-yet-unnamed James L. Brooks movie. So is Owen Wilson. And, over the weekend, Reese Witherspoon came into town and will be here until October. It’s time like this we can simply hope everyone behaves themselves and, months from now, we won’t be hearing amusing anecdotes about Philly’s unique style of hospitality on all the talk shows.

Standpoint – 06.30.09 – Why Some Death Is More Important Than Others.

Depending on if you trust the source or not, since Iran’s “election” the death toll is around 19. (It’s most likely higher.) This month, 11 US soldiers have died while serving in Iraq, 38 have died in Afghanistan. That’s a total of 68 people.

68 people were killed, fighting for notions they believed in. It’s altogether possible you couldn’t care less about election fraud half a world away, or you’re staunchly opposed to the idea of our troops occupying the Middle East in the first place. But 68 people were killed, fighting for notions they believed in.

I’d wager less than 5% of you knew that statistic before reading this. Truthfully, until a minute ago, neither did I.

And why is that?

As likely as not, we’re unconcerned about those 68 people because exactly none of them recorded a #1 hit song, or energetically pitched cleaning products. Sadly, we’re uninterested in them because neither of them were Michael Jackson or Billy Mays.

Unless you’ve been asleep with your headphones on under a lead blanket in a remote cave for some time, you already know that both Jackson and Mays passed away in the past week, three days apart. Both mysteriously and suddenly died at the age of 50. Both were icons in their own right. And, predictably, their respective untimely demises are all anyone wants to talk about.

Michael Jackson was the most successful recording artist in the history of music. He was the King of Pop. Also, it’s most likely he was a pedophile. In recent years, he’d become a walking punchline due to (a) a series of unsuccessful comeback attempts, (b) numerous accusations of child molestation, and (c) multiple plastic surgery procedures that transformed him into the world’s oddest looking human being. Realistically, Jackson hadn’t done anything of merit musically in about 20 years. But, right now, nobody seems overly concerned about details. Most people are more moved to share their “first-time-I-heard-‘Thriller'” moments. No one wants those memories diminished by the idea that something from their past, something so cherished and poignant in their recollections, was created by a mentally unbalanced man who may or may not demonstrated an unhealthy sexual desire for young boys. No one cares he might’ve ruined dozens of kids lives. Instead of facing that truth, we’ve decided to get into our time machines (via our televisions, computers and iPods) and go back to a time where Jacko actually mattered. As tends to be the case when a washed-up musician dies, nothing matters but the hits.

Billy Mays was a professional pitchman and, admittedly, an outstanding one. In the arena of pushing household cleaning products, the man was without equal. But most people would probably agree that if, instead of yelling about OxiClean on your TV set, Mays was a guy at a party, yapping with the same intensity about…well, anything at all, everyone present would be counting down the seconds until it was time for his boisterous ass to leave. But as long as he was boasting about some cleverly-named cleaning solvent’s ability to rectify some highly implausible stain scnerio, while on the screen of a device we could turn off at any time, Mays was seen as a lovable bear of a man with nothing but thoughtfully loud advice on your domestic uncleanliness problem.

In the scheme of our day-to-day lives, both Jackson and Mays were irrevelant. We’d be hard-pressed to find anyone, outside of both men’s families and close friends, who could offer one legitimate way life has drastically changed since Jackson and Mays respectively stopped drawing breath.

Jackson wasn’t going to make another “Billie Jean.” Of the two, Mays had a better shot at recording a hit song.

We don’t care that 68 people were killed, fighting for notions they believed in. Notions like human rights and civil government.

We do care that two men died suddenly. Men whose existence was based primarily on pushing a product they needed us to believe in.

And it sucks but it worked.

06.29.09 – Monday

Word: sociopath [soh-see-uh-path, soh-shee-] n. a person, as a psychopathic personality, whose behavior is antisocial and who lacks a sense of moral responsibility or social conscience

Birthday: William Mayo (1861), Nelson Eddy (1901), Slim Pickens (1919), Robert Evans (1930), Harmon Killebrew (1936), Gary Busey (1944), Richard Lewis (1947), Colin Hay (1953), Maria Conchita Alonso (1957), Michael Nutter (1957), Jeff Burton (1967), Sam Farrar (1978)

Quotation: To do a common thing, uncommonly well, brings success – Henry John Heinz

Tune: “Orchestrated indie pop with brilliant melodies and a quiet sense of everything.” That’s what Hybrid Magazine has to say about Portland, Oregon band Derby. It’s a damn near dead-on description, too. Check out “If Ever There’s A Reason” from Posters Fade. Here’s a year-old review of the album by Conor McKay of NPR.

Gallimaufry: In what is now becoming an almost daily occurence, another celebrity has suddenly passed away. Professional pitchman Billy Mays was discovered dead in his bed by his wife yesterday morning. Saturday afternoon, Mays, a man who was famous for yelling at the top of his lungs about the effectiveness of such products as OxiClean and Orange Glo,  bumped his head as his plane touched down in Tampa International Airport in what was described as “a rough landing.” As of yet, no one’s claiming a connection between the landing and Mays’ untimely death. I don’t care what anyone else has to say about it. The fact that the US Men’s National Soccer Team made it to the finals of the FIFA Confederates Cup and actually came close to beating Brazil before eventually falling 3-2 late in the game is a good thing. I’m proud of them. And you should be too. For 2010’s FIFA World Cup South Africa, this year’s showing in the Confederates Cup will give US soccers fans (all 254 of them) something to look forward to. Spoon has got to be the hardest working band in the history of music. I know it and now so do you. Unlike Conor Oberst, who releases something new each week (some good, most bad), Spoon keeps pumping out quality track after quality track. Tomorrow, the Merge Records band is releasing a new EP called Got Nuffin. Go get it on Amazon.