07.27.11 – a wednesday

word

handsel [han-suhl] n. 1. a gift or token for good luck or as an expression of good wishes, as at the beginning of the new year or when entering upon a new situation or enterprise 2. a first installment of payment 3. the initial experience of anything; first encounter with or use of something taken as a token of what will follow; foretaste  v. 4. to give a handsel to 5. to inaugurate auspiciously 6. to use, try or experience for the first time

birthday

Samuel Smith (1752), Jerry Van Dyke (1931), Peggy Fleming (1948), Yahoo Serious (1953), Bill Engvall (1957), Juliana Hatfield (1967), Maya Rudolph (1972), Pete Yorn (1974), Jonathan Rhys Meyers (1977)

standpoint

Sorry, no new standpoint today. But tomorrow probably.

quotation

Ten seconds from now you don’t know what you’re gonna say or think. So who’s in charge? ↔ Harry Dean Stanton

tune

I’m sure the hipster community is up in arms, conducting meetings and planning an appropriate course of action against Justin Vernon over “Beth/Rest” the last song on the new Bon Iver album. It may sound like a b-side from Pink Floyd circa 1984 but, shit, I’m digging it.

gallimaufry

→ I saw Matt and Kim perform last night on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon and they’re pretty fucking awesome, if I do say so myself.

→ What a complete turnaround. Michael Vick must have the most gifted PR people in the history of folks being famous.

This friggin’ guy and his tiger suit are about as creepy as creepy can get.

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06.17.11 – a friday

word

bray [brey] n. 1. the loud, harsh cry of a donkey 2. any similar loud, harsh sound  v. 3. to utter a loud and harsh cry, as a donkey 4. to make a loud, disagreeable sound

birthday

Igor Stravinsky (1882), M. C. Escher (1898), Newt Gingrich (1943), Barry Manilow (1943), George S. Clinton (1947), Joe Piscopo (1951), Thomas Haden Church (1960), Greg Kinnear (1963), Jason Patric (1966), Will Forte (1970)

standpoint

I’m gonna address a few topics today so just bear with me.

First, a note about this blog. I know the word “daily” is in the title and I’m aware that suggests there should be a new post every day. In the past, that was definitely the case but, for several reasons, it’s just not feasible nowadays. So you all will have to be satisfied with three posts per week. And, no, I’m not changing the name to conform to the current format. Unless one of you can suggest something better. As always, I welcome your ideas.

Next, the Anthony Weiner issue. I get it. The guy’s a scumbag. But should he have been forced to resign? I’m not completely sold. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to be buddies with the guy but it seems to me he did an all right job despite his penchant for the occasional online dalliance. Lots of politicians have done way worse and retained their office. Also, Howard Stern, who’s becoming more irrelevant by the minute, is an asshole for sending one of his douchebag minions to the press conference to shout out mindless bullshit while Weiner was publicly resigning.

Last, the riots in Vancouver two nights ago were absolutely ridiculous. The photo footage looks like an anti-USA rally in Tehran. And I love the headlines: “Frustration Over Canucks Spills Into Downtown Streets.” If that had happened in Philadelphia a year ago when the Flyers lost in the Stanley Cup Finals, the media would have a field day, creating video montages of every awful thing any Philadelphia sports fan had ever done.

quotation

I like it when people talk shit. Because if people weren’t talking shit, there would be nothing for me to come back with. I need that. If I don’t have any ammo, what am I going to say? ↔ Eminem

tune

Hipster all over the country are revitalized this week due to the release of Bon Iver‘s eponymous second album. I loved the first album, For Emma, Forever Ago, but it certainly wasn’t pick-me-up listening. I always wondered (mostly aloud) if it would’ve killed them to pick up the tempo a beat, you know, just for a change of pace. Well, it seems Bon Iver was listening to me as much as I was listening to them. Or, at least, they’re meeting me halfway here. This is “Calgary” off the new album. Enjoy.

gallimaufry

“The World’s Oldest Light Bulb Has Been On for 110 Years” Yeah, you read that right. I like how there’s a “light bulb centennial committee.”

I recommended this book to three different people after I’d only read three chapters. Of those three, exactly none of them actually made it all the way through.  I finished it out of a sense of obligation but wasn’t happy about it. But good for McCann.

→ I’m an unabashed animal lover but there are people out there (including some of my very own readers) who go above and beyond the call of duty. I hope this article is helpful to those of you who look out for those George Eliot called “such agreeable friends.”

05.27.11 – a friday

word

dilapidate [dih-lap-i-deyt] v. 1. to cause or allow (a building, vehicle, etc.) to fall into a state of disrepair, as by misuse or neglect (often used passively): the house had been dilapidated by neglect 2. Archaic. to squander; waste. 3. to fall into ruin or decay

birthday

Cornelius Vanderbilt (1794), Wild Bill Hickok (1837), Hubert H. Humphrey (1911), Vincent Price (1911), Sam Snead (1912), Henry Kissinger (1923), Louis Gossett, Jr. (1936), Richard Schiff (1955), Siouxsie Sioux (1957), Neil Finn (1958), Adam Carolla (1964), Todd Bridges (1965), Jack McBrayer (1973), André 3000 (1975)

standpoint

Fanboys. Generally harmless, right? Sure, if a fanboy (I’m using the term “fanboy” throughout here with the complete understanding that not all fanboys are, in fact, boys.) is into a sports team or a particular genre of science fiction, I’ve got no beef. Adulate away, fanboy. Go nuts.

But there’s one realm of entertainment in which there needs to be an agreed upon set of rules and regulations in regard to a fanboy code of conduct. That realm is music concerts, specifically those of the indie-rock persuasion.

At this point, I’m going to address all you fanboys out there directly.

Seriously, what are you trying to prove? We’re all here to enjoy the show and you’re completely ruining it for the 20 or so of us unfortunate enough to experience the show with you.

Now, you might be thinking, “Hey, he’s not talking about me,” and it’s altogether possible I’m not so here’s a checklist you can go through to see if, indeed, I am talking about you.

√ You’re wearing the t-shirt, no matter how obscure, of the headliner i.e. wearing a Bon Iver t-shirt to a Bon Iver show. As Jeremy Piven warned, “Don’t be that guy.”

√ You’re wearing a t-shirt that has nothing to do with the headliner i. e. wearing a Bon Jovi t-shirt to a Bon Iver show. We get it. When we try to walk, we’re slipping from all the irony you’re dropping on the floor.

√ During rare moments of silence, you shout out the name of some random song the band almost never plays. Rivers Cuomo won’t play Pinkerton anymore. Get over it. (At least, he didn’t used to. He might have changed his mind since the last time I paid any attention to Weezer.)

√ You sing your goddamn guts out to every friggin’ song. Worse, you harmonize to it. You’re not on stage and no one’s paying money to hear you belt out your favorite lyrics. I hope the clown I sat next to at The Shins‘ show a few years back reads this and finally feels guilty that I still have no idea what James Mercer sounds like live.

√ You exuberantly high-five or fist-bump at any point during the show. I concede this one’s a bit of a gray area. Depends on the show, I guess. But, unless it has something to do with a hockey game, I’m still not on board with public high-fiving, I realize my opinion might be in the minority but it shouldn’t be.

√ You’ve written an ultimate dream set-list, refer to it constantly during the course of the show and whip yourself into a talkative state of frenzy as you come closer to the realization it’s just not gonna happen.

√ You record any part of the show for more than five seconds. If you attempt to record the whole thing, you should go home and reconsider what you’ve become.

Bottom line, fanboys (and fangirls), we’re all just trying to watch the show we ponied up good dough to see. Your enthusiasm is equal parts understandable and unwelcome. We’re all psyched to be at the concert but the difference between you and the rest of us is that we understand we’re out in public while you either seem to be ignoring or unaware of that fact. Whichever reason it happens to be, it does nothing to diminish how much you suck.

quotation

Today is my father’s 70th birthday. So this is a quote, by me, about Daniel Lejeune, my papa.

Of everyone I’ve met and everyone I’ve known, I’ve yet to encounter someone with a father like mine. 

tune

One of the best band names ever is Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly. But it’s not a band at all, just the stage name of Sam Duckworth. Haven’t heard much lately from Mr. Duckworth but a few years ago Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly. was a huge buzz band. You’ll have to take my word for that as I’ve nothing to back that statement up. But here’s “Once More With Feeling.” Enjoy.

gallimaufry

They should call this the “Here’s How Bad It’s Gotten Tour.” Please, someone stop this bus. I’m not saying blow it up or anything. But maybe throw some tacks down in front of the tires, sugar in the gas tank or something similar.

→ Man, how pissed off is the entire Cleveland area right now? Sometimes, nightmares can come true.

→ While other media outlets are concerned with trivial matters like world affairs and whatnot, TMZ continues to keep America focused on the important shit. Bono and Maria Shriver had lunch? Two douchebags from Jersey Shore involved in fisticuffs? Lindsay Lohan entertains a visit during the first day of house arrest? You betcha. Why would you frequent any other website?

04.21.11 – a thursday

word

censure [sen-sher] n. 1. strong or vehement expression of disapproval: The newspapers were unanimous in their censure of the tax proposal 2. an official reprimand, as by a legislative body or of one its members  v. 3. to criticize or reproach in a harsh or vehement manner: She is more to pitied than censured 4. to give censure, adverse criticism, disapproval or blame

birthday

Anthony Quinn (1915), Charles Grodin (1935), Iggy Pop (1947), Tony Danza (1951), Andie MacDowell (1958), Robert Smith (1959), Glen Hansard (1970), Rob Riggle (1970), Nicole Sullivan (1970)

standpoint

I’m having a problem here.

If I write what I really want to write about, I’m going to compose a 50,000 word essay on how awful the officiating was in last night’s Flyers-Sabres game.

But I’m not going to do that. Instead, I’m going to cool off a little and come back tomorrow with a positive attitude.

Thanks for reading.

quotation

My father used to play with my brother and me in the yard. Mother would come out and say, “You’re tearing up the grass.” “We’re not raising grass,” Dad would reply. “We’re raising boys.” ↔ Harmon Killebrew

tune

Last night, my brother Jeremy told me I would like “When My Time Comes” by Dawes. And he was right.

gallimaufry

657 new islands were recently discovered right here on our own planet Earth. How in the hell did we miss 657 islands?

Bon Iver’s finally releasing a new album. And I will buy it. And so should you.

Six dollars per gallon for gas by this summer? It takes $40 to fill up my gas tank now. Can’t wait to pay $70. 

07.29.09 – Wednesday

Word: symbiosis [sim-bee-oh-sis, -bahy-] n. 1. Biology. the living together of two dissimilar organisms, as in mutualism, commensalism, amensalism, or parasitism 2. Psychiatry. a relationship between two people in which each person is dependent upon and receives reinforcement, whether beneficial or detrimental, from the other 3. Psychoanalysis. the relationship between an infant and its mother in which the infant is dependent on the mother both physically and emotionally 4. any interdependent or mutually beneficial relationship between two persons, groups, etc

Birthday: Alexis de Tocqueville (1805), Booth Tarkington (1869), Benito Mussolini (1883), Ralph A. Bard (1884), Irwin Corey (1914), Jean Baudrillard (1929), Lou Albano (1933), Peter Jennings (1938), Tony Sirico (1942), Ken Burns (1953), Geddy Lee (1953), Patti Scialfa (1953), Alexandra Paul (1963), Martina McBride (1966), Wil Wheaton (1972), Stephen Dorff (1973), Josh Radnor (1974), Afroman (1974)

Quotation: I have known no man of genius who had not to pay, in some affliction or defect, either physical or spiritual, for what the gods had given him.Max Beerbohm

Tune: It’s difficult to, at the present time, find any band as hot as Bon Iver – a huge part of the bearded men movement (Fleet Foxes, Band of Horses) enjoying the can-do-no-wrong phase some bands enjoy at the onset of rushing popularity. Earlier this year, Bon Iver released a new EP titled Blood Bank. And it contains four very good songs. Take a listen to the title track – “Blood Bank.”

Gallimaufry: First and foremost, I’d like to extend my sympathies to the family of Philadelphia Eagles’ Defensive Coordinator Jim Johnson, who dies yesterday from cancer at the age of 68. Truly a good guy in a sport dangerously short of them. I don’t know about all of you, but I’d like to have one week where we don’t see someone in public spotlight die for a change. It’s not good for the collective psyche. How is it all these people who, for the most part, bettered our society are dying undeservedly and world-class shithead Osama bin Laden is still running out there somewhere. Justice? I’m not seeing it.  While I’m on the subject of world-class shitheads, if someone is making a list of them, Glenn Beck better be featured prominently on it. Yesterday, on FOX News’ morning show, “Fox & Friends,” the popular talk show host, while discussing the Henry Louis Gates Jr. case, accused President Obama of having “a deep-seated hatred for white people or the white culture.” (Which is it, genius?) When challenged on his remarks by host Brian Kilmeade, who pointed out Obama has surrounded himself with a mostly-white staff in the White House, Beck replied, “I’m not saying he doesn’t like white people. He has a problem. This guy is, I believe, a racist.” Huh? How can a guy like white  people while simultaneously carrying “a deep-seated hatred” for them? If you’re cool like me, you’ll be at The Manhattan Room (or The M-Room)on 15 W. Girard Avenue in Philadelphia tonight to watch Chicago band Athens open up for Anders Manly.

05.13.09 – Wednesday

Word: melodrama [meluh-drah-muh, -dram-uh] n. 1. a dramatic form that does not observe the laws of cause and effect and that exaggerates emotion and emphasizes plot or action at the expense of characterization 2. melodramatic behavior or events 3. (in the 17th, 18th, and early 19th centuries) a romantic dramatic composition with music interspersed

Birthday: Joe Louis (1914), Bea Arthur (1922), Jim Jones (1931), Harvey Keitel (1939), Ritchie Valens (1941), Mary Wells (1943), Stevie Wonder (1950), Dennis Rodman (1961), Stephen Colbert (1964), Darius Rucker (1966), Buckethead (1968)

Standpoint: Yesterday, I revealed the results of an experiment I conducted involving Google Image Search. The goal was to see if I could type in just about any word and eventually come across an image displaying inappropriate content. In the interest of saving you from clicking back and forth, I’ll republish how I went about this and my findings:

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

As you can see, some of the words failed to produce what I was looking for. At least not in the parameters of Google Image Search, which is widely considered the industry standard. The word “book” yielded no unseemly results. Neither did the words “lunch” or “snack.”

All but one of the others (“dinner”) did produce some kind of image not suitable for the background of your desktop computer. That’s 34 of 38, or a little over 89%, of the words I used – a pretty high percentage. It would be like Philadelphia Phillies second baseman Chase Utley having a batting average of .894. That means he would only fail to produce a hit in 1½ of every ten at-bats. So my original hypothesis was only just a little off but mainly right on.

But does it really mean anything? If we look at the results in that words with the lowest numbers (“big”, “female” and “male”) represent higher sex appeal and words with the highest numbers (“office”, “brick” and “romance”) represent lower sex appeal, they don’t make a lot of sense. Wouldn’t it be more feasible that “fun” would produce a quicker result than “boredom?” But it’s not the actual words that matter here. What does matter is the high likelihood of discovering adult material while conducting an otherwise innocent image search.

So exactly what did I learn? Well. Besides that it’s impossible to log all the types of fetishes out there and that pictures of the “girl next door” are apparently infinitely more popular than those taken of “professional” models, I came away with a different sense of the collective human mindset. Maybe some of the experts are right. When it comes down to it, sex could very well be the driving force behind most of how we think and act. I mean, it’s not like I could use the same set of words and eventually happen upon an image of money or mountain lions or Nascar. I tried. It only works for sex.

And is that really a bad thing? Maybe. I wouldn’t say that society is consumed with sexual thoughts, but based on my rudimentary findings, it’s well on its way. And that must be a horrifying concept for those who point a shameful finger at sex the same way the rest of us do at the slaughter of innocent animals. But it’s not scary for everyone. It could be that the internet has provided a vehicle for those, once thought of as sexual deviants, to realize they’re not alone in feeling the way that they do. And that’s got to be more of a good thing than bad. At least, I hope that last sentence is true. And for those who are truly concerned, Google offers many options that filter out most anything you don’t wish to see.  

Now, is any of this truly important? I think so. Educating yourself on the potential dangers of your society is always helpful. Some of what I found could definitely pose a serious threat, not only to young people, but to confused adults as well. Awareness of anything that could be harmful automatically decreases the risk of its pitfalls. The truth is that there’s lots of crazy sexual activity out in the world. You can run from it or embrace it. Or you can simply leave it alone and keep doing your thing. But the bottom line is that while it’s not imperative to start Congressional hearings on the matter of internet porn, it is something that shouldn’t be taken lightly.

And as a bonus, now we know that a key is considered way more erotic than a desk. So that debate is settled.

Quotation: Television has proved that people will look at anything rather than each other. Ann Landers

Tune: “Blindsided” is one of those mellow songs that won’t put you to sleep. Actually, all of For Emma, Forever Ago by Bon Iver is the same way.

Gallimaufry: Years ago, Mike Jerrick was the offbeat co-anchor of FOX Philadelphia’s Good Day Philadelphia. Now he’s the offbeat co-anchor of  The Morning Show with Mike & Juliet. I’m not usually a fan of morning talk shows but I like this one, especially when they do “The Male Room.” ∞ President Obama is trying to find a way to trim some fat off of the federal budget. Literally. Yesterday, he “met with CEOs of companies that have found innovative ways to lower health care costs and improve employees’ health.” ∞ More so than ever, it appears that celebrities are doing more good things than bad. OK, maybe that’s not entirely true. Or maybe I’m sincerely impressed with the genorosity of Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet and James Cameron, who donated $30,000 to the last survivor of the the Titanic. Good stuff.  

Incoming: Tomorrow – Your entries for this week’s edition of Annoying Sayings & Misused Words. Friday – This weekend’s 3 Things To Do In Philly When You’re Dead and 7 Cover Songs That Are Better Than the Original.

04.27.09 – Monday

Word: somnolent [som-nuh-luhnt] adj. 1. sleepy; drowsy 2. tending to cause sleep: For him, the opera was a somnolent experience.

Birthday: Mary Wollstonecraft (1759), Samuel F.B. Morse (1791), Ulysses S. Grant (1822), Jack Klugman (1922), Casey Kasem (1932), August Wilson (1945), Frank William Abagnale Jr. (1948), Kate Pierson (1948), Ace Frehley (1951), Sheena Easton (1959)

Occurence: 1810Beethoven composes Für Elise.

Standpoint: Over this past weekend, I walked into a bar. That’s not the intro to a joke. But the end result was funny. I had unsuspectingly entered the sometimes-strange, occasionally-uncomfortable but always-entertaining world of karaoke.

If you’re between the age of 21 and 120, you’ve inevitably experienced this Japanese form of entertainment. Admit it. Whether an active participant or an amused onlooker, you’ve attended – on purpose or by accident – what Jim Carrey in The Cable Guy called “a karaoke jam.” If you’ve never been, you are either (a) living in some cave on a very high mountain or (b) overly concerned with maintaining your “too-cool-for-karaoke” status. (If you fall into one of those two categories, I congratulate you, albeit for very different reasons.)

In any case, if you’re one of the billions who have actually witnessed it live, then you’ve undoubtedly noticed what I have. No matter where or in what kind of place it takes place, watching karaoke will always brings out the following types of individuals:

  • “The Trailblazer” – This person gets up to sing first because he or she is either (a) dared by friends to do it, or (b) the self-desrcibed “life of the party.” Most likely, the rendition is not awful but “The Ham” is in no danger of being hounded by record label executives. Probable Song Selection: Something by Madonna or Journey.
  • “The Pro” – For the first few songs, you’ll most likely witness this person, sitting with a small group of friends (if any), and stoically analyzing the participants like Simon Cowell. When his or her name is called to step up to microphone, “The Pro” will rise with limited fanfare, walk confidently towards the front and belt out the lyrics. The performance is much better than what been offered so far and most in attendance will turn to a friend and give a look that says, “Hey, this ain’t so bad.” At the end of the song, he or she receives a loud cheer while walking unassumingly back to his or her chair. Probable song selection: Something by Celine Dion or Billy Joel. [Note: Inescapably, “The Pro” will become less and less appreciated over the course of the night due to everyone getting drunker and realizing they have more fun when people suck. After many drinks, “The Pro” is more commonly referred to as “that fucking showoff who keeps singing the sappy songs.”]
  • “The Badass” – Usually a male, this character brings a certain machismo to the mic. His attitude is a mixture of “I’m the greatest,” and “Karaoke is for douchebags.” The beers and shots have gotten the better of him, and he’s decided to show the crowd how it’s done. The song completed, he’ll usually shove the microphone back at the DJ or simply drop it on the ground before strutting off the stage. Shooting the middle finger to all gathered is optional but not a requirement for “The Badass.” Probable Song Selection: Metallica or Guns ‘N’ Roses. Maybe Poison.
  • “The Giggler” – Opposite of “The Badass,” this is commonly a woman or, more accurately, a group of women who’ve collectively gathered the nerve to take the stage after a very long conversation in which, “I’ll go up there if you do,” is uttered close to 900 times. The ladies will take the stage with the best intentions but only two of them will actually sing the song. The other three will look out at the crowd and laugh with hands over their faces. For both the participants and observers, the performance can’t end soon enough. Probable Song Selection: Britney Spears or Cyndi Lauper.
  • “The Longshot” – During the course of the night, there is always a dark horse. Someone who gets up and sings dreadfully but possesses a certain characteristic like being older than everyone else or being cute in a non-traditional way. The crowd will rally around  and spur him or her on. This is unique to karaoke because it’s the only time someone can do something worse than everyone else and get the loudest round of applause. For one night, “The Longshot” is the most popular person in the place.  Our common love of the underdog combined with our penchant for overindulging in booze makes this possible. Probably Song Selection: Frank Sinatra or Neil Diamond.
  • “The Almost” – Wastes the entire night by going back and forth on whether to get up and sing and will annoy practically everyone by polling them on if he or she should, “just get up there and do it.” Never getting the needed encouragement due to the fact that no one really gives a shit, his or her attention will be turned toward becoming the drunkest person in bar (who didn’t sing).

The one undeniable fact about karaoke is that its huge popularity is owed directly to massive consumption of alcoholic beverages. Without booze, karaoke doesn’t exist.

Quotation: Life is something that happens when you can’t go to sleep. Fran Lebowitz

Tune: On every mix CD I’ve made in the past 5 years, Pinback‘s “Fortress” has eventually made it on to each one of them.

Gallimaufry: Britain’s Got Talent‘s Susan Boyle getting a makeover or Simon Cowell’s response to it? It was a dead heat in the battle of news items I couldn’t care less about…Lollapalooza announced its 2009 lineup. Along with the obvious acts (Depeche Mode, Beastie Boys, Jane’s Addiction), some of the chosen (Band of Horses, The Manchester Orchestra, Bon Iver, Andrew Bird) make me feel like the organizers are purposely trying to get me in Chicago this August 7-9…Only in this day and age can something like a cruise ship fighting off a bunch of Somali pirates be spun as a negative against the good guys.

Incoming: As I wrote last week, I moved this weekend. I’m a little behind in terms of being organized for this week’s posts. Stay tuned for more details.