03.30.11 – a wednesday

word

taradiddle [tar-uhdid-l] n. 1. a small lie; fib 2. pretentious nonsense

birthday

Francisco Goya (1746), Vincent van Gogh (1853), Richard Dysart (1929), Warren Beatty (1937), Eric Clapton (1945), Paul Reiser (1957), Tracy Chapman (1964), Piers Morgan (1965), Celine Dion (1968), Norah Jones (1979)

standpoint

I have been fantasizing about starting a segment called For Christ’s Sake, Let’s Focus, a place where I can elucidate crap society is actually concerned about instead of what it should be. And today, the fantasy becomes a reality. Let’s start.

“Kevin Federline’s Girlfriend Expecting His Fifth Child” – This was on the front page of FoxNews.com. Is this newsworthy? Federline was famous for about nine minutes while he was married to Britney Spears who is herself struggling to remain famous. Big news.

“Cavaliers top LeBron, Heat 102-90” – LeBron upset the whole city of Cleveland by leaving for Miami. This story was one of the most popular last night on every major news website. Hey, Cleveland, the dude is gone. Get your shit together.

“Season 5 of ‘Mad Men’ Is Delayed Until 2012” – Wow. What in the hell is this world coming to? How will we move on? Stop playing God, Matthew Weiner.

“First Celebrity Bounced From ‘Dancing'” – That’s Dancing With The Stars, by the way, and that first celebrity happened to be none other than Mike Catherwood. You read that right. Mike Catherwood. Oh. You don’t know who the hell that is either? Phew. Thought I was out of the loop.

“Sis Throws Kate Middleton’s Bachelorette Party” – I love the first line from this one: “If you were looking for an invitation to Kate Middleton’s bachelorette party, too late – you’ve all ready missed it.” Even I’m at a loss for words with this one. So so so sad.

That’s it for now. I’m too annoyed to go on. Civilization is headed down the wrong road.

quotation

I hate small towns because once you’ve seen the cannon in the park there’s nothing else to do. ↔ Lenny Bruce

tune

I make no secret of how I tend to gravitate toward fantastic lyrics like the ones featured in “Back In the Saddle” by Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin. Listen closely. You might learn a little something, people.

gallimaufry

Philadelphia, can we please just resolve this issue? One way or the other, let’s just go with it all ready.

Breaking news: Facebook not a good idea for teens. No way.

Unfortunately, I think these folks may be right. Stupid experts.

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01.04.10 – A Monday

WORD

dogmatic [dawg-mat-ik, dog-] 1. of, pertaining to, or of the nature of a dogma or dogmas; doctrinal 2. asserting opinions in a doctrinaire or arrogant manner; opinionated

BIRTHDAY

Sir Isaac Newton (1643), Jacob Grimm (1785), Don Shula (1930), Dyan Cannon (1937), Bernard Sumner (1956), Patty Loveless (1957), Matt Frewer (1958), Michael Stipe (1960), Dave Foley (1963), Julia Ormond (1965), David Berman (1967)

STANDPOINT

So, not only is it the the end of a year, it’s the end of a decade. Which, in my estimation, has more than quadrupled the annual year-in-review nonsense. What is the use of exploring what’s transpired in the last 365 days? Or the last 3,652.42199? (That’s exactly how many days are in a decade which kind of weirds me out.)

In any case, I’m only a human being. And so I’ve read some of these lists. Apparently, 2009 is one most people would like to see flushed down the toilet with extreme prejudice. (I’m one of them, but not due to anything outside of my own personal experience.) This past year was, according to most accounts, one filled with tantamount portions of both doom and gloom. And, while I guess everyone is right and everything is sort of shitty, I think it’s wholly irrefutable things could be worse.

And, the reason is this:  In the course of perusing and pondering all the recent trials and tribulations of our downtrodden society, I came upon Yahoo!’s Year In Review – Top 10 Searches. I concluded shit can’t be all that bad after reading what people seem to actually care about.

Despite the times, we’ve clearly got an advantage over any other generation that came before us because, in the internet, we’ve got a vast archive of information that can help better pretty much any situation. I was fully expecting terms like, “financial help,” and “employment opportunities,” to appear somewhere on a list of top searches by a group of individuals who spend most of its time worrying about the future. But, as happens more than not, people leave me disappointed.

Instead of searching for help, everyone’s searching for crap. The top search term of the year was Michael Jackson. Before his untimely death, only the most ardent fans truly seemed to care about whatever odd capers Jacko was involved in. Once he died, everyone took an active interest and felt the need to seek out information on someone they pretty much knew everything about in the first place.

The rest of the top search list was, in order, The Twilight Saga, WWE, Megan Fox, Britney Spears, Naruto (whatever the fuck that is), American Idol, Kim Kardashian, NASCAR and Rune Scape (again, huh?).

Once finding this data, I decided that, hey, everything’s going to be just fine. Because, if life was as seriously dismal as most would have us believe, we’d probably spend less time question for knowledge on tweener flicks, supposed sports, irrelevant celebrities, reality television and, again, whatever those other two are.

Let’s just relax people and collectively ease back from the ledge. If, as as culture, we’re concerning ourselves with such inconsequential nonsense on the internet, how ominous could it really be? Right?

QUOTATION

You know, Hitler wanted to be an artist. At eighteen, he took his inheritance, seven hundred kronen, and moved to Vienna to live and study. He applied to the Academy of Fine Arts and later to the School of Architecture. Ever see one of his paintings? Neither have I. Resistance beat him. Call it overstatement but I’ll say it anyway: it was easier for Hitler to start World War II than it was for him to face a blank square of canvas. → Steven Pressfield

TUNE

I’m fully aware of the fact that, in terms of music, I’ve a tendency to circulate around certain artists. Sorry. Some of these folks are just too damn good.  I found “New Amsterdam” on vodpod (a site I feel you should most likely be checking out) over the weekend and decided to share one of my favorite Elvis Costello offerings.

GALLIMAUFRY

→ I’m disgusted to report that even I’m not immune to the controversial MTV “reality” show Jersey Shore. The creators should be rounded up, along with anyone remotely involved including the cast, stuffed into a bag and hammertossed into the ocean. That said, I’m still watching it. Shit, I’m watching it right now. Christ.

→ It seems the Philadelphia Eagles‘ run of stepping ass-backward into big piles of sunshine has come to a close. Yesterday’s shutout loss the Dallas Cowboys was pretty embarrassing. Luckily, instead of enjoying the bye week they’d have earned from a victory, the whole team gets to go back to Dallas next week and do it all over again.

Jeff Bridges might finally get his due with an Oscar nod this year for his role in Crazy Heart. About effing time.

11.12.09 – A Thursday

WORD

platitude [plat-i-tood, -tyood] n. 1. a flat, dull, or trite remark, esp. one uttered as if it were fresh or profound 2. the quality or state of being flat, dull, or trite: the platitude of most political oratory

BIRTHDAY

Bartomoleo Bandinelli (1493), Elizabeth Cady Stanton (1815), Auguste Rodin (1840), Karl Marx (1897), Jo Stafford (1917), Kim Hunter (1922), Charles Manson (1934), Mills Lane (1936), Booker T. Jones (1944), Al Michaels (1944), Neil Young (1945), Megan Mullally (1958), Sammy Sosa (1968), Tonya Harding (1970), Tevin Campbell (1976), Ryan Gosling (1980), Anne Hathaway (1982)

STANDPOINT

One things that bugs the shit out of me is when someone, after finding I lean toward the indie rock persuasion in terms of music listening, will classify me as a “music snob.”

The reason it irks me is because it’s simply not true. Well, not completely true anyhow. There’s truth to the idea I look down my nose at artists like Pink, Britney Spears and Kanye West. But it’s only because I think that those artists (and about a million more) really concentrate on finding new ways to suck. And not just at music. At life, as well.

However, if you like those artists and want to listen to them, feel free. Yu can turn them on and dance around your living room and scream the moronic lyrics at the top of your lungs for all I care.

You see, because while I have discerning musical tastes, I am all for you listening to whatever makes you happy. Even if that same music makes me uncontrollably sad. Listen to what you like. It’s your choice.

The problem I have is when someone like you tries to engage me in some sort of debate about musis, lecturing me on the finer, more subtle points of music. Here’s where I gotta stop you.

As I stated before, listen to what you like. But, please, for both our benefit make no attempts to persuade me one way or another about the musical merits of the new Green Day album or how I don’t really understand what Taylor Swift is really singing about. I do. I get it. And, as you’ve made a conscious decision to like that kind of thing, I’ve chosen to go the exact opposite way with my listening pleasure.

So when you call me a “music snob,” you should not be too surprised when the next 30,000 words that come out of my mouth are directed squarely at you, your intellgence and your lack of depth.

Because, really, what’s the difference between you accusing me of being too deep to understand the simplicity of simple music, and me accusing you of being too much of a simpleton to understand the simplicity of great music?

Guess that clears that up. Glad we had this talk.

QUOTATION

What is the feeling when you’re driving away from people, and they recede on the plain till you see their specks dispersing? It’s the too huge world vaulting us, and it’s good-bye. But we lean forward to the next crazy venture beneath the skies.Jack Kerouac

TUNE

Seems like a ton of bands are doing the return-to-rock thing. (See Kings of Leon, My Morning Jacket) Usually, I dislike these trends. Furthermore, I hate being told what to like by anyone. But, being the music geek I am, forcing myself to listen to everything I possibly can (within limits) is something I just need to do. And, sometimes, I stumble upon a band that, despite myself, I kind of really dig. Like Alberta Cross, the NYC-based via London band that just released its debut album, Broken Side of Time. Check out “ATX.”

GALLIMAUFRY

THR.com has published a list of the top male TV earners. Tops? Simon Cowell at $75 million a year. No surprise there. Number 10 was a bit of a surprise, though. David Caruso at $9 million per year. All you hammy actors out there have some hope. (Personally, I love watching Caruso in CSI:Miami.)

→ I posted this on Facebook yesterday but I had to share it again here. This is one of the most ridiculous commercials I’ve ever seen. And up here in Phoenixville PA, it’s on like non-stop. It’s for KIA of West Chester and it’s almost making me want to got there and pretend I want to buy a car. Just to see if these dudes are equally hopped-up off camera. My favorite part is when the one dude, Anthony, gets cut off in the middle of the catch phrase, “THAT’S CRAAAZY!” Indeed.

→ The dude who started the Twitter account @shitmydadsays has signed a TV deal with CBS, after signing a book deal recently. Congrats, brother. I love it when stuff like that happens. My favorite tweet of his so far? “Son, no one gives a shit about all the things your cell phone does. You didn’t invent it, you just bought it. Anybody can do that.”

06.15.09 – Monday

Word: sylvan [sil-vuhn] adj. 1. of, pertaining to, or inhabiting the woods 2. consisting of or abounding in woods or trees; wooded; woody: a shady, sylvan glade 3. made of trees, branches, boughs, etc n. 4. a person dwelling in a woodland region 5. a mythical deity or spirit of the woods

Birthday: Nicolas Poussin (1594), Sam Giancana (1908), Yuri Andropov (1914), Mario Cuomo (1932), Waylon Jennings (1937), Harry Nilsson (1941), Xaviera Hollander (1943), Simon Callow (1949), Jim Varney (1949), James Belushi (1954), Julie Hagerty (1955), Helen Hunt (1963), Courteney Cox (1964), Ice Cube (1969), Leah Remini (1970), Jake Busey (1971), Justin Leonard (1972), Neil Patrick Harris (1973), Gary Lightbody (1976)

Quotation: Failure and success seem to have been allotted to men by their stars.  But they retain the power of wriggling, of fighting with their star or against it, and in the whole universe the only really interesting movement is this wriggle.E. M. Forester

Tune: Rolling Stone had this to say about Blitzen Trapper‘s latest release, Furr – “Throughout the album, Blitzen keep their songs highly tuneful, making Furr a breakthrough worthy of toasting with a microbrew, or several.” Check out the title track – “Furr”

Gallimaufry: What a fucking mess. Friday’s presidential election in Iran has left the country in turmoil with many, both inside and outside, calling the election a farce. Apparently, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad beat his opponent, Mir Hossein Mousavi, by a large margin. The newly-elected President said Sunday, “Some believed they would win, and then they got angry.” He then likened the riots in his country to those of  “the passions after a soccer match.” (I thought we Americans were the only ones who called it “soccer.”) He furthered with, “In Iran, the election was a real and free one.”  He was so confident in his victory he shutdown text-messaging capabilities and dissenting newspapers. Dubai-based news network Al Arabiya was warned repeatedly on Saturday to “be careful in reporting ‘chaos’ accurately.” Seems totally normal to me. Just like every other “real and free” election.   Kim Kardashian is looking to switch gears by – you guessed it – launching a pop music career. Here’s her vision – “I would like the music to sound a bit like Lady Gaga, Britney Spears and J-Lo with a bit on an R & B twist to it.” Awesome. Sounds like she’s talking about something completely new and different and not at all about something 600 other idiot celebrities are currently working on. It’s refreshing when a real musician talk about real music for a change. Last Friday, Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins won The Stanley Cup. Last night, Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers won The NBA Championship. Both are proof that good things happen to shitty people. What an encouraging weekend it must’ve been for dipshits everywhere. 

Incoming: We’ll see what happens. Stay tuned.

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.