05.06.09 – Wednesday

Word: levity [lev-i-tee] n. 1. lightness of mind, character or behavior; lack of appropriate seriousness or earnestness 2. an instance or exhibition of this 3. fickleness 4. lightness in weight

Birthday: Maxmilien Robespierre (1758), Sigmund Freud (1856), Christian Morgenstern (1871), Rudolph Valentino (1896), Orson Welles (1915), Willie Mays (1931), Rubin Carter (1937), Jimmie Dale Gilmore (1945), Bob Seger (1945), Tony Blair (1953), Roma Downey (1960), John Flansburgh (1960), George Clooney (1961)

Standpoint: Recently, I moved from the City of Philadelphia to one of its suburbs, East Norriton. I grew up in the ‘burbs and, throughout my adult life, have gone through several suburban stints. But mostly, in the past decade and a half, I’ve lived in some section of Philadelphia. Obviously, there are differences. Here are three that I’ve noticed so far this time around.

  • Driving – There are  sidewalks out here but they’re used about as often as that Snuggie you got last Christmas. No one walks anywhere from what I can tell. In the city, pedestrian traffic almost drove me insane. Now, it’s the other cars on the road that are filling that hole in my life. Because hardly anyone demonstrates a sense of urgency. Also, gratuitous use of one’s horn is frowned upon. I’m not asking my fellow drivers to hop the curb or run a red light. But the other day I was driving behind a woman talking on her phone and not moving after the light had been green for about five seconds. I was only looking for a little understanding when I gave a little honk, informing her I’d be agreeable if she put down the cell phone and pushed the gas pedal. She did put the phone down. Then she gave me the finger. Then she pushed the gas pedal. In that order. The next morning, the guy in front of me, driving what looked like the first pickup truck made by Ford, didn’t use his turn signal while pulling into the Sears Hardware at a speed that would’ve made a parade procession appear supersonic by comparison. Apparently, I missed the memo about Fred not having to worry about the proper rules of the road when he’s going to drink coffee in the Sears parking lot with the rest of the guys who feel that using a turn signal is just plain bothersome/uncool. Again, my horn use was met with the middle finger. OK. Message received loud and clear. No honking of the horn. Let’s move on.
  • Civility – In the city, I can remember going to Wawa, the local convenience store, collecting my targeted items, taking them to the counter, paying for them and walking out the door. Without uttering a single word. I didn’t know anything about any of the people who worked in a store I frequented at least once a day. And – I’m sure this’ll sound ruder than I intend it -but I really didn’t want to get familiar with the crew at Wawa. I’ve always felt that idle small-talk in a convenience store makes it significantly less convenient. Out here in the suburbs, it appears there is some expectation of chit-chat during the customer-clerk exchange. My first day here, I was in line at 7-Eleven behind a woman who the clerk referred to as “Liz.” She was probably about 30 years older than he and affectionately called the clerk, “Mitchy,” although the name on his shirt clearly read “Mitch.” After their five-minute conversation about her ambitious gardening enterprises and the latest shenanigans of a dog she was “about ten seconds away from driving out to the goddam country,” Liz managed to make her way out of the store. Mitch turned to me, “How’re you doing today, sir?” “Doing well,” was all I could get out. The rest of my time with Mitch was spent in uncomfortable silence. Next.
  • Hours of Operation – Gone are the days of random 3am gunshots from the low-income housing behind my bedroom. No more coming home at midnight to find half the neighborhood still awake, yelling at the television or each other. Besides the McDonald’s and the APlus, it’s tough work finding something open after 10pm. Lights off. It’s bedtime. I’m sure you can imagine how troubling that might be for a night-owl like myself. Last night, I was in bed at 11pm. I don’t think that’s happened since I was actually 11. My only options for going out somewhere were to either (a) do about 50 round trips through the Mickey D’s drive-thru or (b) head down to the 7-Eleven and engage Mitch in a discussion about Liz’s misbehaving canine. Thanks, but no. On the upside, I’ve never gotten better sleep. Hmmm. Think there’s something to that?

That’s all I got for now but I’m sure I’ll be making more discoveries in the course of readjusting to suburban life. Stay tuned.   

Quotation: And all this means you can expect an unrelenting, unyielding effort from this administration to strengthen our prosperity and our security – in the second hundred days and the third hundred days and all the days after.President Obama

Tune: A while back, I heard Marching Band‘s “For Your Love” on an episode of “How I Met Your Mother.” Having a song featured on a TV show or a movie has become the new “making it big.”

Gallimaufry: Yesterday, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke informed Congress that the economy should experience an upswing in the second half of this year. He went on to say that all would still not be right with the economy but there would be mild improvement. Hey. It’s a start. ∞ Everyone can rest easy. The Wayne Coyne-Win Butler brouhaha is now officially over. You might recall I covered this back in March. Coyne, lead singer of The Flaming Lips, has apologized: “I wish whatever had been said wouldn’t have been taken as such a defiant statement by The Flaming Lips because it wasn’t…I was talking about the dudes running their stages.” Weird. Compare that with his previous statement: “Whenever I’ve been around them, I’ve found that they not only treated their crew like shit, they treated the audience like shit.” Whatever happened to real rock feuds? I mean, neither Axl Rose nor Vince Neil looked like they could’ve beaten their way out of a wet paper bag, but at least they talked a good game. As of yet, there’s no official response from Butler and Arcade Fire to Coyne’s back-pedaling. ∞ After what must have seemed like an eternity (I know it did to me), the 13th Annual Webby Awards, “honoring excellence on the internet,” were announced. Among this years Special Achievement Award Winners, Jimmy Fallon for Webby Person of the Year and Twitter for Webby Breakout of the Year. No word yet on where I fell in the voting. I’m sure I’ll be receiving a call sometime soon. ∞ After completing this post, I found out that Dom DeLuise died yesterday at the age of 76. My immediate reaction was to watch the outtakes from Cannonball Run. I’m not sure why. Rest in peace, Dom.

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

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04.24.09 – Friday

Word: hoi polloi [hoi puhloi] n. the common people; the masses (often preceded by the)

Birthday: Willem de Kooning (1904), Alan Eagleson (1933), Shirley MacLaine (1934), Barbara Streisand (1942), Eric Bogosian (1953), Mumia Abu-Jamal (1954), Michael O’Keefe (1955), Cedric The Entertainer (1964), Djimon Hounsou (1964), Kelly Clarkson (1982)

Occurence: 1184 BC – Greeks enter Troy using the Trojan Horse. I still can’t comprehend how in the hell this actually worked.

Standpoint: If you’re one of the millions of people going out to eat at a restaurant this weekend, I’ve compiled 5 Things You Can Say Or Do That Will Instantly Make Your Waiter Dislike You.

  1.  Ignore Your Waiter – In case you’ve never noticed, a restaurant can be a pretty busy place. While you are there to enjoy yourself (and rightfully so), your waiter is actually working. One thing you can do right away to earn the love of your waiter is to continue your super-important conversation when he or she walks up to greet your table. Go ahead and finish informing your fellow diners with crucial information like who’s sleeping with who in your neighborhood, or an extremely detailed account of your drive to the restaurant. That stuff can’t wait. Don’t let a silly fact like your waiter having several other tables to tend to get in the way of your self-important ramblings.
  2. Public Displays of Affection – Another way to make sure you stay in the good graces of your waiter is to show him or her how much you love the person you’re with. There’s nothing that makes a waiter happier than watching two complete strangers making out and doing God-knows-what underneath the table with your hands. Also, make sure that you sit on the same side of the booth or table as your partner to announce to everyone in the restaurant, “Hey. The two of us are quite fond of each other.” Waiters love to be reminded that they can’t currently be with the one they love so the next best thing is watching your adorable little grope-fest as he or she attempts to pry your drink order out of you.
  3. Ask Stupid Questions – You know the common sense that you employ almost every minute of your day-to-day life? Leave that at home. Enter the dining experience as if you were just thawed out of ice or your spaceship just landed and you’ve never been to a restaurant. If you’re thirsty you might try posing a question like, “Excuse me, is there any chance I could get a glass of water?” After all, you might’ve never been to this particular restaurant. They might not have running water. It’s best not to assume. Your waiter will appreciate how softly you’re treading around the issue and there’s no real  likelihood of he or she thinking that you are a schmuck for posing a question you already know the answer to.
  4. Stay As Long As You Like – You’re most likely a great person. The relationship that you’ve fostered with your waiter will probably last a lifetime. So when you’ve finished your dessert and downed your last drop of coffee, don’t worry about leaving. Your waiter is hoping that you stay all night. That way he or she won’t have to deal with the inevitable gloominess of saying goodbye and welcoming a new table to where you once sat. The money that waiter would make from serving more people could never equal the mutually rewarding experience the two of you are sharing. You can’t put a price on a lasting friendship.
  5. Don’t Worry About the Tip – Even though waiters make all of their money off of tips left by patrons, don’t be concerned. For example, say your bill is $130. Don’t worry about the traditional 20% tip of $26. Leave whatever you like. Your waiter will probably use the experience to boost his or her resolve and vow to improve service on the next table. One day, he or she will look back and remember you fondly for providing the catalyst that kicked his or her service standards to the next level. And that’s way more important than actual money.

I treated each item like it’s something you should do. Obviously, I’m hoping you picked up on the sarcasm.

Weekend: Each Friday, I’ll provide you with 3 Things To Do In Philly When You’re Dead – my list of things to do this in Philadelphia this weekend as if it’s your last.

  • Today (04.24) – Presidents of the United States of AmericaThe Troc – Back in the 90s, the power pop trio gave us some of the best songs about fruit (“Peaches“) and odd women from boggy marshes (“Lump“). They broke up for a while but are now back together. Lots of energy and clever lyrics. If you’re into that kind of thing. Time: 9pm
  • Saturday (04.25) – Fishtown Shad FestPenn Treaty Park – Fishtown originally gained its name from all the shad that were fished out of the Delaware River. The fish can’t be found around these parts anymore but that’s not stopping Fishtown residents from celebrating what William Penn desribed as “excellent fish.” Events include a Shad Run Race, a historical trolley tour of Fishtown, numerous children’s activities and performances from local musical acts including Hoots and Hellmouth. Oh, there will also be plenty of beer and shad dishes from local vendors. Time: 11am – 5pm
  • Sunday (04.25) – The Mütter Museum – On its website, The Mütter Museum describes itself as “valuable resource for educating and enlightening the public about our medical past and telling important stories about what it means to be human.” People I know who’ve been there describe more as “a museum with all this gross stuff.” My guess is that both statements are probably true. Time: 10am – 5pm

Quotation: When you are through changing, you are through. Bruce Barton

Tune: Before I saw the Aqueduct‘s video for “Living a Lie,” I was completely unaware that David Terry could pass for Kevin Smith.

Gallimaufry: Sometimes, when you try to be a funny and do something like, say, pretend to fall off a bridge, you actually fall off the bridge. Just ask this guy…If you are still on the fence about the idiocy of Glenn Beck and Bill O’Reilly, this will straighten you outThe Flyers shutout the Penguins last night 3-0. Can “The Orange and Black” win the next two games and advance to next round? If they play like they can, they are more than capable of sending Sidney Crosby and his squad to the golf course.

Incoming: Tomorrow morning, I’ll be moving away from East Falls and heading west to East Norriton. (I’ve decided, for the rest of my life, I’ll only live in areas that start with the word “East.”) My internet situation is up in the air but I’ll still be doing daily posts while I adjust to my new schedule. Anyone know anything about East Norriton?