04.20.09 – Monday

Word: euphemism [yoo-fuh-miz-uhm] n. 1. the substitution of a mild, indirect or vague expression for one thought to be offensive, harsh or blunt 2. the expression so substituted: “To pass away” is a euphemism for “to die.”

Birthday: Napoleon III (1808), Adolf Hitler (1889), Lionel Hampon (1908), Tito Puente (1923), George Takei (1937), Ryan O’Neal (1941), Jessica Lange (1949), Luther Vandross (1951), Clint Howard (1959), Don Mattingly (1961), Crispin Glover (1964), Carmen Electra (1972), Joey Lawrence (1976)

Occurence: 1999Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold kill 13 people and injure 24 others before committing suicide during the Columbine High School Massacre.

Standpoint: Last week, I polled all my friends on Facebook and Twitter. I asked them to name the best movie with a one-word title. Also, I was asking everyone I talked to, including my co-workers at The Chestnut Grill, who came up with a ton of them. (Special thanks to Ezgi and Adina on that one.) So, I compiled over 200 suggested titles and whittled (Colleen, you were right. I misused “wheedle”. Live and learn. 4/21/09) the list down to 15 movies. Here is the list (alphabetically) of 15 Great Movies with a One-Word Title, followed by the reason each film made the final cut. Enjoy.

There you have it. Just in case you’re wondering, it’s pretty difficult deciding the best 15 out of 200. The Honorable Mentions are too many to list. I can give you a few movies that never stood a chance. Titanic. Volcano. Twister. Accepted.

I’m sure you can think of a few movies I overlooked or discarded. Tell me which ones and why.

Quotation: Everybody is wrong about everything, just about all of the time. Chuck Klosterman

Gallimaufry: Falling into the “How-Pathetic-Can-I-Possibly-Get” category, Spencer Pratt (“The Hills”) has challenged Ashton Kutcher to a 30-day contest to see who can get the most Twitter followers. Dude, you’re a little late. I suggest concentrating your efforts on something that doesn’t involve some crappy show like “The Hills.” Look into it…All season long on “American Idol,” people have been asking the question, “Why in the hell did they bring Kara DioGuardi on as a fourth judge?” It appears she’s wondering the same thing. Could this be a sign of her exit?…Yesterday was a good day in Philadelphia for sports. The Phillies beat the San Diego Padres, 5-4, off a two-run homer in the ninth inning by Raul Ibanez. The 76ers beat the Orlando Magic in the Game 1 of their first-round playoff series on a last-second jumper by Andre Iguodala. But the highlight of the day in sports, for me at least, was sitting at my brother Jeremy’s new house and watching the Flyers spank the Pittsburgh Penguins, 6-3. Claude Giroux registered a Gordie Howe hat trick. He’s the real deal. (Thanks to Phinally Philly for the link.)

Incoming: This week is up in the air. Besides more of your suggestions for Annoying Sayings & Misused Words, we’ll have to see where the wind takes us.

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04.16.09 – Thursday

Word: anachronism [uhnak-ruh-niz-uhm] n. 1. something or someone that is not in its correct historical chronological time, esp. a thing or person that belongs to an earlier time: The sword is an anchronism in modern warfare 2. an error in chronology in which a person, object, event, etc., is assigned a date or period other than the correct one: To assign Michelangelo to the 14th century is an anachronism.

Birthday: Wilbur Wright (1867), Charlie Chaplin (1899), Henry Mancini (1924), Pope Benedict XVI (1927), Herbie Mann (1930), Bobby Vinton (1935), Dusty Springfield (1939), Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (1947), Gerry Rafferty (1947), Peter Garrett (1953), Ellen Barkin (1954)Ian MacKaye (1962), Dave Pirner (1964), Jon Cryer (1965)Martin Lawrence (1965), Peter Billingsley (1971), Lukas Haas (1976), Akon (1977) 

Occurence: 2007 – On the campus of Virginia Tech, Seung-Hui Cho shoots 32 people to death, injures 23 others and eventually kills himself. Would’ve been great if he’d reversed the order.

Standpoint: It’s Thurday (already). Time for me to address some of your suggestions for “Annoying Sayings and Misused Words.” Let’s get to it. 

  •  “hone in on” vs. “home in on” – Which one of the following do you think is correct? “He honed in on his true calling.” Or, “He homed in on his true calling.” Dictionary.com provides the answer. To “hone in on” means (a) “to move or advance toward a target or a goal,” or (b) “to direct one’s attention; focus.” To “home in on” means “to proceed, esp. under control of an automated aiming mechanism, toward a specific target as a plane, missile or location.”  So, unless you are in control of “an automated aiming mechanism”, (and if you are, I want to hang out with you), then you are misusing “home in on.” Winner: “hone in on”
  • “provoke” vs. “provocate” – This has always bugged me. My sister Tina and her kids say “provocate” all the time and I correct them when they do and tell them they should be using the word “provoke.” Turns out I’m the one that needs correcting. “Provocate”  is defined by dictionary.com as “to provoke” and is listed in Webster’s New Millennium Dictionary of English. Winner: My sister Tina and her kids
  • “they’re” “their” and “there” – Probably the three most misspelled words on Facebook and Twitter. Trust me, I’m as guilty as anyone. I’m sure everyone knows where to use these words and when but here are the rules, anyway. Just in case. They’re” is a contraction of the words “they” and “are” as in “They’re coming to take me away!” “Their” is a form of the possessive case of the word “they” as in “That’s their problem!” “There” means “in or at that place” as in “Don’t go in there!” Winner: We all win when we use these three words the right way.

Keep up the suggestions for “Annoying Sayings and Misused Words,” featured here every Thursday.

Quotation: Laziness is nothing more than the habit of resting before you get tired. Jules Renard

Tune: I know very little about Japanese recording artist and producer Cornelius. I do, however, know that “Drop” is terrific.

Gallimaufry: NASA has made a decision. They won’t name the new room on The International Space Station after Stephen Colbert, despite the fact that The Colbert Report host won an online write-in contest last month with the help of his viewers. Astronaut Sunita L. Williams appeared on the show two nights ago to deliver the news to the heartbroken host face-to-face. However, NASA will be naming something on the space station after Colbert – the Combined Operational Load-Bearing External Resistance Treadmill (COLBERT), a piece of exercise equipment. So he’s got that going for him. Which is nice…In what some are calling the least important race in recent history (and by “some,” I mean me), Ashton Kutcher, star of Punk’d and husband to Demi Moore, has challenged the news network CNN to a race on Twitter. Whichever gets to 1,000,000 followers first, wins. CNN currently has the most Twitter followers (921,432), while Kutcher is somewhere in the 800,000s. Kutcher has said that if he wins, he’ll “ding dong ditch” Ted Turner‘s house. I’m not sure why those terms are agreaable to the actor but I’d like to see how he would get to the front door of the CNN founder’s house…Any of you attend any of the “tea party” rallies staged across the country yesterday? If so, I’d like to hear all about it.

Incoming: Tomorrow3 Things To Do in Philly When You’re Dead, my list of 3 events I would attend if it were my last weekend in Philadelphia. Plus, 5 People I Wish Would Move to Another Planet, a roster of 5 folks I’d be happy to never hear from again.