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.

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11.17.09 – A Tuesday

WORD

jive [jahyv] n. 1. swing music or early jazz 2. the jargon associated with swing music and early jazz 3. Slang. deceptive, exaggerated, or meaningless talk: Don’t give me any of that jive! v. 4. to play jive 5. to dance to jive; jitterbug 6. Slang. to engage in kidding, teasing, or exaggeration 7. Slang. to tease; fool; kid: Stop jiving me! adj. 8. Slang. insincere, pretentious, or deceptive

BIRTHDAY

Frank Calder (1877), Soichiro Honda (1906), Gordon Lightfoot (1938), Martin Scorsese (1942), Lauren Hutton (1943), Danny DeVito (1944), Lorne Michaels (1944), Gene Clark (1944), Stephen Root (1951), Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio (1958), Jeff Buckley (1966), Sophie Marceau (1966), Daisy Fuentes (1966), Kimya Dawson (1972)

STANDPOINT

Short and sweet today. I’m really quite annoyed with the all the goddamn Christmas ads, sales, etc. that are all ready all over the place.

Despite my misanthropic tendencies, I’m really kind of a softie in some ways. I like the holidays. I do.

But this time of year has been kind of tainted, for me, by all the commercialism. Even those of you out there who possess the unending optimism I enjoy frowning upon know this to be true.

For lack of a better, more definitive sentiment: BAH! HUMBUG!

QUOTATION

There are about five things to write songs about: I’m leaving you. You’re leaving me. I want you. You don’t want me. I believe in something. Five subjects, and twelve notes. For all that, we musicians do pretty well.Elvis Costello

TUNE

I know. I’m beating this HTC commercial thing into the ground. I just like it. Really like it. More than I like most people. For those of you wondering what song is actually playing, it’s a remix of “Sinnerman” by Nina Simone. One of the comments on YouTube simply reads, “Futureproof.” Sums it up.

GALLIMAUFRY

Oprah Winfrey and Sarah Palin were on the same stage and no one thought to do the proper thing and plant explosives. Christ, people, do I have to think of everything?

→ In what’s becoming sadly commonplace, another celebrity has died young. Ken Ober, the host of the late-80s MTV game show “Remote Control,” passed away yesterday at the age of 52. As of yet, no one’s sure how.

→ All right, on a personal note, here’s a picture of my favorite piece of art – “Woman with a Water Jug” by Johannes Vermeer. It’s only 18 in. by 16 in. The detail is amazing. Best part is that the painting currently resides in New York City at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

04.08.09 – Wednesday

Word: abscond [ab-skond] v. to depart in a sudden and secret manner, esp. to avoid capture and legal prosecution: The cashier absconded with the money.

 

Birthday: David Rittenhouse (1732), Betty Ford (1918), Carmen McRae (1920), Kofi Annan (1938), Stuart Pankin (1946), Tom DeLay (1947), Steve Howe (1947), John Schneider (1960), Izzy Stradlin (1962), Julian Lennon (1963), Biz Markie (1964), Robin Wright Penn (1966), Patricia Arquette (1968)

 

Occurrence: 1992 – Tennis legend and Philadelphia native Arthur Ashe announces he’s contracted AIDS from blood transfusions during one of his two heart surgeries. Because I hail from Philadelphia, I’m ashamed to admit that I thought he had contracted AIDS sexually.

 

Standpoint: So. After I wrote yesterday’s post, I started doing my nightly internet research. While I was flipping through my RSS Reader, I noticed that Glenn Beck was on my TV screen, ranting pretty intensely about Richard Poplawski. He condemned so-called “liberal bloggers” for casting blame on the right-wing portion of our nation and its attitude about gun control. (I was only half-listening, really. A good deal of my attention was being put to use wondering how in the hell the dude ever got a talk show. Why do networks always mistake yelling for charisma?) In any case, he was going on and on about the Constitution, the Bill of Rights and casually alluding to the right to bear arms. Something struck me. Society is kind of fucking nuts. Nowadays, people are nearly hysterical about things like cigarettes, artificial sweeteners and Big Macs. (If you didn’t know, they’re bad for you.) People who smoke too much, use too much artificial sweetener or eat too much fast food are likely to die from some horrible disease. Proven facts. I’m not disputing them. But I’m reasonably confident that people who get shot at, even once, are more likely to die from the bullets hurtling at them. So why are tobacco, artificial sweetener and fast food companies under constant barrage and gun companies less so? It’s simple. The Second Amendment to which Mr. Beck was alluding. It says that we all have the right to own guns. No one ever thought to make a Constitutional Amendment about the right to puff on a Camel Light, pour Equal in coffee or woof down a Whopper. But as a United States citizen, Richard Poplawski was able to gather deadly weapons. The Constitution told him it was OK. I wonder if the loved ones of the fallen Pittsburgh Police officers give a rat’s ass about the Constitution right now. I know I don’t. I don’t think laws are made to be broken. I do, however, think laws should be re-examined after a certain amount of time and held up to our current reality. Gun laws need to be changed. Now.

 

QuotationThus the metric system did not really catch on in the States, unless you count the increasing popularity of the 9mm bullet.Dave Barry

 

Tune: Throw Me The Statue is a great band that I’ve had the opportunity to see in concert at least three times but, for various reasons, didn’t. Here’s “About To Walk”. (By the way, Matt Durkin, if you’re reading this, I want my Throw Me The Statue album back, punk. Also, the Elvis Costello album and the David Sedaris book.)

 

Link: 60 Incredible Aerial Photos from 640 Pixels – Simply amazing stuff.

 

Gallimaufry: Blockbuster Video is apparently close to kaput. Maybe that “no late fees” policy wasn’t such a hot idea…The actor who was inside the Darth Vader (James Earl Jones was the voice) suit for the first three Star Wars films (or the last three, depending on what level geek you are) hasn’t been paid residuals for Return of the Jedi yet. LucasFilm claims that David Prowse signed a contract that stipulates he only gets residual money when the film actually turns a profit. The studio claims that Jedi has yet to do that. You read that right…Fans of the FOX show House were taken off-guard last night when Kal Penn’s character, Dr. Kutner, committed suicide. Turns out the star of Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle is set to become an associate director at the Office of Public Liaison at The White House. Is there any other place Penn could’ve been going to work where that secret would not have been leaked? I think not.

 

Incoming: Tomorrow – Finally. Your Annoying Sayings responses will be addressed. Friday – My “3 Incredibly Cool Things To Do In Philadelphia This Weekend”. (I know. The title is way too long. I’m working on it.)

03.30.09 – Monday

Whereabouts: Phoenixville, PA (Spent the night at my folks’ place. They’ve graciously taken my cats into their home and I slept over to help ease the transition for both the cats and myself.)

Word: assuage [uhsweyj] verb 1. to make milder or less severe; relieve; ease; mitigate: to assuage one’s grief; to assuage one’s pain  2. to appease; satisfy; allay; relieve: to assuage one’s hunger  3. to soothe, calm or mollify: to assuage his fears; to assuage her anger

Birthday: Jethro Tull (1684), Francisco Goya (1746), Vincent Van Gogh (1853), Franz Oppenheimer (1864), McGeorge Bundy (1919), Richard Dysart (1929), Warren Beatty (1937), Eric Clapton (1945), Paul Reiser (1957), MC Hammer (1962), Tracy Chapman (1964), Ian Ziering (1964), Céline Dion (1968), Donna D’Errico (1968), Secretariat (1970), Norah Jones (1979), Anna Nalick (1984)

Occurrence: 1933 – The first observance of Doctor’s Day in Winder, Georgia. In 1990, the USA officially began to recognize “National Doctor’s Day.”

Standpoint: Today, Y-Rock on XPN kicks off Modern Rock Madness. Basically, it’s a bracket-style contest not unlike the NCAA Basketball Tournament. It pits music artists against each other in one-on-one competition with the victor moving on to the next round until there is only one left standing. Click HERE to take a look at the match-ups. While it’s a nice concept, this type of radio programming always leaves me a bit salty. And that’s because, like most things I guess, it’s primarily a popularity contest. Granted Modern Rock Madness 2008 ended up with a worthy victor: Radiohead. But the rest of the final four (Modest Mouse, Cake and Beck) gave me the feeling that people voted based on who they thought they should and not who was actually the more talented. And this year’s bracket is kind of befuddling. Why pit David Bowie and Elvis Costello against each other right off the bat? Either one could arguably be in the top eight. Also, how did Spoon and Arcade Fire earn a first round showdown? Both bands are wildly successful right now and it just doesn’t seem right to have one of them eliminated in the first round while bands of equal current success like Vampire Weekend and My Morning Jacket virtually assured first-round victories. The organizers of the NCAA Tournament don’t have the number one and two teams play each other on the first night. I wouldn’t care if they did but I’m betting a lot of you would. Should we hold Y-Rock on XPN to a lesser standard? I’m pretty sure the answer is yes, but I wish it was no.

Quotation: Money does not make you happy but quiets the nerves.Sean O’Casey

Digit: 8 – In Scotland, you only need be eight years old to be convicted of a crime as long it can be proven that you knew what you were doing.

Tune: People who talk music with me are sick of me going on and on about Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin. I can’t decide whether “Modern Mystery” or “Think I’m Gonna Die” is its best song. Have a listen to both and then you tell me.

Link: Nerdist – A very funny site by Chris Hardwick.

Gallimaufry: If you live in or around Philadelphia, you’ve driven on I-76, otherwise known as The Schuylkill Expressway. It’s a frustrating stretch of road. To put it mildly. In one of your jaunts down “The Schuylkill” you’ve undoubtedly heard someone say something like, “This has gotta be the worst goddam highway in the country.” Well, next time you can reply to that person, “Actually, it’s not. It’s not even in the top 10.”…If you’re single, tired of dating and wonder where you can go to simply have sex with women without the hassle of all that commitment, today is your lucky day. Simply move to New Zealand where it appears young women are taking promiscuity to a whole new level…Saw The Curious Case of Benjamin Button over the weekend. Good movie but Slumdog Millionaire and Milk were much better…It’s no secret that there are millions of not-so-bright individuals running around out there, but this guy takes the cake. Do you think maybe he was looking to get caught?…Check out my friend Brendan F. Quinn’s excellent article “Beam Me Up, Scottie: Reynolds’ Race To The Bucket Sends ‘Nova To The Final Four.”…Thanks for all the responses (both here and on Facebook) to my “Annoying Sayings” post this past Friday. I’ll be doing a follow-up later this week with your suggestions.

03.13.09 – Friday

Whereabouts: Philadelphia, PA

Word: altruistic [al-troo-is-tik] adj. unselfishly concerned for or devoted to the welfare of others

Birthday: Walter Annenberg (1902), Sammy Kaye (1910), L. Ron Hubbard (1911), Neil Sedaka (1939), William H. Macy (1950), Dana  Delany (1956), Adam Clayton (1960),  Common (1972), Danny Masterson (1976)

Occurrence: 1954Milwaukee Braves’ outfielder Bobby Thomson brakes his ankle during spring training, allowing then-unknown Hank Aaron a spot on the roster. That is the kind of thing it sucks to be famous for.

Irksome: Once in a while, I read something that puts my daily life in total perspective. Martin Smith’s article in this week’s Philadelphia Weekly was sobering. It’s the story of Michael Kingsley, a homeless man who recently passed away near the corner of 13th and Chestnut Sts. while pedestrians walked on by. These days, we all tend to think of our lives in terms of our hardships. Well, if you are reading this, chances are you won’t ever have it as bad as Mr. Kingsley had it. His story, while potentially reaffirming on an individual level, exposes some glaring problems on a societal level.

Quotation: We are known among the stars by our poems, not our corpsesRobert Ardrey

Soupçon: Criminals used to shave the edges of coins to gather miniscule amounts of precious metals. Mints battled these fiends by putting serrated edges around some coins, like the quarter.

Tune: When it comes to employing a song to tell a story, there are very few that can rival Elvis Costello. Check out “God’s Comic” a song about a priest who dies, goes to heaven and meets God for the first time. Best line? When God says to the priest, “I’ve been wading through all of this unbelievable junk, and wondering if I should’ve given the world to the monkeys.”

Link: I Am Fuel, You Are Friends – a superb indie music blog run by Heather Browne. Read it daily.

Gallimaufry: My friend Dawn Tancredi is running for Judge in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas. Click HERE to see her website. Please vote for her this upcoming May 19th. She’s good people…Do you like to cuddle? Of course you do. So get your affectionate self over to Abington this Saturday, March 14th for a Cuddle Party. Don’t get the wrong idea, though, this event is just about sharing some human contact. Perverts need not apply…The economy is bad shape. We all know this. But – at least in Philadelphia – things could be worse. Read Bruce Schimmel’s current Op-Ed article, “Cant Beat the Grid? Green It.” It’ll make you feel good…Happy Birthday to my younger brother Jeremy, a so-so brother but a great guy. Just kidding about the so-so brother part. Mostly…Sunday night, head down to the M-Room at 15 W. Girard Avenue and check out local Philly band, The Swimmers. You won’t be disappointed… For those of you inquiring about the next addition of True Story, I’m pleased to announce that I’m making strides and hope to have it ready within the next week or so…Have a great weekend (especially those of you braving The Erin Express) and thanks for reading this week. Come back Monday for some more.