04.27.10 – A Tuesday

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word

extirpate [ek-ster-peyt, ik-stur-peyt] v. used w/ obj. 1. to remove or destroy totally; do away with; exterminate 2. to pull up by or as if by the roots; root up: to extirpate an unwanted hair

birthday

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

standpoint

This past weekend, the NFL conducted its annual draft and it was all anyone could talk about. I didn’t really pay much attention. The only time I care about football is when it’s actually being played. To me, the draft seems to be just another reason for NFL fans, most of whom I regard as whiners, to bitch and moan, ask each other why their particular team took one guy and not another, failed to draft a player at one position and not another, and so on and so forth.

For the past several years the relationship between the NFL and its fans has fascinated me. Football enthusiasts are mostly fanatics, highly devoted folks who expect a lot from their chosen organization. Curiously, though, the same expectations do not extend to the individual athletes. And here’s why I think that’s so.

First and foremost, I’m a hockey fan. Training camp for the NHL begins at the end of each summer and the Stanley Cup Finals usually wrap up sometime in early summer of the next year. By comparison, NFL training camps start in early August and the Super Bowl is usually played the first week of February. In addition, football teams play once a week while hockey (and basketball and baseball) teams might play several times in the same amount of time. Bottom line, football fans feel an urgency, a need to do as much as they can with the little time afforded them. It’s the reason fall/winter Sunday afternoons and, to a slightly lesser extent, Monday nights have been bestowed with an almost venerable aura. There’s an almost obligatory sense to watch football when it’s on. You didn’t watch the game yesterday afternoon? Why not? You’d better have a bulletproof alibi.

The brevity of the NFL season also has an impact on its players. It provides them more time to pursue other interests with the massive amounts of cash they accumulate over the year. The majority of the athletes go home to their families, maybe investing in a hometown restaurant or contributing their time in a charitable fashion. But there are those who don’t make the best choices when it comes to how they spend their money and time in the offseason, getting in trouble with the law in a variety of ways. It seems you can’t turn on SportsCenter without seeing a new feature on some NFL knucklehead being brought up some kind of charges. Their actions are part bad decision making, part too much time and money on their hands. Someone’s bound to get into trouble.

When these stories come out, there’s always a heavy dose of public outrage by NFL fans and pundits. But it’s never sustained. The player always pays the fine or, less often, does the time and then it’s back to business as usual. An odd thing about the NFL is that, despite its massive fanbase, most of its teams flat-out suck, which means there’s always teams out there willing to take a chance on a skilled player. Even if that player beats his girlfriends, or fires guns at nightclubs, or recently completed yet another stint of drug rehab. When a team signs a guy like that, its fans, more concerned with a Super Bowl parade than a strong sense of morality, always jump on board.

In the weeks after Michael Vick was paroled, rumors surfaced about Dallas Cowboys’ owner Jerry Jones tinkering with the idea of signing him. Every football fan in Philadelphia was laughing, shaking their heads and telling each other how perfect Vick would fit in with the rest of the criminals the Cowboys have gained a reputation for bringing aboard. Then the Eagles signed Vick. For a day or two, people seemed a little put off the organization would sign a convicted animal abuser. But within a week, no one was talking about dogs, but about another animal: the wildcat. As in the “Wildcat Offense” and how Vick would flourish in it. Nowadays, if you bring up the fact the guy used to beat dogs to death people roll their eyes and tell you to give it a rest. No wants to hear it. In essence, he’s been exonerated in the public eye because he puts on an Eagles’ uniform every Sunday (and the occasional Monday) for a few months out of the year.

And Vick’s not even a close to be the only one. He’s a member of a rather large club. Ray Lewis may have been acquitted of his murder charge but everyone knows he at least had something to with the deaths of those people. Baltimore Ravens fans don’t care. Adam “Pacman” Jones has a criminal record detailing a wide array of offenses. Detroit Lions fans won’t care if the team signs him. Ben Roethlisberger most definitely has a problem with sexually assaulting women, although he escaped formal charges. After he serves his upcoming six-game suspension and leads the team down the field for a touchdown, Pittsburgh Steelers fans won’t care. These are guys you wouldn’t want working in your office building, but if they’re playing football, fans will rationalize why it’s okay to forgive, and even cheer, for him.

Sometimes, guys wake up and take advantage of a second (or third) chance like Cris Carter. But, unfortunately, most of them will end up like Rae Carruth.

For the record, I don’t hold the NFL owners in any contempt for signing or retaining criminals. They’re running a business. In terms of dollars and cents, it makes sense for them to take the chances they do and, sometimes, as in the Roethlisberger situation, they have no other choice.

But what’s the fans excuse? How can the rationality of all this be explained? If these guys weren’t playing football, they’d be in jail and no one would give a rat’s ass what they were up to. Lucky for them, that’s not the case. They continue to get the love and respect of millions of people despite the fact, outside playing a game, they’ve done nothing to deserve it.

It’s comical and pathetic.

quotation

Whenever I hear people talking about liberal ideas, I am always astounded that men should love to fool themselves with empty sounds. An idea should never be liberal; it must be vigorous, positive, and without loose ends so that it may fulfill its divine mission and be productive. The proper place for liberality is in the realm of the emotions. Johann von Goethe

tune

I’ve shared this before but I’m going to do it again because, well, I do what I want. I’m of the opinion Chuck D is a pretty solid dude. I present Public Enemy‘s “Harder Than You Think.”

gallimaufry

→ I think Stephen Hawking might be watching Independence Day a little too much. And who can blame him? It’s a good movie mostly. But he may not be completely wrong here.

→ Sometimes something as simple as a sandwich can be a strong indicator of where we’re headed as a society. People, we’re driving in the wrong direction here.

→ My favorite show on ESPN? It’s SportsNation. I’m sure some of you out there now think a little less of me.

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07.16.09 – Thursday

Word: aberrant [uhberuhnt, ab-er-] adj. 1. departing from the right, normal, or usual course 2. deviating from the ordinary, usual, or normal type; exceptional; abnormal n. 3. an aberrant person, thing, group, etc

Birthday: Samuel Huntington (1731), “Shoeless” Joe Jackson (1888), Orville Redenbacher (1907), Barbara Stanwyck (1907), Ginger Rogers (1911), Cal Tjader (1925), Dick Thornburgh (1932), Desmond Dekker (1941), Jimmy Johnson (1943), Stewart Copeland (1952), Tony Kushner (1956), Michael Flatley (1958), Phoebe Cates (1963), Phil Hellmuth (1964), Will Ferrell (1967), Barry Sanders (1968), Rain Pryor (1969), Ed Kowalczyk (1971), Corey Feldman (1971), Jeremy Enigk (1974), Taj Anwar (1978), Adam Scott (1980)

Quotation: In the country the darkness of night is friendly and familiar, but in a city, with its blaze of lights, it is unnatural, hostile and menacing.  It is like a monstrous vulture that hovers, biding its time.Somerset Maugham

Tune: In many conversations/monologues I’ve been party to on the subject, I’ve often been referred to as a “music snob.” It’s an unfair accusation, however. Exhibit A? I still enjoy the entire musical catalog of 90’s alternative band Toad the Wet Sprocket. Judge me if you will. But only after you listen to “Crazy Life.” After you do, your opinion probably won’t have changed in the least bit. And you’re entitled to your (completely wrong) opinion.

Gallimaufry: Ever read something that makes you wonder how in the fucking world anyone ever saw fit to publish it? Well, if you haven’t, check out ESPN’s Scott Burnside’s “Winter Classic has right venue, wrong team.” In it, Burnside criticizes the NHL for picking the Philadelphia Flyers to play the Boston Bruins in Fenway Park for this year’s NHL Winter Classic. Instead, he’s arguing the Washington Capitals, and their star forward Alex Ovechkin, should’ve been the team chosen. He complains the Bruins-Flyers matchup isn’t in line with last year’s – a game that pitted two of the Original Six teams against each other, the Detroit Red Wings and the Chicago Blackhawks. So, in keeping with Burnside’s logic, how in the world does it make sense to pick the Capitals? Granted, they’ve had their good teams in the past, but they’ve got nothing in terms of hockey history and tradition held up next to the Flyers. Sorry. Usually, I try to stay clear of homer nonsense, but I need to make an exception here. Burnside, you’re flat-out wrong. Next. Ukraine is under fire by some for its decision to ban the movie Brüno. It’s a move perceived as a bit of uptight. But, really, maybe Ukrainians are just exercising their right to watch only worthwhile movies. I support the decision. Sacha Baron Cohen is not funny. He represents the basest, but unfortunately most popular, form of comedic entertainment – neither original or thoughtful, mainly inane.

05.08.09 – Friday

Word: nomenclature [noh-muhn-kley-cher, noh-men-kluh-cher, -choor] n. 1. a set or system of names or terms, as those used in a particular science or art, by an individual or community, etc. 2. the names or terms comprising a set or system

Birthday: Oscar Hammerstein (1847), Harry S. Truman (1884), Roberto Rossellini (1906), Don Rickles (1926), Gary Snyder (1930), Sonny Liston (1932), Ricky Nelson (1940), Gary Glitter (1944), Alex Van Halen (1953), Stephen Furst (1954), David Keith (1954), Bill Cowher (1957), Melissa Gilbert (1964), Enrique Iglesias (1975)

Standpoint: It’s been a soaking-wet, rainy week here in Philadelphia and I’m really looking forward to a little sunshine this weekend. Just to help things along, I thought I do my version of a rain-dance and share some upbeat music to help you through these, and any future, rainy days. I give you 7 Sunny Rainy Day Songs:

Got better sunny rainy day songs? Tell us about it.

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

Have some fun out there this weekend and make sure to do something nice for your mom on Sunday – it’s Mother’s Day.

Quotation: The trouble with weather forecasting is that it’s right too often for us to ignore it and wrong too often for us to rely on it. – Patrick Young

Tune: They’ve been called “the new Smashing Pumpkins.” Personally, in some ways, I think Silversun Pickups might be better. Listen to “Well Thought Out Twinkles” – one of the best driving-fast songs in the history of music and cars. “Come join in the last hurrah!”

Gallimaufry: Manny Ramirez of MLB‘s Los Angeles Dodgers has been suspended 50 games for violating the league’s drug policy. The star outfielder claims he was given medication that, unbeknownst to him, was on the list of banned substances. He’ll lose over $8 million over the course of his suspension. This reminded me of a piece that Chuck Klosterman wrote for ESPN.com’s Page 2 concerning  Barry Bonds that I’ve been meaning to share. ∞ My friend Donika sent me a link to a cool new blog that seems to be more and more relevant as we trudge through this economic mess. Working for the Government describes itself as “a depot for funny, outlandish, touching (though NOT depressing) stories unique to the current unemployment and economic environment.” My favorite post so far is “Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow” but they’re all great. ∞ It’s getting pretty dicey out there in the world of music. Now that the Wayne Coyne-Win Butler Feud is history, it seems that Nine Inch Nails frontman Trent Reznor wants in on the action. While answering some fan questions online, he took shots at Prince and Weezer‘s Rivers Cuomo. Here’s a sample of what he had to offer: “I’m not Prince or Rivers Cuomo, who brags about having hundreds of great songs,” Reznor replied. “And to that I would say, ‘Prince, if you have a hundred great songs or a thousand, how about picking a few and putting them on your record that you’ve put out, because your last several have sucked.’ Same for you, Rivers. I say that constructively, you know.” I’m siding with Reznor on this one.

Incoming: Next week will have lots of twists (and just possibly a few turns) as I’ll be attempting some new tricks, including my first-ever interview. Thanks for reading this week. Come back Monday for some more.

03.17.09 – Tuesday

Whereabouts: Philadelphia, PA

Word: stultify [stuhl-tuh-fahy] verb to make, or cause to appear, foolish or ridiculous

Birthday: Nat King Cole (1919), John Wayne Gacy (1942), Patrick Duffy (1949), Kurt Russell (1951), Gary Sinise (1955), Casey Siemaszko (1961), Rob Lowe (1964), Billy Corgan (1967), Mia Hamm (1972)

Occurrence: 1854 – The rubber band is first patented. Interesting, but I would like to know the first time someone figured out how to wrap it around their hand and point at people like a gun.

Standpoint: In today’s NFL, you’re just not a viable wide receiver until ESPN shows a clip of you getting arrested or questioned by the police. Apparently, it’s a rite of passage. This past Saturday morning, Donte Stallworth struck and killed Juan Sanchez, a man who had just finished his shift. Stallworth has now joined the ranks of Plaxico Burress, Javon Walker, Marvin Harrison and host of other professional wideouts who can’t seem to help but get busted for (or suspected of) criminal acts. Originally, it was reported that charges would not be brought up against the Cleveland Browns player, but now it seems a definite possibility. The most amazing aspect of this current trend of “bad boy” wide receivers is that, for the most part, every one of them is, or has the potential to be, an elite player. Randy Moss. Terry Glenn. Brandon Marshall. Koren Robinson. All great talents. All ended up destroying or diminishing their own careers for participation in events that, to the rest of us, seem completely absurd. The problem is well-documented. This is news to no one. So when does Commissioner Robert Goodell drop the hammer and start kicking these guys out of the league? And when do the teams start sending a real message by not signing these guys, no matter what their level of talent may be? The NFL has become a safe harbor for individuals who continually break the law (see Matt Jones), learn nothing from their actions and have the bank accounts to mount defenses O.J. Simpson would drool over. I’ll take drama-queen Terrell Owens over any of these guys. He may be a big problem in the locker room and a seemingly below-average human being but at least I know when I walk out of work he’s not going to run me over in his Bentley.

Quotation: How do I know what I think until I see what I say?E.M. Forster

Soupçon: The original Greek question mark became the English semicolon (;). I know I keep ripping off A.J. Jacobs but can you really blame me? I maintain a daily blog that includes an interesting fact section and I’m reading a book chronicling a man’s search for knowledge. I’ve just gotten to the “R” chapter of The Know-It-All so I’m almost done ripping it off.

Tune: Besides being great guys, Backyard Tire Fire is an outstanding live band. About a year ago, my brother and I went to The North Star to see The Beautiful Girls. BTF was the opening act and they put on a great show. After their set, I had lost my interest in seeing the main act and spent the rest of the night at the bar with the band. Great night. Check out “Corrine”.

Link: Bag of Songs – Superlative Philadelphia-based blog covering the world of music.

Gallimaufry: Not everyone is hurting during the recession. Condom sales are up due to, among other factors, people staying in more and couples holding off on having a child. Read Amanda Ruggeri’s article “10 Winners in the Recession” from U.S. News & World Report to see who else is prospering…Paste Magazine has made a list of the best independent movie houses in the country. Surprisingly, none of Philadelphia’s made the list…Looks like tough times ahead for Atlantic City, NJ. Casinos are experiencing record losses right now. Hope the Borgata is still there May 23rd when I’m going to see Joel McHale for my birthday. Fingers crossed, people…Hope everyone has a SAFE St. Patrick’s Day. Lots of drinking rookies out there. Be careful and don’t drive.

03.16.09 – Monday

Whereabouts: Philadelphia, PA

Word: syllogism [siluh-jiz-uhm] noun 1. Logic. an argument the conclusion of which is supported by two premises, of which one (major premise) contains the term (major term) that is the predicate of the conclusion, and the other (minor premise) contains the term (minor term) that is the subject of the conclusion; common to both premises is a term (middle term) that is excluded from the conclusion. A typical form is “All A is C; all B is A; therefore all B is C.”   2. deductive reasoning  3. an extremely subtle, suggestive or deceptive argument

Birthday: James Madison (1751), Marlin Perkins (1905), Henny Youngman (1906), Pat Nixon (1912), Jerry Lewis (1926), Daniel Patrick Moynihan (1927), Tommy Flanagan (1930), Chuck Woolery (1941), Erik Estrada (1949), Nancy Wilson (1954), Flavor Flav (1959), Todd MacFarlane (1961), Patty Griffin (1964), Alan Tudyk (1971), Wolfgang Van Halen (1991)

Occurrence: 1995 – Mississippi becomes the last state to formally ratify the 13th Amendment, officially banning slavery nationwide. It only took Ole Miss 130 years to jump on that bandwagon. Guess they were waiting to see if the rest of us were going to change our minds about the whole people-not-owning-people issue. Maybe they thought it was going to make a comeback?

Standpoint: We need to start a movement or an online petition or something. You, me and everyone we know need to unite and become a collective consciousness whose sole purpose is the elimination of ONE THING: CAPTCHAS. OK, maybe I’m being a bit dramatic but they are annoying. The folks at captcha.net have this to say about their invention, “a captcha is a program that protects websites against bots by generating and grading tests that humans can pass but current computer programs cannot.” I have news for you, captcha.net, most humans have trouble passing them, too. Take a look at this example. Why so squiggly and elongated? Is all that necessary? It seems that every time I go to make some snarky comment on some poor soul’s blog, I’m confronted with a captcha that looks like something I’m pretty sure must’ve been close to Salvadore Dali’s handwriting. After about 15 minutes of trying to figure out if that one letter is a lowercase “J” or a stretched-out lowercase “I”, I’m no longer impressed with the comment I was going to make and my attention wanders elsewhere.

Quotation: Art is the lie that enables us to reveal the truthPablo Picasso

Soupçon: The Beatles got the idea for the name of their band after John Lennon and Paul McCartney saw Buddy Holly and The Crickets at a show in Liverpool in 1958.

Tune: I’m not a huge singer-songwriter fan anymore but Jeb Loy Nichols is still one of the best around. Have a listen to “As the Rain.”

Link: Pipl – Want to see something spooky? Go this site, type in your name and see how much information there is about you on the internet. Eye-opening.

Gallimaufry: ESPN’s John Buccigross knows more about hockey than you do. Also, the man knows a ton about music and often references a band or artist he likes both on-air and in his weekly hockey column. Overall, Mr. Buccigross is a top-notch guy. Click HERE to see an entertaining video he did with the band Guster…This past Friday night, during a college basketball game, there was an altercation between the mascots of Utah State and New Mexico State. Apparently, a fan offered “Big Blue” (Utah State) $100 to rip off the moustache of “Pistol Pete” (New Mexico State). Utah State officials have stated that the money their mascot collected will be donated to charity…What is with all of these music artists dissin’ each other? In a recent post, I wrote about the feud between Miley Cyrus and Radiohead.  Now Wayne Coyne of The Flaming Lips is smack-talking Arcade Fire. Click HERE to read what Coyne said and then HERE to read Arcade Fire’s Win Butler’s response…According to this article, a recent breakthrough in battery technology might make it possible to recharge your cell phone in ten seconds…I caved this weekend. I’m now on Twitter. My hypocrisy knows no bounds…Just found this out as I was ready to post, Ron Silver has passed away. Great actor. He will be missed.