07.28.09 – Tuesday

Word: vicissitude [vi-sis-i-tood, -tyood] n. 1. a change or variation occurring in the course of something 2. interchange or alternation, as of states or things 3. vicissitudes, successive, alternating, or changing phases or conditions, as of life or fortune; ups and downs: They remained friends through the vicissitudes of 40 years 4. regular change or succession of one state or thing to another 5. change; mutation; mutability

Birthday: Ignaz Bösendorfer (1796), Ballington Booth (1857), Grand Duchess Anastasia Mikhailovna of Russia (1860), Beatrix Potter (1866), Marcel Duchamp (1887), Barbara La Marr (1896), Rudy Vallee (1901), Charles Townes (1915), Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis (1929), Junior Kimbrough (1930), Mike Bloomfield (1943), Bill Bradley (1943), Richard Wright (1943), Jim Davis (1945), Gerald Casale (1948), Sally Struthers (1948), Michael Hitchcock (1958), Lori Loughlin (1964), Stephen Lynch (1971), Elizabeth Berkley (1972), Soulja Boy Tell ‘Em (1990)

Quotation: People have to talk about something just to keep their voice boxes in working order so they’ll have good voice boxes in case there’s ever anything really meaningful to say. Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

Tune: The other day, I went through the list of music artists I’ve featured here and was pretty damn stupefied I’d never included anything by Pete Yorn. For the last several years, I always find myself coming back to his albums because, in some ways, they’re pretty close to perfect. At least most of the songs definitely are. Check out “Crystal Village” – off his second album, Day I Forgot. Also, he celebrated his 35th birthday yesterday. (Which you already knew because you read this blog everyday.)

Gallimaufry: If I went by Bob Poilon of NPR.org, and his list of the Best Albums of 2009 (So Far), I’d have to seriously consider that maybe I’m not as hip as I think I am, seeing as how I only own 4 out of 30. Wow. I gotta get on the stick and start listening to some more music. I mean, the year is halfway over already. Check it out and see how many of the albums you’ve got – you might just be as surprised as I was. Do you love Young Guns, and/or more importantly Young Guns II? Well, then I’m about to tell you about the best vacation idea you’ve possibly ever heard of in your life. The New Mexico Tourism Department has created a six-day intinerary designed to help you follow in the footsteps of the legendary Billy the Kid, including something called “The Billy the Kid Pageant.” There seems to be no mention of the fact William H. Bonney‘s (as The Kid was formally known) story is one that most scholars agree is mostly fiction. Likewise, it’s not known if vacationing Wild West enthusiasts will be participating in something Billy the Kid definitely did do, namely wandering around the desert for long stretches of time, starving and exhausted. In what can only be considered the boldest of bold moves, EW.com is challenging the longheld notion that 1939 was the best year for the release of films by offering instead…the year 1984. And it may just have a very valid, solidly based point on its hands. Some of the films that debuted 25 years ago? Footloose. Splash. Romancing The Stone. This Is Spinal Tap. The Natural. Sixteen Candles. The Karate Kid. Ghostbusters. Revenge of the Nerds. RED DAWN. The Terminator. Beverly Hills Cop. Johnny Dangerously. And so many more. Hard to believe all those movies were all released (a) in the same year and (b) a quarter century ago.

05.20.09 – Wednesday

Word: swagger [swag-er] v. int. 1. to walk or strut with a defiant or  insolent air 2. to boast or brag noisily ∞ v. t. 3. to bring, drive, force, etc., by blustering ∞ n. 4. swaggering manner, conduct, or walk; ostentatious display of arrogance and conceit

Birthday: Honoré de Balzac (1799), John Stuart Mill (1806), James Stewart (1908), Gardner Fox (1911), Lee “Scratch” Perry (1936), Joe Cocker (1944), Cher (1946), Ron Reagan (1950), Jane Wiedlin (1958), Israel Kamakawiwo’ole (1959), Bronson Pinchot (1959), Ted Allen (1965), Mindy Cohn (1966), Busta Rhymes (1972)

Standpoint: Monday night, as I was watching the Pittsburgh Penguins take on the Carolina Hurricanes in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, it was impossible to miss Sidney Crosby. Even when he was doing absolutely nothing, the spotlight shown in his direction. He’s the new poster boy for the NHL, who would love for him to become the next Wayne Gretzky, whose combination of pure skill and squeaky-clean good looks brought the league into prominence in this country two decades ago. The problem is Crosby is no Gretzky. Even in this early stage of his career, he’s not popular with the fans or among his peers. And here’s why.

Most professional sports are just a live enactment of good vs. evil. In any contest, there are the good guys – those we ‘re all waiting to see win in dramatic fashion – and the bad guys – those we are waiting to fall miserably on their faces. And we enjoy watching either one because wishing for a team to lose is just as much fun as wishing for it to win. Sometimes even more so.

Take Joe Montana. With a name like that, he was destined to occupy a place among the good guys. Besides the name, the man possessed all of the qualities that one needs to become one of America’s heroes. In short, Joe Montana was a guy that no one thought would be anything more than a capable quarterback. Of course, as is often the case, people ended up eating their words as he led the San Francisco 49ers to some of the most famous comebacks during one of the greatest dynasties in sports history. His losses were sometimes just as spectacular as his wins. We all rooted for him. Whichever team was playing against Joe Montana became the enemy.

 Then we have Kobe Bryant, who was marked by the NBA to be its replacement for Michael Jordan, its most celebrated good guy. But things went wrong. The Los Angeles Lakers‘ superstar distinguished himself by openly feuding with Shaquille O’Neal and being the only guy in human history capable of pissing off Phil Jackson. Oh yeah, being accused of sexual assault didn’t really help, either. Still, Kobe prevailed and is currently one of the top basketball players in the world. But no one is happy about it and we all root against him. Whichever team is playing against Kobe Bryant becomes the favorite.

So we all loved Montana. And we all love to hate Bryant. But what about Crosby? What group does he fit into? Well, he’ll probably never be shown the kind of love the good guys enjoy. At least not outside of Pittsburgh. On the other hand, he’ll never earn a spot with the bad guys as one of professional sports’ villains. And that’s because he’s more disliked than he is hated. And you might think that being disliked doesn’t sound as bad as being hated. But it is.

Because, no matter what the particular sport or situation, what we’re all looking for is entertainment. And being a human highlight reel is only so entertaining for so long. Here’s what the San Jose SharksJeremy Roenick has to say about Crosby: I think he’s too quiet, too hum-drum, too cliched. I love the kid as a hockey player, but I think he can be more spectacular if he steps up and shows a little personality. Now while the outspoken Roenick might not be the best judge about the proper use of “personality,” his remarks mirror the public sentiment. Mainly, we find the guy boring. Outside of whining to officials about everything imaginable (he complained to the referee during a recent game against the Washington Capitals because he thought the fans were throwing an excessive amount of hats on the ice after a hat trick by rival superstar Alex Ovechkin), and his admittedly sick amount of talent, Crosby is vanilla. And while vanilla is good it doesn’t get anyone fired up.

The impression that he gives is a neutral one. Like maybe he’d be OK playing out the season in spectator-less arenas and simply concentrating on hockey. And, while that may not be true, it’s the vibe he gives off and one thing sports fans won’t tolerate is an athlete who refuses to acknowledge their part in the process.

What really sucks about all of this is, if the Penguins somehow manage to win the Stanley Cup, when Crosby lifts it over his head, most hockey fans will fill ripped off because we;ll feel neither the good guys or the bad guys triumphed. The boring whiner did.   

Quotation: By night, an atheist half believes in God. Edward Young

Tune: On advice from my brother Jeremy, I’m attempting to get into Say Hi To Your Mom. So far, I like what I hear. Try “The Death of Girl Number Two.”

Gallimaufry: Declining honeybee populations represent a potentially disastrous problem for the world’s ecosystem. And no one’s really been able to explain how it’s happening. But it looks like there might be hope. ∞ Hollywood is one step closer to completing its mission of destroying everything from my past. The most recent victim? Footloose, the 1984 Kevin Bacon classic that was so dorky-cool most guys didn’t seem to mind it was about dancing. If the initial casting choices for the remake are any indication, this movie is going to absolutely blow. ∞ Blink-182 has reunited and I’ve watched them the past two nights on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. I’m a huge fan of the band’s albums. Ask anyone. But they’ve always been considered a shitty live act and, from what I’ve seen, that’s not a perception in danger of going away anytime soon.

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