12.21.09 – A Monday

WORD

exiguous [ig-zig-yoo-uhs, ik-sig-] adj. scanty; meager; small; slender: exiguous income

BIRTHDAY

Roger Williams (1603), Josh Gibson (1911), Joe Paterno (1926), Phil Donahue (1935), Jane Fonda (1937), Frank Zappa (1940), Samuel L. Jackson (1948), Jeffrey Katzenberg (1950), Chris Evert (1954), Jane Kaczmarek (1955), Ray Romano (1957), Florence Griffith Joyner (1959), Andy Dick (1965), Kiefer Sutherland (1966), Julie Delpy (1969)

STANDPOINT

In the spirit of the holiday season, I’m going to share 4 things I’m pretty sure everyone should do at one point in their lives.

  1. Split a bottle of Booker’s Bourbon with a good friend(s). Of course, the person you decide to share it with should be a bourbon fan.  In my opinion, Booker’s is peerless. Enthusiasts describe it as “oaky,” and “smoky,” and, I guess, they’re probably right. I describe it as “delicious.” And, no worries, I’m not one of those who’d make you feel like a geek for diluting it with your beverage of choice (i.e. Coke or Ginger Ale), but it’s just really good all by its lonesome. There’s something to be said for sitting down with a buddy, watching a hockey game and polishing off a bottle of Booker’s. But be careful, it will render you inebriated, no matter how much you think of your tolerance for alcohol. You’ll have to trust me when I tell you I know of what I speak. So go out and grab a bottle, invite over a person or persons you deem up for it and, for your own sake, don’t plan on driving until at least the next morning.
  2. Listen to an unknown music catalog. You have a musical artist or band you’ve always intended on getting to know better, but it’s never happened. Life gets in the way. You forget about it. Once in a while, you’re reminded of it and you tell yourself you’re going to get some of the artist’s/band’s albums and do something like dedicating all of your drive-time to work in exploring each and every song they offer. Last year, after putting it off forever, I spent a couple of rainy days, holed up in my house listening to everything I could download by Guided By Voices. Everyone always told me I’d be into GBV. I didn’t think they we’re lying. And, it turned out they were right. So if you have the time and the inclination, I recommend you give yourself the gift of the possibility of some new favorite music. If you need some suggestions, let me know. I’m full of them.
  3. Even when it’s unpopular, go to bat for a friend you know is worthy of your defense. This one’s a bit more vague but I think everyone’s been exposed to a situation in which you’re positively certain a friend of yours is getting a raw deal. And, most likely, he’s a victim of the flawed consensus of other folks you call “friends.” Stand up for the underdog, even at risk to your own good standing. In the long run, or possibly sooner, you’ll feel good about your decision and yourself. Plus, it’s always a really great to wind up being right.
  4. Make yourself uncomfortable on purpose. You’re like everyone else. You’re able to imagine a specific set of circumstances and conclude it’d be pretty close to your worst fucking nightmare. But you should get over it. It’s never as bad as you conjure. If you’re afraid of heights, go to an amusement park and make yourself get on every single ride. If you’re homophobic, go to a bar or an event with a heavy concentration of homosexuals. If you scared to death of speaking in front of a group of people, volunteer yourself at work to make the next big presentation. Your imagination always presents you with every possible idea of what can go wrong. Luckily, life doesn’t usually work like that and, while there may be a hiccup or two or three, you’ll come out of it as something better than you were.

OK, those are my ideas. Tell us some of yours.

QUOTATION

You may delay, but time will not.Benjamin Franklin

TUNE

Right now, in the current state of the music world, we’re decidedly in an exciting time. Gone are the days of record companies and radio stations dictating what we need to listen to. Instead, we’ve an influx of bands that are able to sustain themselves through clever internet marketing and relentless touring. And I, for one, couldn’t be more ecstatic about it. There’s lot of great music out there in the world, folks, and, now more than ever, it’s not impossible to discover. Check out Mock Orange‘s “Song in D.” Tell me you find nothing good about it. And then I’ll call you a liar.

GALLIMAUFRY

Apparently, the entire time Steven Seagal has been making mediocre movies (save for the classic Under Siege), he’s been an actual law enforcement officer in Jefferson Parish, LA. A&E is now airing episodes of Steven Seagal Lawman, documenting the action star on patrol. While the cynical part of me would love to dismiss Seagal as just another attention hungry celebrity, I’m inclined to think the dude’s doing something he actually believes in. And I’m more than down with that.

→ Yesterday, actress Brittany Murphy, 32, died of what initially appears to be natural causes. Not sure about all of that, but she was way too young and it’s sad, no matter the cause.

→ After firing head coach John Stevens, bringing in new head coach Peter Laviolette and getting key players Simon Gagne and Blair Betts back from injury, the Philadelphia Flyers seem no closer to shaking loose of its current state of free-fall. 12 losses in the last 15 games. Not exactly acceptable for a team boasting the likes of Mike Richards, Jeff Carter, Daniel Briere, Chris Pronger and Kimmo Timonen. Sure, goalie Ray Emery is out for a while, but one could make an argument that the play of backup Brian Boucher has been better. Bottom line, the team’s going to have do something sooner than later if this all continues. Most likely, it’ll result in Jeff Carter wearing another jersey.

07.10.09 – Friday

Word: aphorism [afuh-riz-uhm] n. a terse saying embodying a general truth, or astute observation, as “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely” (Lord Acton).

Birthday: John Calvin (1509), Camille Pissarro (1830), Adolphus Busch (1839), John Wyndham (1903), David Brinkley (1920), Jake LaMotta (1921), Fred Gwynne (1926), Lee Morgan (1938), Arthur Ashe (1943), Ron Glass (1945), Arlo Guthrie (1947), Greg Kihn (1949), Neil Tennant (1954), Béla Fleck (1958), Chiwetel Ejiofor (1974), Adrian Grenier (1976), Jessica Simpson (1980) 

Quotation: Golf. My God, that’s a mysterious occupation. I know people who are – good friends – who are absolutely smitten, practicing their swing and talking about it. I can understand some sort of sport where your body got a benefit, like marathon running or bicycle racing. That’s not golf. And not only that, but the whole business of standing in the sun- my God. That’s like torture.Christopher Walken

Tune: Houseguest’s pop shuffles and sashays with an off-kilter grace, like a defiant drunk finding his way home. Guitars shamble and rumble with repressed power, rising in hooky swells that call to mind Guided by Voices, Beat Happening, and the Feelies.” That’s how Cleveland Scene feels about Akron, Ohio band, Houseguest. Try “Proud Utility Infielder” and see if you agree.

Gallimaufry: Levi Johnston, the 19-year old who knocked up Bristol Palin, held a press conference Thursday “because Alaskans want to know why Palin has decided to resign, effective the end of the month.” Johnston, who is no longer engaged to Palin’s daughter, feels the reason for her stepping down has something to do with book deals. “She had talked about how nice it would be to take some of this money people had been offering us and you know just run with it, say ‘forget everything else.'” Not sure why he felt like he had to weigh in, but there it is. The Palin family dismissed the aspiring actor’s comments as “a piece of fiction.” Just when you think we’ve come so far as a society. The Valley Club, a swim club in Huntingdon Valley, a suburb of Philadelphia, shows we still got a long way to go. The Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission is launching an investigation into the events of this past Monday, when an inner city group brought 65 children to swim at the club’s pool facility. Apparently, members were outraged, pulling their children from the pool and holding them protectively from the mostly minority group of children from The Creative Steps, a camp in Northeast Philadelphia. Alethea Wright, the camp’s director, had worked out a deal with The Valley Club to bring the kids to the pool every Monday afternoon. The club is claiming they eventually pulled the minority children from the pool because of “overcrowding.” I’m not buying it and either should you.

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.

04.22.09 – Wednesday

Today is Earth Day!

Word: espouse [i-spouz, i-spous] v. 1. to make one’s own; adopt or embrace, as a cause 2. to marry 3. to give (a woman) in marriage

Birthday: Immanuel Kant (1724), Vladimir Lenin (1870), Vladimir Nabokov (1899), Robert Oppenheimer (1904), Charles Mingus (1922), Aaron Spelling (1923), Charlotte Rae (1926), Richard Donner (1930), Glen Campbell (1936), Jack Nicholson (1937), John Waters (1946), Peter Frampton (1950), Paul Carrack (1951), Marilyn Chambers (1952), Ryan Stiles (1959), Byron Allen (1961), Jeffrey Dean Morgan (1966), Daniel Johns (1979)

Ocurrence: 1970 – The first ever Earth Day is held.

Standpoint: Twitter. You can’t escape it. It’s everywhere. In the past month, I haven’t read a newspaper or watched a talk show where there hasn’t there wasn’t some reference to Twitter, “tweets,” “twittering,” “tweeting” or one of the myriad of other new terms that has invaded the English language because of the overwhelming popularity of the social networking site. If you haven’t heard of it, you must be purposely trying to avoid it. Twitter (and everything to do with it) is currently big news. Last week, Ashton Kutcher challenged CNN to a race to see which one could get to 1 million followers first. Kutcher won. Also last week, Oprah Winfrey publicly joined Twitter on her show where her guest was Evan Williams, Twitter’s CEO. Her first tweet was unsuccessful. Some guy named Corey Menscher has invented the Kickbee, a device a pregnant woman can wear that will detect her baby “kicking” and post a tweet about it.

I joined Twitter a little over a month ago. I railed against it for a while, but finally succumbed. Really just to figure out what the hell it was all about. So, what have I learned? In essence, Twitter is primarily an outlet for people to braindump. Some denominate it microblogging. I think it of it as more full-dress insanity. The tweets come fast and furious. I’m not particular about who I follow or who I allow to follow me. I employ Twitter to drum up additional traffic for this blog, so I figure, the more the merrier.

But individuals are on Twitter for all kinds of reasons. As I’m writing this, I’ve just passed 400 followers. In addition, I’m following close to 800 people in the Twitterverse. I know all of 12 of them personally. The rest are celebrities (Kutcher, P. Diddy and ,yes, even Wil Wheaton), news sites (CNN, E! Online, The Huffington Post), musical acts (Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin, Band of Horses), companies trying to sell stuff (which is seemingly effective) or fellow bloggers.

Some that I’m following (or they’re following me, it becomes increasingly difficult to keep it all in order), are simply odd. One guy I was following was actually posing as Christopher Walken. His tweets were pretty funny and I could picture the actor writing them. The guy was caught and booted. (He’s now back.)Another person contantly updates conditions on the highways in and around San Jose, CA. I’ve no use for this information but I don’t drop anyone so I’m continually informed on what roads not to take around a city I’ve no current plans to step foot in. These are just two examples. There are hundreds, probably more like hundreds of thousands, more.

So, is Twitter useful? I’d love to give some snarky response about how it’s not, but that would be dishonest. My blog traffic has increased because of my Twitter activity. Not because my clever tweets are necessarily reeling everyone in but because of the promiscuous following habits of most users, myself included. I’m pretty certain that hardly anyone is reading even 10% of all the tweets that appear on their Twitter homepage. So, while it’s doubtful that everyone in TwitterLand is paying real attention to one another, it doesn’t really seem to matter. It’s more about being involved in swirling mayhem and telling people, “Yeah, I’m on Twitter.” 

Quotation: Thank God man cannot fly, and lay waste the sky as well as the earth. Henry David Thoreau

Tune: Sadly, I didn’t get into Guided By Voices until last summer. After listening to Robert Pollard and crew’s many great songs, I quietly wondered what planet I’d been living on that I never ran across them before. Listen to “Echos Myron.”

Gallimaufry: After being hospitalized a few days ago, it appears that physicist Stephen Hawking will make a full recovery…President Obama sure has had his fair share of firsts. Here’s another one. He’ll be the first US President to appear topless on the cover of a magazineFacebook groups are popping against, of all people, martial artist and movie star Jackie Chan for comments he made over the weekend, including that “the Chinese need to be controlled.” Apparently, the guy’s a fan of oppression. Who knew?

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