09.22.09 – A Tuesday

Word

cabal [kuhbal] n. 1. a small group of secret plotters, as against a government or person in authority 2. the plots and schemes of such a group; intrigue 3. a clique, as in artistic, literary, or theatrical circles v. 4. to form a cabal; intrigue; conspire; plot

Birthday

Michael Faraday (1791), John Houseman (1902), Tommy Lasorda (1927), David Stern (1942), Toni Basil (1943), Nick Cave (1957), Johnette Napolitano (1957), Andrea Bocelli (1958), Joan Jett (1958), Neil Cavuto (1958), Scott Baio (1961), Bonnie Hunt (1961), Mystikal (1970)

Standpoint

“Some people like shitty TV, dude, there’s really all there is to it.”

Those words were spoken just last night by my brother Jeremy as I attempted to explain to him my positions on my choices in television programming.

People who I know have talked to me about my (some say confusing) obsession with the show “How I Met Your Mother.” One friend said, “I don’t know you just seem a little too complex to be liking that show.” Well, thanks for the kind words, but it’s kind of just the opposite. Life is complex. I don’t need my entertainment to further complicate it.

For instance, take shows like “Lost” and “Heroes.” I’m sure both are finely produced, wonderfully executed television. I’m also aware both are widely considered culturally relevant. (Whatever that means.) I watched “Lost” for the first two seasons, but grew tired of constantly having to keep track of what the hell was going on and worrying about what I might miss if I didn’t get a chance to see that week’s episode.

Because, for me, television should be something I can just turn on and spend an hour or more drifting around carelessly. I don’t need nightly appointments to keep. I just want to watch some TV.

A show like “How I Met Your Mother” doesn’t require the committment of “Lost” or “Heroes.” I could miss six straight weeks of episodes, turn the current episode on, and not miss a beat. I don’t need any further backstory than the weekly narrating of Josh Radnor.

And the bottom line, is that, yes, I’ve always felt there is enough drama out there in the real world. I don’t need the fictional characters in my television set to further remind me of the fact Earth is overpopulated with awful people. I’ve no problem with scenarios in which the boy gets the girl, the good guys actually do win and everyone rides off happily into the sunset.

I’m sorry if that makes me less of a person, or at least less interesting, in some of your eyes. But I’m unafraid to admit when, given a choice, I’d rather be laughing than anything else.

As a rule, I refuse to get wrapped up in other peoples’ lives. So getting wrapped up in the lives of the characters on TV, real or fictional, is simply out of the question. Unless those characters happened to be named Ted Mosby or Barney Stinson. Then I’m ready to watch/listen.

Simply put, all you people can watch all the “relevant” crap you want so that you can hold your own during one of your work happy hours or endless conversations with your like-minded friends.

Me? I’ll be right here. Watching garbage television shows, ignorantly content.

Quotation

When a man sends you an impudent letter, sit right down and give it back to him with interest ten times compounded, and then throw both letters in the wastebasket.Elbert Hubbard

Tune

Elliott Smith was one of the most unique and talented singer-songwriters that ever stepped in front of a microphone. His music covered such a wide-range of emotions: sorrow, anger, elation, heartbreak, joy. He had dozens of quality songs, but I’m pretty sure the one that kind of exemplifies everything I dig about his music is “Pretty (Ugly Before).”

Gallimaufry

→ For those of you who enjoy utilizing the social networking site Facebook, you may have noticed it’s been acting all kinds of whack as of late. Well, it’s not your computer’s fault. Yesterday, Facebook admitted it’s having some “site glitches.” Please be patient as this problem will be taken care of as quickly as humanly possible.

→ Walter Breuning celebrated his birthday yesterday. So what? Lots of people did. Difference with Mr. Breuning? His cake had 113 candles on it. The Montana resident is considered the world’s oldest man. I’m 35. I want to live a little bit longer because, as a late starter in life, I still feel like my best accomplishments are ahead of me. But 113-years old? I don’t think I want to see that number.

→ I remember too much. People have always noticed that about me and told me how lucky I was. It’s not all it’s cracked up to be. Yes, having a great memory is advantageous sitting in some bar playing Quizzo. But when it comes to the bad things that’ve happened in life, the ability to remember every detail of the majority of those days can be a pretty distracting and depressing state of mind. But, as much as it sucks sometimes, at least I’m not one of the four people diagnosed with super-autobiographical memory. I don’t know how each one of them lives inside their brain everyday.

09.08.09 – A Tuesday

Word

cull [kuhl] v. 1. to choose; select; pick 2. to gather the choice things or parts from 3. to collect; gather; pluck n. 4. act of culling 5. something culled, esp. something picked out and put aside as inferior

Birthday

Charles J. Guiteau (1841), Sid Caesar (1922), Lyndon LaRouche (1922), Peter Sellers (1925), Patsy Cline (1932), Ron Pigpen McKernan (1945), Maurice Cheeks (1956), Heather Thomas (1957), Aimee Mann (1960), Neko Case (1970), David Arquette (1971), Pink (1979), Jonathan Taylor Thomas (1981)

Standpoint

I’m completely aware that, from time to time, I get up on my blogging soapbox and fire off shots at the world of professional sports. And rightfully so. There’s a lot of things wrong with the conduct of professional athletes, coaches and owners.

But this past weekend I watched something that kind of reminded me, sometimes, a sporting event can actually inspire. Melanie Oudin, a 17-year old tennis player from Georgia (the US state, not the Eurasian nation), is staging comeback after improbable comeback in the 2009 U.S. Open.

Normally, I’m not a big fan of tennis. I’ve watched it occassionally with my Mom-Mom, but that’s been about the limit of my exposure to the sport. But I was flicking through the channels and it was the only thing that was on. That day, Oudin beat the 29th seeded player, Maria Sharapova. Yesterday, she beat the the 13th-seed, Nadia Petrova. She’s also beaten No.4 player, Elena Dementieva and former No. 1 player in the world, Jelena Jankovic. But I didn’t see those matches.

In any case, it was really kind of great to watch it all unfold. Oudin’s story is one of promise, no matter how the rest of it turns out. And we need more of that kind of stuff, people, because, whether you’re a cynical misanthrope like me or some sort of cock-eyed optimist, it’s important for all of us to know Oudin’s story is something we can repeat in one way or another.

For once, it’s nice to watch an athlete who still has a legitimate love of the game. Someone who isn’t looking at what they’re doing as a job. She’ll eventually become just like the rest of us and realize nothings good lasts for long. But she doesn’t know that yet. She is fist-pumping her way through one of the greatest times of her life. And we should all be happy be along for the ride

Plus, I really like Oudin because she doesn’t scream like some of these other banshees whenever she hits the ball. Seriously, ladies, every single time? Tone it down. There’s kids watching, for Christ’s sake.

Note: I know that’s not the kind of stuff you’re used to reading when you come here. If I turned some of you off with the sappy stuff, don’t worry. I’m sure during the course of today, something will piss me off and I’ll have it ready for you first thing in the morning.

Quotation

In everyone’s life, at some time, our inner fire goes out.  It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being.  We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit. ◊ Albert Schweitzer

Tune

Nate Ruess, lead singer of currently-on-hiatus The Format has formed a new band called fun. I always kind of liked The Format and fun. sounds pretty much the same. Try “All the Pretty Girls.”

Gallimaufry

→ We’ve all been hearing about the potential dangers of everyone getting a little too wrapped up in these social networking sites. Well, while I still maintain Facebook, Twitter and all the rest of them should be treated like everything else in life – mainly with simple common sense – there are some of us out there who need to get their heads out of their respective asses. Need an example? How about the two South Australia girls, aged 12 and 10, who found themselves trapped in a storm drain and, instead of alerting the authorities so that someone could come and find them, they decided their time would be better spent by updating their Facebook statuses. Luckily, at least one of their friends was not as dim as them, and actually got them some help.

→ Think your email is safe? Well, it’s not. At least not according to “Hacking Firms One Click Ahead of Law.” Sites like yourhackerz.com, if hired to do so, will break into your Gmail or Yahoo! account with relative ease. No matter how tricky and complicated your password may be.

→ I’m letting you know that I’m absolutely positive “How I Met Your Mother” is the funniest television show ever. I’m sure some of you disagree but, for the life of me, I can’t fathom as to the reasons why.

05.06.09 – Wednesday

Word: levity [lev-i-tee] n. 1. lightness of mind, character or behavior; lack of appropriate seriousness or earnestness 2. an instance or exhibition of this 3. fickleness 4. lightness in weight

Birthday: Maxmilien Robespierre (1758), Sigmund Freud (1856), Christian Morgenstern (1871), Rudolph Valentino (1896), Orson Welles (1915), Willie Mays (1931), Rubin Carter (1937), Jimmie Dale Gilmore (1945), Bob Seger (1945), Tony Blair (1953), Roma Downey (1960), John Flansburgh (1960), George Clooney (1961)

Standpoint: Recently, I moved from the City of Philadelphia to one of its suburbs, East Norriton. I grew up in the ‘burbs and, throughout my adult life, have gone through several suburban stints. But mostly, in the past decade and a half, I’ve lived in some section of Philadelphia. Obviously, there are differences. Here are three that I’ve noticed so far this time around.

  • Driving – There are  sidewalks out here but they’re used about as often as that Snuggie you got last Christmas. No one walks anywhere from what I can tell. In the city, pedestrian traffic almost drove me insane. Now, it’s the other cars on the road that are filling that hole in my life. Because hardly anyone demonstrates a sense of urgency. Also, gratuitous use of one’s horn is frowned upon. I’m not asking my fellow drivers to hop the curb or run a red light. But the other day I was driving behind a woman talking on her phone and not moving after the light had been green for about five seconds. I was only looking for a little understanding when I gave a little honk, informing her I’d be agreeable if she put down the cell phone and pushed the gas pedal. She did put the phone down. Then she gave me the finger. Then she pushed the gas pedal. In that order. The next morning, the guy in front of me, driving what looked like the first pickup truck made by Ford, didn’t use his turn signal while pulling into the Sears Hardware at a speed that would’ve made a parade procession appear supersonic by comparison. Apparently, I missed the memo about Fred not having to worry about the proper rules of the road when he’s going to drink coffee in the Sears parking lot with the rest of the guys who feel that using a turn signal is just plain bothersome/uncool. Again, my horn use was met with the middle finger. OK. Message received loud and clear. No honking of the horn. Let’s move on.
  • Civility – In the city, I can remember going to Wawa, the local convenience store, collecting my targeted items, taking them to the counter, paying for them and walking out the door. Without uttering a single word. I didn’t know anything about any of the people who worked in a store I frequented at least once a day. And – I’m sure this’ll sound ruder than I intend it -but I really didn’t want to get familiar with the crew at Wawa. I’ve always felt that idle small-talk in a convenience store makes it significantly less convenient. Out here in the suburbs, it appears there is some expectation of chit-chat during the customer-clerk exchange. My first day here, I was in line at 7-Eleven behind a woman who the clerk referred to as “Liz.” She was probably about 30 years older than he and affectionately called the clerk, “Mitchy,” although the name on his shirt clearly read “Mitch.” After their five-minute conversation about her ambitious gardening enterprises and the latest shenanigans of a dog she was “about ten seconds away from driving out to the goddam country,” Liz managed to make her way out of the store. Mitch turned to me, “How’re you doing today, sir?” “Doing well,” was all I could get out. The rest of my time with Mitch was spent in uncomfortable silence. Next.
  • Hours of Operation – Gone are the days of random 3am gunshots from the low-income housing behind my bedroom. No more coming home at midnight to find half the neighborhood still awake, yelling at the television or each other. Besides the McDonald’s and the APlus, it’s tough work finding something open after 10pm. Lights off. It’s bedtime. I’m sure you can imagine how troubling that might be for a night-owl like myself. Last night, I was in bed at 11pm. I don’t think that’s happened since I was actually 11. My only options for going out somewhere were to either (a) do about 50 round trips through the Mickey D’s drive-thru or (b) head down to the 7-Eleven and engage Mitch in a discussion about Liz’s misbehaving canine. Thanks, but no. On the upside, I’ve never gotten better sleep. Hmmm. Think there’s something to that?

That’s all I got for now but I’m sure I’ll be making more discoveries in the course of readjusting to suburban life. Stay tuned.   

Quotation: And all this means you can expect an unrelenting, unyielding effort from this administration to strengthen our prosperity and our security – in the second hundred days and the third hundred days and all the days after.President Obama

Tune: A while back, I heard Marching Band‘s “For Your Love” on an episode of “How I Met Your Mother.” Having a song featured on a TV show or a movie has become the new “making it big.”

Gallimaufry: Yesterday, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke informed Congress that the economy should experience an upswing in the second half of this year. He went on to say that all would still not be right with the economy but there would be mild improvement. Hey. It’s a start. ∞ Everyone can rest easy. The Wayne Coyne-Win Butler brouhaha is now officially over. You might recall I covered this back in March. Coyne, lead singer of The Flaming Lips, has apologized: “I wish whatever had been said wouldn’t have been taken as such a defiant statement by The Flaming Lips because it wasn’t…I was talking about the dudes running their stages.” Weird. Compare that with his previous statement: “Whenever I’ve been around them, I’ve found that they not only treated their crew like shit, they treated the audience like shit.” Whatever happened to real rock feuds? I mean, neither Axl Rose nor Vince Neil looked like they could’ve beaten their way out of a wet paper bag, but at least they talked a good game. As of yet, there’s no official response from Butler and Arcade Fire to Coyne’s back-pedaling. ∞ After what must have seemed like an eternity (I know it did to me), the 13th Annual Webby Awards, “honoring excellence on the internet,” were announced. Among this years Special Achievement Award Winners, Jimmy Fallon for Webby Person of the Year and Twitter for Webby Breakout of the Year. No word yet on where I fell in the voting. I’m sure I’ll be receiving a call sometime soon. ∞ After completing this post, I found out that Dom DeLuise died yesterday at the age of 76. My immediate reaction was to watch the outtakes from Cannonball Run. I’m not sure why. Rest in peace, Dom.

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