03.09.10 – A Tuesday

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word

repartee [rep-er-tee, –tey, -ahr-] n. 1. a quick, witty reply 2. conversation full of such replies 3. skill in making such replies

birthday

Amerigo Vespucci (1454), Samuel Barber (1910), Mickey Spillane (1918), Ornette Coleman (1930), Raúl Juliá (1940), John Cale (1942), Bobby Fischer (1943), Charles Gibson (1943), Robin Trower (1945), Jeffrey Osborne (1948), Bobby Sands (1954), Linda Fiorentino (1958), Steve Wilkos (1964), Juliette Binoche (1964), Emmanuel Lewis (1973), Thor Halvorssen (1976), Julia Mancuso (1984), Brittany Snow (1986), Bow Wow (1987)

standpoint

Two nights ago, we were all once again treated to the annual hullabaloo that is The Oscars. Lots of us were watching the show. 41.3 million of us. Granted, that’s not even 10% of the United States’ population but it’s still a large group of people, the largest in five years. Whoopdee-doo.

But why were we all watching? I suspect some of you actually watched out of your sheer love for the art of cinema. Or maybe you watched in an attempt to make sure you weren’t the only one in the office the next morning who couldn’t participate in the endless post-Oscar debates and be forced to, like, do work or something. Or maybe you flipped through the channels and happened upon the show and became immediately engaged by the obvious sexual tension between Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin, this year’s co-hosts. Or maybe you’re like me and you simply watched the damn thing to beleaguer yourself with one of the prime examples of how crappy our culture has become.

I watched it, albeit in my usual offish fashion. But I did notice some amusing peculiarities.

→ In what’s being dubbed a “Kanye Moment,” some woman named Elinor Burkett, apparently one of the producers of  something called Music By Prudence, stormed the stage and stole the allotted speech time from the film’s director, one Roger Ross Williams. Some described it as “uncomfortable to watch.” Uh…all right. Now Burkett has two things in common with Kanye West: They both display an irreverent attitude toward award show decorum, and they both look like dudes.

Neil Patrick Harris needs to pull in the reins a bit. Does the guy know he’s allowed to turn down offers? At this rate, we’re all going to be sick and tired of him sometime later this week. Hey, NPH, maybe just be a homebody for a while, do a crossword puzzle (or maybe you’re a sudoku man, I have no idea) or repaint the living room like you’ve been saying you’re going to since forever. Or, here’s an idea. Maybe watch some television and try to find a channel you won’t see your own face.

Fisher Stevens, the guy who played that goofy scientist in Short Circuit and was in that episode of Friends that time won an Oscar for a documentary that had something to do with dolphins. Johnny Five is indeed alive.

→ Always the cutup, Ben Stiller came onstage to present the award for Best Makeup all done up as a character from Avatar. I thought he looked a lot like what Michael Jackson might’ve looked like twenty years down the road.

→ Throughout the entire show, George Clooney had a look on his face that, I swear, made me think the guy has some sort of beef being stuck in a chair with a camera up his nose for four hours. What’s up with that? Lighten up, buddy, you’ve come a long way since Booker Brooks.

The Hurt Locker won 6 times. Two of them involved sound and were accepted by some guy who looked like a recovering zombie. Also, the lady who directed it won Best Director and Best Film but all anyone wanted to talk about was that she was once married to fellow nominee James Cameron. I was glad she was able to get back at the Academy for what’s still considered one of history’s biggest snubs when it completely ignored Point Break. Not even a courtesy Best Supporting Actor nod to Gary Busey, for crying out loud. But Kathryn Bigelow showed them. Now who’s laughing? Definitely not Busey and, even if he is, he’s laughing about something only he fully understands.

→ I liked that thing they do when 5 actors get up on stage and say something seemingly heartfelt and ostensibly accurate about the nominees for Best Actor and Best Actress. Oprah Winfrey spoke about Gabourey Sidibe from Precious in the way she does about everything. No matter what Oprah’s prattling on about, she’s really just talking about herself. Sidibe probably didn’t care as she was most likely couldn’t stop thinking about hunky Gerard Butler, who she met and delivered the proposition, “Let’s grab a bottle of champagne and see where the night goes!” Later, she told more than one reporter, in regards to her attraction to Butler, “I’d hit that.” Whatever happened to playing hard to get? Gabourey, it’s all about the hunt and the chase. Don’t just throw it out there.

→ One of my favorite actors, Jeff Bridges won for Best Actor. Of all the movies mentioned during the show, Crazy Heart was one of two I’d actually seen. (Star Trek was the other.) Kudos to Bridges, by the way, who, in giving his acceptance speech, contributed yet another item to the long list every stoner keeps of shit you can still do when you’re high.

Overall, I enjoyed watching The Oscars. I might even watch next year. Hell, I might even get out there and see some relevant movies for a change. Who knows?

quotation

These are not books, lumps of lifeless paper, but minds alive on the shelves.  From each of them goes out its own voice… and just as the touch of a button on our set will fill the room with music, so by taking down one of these volumes and opening it, one can call into range the voice of a man far distant in time and space, and hear him speaking to us, mind to mind, heart to heart.Gilbert Highet

tune

Sometimes, I’m resistant to things for no good reason. What can I say? I’m hardheaded. You love that about me, by the way. In any case, my wonderful girlfriend asked me to watch the new OK Go video about five times before I had the good judgment to trust her. I learned an important relationship lesson: Believe her when she tells me I’m definitely going to like something she’s sent me. (Five times.) Not only did I realize that (a) I like OK Go and, as is the case from time to time, I miss out on good music due to a some sort of stigma I’ve created out of thin air, and (b) I can’t ascertain how I’ve managed to escape the incredible ingenuity of Rube Goldberg Machines. They’re absolutely fucking nuts. Here’s the new OK Go offering titled “This Too Shall Pass.”

And if you suddenly find yourself yearning for some more Rube Goldberg Machine videos, worry not, I’m happy to provide them. Check these out.

gallimaufry

Reunited and it feels so good. T.O. and D-Nabb put aside their differences for (What else?) money. Poor Antonio Gates, stuck with those two as teammates.

→ Some may argue that Facebook made this possible. I’d say FB made it easier would be more accurate.

→ I didn’t need another reason not to vacation in balmy Alaska. But I got one anyway.

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05.13.09 – Wednesday

Word: melodrama [meluh-drah-muh, -dram-uh] n. 1. a dramatic form that does not observe the laws of cause and effect and that exaggerates emotion and emphasizes plot or action at the expense of characterization 2. melodramatic behavior or events 3. (in the 17th, 18th, and early 19th centuries) a romantic dramatic composition with music interspersed

Birthday: Joe Louis (1914), Bea Arthur (1922), Jim Jones (1931), Harvey Keitel (1939), Ritchie Valens (1941), Mary Wells (1943), Stevie Wonder (1950), Dennis Rodman (1961), Stephen Colbert (1964), Darius Rucker (1966), Buckethead (1968)

Standpoint: Yesterday, I revealed the results of an experiment I conducted involving Google Image Search. The goal was to see if I could type in just about any word and eventually come across an image displaying inappropriate content. In the interest of saving you from clicking back and forth, I’ll republish how I went about this and my findings:

Here’s a list of  random words that I used – starting with items that were in front of me at the time and continuing with whatever popped into my head – and how many images I had to go through to find some inappropriate content:

  • “camera” – 95th image
  • “bottle” – 5th image
  • “key” – 24th image
  • “phone” – 37th image
  • “book” – Search Expired (Google only allows the first 1000 images to be viewed)
  • “sidewalk” – 188th image
  • “brick” – 262th image
  • “desk” – 467th image
  • “chair” – 223rd image
  • “office” – 16th image
  • “girlfriend” – 11th image
  • “boyfriend” – 42nd image
  • “wife” – 2nd image
  • “husband” – 115th image
  • “pregnant” – 11th image
  • “female” – 4th image
  • “male” – 4th image
  • “woman” – 9th image
  • “man” – 26th image
  • “bear” – 40th image
  • “arm” – 200th image
  • “leg” – 16th image
  • “foot” – 5th image
  • “hand” – 10th image
  • “breakfast” – 924th image
  • “brunch” – 461st image
  • “lunch” – Search Expired
  • “dinner” – Search Expired
  • “snack” –  Search Expired 
  • “love” – 64th image
  • “romance” – 229th image
  • “flirting” – 59th image
  • “big” – 1st image
  • “crazy” – 6th image
  • “fun” – 94th image
  • “great” – 6th image
  • “boredom” – 62nd image

As you can see, some of the words failed to produce what I was looking for. At least not in the parameters of Google Image Search, which is widely considered the industry standard. The word “book” yielded no unseemly results. Neither did the words “lunch” or “snack.”

All but one of the others (“dinner”) did produce some kind of image not suitable for the background of your desktop computer. That’s 34 of 38, or a little over 89%, of the words I used – a pretty high percentage. It would be like Philadelphia Phillies second baseman Chase Utley having a batting average of .894. That means he would only fail to produce a hit in 1½ of every ten at-bats. So my original hypothesis was only just a little off but mainly right on.

But does it really mean anything? If we look at the results in that words with the lowest numbers (“big”, “female” and “male”) represent higher sex appeal and words with the highest numbers (“office”, “brick” and “romance”) represent lower sex appeal, they don’t make a lot of sense. Wouldn’t it be more feasible that “fun” would produce a quicker result than “boredom?” But it’s not the actual words that matter here. What does matter is the high likelihood of discovering adult material while conducting an otherwise innocent image search.

So exactly what did I learn? Well. Besides that it’s impossible to log all the types of fetishes out there and that pictures of the “girl next door” are apparently infinitely more popular than those taken of “professional” models, I came away with a different sense of the collective human mindset. Maybe some of the experts are right. When it comes down to it, sex could very well be the driving force behind most of how we think and act. I mean, it’s not like I could use the same set of words and eventually happen upon an image of money or mountain lions or Nascar. I tried. It only works for sex.

And is that really a bad thing? Maybe. I wouldn’t say that society is consumed with sexual thoughts, but based on my rudimentary findings, it’s well on its way. And that must be a horrifying concept for those who point a shameful finger at sex the same way the rest of us do at the slaughter of innocent animals. But it’s not scary for everyone. It could be that the internet has provided a vehicle for those, once thought of as sexual deviants, to realize they’re not alone in feeling the way that they do. And that’s got to be more of a good thing than bad. At least, I hope that last sentence is true. And for those who are truly concerned, Google offers many options that filter out most anything you don’t wish to see.  

Now, is any of this truly important? I think so. Educating yourself on the potential dangers of your society is always helpful. Some of what I found could definitely pose a serious threat, not only to young people, but to confused adults as well. Awareness of anything that could be harmful automatically decreases the risk of its pitfalls. The truth is that there’s lots of crazy sexual activity out in the world. You can run from it or embrace it. Or you can simply leave it alone and keep doing your thing. But the bottom line is that while it’s not imperative to start Congressional hearings on the matter of internet porn, it is something that shouldn’t be taken lightly.

And as a bonus, now we know that a key is considered way more erotic than a desk. So that debate is settled.

Quotation: Television has proved that people will look at anything rather than each other. Ann Landers

Tune: “Blindsided” is one of those mellow songs that won’t put you to sleep. Actually, all of For Emma, Forever Ago by Bon Iver is the same way.

Gallimaufry: Years ago, Mike Jerrick was the offbeat co-anchor of FOX Philadelphia’s Good Day Philadelphia. Now he’s the offbeat co-anchor of  The Morning Show with Mike & Juliet. I’m not usually a fan of morning talk shows but I like this one, especially when they do “The Male Room.” ∞ President Obama is trying to find a way to trim some fat off of the federal budget. Literally. Yesterday, he “met with CEOs of companies that have found innovative ways to lower health care costs and improve employees’ health.” ∞ More so than ever, it appears that celebrities are doing more good things than bad. OK, maybe that’s not entirely true. Or maybe I’m sincerely impressed with the genorosity of Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet and James Cameron, who donated $30,000 to the last survivor of the the Titanic. Good stuff.  

Incoming: Tomorrow – Your entries for this week’s edition of Annoying Sayings & Misused Words. Friday – This weekend’s 3 Things To Do In Philly When You’re Dead and 7 Cover Songs That Are Better Than the Original.