07.15.09 – Wednesday

Word: strident [strahyd-nt] adj. 1. making or having a harsh sound; grating; creaking: strident insects; strident hinges 2. having a shrill, irritating quality or character: a strident tone in his writings 3. Linguistics. (in distinctive feature analysis) characterized acoustically by noise of relatively high intensity, as sibilants, labiodental and uvular fricatives, and most affricates

Birthday: Ewostatewos (1273), Rembrandt van Rijn (1606), Lloyd “Cowboy” Copas (1913), Clive Cussler (1931), Alex Karras (1935), Barry Goldwater Jr. (1938), Millie Jackson (1944), Jan-Michael Vincent (1944), Linda Ronstadt (1946), Arianna Huffington (1950), Jesse “The Body” Ventura (1951), Johnny Thunders (1952), Ian Curtis (1956), Barry Melrose (1956), Marky Ramone (1956), Joe Satriani (1956), Kim Alexis (1960), Willie Aames (1960), Lolita Davidovich (1961), Forest Whitaker (1961), Brigitte Nielsen (1963), Jason Bonham (1966), Eddie Griffin (1968), Dave Foley (1972), Beth Ostrosky (1972), Brian Austin Green (1973)

Quotation: Impartial observers from other planets would consider ours an utterly bizarre enclave if it were populated by birds, defined as flying animals, that nevertheless rarely or never actually flew.  They would also be perplexed if they encountered in our seas, lakes, rivers, and ponds, creatures defined as swimmers that never did any swimming.  But they would be even more surprised to encounter a species defined as a thinking animal if, in fact, the creature very rarely indulged in actual thinking.Steve Allen

Tune: “It’s a genuine stand-alone quirk-pop gem, all parping brass and chintzy keyboard riffs with singalong vocals.” Those are the words of Topher Healy of Rave magazine, referring to “Brainless” by Sunny Day Sets Fire. Once again, a song I was legitimately surprised to find had a very high play count on my iPod. Not because it’s not good – just the opposite – but I had no idea I’d listened to it so much.

Gallimaufry: I love animals but, uh, this is just a bit outlandish in my opinion. Yesterday marked the maiden filght of Pet Airways, an animals-only airline developed by Alysa Binder and Dan Wiesel, a husband and wife who’d become dissatisfied with their Jack Russell terrier’s flying adventures. As of right now, the airline is only offering flights between five major cities – New York, Washington, Chicago, Denver and Los Angles – but they’re all booked solid for the next two months, apparently. Each ticket is around $250, and passengers will be provided a pre-flight bathroom break and checked on every 15 minutes. Basically, if you don’t want your pet to travel in the cargo hold, you can pony up a little more dough (roughly an additional $100 – $200, depending on which airline you’ll be flying), and make sure Fido, most likely, has a more comfortable flying experience than you, yourself, will. Christ. Is the recession over? Did anyone else think it odd that FOX had such a cockeyed angle of President Obama’s first pitch at last night’s 2009 MLB All-Star Game? Even stranger, FOX went immediately to a commercial break and didn’t even air the pitch until a few minutes later, when Obama had joined the team in the broadcasting booth. Turns out, our President isn’t much of a pitcher. After an awkwardly executed toss, the ball just barely made it into the glove of St. Louis Cardinal‘s superstar Albert Pujols, who had already moved up in an attempt to make sure Obama didn’t embarrass himself. “I did not play organized baseball when I was a kid and so, you know, I think some of these natural moves aren’t so natural to me,” said our nation’s leader. It wasn’t the best looking first-pitch of all-time, but, besides a lack of a distance and the fact that he looked like he’d never thrown a ball before, I’d say he got the job done quite nicely. Plus, what the hell is the difference if he can’t throw a strike? He probably can’t kick a field goal, either. Most likely, those skills will never be needed at his current post. It’s usually a good thing when young people are proud to embrace the traditions of their ancestors. Usually. But not always. Anthony Karen shows us in “LIFE Goes Inside Today’s KKK,” that some dumb bullshit will simply never go away. It’s true. Just when the world needs them the least, the Ku Klux Klan is poised to make a comeback. Fantastic. I was just thinking the other day that we were running short on complete dipshits out there, but I’m pretty sure that we’re all set now. Thanks for showing up, fellas.

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04.14.09 – Tuesday

[Note: Today’s post is a little longer than usual due to the passing of Philadelphia’s legendary broadcaster, Harry Kalas – a man who will forever be remembered as “The Voice of the Philadelphia Phillies.”]

Word: sycophant [sikuh-fuhnt, – fant, sahy-kuh-] n. a self-seeking, servile flatterer; fawning parasite

Birthday: Shorty Rogers (1924), Rod Steiger (1925), Loretta Lynn (1935), Pete Rose (1941), Richard Jeni (1957), Brad Garrett (1960), Robert Carlyle (1961), Anthony Michael Hall (1968), Adrien Brody (1973), Sarah Michelle Gellar (1977), Win Butler (1980)

Occurence: 1865Abraham Lincoln is shot from behind by in Ford’s Theatre by John Wilkes Booth.

Standpoint: I remember one afternoon in college. My buddy Joe Taylor and I were watching NFL Films. I mentioned that the narrator’s voice sounded kind of familiar. Joe sat up from the couch. “You don’t know who that is?” I told my friend I didn’t. “It’s Harry Kalas! The guy who calls Phillies games with Richie Ashburn!  Are you shitting me?”I wasn’t “shitting” him. I just wasn’t an avid Phillies fan. At that point, I saw no reason to stir Joe up any further by explaining to him I didn’t know who Richie Ashburn was.

Harry Kalas died yesterday at the age of 73 while preparing to call a Phillies-Nationals game in Washington D.C. Before that afternoon with Joe, I did know who he was. It didn’t matter that I wasn’t a baseball fan. Growing up in Philadelphia, it was nearly impossible to not know the man who could’ve patented the phrase, “It’s outta here!”  After college, I eventually did get into baseball and came to share the common reverence held for “The Voice of the Philadelphia Phillies.” He was one of those rare announcers whose love for the game and his team oozed out into the living rooms of all watching. His soothing voice could go from completely relaxed to incredibly excited with the swing of a bat.

The game of baseball lost a true living legend yesterday. The one silver lining being repeated everywhere was that at least Kalas lived long enough to see one more Phillies World Championship last October. I was actually outside Citizens Bank Park when it happened and heard Kalas call it live when Brad Lidge got that third out. Simultaneously, I heard the roar from the crowd in the stadium. My friends out in the parking lot, looked toward the ballpark and lamented the fact that we weren’t inside to experience the ensuing euphoria. I thought to myself that I wouldn’t have changed a thing. I got to hear the best broadcaster in baseball history call the final out of the World Series. It was the people inside who missed out.

Further Reading.

Quotation: Duct tape is like the force. It has a light side, a dark side and it holds the universe together. Carl Zwanzig

Tune: I first heard this song back on MTV’s 120 Minutes. (Remember when MTV played good songs?) “Mr E.’s Beautiful Blues” immediately made me buy everything I could by Eels.

Gallimaufry: Amazon.com is under fire for their new “adult” policy. The online bookstore has being accused of removing only “adult” literature dealing with homosexuality. (Amazon is claiming a glitch on the site.) Click here to learn more and sign the petition. (Thanks to Beth Treisner)…I suspect that “Facebook Users Get Worse Grades in College” is the first of many articles I’ll read in the next year about the negative effects of the popular social networking site…Al Franken is still not a United States Senator but it appears to be a matter of time until he is. Hey, Minnesota, let the guy in already. Jesse “The Body” Ventura used to be your governor. I mean, seriously.

Incoming: Tomorrow – What’s StumbleUpon?  Thursday – More of your Annoying Sayings/Misused Words (This is now going to be a permanent Thursday thing.) Friday3 Things To Do In Philly When You’re Dead and 5 People I Wish Would Move to Another Planet.