03.08.10 – A Monday

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word

narcissism [nahr-suh-siz-em] n. 1. inordinate fascination with oneself; excessive self-love; vanity 2. Psychoanalysis. erotic gratification derived from admiration of one’s own physical or mental attributes, being a normal condition at the infantile level of personality development

birthday

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. (1841), Mississippi John Hurt (1892), Alan Hale, Jr. (1921), Lynn Redgrave (1943), Micky Dolenz (1945), Gary Numan (1958), Aidan Quinn (1959), Camryn Manheim (1961), Shawn Mullins (1968), Freddie Prinze, Jr. (1976), James Van Der Beek (1977)

standpoint

I was all ready to go off on The 82nd Annual Academy Awards but if you haven’t yet figured out how much crap The Oscars are, well, then I’m going to have a hard time figuring out a way to let you down easy. So let’s move on, shall we?

“What are your top 5 albums of all time?”

I get this question a lot. Really. For some, this might be something readily apparent. But, for me, not so much. I mean, I’ve albums I’ll never tire of but I’m not sure that’s the proper criteria. I’ve had albums I’ve listened to non-stop for a month or two but inevitably found myself burned out on. There’s also been those I didn’t like at first but sort of grew into and, now, can’t do without. In addition, there’s albums that fit seamlessly into my life at the right place and time but, now, have lost some, if not all, of their meaning.

Listening preferences, from one stage of life to the next, are fickle and subject to change. Or at least they should be. I can’t imagine what it would be like to plug the same exact album into my CD player for the rest of my life. As a matter of fact, I’m pretty sure that if there’s a hell and I make it there, it’ll be my fate to listen to Led Zeppelin or Yes or Journey or The Steve Miller Band or something similarly dreadful for all of eternity.

The way I see it, listening to music goes hand-in-hand with living life. When someone stops searching for that new sound, that new anything at all, that gets their blood pumping at a different rate than what’s come before, that’s the exact moment someone has concluded that, right then and there, life’s offered all it’s going to. That person is content to listen to the same old songs, wear a Pink Floyd concert t-shirt to summer barbecues and preach about the “fundamental soundness” of classic rock.

And that’s fine for that person. But not for me. I’ve been accused of “liking things no one else knows about” just because no one else knows about them. I’ve been told I probably don’t like the music I listen to and I’m just being different for the sake of being different. Fair enough. Guilty as charged, I guess.

But I’ll never be swayed by anything due to a mild degree of likability, or moderate amount of soundness, and I’ll always be looking for new things to recapture my sense of awe in the world, and not just in music but in all things. That’s how you stay young, no matter what you got going on in that crazy life of yours.

quotation

They’re out there. You can see them in the audience – seemingly witty, attractive and cool. You can imagine talking to them about the short stories of Denis Johnson, or explaining the ever-so-multi-layered metaphors in that one song, the one during which you saw them stifling a lip-sync. Will you ever actually speak to them? Doubt it. Most people that are actually like you think bands are too cool to talk to them. ↔ Mike Doughty

tune

Apparently, I don’t pay as much attention to music as I boast. Turns out, The A-Sides, a Philadelphia band that I really like, broke up about two years ago without letting me know. Not exactly sure why but, hey, shit happens. Two of the guys went on to form a band named Sun Airway. In any case, I always liked “Sidewalk Chalk.”

gallimaufry

Dear Professional Athletes, what in the world is wrong with you? You guys got the money, the fame and every other possible advantage when it comes to attracting pretty much any female you want. Get a grip, will you? Not sure if anyone’s ever explained it to you but women simply frown upon sexual assault. And rightfully so, douchebags. Ever see those relatively unattractive dudes who are dating or married to women they’ve most likely have no business with? Yeah, well, they put in the work and if you did a fraction of it, you’d be level-jumping like the champion you are on the playing field. This is just laziness on your part and, for that, you’re not going to get sympathy on either side of the aisle, male or female.

The City of Brotherly Love has finally come into its own. After all the fighting and scratching and clawing, we’ve got it. That’s right, long considered the benchmark for how big a city truly is, the Red Bull Flugtag is going to grace us with its presence. Not only will you get the opportunity to risk your life by careening off a flight deck in a contraption you made with your best buds evenings after work in your backyard, but you’ll also get to test your body’s ability to fight off infection after a dip in the Delaware River. And I’ll probably be there watching it.

→ I know I’m picking on this lady a little too much lately but I’m certain she’ll have no problem falling asleep tonight on her huge money-stuffed mattress atop her gigantic golden bed.

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04.27.09 – Monday

Word: somnolent [som-nuh-luhnt] adj. 1. sleepy; drowsy 2. tending to cause sleep: For him, the opera was a somnolent experience.

Birthday: Mary Wollstonecraft (1759), Samuel F.B. Morse (1791), Ulysses S. Grant (1822), Jack Klugman (1922), Casey Kasem (1932), August Wilson (1945), Frank William Abagnale Jr. (1948), Kate Pierson (1948), Ace Frehley (1951), Sheena Easton (1959)

Occurence: 1810Beethoven composes Für Elise.

Standpoint: Over this past weekend, I walked into a bar. That’s not the intro to a joke. But the end result was funny. I had unsuspectingly entered the sometimes-strange, occasionally-uncomfortable but always-entertaining world of karaoke.

If you’re between the age of 21 and 120, you’ve inevitably experienced this Japanese form of entertainment. Admit it. Whether an active participant or an amused onlooker, you’ve attended – on purpose or by accident – what Jim Carrey in The Cable Guy called “a karaoke jam.” If you’ve never been, you are either (a) living in some cave on a very high mountain or (b) overly concerned with maintaining your “too-cool-for-karaoke” status. (If you fall into one of those two categories, I congratulate you, albeit for very different reasons.)

In any case, if you’re one of the billions who have actually witnessed it live, then you’ve undoubtedly noticed what I have. No matter where or in what kind of place it takes place, watching karaoke will always brings out the following types of individuals:

  • “The Trailblazer” – This person gets up to sing first because he or she is either (a) dared by friends to do it, or (b) the self-desrcibed “life of the party.” Most likely, the rendition is not awful but “The Ham” is in no danger of being hounded by record label executives. Probable Song Selection: Something by Madonna or Journey.
  • “The Pro” – For the first few songs, you’ll most likely witness this person, sitting with a small group of friends (if any), and stoically analyzing the participants like Simon Cowell. When his or her name is called to step up to microphone, “The Pro” will rise with limited fanfare, walk confidently towards the front and belt out the lyrics. The performance is much better than what been offered so far and most in attendance will turn to a friend and give a look that says, “Hey, this ain’t so bad.” At the end of the song, he or she receives a loud cheer while walking unassumingly back to his or her chair. Probable song selection: Something by Celine Dion or Billy Joel. [Note: Inescapably, “The Pro” will become less and less appreciated over the course of the night due to everyone getting drunker and realizing they have more fun when people suck. After many drinks, “The Pro” is more commonly referred to as “that fucking showoff who keeps singing the sappy songs.”]
  • “The Badass” – Usually a male, this character brings a certain machismo to the mic. His attitude is a mixture of “I’m the greatest,” and “Karaoke is for douchebags.” The beers and shots have gotten the better of him, and he’s decided to show the crowd how it’s done. The song completed, he’ll usually shove the microphone back at the DJ or simply drop it on the ground before strutting off the stage. Shooting the middle finger to all gathered is optional but not a requirement for “The Badass.” Probable Song Selection: Metallica or Guns ‘N’ Roses. Maybe Poison.
  • “The Giggler” – Opposite of “The Badass,” this is commonly a woman or, more accurately, a group of women who’ve collectively gathered the nerve to take the stage after a very long conversation in which, “I’ll go up there if you do,” is uttered close to 900 times. The ladies will take the stage with the best intentions but only two of them will actually sing the song. The other three will look out at the crowd and laugh with hands over their faces. For both the participants and observers, the performance can’t end soon enough. Probable Song Selection: Britney Spears or Cyndi Lauper.
  • “The Longshot” – During the course of the night, there is always a dark horse. Someone who gets up and sings dreadfully but possesses a certain characteristic like being older than everyone else or being cute in a non-traditional way. The crowd will rally around  and spur him or her on. This is unique to karaoke because it’s the only time someone can do something worse than everyone else and get the loudest round of applause. For one night, “The Longshot” is the most popular person in the place.  Our common love of the underdog combined with our penchant for overindulging in booze makes this possible. Probably Song Selection: Frank Sinatra or Neil Diamond.
  • “The Almost” – Wastes the entire night by going back and forth on whether to get up and sing and will annoy practically everyone by polling them on if he or she should, “just get up there and do it.” Never getting the needed encouragement due to the fact that no one really gives a shit, his or her attention will be turned toward becoming the drunkest person in bar (who didn’t sing).

The one undeniable fact about karaoke is that its huge popularity is owed directly to massive consumption of alcoholic beverages. Without booze, karaoke doesn’t exist.

Quotation: Life is something that happens when you can’t go to sleep. Fran Lebowitz

Tune: On every mix CD I’ve made in the past 5 years, Pinback‘s “Fortress” has eventually made it on to each one of them.

Gallimaufry: Britain’s Got Talent‘s Susan Boyle getting a makeover or Simon Cowell’s response to it? It was a dead heat in the battle of news items I couldn’t care less about…Lollapalooza announced its 2009 lineup. Along with the obvious acts (Depeche Mode, Beastie Boys, Jane’s Addiction), some of the chosen (Band of Horses, The Manchester Orchestra, Bon Iver, Andrew Bird) make me feel like the organizers are purposely trying to get me in Chicago this August 7-9…Only in this day and age can something like a cruise ship fighting off a bunch of Somali pirates be spun as a negative against the good guys.

Incoming: As I wrote last week, I moved this weekend. I’m a little behind in terms of being organized for this week’s posts. Stay tuned for more details.