April 9th, 2012

word

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

birthday

James “Jim” Bowie (1796), Max von Sydow (1929), John Madden (1936), Steven Seagal (1956), Brian Setzer (1959), Q-Tip (1970), Mandy Moore (1984)

standpoint

Yesterday was Easter Sunday. Those of you who know even the slightest bit about me know that I’m about as religious as Christopher Hitchens.

But the one thing I do like about Easter is the family dinner. Sure, Thanksgiving and Christmas are traditionally more renowned for big family dinners and there’s some truth to that, especially in my family. Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners are legendary. My mother is more talented in the kitchen than 98% of the chefs in this country and both my parents have spent the entirety of their adult lives to makes sure both of those holidays are memorable, in one way or another, each and every year. Even as my siblings and I have moved into adulthood.

But Easter is different and it’s also not. Throughout the years, I’m sure I’ve experienced the occasional Easter dinner in the comfort of my parents’ house but I can’t truly recall one. Normally, that’s the holiday our family spends dining out. And, although the food’s never quite as delicious as when my mother, sisters and sisters-in-law (as well as the random, unsuccessful dish from a man in the family) are in charge of the menu, Easter dinner is fun due to the fact no one is in charge of anything except for actually showing up.

And that makes for a much more lighthearted evening. We can talk and catch up and ridicule and debate meaningless crap and even once in a while say nice things about each other.

Anyway, that’s what I felt like writing about today. It was more for me than any of you but I hope you enjoyed it at least a little.

quotation

Any idiot can get laid when they’re famous. That’s easy. It’s getting laid when you’re not famous that takes some talent. ↔ Kevin Bacon

tune

So I was watching Just Go With It the other night. C’mon, like you’ve never watched a bad Adam Sandler movie. Don’t judge. In any case, every song on the entire soundtrack had something to do with Sting and I forgot how much I liked The Police‘s “Canary in a Coal Mine.”

gallimaufry

→ Went and saw The Hunger Games this past Thursday evening. Despite the lady behind us who was providing her own unique brand of commentary toward the end, I was generally pleased with the adaptation.

→ It’s the year for dudes of faith. First, Tim Tebow. And now, Bubba Watson wins the Masters. Maybe all these athletes should start taking god more seriously. Seriously.

→ For all of you who know me personally and love making fun of my “antique” cell phone, I’m happy to admit I’ll be getting an iPhone today. So you’ll have to find someone else to rip on. Sorry.

07.08.11 – a friday

word

adumbrate [a-duhm-breyt, aduhm-breyt] v. 1. to produce a faint image or resemblance of; to outline or sketch 2. to foreshadow; prefigure 3. to darken or conceal partially; overshadow

birthday

John D. Rockefeller (1839), Nelson A. Rockefeller (1908), Jerry Vale (1932), Jeffrey Tambor (1944), Wolfgang Puck (1949), Anjelica Huston (1951), Kevin Bacon (1958), Toby Keith (1961), Billy Crudup (1968), Beck (1970)

standpoint

I don’t normally post on Fridays, especially during the summer. The reason for that loose guideline is I feel most of you come here when you’re bored at work or bored at home or just simply bored in general and, of the five-day work week, Friday is the least boring and, in the summer, lots of you don’t work on Fridays at all. (The last few sentences were pretty much all conjecture.)

But I’m posting here on this particular Friday because I’m in the mood to do a little braindump. It’s mostly inconsequential nonsense but since not a lot of you will be reading it anyway, why the hell not?

→ This is the last time I’ll be bringing this up (on here, at least) until the fall but I couldn’t be more excited that James Spader is joining the cast of The Office full-time. I’m aware this has been a small obsession of mine since last season’s finale but, really, what’s the harm?

→ If you read yesterday’s standpoint you know exactly how disgusted I am with the Casey Anthony not-guilty verdict. I’m equally distressed with these idiots, like Dr. Phyllis Chesler, who are now coming to her defense to help her rebuild her life. What a fantastically shitty facet of our society.

→ The television ads for Ocean City MD featuring Rodney the lifeguard rescuing people from boredom and dragging them to the beach, well, those ads really annoy me. Just because Rodney is a certified lifeguard doesn’t mean I can overlook the fact that he’s essentially kidnapping people.

All right, folks, that’s all I got. Have a great weekend and, as always, thanks for reading.

quotation

The drive toward complex technical achievement offers a clue to why the U.S. is good at space gadgetry and bad at slum problems. ↔ John Kenneth Galbraith

tune

I was mildly enthusiastic about Duncan Sheik‘s latest album, Covers 80s. Yes, I know, I know, the guy is fluff of the highest order but he writes some solid lyrics and is an above average composer of pop music. Since I’m a fan of obscure ditties from the 1980s, I was cautiously optimistic when I purchased the album with a gift card my brother gave me for my birthday. On first listen, I was unhappy with most of what I heard. But tracks from it keep coming up when I’m shuffling on my iPod and I’m unafraid to say that some of them are growing on me. Like this cover of Talk Talk‘s “Life’s What You Make Of It” featuring Rachael Yamagata.

gallimaufry

It’s common sense to think that something is gonna come along and take a bite out of Facebook eventually. Maybe this will be it.

Josh Hamilton probably got exactly zero minutes of sleep last night because of this awful thing that happened.

→ My entire life, I’ve never experienced a single moment in which I felt the desire to play bass guitar. That all changed once I saw this.

07.08.09 – Wednesday

Word: gainsay [geyn-sey, geyn-sey] v. 1. to deny, dispute, or contradict 2. to speak or act against; oppose

Birthday: John D. Rockefeller (1839), Nelson A. Rockefeller (1908), Jerry Vale (1932), Phil Gramm (1942), Jeffrey Tambor (1944), Raffi (1948), Wolfgang Puck (1949), Anjelica Huston (1951), Kevin Bacon (1958), Toby Keith (1961), Joan Osborne (1962), Billy Crudup (1968), Beck (1970), Milo Ventimiglia (1977)

Quotation: I am a man, and alive…. For this reason I am a novelist.  And being a novelist, I consider myself superior to the saint, the scientist, the philosopher, and the poet, who are all great masters of different bits of man alive, but never get the whole hog. – D. H. Lawrence

Tune: I realize in certain music circles, it’s sacrilege to say this, but I’m not a huge Pink Floyd fan. I am, however, a huge fan of some of their songs. My favorite just may be “One Slip.”

Gallimaufry: OK, I’ll admit it. I was wrong. Yesterday’s memorial service in Los Angeles for Michael Jackson went down without a hitch. Everyone remained civilized, and, frankly, I was kind of proud of us for keeping it all together. I watched the memorial service, well, most of it and thought it was done tastefully and well. And then I read this article Steve Lopez and I kind of changed my mind. I’ll just be happier when this whole mess is put to bed, I think. NHL insiders are predicting today will be the day Joe Sakic retires from hockey. After a 20-year career that found him in the top 20 of all time in assists, goals and points, the Colorado Avalanche captain will be hanging up his skates. And while it probably the best thing for Sakic and his family, it’s always a shame when a class act with amazing talent exits the world of sports. There are very few like him. Yesterday, I saw “The Myth of DIY” from TinyMixTapes.com posted by my friend on Facebook. (Thanks, Annette) It’s a very compelling article on music piracy and shines a different kind of light on the issue. Definitely worth a read.

05.20.09 – Wednesday

Word: swagger [swag-er] v. int. 1. to walk or strut with a defiant or  insolent air 2. to boast or brag noisily ∞ v. t. 3. to bring, drive, force, etc., by blustering ∞ n. 4. swaggering manner, conduct, or walk; ostentatious display of arrogance and conceit

Birthday: Honoré de Balzac (1799), John Stuart Mill (1806), James Stewart (1908), Gardner Fox (1911), Lee “Scratch” Perry (1936), Joe Cocker (1944), Cher (1946), Ron Reagan (1950), Jane Wiedlin (1958), Israel Kamakawiwo’ole (1959), Bronson Pinchot (1959), Ted Allen (1965), Mindy Cohn (1966), Busta Rhymes (1972)

Standpoint: Monday night, as I was watching the Pittsburgh Penguins take on the Carolina Hurricanes in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, it was impossible to miss Sidney Crosby. Even when he was doing absolutely nothing, the spotlight shown in his direction. He’s the new poster boy for the NHL, who would love for him to become the next Wayne Gretzky, whose combination of pure skill and squeaky-clean good looks brought the league into prominence in this country two decades ago. The problem is Crosby is no Gretzky. Even in this early stage of his career, he’s not popular with the fans or among his peers. And here’s why.

Most professional sports are just a live enactment of good vs. evil. In any contest, there are the good guys – those we ‘re all waiting to see win in dramatic fashion – and the bad guys – those we are waiting to fall miserably on their faces. And we enjoy watching either one because wishing for a team to lose is just as much fun as wishing for it to win. Sometimes even more so.

Take Joe Montana. With a name like that, he was destined to occupy a place among the good guys. Besides the name, the man possessed all of the qualities that one needs to become one of America’s heroes. In short, Joe Montana was a guy that no one thought would be anything more than a capable quarterback. Of course, as is often the case, people ended up eating their words as he led the San Francisco 49ers to some of the most famous comebacks during one of the greatest dynasties in sports history. His losses were sometimes just as spectacular as his wins. We all rooted for him. Whichever team was playing against Joe Montana became the enemy.

 Then we have Kobe Bryant, who was marked by the NBA to be its replacement for Michael Jordan, its most celebrated good guy. But things went wrong. The Los Angeles Lakers‘ superstar distinguished himself by openly feuding with Shaquille O’Neal and being the only guy in human history capable of pissing off Phil Jackson. Oh yeah, being accused of sexual assault didn’t really help, either. Still, Kobe prevailed and is currently one of the top basketball players in the world. But no one is happy about it and we all root against him. Whichever team is playing against Kobe Bryant becomes the favorite.

So we all loved Montana. And we all love to hate Bryant. But what about Crosby? What group does he fit into? Well, he’ll probably never be shown the kind of love the good guys enjoy. At least not outside of Pittsburgh. On the other hand, he’ll never earn a spot with the bad guys as one of professional sports’ villains. And that’s because he’s more disliked than he is hated. And you might think that being disliked doesn’t sound as bad as being hated. But it is.

Because, no matter what the particular sport or situation, what we’re all looking for is entertainment. And being a human highlight reel is only so entertaining for so long. Here’s what the San Jose SharksJeremy Roenick has to say about Crosby: I think he’s too quiet, too hum-drum, too cliched. I love the kid as a hockey player, but I think he can be more spectacular if he steps up and shows a little personality. Now while the outspoken Roenick might not be the best judge about the proper use of “personality,” his remarks mirror the public sentiment. Mainly, we find the guy boring. Outside of whining to officials about everything imaginable (he complained to the referee during a recent game against the Washington Capitals because he thought the fans were throwing an excessive amount of hats on the ice after a hat trick by rival superstar Alex Ovechkin), and his admittedly sick amount of talent, Crosby is vanilla. And while vanilla is good it doesn’t get anyone fired up.

The impression that he gives is a neutral one. Like maybe he’d be OK playing out the season in spectator-less arenas and simply concentrating on hockey. And, while that may not be true, it’s the vibe he gives off and one thing sports fans won’t tolerate is an athlete who refuses to acknowledge their part in the process.

What really sucks about all of this is, if the Penguins somehow manage to win the Stanley Cup, when Crosby lifts it over his head, most hockey fans will fill ripped off because we;ll feel neither the good guys or the bad guys triumphed. The boring whiner did.   

Quotation: By night, an atheist half believes in God. Edward Young

Tune: On advice from my brother Jeremy, I’m attempting to get into Say Hi To Your Mom. So far, I like what I hear. Try “The Death of Girl Number Two.”

Gallimaufry: Declining honeybee populations represent a potentially disastrous problem for the world’s ecosystem. And no one’s really been able to explain how it’s happening. But it looks like there might be hope. ∞ Hollywood is one step closer to completing its mission of destroying everything from my past. The most recent victim? Footloose, the 1984 Kevin Bacon classic that was so dorky-cool most guys didn’t seem to mind it was about dancing. If the initial casting choices for the remake are any indication, this movie is going to absolutely blow. ∞ Blink-182 has reunited and I’ve watched them the past two nights on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. I’m a huge fan of the band’s albums. Ask anyone. But they’ve always been considered a shitty live act and, from what I’ve seen, that’s not a perception in danger of going away anytime soon.

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

04.20.09 – Monday

Word: euphemism [yoo-fuh-miz-uhm] n. 1. the substitution of a mild, indirect or vague expression for one thought to be offensive, harsh or blunt 2. the expression so substituted: “To pass away” is a euphemism for “to die.”

Birthday: Napoleon III (1808), Adolf Hitler (1889), Lionel Hampon (1908), Tito Puente (1923), George Takei (1937), Ryan O’Neal (1941), Jessica Lange (1949), Luther Vandross (1951), Clint Howard (1959), Don Mattingly (1961), Crispin Glover (1964), Carmen Electra (1972), Joey Lawrence (1976)

Occurence: 1999Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold kill 13 people and injure 24 others before committing suicide during the Columbine High School Massacre.

Standpoint: Last week, I polled all my friends on Facebook and Twitter. I asked them to name the best movie with a one-word title. Also, I was asking everyone I talked to, including my co-workers at The Chestnut Grill, who came up with a ton of them. (Special thanks to Ezgi and Adina on that one.) So, I compiled over 200 suggested titles and whittled (Colleen, you were right. I misused “wheedle”. Live and learn. 4/21/09) the list down to 15 movies. Here is the list (alphabetically) of 15 Great Movies with a One-Word Title, followed by the reason each film made the final cut. Enjoy.

There you have it. Just in case you’re wondering, it’s pretty difficult deciding the best 15 out of 200. The Honorable Mentions are too many to list. I can give you a few movies that never stood a chance. Titanic. Volcano. Twister. Accepted.

I’m sure you can think of a few movies I overlooked or discarded. Tell me which ones and why.

Quotation: Everybody is wrong about everything, just about all of the time. Chuck Klosterman

Gallimaufry: Falling into the “How-Pathetic-Can-I-Possibly-Get” category, Spencer Pratt (“The Hills”) has challenged Ashton Kutcher to a 30-day contest to see who can get the most Twitter followers. Dude, you’re a little late. I suggest concentrating your efforts on something that doesn’t involve some crappy show like “The Hills.” Look into it…All season long on “American Idol,” people have been asking the question, “Why in the hell did they bring Kara DioGuardi on as a fourth judge?” It appears she’s wondering the same thing. Could this be a sign of her exit?…Yesterday was a good day in Philadelphia for sports. The Phillies beat the San Diego Padres, 5-4, off a two-run homer in the ninth inning by Raul Ibanez. The 76ers beat the Orlando Magic in the Game 1 of their first-round playoff series on a last-second jumper by Andre Iguodala. But the highlight of the day in sports, for me at least, was sitting at my brother Jeremy’s new house and watching the Flyers spank the Pittsburgh Penguins, 6-3. Claude Giroux registered a Gordie Howe hat trick. He’s the real deal. (Thanks to Phinally Philly for the link.)

Incoming: This week is up in the air. Besides more of your suggestions for Annoying Sayings & Misused Words, we’ll have to see where the wind takes us.

03.12.09 – Thursday

Whereabouts: Philadelphia, PA

Word: quiddity [kwid-i-tee] noun 1. the quality that makes a thing what it is; the essential nature of a thing  2. a trifling nicety of subtle distinction, as in argument

Birthday: Simon Newcomb (1835), Julia Lennon (1914), Jack Kerouac (1922), Billie “Buckwheat” Thomas (1931), Al Jarreau (1940), Sammy “The Bull” Gravano (1945), Liza Minnelli (1946), Mitt Romney (1947), James Taylor (1948), Ron Jeremy (1953), Courtney B. Vance (1960), Aaron Eckhart (1968), Graham Coxon (1969), Dave Eggers (1970)

Occurrence: 2001 – Talk-show host Morton Downey, Jr. dies. Geez. Remember that frickin’ guy?

Irksome: For the past few years, I’ve made it a point to collect the little rectangular scraps of paper found inside Chinese fortune cookies. Normally, it is an inspirational little number like, “When winter comes heaven will rain success on you.” It’s nice. Makes me look forward to the  winter months and the raining of my unavoidable success. Never mind that it should be snowing in winter, the sentiment is still a pleasant one. It’s inviting to read something that makes me feel good about myself after stuffing my face with questionable food. Lately, though, an odd trend has emerged. Here are three “fortunes” I’ve recently received: “Make two grins grow where there was only a grouch before.” “The universe without music would be madness.” “The speed of the leader determines the rate of the pack.” Huh? What kind of inspiration is this? What exactly is happening down at the fortune cookie factory? Thinking of a universe gone mad due to the absence of music is not something I particularly want to think about while digesting my sesame chicken. Fortune cookies are free, so bitching about it seems kind of pointless but would it be too much to ask for a corny little saying that makes me smirk instead of some abstract statement that launches me and my dinner companions into four-hour debate on how to turn a grouch into two grins? I don’t think it is.

Quotation: What’s in store for me in the direction I don’t take?Jack Kerouac

Soupçon: Everyone knows how to play Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon. Research done by the University of Virginia’s Brett Tjaden suggest it is easier to play the Six Degrees game with over 650 other actors including Martin Sheen, Elliott Gould and Gene Hackman. The number one actor play Six Degrees with? Rod Steiger. You can read all about it in Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point.

Tune: I can’t decide if I like The Fray’s cover of “The Great Beyond.” R.E.M.’s original version has always been one of my favorite songs.

Link: 2Man Advantage – an always interesting and sometimes funny daily NHL blog.

Gallimaufry: WXPN 88.5, based at The University of Pennsylvania, airs The World Café with David Dye every weekday at 2pm. Great combination of otherwise unavailable music and superb interviewing by Dye makes it one of the best radio shows in the free world…Late Night with Jimmy Fallon update: I am still watching. Fallon seems to be getting a little more at ease with playing host. Don’t look now, but he might be coming into his own…Bristol Palin, daughter of Alaska governor Sarah Palin, and her fiancé have broken up. Didn’t see that one coming, did ya?