07.07.09 – Tuesday

Word: koan [koh-ahn] (Japanese in origin) n. a nonsensical or paradoxical question to a student for which an answer is demanded, the stress of meditation on the question often being illuminating

Birthday: Giuseppe Piazzi (1746), George Cukor (1899), Sam Katzman (1901), Satchel Paige (1906), Pinetop Perkins (1913), Pierre Cardin (1922), Doc Severinsen (1927), Josef Zawinul (1932), Ringo Starr (1940), Joel Siegel (1943), Joe Spano (1946), Shelley Duvall (1949), Jessica Hahn (1959), Mo Collins (1965), Jim Gaffigan (1966), Allen Payne (1968), Lisa Leslie (1972), Michelle Kwan (1980)

Quotation: Cocktail party:  A gathering held to enable forty people to talk about themselves at the same time.  The man who remains after the liquor is gone is the host.Fred Allen

Tune: My brother’s been telling me to listen to San Francisco based singer-songwriter Kelley Stoltz. So I’m giving the guy a try. You should too. Take a listen to “Memory Collector” off of Below The Branches.

Gallimaufry: In what was already going to be the biggest fiasco in L.A. since the 1992 Riots, the organizers of today’s memorial for Michael Jackson announced yesterday a lineup of performers that include Stevie Wonder, Mariah Carey and Lionel Richie. Scheduled appearances include Kobe Bryant, Jennifer Hudson and Martin Luther King III. Can you say mayhem? 1.6 million people registered for a lottery to win tickets to the late King of Pop’s final send-off tomorrow at Los Angeles’ Staples Center. 8,550 of them won a ticket. British Airways is reporting a “huge influx” of Jacko fans flocking to L.A. Since the lottery tickets were dispensed, winners have been trying to sell them on eBay and Craigslist for as much as $2,000. (Both sites have booted the listing off.) Organizers have explained that holders of bought tickets will not be allowed to attend, and authorities have warned Jackson fans there will be no chance of non-ticket holders to get anywhere near the event, but some are speculating millions of people may be descending upon Los Angeles tomorrow to pay their final respects. I’m pretty sure it’s going to be an absolute circus. And, really, would we have it any other way? The Philadelphia Phillies, who were slumping this time last week, have since swept the New York Mets over the weekend and, last night, beat the Cincinnati Reds 22-1. The victory marked the most runs scored by the Phillies in Citizens Bank Park since play started there six years ago. Looks like the World Fucking Champs might be coming around.  Just ask Jens Lekman if the H1N1 virus (or Swine Flu) is a real threat. The Swedish pop auteur is currently enjoying a 10-day quarantine after coming home from a recent tour in South America. He’s expected to make a full recovery.

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06.15.09 – Monday

Word: sylvan [sil-vuhn] adj. 1. of, pertaining to, or inhabiting the woods 2. consisting of or abounding in woods or trees; wooded; woody: a shady, sylvan glade 3. made of trees, branches, boughs, etc n. 4. a person dwelling in a woodland region 5. a mythical deity or spirit of the woods

Birthday: Nicolas Poussin (1594), Sam Giancana (1908), Yuri Andropov (1914), Mario Cuomo (1932), Waylon Jennings (1937), Harry Nilsson (1941), Xaviera Hollander (1943), Simon Callow (1949), Jim Varney (1949), James Belushi (1954), Julie Hagerty (1955), Helen Hunt (1963), Courteney Cox (1964), Ice Cube (1969), Leah Remini (1970), Jake Busey (1971), Justin Leonard (1972), Neil Patrick Harris (1973), Gary Lightbody (1976)

Quotation: Failure and success seem to have been allotted to men by their stars.  But they retain the power of wriggling, of fighting with their star or against it, and in the whole universe the only really interesting movement is this wriggle.E. M. Forester

Tune: Rolling Stone had this to say about Blitzen Trapper‘s latest release, Furr – “Throughout the album, Blitzen keep their songs highly tuneful, making Furr a breakthrough worthy of toasting with a microbrew, or several.” Check out the title track – “Furr”

Gallimaufry: What a fucking mess. Friday’s presidential election in Iran has left the country in turmoil with many, both inside and outside, calling the election a farce. Apparently, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad beat his opponent, Mir Hossein Mousavi, by a large margin. The newly-elected President said Sunday, “Some believed they would win, and then they got angry.” He then likened the riots in his country to those of  “the passions after a soccer match.” (I thought we Americans were the only ones who called it “soccer.”) He furthered with, “In Iran, the election was a real and free one.”  He was so confident in his victory he shutdown text-messaging capabilities and dissenting newspapers. Dubai-based news network Al Arabiya was warned repeatedly on Saturday to “be careful in reporting ‘chaos’ accurately.” Seems totally normal to me. Just like every other “real and free” election.   Kim Kardashian is looking to switch gears by – you guessed it – launching a pop music career. Here’s her vision – “I would like the music to sound a bit like Lady Gaga, Britney Spears and J-Lo with a bit on an R & B twist to it.” Awesome. Sounds like she’s talking about something completely new and different and not at all about something 600 other idiot celebrities are currently working on. It’s refreshing when a real musician talk about real music for a change. Last Friday, Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins won The Stanley Cup. Last night, Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers won The NBA Championship. Both are proof that good things happen to shitty people. What an encouraging weekend it must’ve been for dipshits everywhere. 

Incoming: We’ll see what happens. Stay tuned.

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.