February 6th, 2012

word

hotchpot [hoch-pot] n. Law. the bringing together of shares or properties in order to divide them equally, especially when they are to be divided among the children of a parent dying intestate.

birthday

Aaron Burr (1756), Babe Ruth (1895), Ronald Reagan (1911), Zsa Zsa Gábor (1917), Rip Torn (1931), Tom Brokaw (1940), Bob Marley (1945), Robert Townsend (1957), W. Axl Rose (1962), Alice Eve (1982)

standpoint

I’ve been posting my heart and soul on the internet for more than a few years now. And if I’ve learned anything at all it’s to share the good stuff and keep the garbage to yourself. Last week had about as much garbage packed into it as possible. And even so, I did have one or two good nights. But I’m not looking to have a week like that again anytime soon. ‘Nuff said.

And, no, it has nothing to do with the fact that I had to watch Madonna during the halftime show of the Super Bowl. Although that didn’t help matters at all.

In any case, I haven’t posted in a while and I’m sorry it wasn’t my best or most positive offering, but I’ll make it up to you guys sometime this week. Promise.

quotation

There are times when two people need to step apart from one another, but there is no rule that says they have to turn and fire. ↔ Robert Brault

tune

I’ve been finding lots of good music lately. This is one of those songs that’s good all around, especially the lyrics. “Coming Back To a Man” by Dawes.

gallimaufry

A Ben Folds Five reunion? Say what? Oh, it’s all too true. Get psyched, music geeks.

→ So I don’t watch a ton of television but I am a sucker for a good cop drama and I thought Prime Suspect was a pretty solid show. But then NBC went and cancelled it. And I find that shitty.

→ How’s this for a feelgood story? “War with Iran is Inevitable” I like that (a) Iran will use “terrorist groups,” and (b) oil prices will be brought to “record highs.” What a fantastic fucking world we live in.

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03.12.10 – A Friday

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If he was still alive, Jack Kerouac would have turned 88 today. I’m saluting one of my favorite writers by dedicating most of today’s post to the man who despised being called “The King of the Beats.”


word

dharma [dahr-muh, duhr-] n. 1. essential quality or character, as of the cosmos or one’s own nature 2. conformity to religious law, custom, duty, or one’s own quality or character 3. virtue 4. religion 5. law, esp. religious law 6. the doctrine or teaching of the Buddha

birthday

Clement Studebaker (1831), Simon Newcomb (1835), Julia Lennon (1914), Elaine de Kooning (1918), Gordon MacRae (1921), Jack Kerouac (1922), Billie “Buckwheat” Thomas (1931), Al Jarreau (1940), Sammy “The Bull” Gravano (1945), Liza Minnelli (1946), Mitt Romney (1947), James Taylor (1948), Rob Cohen (1949), Jon Provost (1950), Ron Jeremy (1953), Marlon Jackson (1957), Courtney B. Vance (1960), Darryl Strawberry (1962), Steve Levy (1965), Aaron Eckhart (1968), Graham Coxon (1969), Dave Eggers (1970), Pete Doherty (1979), Samm Levine (1982)

standpoint

Often, I get the feeling knowledgeable people think a little less of me when I tell them Jack Kerouac is one of my favorite writers. That’s fine with me. I don’t back down from my love for the guy.

My initial exposure to Kerouac was probably similar to many others. I used to ditch gym class in high school. By my sophomore year, I figured out the teacher wasn’t entirely vigilant with his attendance records and so many of us didn’t show up that the dude would give everyone at least a C, most likely so that no one ever got wise. That was fine with me. I found other ways to occupy my time which usually resulted in getting caught for ditching, garnering numerous detentions.

During my senior year, I discovered it was easier to go to the library due to the fact it was a place where the faculty didn’t look for troublemakers like myself . The second floor stacks were mainly occupied by those underclassmen who felt more at home in the library than the cafeteria where their classmates, especially the bullies, weren’t going to bother them. It was in the back of one of those stacks where I would take off my suit jacket, roll it up into a ball and try to sleep for a half an hour. But, even as seldom traveled as the second floor was, inevitably someone I knew would come by and ask, “LeJeune, what the fuck are you doing up here?” No matter what stage of my life I’ve been in, people disrupting my sleep has always been something I can count on. And so it was on the second floor of that library.

But in one corner of that floor, there was an area where the library staff stored items it used for seasonal displays. Among the props were some large cardboard constructions made to look like gigantic books. After my first few failed attempts at a midday siesta, I dragged two of the “books” over to the stacks and, with me inside, piled them on top of each other, creating a wall. The younger students must have assumed the wall was there for a reason and didn’t bother with it. I’d finally created a restful little nook.

One day while I was preparing for my nap, I noticed a book resting on top of the others. It was On the Road by Jack Kerouac. It didn’t belong there. I guessed I wasn’t the only student who figured out my second floor nook was a good place for some solitude. I picked it up and started reading, thinking it would put me to sleep after a few pages.

It didn’t. For the next few days, I didn’t sleep. I read. For me, On the Road was special. I’d read others like it. My high school’s English curriculum was pretty progressive. But it was the first novel of its kind that I’d read by my own accord, on my own terms. The notion of discovering and reading On the Road all by myself was more important than the actual text.

But what I read was far from useless. I experienced On the Road at the exact right time in my life. Still young enough to make an indelible impression. Old enough to begin realizing there was a ton of bullshit in the world.

I’ve read hundreds of books since On the Road, and I’m not so naive to think, in the scope of all literature, it’s as grand an accomplishment as some proffer. But for many of us, it’s symbolic of the American youth’s rite of passage. And, for that reason alone, it’s a book that rises above the multitude of critics who try to dismiss. For that reason alone, it’ll never go away.

quotation

I like too many things and get all confused and hung-up running from one falling star to another till I drop. This is the night, what it does to you. I had nothing to offer anybody except my own confusion. ↔ Jack Kerouac

tune

A few months back, I made a big stir about the newest Kerouac documentary, One Fast Move Or I’m Gone: Kerouac’s Big Sur. And rightfully so. It was a good, albeit completely depressing, watch. Plus, the soundtrack by Jay Farrar and Ben Gibbard was even better once I saw it in the context of the film. Here’s Farrar and Gibbard performing “These Roads Don’t Move.”

gallimaufry

In a world that seems to be fixated on pointing all the shortcomings of us males, it’s nice to see someone say something nice about men for a change. Especially those of us with above-average intelligence.

→ A good friend of mine, who I’m uncertain wants his name dropped yet in connection with this, is one of the creators of Popularity Contest: The Anodyne to Your Pop-Culture Blues. Bookmark it. Once it’s big, you’ll be able to tell all your friends, “I know how great it is, man, I’ve been reading it since it started.” At the very least, you’ll discover the meaning of anodyne.

→ While I was writing this, The Marriage Ref was on my television. Not sure if the show’s going to make it. But it did make me think of a reality show I might, in fact, watch. It would be on Bravo or maybe E! and it would feature Madonna and Oprah Winfrey pitted against one another in a contest. Every episode would comprise of each woman being analyzed by one of the world’s foremost psychologists to help them resolve their issues with men. The series finale would have both women presenting their cases to a panel of judges, made up of equal parts mental health professionals and regular folks. The prize for the winner would be to keep on living her exceptionally wonderful life. The loser would be allowed to say her goodbyes to fans, friends and family before being launched into space in a dumpster. It doesn’t matter to me which one loses. Either way, we all win. Sorry, that was a bit long-winded but how many of you disagree? Yeah. Didn’t think so.

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.

04.17.09 – Friday

Word: quixotic [kwik-sot-ik] adj. 1. (sometimes initial capital letter) resembling or befitting Don Quixote 2. extravagantly chivalrous or romantic; visionary, impractical or impracticable 3. impulsive or rashly unpredictable

Birthday: J.P. Morgan (1837), Thornton Wilder (1897), Harry Reasoner (1923), Jan Hammer (1948), Rowdy Roddy Piper (1954), Michael Sembello (1954), Nick Hornby (1957), Maynard James Keenan (1964), Liz Phair (1967), Redman (1970), Jennifer Garner (1972), Victoria Beckham (1974)

Occurence: 1790 – In Philadelphia, Benjamin Franklin passes away at the age of 84.

Standpoint: In doing my daily research for this blog, I come across a lot of the same names. Some of these names I would prefer to never hear again. So, I decided to make a list of 5 People I Would Like To See Move To Another Planet. Here’s the first five people (in no particular order) I’d like to put on a vessel headed for another planet and what I’d say to them before I kicked them inside and sealed the hatch.

  • Glenn BeckFOX News Talk Show Host – “I’m sorry, Mr. Beck, but we just don’t need people like you anymore. Once upon a time, we liked it when our TV personalities stirred up the pot and whipped people into a frenzy for no good reason . It was fun to watch. But now, the stakes are too high. I’m afraid we need responsible broadcasting in this day and age. I know what you’re going to say. FOX News will just put someone else in your place. But we’ve all got our fingers crossed that person will be a little smarter and not half as loud. Here’s to hoping.”
  • Miley CyrusTeenage Music and Movie Superstar – “This is really delaying the inevitable, Miss Cyrus. In a couple of years, you won’t be famous anymore and no one will care where you are. So you might as well be on another planet. Maybe there, you can get a fresh start and actually make something of yourself without your dad, Billy Ray Cyrus. We know this will probably break his (achy-breaky) heart, but we’re looking to do what is best for everyone. We’ve packed your Radiohead CDs for the trip. Enjoy.”
  • Tom GreenInternet Talk Show Host – “Mr. Green, I’ve watched your internet talk show. You don’t seem as annoying as you did on MTV, a few years back. You were doing fine, conducting harmless interviews with Andrew “Dice” Clay, Kathy Griffin and other inconsequential celebrities. But you got greedy. You went on “Celebrity Apprentice” and reminded us that you are someone whose only comedic value rests in your ability to annoy. We’ve had enough.”
  • Paris HiltonHotel Heiress – “Miss Hilton, you’re innocuous enough. You seem to enjoy dabbling in all sorts of stuff. Music, television, fragrances. It appears you have a wide array of interests. We’re not sure how you became famous or even how you’ve managed to stay that way. Sadly, this might not even be your own doing. But we gotta get rid of you. There’s just too many people who care about your activities and we have to make you disappear so that those people can do more productive things with their time. Like monitor the Ashton Kutcher-CNN Twitter race.” [Note: The race is over. Ashton Kutcher won.]
  • MadonnaInternational Music Superstar –  “Hey, Madonna, you had a good run. But when you’re a younger woman and you want to, say, adopt a kid from a third-world country, we think you’re doing a great thing. When you’re your age and you seem to be amassing kids for no good reason, we think you’re creepy. We just wanted you to tour once in a while and sing ‘Material Girl’ and other former hits from your impressive catalog.  But you’ve pushed us too far. Don’t worry about your babies. We’re taking them over to Angelina Jolie‘s.”

Weekend: Each Friday, I’ll give you the 3 Things To Do In Philly When You’re Dead – my list of things to do in Philadelphia this weekend as if it’s your last. 

  • Today (04.17) –  3 Dollar Dance PartyWorld Cafe Live – Described as “an up and coming dance party made for everyone regardless of race, sexuality or background.” Since I’ve lost all the weight (50lbs. in the past year), I’ve noticed that I’m not a half-bad dancer. I’m not skilled, but I’m certainly not a liabilty out on the dance floor. And it sounds like it would be a cool crowd. Time: 11pm
  • Saturday (04.18) – Fresh Fish 2.0 Ten Minute Play FestivalWalking Fish Theatre – Often, people say, “Finally! Something for the A.D.D. crowd!” Well, in this instance, it’s kind of true. Brought to you by B. Somebody Productions, Fresh Fish 2.0 boasts “eight different plays with eight different directors and loads of different actors.” Time: 8pm
  • Sunday (04.19) – Cezanne and BeyondPhiladelphia Art Museum – A large collection (40 paintings and 20 watercolors) are showcased “alongside works by several artists for whom Cezanne has been a central inspiration and whose work reflects , both visually and poetically, Cezanne’s extraordinary legacy.” This exhibit is running through May 31st, so you’ve got some time. But why wait? Time: All Day

Quotation: Weekends don’t count unless you spend them doing something completely pointless Bill Watterson

Tune: Yesterday, I asked my friend Ezgi to name her favorite song in heavy rotation right now. She replied, “‘Stars of Track and Field’ by Belle and Sebastian.” Take a listen.

Gallimaufry: In Philadelphia, it will soon become  illegal to use your cell phone while operating anything on wheels. Now what will all the drivers in front of me to occupy their time while they go 5mph in a 35mph zone? Ah, why am I worried? I’m sure they’ll figure something out…I’m pleased to say that I’ve discovered the reason reality television was invented. Keshia Knight Pulliam (Rudy from TV’s “The Cosby Show”) is finally getting her own reality show. My only question: What took so long?…After three decades, John Madden is calling it quits. The NFL announcer is retiring to spend more time with his family.

Incoming: Next week’s posts will include my Best One-Word Movie Titles, more Annoying Sayings & Misused Words, and some other great stuff. This was the best week so far for this fledgling blog and that’s mainly due to all of the reader participation I’ve received through comments left here, personal emails and all the involvement on Facebook and Twitter. Thanks for reading this week. Come back Monday for some more.