08.30.11 – a tuesday

word

homologate [huhmoluh-geyt, hoh-] v. 1. to approve; confirm or ratify 2. to register (a specific make of automobile in general production) so as to make it eligible for international racing competition

birthday

Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley (1797), Fred MacMurray (1908), Ted Williams (1918), Warren Buffett (1930), John Peel (1939), Tug McGraw (1944), Lewis Black (1948), Michael Chiklis (1963), Cameron Diaz (1972)

standpoint

Admittedly, I haven’t been writing very much lately. But I have been reading. You’re probably wondering to yourself, “Hey, Josh, what’s on your nightstand right now?” Well, I’ll tell ya, curious reader.

Empire of the Summer Moon by S. C. Gwynne – Wow. I’ve read a good deal about Native American history but this book was a complete eye-opener.

Jesse James: Last Rebel of the Civil War by T. J. Stiles – Historically accurate but pretty friggin’ dense. I’m almost 60 pages in and still not into the actual life of Jesse James.

The Peep Diaries by Hal Niedzviecki – A few years ago, I went to San Francisco on what was probably the worst vacation of my life. It was five days of absolute awfulness but with two bright spots: I got to hang with my good friend Kevlo and I was able to visit City Lights Books, a lifelong dream of mine. I was extremely rushed and bought The Peep Diaries to avoid causing a problem. After I got home, I let a friend borrow the book before I got a chance to read it. Recently, I got it back and made it about 100 pages in before I lost interest.

The Pirate Hunter: The True Story of Captain Kidd by Richard Zacks – It’s next on my list. I’ll let you know.

I’m always looking for good stuff to read. Any suggestions?

quotation

If you’re going through hell, keep going. ↔ Winston Churchill

tune

I’ve been into Sam Roberts for quite some time now. When I first heard “Where Have All the Good People Gone?” I became an instant fan.

And then, as with most musical talents, Sam Roberts went through some growing pains, began performing under the name Sam Roberts Band and released some stuff that was a bit off the mark. But I didn’t give up hope and Collider, his latest album is more promising. Check out “Let It In.” Let me know what you think.

gallimaufry

Hurricane Irene was pretty bad. But I guess it could’ve been worse.

→ Thanks to my good friend Tyler, I’m finally able to play DVDs again and that means I get to watch The State, which will never stop being the funniest show ever.

→ The NFL season hasn’t even officially started yet and I all ready want everyone to shut the fuck up about it.

04.27.11 – a wednesday

word

gusto [guhs-toh] n. 1. hearty or keen enjoyment, as in eating or drinking, or in action or speech in general: to dance with gusto 2. individual taste or liking

birthday

Mary Wollstonecraft (1790), Ulysses S. Grant (1822), Jack Klugman (1922), Casey Kasem (1932), Frank Abagnale, Jr. (1948), Ace Frehley (1951)

standpoint

Time just got away from me last night and I didn’t really have time to develop today’s standpoint.

But I will say it’s true that the good guys sometimes still win as was evident with the Philadelphia Flyers’ decisive 5-2 Game 7 win over the Buffalo Sabres.

quotation

Some of the world’s greatest feats were accomplished by people not smart enough to know they were impossible. ↔ Doug Larson

tune

I think Annuals would be an amazing band to see live. If I ever get the chance, they’d better play “Loxstep.”

gallimaufry

What the hell, Facebook? I’ve been defending you for the past few years and now you go and pull this shit?

Lindsay Lohan was once again in the news yesterday and…sigh. The next headline I want to see involving Lindsay Lohan will read something like this: “Lohan Grows Tired of 24 Years of Trying, Disappears”

When the weatherman says a storm is going to be “off the scale,” well, what the hell are you supposed to be about that? 

04.27.10 – A Tuesday

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word

extirpate [ek-ster-peyt, ik-stur-peyt] v. used w/ obj. 1. to remove or destroy totally; do away with; exterminate 2. to pull up by or as if by the roots; root up: to extirpate an unwanted hair

birthday

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

standpoint

This past weekend, the NFL conducted its annual draft and it was all anyone could talk about. I didn’t really pay much attention. The only time I care about football is when it’s actually being played. To me, the draft seems to be just another reason for NFL fans, most of whom I regard as whiners, to bitch and moan, ask each other why their particular team took one guy and not another, failed to draft a player at one position and not another, and so on and so forth.

For the past several years the relationship between the NFL and its fans has fascinated me. Football enthusiasts are mostly fanatics, highly devoted folks who expect a lot from their chosen organization. Curiously, though, the same expectations do not extend to the individual athletes. And here’s why I think that’s so.

First and foremost, I’m a hockey fan. Training camp for the NHL begins at the end of each summer and the Stanley Cup Finals usually wrap up sometime in early summer of the next year. By comparison, NFL training camps start in early August and the Super Bowl is usually played the first week of February. In addition, football teams play once a week while hockey (and basketball and baseball) teams might play several times in the same amount of time. Bottom line, football fans feel an urgency, a need to do as much as they can with the little time afforded them. It’s the reason fall/winter Sunday afternoons and, to a slightly lesser extent, Monday nights have been bestowed with an almost venerable aura. There’s an almost obligatory sense to watch football when it’s on. You didn’t watch the game yesterday afternoon? Why not? You’d better have a bulletproof alibi.

The brevity of the NFL season also has an impact on its players. It provides them more time to pursue other interests with the massive amounts of cash they accumulate over the year. The majority of the athletes go home to their families, maybe investing in a hometown restaurant or contributing their time in a charitable fashion. But there are those who don’t make the best choices when it comes to how they spend their money and time in the offseason, getting in trouble with the law in a variety of ways. It seems you can’t turn on SportsCenter without seeing a new feature on some NFL knucklehead being brought up some kind of charges. Their actions are part bad decision making, part too much time and money on their hands. Someone’s bound to get into trouble.

When these stories come out, there’s always a heavy dose of public outrage by NFL fans and pundits. But it’s never sustained. The player always pays the fine or, less often, does the time and then it’s back to business as usual. An odd thing about the NFL is that, despite its massive fanbase, most of its teams flat-out suck, which means there’s always teams out there willing to take a chance on a skilled player. Even if that player beats his girlfriends, or fires guns at nightclubs, or recently completed yet another stint of drug rehab. When a team signs a guy like that, its fans, more concerned with a Super Bowl parade than a strong sense of morality, always jump on board.

In the weeks after Michael Vick was paroled, rumors surfaced about Dallas Cowboys’ owner Jerry Jones tinkering with the idea of signing him. Every football fan in Philadelphia was laughing, shaking their heads and telling each other how perfect Vick would fit in with the rest of the criminals the Cowboys have gained a reputation for bringing aboard. Then the Eagles signed Vick. For a day or two, people seemed a little put off the organization would sign a convicted animal abuser. But within a week, no one was talking about dogs, but about another animal: the wildcat. As in the “Wildcat Offense” and how Vick would flourish in it. Nowadays, if you bring up the fact the guy used to beat dogs to death people roll their eyes and tell you to give it a rest. No wants to hear it. In essence, he’s been exonerated in the public eye because he puts on an Eagles’ uniform every Sunday (and the occasional Monday) for a few months out of the year.

And Vick’s not even a close to be the only one. He’s a member of a rather large club. Ray Lewis may have been acquitted of his murder charge but everyone knows he at least had something to with the deaths of those people. Baltimore Ravens fans don’t care. Adam “Pacman” Jones has a criminal record detailing a wide array of offenses. Detroit Lions fans won’t care if the team signs him. Ben Roethlisberger most definitely has a problem with sexually assaulting women, although he escaped formal charges. After he serves his upcoming six-game suspension and leads the team down the field for a touchdown, Pittsburgh Steelers fans won’t care. These are guys you wouldn’t want working in your office building, but if they’re playing football, fans will rationalize why it’s okay to forgive, and even cheer, for him.

Sometimes, guys wake up and take advantage of a second (or third) chance like Cris Carter. But, unfortunately, most of them will end up like Rae Carruth.

For the record, I don’t hold the NFL owners in any contempt for signing or retaining criminals. They’re running a business. In terms of dollars and cents, it makes sense for them to take the chances they do and, sometimes, as in the Roethlisberger situation, they have no other choice.

But what’s the fans excuse? How can the rationality of all this be explained? If these guys weren’t playing football, they’d be in jail and no one would give a rat’s ass what they were up to. Lucky for them, that’s not the case. They continue to get the love and respect of millions of people despite the fact, outside playing a game, they’ve done nothing to deserve it.

It’s comical and pathetic.

quotation

Whenever I hear people talking about liberal ideas, I am always astounded that men should love to fool themselves with empty sounds. An idea should never be liberal; it must be vigorous, positive, and without loose ends so that it may fulfill its divine mission and be productive. The proper place for liberality is in the realm of the emotions. Johann von Goethe

tune

I’ve shared this before but I’m going to do it again because, well, I do what I want. I’m of the opinion Chuck D is a pretty solid dude. I present Public Enemy‘s “Harder Than You Think.”

gallimaufry

→ I think Stephen Hawking might be watching Independence Day a little too much. And who can blame him? It’s a good movie mostly. But he may not be completely wrong here.

→ Sometimes something as simple as a sandwich can be a strong indicator of where we’re headed as a society. People, we’re driving in the wrong direction here.

→ My favorite show on ESPN? It’s SportsNation. I’m sure some of you out there now think a little less of me.

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.