07.13.09 – Monday

Word: facetious [fuhsee-shuhs] adj. 1. not meant to be taken seriously or literally: a facetious remark 2. amusing; humorous 3. lacking serious intent; concerned with something nonessential, amusing, or frivolous: a facetious person

Birthday: Julius Caesar (100 BC), John Jacob Astor IV (1864), Bob Crane (1928), Jack Kemp (1935), Patrick Stewart (1940), Robert Forster (1941), Harrison Ford (1942), Roger McGuinn (1942), Cheech Marin (1946), Tony Kornheiser (1948), Michael Spinks (1956), Cameron Crowe (1957), Phil Margera (1957), Stephen “Steve-O” Gilchrist Glover (1974)

Quotation: What is guilt? Guilt is the pledge drive constantly hammering in our heads that keeps us from fully enjoying the show. Guilt is the reason they put the articles in Playboy.Dennis Miller

Tune: I used to work at a private club where the members (a small percentage of them, at least) played cricket. After deciding to learn everything about how the game was played, I was still disappointed watching it. Not a captivating spectator sport. A few days ago, I stumbled upon The Duckworth Lewis Method, which is a band named after a confusing mathematical formula used to determine “the target score for the team batting second in a one-day cricket or Twenty20 cricket match interrupted by weather or other circumstance.” Yeah. Sounds boring to me, too. But the Irish band, made up of The Divine Comedy‘s Neil Hannon and Pugwash‘s Thomas Walsh, has created an album of cricket-based songs that are most definitely not boring. It’s a theme album, narrating an entire cricket match, which can sometimes last a few days. With my limited knowledge, I can’t make heads or tails of what it’s all supposed to mean. (I’m sure there are many out there who can.) But it’s not all that important. The tracks are all pretty solid. Check out “Flatten The Hay.”

Gallimaufry: In this craptastic economy, it’s likely several of you might be looking for a job. That means going on multiple painful interviews. Before you head out on your next one, read “The 9 Worst Interview Mistakes” from SalesHQ.com. My favorite is the first one on the list – Not Acting Bored or Cocky. Since Michael Jackson’s memorial service last week, which reportedly cost the city of Los Angeles $1.4 million, more and more pundits have been harping on the fact that California is just about broke. However, according to some out there, economic restablization for Gov. Arnold‘s ailing state could be as simple as two logical steps – the legalization of both marijuana and same-sex marriage. Read CBS News.com’s “High Stakes: A Call To Legalize Marijuana” and watch Jimmy Fallon and The Roots Slow Jam The California Economy to see why the two ideas might be something to seriously consider. And not just to help the economy. While I’m on the topic of the death of Michael Jackson (and, I swear, this is definitely the last time I’ll bring it up), there are many out there speculating that the King of Pop faked his own death, thereby joining the ranks of a long list of celebrities (see Elvis Presley, Tupac Shakur, Jim Morrison) who chose the same path. For more on the topic read “Dead Celebrities Crazy People Insist Are Still Alive But In Hiding” by Paste Magazine’s Steve LaBate. Truly eye opening.

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.

Standpoint – 06.30.09 – Why Some Death Is More Important Than Others.

Depending on if you trust the source or not, since Iran’s “election” the death toll is around 19. (It’s most likely higher.) This month, 11 US soldiers have died while serving in Iraq, 38 have died in Afghanistan. That’s a total of 68 people.

68 people were killed, fighting for notions they believed in. It’s altogether possible you couldn’t care less about election fraud half a world away, or you’re staunchly opposed to the idea of our troops occupying the Middle East in the first place. But 68 people were killed, fighting for notions they believed in.

I’d wager less than 5% of you knew that statistic before reading this. Truthfully, until a minute ago, neither did I.

And why is that?

As likely as not, we’re unconcerned about those 68 people because exactly none of them recorded a #1 hit song, or energetically pitched cleaning products. Sadly, we’re uninterested in them because neither of them were Michael Jackson or Billy Mays.

Unless you’ve been asleep with your headphones on under a lead blanket in a remote cave for some time, you already know that both Jackson and Mays passed away in the past week, three days apart. Both mysteriously and suddenly died at the age of 50. Both were icons in their own right. And, predictably, their respective untimely demises are all anyone wants to talk about.

Michael Jackson was the most successful recording artist in the history of music. He was the King of Pop. Also, it’s most likely he was a pedophile. In recent years, he’d become a walking punchline due to (a) a series of unsuccessful comeback attempts, (b) numerous accusations of child molestation, and (c) multiple plastic surgery procedures that transformed him into the world’s oddest looking human being. Realistically, Jackson hadn’t done anything of merit musically in about 20 years. But, right now, nobody seems overly concerned about details. Most people are more moved to share their “first-time-I-heard-‘Thriller'” moments. No one wants those memories diminished by the idea that something from their past, something so cherished and poignant in their recollections, was created by a mentally unbalanced man who may or may not demonstrated an unhealthy sexual desire for young boys. No one cares he might’ve ruined dozens of kids lives. Instead of facing that truth, we’ve decided to get into our time machines (via our televisions, computers and iPods) and go back to a time where Jacko actually mattered. As tends to be the case when a washed-up musician dies, nothing matters but the hits.

Billy Mays was a professional pitchman and, admittedly, an outstanding one. In the arena of pushing household cleaning products, the man was without equal. But most people would probably agree that if, instead of yelling about OxiClean on your TV set, Mays was a guy at a party, yapping with the same intensity about…well, anything at all, everyone present would be counting down the seconds until it was time for his boisterous ass to leave. But as long as he was boasting about some cleverly-named cleaning solvent’s ability to rectify some highly implausible stain scnerio, while on the screen of a device we could turn off at any time, Mays was seen as a lovable bear of a man with nothing but thoughtfully loud advice on your domestic uncleanliness problem.

In the scheme of our day-to-day lives, both Jackson and Mays were irrevelant. We’d be hard-pressed to find anyone, outside of both men’s families and close friends, who could offer one legitimate way life has drastically changed since Jackson and Mays respectively stopped drawing breath.

Jackson wasn’t going to make another “Billie Jean.” Of the two, Mays had a better shot at recording a hit song.

We don’t care that 68 people were killed, fighting for notions they believed in. Notions like human rights and civil government.

We do care that two men died suddenly. Men whose existence was based primarily on pushing a product they needed us to believe in.

And it sucks but it worked.