02.17.11 – a thursday

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word

bollix [bol-iks] v. 1. to so (something) badly; bungle (often followed by up): His interference bollixed up the whole deal n. 2. a confused bungle

birthday

Aaron Montgomery Ward (1844), Thomas J. Watson (1874), Margaret Truman (1924), Hal Holbrook (1925), Chaim Potok (1929), Jim Brown (1936), Huey P. Newton (1942), Rene Russo (1954), Lou Diamond Phillips (1962), Michael Jordan (1963), Larry the Cable Guy (1963), Michael Bay (1965), Denise Richards (1971), Billie Joe Armstrong (1972), Jerry O’Connell (1974), Jason Ritter (1980), Joseph Gordon-Levitt (1981), Paris Hilton (1981)

standpoint

“They are rude, disengaged, lazy whiners. They curse, discuss drugs, talk back, argue for grades, complain about everything, fancy themselves to whatever they desire, and are just generally annoying.”

That’s how Central Bucks East High School teacher Natalie Munroe described her students in a post on her personal blog. Some of those students, the aforementioned “lazy whiners,” somehow discovered the blog and reported it to school officials. Shortly thereafter, Munroe was suspended with pay.

What’s bugging me here, and I hope I’m wrong, is that she’s going to end up on the losing side of this situation.

Munroe is essentially spot-on with her analysis of modern teens. Most of these kids nowadays lack anything resembling strong character traits. And that’s mainly because they’ve never had their asses properly kicked, either metaphorically or actually. They’re punks in the truest sense of the word, products of a flawed system that made sure none of them went home without a trophy in tow, even when they failed to perform something as simple as hitting a motionless baseball propped up on a T.

What’s the point in excelling when the dipshit who comes in last gets the same recognition as you?

Don’t get me wrong. When I was 17 years-old, I was as disengaged and lazy as was humanly possible. Some of my high school teachers remember me as one of the most frustrating students they’ve ever had. I got in trouble more than most, futilely argued my misguided points and was an overall gigantic pain in the ass.

But I understood the rules, even when I didn’t play by them. When I was in the wrong, I didn’t always admit it but I always knew it. I rarely went to my parents and tried to convince them I was being unfairly persecuted and the few times I did, they laughed me right out of the living room. My mother and father knew I knew better because that’s how they brought me up. To this day, my parents love me unconditionally, but, for the most part, they’ve never let that love get in the way of me owning up to my wrongdoings. Growing up, most of my friends had parents conducting affairs in a similar fashion.

These days, though, it’s rare that parents are willing to admit the faults of their children and that’s primarily because it would mean admitting their own. And that’s altogether the reason Natalie Munroe is most likely screwed.

I seriously doubt something as effete as free speech is going to possess the sufficient weight to mount a fight against something as tenacious as a few hundred pissed-off parents who, instead of seeking therapy, opted to have kids instead.

To paraphrase Han Solo, “Good luck, Natalie Munroe, you’re going to need it.”

quotation

Even cowards can endure hardship; only the brave can endure suspense. ↔ Mignon McLaughlin

tune

“Saints” isn’t likely to be embraced by most females out there. And, while I don’t truly agree with the lyrics put forth by indie rock band Army Navy, it’s still catch as all get out.

gallimaufry

I attempted to watch the movie version of The A-Team last night. I turned it off after 20 minutes. Hollywood, one last time, I’m begging you to stop incapacitating my childhood cinematic chicaneries. Bigger complaint is the guy that played Murdock looked more like Dirk Benedict than Dwight Schultz. Put some effort into it, fellas.

→ Hey, Len Lesser, we’re going to miss you. If there actually is a heaven, give it a great big, “HELLO!” on your arrival.

→ For whatever reasons, you may have missed the final results of The 135th Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. Hickory, a Scottish deerhound from Virginia, won the whole enchilada. After the victory, Hickory’s handler, Angela Lloyd best summed up how Hickory was feeling: “She’s not used to lights, cameras and noise.”

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02.17.10 – A Wednesday

word

ethos [ee-thos, ee-thohs, eth-os, -ohs] n. 1. Sociology. the fundamental character or spirit of a culture; the underlying sentiment that informs the beliefs, customs, or practices of a group or society; dominant assumptions of a people or period: In the Greek ethos the individual was highly valued 2. the character or disposition of a community, group, person, etc 3. the moral element in dramatic literature that determines a character’s action rather than his or her thought or emotion

birthday

Aaron Montgomery Ward (1844), Banjo Paterson (1864), Thomas J. Watson (1874), Hal Holbrook (1925), Chaim Potok (1929), Gene Pitney (1940), Huey P. Newton (1942), Rene Russo (1954), Lou Diamond Phillips (1962), Michael Jordan (1963), Michael Bay (1965), Denise Richards (1971), Billie Jo Armstrong (1972), Ralphie May (1972), Jerry O’Connell (1974), Jason Ritter (1980), Joseph Gordon-Levitt (1981), Paris Hilton (1981)

standpoint

Oh, yes! It is time, once again, for another installment of The Wishing Well, a regular column in which I waywardly wish five wishes.

I WISH Google would’ve spent a little more time developing Buzz before releasing it to the world. Last week, Buzz just showed up on my Gmail and, so far, it seems mostly a weak answer to Facebook and Twitter. Maybe I’ll be proved wrong one day but it won’t be tomorrow.

I WISH it was possible for me to tell you I dislike Patti Stanger, the lady from The Millionaire Matchmaker. But it’s not. Despite myself, I think she might actually be a good person. Go figure.

I WISH every website that automatically plays a video or song when you visit it would please cut that shit out. Listen, I’m on your site for a reason. You’ve got my interest. So, maybe you could quit trying to give me a heart attack with your cacophonous nonsense.

I WISH someone would explain to me why in the world CNBC would choose to keep airing the Women’s Curling match/game/whatever between the United States and Japan when there was a perfectly good Men’s Ice Hockey game going on between Canada and Norway. Actually, the hockey game turned out to be a lopsided 8-0 win by Canada. But still.

→ I WISH Pitchfork would diversify its coverage a bit. I mean, honestly, how much do we really need to know about Thom Yorke and Wayne Coyne?

That’s it for this installment. Got any wishes you’d like to share?

quotation

How wrong to have been so negative, how wrong to have been so gloomy, how wrong to have run away from life, how wrong to have said no, again and again, instead of yes. ↔ Jonathan Franzen

tune

Way back in 1998, there were these Philips Electronics TV ads featuring then-unknown English indie-rock band Gomez performing a cover of The Beatles’ “Getting Better.” I remember wanting to hear more of the song and, despite my best attempts, I never did find it and eventually forget about it. Until now. I was never a fan of Gomez but, recently, I’ve been reintroduced to the band and am sort of digging them. As a result, my memory was jogged and I remembered my unfinished mission to find the song from the TV commercial. I found it. “Getting Better” by Gomez. Enjoy.

gallimaufry

So there’s this episode of Family Guy in which there’s a negative depiction of someone with Down syndrome. And, sure, that’s kind of shitty but it’s Famly Guy and exactly no one should be surprised. What I find a tad more offensive is why anyone thinks I care what Bristol Palin thinks about anything at all.

→ The IOC (International Olympic Committee) is really keeping a nice perspective on what’s important at the 2010 Winter Olympic Games as it’s upset over the slogans on the masks of the goalies for the United States Men’s Hockey Team. Especially, Jonathan Quick’s which sports “Support Our Troops” on the back.

→ Does anyone out there have a Powermat? Do they really work? Let me know.

06.25.09 – Thursday

Word: daedal [deed-l] adj. 1. skillful; ingenious 2.cleverly intricate 3. diversified 

Birthday: Thomas Pennant (1726), George Orwell (1903), Sidney Lumet (1924), June Lockhart (1925), James Meredith (1933), Eddie Floyd (1935), Harold Melvin (1939), Carly Simon (1945), Jimmie Walker (1947), Tim Finn (1952), Anthony Bourdain (1956), Ricky Gervais (1961), George Michael (1963), Zim Zum (1969)

Quotation: I’ll play first, third, left. I’ll play anywhere – except Philadelphia.Richie Allen

Tune: A few years back, someone told me I needed to get #3, an album by some outfit named Suburban Kids With Biblical Names. I’m relatively certain they’re from Sweden. I thought the name of the band sounded kind of cool. I bought the album. And – predictably- I hated it. Except for one song – “Loop Duplicate My Heart.” It’s not really that good. It’s just sort of good when compared to the rest of the album. Not a ringing endorsement, I know.

Gallimaufry: OK. So, the Governor of South Carolina, Mark Sanford, is suspected of having an affair. Next, he goes AWOL and people start looking for him. Then, he apparently calls in and tells everyone he’s all right, just off on some goof romp up the Applachian Trail. We all shrug. That’s cool, I guess. Just a guy hiking with his thoughts. working some shit out. But he wasn’t hiking through the woods. Dude says he was “crying in Argentina,” visiting, for the last time he claims, the woman he’s been cheating on his wife with for the last year. The guy is the governor of a state and he up and leaves for five days. I mean, it’s only South Carolina, but still. So far, only one lawmaker is calling for his resignation. Only one.   Yesterday, in South Africa, the USA National Soccer Team advanced to the finals of the Confederations Cup by beating Spain, 2-0. For those of you who don’t follow soccer (presumably all of you), yesterdays victory for the USA was the equivalent of your high school basketball team beating the Michael Jordan-era Chicago Bulls. Spain hadn’t been beaten since November of 2006. USA will be making its first finals appearance ever. My prediction is, if they win, you’d still be hard-pressed to find anyone who cares. Unfortunately, this country doesn’t embrace soccer in the way the rest of the world does. My theory is that it takes too much thinking and there’s not enough commercials.  Leave the guy be. Since his drowning death in 1997, Jeff Buckley‘s music has become more iconic than had he survived that fateful nighttime swim in Memphis. Wait. I’m not putting down Buckley. I’m one of the few people who actually thought Grace was a classic album before 1997. I’m just of the opinion that we don’t have to take everything the guy ever recorded and turn it into something meaningful and profound. But it seems, for the time being, we’ll keep at it, as heard by the “remastered” version of Elton John’s “We All Fall In Love Sometimes,” featured in the (how-can-it-not-be?) weepy movie, My Sister’s Keeper.

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.

05.15.09 – Friday

Word: fulsome [fool-suhm, fuhl-] adj. 1. offensive to good taste, esp. as being excessive; overdone or gross: fulsome praise that embarrassed her deeply; fulsome décor 2. disgusting; sickening; repulsive: a table heaped with fulsome mounds of greasy foods 3. excessively or insincerely lavish: fulsome admiration 4. encompassing all aspects; comprehensive: a fulsome survey of the political situation in Central America 5. abundant or copious

Birthday: L. Frank Baum (1856), Richard J. Daley (1902), Eddy Arnold (1918), Utah Phillips (1935), Wavy Gravy (1936), Madeleine Albright (1937), Brian Eno (1948), Chazz Palminteri (1952), George Brett (1953), Dan Patrick (1956), David Krumholtz (1978), Jamie-Lynn Sigler (1981)

Standpoint: When a music artist performs a new rendition of another music artist’s established song, it’s called a “cover version.” It’s widely accepted that the cover artist’s rendition is the weaker one based on the assumption the original must be better because it’s just that – the original. However, there are certain artists and songs that go against the grain in that regard. After devising my own list and  asking for your suggestions on Twitter and Facebook, I’ve compiled a list of 7 Cover Songs Better Than Their Originals.

While doing the searches for these songs on YouTube, I discovered that in most of the cases, the cover was more popular. This is only a small sample of songs that are better that the ones they’re covering. How about you? Got any favorites you think should’ve been included here?

Weekend: Each Friday, I’ll provide you with 3 Things To Do In Philly When You’re Dead – my list of events for spending this weekend in Philadelphia as if it was your last:

  • Today (05.15.09) – MMA Famous Singles Pub CrawlThe Public House – Tired of spending Friday nights without a significant other. Here’s your chance to do something about it. Meet Market Adventures presents a night of “No Covers. No Driving. No Worries.” Riding around from bar to bar on a bus with complete strangers, drinking and mingling? What ‘s stopping you? Get out there and find someone special.  Time: 6:30pm to midnight
  • Saturday (05.16.09) – The Shins – Electric Factory – One of the poster-bands for the indie music scene, The Shins hit the stage with a revamped lineup. I’ve seen them a few times and can testify to the fact that James Mercer and Co. put on one mean live show.  Time: 8:30pm
  • Sunday (05.17.09) – 9th Street Italian Market Festival – South 9th Street from Fitzwater to Federal – In its official press release, the Festival boasts, “halfball, great food, wonderful people and live performances from three stages.” Sounds great. Sign me up. But first, what in the world is halfball? Time: 10am – 5pm

Quotation: A rock show, if it is any good, should make you feel younger.John Sellers

Gallimaufry: Azharuddin Mohammed Ismail, the 10-year old star of Slumdog Millionaire, was ordered out of his home yesterday, just before he watched it bulldozed to the ground. An Indian government official called it “a pre-monsoon demolition drive.” I call it pretty shitty to tear people’s homes down in such an abrupt manner. Apparently, the young star has a trust fund set up for him by the makers of Slumdog, but hasn’t received any assistance yet out of fear the money will end up in the wrong hands. ∞ HELP! Paste Magazine is in danger of having to close up shop. For those of you who don’t all ready know, Paste is one of the best music publications in circulation. Help The Campaign to Save Paste! ∞ Is Jordan coming to the Philadelphia 76ers? Maybe. But not “His Airness“. Eddie Jordan is set to interview with the NBA team to fill their head coach vacancy.

Incoming: Next week’s going to be a good one. I can feel it. All right, that’s it for me. Thanks for reading. Come back Monday for some more.

04.07.09 – Tuesday

Word: defunct [di-fuhngkt] adj. 1. no longer in effect or use; not operating or functioning: a defunct law; a defunct organization 2. no longer in existence; dead; extinct: a defunct person; a defunct tribe of Indians

 

Birthday: Francis Xavier (1506), William Wordsworth (1770), Percy Faith (1908), Billie Holiday (1915), Ravi Shankar (1920), James Garner (1928), Wayne Rogers (1933), Jerry Brown (1938), Freddie Hubbard (1938), Francis Ford Coppola (1939), John Oates (1949), Janis Ian (1951), Jackie Chan (1954), Christopher Darden (1956), Russell Crowe (1964), Bill Bellamy (1965)

 

Occurrence: Today is World Health Day 2009. Click here to see where the World Health Organization is concentrating its efforts this year.

 

Standpoint: 53. That’s the number of people who have been killed by violent gunmen in the past month. Each incident is totally saddening. The most heinous one (in my opinion) occurred this past Saturday night in Pittsburgh, PA when Richard “Pop” Poplawski shot and killed three police officers from point blank range. Positively nauseating. Truly. Since the shootings and his subsequent arrest, we’ve come to know some things “Pop”. We know that he was stockpiling weapons due to the assault weapon ban proposed by President Obama. We know that he thought law enforcement was unable to protect society as a result of the current economic crisis. We know that he was discharged from the United States Marine Corps for attacking his superior. We know that he was a white supremacist who despised Obama. Lastly, we know that no one around him thought those facts were cause for alarm. His friends and family are sounding off about him like he was a normal guy who simply had a bad day. Here are a few samples: “He wasn’t a racist. He was a cool person. He thought he was losing some of his rights. He said he’d be ready if there’s ever an invasion of the United States and that he had stockpiled food and guns.” “I mean, he’s not a bad kid.” “He was just an easygoing, fun-loving guy, telling jokes.” Huh? A cool person? Not a bad kid? Easygoing, fun-loving guy? I’m confused. I live in Philadelphia, not Pittsburgh, so I’m not an expert on how people talk on the other side of Pennsylvania. When I describe a guy as “cool,” it usually means he’s a relaxed guy, not a guy who’s buying massive amounts of assault rifles online. When I say someone’s “not a bad kid,” I’m always referring to an individual who hasn’t had a standoff with the law. When I think of an “easygoing, fun-loving guy,” I don’t think of a guy who spends his time on white supremacy websites, writing angry rants on ‘the Zionist takeover of America.’” These people should be ashamed of and hold themselves partially responsible for the events of last Saturday night. (To be continued in tomorrow’s post.)

 

QuotationIf by gaining knowledge we destroy our health, we labour for a thing that will be useless in our handsJohn Locke

 

Tune: Joshua Radin is flat-out amazing. His songs have a way of making you happy about feeling miserable. Confused? Listen to “Star Mile”.

 

Link: Create Your Own Flower – Just what it says – Create your own flower.

 

Gallimaufry: Tired of sad and depressing news? Me too. Try this article about a family reunited with its dog, found after months at sea…You can’t attempt to reproduce actual US currency, but no one’s stopping you from creating your own. Communities in Boston and Detroit are printing their own money. Really…The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame announced this year’s inductees. After I’m sure what was a long and intense deliberation, the selection committee decided to include Michael Jordan.

 

Incoming: Tomorrow – More on this past weekend’s violent events. Later this week – Your Annoying Saying contributions. Cross my heart. I promise.