04.20.09 – Monday

Word: euphemism [yoo-fuh-miz-uhm] n. 1. the substitution of a mild, indirect or vague expression for one thought to be offensive, harsh or blunt 2. the expression so substituted: “To pass away” is a euphemism for “to die.”

Birthday: Napoleon III (1808), Adolf Hitler (1889), Lionel Hampon (1908), Tito Puente (1923), George Takei (1937), Ryan O’Neal (1941), Jessica Lange (1949), Luther Vandross (1951), Clint Howard (1959), Don Mattingly (1961), Crispin Glover (1964), Carmen Electra (1972), Joey Lawrence (1976)

Occurence: 1999Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold kill 13 people and injure 24 others before committing suicide during the Columbine High School Massacre.

Standpoint: Last week, I polled all my friends on Facebook and Twitter. I asked them to name the best movie with a one-word title. Also, I was asking everyone I talked to, including my co-workers at The Chestnut Grill, who came up with a ton of them. (Special thanks to Ezgi and Adina on that one.) So, I compiled over 200 suggested titles and whittled (Colleen, you were right. I misused “wheedle”. Live and learn. 4/21/09) the list down to 15 movies. Here is the list (alphabetically) of 15 Great Movies with a One-Word Title, followed by the reason each film made the final cut. Enjoy.

There you have it. Just in case you’re wondering, it’s pretty difficult deciding the best 15 out of 200. The Honorable Mentions are too many to list. I can give you a few movies that never stood a chance. Titanic. Volcano. Twister. Accepted.

I’m sure you can think of a few movies I overlooked or discarded. Tell me which ones and why.

Quotation: Everybody is wrong about everything, just about all of the time. Chuck Klosterman

Gallimaufry: Falling into the “How-Pathetic-Can-I-Possibly-Get” category, Spencer Pratt (“The Hills”) has challenged Ashton Kutcher to a 30-day contest to see who can get the most Twitter followers. Dude, you’re a little late. I suggest concentrating your efforts on something that doesn’t involve some crappy show like “The Hills.” Look into it…All season long on “American Idol,” people have been asking the question, “Why in the hell did they bring Kara DioGuardi on as a fourth judge?” It appears she’s wondering the same thing. Could this be a sign of her exit?…Yesterday was a good day in Philadelphia for sports. The Phillies beat the San Diego Padres, 5-4, off a two-run homer in the ninth inning by Raul Ibanez. The 76ers beat the Orlando Magic in the Game 1 of their first-round playoff series on a last-second jumper by Andre Iguodala. But the highlight of the day in sports, for me at least, was sitting at my brother Jeremy’s new house and watching the Flyers spank the Pittsburgh Penguins, 6-3. Claude Giroux registered a Gordie Howe hat trick. He’s the real deal. (Thanks to Phinally Philly for the link.)

Incoming: This week is up in the air. Besides more of your suggestions for Annoying Sayings & Misused Words, we’ll have to see where the wind takes us.

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03.30.09 – Monday

Whereabouts: Phoenixville, PA (Spent the night at my folks’ place. They’ve graciously taken my cats into their home and I slept over to help ease the transition for both the cats and myself.)

Word: assuage [uhsweyj] verb 1. to make milder or less severe; relieve; ease; mitigate: to assuage one’s grief; to assuage one’s pain  2. to appease; satisfy; allay; relieve: to assuage one’s hunger  3. to soothe, calm or mollify: to assuage his fears; to assuage her anger

Birthday: Jethro Tull (1684), Francisco Goya (1746), Vincent Van Gogh (1853), Franz Oppenheimer (1864), McGeorge Bundy (1919), Richard Dysart (1929), Warren Beatty (1937), Eric Clapton (1945), Paul Reiser (1957), MC Hammer (1962), Tracy Chapman (1964), Ian Ziering (1964), Céline Dion (1968), Donna D’Errico (1968), Secretariat (1970), Norah Jones (1979), Anna Nalick (1984)

Occurrence: 1933 – The first observance of Doctor’s Day in Winder, Georgia. In 1990, the USA officially began to recognize “National Doctor’s Day.”

Standpoint: Today, Y-Rock on XPN kicks off Modern Rock Madness. Basically, it’s a bracket-style contest not unlike the NCAA Basketball Tournament. It pits music artists against each other in one-on-one competition with the victor moving on to the next round until there is only one left standing. Click HERE to take a look at the match-ups. While it’s a nice concept, this type of radio programming always leaves me a bit salty. And that’s because, like most things I guess, it’s primarily a popularity contest. Granted Modern Rock Madness 2008 ended up with a worthy victor: Radiohead. But the rest of the final four (Modest Mouse, Cake and Beck) gave me the feeling that people voted based on who they thought they should and not who was actually the more talented. And this year’s bracket is kind of befuddling. Why pit David Bowie and Elvis Costello against each other right off the bat? Either one could arguably be in the top eight. Also, how did Spoon and Arcade Fire earn a first round showdown? Both bands are wildly successful right now and it just doesn’t seem right to have one of them eliminated in the first round while bands of equal current success like Vampire Weekend and My Morning Jacket virtually assured first-round victories. The organizers of the NCAA Tournament don’t have the number one and two teams play each other on the first night. I wouldn’t care if they did but I’m betting a lot of you would. Should we hold Y-Rock on XPN to a lesser standard? I’m pretty sure the answer is yes, but I wish it was no.

Quotation: Money does not make you happy but quiets the nerves.Sean O’Casey

Digit: 8 – In Scotland, you only need be eight years old to be convicted of a crime as long it can be proven that you knew what you were doing.

Tune: People who talk music with me are sick of me going on and on about Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin. I can’t decide whether “Modern Mystery” or “Think I’m Gonna Die” is its best song. Have a listen to both and then you tell me.

Link: Nerdist – A very funny site by Chris Hardwick.

Gallimaufry: If you live in or around Philadelphia, you’ve driven on I-76, otherwise known as The Schuylkill Expressway. It’s a frustrating stretch of road. To put it mildly. In one of your jaunts down “The Schuylkill” you’ve undoubtedly heard someone say something like, “This has gotta be the worst goddam highway in the country.” Well, next time you can reply to that person, “Actually, it’s not. It’s not even in the top 10.”…If you’re single, tired of dating and wonder where you can go to simply have sex with women without the hassle of all that commitment, today is your lucky day. Simply move to New Zealand where it appears young women are taking promiscuity to a whole new level…Saw The Curious Case of Benjamin Button over the weekend. Good movie but Slumdog Millionaire and Milk were much better…It’s no secret that there are millions of not-so-bright individuals running around out there, but this guy takes the cake. Do you think maybe he was looking to get caught?…Check out my friend Brendan F. Quinn’s excellent article “Beam Me Up, Scottie: Reynolds’ Race To The Bucket Sends ‘Nova To The Final Four.”…Thanks for all the responses (both here and on Facebook) to my “Annoying Sayings” post this past Friday. I’ll be doing a follow-up later this week with your suggestions.

03.02.09 – Monday

Whereabouts: Philadelphia, PA

Word: sacrosanct [sak-roh-sangkt] – 1. extremely sacred of inviolable 2. not to be entered or trespassed upon 3. above or beyond criticism, change or interference

Birthday: Sam Houston (1791), Dr. Seuss (1904), Desi Arnaz (1917), Mikhail Gorbachev (1931), Tom Wolfe (1931), John Irving (1942), Lou Reed (1942), Karen Carpenter (1950), Jon Bon Jovi (1962), Ben Roethlisberger (1982)

Occurrence: 1962Wilt Chamberlain scored 100 points for the Philadelphia Warriors against the New York Knicks in a single game. This record has never been broken and, chances are, it never will be.

Irksome: As I write this, it is Sunday evening and it is snowing heavily outside. The forecast is calling for 6”-10” of snow for Monday morning. In the city of Philadelphia, a snowstorm brings out three distinct groups of people:

  1. Alarmed – You walk around your workplace, ask for a weather update every other minute and express absolute astonishment that it might snow as if you live in Mexico City. After work, you drive as fast as you can to the supermarket, buy enough groceries for approximately 6 weeks, speed home, gather your family around, tell them how much you love them and hope that the sun rises in the morning. The sun does rise in the morning and you now have to find a way to use 12 cartons of milk before they spoil.
  2. Ecstatic – You can’t wait for the snow because it means (a) you don’t have to work the next day, and (b) you can get completely drunk like there is no tomorrow. The next morning at 6AM, you wake up to a call from your boss saying that you indeed have to work and you spend the rest of the day cursing “the goddam weatherman.”
  3. Stoic – You are prepared for it to snow. You half-believe the weatherman. You live your life like it is just an ordinary day. The next day is business-as-usual.

Quotation: “Some days it’s incredibly easy to write four thousand words in an afternoon. Other days, it’s impossible to write two sentences. There’s no consistency with the difficulty of the process.”Chuck Klosterman

Tidbit: The term five-hole in hockey refers to the space between the goalies legs. The other holes are the four corners of the goalmouth. As long as I’ve watched hockey and I didn’t know that until this weekend.

Song: Army Navy’s rendition of Maxine Nightingale’s 1975 “Right Back (Where We Started From)” is a cover that makes me realize that even dopey songs from the 70s have some kind of musical value.

Gallimaufry: Click HERE to read all about the feud between The Chestnut Hill Local and The Chestnut Hill Community Association…Saw Milk last night. Great movie. After Into The Wild, I planned on boycotting Sean Penn for eternity, but I lifted the ban last night and thought it was one of the best portrayals ever. Also, James Franco was fantastic. Go see it…There are over 70 sites in the Greater Philadelphia area housing sex slaves. Click HERE to read Tara Murtha’s article about in Philadelphia Weekly.