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.

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04.16.09 – Thursday

Word: anachronism [uhnak-ruh-niz-uhm] n. 1. something or someone that is not in its correct historical chronological time, esp. a thing or person that belongs to an earlier time: The sword is an anchronism in modern warfare 2. an error in chronology in which a person, object, event, etc., is assigned a date or period other than the correct one: To assign Michelangelo to the 14th century is an anachronism.

Birthday: Wilbur Wright (1867), Charlie Chaplin (1899), Henry Mancini (1924), Pope Benedict XVI (1927), Herbie Mann (1930), Bobby Vinton (1935), Dusty Springfield (1939), Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (1947), Gerry Rafferty (1947), Peter Garrett (1953), Ellen Barkin (1954)Ian MacKaye (1962), Dave Pirner (1964), Jon Cryer (1965)Martin Lawrence (1965), Peter Billingsley (1971), Lukas Haas (1976), Akon (1977) 

Occurence: 2007 – On the campus of Virginia Tech, Seung-Hui Cho shoots 32 people to death, injures 23 others and eventually kills himself. Would’ve been great if he’d reversed the order.

Standpoint: It’s Thurday (already). Time for me to address some of your suggestions for “Annoying Sayings and Misused Words.” Let’s get to it. 

  •  “hone in on” vs. “home in on” – Which one of the following do you think is correct? “He honed in on his true calling.” Or, “He homed in on his true calling.” Dictionary.com provides the answer. To “hone in on” means (a) “to move or advance toward a target or a goal,” or (b) “to direct one’s attention; focus.” To “home in on” means “to proceed, esp. under control of an automated aiming mechanism, toward a specific target as a plane, missile or location.”  So, unless you are in control of “an automated aiming mechanism”, (and if you are, I want to hang out with you), then you are misusing “home in on.” Winner: “hone in on”
  • “provoke” vs. “provocate” – This has always bugged me. My sister Tina and her kids say “provocate” all the time and I correct them when they do and tell them they should be using the word “provoke.” Turns out I’m the one that needs correcting. “Provocate”  is defined by dictionary.com as “to provoke” and is listed in Webster’s New Millennium Dictionary of English. Winner: My sister Tina and her kids
  • “they’re” “their” and “there” – Probably the three most misspelled words on Facebook and Twitter. Trust me, I’m as guilty as anyone. I’m sure everyone knows where to use these words and when but here are the rules, anyway. Just in case. They’re” is a contraction of the words “they” and “are” as in “They’re coming to take me away!” “Their” is a form of the possessive case of the word “they” as in “That’s their problem!” “There” means “in or at that place” as in “Don’t go in there!” Winner: We all win when we use these three words the right way.

Keep up the suggestions for “Annoying Sayings and Misused Words,” featured here every Thursday.

Quotation: Laziness is nothing more than the habit of resting before you get tired. Jules Renard

Tune: I know very little about Japanese recording artist and producer Cornelius. I do, however, know that “Drop” is terrific.

Gallimaufry: NASA has made a decision. They won’t name the new room on The International Space Station after Stephen Colbert, despite the fact that The Colbert Report host won an online write-in contest last month with the help of his viewers. Astronaut Sunita L. Williams appeared on the show two nights ago to deliver the news to the heartbroken host face-to-face. However, NASA will be naming something on the space station after Colbert – the Combined Operational Load-Bearing External Resistance Treadmill (COLBERT), a piece of exercise equipment. So he’s got that going for him. Which is nice…In what some are calling the least important race in recent history (and by “some,” I mean me), Ashton Kutcher, star of Punk’d and husband to Demi Moore, has challenged the news network CNN to a race on Twitter. Whichever gets to 1,000,000 followers first, wins. CNN currently has the most Twitter followers (921,432), while Kutcher is somewhere in the 800,000s. Kutcher has said that if he wins, he’ll “ding dong ditch” Ted Turner‘s house. I’m not sure why those terms are agreaable to the actor but I’d like to see how he would get to the front door of the CNN founder’s house…Any of you attend any of the “tea party” rallies staged across the country yesterday? If so, I’d like to hear all about it.

Incoming: Tomorrow3 Things To Do in Philly When You’re Dead, my list of 3 events I would attend if it were my last weekend in Philadelphia. Plus, 5 People I Wish Would Move to Another Planet, a roster of 5 folks I’d be happy to never hear from again.

04.15.09 – Wednesday

Word: claque [klak] n. 1. a group of persons hired to applaud an act or performer 2. a group of sycophants

Birthday: Leonardo da Vinci (1453), Henry James (1843), Bessie Smith (1894), Roy Clark (1933), Emma Thompson (1959), Linda Perry (1965), Samantha Fox (1966), Seth Rogen (1982)

Occurence: 1755Samuel Johnson‘s A Dictionary of the English Langauge is published in London.

Standpoint: Recently, I found StumbleUpon (or “SU“). I’d seen the SU icon on various sites, so I wanted to find out what it was all about. I signed up for a free account. Touting itself as “the best way to discover things you like on the web,” StumbleUpon is both (a) a very unique way to explore the internet, and (b) an incredibly simple way to waste three hours of your life. After signing up and completing my profile, I was asked to pick my favorite “Topics.” There’s a bunch to choose from. After clicking everything that interested me, and installing the SU toolbar on my internet browser, I was ready to “Start Stumbling.”

Below is a list of the first ten web sites I “stumbled upon.”

1. Things People Said: Courtroom Quotations – A site that finds funny or embarrassing statements made during courtroom trials. This was a good way to start it off. Some of the quotations were pretty entertaining. (Example: A lawyer asks the question, “How far apart were the vehicles at the time of the collision?”) Grade: B+
2. Bibliomania: Free Online Literature and Study Guides – Sites like this seem to come up frequently on SU. Probably pretty handy for high school and college students but just because I picked “Literature” as one of my Topics doesn’t mean I want to read David Copperfield online. Grade: C-
3. Viralnerd.com Random Photo – A three-panel cartoon of The Mario Brothers applying for a job to rescue a captured princess. They get the job when they write the word “Super” above the words “Mario Bros.” on their business card. I don’t know. I’m not buying it. Grade: D
4. Bookstove.com: Why I Hate Twilight – A 95-item list of “reasons why you shouldn’t read Twilight posted by a Bookstove.com user. I’ve never read the book. Or seen the movie. I can’t hold that against this particular site. I suspect that if you know anything about Twilight, the list is meaningful. The page took, what I thought to be, an inordinate amount of time to load. Grade: B+
5. Word Perhect – Confusing. I was asked three different questions with multiple options, none of which made sense. After I did what it asked, a word-processing template came up with my results in the text area. This might be useful to someone, somewhere. But I don’t see how. Grade: F
6. TimeTicker and the Time Tickers – This would be an awful name for a musical act, but as a web site, it’s kind of cool. It allows you to find the time anywhere in the world. I found it useful because it allowed me to finally figure out how to correctly set the time on my WordPress profile. Only problem was an annoying pop-up. Grade: A-
7. Authspot.com: Whispers Softly – A poem named “Whispers Softly” by someone calling themselves FJ McCarthy. Not a huge poetry fan, but I know a good poem when I read one. Good job, FJ. Grade: A
8. Truthdig: Drilling Beneath the Headlines – Tons of information here. I really like this site. I added it to my RSS feed. Grade: A+
9. CatStuff: Cat Facts and Trivia – A list of facts, some historical trivia and diet tips. All for cats. Dog people probably won’t like this site. Grade: B
10. Random Photograph from NationalGeographic.com – Beautiful aerial shot of Chicago at night. This happens a lot on SU. Random photography is a good way to kill time. But not very useful. Unless you’re from Chicago and want a kickass background for your laptop. Grade: C+

All of that took me about 10 minutes. What did I get out of the StumbleUpon experience? Well, I did find some useful information (see Truthdig and TimeTicker). I found some completely useless junk (see Word Perhect and Viralnerd’s Random Photo). And I found some cool stuff to read and look at (see Things People Said: Courtroom Quotations and CatStuff). 

The only negative issue I encountered during my “stumbling” was that my computer slowed down significantly while using the toolbar. Overall, though, I’m happy with how it all turned out. I’ll use it again. 

Quotation: How would you like a job where, every time you make a mistake, a big red light goes on and 18,000 people boo?Jacques Plante, former NHL goaltender

Tune: I heard “Call and Response” by Or, the Whale a short time after the Hurricane Katrina disaster. I think it’s a great thing when a song can convey how an entire group of people is feeling. Bonus: Or, the Whale looks like it rocks in concert.

Gallimaufry: Recently, Jamie Foxx slammed Miley Cyrus during his radio show after he learned that the teenage superstar said she was “going to ruin” the band Radiohead after they refused to meet with her at the Grammy’s. In an attempt to demonstrate how insignificant he thought she was, Foxx advised Cyrus, who was not present, to “make a sex tape” and “do some heroin.” Probably out of line. Last night, Foxx publicly apologized to Cyrus on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. Fair enough. Now, where’s Cyrus’ apology to Radiohead?…For all you bloggers out there wondering if frequent posting will increase your traffic, read “Blog Post Frequency Results” from Life of Justin: The Blog of a Digital NomadNewt Gingrich eyeing a possible run at the Presidency in 2012? I like it. President Obama won’t even have to campaign to get another four years. Thanks, Newt.

Incoming: TomorrowAnnoying Sayings and Misused Words. Friday3 Things To Do in Philadelphia When You’re Dead and 5 People I Wish Would Move To Another Planet. And for those of you who have been giving me One-Word Movie Title suggestions on Twitter and Facebook, fear not. Monday’s post will reveal the results of that data.

Lastly: Let’s Go Flyers!

04.14.09 – Tuesday

[Note: Today’s post is a little longer than usual due to the passing of Philadelphia’s legendary broadcaster, Harry Kalas – a man who will forever be remembered as “The Voice of the Philadelphia Phillies.”]

Word: sycophant [sikuh-fuhnt, – fant, sahy-kuh-] n. a self-seeking, servile flatterer; fawning parasite

Birthday: Shorty Rogers (1924), Rod Steiger (1925), Loretta Lynn (1935), Pete Rose (1941), Richard Jeni (1957), Brad Garrett (1960), Robert Carlyle (1961), Anthony Michael Hall (1968), Adrien Brody (1973), Sarah Michelle Gellar (1977), Win Butler (1980)

Occurence: 1865Abraham Lincoln is shot from behind by in Ford’s Theatre by John Wilkes Booth.

Standpoint: I remember one afternoon in college. My buddy Joe Taylor and I were watching NFL Films. I mentioned that the narrator’s voice sounded kind of familiar. Joe sat up from the couch. “You don’t know who that is?” I told my friend I didn’t. “It’s Harry Kalas! The guy who calls Phillies games with Richie Ashburn!  Are you shitting me?”I wasn’t “shitting” him. I just wasn’t an avid Phillies fan. At that point, I saw no reason to stir Joe up any further by explaining to him I didn’t know who Richie Ashburn was.

Harry Kalas died yesterday at the age of 73 while preparing to call a Phillies-Nationals game in Washington D.C. Before that afternoon with Joe, I did know who he was. It didn’t matter that I wasn’t a baseball fan. Growing up in Philadelphia, it was nearly impossible to not know the man who could’ve patented the phrase, “It’s outta here!”  After college, I eventually did get into baseball and came to share the common reverence held for “The Voice of the Philadelphia Phillies.” He was one of those rare announcers whose love for the game and his team oozed out into the living rooms of all watching. His soothing voice could go from completely relaxed to incredibly excited with the swing of a bat.

The game of baseball lost a true living legend yesterday. The one silver lining being repeated everywhere was that at least Kalas lived long enough to see one more Phillies World Championship last October. I was actually outside Citizens Bank Park when it happened and heard Kalas call it live when Brad Lidge got that third out. Simultaneously, I heard the roar from the crowd in the stadium. My friends out in the parking lot, looked toward the ballpark and lamented the fact that we weren’t inside to experience the ensuing euphoria. I thought to myself that I wouldn’t have changed a thing. I got to hear the best broadcaster in baseball history call the final out of the World Series. It was the people inside who missed out.

Further Reading.

Quotation: Duct tape is like the force. It has a light side, a dark side and it holds the universe together. Carl Zwanzig

Tune: I first heard this song back on MTV’s 120 Minutes. (Remember when MTV played good songs?) “Mr E.’s Beautiful Blues” immediately made me buy everything I could by Eels.

Gallimaufry: Amazon.com is under fire for their new “adult” policy. The online bookstore has being accused of removing only “adult” literature dealing with homosexuality. (Amazon is claiming a glitch on the site.) Click here to learn more and sign the petition. (Thanks to Beth Treisner)…I suspect that “Facebook Users Get Worse Grades in College” is the first of many articles I’ll read in the next year about the negative effects of the popular social networking site…Al Franken is still not a United States Senator but it appears to be a matter of time until he is. Hey, Minnesota, let the guy in already. Jesse “The Body” Ventura used to be your governor. I mean, seriously.

Incoming: Tomorrow – What’s StumbleUpon?  Thursday – More of your Annoying Sayings/Misused Words (This is now going to be a permanent Thursday thing.) Friday3 Things To Do In Philly When You’re Dead and 5 People I Wish Would Move to Another Planet.