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.

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04.06.10 – A Tuesday

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word

sojourn [n. soh-jurn; v. soh-jurn, soh-jurn] n. 1. a temporary stay: during his sojourn in Paris v. 2. to stay for a time in a place; live temporarily: to sojourn on the Riviera for two months

birthday

Raphael (1483), Jean-Baptiste Rousseau (1671), Pasquale Paoli (1725), James Mill (1773), Gerry Mulligan (1927), Merle Haggard (1937), Billy Dee Williams (1937), Barry Levinson (1942), John Ratzenberger (1947), Marilu Henner (1952), Michael Rooker (1955), John Pizzarelli (1960), Frank Black (1965), Jonathan Firth (1967), Paul Rudd (1969), Zach Braff (1975), Candace Cameron (1976)

standpoint

Ah, the end of an era. Capitulating to the wishes of the majority of its fans, the Philadelphia Eagles finally traded longtime quarterback Donovan McNabb to the Washington Redskins for a second-round draft pick this year and a conditional one next year.

True to their nature, Philadelphia sports enthusiasts, given exactly what they wanted, began to grumble. Did the Eagles get enough for McNabb? Will Kevin Kolb be the starter some think he can be or will he be the next Bobby Hoying? Why would the two teams make the deal on the eve of MLB’s Opening Day, one when the two cities’ baseball counterparts, the Philadelphia Phillies and the Washington Nationals, were set to square off?

People, please shut the hell up. From the start, you griped about the poor guy for eleven straight years. When he was chosen ahead of running back Ricky Williams at the draft, Eagles’ “fans” in attendance booed him. And, instead of buckling under the criticism, McNabb simply led the Eagles to five NFC Championships and one Super Bowl appearance. Just in case you’re slow, I’ll elaborate. That means during roughly half of his tenure in Philadelphia, the Eagles were at least the fourth best team in the NFL. They made the playoffs eight of those eleven years. In total, he’s won 92 games and is third on the list of current quarterbacks with a .651 winning percentage, wedged in between Peyton Manning and Brett Favre. It’s hard to imagine how much more all of you spectacular would’ve hated him if he actually did suck.

And now, Eagles fans, you have Kevin Kolb and you’ve no choice but to be happy with him. But, let’s face it, if Kolb comes out and has a bad start to the season, you’ll all be screaming for Michael Vick to come in and save the day. And if he doesn’t get it done, you’ll be asking for some other poor schmuck to give you the Super Bowl ring you desperately need to validate all those pathetically wasted Sundays, sitting on your couch wearing your “DAWKINS” jersey and begging anyone in earshot to answer the question, “Why doesn’t Reid run the ball more?” I hope Kolb gets it done. He seems like a quality fellow. But his stomach for bullshit is about to get tested. If the guy he’s replacing was only outmatched in terms of wins in the past decade by Tom Brady and Peyton Manning, and still deemed a shitty quarterback, what chance does Kolb stand? Is he going to be better than Brady or Manning? Not likely.

And, please, let’s not lament the terms of the trade. It’s ironic all you sports gurus claimed McNabb was junk on a daily basis, and now you’re the same nitwits who are bitching the Eagles didn’t get enough for him. It’s one or the other, people. Pick a side and stay on it for once, you wishy-washy nutjobs.

As for the timing of the trade and the fact it coincided with the first day of baseball, please give me a break. I’m not the most business-oriented of minds but even I understand the McNabb trade was a business deal, conducted between two businesses. There was millions of dollars at stake. When would’ve been a suitable time to make the trade? After the baseball season? Ridiculous.

By the tone of this rant, I hope it’s obvious that, while I don’t hate the NFL, I don’t have much respect for a lot of the people who play it and even less who make it their life’s devotion. But I do have respect for Donovan McNabb because he’s always been the underdog, even when he squarely didn’t deserve the role. Next season, I’ll be pulling for him. Even when he plays the Eagles. Because there’s nothing I like better when one guy proves a million idiots wrong.

quotation

It takes a kind of shabby arrogance to survive in our time, and a fairly romantic nature to want to. Edgar Z. Freidenberg

tune

Normally, I’d proffer there’s too many videos on YouTube made by people with nothing better to do. But in this instance, I’ll need to back down from that stance. A montage of The Office set to Ben Folds‘ “There’s Always Someone Cooler Than You” is located directly in my wheelhouse. And it should be in yours, too.

gallimaufry

→ I think our country is fantastic. This shitball church changed the wording of their sign when faced with proper political pressure. I’m going to speak more on this tomorrow but, for the time being, I hope everyone reading this understands our nation is in serious trouble.

How funny is this? Does this company have meetings? Wouldn’t it stand to reason at least one person present would say, “Wait, I’m not sure but I think someone told me lead paint is apparently bad for you now.”

→ On Philadelphia’s latest decision to relax about pot, District Attorney Seth Williams said, “We can’t declare a war on drugs by going after the kid who’s smoking a joint on 55th Street.” In an unrelated development, 55th Street property values are skyrocketing.

02.08.10 – A Monday

word

ebullient [i-buhl-yuhnt, i-bool-] adj. 1. overflowing with fervor, enthusiasm, or excitement; high-spirited: The award winner was in an ebullient mood at the dinner in her honor 2. bubbling up like a boiling liquid

birthday

Samuel Butler (1612), John Ruskin (1819), William Tecumseh Sherman (1820), Jules Verne (1828), Kate Chopin (1850), Lana Turner (1921), Jack Lemmon (1925), Neal Cassady (1926), James Dean (1931), John Williams (1932), Ted Koppel (1940), Nick Nolte (1941), Robert Klein (1942), Mary Steenburgen (1953), John Grisham (1955), Vince Neil (1961), Joshua Kadison (1963), Gary Coleman (1968), Mary McCormack (1969), Seth Green (1974)

standpoint

I’m a football fan but not a huge one. I halfheartedly participate in two (2) fantasy leagues and have a moderate interest in my hometown Philadelphia Eagles, but I’m much less emotionally invested in the NFL than I let on. Most years, I watch the Super Bowl more out of some misplaced obligation to some archaic sense of manhood. But I didn’t feel the same way this year. I actually had a mildly strong desire to watch last night because I like both the Indianapolis Colts and the New Orleans Saints, along with their respective quarterbacks, Peyton Manning and Drew Brees.

But I was curious to see how Super Bowl XLIV would be a different experience for me. And, lucky for you, I chronicled it. Here goes.

Note: I was reasonably sure that the Colts would win and cover the spread (+5.5) and the over (57 pts.) would become a matter of fact.

Pregame

» Not going to lie, I watched golf until just about the start of the game so I didn’t get to see what inane crap led up to the actual footage from Miami.

» But I did tune in time to see the Colts get introduced onto the field to the same song by The Who that opens up every episode of CSI:Miami, which turned out to be all of The Who I needed.

» Queen Latifah sang America The Beautiful with a choir and musical accompaniment. It didn’t really work all that well. Looked like she was never really in sync. Carrie Underwood sang The Star-Spangled Banner and it was better. During all this, cameras were on Peyton Manning, who looked amped to the point he was cursing the fact Francis Scott Key and Katharine Bates were ever born.

» The next class of inductees to the Pro Football Hall of Fame were introduced as honorary whatevers to the coin toss. Emmitt Smith was the honorary coin tosser. Saints called heads. Smith flipped the coin directly at the Saints players, who sidestepped it. It was heads. Saints got the ball.

1st Quarter – 6:20(ish) PM

» Betty White and Abe Vigoda starred in a clever ad for Snickers. I’m completely sure those two actors were used because about 99% of viewers thought both had died years ago.

» The ad for the Boost Mobile Shuffle, featuring prominent members of the 1985 Super Bowl Champion Chicago Bears, was awful.

» In keeping with Hollywood’s trend of recycling, there’s another Robin Hood movie coming out starring Russell Crowe. Looks like both Braveheart and Gladiator ate a bunch of bows and arrows and vomited on each other. I’ll probably go see it.

» First quarter came to a close. Colts-10. Saints-0. I wasn’t paying much attention to the actual game.

2nd Quarter – 7:00 PM

» Pretty fast 1st quarter. At this point, I was certain the Colts were going to run away with the game.

» A Cars.com ad came on, detailing the life of a boy genius type doing all sorts of amazing boy genius type stuff. But when it came time to buy a car, he was at a loss. He looked to his mobile device for answers and, you guessed it, Cars.com came to the rescue. At one point during the ad, the boy genius delivered a baby Bengal tiger while on safari. That kicked off a conversation between my girlfriend and I where we discussed her desire to bring a baby panther into the apartment. Negotiations reached a stalemate after she refused to budge on the name of the baby panther. Oh well.

» The Saints began to make a game of it. Pretty sure they kicked a field goal.

» One ad had Jay Leno, Oprah Winfrey and David Letterman on the same couch talking about something. I’m not sure what because I was distracted. Leno didn’t look like he was actually there. The next ad (maybe) had Brett Favre making fun of the fact he never actually retires. I like it when celebrities/athletes know to do that.

» The Colts stopped the Saints on a 4th and goal from the 1-yard line with less than 2 minutes remaining in the half. See? I pay mind to the important stuff.

» I wasn’t quite sure how it happened but the Saints kick another field goal just as time expires on the 1st half. Colts – 10. Saints – 6.

Halftime – 7:50 PM

» The Who played. The Who sucked. I monitored Twitter feeds instead. Best Tweet? “Wake up your great grandma. The Who is on.”

3rd Quarter – 8:22 PM

» The Saints began the 2nd half with an onside kick. Which they recovered. Which turned out to be huge. Saints – 13. Colts – 10.

» According to a new Volkswagen ad, the classic car game, Punch Buggy, has now been expanded to include the entire Volkswagen fleet. As a matter of fact, it seems whatever substance it’s painting its cars with nowadays is so cutting edge, even Stevie Wonder can see it. Much to the chagrin of an arm sore Tracy Morgan. Classic.

» The Colts’ Joseph Addai ran in for a touchdown. Colts – 17. Saints – 13. I was a little disappointed about how good of a game it was becoming. I’m not used to the Super Bowl being about the Super Bowl. Not being able to run out of the room in between commercials was messing with my head.

» Two commercials gave me pause in different ways. First, the new E*TRADE baby wasn’t half as funny as the original. Second, Google aired its first ever television ad. I think.

» The Saints kicked another field goal which flew under my radar. End of the 3rd quarter. Colts – 17. Saints – 16.

4th Quarter – 8:56 PM

» Honestly, I should’ve been playing closer attention. The Saints started scoring. They took the lead. They intercepted a very important Peyton Manning pass at a crucial time. I watched the whole thing. I swear. But, as happens more than not, I became embroiled in a debate that made the game take a backseat.

» Super Bowl XLIV ended at 9:45 PM. The New Orleans Saints beat the Indianapolis Colts by the score of 31-17. If I bet the game the way I thought it would go, I would’ve been dead wrong. Yet another reason why I’m not a gambling man.

Overall, a most exhilarating football contest. The best Super Bowl in years. Congrats, New Orleans. Call me when you’re done partying. That should be around June.

quotation

Everybody gets told to write about what they know. The trouble with many of us is that at the earlier stages of life we think we know everything- or to put it more usefully, we are often unaware of the scope and structure of our ignorance.Thomas Pynchon

tune

One band from the 80s that doesn’t get enough credit is The Housemartins. I like to think of them as a sort of catchier version of  The Smiths. Also, they’ve got one of the best titled songs ever – “The People Who Grinned Themselves To Death.” Actually, after just listening to it, it seems to work nowadays as well.

gallimaufry

→ I just got done reading King of Russia: A Year in the Russian Super League, and it was simple and great. Former NHL head coach and current Phoenix Coyotes assistant coach Dave King narrates his experiences as the first ever Canadian coach in Russia. The guy really knows his stuff and he provides great insight into Russian hockey and its players, especially Pittsburgh Penguins superstar Evgeny Malkin.

→ Speaking of the Pittsburgh Penguins, yesterday afternoon’s game between them and the Washington Capitals was just about as complete as you could ask for. Caps won it in overtime 5-4 after being down 4-2 going into the third period.

01.29.10 – A Friday

WORD

besot [bi-sot] v. 1. to intoxicate or stupefy with drink 2. to make stupid or foolish: a mind besotted with fear and superstition 3. to infatuate; obsess: He is besotted by her youth and beauty

BIRTHDAY

Thomas Paine (1737), William McKinley (1843), Anton Chekhov (1860), W. C. Fields (1880), R. Norris Williams (1891), John Forsythe (1918), Tom Selleck (1945), Marc Singer (1948), Ann Jillian (1950), Tommy Ramone (1952), Oprah Winfrey (1954), Greg Louganis (1960), Nicholas Turturro (1962), Edward Burns (1968), Heather Graham (1970), Sara Gilbert (1975), Jonny Lang (1981), Adam Lambert (1982)

STANDPOINT

Just a message to all of you who subject the rest of us to your uniquely arid and decidedly lopsided views on what’s wrong with this country.

Relocate. Move to a place where, I don’t know, maybe they like self-serving, pseudo-intellectual dipshits who quote The Founding Fathers and think Rush Limbaugh is someone special. The Founders were just greedy fucks who died a couple of centuries back and Limbaugh, as an pundit, inhabits a lower rung on the ladder of purport than Sesame Street‘s resident lovable goofball Elmo. In truth, all the crap you cite is about as irrelevant as quoting The Bible.

You have daily musings about growing up in a simpler time. As likely as not, one, if not both, of your parents were a doctor, lawyer or something similarly lucrative. And now you’re out in the world, and things just aren’t coming so easy, are they? Well, suck it up.

And quit griping. Some advice? You’re never going to get laid on a consistent basis because, let’s face it, most women don’t really like whiny white boys who nightly inhabit some bar stool and lament about how bad they’ve got it. You’re embarrassing white guys everywhere. It’s sadder than the ending of Pay It Forward. So please stop.

You’re fatuous and not concerned in helping anyone save the dope you see every morning in the bathroom mirror. And, I may be going out on a limb here, but presumably you’re not stoked when looking that person in the eye everyday before work.

Shut the fuck up and enjoy everything your privileged lifestyle affords you. You know, lame-ass pub crawls and thematic happy hours and, oh yeah, a life 99.9% of Earth’s occupants would literally kill for.

QUOTATION

Politics is the art of preventing people from taking part in affairs which properly concern them. ↔ Paul Valery

TUNE

Paddy Casey released “Whatever Gets You True” in 1999. But it’s one of those songs that could easily been released yesterday. I’m saying it’s timeless. Do I have to explain everything? Read between the lines for crying out loud.

GALLIMAUFRY

This past Wednesday night, J. D. Salinger, author of  the classic novel The Catcher in the Rye, passed away at the age of 91. I understand it’s sad when anyone dies but he lived a full life and will be remembered for as long as people read books. Pretty great legacy.

→ After much hullabaloo, President Obama has ordered the U.S. Justice Department to find another city for the trial of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, one of the alleged orchestrators behind the 9-11 attacks. It was supposed to take place in Manhattan.

→ Once again, I find The Onion‘s sports coverage the most honest and truthful out there. This piece about NFL commentators is pretty much dead-on.

01.28.10 – A Thursday

WORD

supine [adj. soo-pahyn; n. soo-pahyn] adj. 1. lying on the back, face or front upward 2. inactive, passive, or inert, esp. from indolence or indifference 3. (of the hand) having the palm upward n. 4. (in Latin) a noun form derived from verbs, appearing only in the accusative and the dative-ablative, as dictū in mirābile dictū, “wonderful to say.” 5. (in English) the simple infinitive of a verb preceded by to 6. an analogous form in some other language

BIRTHDAY

Saint Thomas Aquinas (1225), William Seward Burroughs I (1855), Jackson Pollock (1912), Alan Alda (1936), Sam Phillips (1962), Mo Rocca (1969), Joey Fatone (1977), Elijah Wood (1981)

STANDPOINT

One of the frustrating things about doing this blog is that I’ve never been able to put pictures up without disrupting the integrity of the entire post. So today, I’m going to try to do just that. So bear with me.

In my opinion, hockey teams have always had the best logos. Here are my top five of all time.

5. Anaheim Mighty Ducks – I know, it’s kind of lame, but I really like this logo.

4. Boston Bruins – My brother Jer made me a t-shirt with this logo on it.

3. Vancouver Canucks – Sometimes the simplest logos work the best.

2. Montreal Canadiens – My second favorite NHL team. Classic logo.

1. Philadelphia Flyers – Obviously, the best logo in all of sports.

All right, so that was a success. More picture usage to come. Thanks for bearing with me on that one. And thanks for reading.

QUOTATION

A preoccupation with the future not only prevents us from seeing the present as it is but often prompts us to rearrange the past.Eric Hoffer

TUNE

A few months ago, I was at a Blind Pilot show and the last song the band performed was a cover song that I couldn’t place. Neither could the people I was with. Eventually, we figured it out. (Although there is some discrepancies over who actually did finally find the song.) In any case, that’s not really important. (But, it is, and I still say I’m right.) It was “Kids” by MGMT. I didn’t really care for the original version at first but, after having it beat into my head by two particular ladies, it’s growing on me.

GALLIMAUFRY

→ It’s hard to imagine anything people care less about than the upcoming NFL Pro Bowl in Miami. Unless it’s practice for the upcoming NFL Pro Bowl in Miami.

→ I don’t get the whole notion of reading an entire book off of the screen of some handheld device but apparently I’m the only one. Yesterday, the geekverse revved up when Apple’s Steve Jobs unveiled the new iPad. Let the tampon-related jokes begin…now.

→ Could it be true? After years of withstanding the bitching of Philadelphia Eagles fans, could Donovan McNabb finally get a fresh start in a new NFL city? For everyone involved, I hope so.

12.30.09 – A Wednesday

WORD

onerous [on-er-uhs, oh-ner-] adj. 1. burdensome, oppressive, or troublesome; causing hardship: onerous duties 2. having or involving obligations or responsibilities, esp. legal ones, that outweigh the advantages: an onerous agreement

BIRTHDAY

Titus (39), Rudyard Kipling (1865), Bo Diddley (1928), Del Shannon (1934), James Burrows (1940), Michael Nesmith (1942), Fred Ward (1942), Davy Jones (1945), Patti Smith (1946), Jeff Lynne (1947), Meredith Vieira (1953), Suzy Bogguss (1956), Matt Lauer (1957), Tracey Ullman (1959), Heidi Fleiss (1965), Tiger Woods (1975), Tyrese (1978), Eliza Dushku (1980), LeBron James (1984)

STANDPOINT

Well, tomorrow is New Year’s Eve and that means 2009 (thankfully) will be going away forever and 2010 will be ushered in with lots and lots of wishful thinking.

I know I, for one, will be happy to see 2009 end.

Every year, around this time, I can’t help but look back on what was going on 365 days previous and if I’m where I thought I’d be. (Fortunately, I’m not.) I’m relatively certain that’s what most everyone else does, too. Makes me wonder about how some of this year’s newsmakers thought this year would turn out…

Richard Poplawski was probably cleaning one of his many guns, unaware a mere four months later, he’d become one of the most despicable assholes ever by killing three police officers responding to a call from his mother.

Tiger Woods was most likely spending time with his family, sporadically scurrying to the bathroom to text message one of several women he was seeing on the side, unable to comprehend a year that saw him go from arguably the world’s most popular athlete to its biggest punchline.

Billy Mays, Brittany Murphy, Michael Jackson, Natasha Richardson, Patrick Swayze and Steve McNair were all as likely as not unknowingly ushering in their last change of the calendar year.

Barack Obama was, in all probability, conjuring the first year of his Presidency, one without all the fucking smoke-and-mirror nonsense perpetrated by his political rivals.

George W. Bush was definitely daydreaming about spending some quality time, sitting on the edge of his bed and staring at a blank wall.

Brett Favre was apparently relatively close to finally retiring, after three years of indecision. And that’s exactly what he did. Shortly after, he signed with the Minnesota Vikings.

Michael Vick was languishing in the midst of an 18-month stint in prison for slaughtering defenseless dogs, no doubt curious of where the end of 2009 would find him. Several months later, he’d find himself as the least productive member of the Philadelphia Eagles. Don’t worry, though, the initial outrage demonstrated by animal rights advocates was short-lived due to this country’s unnatural obsession with the NFL.

Yes, indeed, 2009 was kind of a screwy fuck of a year. Let’s hope we can get our act together for 2010.

QUOTATION

New Year’s eve is like every other night; there is no pause in the march of the universe, no breathless moment of silence among created things that the passage of another twelve months may be noted; and yet no man has quite the same thoughts this evening that come with the coming of darkness on other nights.Hamilton Wright Mabie

TUNE

I’ve always loved “Hide and Seek” by Imogen Heap. I just do. That’s it.

GALLIMAUFRY

Tomorrow night will be special, not only because it’ll be New Year’s Eve, but because it’ll feature a blue moon. And that’s not quite what you think it is.

→ Christ. David Goldman, who recently won a nine-year legal battle to get his son back, was flown home by NBC and some journalists’ group is upset for what their calling “checkbook journalism.” Mainly, I think they’re all pissed because NBC beat them to the punch. People will bitch about just about anything.

Van Morrison, 64, has proven it’s never too late to become a daddy. Again.

That’s it for me this year. I hope everyone has a fantastic New Year’s Eve. Be safe. Don’t be an idiot.

All of next week, starting Monday, I’ll be concentrating on more of looking back on 2009. Come back then for some more. And thanks for reading.

12.14.09 – A Monday

Last Friday night, my Uncle Joe died unexpectedly. He was probably the most affable and good-natured guy you’d have the good fortune to come across. Of my five brothers and sisters, I was probably the least close to Joe, and I’m pretty sure I was the only one who’d never gone to visit him at his home in Maryland. And I’m equally sure I’ll regret that for the rest of my life. Just kind of figured he’d be around to hang out with. Life is ruthlessly unpredictable, folks. Get out there and grab what you can from it. 

This post is dedicated to Uncle Joe. 

WORD

nonpareil [non-puhrel] adj. 1. having no equal; peerless n. 2. a person or thing having no equal 3. a small pellet of colored sugar for decorating candy, cake, and cookies 4. a flat, round, bite-sized piece of chocolate covered with this sugar

BIRTHDAY

Nostradamus (1503), Spike Jones (1911), Lee Remick (1935), Patty Duke (1946), Michael Ovitz (1946), Beth Orton (1970)

STANDPOINT

Last week I commented on Allen Iverson’s return to the Philadelphia 76ers.

For the record, I like Allen Iverson. I always have. Even when, in 2002, he threw his naked wife out of their house in Gladwyne, where I grew up. Lots and lots of things happened as a result of A.I.’s actions, including causing me to be over two hours late for some family function due to the fact every TV news van in the country was trying to get into probably the least traffic-friendly town you can imagine.  

In any case, the return of Allen Iverson has left me with mixed emotions. I’m glad he’s back, but as I stated last week, I’m curious as to why everyone else is.

Philadelphia has a history of taking young, talented athletes and making them regret they ever played their respective sport. The Philadelphia PhilliesMike Schmidt was deemed the best third baseman in history. Eric Lindros had a career for the Philadelphia Flyers that placed him, for much of it, in the same company as Gordie Howe, Mario Lemieux and Wayne Gretzky. On any other team in the NFL, Philadelphia Eagles‘ quarterback Donovan McNabb would be credited for being one of the best at his position in the past decade. Allen Iverson, in his first stint with the 76ers, was a diminutive individual, usually scoring more than double the points of the giants he played against.

And where did it get them? Schmidt retired as a Phillie but left here so damaged it took him almost a decade to return to the fans who booed much harder when he didn’t get the job done as they cheered when he did. Lindros’ story is much more complicated but, even with all the drama and concussions, he’s still a fringe candidate for the debate of who’s the best player in NHL history, even Bobby Clarke thinks so. McNabb still manages to come to work every Sunday and play for a bunch of worthless fans who’ve forgotten the likes of Bobby Hoying, Bubby Brister and Rodney Peete. And Iverson was one of the best in the NBA, while playing for a team that seemed content to let him try to win a championship all by himself.

Which begs the question, why would anyone come play in Philadelphia, a city where even those days when probably capable of better, and those days when you don’t live up to expectations there’s a million people leading the charge for your head? Don’t believe me? This past Phillies-Yankees World Series, I forget which game it was. I was at a bar and Phillies’ slugger Ryan Howard was striking out. A lot. And one of the morons sitting around me said, “Man, would you look at this fuckin’ bum on the goddamn television?” Yeah, genius, I was looking at the TV. At Ryan Howard. A guy who’s managed to hit 220 homers and knock in 635 runs in just five seasons. But Howard, and the rest of the Phillies, didn’t win this past World Series like they did the year before. And so, for that, Howard’s a bum. Just like every other professional athlete in Philadelphia sports’ history who didn’t give their fans the misplaced, instant gratification for which they feel erroneously entitled.

QUOTATION

 This and nothing else is the desperately sought and tragically fragile writer’s process: in his imagination, he sees made-up people doing things–sees clearly–and in the act of wondering what they will do next, he sees what they will do next, and all this he writes down in the best, most accurate words he can find, understanding even as he writes that he may have to find better words later, and that a change in the words may mean a sharpening or deepening of the vision, the fictive dream or vision becoming more and more lucid, until reality, by comparison, seems cold, tedious, and dead.John Gardner

TUNE

I normally have something poignant to say about the song I’m sharing with you. But today I don’t. Listen to “HEERS” by Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin. It’s good. And that’s that.

GALLIMAUFRY

→ Listen up, country! The people of Houston get it. So why can’t the rest of you clowns fall in line? Annise Parker will become the city’s first openly gay mayor, making Houston the biggest city ever to do so. Is it safe to say it’s pretty fucked up when Texans are breaking new ground?

Tiger Woods, most likely after reading my post last Friday, has announced, “After much soul searching, I have decided to take an indefinite break from professional golf.” In what many are considering the understatement of a lifetime, Woods furthered with, “I need to focus my attention on being a better husband, father, and person.” You think?

→ OK. Let me get this straight. Donte Stallworth drunkenly drives over, and kills, a guy a few months back and gets 30 fucking days in jail. Meanwhile, New Jersey resident John Wilson is facing up to 20 years for growing 17 marijuana plants for his own personal use to treat his multiple sclerosis. I don’t drink and drive because I’m hesitant to put my life and the lives of others in jeopardy. I do, however, occassionally smoke pot in the privacy of my own home which, until now, seemed relatively innocuous. I guess I had it all backwards and turned upside-down. How naive of me.