09.17.09 – A Thursday

Word

logorrhea [law-guhreeuh, log-uh-] n. 1. pathologically incoherent, repetitious speech 2. incessant or compulsive talkativeness; wearisome volubility

Birthday

Jonathan Alder (1773), William Carlos Williams (1883), John Willard Marriott (1900), Warren Burger (1907), Hank Williams (1923), Roddy McDowall (1928), Anne Bancroft (1931), Ken Kesey (1935), Reinhold Messner (1944), Phil Jackson (1945), John Ritter (1948), Rita Rudner (1956), Baz Luhrmann (1962), Dustin Nguyen (1962), Bryan Singer (1965), Doug E. Fresh (1966), Anastacia (1968), Bobby Lee (1972), Mirah (1974), Constantine Maroulis (1975), Alexander Ovechkin (1985)

Standpoint

It’s pretty much a universal belief that the iPhone is the single greatest invention of this, or any other, era. Maybe. They seem pretty great. The whole bumpin’-iPhones-to-exchange pics app looks maybe somehow maybe somewhat useful. The holding-your-iPhone-to-a-speaker-in-a-public-place-to-find-out-who-is-performing app seems more than useful, if not a blatant attempt by Apple to get iPhone users to buy songs while inebriated in a bar. I bet it works more often than not. Kudos, Apple geniuses. I don’t own an iPhone, so I don’t truly know what it is everyone is yammering about.

However, I do know this: the iPhone is destroying something near and dear to my heart. Being both a bartender and an avid bar customer, I’m a huge fan of the mostly meaningless, often illogical and mainly unfulfilling pastime of bullshitting from a bar stool. Once upon a time, you could go to a local watering hole with a group of your buddies, and, after a few drinks, start up some nonsensical debate, usually about (a) sports, (b) music, (c) movies, and, even sometimes, (d) historical events. These are the kinds of debates that, even when highly intelligent individuals are involved, can go on for hours due to the emphatic way each person “swears to God” they’re right, and the increasing amounts of alcohol consumed.

For me, these deliberations are highly entertaining due to the simple fact it’s inconsequential who’s right and who’s wrong. The winner is the person who can convince everyone else involved they are, in fact, wrong, and he, in fact, is right. Even when he’s completely wrong and everyone else is exactly right. Whichever side of the bar I find myself on, it’s something I excel at. As a bartender, I love manipulating a bunch of drunk conversation in one way or another, nudging them along with supposedly innocous statements. As a bar customer, I more enjoy stating a fact or taking a position I know to be erroneous, and coaxing everyone to accept it as gospel truth. I’m kind of a dick that way.

IN ANY CASE, the iPhone has turned almost all of these disputes, once a nightlong event, into a simple matter of pulling a device out a pocket, and providing an irrefutable answer to whatever the hell it was everyone was discussing, reducing it to a matter of minutes, sometimes seconds.

The topic is trivial. Did Jason Bateman play a swarmy kid in the Ricky Schroeder sitcom “Silver Spoons?” Some people say yes, some say no. The argument could go on forever. Meanwhile, in the course of all that banter, the immediate topic gets put aside for a time, other topics emerge and are chewed on. Eventually, someone remembers how it all started and the original question is loudly thrown back onto the table. More hemming and hawing. No conclusion can be reached. But everyone had a helluva time trying to figure it out.

But now, when the Jason Bateman-“Silver Spoons” question comes up, at least three people, one of which was some loner eavesdropper no one knows, will whip out their iPhone (or its ugly cousin, the Blackberry), go to IMDb.com and tell everyone, yes, Jason Bateman was on the “Silver Spoons,” playing a characater named Derek for 23 episodes between 1982 and 1984.

And that’s it. End of discussion. Hours of fun averted.

I love all this technology, but there are some things that will go away because of it, that will make everything just a little less fun.

Quotation

The thing about being a professor is that if you can make just one student successful, if you can make just one student see the light, if you can make just one ready for the outside world, then you’re still stuck with nineteen failures. ← Mel Helitzer

Tune

Recently, someone described my music listening tastes as, “mostly lyric-driven.” OK, I’ll buy that. Probably true. Guess that’s why Brendan Benson‘s song, “What I’m Looking For” has been my on-again, off-again theme song for the past several years. I’m reasonably sure some of the most well-written lyrics ever.

Gallimaufry

Judging from my experiences with most of you out there in the world, some of you could really benefit from reading “10 Ways to Keep Your Mind Sharp.” Seriously, people, take a look at it. For me.

According to some dude named Sam McCaig from THN.com, The Philadelphia Flyers have all but sewn it up for the upcoming season. No reason to play the games, fellas. We’ll just take The Cup whenever it’s convenient for you to run it down this way. I hate articles like this because they never ever come true.

→ Despite the fact that just about everyone was saying it would never happen, Pavement’s decided it’s time for a reunion. Indie-rocker nirvana starts now.

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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.