04.12.11 – a tuesday

word

milquetoast [milk-tohst] n. a very timid, unassertive, spineless person, especially one who is easily dominated or intimidated: a milquetoast who’s afraid to ask for a raise

birthday

Henry Clay (1777), Beverly Cleary (1916), Tiny Tim (1932), Herbie Hancock (1940), Ed O’Neill (1946), Tom Clancy (1947), David Letterman (1947), David Cassidy (1950), Jon Krakauer (1954), Andy García (1956), Vince Gill (1957), Art Alexakis (1962), Shannen Doherty (1971), Claire Danes (1979)

standpoint

I’ve got an imaginative brain. I am constantly wondering about the world around me. Here’s a new segment called I’m Wondering.

Here’s how it works: each one of the following sentences begin with the words I’m Wondering… Easy enough. Let’s start.

I’m Wondering…

…who out there is actually taking Donald Trump and his inane rhetoric seriously? Obama is fair game but he crossed the line when he attacked The Cos.

…if the dudes on Pawn Stars really know as much as they seem to on the show? Also, is the title supposed to be derivative of the term “pornstars?”

…why B. J. Novak enjoys a top billing during the opening credits of The Office? I know he’s one of the show’s writers and producers but the character he plays is relatively minor.

…if I’m friends with anyone who’s remotely interested in the upcoming Royal Wedding and if they’re concerned that me finding that out will immediately end our friendship?

…how in the world it took this long for Glenn Beck to get the ax from Fox News? Who was buying what that clown was selling anyway?

quotation

To poke a wood fire is more solid enjoyment than almost anything in the world. ↔ Charles Dudley Warner

tune

Tragic tales of music bands are a dime-a-dozen but they’re especially sad when a freak car accident kills two members a mere month before the release of their debut album. Such was the case with For Squirrels, a mid-90s group from Florida that could’ve gone on to do great things. Here’s “Mighty KC.”

gallimaufry

Coldwater, Michigan gets it. Now let’s follow its lead and start making sense.

→ The upcoming months will feature new releases by elbow, Foo Fighters, TV On the Radio, Gorillaz, Pinback, Regina Spektor, I’m From Barcelona, Explosions In the Sky, Steve Earle, Times New Viking, Architecture In Helsinki, Beastie Boys, Fleet Foxes, The Felice Brothers, Here We Go Magic, Okkervil River, The Sea and the Cake, David Bazan and Death Cab for Cutie to name just a few. It’s no Spring 2010 but it’ll do, right?

→ How is this for a sad story? The Winklevoss twins pitched a business concept to Mark Zuckerberg, a guy roughly about ten times smarter than the two of them combined. He steals their idea and creates arguably the most successful business in the history of humanity. They get pissed, sue and get $65 million (now worth $160 million) for basically doing nothing but having an original idea. And now some court has, in essence, told them, “Move on. Enough is enough.” It’s pretty damn disheartening when two spoiled nitwits,who are all ready worth a couple hundred million, are told to stop wasting everyone’s time. This is still the USA, right?

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07.09.09 – Thursday

Word: acrimony [ak-ruh-moh-nee] n. sharpness, harshness, or bitterness of nature, speech, disposition, etc.: The speaker attacked him with great acrimony

Birthday:  Ann Radcliffe (1764), Clarence Campbell (1905), Lee Hazlewood (1929), Donald Rumsfeld (1932), Brian Dennehy (1938), Dean R Koontz (1945), Bon Scott (1946), O.J. Simpson (1947), Chris Cooper (1951), John Tesh (1952), Jimmy Smits (1955), Marc Almond (1956), Tom Hanks (1956), Kelly McGillis (1957), Courtney Love (1964), Jack White (1975), Fred Savage (1976)

Quotation: A positive attitude may not solve all your problems, but it will annoy enough people to make it worth the effort.Herm Albright

Tune: Yet another gem I unearthed in the catacombs of my iPod. Pinback‘s “Seville” might be the best driving-on-a-highway song I’ve ever heard.

Gallimaufry: Hey, married men out there, if you’re thinking about engaging in an extra-marital affair, you should take note of what happened to Steve McNair this past 4th of July. The former NFL quarterback was shot in his sleep by his 20-year old mistress, Sahel Kazemi. Here’s the thing: If one person wants to date another, knowing full well that person is married, there’s automatically something off-kilter. It’s a good chance the individual is a few sandwiches short of a picnic. We’re not talking about an ironclad rule here, or anything, but don’t act totally surprised if that person does something like, say, shoot you while you’re taking a nap on the couch. I like LeBron James. But the fact that he got dunked on, at his very own Nike LeBron James Skills Academy, by college basketball star Jordan Crawford is kind of funny. What’s even funnier is Nike confiscated all video footage of the event, including that of CBS Sports.com. It’s also kind of messed up. Nobody’s perfect. LeBron and Nike may have gone too far in trying to protect the current NBA MVP’s image. If you’re not yet convinced that most everyone around you is crazy, you need to know something. A USA Today/Gallup Poll turned up some pretty nauseating results. 71% of Republicans are saying they will still vote for Sarah Palin, who stepped down as governor of Alaska last week for no apparent reason. Also, 53% of all people polled said they felt coverage of Palin was “unfairly negative.” It might be time to do some serious soul searching, America.

04.27.09 – Monday

Word: somnolent [som-nuh-luhnt] adj. 1. sleepy; drowsy 2. tending to cause sleep: For him, the opera was a somnolent experience.

Birthday: Mary Wollstonecraft (1759), Samuel F.B. Morse (1791), Ulysses S. Grant (1822), Jack Klugman (1922), Casey Kasem (1932), August Wilson (1945), Frank William Abagnale Jr. (1948), Kate Pierson (1948), Ace Frehley (1951), Sheena Easton (1959)

Occurence: 1810Beethoven composes Für Elise.

Standpoint: Over this past weekend, I walked into a bar. That’s not the intro to a joke. But the end result was funny. I had unsuspectingly entered the sometimes-strange, occasionally-uncomfortable but always-entertaining world of karaoke.

If you’re between the age of 21 and 120, you’ve inevitably experienced this Japanese form of entertainment. Admit it. Whether an active participant or an amused onlooker, you’ve attended – on purpose or by accident – what Jim Carrey in The Cable Guy called “a karaoke jam.” If you’ve never been, you are either (a) living in some cave on a very high mountain or (b) overly concerned with maintaining your “too-cool-for-karaoke” status. (If you fall into one of those two categories, I congratulate you, albeit for very different reasons.)

In any case, if you’re one of the billions who have actually witnessed it live, then you’ve undoubtedly noticed what I have. No matter where or in what kind of place it takes place, watching karaoke will always brings out the following types of individuals:

  • “The Trailblazer” – This person gets up to sing first because he or she is either (a) dared by friends to do it, or (b) the self-desrcibed “life of the party.” Most likely, the rendition is not awful but “The Ham” is in no danger of being hounded by record label executives. Probable Song Selection: Something by Madonna or Journey.
  • “The Pro” – For the first few songs, you’ll most likely witness this person, sitting with a small group of friends (if any), and stoically analyzing the participants like Simon Cowell. When his or her name is called to step up to microphone, “The Pro” will rise with limited fanfare, walk confidently towards the front and belt out the lyrics. The performance is much better than what been offered so far and most in attendance will turn to a friend and give a look that says, “Hey, this ain’t so bad.” At the end of the song, he or she receives a loud cheer while walking unassumingly back to his or her chair. Probable song selection: Something by Celine Dion or Billy Joel. [Note: Inescapably, “The Pro” will become less and less appreciated over the course of the night due to everyone getting drunker and realizing they have more fun when people suck. After many drinks, “The Pro” is more commonly referred to as “that fucking showoff who keeps singing the sappy songs.”]
  • “The Badass” – Usually a male, this character brings a certain machismo to the mic. His attitude is a mixture of “I’m the greatest,” and “Karaoke is for douchebags.” The beers and shots have gotten the better of him, and he’s decided to show the crowd how it’s done. The song completed, he’ll usually shove the microphone back at the DJ or simply drop it on the ground before strutting off the stage. Shooting the middle finger to all gathered is optional but not a requirement for “The Badass.” Probable Song Selection: Metallica or Guns ‘N’ Roses. Maybe Poison.
  • “The Giggler” – Opposite of “The Badass,” this is commonly a woman or, more accurately, a group of women who’ve collectively gathered the nerve to take the stage after a very long conversation in which, “I’ll go up there if you do,” is uttered close to 900 times. The ladies will take the stage with the best intentions but only two of them will actually sing the song. The other three will look out at the crowd and laugh with hands over their faces. For both the participants and observers, the performance can’t end soon enough. Probable Song Selection: Britney Spears or Cyndi Lauper.
  • “The Longshot” – During the course of the night, there is always a dark horse. Someone who gets up and sings dreadfully but possesses a certain characteristic like being older than everyone else or being cute in a non-traditional way. The crowd will rally around  and spur him or her on. This is unique to karaoke because it’s the only time someone can do something worse than everyone else and get the loudest round of applause. For one night, “The Longshot” is the most popular person in the place.  Our common love of the underdog combined with our penchant for overindulging in booze makes this possible. Probably Song Selection: Frank Sinatra or Neil Diamond.
  • “The Almost” – Wastes the entire night by going back and forth on whether to get up and sing and will annoy practically everyone by polling them on if he or she should, “just get up there and do it.” Never getting the needed encouragement due to the fact that no one really gives a shit, his or her attention will be turned toward becoming the drunkest person in bar (who didn’t sing).

The one undeniable fact about karaoke is that its huge popularity is owed directly to massive consumption of alcoholic beverages. Without booze, karaoke doesn’t exist.

Quotation: Life is something that happens when you can’t go to sleep. Fran Lebowitz

Tune: On every mix CD I’ve made in the past 5 years, Pinback‘s “Fortress” has eventually made it on to each one of them.

Gallimaufry: Britain’s Got Talent‘s Susan Boyle getting a makeover or Simon Cowell’s response to it? It was a dead heat in the battle of news items I couldn’t care less about…Lollapalooza announced its 2009 lineup. Along with the obvious acts (Depeche Mode, Beastie Boys, Jane’s Addiction), some of the chosen (Band of Horses, The Manchester Orchestra, Bon Iver, Andrew Bird) make me feel like the organizers are purposely trying to get me in Chicago this August 7-9…Only in this day and age can something like a cruise ship fighting off a bunch of Somali pirates be spun as a negative against the good guys.

Incoming: As I wrote last week, I moved this weekend. I’m a little behind in terms of being organized for this week’s posts. Stay tuned for more details.