11.12.09 – A Thursday

WORD

platitude [plat-i-tood, -tyood] n. 1. a flat, dull, or trite remark, esp. one uttered as if it were fresh or profound 2. the quality or state of being flat, dull, or trite: the platitude of most political oratory

BIRTHDAY

Bartomoleo Bandinelli (1493), Elizabeth Cady Stanton (1815), Auguste Rodin (1840), Karl Marx (1897), Jo Stafford (1917), Kim Hunter (1922), Charles Manson (1934), Mills Lane (1936), Booker T. Jones (1944), Al Michaels (1944), Neil Young (1945), Megan Mullally (1958), Sammy Sosa (1968), Tonya Harding (1970), Tevin Campbell (1976), Ryan Gosling (1980), Anne Hathaway (1982)

STANDPOINT

One things that bugs the shit out of me is when someone, after finding I lean toward the indie rock persuasion in terms of music listening, will classify me as a “music snob.”

The reason it irks me is because it’s simply not true. Well, not completely true anyhow. There’s truth to the idea I look down my nose at artists like Pink, Britney Spears and Kanye West. But it’s only because I think that those artists (and about a million more) really concentrate on finding new ways to suck. And not just at music. At life, as well.

However, if you like those artists and want to listen to them, feel free. Yu can turn them on and dance around your living room and scream the moronic lyrics at the top of your lungs for all I care.

You see, because while I have discerning musical tastes, I am all for you listening to whatever makes you happy. Even if that same music makes me uncontrollably sad. Listen to what you like. It’s your choice.

The problem I have is when someone like you tries to engage me in some sort of debate about musis, lecturing me on the finer, more subtle points of music. Here’s where I gotta stop you.

As I stated before, listen to what you like. But, please, for both our benefit make no attempts to persuade me one way or another about the musical merits of the new Green Day album or how I don’t really understand what Taylor Swift is really singing about. I do. I get it. And, as you’ve made a conscious decision to like that kind of thing, I’ve chosen to go the exact opposite way with my listening pleasure.

So when you call me a “music snob,” you should not be too surprised when the next 30,000 words that come out of my mouth are directed squarely at you, your intellgence and your lack of depth.

Because, really, what’s the difference between you accusing me of being too deep to understand the simplicity of simple music, and me accusing you of being too much of a simpleton to understand the simplicity of great music?

Guess that clears that up. Glad we had this talk.

QUOTATION

What is the feeling when you’re driving away from people, and they recede on the plain till you see their specks dispersing? It’s the too huge world vaulting us, and it’s good-bye. But we lean forward to the next crazy venture beneath the skies.Jack Kerouac

TUNE

Seems like a ton of bands are doing the return-to-rock thing. (See Kings of Leon, My Morning Jacket) Usually, I dislike these trends. Furthermore, I hate being told what to like by anyone. But, being the music geek I am, forcing myself to listen to everything I possibly can (within limits) is something I just need to do. And, sometimes, I stumble upon a band that, despite myself, I kind of really dig. Like Alberta Cross, the NYC-based via London band that just released its debut album, Broken Side of Time. Check out “ATX.”

GALLIMAUFRY

THR.com has published a list of the top male TV earners. Tops? Simon Cowell at $75 million a year. No surprise there. Number 10 was a bit of a surprise, though. David Caruso at $9 million per year. All you hammy actors out there have some hope. (Personally, I love watching Caruso in CSI:Miami.)

→ I posted this on Facebook yesterday but I had to share it again here. This is one of the most ridiculous commercials I’ve ever seen. And up here in Phoenixville PA, it’s on like non-stop. It’s for KIA of West Chester and it’s almost making me want to got there and pretend I want to buy a car. Just to see if these dudes are equally hopped-up off camera. My favorite part is when the one dude, Anthony, gets cut off in the middle of the catch phrase, “THAT’S CRAAAZY!” Indeed.

→ The dude who started the Twitter account @shitmydadsays has signed a TV deal with CBS, after signing a book deal recently. Congrats, brother. I love it when stuff like that happens. My favorite tweet of his so far? “Son, no one gives a shit about all the things your cell phone does. You didn’t invent it, you just bought it. Anybody can do that.”

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07.21.09 – Tuesday

Word: blithe [blahyth, blahyth] adj. 1. joyous, merry, or gay in disposition; glad; cheerful: Everyone loved her for her blithe spirit 2. without thought or regard; carefree; heedless: a blithe indifference to anyone’s feelings

Birthday: Philip Neri (1515), Jean Picard (1620), Sam Bass (1851), Ernest Hemingway (1899), Don Knotts (1924), John Gardner (1933), Janet Reno (1938), Kenneth Starr (1946), Cat Stevens/Yusaf Islam (1948), Garry Trudeau (1948), Robin Williams (1951), Howie Epstein (1955), Jon Lovitz (1957), Charlotte Gainsbourg (1971), Josh Hartnett (1978), Damian Marley (1978), Rory Culkin (1989)

Quotation: The unforgivable crime is soft hitting.  Do not hit at all if it can be avoided; but never hit softly.Theodore Roosevelt

Tune: Brakes (sometimes known as brakesbrakesbrakes) is an English band best known for its short song, “Cheyney, Cheyney, Cheyney, Stop Being Such a Dick,” credits itself, in the words of lead vocalist Eamon Hamilton, with being “fundamentally responsible for the election of Barack Obama as President of The United States of America.” Hamilton further explains, that without the song, “…it is without a doubt that McCain would’ve won, and died, and Sarah Palin would have become President and Ruler of the Known Universe by April 2009. We would’ve been releasing our new album ‘Touchdown’ into a world in the grip of a nuclear winter, with no electricity for people to listen to the CD, and no Internet for them to download it from. We would still have toured it, though.” Those words may or may not be true, but I’m reasonably sure I’m happy we didn’t have to find out. My favorite offering from the band? “Beatific Visions” off the album The Beatific Visions.

Gallimaufry: We may be witnessing the beginning of the end. As is the case with all popular and profitable pop culture offerings these days, American Idol is involved in troubles involving slighted egos demanding overinflated financial compensation. It all started when Ryan Seacrest, host of the FOX show, received a contract extension for three years to the tune of $45 million dollars. It grew larger when the show’s most visible (and biggest asshole), Simon Cowell began negotiations to make him richer than about 99% of the rest of world’s population. It became a problem when Paula Abdul, the judge most known for emotional breakdows and once upon a time starring in a music video with Keanu Reeves, began feeling slighted from a lack of a big money offer, declared she’s thinking of not coming back to the show for the next season. Everyone better wise up because, while Idol is a big money ticket, it can’t afford to start paying everyone oil executive salaries. Alternatively, despite the fact Abdul might be one of the most annoying people on TV, someone needs to step in get a deal working with the former Laker girl because the truth of the matter is people do tune into the show to see if she will freak out. Bottom line, Abdul’s a bit of a draw. “One weapon of this kind that went off over Omaha would eliminate most of the electrical production in the United States. And we are not today hardened against this. It is an enormous catastrophic threat.” Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich said that yesterday during a speech at the Heritage Foundation. You’re probably wondering what he was talking about. Nuclear weapons? Biological? Nope. The man who is trying his best to become the predominant GOP mouthpiece was talking about EMPs. Electromagnetic pulses. He’s pretty sure it’s the weapon our enemies will soon be using to take us out. His proof? A fictional novel by his “co-author and good friend Bill Forstchen,” a novelist who, ” has written a remarkable novel called One Second After, in which he takes a town in North Carolina and shows you what would happen with a successful electro-magnetic pulse attack.” If we’re going to start defending ourselves from fictional attacks, I’d rather start with something more inevetable, like Independence Day. Those aliens were completely out of their fucking extra-terrestrial minds. For all of you out there who think Facebook might be creepy and weird, read the romantic tale of Kelly Hildebrandt and, um, Kelly Hildebrandt. One is a 20-year old woman from Florida. The other is a 24-year old male from Texas. They met when the female Kelly Hildebrandt plugged her own name into the Facebook search engine. It produced one result – the male Kelly Hildebrandt. After a gradual process that started with email exchanges and ended with the male Kelly visiting the female Kelly in South Florida, the couple fell in love. See? That’s not creepy or weird at all. Right? (I’m fully aware some of you are going to find their story insanely adorable.)

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.