January 9th, 2012

word

gasconade [gas-kuhneyd] n. 1. extravagant boasting; boastful talk v. 2. to boast extravagantly; bluster

birthday

Richard Nixon (1913), Bob Denver (1935), Joan Baez (1941), J. K. Simmons (1955), Dave Matthews (1967), Joey Lauren Adams (1968)

standpoint

I’m back from vacation and I’ve got lots of things to share but today I’m going to defer to my sister-in-law, Christine Speer Lejeune, and post a link to her fantastic article from the latest issue of Philadelphia Magazine.

Read it and let me know what you think.

quotation

There’s a whole spectrum of douchebaggery. But the vast majority of peple are not part of that spectrum. ↔ Jon Cryer

tune

I am loving this song right now. “It’s Real” by Real Estate.

gallimaufry

→ Man, how pissed off are you Republicans out there? Rick Santorum is now your guy? More on this tomorrow or the next day. But chew on this while you’re waiting.

→ I was saddened to hear that Monsignor Bonner and Archbishop Prendergast will most likely be closing after this school year. I didn’t grow up in Drexel Hill but I spent lots of time there when I was younger and I know how important those schools are to the community there. Big bummer.

Stephen Hawking is most likely the smartest man alive. Also, his suppositions are lugubrious.

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.

04.22.09 – Wednesday

Today is Earth Day!

Word: espouse [i-spouz, i-spous] v. 1. to make one’s own; adopt or embrace, as a cause 2. to marry 3. to give (a woman) in marriage

Birthday: Immanuel Kant (1724), Vladimir Lenin (1870), Vladimir Nabokov (1899), Robert Oppenheimer (1904), Charles Mingus (1922), Aaron Spelling (1923), Charlotte Rae (1926), Richard Donner (1930), Glen Campbell (1936), Jack Nicholson (1937), John Waters (1946), Peter Frampton (1950), Paul Carrack (1951), Marilyn Chambers (1952), Ryan Stiles (1959), Byron Allen (1961), Jeffrey Dean Morgan (1966), Daniel Johns (1979)

Ocurrence: 1970 – The first ever Earth Day is held.

Standpoint: Twitter. You can’t escape it. It’s everywhere. In the past month, I haven’t read a newspaper or watched a talk show where there hasn’t there wasn’t some reference to Twitter, “tweets,” “twittering,” “tweeting” or one of the myriad of other new terms that has invaded the English language because of the overwhelming popularity of the social networking site. If you haven’t heard of it, you must be purposely trying to avoid it. Twitter (and everything to do with it) is currently big news. Last week, Ashton Kutcher challenged CNN to a race to see which one could get to 1 million followers first. Kutcher won. Also last week, Oprah Winfrey publicly joined Twitter on her show where her guest was Evan Williams, Twitter’s CEO. Her first tweet was unsuccessful. Some guy named Corey Menscher has invented the Kickbee, a device a pregnant woman can wear that will detect her baby “kicking” and post a tweet about it.

I joined Twitter a little over a month ago. I railed against it for a while, but finally succumbed. Really just to figure out what the hell it was all about. So, what have I learned? In essence, Twitter is primarily an outlet for people to braindump. Some denominate it microblogging. I think it of it as more full-dress insanity. The tweets come fast and furious. I’m not particular about who I follow or who I allow to follow me. I employ Twitter to drum up additional traffic for this blog, so I figure, the more the merrier.

But individuals are on Twitter for all kinds of reasons. As I’m writing this, I’ve just passed 400 followers. In addition, I’m following close to 800 people in the Twitterverse. I know all of 12 of them personally. The rest are celebrities (Kutcher, P. Diddy and ,yes, even Wil Wheaton), news sites (CNN, E! Online, The Huffington Post), musical acts (Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin, Band of Horses), companies trying to sell stuff (which is seemingly effective) or fellow bloggers.

Some that I’m following (or they’re following me, it becomes increasingly difficult to keep it all in order), are simply odd. One guy I was following was actually posing as Christopher Walken. His tweets were pretty funny and I could picture the actor writing them. The guy was caught and booted. (He’s now back.)Another person contantly updates conditions on the highways in and around San Jose, CA. I’ve no use for this information but I don’t drop anyone so I’m continually informed on what roads not to take around a city I’ve no current plans to step foot in. These are just two examples. There are hundreds, probably more like hundreds of thousands, more.

So, is Twitter useful? I’d love to give some snarky response about how it’s not, but that would be dishonest. My blog traffic has increased because of my Twitter activity. Not because my clever tweets are necessarily reeling everyone in but because of the promiscuous following habits of most users, myself included. I’m pretty certain that hardly anyone is reading even 10% of all the tweets that appear on their Twitter homepage. So, while it’s doubtful that everyone in TwitterLand is paying real attention to one another, it doesn’t really seem to matter. It’s more about being involved in swirling mayhem and telling people, “Yeah, I’m on Twitter.” 

Quotation: Thank God man cannot fly, and lay waste the sky as well as the earth. Henry David Thoreau

Tune: Sadly, I didn’t get into Guided By Voices until last summer. After listening to Robert Pollard and crew’s many great songs, I quietly wondered what planet I’d been living on that I never ran across them before. Listen to “Echos Myron.”

Gallimaufry: After being hospitalized a few days ago, it appears that physicist Stephen Hawking will make a full recovery…President Obama sure has had his fair share of firsts. Here’s another one. He’ll be the first US President to appear topless on the cover of a magazineFacebook groups are popping against, of all people, martial artist and movie star Jackie Chan for comments he made over the weekend, including that “the Chinese need to be controlled.” Apparently, the guy’s a fan of oppression. Who knew?

Incoming: TomorrowAnnoying Sayings & Misused Words. Friday3 Things To Do in Philly When You’re Dead and more.