06.12.09 – Friday

Word: avarice [av-er-is] n. insatiable greed for riches; inordinate, miserly desire to gain and hoard wealth

Birthday: Paul Guldin (1577), Harriet Martineau (1802), Emmett Hardy (1903), Dave Berg (1920), George H.W. Bush (1924), Vic Damone (1928), Anne Frank (1929), Jim Nabors (1930), Marv Albert (1941), Chick Corea (1941), Timothy Busfield (1957), John Linnell (1959), Scott Thompson (1959), Jason Mewes (1974), Kenny Wayne Shepherd (1977), DJ Qualls (1978), Kendra Wilkinson (1985)

Quotation: Some of the world’s greatest feats were accomplished by people not smart enough to know they were impossible. — Doug Larson

Tune: A week or two ago, I bought Dark Was The Night: A Red Hot Compilation. As with a lot of various artist type albums, there wasn’t too much great stuff. I did, however, find an examplary cover of Nick Drake‘s “Cello Song” performed by The Books and José González.

Gallimaufry: When I’m in my car, I love honking the horn. (I got into a golf cart one time with a buddy of mine who asked, “Are you pissed this thing doesn’t have a horn?”) I believe my use of the horn to be a service to all the bad drivers out there, letting each one know I feel they shouldn’t be on the road. After reading about this free speech case in Monroe, Washington, I might start thinking twice. Sarah Palin is angry at David Letterman. On Monday night, the CBS late night host made some comments about Palin’s visit to New York City with her family. He erroneously made jokes about Palin’s 14 year old daughter Willow but thought he was referring to 18 year old (and new mom) Bristol. The Alaskan governor fired back, “Laughter incited by sexually perverted comments made by a 62-year-old male celebrity aimed at a 14-year-old girl is not only disgusting, but it reminds us some Hollywood/NY entertainers have a long way to go in understanding what the rest of America understands – that acceptance of inappropriate sexual comments about an underage girl, who could be anyone’s daughter, contributes to the atrociously high rate of sexual exploitation of minors by older men who use and abuse others.” Point well taken. I agree with Palin’s statement. But since when is she an expert on “what the rest of America understands?” Letterman, by the way, has since apologized and extended an invitation to Palin to appear on his show. Swine flu has now been declared a pandemic. If you’re worried, check out what it all means and what kind of danger you might actually be in. It’s really not as bad as it sounds. Still kind of shitty, though.

05.04.09 – Monday

Word: ostensible [o-sten-suh-buhl] adj. 1. outwardly appearing as such; professed; pretended: an ostensible cheerfulness concealing sadness 2. apparent, evident or conspicuous: the ostensible truth of their theories

Birthday: Horace Mann (1796), William H. Prescott (1796), Ron Carter (1937), Dick Dale (1937), Mr. Fuji (1937), Paul Gleason (1939), Robin Cook (1940), Roger Rees (1944), Mick Mars (1951), Pia Zadora (1954), Randy Travis (1959), Oleta Adams (1962), Ana Gasteyer (1967), Gregg Alexander (1970), Will Arnett (1970), Lance Bass (1979)

Occurence: 1972 – The Don’t Make A Wave Committee officially changes its name to Greenpeace Foundation.

Standpoint: “I’ll never date a girl who reads those idiotic celebrity gossip magazines.” I made that statement (or something similar) one night over some beers to a buddy of mine. Eventually, I came to realize, if I stuck to my guns and only dated females who didn’t read periodicals such as US Magazine and People, I’d be limiting my dating pool to roughly 14 women. As I’ve done numerous times in my life, I was forced to go back on a statement I completely believed at the time of its utterance.

All women read “idiotic celebrity gossip magazines.” Lots of men do, too, though it’s not something any of us will admit to each other. Everyone loves exploring the surreal arena that is celebrity gossip. And why? The reason’s not exactly forthcoming. How do you explain someone with two master’s degrees getting school-girl excited about the arrival of a  magazine which contains twice as many pictures as complete sentences? It makes little sense that individuals who can speak on many educated topics will drop whatever they’re doing to find out what crazy capers Brad Pitt & Angelina Jolie are currently mixed up in. Logic comes up short in providing a definitive answer.

Online, the genre is best described as logjammed. Blogging about the day-to-day (and often minute-to-minute) ongoings of celebrity life is as widespread as it is unchecked. Let’s blame it on Perez. While I estimate I’d last about 10 seconds in a conversation with Hilton before the guy uttered something unforgivingly bothersome, his “reporting” is – at the very least – (a) perchance on the level and (b) marginally readable. Sadly, I can’t offer the same quasi-praise for his colleagues in the celebrity blogosphere. In their world, the Swine Flu isn’t newsworthy until Amy Winehouse contracts it. In the battle of what’s really important. Somali pirates finish a distant second to David Hasselhoff’s drinking problem.

The “Blogroll” on TMZ.com contains scores of sites dedicated to the pursuit of celebrity exposure. Yesterday, after immersing myself in their vocation, I concluded that, minus those who stalk or pass for celebrities, the population of Los Angeles may very well reside at about 700 people. Here’s some of the hard-hitting journalism I encountered along the way.

  • “Kelly Osbourne on Cocaine Diet”AnythingHollywood – At first, I thought the title suggested Kelly Osbourne was actively using blow to shed some unwanted pounds. After further delving  into the two-paragraph article, I discovered it contained her poignant inner thoughts on celebs who do employ the use of cocaine for weight loss. Ozzy‘s daughter is tired of reading about “how fat” she is. “It’s not like I’m like all the other celebrities in Hollywood that’s going to do a line of cocaine to lose weight.” Osbourne makes no mention of the fact that an exercise regimen might be a valid consideration. Nor does she offer a solid explanation as to how exactly she continues to think of herself as a celebrity.  AnythingHollywood concludes the article with encouragement for the former reality television star, “Stay happy, Kelly, that’s what matters.” I’m reasonably sure Osbourne’s message is meaningful to someone out there: “Hey, the best way to deflect unwanted discussion on being unhealthy and overweight is highlighting a worse thing you could be doing. Like habit-forming drugs.” When you read it about a dozen times in the right kind of light, it’s almost inspirational.
  • “Alyson Hannigan & Alexis Denisof Take Satyana For A Stroll”Pink is the New Blog – Let’s do a breakdown. “It really looks like the Hannigan-Denisofs are taking things nice and easy these days so that they can enjoy being a new family unit with their just over a month-old baby girl. It’s clear that parenthood really suits the couple.” I’m not disagreeing with that, but I’m hoping that the author has a little more to go on than the pictures. Not much more than Hannigan pushing a futuristic stroller with Denisof ambling along, hands in pockets. More: “…the serenity and calmness that they show whenever they are out and about belies that notion that new parents are frazzled and nearly driven to insanity.” I’m a little skeptical. Perhaps “the serenity and calmness” displayed might be better described as “the bewilderment and stupefaction” of two people faced with the reality of a casual walk turning into a spectator sport. “Frazzled?” “Nearly driven to insanity?” Inevitable, if you ask me…Finally, “…of course, we don’t get to see what they look like at 3AM when little Miss Satyana gets hungry/wet and/or poopy.” Patience, Pink is the New Blog. I’m sure one day, with the right set of circumstances, you’ll get the pictures needed to scoop the exclusive on the “Miss Satyana Was Hungry/Wet and/or Poopy” story that the world is on-the-edge-of-its-seat to read. Personally, I would’ve rather read a few sentences on how naming your daughter “Satyana” is somehow (a) acceptable or (b) not creating an uphill battle for the child.
  • “Get That Money, HoHan!”Dlisted – So poorly written that I’d wager Lindsay Lohan could’ve written something a bit more coherent. Annoying in the fact that someone is making money off maintaining and contributing to Dlisted. Encouraging in that, if whomever is at the helm of this nonsense is profiting in any way whatsoever, odds are that you can make money doing nearly anything. Lohan is one of the most inconsequential people that I (unfortunately) know about. Dlisted is her blog equivalent. Unfair? Maybe. But I think I’m standing on pretty solid ground here.

The fun/absurdity doesn’t end there. I could go on. But I think I’ve adequately shown my intent here. If we could bottle the collective energy spent daily on the gathering of celebrity gossip we’d have the means to quickly solve all the world’s problems. At the very least, we could figure out some way for Kelly Osbourne to achieve her goal of drug-free weight loss.

Quotation: Be nice to whites, they need you to rediscover their humanity. Desmond Tutu

Tune: As a rule, I dislike remixes. However, this version of Soul Coughing‘s “Circles” has been a long-time exception.

Gallimaufry: Congratulations to everyone who ran in the 2009 Blue Cross Broad Street Run yesterday. Special congrats go out to my roomie who ran 10 miles in an hour and a half. Way to go, Kate. All the training paid off…TopCultured.com has published its list of “4 Tell-tale Signs of Douchebaggery.” I recently bought a shirt at Express and I wear a wristband so it turns out I’m half a douchebag. I think that’s more favorable  than some might describe me…The 76ers had a “total collapse.”  The Flyers got outworked by a lesser team. The Phillies are off to a good, but not spectacular, start. Enter the Eagles minicamp and the silence of Donovan McNabb. Ah. I knew that World Series euphoria would wear off eventually. Welcome back, shaky Philadelphia sports scene. 

Incoming: Tomorrow7 Best Movie Soundtracks. Wednesday – Working on something. Stay tuned. Later – More of your entries for Annoying Sayings & Misused Words and 3 Things To Do In Philly When You’re Dead and much much much more.

05.01.09 – Friday

Word: larceny [lahr-suh-nee] n. the wrongful taking and carrying away of personal goods of another from his or her possession with intent to convert them to the taker’s own use

Birthday: Calamity Jane (1852), Kate Smith (1907), Glenn Ford (1916), Jack Paar (1918), Joseph Heller (1923), Scott Carpenter (1925), Shirley Horn (1934), Judy Collins (1939), John Woo (1946), Tim McGraw (1967), Wes Anderson (1969)

Occurence: 1751 – The first cricket match is played in America. (It hasn’t ended yet. The average cricket match lasts about 300 years. Or maybe it just feels that way.)

Standpoint: Last weekend, I moved. In my old house, I had kind of a central command set up in my bedroom. Cable TV. Stereo. Internet. Obviously, I spent a lot of time in there. Now, however, I come home and there is no cable TV and there is no internet. So it’s just me, my books and my stereo. I’ve realized that my iPod was being neglected. I wasn’t listening to enough music. Now, with no other option, that’s all I’m doing. And as I’ve been revisiting my music library, I’ve come across some songs that may put my title of “music snob” to rest for good. Here are 7 Songs I’m Unhappy Being In My iPod. Enjoy.

  • Ace Of Base“The Sign” – Most likely, when I downloaded this song on 02.11.08, I had some good intentions for doing so. At this time, I can’t recall what in the world they might’ve been. I remember barely liking this song in college. And, even then, I was probably pretending to like it because of some girl.
  • Stroke 9“Little Black Backpack” – I wish I could say this was a straggler from some mix CD that was made for me back in the day. But it wasn’t. Apparently, I downloaded this song at 2:51 one morning back in 2007. I’ll blame it on Jack Daniels.
  • Right Said Fred“I’m Too Sexy” – OK. This one’s not my fault. My mother asked me to DJ a fashion show for her a few years back. I figured this would be a good song to end the show on a high note. I was right. The women loved it.
  • Young MC“Bust A Move” – This song is borderline listenable. But at the end, it all falls apart. His “best friend Harry has a brother Larry/In five days from now he’s gonna marry/He’s hopin’ you can make it there if you can/’Cause in the ceremony you’ll be the best man.” Huh? Who asks his brother’s best friend to be his best man? And a mere five days before the ceremony? It just doesn’t make any sense.
  • James Blunt“You’re Beautiful” – Remember when this guy was supposed to be the next big thing and thenVH1 and every easy-listening radio station in the country ran with this song and played it about 213 times a day? 2006 was the year I first got my iPod and I was obsessed with adding as much music as I could onto it. That’s how this sappy song got on there.
  • Charles & Eddie“Would I Lie To You?” – I have good days. I have bad days. My guess is 03.21.07 wasn’t one of my greatest days. Why else would I have downloaded this song?
  • Club Nouveau“Lean On Me” – Not only do I have this song on my iPod, but I’ve got the extended version weighing in at over 7 minutes. This had to be another alcohol-induced download as it was 4:14am when I added this little gem.

All right. So now you know. Got any embarrassing tunes on your iPod? Why not take this time to purge yourself and share them?

Weekend: Each Friday, I’ll provide you with 3 Things To Do In Philly When You’re Dead – my list of events to attend in Philadelphia this weekend as if it’s your last.

Quotation: Always strive to excel, but only on weekends.Richard Rorty

Tune: There are two versions of “Ultimatum” by The Long Winters. One is a faster studio version that appears on Putting the Days To Bed. The other (better) version is slower.

Gallimaufry: Philadelphia Stories is a non-profit literary magazine that supports the written word and, really, all the arts here in The City of Brotherly Love. It’s online auction is running now through 05.09.09. The items include nice getaways, gifts certificates to some of the city’s best spots and excellent works of art. Click HERE to support your local art scene. Unless you don’t live in Philly. And then, still, I think you should do it anyway…Mayor Nutter has announced his plan to make Philadelphia the “greenest city in the United States of America.” Check out his Greenworks PhiladelphiaWorld Health Organization (WHO) officials have declared they will stop using the term “swine flu” in order to stop people from killing pigs. (Some geniuses in Egypt apparently slaughtered 3,000 pigs in order to protect themselves from the epidemic.) Officials say they will refer to the disease by its given name – Influenza A H1N1. Sorry. Don’t see that one catching on.

Incoming: Next week will have some more of your favorite columns along with some new stuff I’ve been working on. Thanks for reading this week. Come back Monday for some more.