03.09.10 – A Tuesday

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word

repartee [rep-er-tee, –tey, -ahr-] n. 1. a quick, witty reply 2. conversation full of such replies 3. skill in making such replies

birthday

Amerigo Vespucci (1454), Samuel Barber (1910), Mickey Spillane (1918), Ornette Coleman (1930), Raúl Juliá (1940), John Cale (1942), Bobby Fischer (1943), Charles Gibson (1943), Robin Trower (1945), Jeffrey Osborne (1948), Bobby Sands (1954), Linda Fiorentino (1958), Steve Wilkos (1964), Juliette Binoche (1964), Emmanuel Lewis (1973), Thor Halvorssen (1976), Julia Mancuso (1984), Brittany Snow (1986), Bow Wow (1987)

standpoint

Two nights ago, we were all once again treated to the annual hullabaloo that is The Oscars. Lots of us were watching the show. 41.3 million of us. Granted, that’s not even 10% of the United States’ population but it’s still a large group of people, the largest in five years. Whoopdee-doo.

But why were we all watching? I suspect some of you actually watched out of your sheer love for the art of cinema. Or maybe you watched in an attempt to make sure you weren’t the only one in the office the next morning who couldn’t participate in the endless post-Oscar debates and be forced to, like, do work or something. Or maybe you flipped through the channels and happened upon the show and became immediately engaged by the obvious sexual tension between Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin, this year’s co-hosts. Or maybe you’re like me and you simply watched the damn thing to beleaguer yourself with one of the prime examples of how crappy our culture has become.

I watched it, albeit in my usual offish fashion. But I did notice some amusing peculiarities.

→ In what’s being dubbed a “Kanye Moment,” some woman named Elinor Burkett, apparently one of the producers of  something called Music By Prudence, stormed the stage and stole the allotted speech time from the film’s director, one Roger Ross Williams. Some described it as “uncomfortable to watch.” Uh…all right. Now Burkett has two things in common with Kanye West: They both display an irreverent attitude toward award show decorum, and they both look like dudes.

Neil Patrick Harris needs to pull in the reins a bit. Does the guy know he’s allowed to turn down offers? At this rate, we’re all going to be sick and tired of him sometime later this week. Hey, NPH, maybe just be a homebody for a while, do a crossword puzzle (or maybe you’re a sudoku man, I have no idea) or repaint the living room like you’ve been saying you’re going to since forever. Or, here’s an idea. Maybe watch some television and try to find a channel you won’t see your own face.

Fisher Stevens, the guy who played that goofy scientist in Short Circuit and was in that episode of Friends that time won an Oscar for a documentary that had something to do with dolphins. Johnny Five is indeed alive.

→ Always the cutup, Ben Stiller came onstage to present the award for Best Makeup all done up as a character from Avatar. I thought he looked a lot like what Michael Jackson might’ve looked like twenty years down the road.

→ Throughout the entire show, George Clooney had a look on his face that, I swear, made me think the guy has some sort of beef being stuck in a chair with a camera up his nose for four hours. What’s up with that? Lighten up, buddy, you’ve come a long way since Booker Brooks.

The Hurt Locker won 6 times. Two of them involved sound and were accepted by some guy who looked like a recovering zombie. Also, the lady who directed it won Best Director and Best Film but all anyone wanted to talk about was that she was once married to fellow nominee James Cameron. I was glad she was able to get back at the Academy for what’s still considered one of history’s biggest snubs when it completely ignored Point Break. Not even a courtesy Best Supporting Actor nod to Gary Busey, for crying out loud. But Kathryn Bigelow showed them. Now who’s laughing? Definitely not Busey and, even if he is, he’s laughing about something only he fully understands.

→ I liked that thing they do when 5 actors get up on stage and say something seemingly heartfelt and ostensibly accurate about the nominees for Best Actor and Best Actress. Oprah Winfrey spoke about Gabourey Sidibe from Precious in the way she does about everything. No matter what Oprah’s prattling on about, she’s really just talking about herself. Sidibe probably didn’t care as she was most likely couldn’t stop thinking about hunky Gerard Butler, who she met and delivered the proposition, “Let’s grab a bottle of champagne and see where the night goes!” Later, she told more than one reporter, in regards to her attraction to Butler, “I’d hit that.” Whatever happened to playing hard to get? Gabourey, it’s all about the hunt and the chase. Don’t just throw it out there.

→ One of my favorite actors, Jeff Bridges won for Best Actor. Of all the movies mentioned during the show, Crazy Heart was one of two I’d actually seen. (Star Trek was the other.) Kudos to Bridges, by the way, who, in giving his acceptance speech, contributed yet another item to the long list every stoner keeps of shit you can still do when you’re high.

Overall, I enjoyed watching The Oscars. I might even watch next year. Hell, I might even get out there and see some relevant movies for a change. Who knows?

quotation

These are not books, lumps of lifeless paper, but minds alive on the shelves.  From each of them goes out its own voice… and just as the touch of a button on our set will fill the room with music, so by taking down one of these volumes and opening it, one can call into range the voice of a man far distant in time and space, and hear him speaking to us, mind to mind, heart to heart.Gilbert Highet

tune

Sometimes, I’m resistant to things for no good reason. What can I say? I’m hardheaded. You love that about me, by the way. In any case, my wonderful girlfriend asked me to watch the new OK Go video about five times before I had the good judgment to trust her. I learned an important relationship lesson: Believe her when she tells me I’m definitely going to like something she’s sent me. (Five times.) Not only did I realize that (a) I like OK Go and, as is the case from time to time, I miss out on good music due to a some sort of stigma I’ve created out of thin air, and (b) I can’t ascertain how I’ve managed to escape the incredible ingenuity of Rube Goldberg Machines. They’re absolutely fucking nuts. Here’s the new OK Go offering titled “This Too Shall Pass.”

And if you suddenly find yourself yearning for some more Rube Goldberg Machine videos, worry not, I’m happy to provide them. Check these out.

gallimaufry

Reunited and it feels so good. T.O. and D-Nabb put aside their differences for (What else?) money. Poor Antonio Gates, stuck with those two as teammates.

→ Some may argue that Facebook made this possible. I’d say FB made it easier would be more accurate.

→ I didn’t need another reason not to vacation in balmy Alaska. But I got one anyway.

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12.07.09 – A Monday

WORD

popinjay [pop-in-jey] n. 1. a person given to vain, pretentious displays and empty chatter; coxcomb; fop 2. British Dialect. a woodpecker, esp. the green woodpecker 3. Archaic. the figure of a parrot usually fixed on a pole and used as a target in archery and gun shooting 4. Archaic. a parrot

BIRTHDAY

Richard Sears (1863), Louis Prima (1910), Eli Wallach (1915), Ted Knight (1923), Noam Chomsky (1928), Ellen Burstyn (1932), Harry Chapin (1942), Johnny Bench (1947), Tom Waits (1949), Priscilla Barnes (1955), Larry Bird (1956), Tim Butler (1958), Rick Rude (1958), Peter Laviolette (1964), C. Thomas Howell (1966), Terrell Owens (1973), Damien Rice (1973)

STANDPOINT

Today, instead of spouting off about this thing or that, I’m putting the ball in your court.

I’ve been considering a particular scenario. I’ve proposed it to a few of my close friends and they all agree it’s an interesting situation to ponder. So I thought I’d offer it all of you.

Here it is: Due to some kind of crazy set of circumstances, you find yourself in a room with nine strangers. A man (or woman) enters the room and delivers the following set of instructions:

1. Everyone in the room will be granted five picks. Each pick will be a particular music act you can completely remove from the face of the Earth, including any memory of their existence.

2. However, there’s a possibility one of the other nine in the room could choose to obliterate a music act you hold near and dear. So, instead of using all your picks to erase music acts you despise, you’re free to use some, or all, of them to protect music acts you feel you can’t live without.

Here’s what I’m wondering: When confronted with this kind of choice, do you opt to banish or preserve? Would you see to it you never again hear the music you hate the most? Or would you safeguard the music you love the most?

Think about it. I’m still unsure of what I’d do.

QUOTATION

I think you should be a child for as long as you can. I have been successful for 74 years being able to do that. Don’t rush into adulthood, it isn’t all that much fun.Bob Newhart

TUNE

 So this past Saturday night, I’m hanging out with my kind of people, meaning a bunch of people who know a lot about good music. I was playing some stuff off of my iTunes and Pete Townshend‘s “Let My Love Open The Door” comes on. All present agreed it was a solid tune. I agreed but asked everyone how they felt about the slow version – “Let My Love Open The Door (E. Cola Mix)” – off the Grosse Pointe Blank soundtrack. No one had heard it before. Which I thought was weird but not altogether impossible. There’s a shitload of music out there.

GALLIMAUFRY

→ Dude. When it comes to hockey, I’m all for a guy dropping the gloves and participating in a little hand-to-hand combat to try to motivate his team. But Philadelphia Flyers’ winger, Daniel Carcillo, experienced a severe lack of judgement when he almost knocked out Washington Capitals’ winger, Matt Bradley, late in the first period. It was awfully stupid because (a) Bradley had barely shook off his gloves (if he did at all) before Carcillo popped him, (b) it was the first game for new Flyers’ coach Peter Laviolette (who’s probably half-heartedly celebrating his birthday today), and (c) he gave the Capitals an unheard of nine-minute power play that turned a close game into a 8-2 loss for his team. He’s been suspended for four games and with the Flyers currently in a mid-season freefall, I wouldn’t be surprised if we’d seen the last of “Car-Bomb.”

→ Looking for a new blog to follow? (Don’t answer that. I know you are.) Check out PhilaLawyer.net. Also, I’ve just started reading his book, Happy Hour Is For Amateurs. And you should, too.

→ Tonight, at 10pm, I’ll be watching the new TNT “serious comedy” Men of a Certain Age. Ray Romano, Scott Bakula and Andre Braugher. Yep, that’s pretty much all I need to become intrigued. Sad? No, not at all.  

03.17.09 – Tuesday

Whereabouts: Philadelphia, PA

Word: stultify [stuhl-tuh-fahy] verb to make, or cause to appear, foolish or ridiculous

Birthday: Nat King Cole (1919), John Wayne Gacy (1942), Patrick Duffy (1949), Kurt Russell (1951), Gary Sinise (1955), Casey Siemaszko (1961), Rob Lowe (1964), Billy Corgan (1967), Mia Hamm (1972)

Occurrence: 1854 – The rubber band is first patented. Interesting, but I would like to know the first time someone figured out how to wrap it around their hand and point at people like a gun.

Standpoint: In today’s NFL, you’re just not a viable wide receiver until ESPN shows a clip of you getting arrested or questioned by the police. Apparently, it’s a rite of passage. This past Saturday morning, Donte Stallworth struck and killed Juan Sanchez, a man who had just finished his shift. Stallworth has now joined the ranks of Plaxico Burress, Javon Walker, Marvin Harrison and host of other professional wideouts who can’t seem to help but get busted for (or suspected of) criminal acts. Originally, it was reported that charges would not be brought up against the Cleveland Browns player, but now it seems a definite possibility. The most amazing aspect of this current trend of “bad boy” wide receivers is that, for the most part, every one of them is, or has the potential to be, an elite player. Randy Moss. Terry Glenn. Brandon Marshall. Koren Robinson. All great talents. All ended up destroying or diminishing their own careers for participation in events that, to the rest of us, seem completely absurd. The problem is well-documented. This is news to no one. So when does Commissioner Robert Goodell drop the hammer and start kicking these guys out of the league? And when do the teams start sending a real message by not signing these guys, no matter what their level of talent may be? The NFL has become a safe harbor for individuals who continually break the law (see Matt Jones), learn nothing from their actions and have the bank accounts to mount defenses O.J. Simpson would drool over. I’ll take drama-queen Terrell Owens over any of these guys. He may be a big problem in the locker room and a seemingly below-average human being but at least I know when I walk out of work he’s not going to run me over in his Bentley.

Quotation: How do I know what I think until I see what I say?E.M. Forster

Soupçon: The original Greek question mark became the English semicolon (;). I know I keep ripping off A.J. Jacobs but can you really blame me? I maintain a daily blog that includes an interesting fact section and I’m reading a book chronicling a man’s search for knowledge. I’ve just gotten to the “R” chapter of The Know-It-All so I’m almost done ripping it off.

Tune: Besides being great guys, Backyard Tire Fire is an outstanding live band. About a year ago, my brother and I went to The North Star to see The Beautiful Girls. BTF was the opening act and they put on a great show. After their set, I had lost my interest in seeing the main act and spent the rest of the night at the bar with the band. Great night. Check out “Corrine”.

Link: Bag of Songs – Superlative Philadelphia-based blog covering the world of music.

Gallimaufry: Not everyone is hurting during the recession. Condom sales are up due to, among other factors, people staying in more and couples holding off on having a child. Read Amanda Ruggeri’s article “10 Winners in the Recession” from U.S. News & World Report to see who else is prospering…Paste Magazine has made a list of the best independent movie houses in the country. Surprisingly, none of Philadelphia’s made the list…Looks like tough times ahead for Atlantic City, NJ. Casinos are experiencing record losses right now. Hope the Borgata is still there May 23rd when I’m going to see Joel McHale for my birthday. Fingers crossed, people…Hope everyone has a SAFE St. Patrick’s Day. Lots of drinking rookies out there. Be careful and don’t drive.