01.18.10 – A Monday

WORD

pabulum [pab-yuh-luhm] n. 1. something that nourishes an animal or vegetable organism; food; nutriment 2. material for intellectual nourishment

BIRTHDAY

Montesquieu (1689), Daniel Webster (1782), Thomas Watson (1854), A. A. Milne (1882), Cary Grant (1904), Danny Kaye (1913), Ray Dolby (1933), David Ruffin (1941), Kevin Costner (1955), Mark Messier (1961), Dave Attell (1965), Jesse L. Martin (1969), Joanna Newsom (1982), Seung-Hui Cho (1984)

STANDPOINT

While I type this, NBC and Conan O’Brien are said to be close to a deal that will end the O’Brien’s stint as host of The Tonight Show after a mere seven months.

The complete failure of Jay Leno’s nightly 10pm show on NBC caused the network to move the 60-year old back to his original time slot of 11:35pm, leaving no place for O’Brien.

Everyone’s talking about it and there’s really nothing new to say on the issue but I’d like to encourage everyone who reads this blog to boycott Leno from here on out, in whatever forum the dipshit appears. It’s a heartless thing he’d doing here, not to mention meaningless.

Is NBC expecting everyone to watch Leno just because? Old people will probably go back to watching Leno because most old people, from as much as I can tell, like the kind of dopey crap he presents.

O’Brien will land on his feet. FOX is very interested in talking to him. Plus, he’s probably going to get somewhere near $40 million for his trouble. But still, NBC and Leno should be kneecapped for what’s gone on.

QUOTATION

Everything is handed to society now. Before, you had to dig for it. I like that — digging for it.Al Green

TUNE

In my head, I’ve a list of ten songs of which I will never tire. R.E.M.‘s “The Great Beyond” is one of them. Maybe number three on that list. I’m not sure.

GALLIMAUFRY

My dream of a New Orleans SaintsSan Diego Chargers Super Bowl was destroyed yesterday as the New York Jets (that’s right) beat Philip Rivers and crew in a surprising 17-14 upset. Let’s go, Saints!

→ Dear Mark McGwire, please shut the fuck up. We all know you did steroids. We all know you are now admitting it so that you can get a job in baseball. We all know that you’re a disgrace to athletes everywhere. We get it. Go away.

→ In a shocking development, MTV is actually producing a show featuring (I hope you’re sitting down) – MUSIC! Vampire Weekend did an episode of MTV Unplugged. And there wasn’t even a cameo by the cast of Jersey Shore.

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05.20.09 – Wednesday

Word: swagger [swag-er] v. int. 1. to walk or strut with a defiant or  insolent air 2. to boast or brag noisily ∞ v. t. 3. to bring, drive, force, etc., by blustering ∞ n. 4. swaggering manner, conduct, or walk; ostentatious display of arrogance and conceit

Birthday: Honoré de Balzac (1799), John Stuart Mill (1806), James Stewart (1908), Gardner Fox (1911), Lee “Scratch” Perry (1936), Joe Cocker (1944), Cher (1946), Ron Reagan (1950), Jane Wiedlin (1958), Israel Kamakawiwo’ole (1959), Bronson Pinchot (1959), Ted Allen (1965), Mindy Cohn (1966), Busta Rhymes (1972)

Standpoint: Monday night, as I was watching the Pittsburgh Penguins take on the Carolina Hurricanes in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, it was impossible to miss Sidney Crosby. Even when he was doing absolutely nothing, the spotlight shown in his direction. He’s the new poster boy for the NHL, who would love for him to become the next Wayne Gretzky, whose combination of pure skill and squeaky-clean good looks brought the league into prominence in this country two decades ago. The problem is Crosby is no Gretzky. Even in this early stage of his career, he’s not popular with the fans or among his peers. And here’s why.

Most professional sports are just a live enactment of good vs. evil. In any contest, there are the good guys – those we ‘re all waiting to see win in dramatic fashion – and the bad guys – those we are waiting to fall miserably on their faces. And we enjoy watching either one because wishing for a team to lose is just as much fun as wishing for it to win. Sometimes even more so.

Take Joe Montana. With a name like that, he was destined to occupy a place among the good guys. Besides the name, the man possessed all of the qualities that one needs to become one of America’s heroes. In short, Joe Montana was a guy that no one thought would be anything more than a capable quarterback. Of course, as is often the case, people ended up eating their words as he led the San Francisco 49ers to some of the most famous comebacks during one of the greatest dynasties in sports history. His losses were sometimes just as spectacular as his wins. We all rooted for him. Whichever team was playing against Joe Montana became the enemy.

 Then we have Kobe Bryant, who was marked by the NBA to be its replacement for Michael Jordan, its most celebrated good guy. But things went wrong. The Los Angeles Lakers‘ superstar distinguished himself by openly feuding with Shaquille O’Neal and being the only guy in human history capable of pissing off Phil Jackson. Oh yeah, being accused of sexual assault didn’t really help, either. Still, Kobe prevailed and is currently one of the top basketball players in the world. But no one is happy about it and we all root against him. Whichever team is playing against Kobe Bryant becomes the favorite.

So we all loved Montana. And we all love to hate Bryant. But what about Crosby? What group does he fit into? Well, he’ll probably never be shown the kind of love the good guys enjoy. At least not outside of Pittsburgh. On the other hand, he’ll never earn a spot with the bad guys as one of professional sports’ villains. And that’s because he’s more disliked than he is hated. And you might think that being disliked doesn’t sound as bad as being hated. But it is.

Because, no matter what the particular sport or situation, what we’re all looking for is entertainment. And being a human highlight reel is only so entertaining for so long. Here’s what the San Jose SharksJeremy Roenick has to say about Crosby: I think he’s too quiet, too hum-drum, too cliched. I love the kid as a hockey player, but I think he can be more spectacular if he steps up and shows a little personality. Now while the outspoken Roenick might not be the best judge about the proper use of “personality,” his remarks mirror the public sentiment. Mainly, we find the guy boring. Outside of whining to officials about everything imaginable (he complained to the referee during a recent game against the Washington Capitals because he thought the fans were throwing an excessive amount of hats on the ice after a hat trick by rival superstar Alex Ovechkin), and his admittedly sick amount of talent, Crosby is vanilla. And while vanilla is good it doesn’t get anyone fired up.

The impression that he gives is a neutral one. Like maybe he’d be OK playing out the season in spectator-less arenas and simply concentrating on hockey. And, while that may not be true, it’s the vibe he gives off and one thing sports fans won’t tolerate is an athlete who refuses to acknowledge their part in the process.

What really sucks about all of this is, if the Penguins somehow manage to win the Stanley Cup, when Crosby lifts it over his head, most hockey fans will fill ripped off because we;ll feel neither the good guys or the bad guys triumphed. The boring whiner did.   

Quotation: By night, an atheist half believes in God. Edward Young

Tune: On advice from my brother Jeremy, I’m attempting to get into Say Hi To Your Mom. So far, I like what I hear. Try “The Death of Girl Number Two.”

Gallimaufry: Declining honeybee populations represent a potentially disastrous problem for the world’s ecosystem. And no one’s really been able to explain how it’s happening. But it looks like there might be hope. ∞ Hollywood is one step closer to completing its mission of destroying everything from my past. The most recent victim? Footloose, the 1984 Kevin Bacon classic that was so dorky-cool most guys didn’t seem to mind it was about dancing. If the initial casting choices for the remake are any indication, this movie is going to absolutely blow. ∞ Blink-182 has reunited and I’ve watched them the past two nights on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. I’m a huge fan of the band’s albums. Ask anyone. But they’ve always been considered a shitty live act and, from what I’ve seen, that’s not a perception in danger of going away anytime soon.

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

04.15.09 – Wednesday

Word: claque [klak] n. 1. a group of persons hired to applaud an act or performer 2. a group of sycophants

Birthday: Leonardo da Vinci (1453), Henry James (1843), Bessie Smith (1894), Roy Clark (1933), Emma Thompson (1959), Linda Perry (1965), Samantha Fox (1966), Seth Rogen (1982)

Occurence: 1755Samuel Johnson‘s A Dictionary of the English Langauge is published in London.

Standpoint: Recently, I found StumbleUpon (or “SU“). I’d seen the SU icon on various sites, so I wanted to find out what it was all about. I signed up for a free account. Touting itself as “the best way to discover things you like on the web,” StumbleUpon is both (a) a very unique way to explore the internet, and (b) an incredibly simple way to waste three hours of your life. After signing up and completing my profile, I was asked to pick my favorite “Topics.” There’s a bunch to choose from. After clicking everything that interested me, and installing the SU toolbar on my internet browser, I was ready to “Start Stumbling.”

Below is a list of the first ten web sites I “stumbled upon.”

1. Things People Said: Courtroom Quotations – A site that finds funny or embarrassing statements made during courtroom trials. This was a good way to start it off. Some of the quotations were pretty entertaining. (Example: A lawyer asks the question, “How far apart were the vehicles at the time of the collision?”) Grade: B+
2. Bibliomania: Free Online Literature and Study Guides – Sites like this seem to come up frequently on SU. Probably pretty handy for high school and college students but just because I picked “Literature” as one of my Topics doesn’t mean I want to read David Copperfield online. Grade: C-
3. Viralnerd.com Random Photo – A three-panel cartoon of The Mario Brothers applying for a job to rescue a captured princess. They get the job when they write the word “Super” above the words “Mario Bros.” on their business card. I don’t know. I’m not buying it. Grade: D
4. Bookstove.com: Why I Hate Twilight – A 95-item list of “reasons why you shouldn’t read Twilight posted by a Bookstove.com user. I’ve never read the book. Or seen the movie. I can’t hold that against this particular site. I suspect that if you know anything about Twilight, the list is meaningful. The page took, what I thought to be, an inordinate amount of time to load. Grade: B+
5. Word Perhect – Confusing. I was asked three different questions with multiple options, none of which made sense. After I did what it asked, a word-processing template came up with my results in the text area. This might be useful to someone, somewhere. But I don’t see how. Grade: F
6. TimeTicker and the Time Tickers – This would be an awful name for a musical act, but as a web site, it’s kind of cool. It allows you to find the time anywhere in the world. I found it useful because it allowed me to finally figure out how to correctly set the time on my WordPress profile. Only problem was an annoying pop-up. Grade: A-
7. Authspot.com: Whispers Softly – A poem named “Whispers Softly” by someone calling themselves FJ McCarthy. Not a huge poetry fan, but I know a good poem when I read one. Good job, FJ. Grade: A
8. Truthdig: Drilling Beneath the Headlines – Tons of information here. I really like this site. I added it to my RSS feed. Grade: A+
9. CatStuff: Cat Facts and Trivia – A list of facts, some historical trivia and diet tips. All for cats. Dog people probably won’t like this site. Grade: B
10. Random Photograph from NationalGeographic.com – Beautiful aerial shot of Chicago at night. This happens a lot on SU. Random photography is a good way to kill time. But not very useful. Unless you’re from Chicago and want a kickass background for your laptop. Grade: C+

All of that took me about 10 minutes. What did I get out of the StumbleUpon experience? Well, I did find some useful information (see Truthdig and TimeTicker). I found some completely useless junk (see Word Perhect and Viralnerd’s Random Photo). And I found some cool stuff to read and look at (see Things People Said: Courtroom Quotations and CatStuff). 

The only negative issue I encountered during my “stumbling” was that my computer slowed down significantly while using the toolbar. Overall, though, I’m happy with how it all turned out. I’ll use it again. 

Quotation: How would you like a job where, every time you make a mistake, a big red light goes on and 18,000 people boo?Jacques Plante, former NHL goaltender

Tune: I heard “Call and Response” by Or, the Whale a short time after the Hurricane Katrina disaster. I think it’s a great thing when a song can convey how an entire group of people is feeling. Bonus: Or, the Whale looks like it rocks in concert.

Gallimaufry: Recently, Jamie Foxx slammed Miley Cyrus during his radio show after he learned that the teenage superstar said she was “going to ruin” the band Radiohead after they refused to meet with her at the Grammy’s. In an attempt to demonstrate how insignificant he thought she was, Foxx advised Cyrus, who was not present, to “make a sex tape” and “do some heroin.” Probably out of line. Last night, Foxx publicly apologized to Cyrus on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. Fair enough. Now, where’s Cyrus’ apology to Radiohead?…For all you bloggers out there wondering if frequent posting will increase your traffic, read “Blog Post Frequency Results” from Life of Justin: The Blog of a Digital NomadNewt Gingrich eyeing a possible run at the Presidency in 2012? I like it. President Obama won’t even have to campaign to get another four years. Thanks, Newt.

Incoming: TomorrowAnnoying Sayings and Misused Words. Friday3 Things To Do in Philadelphia When You’re Dead and 5 People I Wish Would Move To Another Planet. And for those of you who have been giving me One-Word Movie Title suggestions on Twitter and Facebook, fear not. Monday’s post will reveal the results of that data.

Lastly: Let’s Go Flyers!