12.14.09 – A Monday

Last Friday night, my Uncle Joe died unexpectedly. He was probably the most affable and good-natured guy you’d have the good fortune to come across. Of my five brothers and sisters, I was probably the least close to Joe, and I’m pretty sure I was the only one who’d never gone to visit him at his home in Maryland. And I’m equally sure I’ll regret that for the rest of my life. Just kind of figured he’d be around to hang out with. Life is ruthlessly unpredictable, folks. Get out there and grab what you can from it. 

This post is dedicated to Uncle Joe. 

WORD

nonpareil [non-puhrel] adj. 1. having no equal; peerless n. 2. a person or thing having no equal 3. a small pellet of colored sugar for decorating candy, cake, and cookies 4. a flat, round, bite-sized piece of chocolate covered with this sugar

BIRTHDAY

Nostradamus (1503), Spike Jones (1911), Lee Remick (1935), Patty Duke (1946), Michael Ovitz (1946), Beth Orton (1970)

STANDPOINT

Last week I commented on Allen Iverson’s return to the Philadelphia 76ers.

For the record, I like Allen Iverson. I always have. Even when, in 2002, he threw his naked wife out of their house in Gladwyne, where I grew up. Lots and lots of things happened as a result of A.I.’s actions, including causing me to be over two hours late for some family function due to the fact every TV news van in the country was trying to get into probably the least traffic-friendly town you can imagine.  

In any case, the return of Allen Iverson has left me with mixed emotions. I’m glad he’s back, but as I stated last week, I’m curious as to why everyone else is.

Philadelphia has a history of taking young, talented athletes and making them regret they ever played their respective sport. The Philadelphia PhilliesMike Schmidt was deemed the best third baseman in history. Eric Lindros had a career for the Philadelphia Flyers that placed him, for much of it, in the same company as Gordie Howe, Mario Lemieux and Wayne Gretzky. On any other team in the NFL, Philadelphia Eagles‘ quarterback Donovan McNabb would be credited for being one of the best at his position in the past decade. Allen Iverson, in his first stint with the 76ers, was a diminutive individual, usually scoring more than double the points of the giants he played against.

And where did it get them? Schmidt retired as a Phillie but left here so damaged it took him almost a decade to return to the fans who booed much harder when he didn’t get the job done as they cheered when he did. Lindros’ story is much more complicated but, even with all the drama and concussions, he’s still a fringe candidate for the debate of who’s the best player in NHL history, even Bobby Clarke thinks so. McNabb still manages to come to work every Sunday and play for a bunch of worthless fans who’ve forgotten the likes of Bobby Hoying, Bubby Brister and Rodney Peete. And Iverson was one of the best in the NBA, while playing for a team that seemed content to let him try to win a championship all by himself.

Which begs the question, why would anyone come play in Philadelphia, a city where even those days when probably capable of better, and those days when you don’t live up to expectations there’s a million people leading the charge for your head? Don’t believe me? This past Phillies-Yankees World Series, I forget which game it was. I was at a bar and Phillies’ slugger Ryan Howard was striking out. A lot. And one of the morons sitting around me said, “Man, would you look at this fuckin’ bum on the goddamn television?” Yeah, genius, I was looking at the TV. At Ryan Howard. A guy who’s managed to hit 220 homers and knock in 635 runs in just five seasons. But Howard, and the rest of the Phillies, didn’t win this past World Series like they did the year before. And so, for that, Howard’s a bum. Just like every other professional athlete in Philadelphia sports’ history who didn’t give their fans the misplaced, instant gratification for which they feel erroneously entitled.

QUOTATION

 This and nothing else is the desperately sought and tragically fragile writer’s process: in his imagination, he sees made-up people doing things–sees clearly–and in the act of wondering what they will do next, he sees what they will do next, and all this he writes down in the best, most accurate words he can find, understanding even as he writes that he may have to find better words later, and that a change in the words may mean a sharpening or deepening of the vision, the fictive dream or vision becoming more and more lucid, until reality, by comparison, seems cold, tedious, and dead.John Gardner

TUNE

I normally have something poignant to say about the song I’m sharing with you. But today I don’t. Listen to “HEERS” by Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin. It’s good. And that’s that.

GALLIMAUFRY

→ Listen up, country! The people of Houston get it. So why can’t the rest of you clowns fall in line? Annise Parker will become the city’s first openly gay mayor, making Houston the biggest city ever to do so. Is it safe to say it’s pretty fucked up when Texans are breaking new ground?

Tiger Woods, most likely after reading my post last Friday, has announced, “After much soul searching, I have decided to take an indefinite break from professional golf.” In what many are considering the understatement of a lifetime, Woods furthered with, “I need to focus my attention on being a better husband, father, and person.” You think?

→ OK. Let me get this straight. Donte Stallworth drunkenly drives over, and kills, a guy a few months back and gets 30 fucking days in jail. Meanwhile, New Jersey resident John Wilson is facing up to 20 years for growing 17 marijuana plants for his own personal use to treat his multiple sclerosis. I don’t drink and drive because I’m hesitant to put my life and the lives of others in jeopardy. I do, however, occassionally smoke pot in the privacy of my own home which, until now, seemed relatively innocuous. I guess I had it all backwards and turned upside-down. How naive of me.

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04.14.09 – Tuesday

[Note: Today’s post is a little longer than usual due to the passing of Philadelphia’s legendary broadcaster, Harry Kalas – a man who will forever be remembered as “The Voice of the Philadelphia Phillies.”]

Word: sycophant [sikuh-fuhnt, – fant, sahy-kuh-] n. a self-seeking, servile flatterer; fawning parasite

Birthday: Shorty Rogers (1924), Rod Steiger (1925), Loretta Lynn (1935), Pete Rose (1941), Richard Jeni (1957), Brad Garrett (1960), Robert Carlyle (1961), Anthony Michael Hall (1968), Adrien Brody (1973), Sarah Michelle Gellar (1977), Win Butler (1980)

Occurence: 1865Abraham Lincoln is shot from behind by in Ford’s Theatre by John Wilkes Booth.

Standpoint: I remember one afternoon in college. My buddy Joe Taylor and I were watching NFL Films. I mentioned that the narrator’s voice sounded kind of familiar. Joe sat up from the couch. “You don’t know who that is?” I told my friend I didn’t. “It’s Harry Kalas! The guy who calls Phillies games with Richie Ashburn!  Are you shitting me?”I wasn’t “shitting” him. I just wasn’t an avid Phillies fan. At that point, I saw no reason to stir Joe up any further by explaining to him I didn’t know who Richie Ashburn was.

Harry Kalas died yesterday at the age of 73 while preparing to call a Phillies-Nationals game in Washington D.C. Before that afternoon with Joe, I did know who he was. It didn’t matter that I wasn’t a baseball fan. Growing up in Philadelphia, it was nearly impossible to not know the man who could’ve patented the phrase, “It’s outta here!”  After college, I eventually did get into baseball and came to share the common reverence held for “The Voice of the Philadelphia Phillies.” He was one of those rare announcers whose love for the game and his team oozed out into the living rooms of all watching. His soothing voice could go from completely relaxed to incredibly excited with the swing of a bat.

The game of baseball lost a true living legend yesterday. The one silver lining being repeated everywhere was that at least Kalas lived long enough to see one more Phillies World Championship last October. I was actually outside Citizens Bank Park when it happened and heard Kalas call it live when Brad Lidge got that third out. Simultaneously, I heard the roar from the crowd in the stadium. My friends out in the parking lot, looked toward the ballpark and lamented the fact that we weren’t inside to experience the ensuing euphoria. I thought to myself that I wouldn’t have changed a thing. I got to hear the best broadcaster in baseball history call the final out of the World Series. It was the people inside who missed out.

Further Reading.

Quotation: Duct tape is like the force. It has a light side, a dark side and it holds the universe together. Carl Zwanzig

Tune: I first heard this song back on MTV’s 120 Minutes. (Remember when MTV played good songs?) “Mr E.’s Beautiful Blues” immediately made me buy everything I could by Eels.

Gallimaufry: Amazon.com is under fire for their new “adult” policy. The online bookstore has being accused of removing only “adult” literature dealing with homosexuality. (Amazon is claiming a glitch on the site.) Click here to learn more and sign the petition. (Thanks to Beth Treisner)…I suspect that “Facebook Users Get Worse Grades in College” is the first of many articles I’ll read in the next year about the negative effects of the popular social networking site…Al Franken is still not a United States Senator but it appears to be a matter of time until he is. Hey, Minnesota, let the guy in already. Jesse “The Body” Ventura used to be your governor. I mean, seriously.

Incoming: Tomorrow – What’s StumbleUpon?  Thursday – More of your Annoying Sayings/Misused Words (This is now going to be a permanent Thursday thing.) Friday3 Things To Do In Philly When You’re Dead and 5 People I Wish Would Move to Another Planet.

04.06.09 – Monday

Word: antediluvian [an-tee-di-loo-vee-uhn] adj. 1. of or belonging to the period before The Flood, Gen. 7.8 2. very old, old-fashioned or out of date; antiquated; primitive: antediluvian ideas

 

Birthday: Raphael (1483), Jean-Baptiste Rousseau (1671), Pasquale Paoli (1725), Merle Haggard (1937), Billy Dee Williams (1937), Barry Levinson (1942), John Ratzenberger (1947), Marilu Henner (1952), Michael Rooker (1957), Frank Black (1965), Sterling Sharpe (1965), Paul Rudd (1969), Zach Braff (1975), Candace Cameron (1976)

 

Occurrence: 1973 – The American League of Major League Baseball initiates the Designated Hitter rule.

 

Standpoint: Last fall, the Philadelphia Phillies won The World Series and the entire city let out a collective, “Finally!” There were peaceful impromptu parades down Broad Street. Across the City of Brotherly Love, people who ordinarily wouldn’t talk to each other were embracing like long-lost brothers. Even I broke my “no high-five” rule and slapped hands with countless strangers. Then the official parade and the ensuing ceremony at Citizens Bank Park where Chase Utley declared his team, “World Fuckin’ Champions.” Few cared that the second basemen cursed in front of millions of children. After all, he was just speaking the truth. Hope blanketed the city. Could the Eagles build off the momentum and win The Super Bowl? Turns out they couldn’t. The Sixers? Gonna make the NBA playoffs but expectations are realistically low. The Flyers? One of the most promising young hockey teams in NHL but hardly anyone cares. So, who’s next? It’s all back on the Phillies, of course. Last night, they opened the MLB season with a home game against the Atlanta Braves who hit three home runs in the first two innings, coasting to a relatively easy 4-1 win. It left me wondering about what will happen if the Phillies start out flat. Will the good tidings and cautious optimism carry over from last year? Will the city cheer its team on, knowing it has the talent to take it all? Or will we throw up our hands, concoct a new curse and stop talking to each other again? Only time will tell.

 

QuotationCats are intended to teach us that not in everything in nature has a purpose. – Garrison Keillor

 

Tune: Finally, a successful Philadelphia band that hasn’t moved to Brooklyn. Dr. Dog is getting bigger by the day. Here’s “My Old Ways”.

 

Link: Chuck Norris Facts – A list of “facts” about Chuck Norris. Some of them are extremely funny.

 

Gallimaufry: If you thought dot-matrix printers and Zip drives were gone for good, think again. Those are just two of the items discussed in Harry McCracken’s “Where Are They Now? 25 Computer Products That Refuse To Die”…Looks like The Stone Roses won’t be reuniting for this summer’s Coachella. Bummer…After watching the Philadelphia Flyers’ shootout loss to the Ottawa Senators on Saturday night, I decided something: Claude Giroux is the real deal. His shootout move – while unsuccessful – was pretty frickin’ nasty.

 

Incoming: Tomorrow – What the hell is up with all the gun violence over the weekend? Wednesday – Update on your Annoying Sayings suggestions. Stay tuned.