Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Jersey Shore is the Key to National Success

My apologies for the delay in this post. Saying goodbye to Long Island friends and preparing to say hello to York ones has been pretty time consuming.

Much to update as life has been as complex as Deanna's fireplace. Other than generic relaxation sessions and the great times and memories that have resulted, two events are worth discussing a bit.

This past Saturday, Poli's Third Annual December Disorder took place. I'm aware that the event did not take place in December, but the first one did, and you don't change the name of March Madness just because the most important games occur in April. My father is kind enough to open the doors of the Suffolk gym once a year, and I take the time to make the space available to my friends to shoot around and get some burn. As I'll soon describe, burning was quite the appropriate word. We had 11 people total. A little below average, but this year the event was a bit later in the season than usual. Regardless it was still a great time. We in attendance felt quite audacious and decided to run strictly fives for the duration of the night. This was compelling and fast paced for about ten possessions, until the tolls of a long winter began to add up. Some were out of shape, some had a bunch of rust, and others, like me, had their feet give out on them.

I'm far from in great shape, don't get me wrong. But I still had plenty of gas in my tank when we decided to call it quits that night. My feet, nestled within worn shoes and pretty thin socks, were on fire within about 20 minutes and soon made it agonizing to move despite the rest of my body's ability and desire. Such an awful feeling. However, I've learned my lesson and will soon be swapping up shoes. Hopefully, we all use this as a learning experience and are ready to roll with the summertime beckons. One thing I learned for sure, Sean Taylor will be prepared to dominate with his teammates, The Four Lokos.

Went to a Scrabble tournament on Sunday. Such a great time. I went 3 and 0 in my matches and won some cool prizes as a result. I had some really talented opponents and I didn't have any monster words for once, but I was scary consistent, laying down 20-25 point words every turn. Those don't sound too impressive, but they really add up... literally. I'm honestly really proud of myself and I'm trying to take my Scrabble competing to the next level. There is a Scrabble Association of pro players and employees and stuff. It's all really legit, and appealing to me quite a bit. Who knows? It could be the next poker-type craze where something the general public never thought was all that interesting is suddenly all over the place and on ESPN. I can only guess that there is already a World Series of Scrabble. Maybe I can someone that helps Scrabble young and hip (two adjectives that describe me quite well). As you can imagine, the majority of people at the tournament were on the older side. There we like a couple of 14 year olds, a seven year old, and one girl my age (sadly in the beginners section, but I'd love to have given her some pointers) and the rest were anywhere from 40 and beyond. A great time to say the least. I'll keep you posted of related endeavors.

Advice of the Day: If you wish to emphasize what another person is saying, try repeating the main points of their speech in question form just after they finish speaking.

Example: Richard is becoming quite good at tying his shoes.
Response: Richard, tying shoes?

Thought of the Day: While not ignorant, I'm far from a politically minded person, but for better or for worse, America is not one of the most popular of nations in the world. There are plenty of countries that don't necessarily hate our nation, but definitely look down on us in certain aspects. There are plenty of reasons for this that I won't expound upon because, like I said, I'm not as knowledgeable as I could be in that regard, and wouldn't have much to back up my claims. However, with that said, I do think that one of these reasons, no matter how small, has to do with the exportation of our popular culture. While not setting the bar in most things worldwide like we used to be, I do feel that in most ways, we are still very much the entertainment capital of the world, and a lot of fads (except fashion) I think have roots in America. I'm basically referring to American movies and television. I think part of the reason countries can potentially see us idiotic has a lot to do with reality television.

Now, I actually don't have too much of an issue with reality TV. I'm guilty of a couple Survivor seasons, The Amazing Race, and a couple MTV things like the Gauntlet and True Life, when there's nothing else to do (which is not often). I was even a religious watcher of the first season of America's black eye, The Jersey Shore.

I think reality TV has its place in American culture. I think the flaw of reality TV, its participants, and the nation as consumers is the idea that these people try to stay in the limelight after their fad has passed. What I mean to say is, I despise when a newscast refers to "Nicole of Flavor of Love in the same sentence as actual talented people like Russel Crowe, or Jack White, etc. I'd much rather watch The Jersey Shore if I chose than hear about Snooki getting arrested on ABC News. Reality TV should be kept its own little bubble and never break the plain into other forms of media. I think the cycle of these people be treated like celebrities after their time on TV is the flaw in the vicious cycle of reality TV in American culture.

Back to my original point, think about the emphasis in our culture that is placed on shows like the Jersey Shore. Most people watch these types of shows not because we actually idolize these people, but we can't believe that people like that exist. Those who don't think that these people are morons, tune it to watch their antics because we're curious creatures and can't wait to see what these people will do next. Love it or hate it, these people are on TV because they ARE so different from your everyday person and their life.

However, people from other nations see that we watch this stuff, and generalize that we idolize these people and if we aren't already like them, we aspire to be. What other nations, I fear, don't realize is that we're laughing at these people right along with them. Perhaps a culture shift in what we value as entertainment can be the first step in mending some international bridges.

That's a pipe dream.

Song of the Day: Adrianne - River City Extension

Jazz Song of the Day: N'Teri - Regina Carter

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Putting A Price On Pretending

Finally making some real headway on the western play I've been writing called, "Horseplay" it has been a really positive experience. Not always easy to write within a comedic genre, as so much true comedy is based upon impulse and capturing a moment in time. Comedy is either timing, or the viewing of something supposedly set in stone in a whole new light. Great comedy is something that combines both. The development and refining of work based around that belief system has improved my writing ten-fold over the past couple of months. I've learned a lot as a writer over the course of the past few years, but the crafting of this belief system has really opened my eyes and changed the way I write forever, and I can't overstate that enough. And what's cool is that it is all still so new to me and there is still so much room to grow. Exciting times for me creatively, I can only hope the job market is as friendly come the tail end of May.

Quick little pointless story that gave me a real laugh tonight. While shooting pool with some friends, I joked about saying that [we'll call him "Hoopz" to protect his identity)'s fly was down to distract him from his shot. As it turns out his fly was actually down at the time. A fact we noticed a few seconds later.

Advice of the Day: If you're going to use a phrase like "you know where it's going" to sink a pool ball, make sure you actually sink the shot.

Thought of the Day: An interesting idea was brought to my attention tonight by my good friend, Ben Kraus. He mentioned American Literature had no voice for this generation. The following musings are a collaboration of both his and my ideas. Rather than tell you who's point was who's, I figure we'll split creative inception evenly. To aid cohesion, I'll just toss the ideas together.

So much of what makes art and an artist great is often discovered in hindsight (with, I think, a sizable yet not blanket exception of music). Think of true pioneers such as Whitman (no pun intended), R.W. Emerson, Hemingway, Kerouac, Updike, etc. aka the guys we still read today because they, quite simply, had something important to say and knew what they were talking about. Some are more famous now than they were while they were alive. I do believe that there is such passionate and influential writing to be found within my generation, but there are many factors that in a way prevent these writers from being discovered and given the podium they need to change the world.

1. Publication is a big business at this point. Not very much "this is strange and different, but potentially profound," it's more, "this can make money, and if it can't we cut it." The overwhelming majority of books published today are non-fiction i.e. self help books, text books, etc. I'm not bombing on these books, but fiction kind of gets lost in the shuffle. What mainstream fiction we do find is very much popular lit. like James Patterson and the infamous Twilight saga. I'm not bombing on those books either. That fluff entertains millions and provides them the service of entertainment that I as an unemployed writer can only hope to achieve half of. The point is that poignant literature isn't even given half a chance.

2. The blame can lie, in part, with the consumer. We are, after all, the ones who purchase these books and go see the resultant movies at twelve midnight in costume. (By the way, Scream 4 comes out on April 15.) We don't seek guidance from an author, we look to television and the internet. When we are asked to read a book in high school, the first thing we do is see if they made a movie out of it and rent that if we even bother to go that far. We text and email as opposed to letter writing, and creative writing beyond school assignments has become the exception rather than the rule. It's the state of our world, sadly enough.

3. With that said, I know that profound fiction is present in America. I feel it's pulse each day in my classes at York College. I can only speculate that the same can be said for institutions of higher learning all over the world. The question is, will we as a nation be alert and open-minded enough to embrace these voices when the emerge?

Song of the Day: I Want You (She's So Heavy) - The Beatles
Jazz Song of the Day: Vicissitudes - Dave Holland Quintet

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

That Burning Sensation Is Normal

As a thank you for getting up early and shoveling snow for my father, he was kind enough to offer to take the family out to dinner. We ate our meal and my sister was pretty excited about trying some fondue. After our rather large meal, we didn't have much room for dessert. Noelle asked if we could take home the fondue; a practice that was, apparently, quite taboo.

Bringing home the actual dipping food seemed easy enough. However, then there was the matter of bringing home the chocolate, which presided majestically over the scorching blue flame of the sterno (spelling?) beneath the scalding hot pot.

Each of us tried in vain to lift up the hot pot and pour it into the take-out soup canisters that our waiter was kind enough to provide us with. Fearing for the safety of our respective digits, we had all but given up on the transportation of our sweet treat.

Just when it seemed all hope was lost, our aforementioned waiter swooped in and, unprovoked, proceeded to lift the pot from it's holder and pour its contents into the container. The table was in awe and my mother ventured to ask how he was holding the pot without being burned. He answered: "Oh, it is ma'am it is hot and burns quite a bit." He then sat the pot down gently went off to, hopefully, ice his hands thoroughly.

Everyone at the table was left in a relative stupor, with the exception of Noelle, who laughed heartily at the incident. A sincere tip of my hat to that waiter who proved in this instance to be a better man than me and certainly worthy of his tip.

Advice of the Day: When taking the time to step out of the way of an approaching snow plow, make sure another one is not approaching you from the opposite direction as your back is turned.

Thought of the Day: I had said previously that I would not make this blog about basketball. However, I'll make a small exception in this case being that the incident occurred off of the hardwood. LeBron James has done his best to make sure the world continues to see him in a negative light. This explains what I'm referring to. I'm going to keep this much briefer than I could. If you want me to expound on it, let me know, but I think the story speaks for itself.

1. Posting the tweet even though it wasn't an original thought is just like posting an original thought. As he himself said, it reflected the way he felt at that particular time. As juvenile as that post was (although, the jury is still out as to whether or not God hates Cleveland) I would respect it a whole lot more if he admitted to having those feelings. How on earth does that post "not refer to [the Cavs]? If you want to be a tough guy off the court, own up for your statements and actions. It's not enough to let your game do the talking if you are the one perpetuating drama off the court.

2. I hate how even his apologies are backhanded cheap shots. "I bet they wish that they played better." This reeks of his shots at Joakim Noah last year after dance-gate. Immature, to put it very nicely.

3. The Heat lost to the Clippers tonight, who've won 8 of their last 11. Please note that LeBron did hurt his ankle in the third, and I do hope he's okay. Although, he's not too bright and can be kind of an idiot, I do hope that I speak for most of America when I say I wish not real harm to him our his family. I merely root with all my heart that he never gets a ring. That is the right of every basketball fan.

4. If karma is indeed a bitch, then I would prepare for another exit in the Eastern Conference Finals, Mr. James. Not because you left Cleveland, you had every right to do that. No man can tell you what is best for you and your family and your pursuit of a ring. The decision was a mistake and you should have told the organization in advance that you were planning to leave for sandier pastures (oxymoron and I love it), but that has been beaten to death. I think this issue most of America has for LeBron is that he is very immature in that when he went to Miami, King James left his throne and joined his court (loving this wordplay). However, his mindset, attitude and actions still reflect a King James aura that no longer is endearing in the least. His laid back dance it up and have fun persona is no longer playful, i.e. Dwight Howard, but petulant and annoying. Even his coach has publicly said he "can't tell when [LeBron] is serious."

In short, Lebron's journey to Miami was a way of saying I am no king and I can't do it alone. His mind has yet to follow his body, as his continued displays of immaturity illustrate. I would like nothing more than to let LeBron fit in with the rest of the league and become a part of a team larger than himself. But it appears LeBron with his commercials and antics doesn't quite want to see that happen as much as he'd like you to believe.

5. The media is equally to blame. For example, I actually take LeBron's side in regards to his comments about league contraction being blown way out of proportion. He's not a villain, just kind a fool who happens to be really good at basketball.

6. MJ, Kobe, and everyone else worth mentioning as an all-time great (with the exception of maybe Rodzilla or Shaq) wouldn't have said a word about any of this. Shut up and play the game, and dance when it's over.

Song of the Day: Casimir Pulaski Day - Sufjan Stevens
Jazz Song of the Day: Jelly Roll - Charles Mingus

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

What Is It About Me That Really Reminds You Of Money?

Deflating news today as word has it that the government is seeking to cut funding to public broadcast radio. As a writing major, I can relate to mediums of communication struggling to stay relevant to society, but I can't let intelligent and meaningful radio fall into the same ominous abyss. As an active member of York College's WVYC radio station with two shows of my own, I am truly disappointed in this news.

Public broadcasting provides an outlet of all kinds for creative and informative programing. In this way, public broadcasting generates an equally important connection to the listening audience. Although I feel more of a personal connection with radio, the same positive sentiments can be attributed to public television as well. Public broadcasting is local and, consequently, impacts and refers directly to the events, concerns, and overall culture (I term I admit to using pretty loosely in this instance, but you get the idea) of an area.

In short, public broadcasting is one of the few remaining ways for the American everyman to make their voice heard in America today and is the very pulse of rural and impoverished areas of America. I admit to being a little dramatic in this final statement, but the removal of public broadcasting is similar to removing the voice box of middle-class America.

A campaign I caught wind of thanks to a dear friend, Kev. Among the many things worth fighting for in America, let's ensure that our voice is one of them.

Advice of the Day: "That's why when you rebound, you never bring the ball near your face." Walt Frazier

Thought of the Day: It's a magical feeling when you find yourself with exact change. It pleases everyone involved in the transaction. It lightens the load of both the cashier and the consumer. Quite simply, it is the definition of poetry in motion. However, don't be over-eager to achieve this all the time, it is not the kind of thing that can be forced. For as far out as having exact change can be, it can be equally annoying to patrons on line behind you as you fiddle about with your change counting in a hurried manner before you screw up and have to start again. This leads to eye rolls and sighs of disgust by those around you and can easily turn one of the highlights of your day into the thorn in the side of your month. (Case and point, Alex Wong in Penn Station.) Let these moments happen naturally and cherish them when they occur. Your patience will be rewarded with a more gratifying feeling of achievement when the time comes.

Song of the Day: I Know What I Know - Paul Simon
Jazz Song of the Day: Real Life Hits - Carla Bley

Monday, January 10, 2011

Do they wear headphones on Sesame Street?

I'm coming off some fiction work involving Disney Princesses and the muppets of Sesame Street. That's all well and good, but I feel as though I've been changed forever by the experience. As you can imagine, I did quite a bit of research on both subject matters as a part of my writing process. As a result I kind of got in touch with my inner child again, and the results are evident as I've recently picked up some Sesame related t-shirts and whatnot. The reason I bring this up is that today I was checking out some birthday cards with my sister and saw a children's birthday card with Count Von Count on it. I was pretty pumped to see one of the more unsung muppets getting a chunk of the limelight with Elmo and before I knew what I was doing, I borderline shouted, "Ah, Count Von Count, awesome!" I then darted to the other side of the aisle and picked up the card. I then notice two middle-aged women giving an understandably perplexed to the 21-year old who was so giddy about a Muppet sighting. I was pretty embarrassed and can only hope that this is just a phase.

Cheers to ABC News for taking the time to point out the absurdity of the wardrobe of Walt "Clyde" Frazier tonight to close out their broadcast. They noted a boisterous camouflage suit, and an even louder synthetic leopard suit worn under the bright lights of L.A.'s Staples Center yesterday. There are some things that words don't describe. Clyde's epic threads fall into the category.

Advice of the Day: When purchasing colored headphones, choose a color that will match the majority of the clothes you wear.

Thought of the Day: The snow sucks at this point. I think the only thing that would make snow worthwhile is if it fell in different colors. If it snows green tomorrow, I'll be pretty intrigued. If it snows blue next week, I'd be pretty stoked. Then we could dress ourselves (including our headphones) to match the color of that particular snowfall. Admit it, as ridiculous as that is, it'd be pretty darn cool. Dare I say, below freezing? Just think of how the multi-colored ketchup revitalized the perception of condiments in America. I think I'm onto something.

Song of the Day: Woodstock - CSNY
Jazz Song of the Day: Hijacked - John McLaughlin Trio

Sunday, January 9, 2011

The Perils of Fred Durst and Your Mattress

Special birthday wishes to one of my favorite musicians, Dave Matthews. Ever-inspiring I wish you many more enriching years to you. DMB taking a well deserved break in 2011, I don't doubt that they'll come back stronger than ever in 2012. Maybe they use this respite to collect themselves and expand the boundaries of they're creativity. On the plus side, maybe Jeff will tour with the Flecktones, assuming Bela is through hyping "The Music of Rhythm". (Great Record)

Very quick mention of how well the Lake show played against the New York Chandlers, I mean, Knicks. Bynum was a force before he was tossed. No team passes better in the paint. Lamar Odom helping me cruise to a 9-1 record this season. (I made draft and depth charts.) I don't want to make this blog about ball, although it easily could be. I'm pretty much going to leave technical ball talk of of the blog, unless someone wants me to discuss something in a separate post (which I'd be happy to do).

Lots of new jazz stroking my ears lately. Some legends that are new to me, Freddie Hubbard and Albert Ayler. Some other musicians that I'm feeling are Anat Foot, Redrush Mahanthappa, Fred Hersch, Eric Dolphy, Ray Brown, Cecil Taylor, Carla Bley, and jazz's anointed one, Jason Moran living up to the hype among a few others. Thinking about starting a jazz sharing circle among some friends so that we can share new sounds with each other and share opinions and whatnot. Coltrane would call it a community of faith, and I can't say I disagree too much.

On a similar note, The Bad Plus and Geri Allen recently out with new albums I can't wait to take in. I suggest you do the same.

Advice of the Day: Playing the greatest hits of Limp Bizkit in a crowded billiard hall will likely not be as well received today as it would in your late 90's middle school homeroom. So what if I where my red Yankee hat backwards?

Thought of the Day: Caught one of those Teprupedic (spelling?) commercials on the TV today. Seems like a great product and all, but I was getting a little laugh about the way they were knocking regular beds. Something like...

"For hundreds of years, people have been sleeping at night (which makes me wonder where they nap) on hard steel rods and springs, uneven matting, live grenades, hornets' nests etc. (I exaggerate the last couple.)

They forgot to mention the soft feathery support that goes between you and those metal springs. Of course, the entire time, their showing people acting like they're in agonizing pain, but honestly their "model bed" looked like it could be used for Mortal Kombat-esque fatalities, so I don't blame them. Ah, the magic of advertising.... Finish Him!

Sleep well, my friends. Enjoy your spontaneous pillow fights with friends while wine glasses rest undisturbed on your Temprupedic.

Song of the Day: How To Fight Loneliness - Wilco

Jazz Song of the Day: Angels - Geri Allen

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Joyous Return

Here I sit after a sojourn into enjoyable entropy.

I do hope my rather underwhelming return finds all enjoying what life offers.

This post is a first attempt at reshaping what was previously a strictly academic blog. From here on, this blog will serve as a documentation of what it is to be me. Thoughts, writings, journal entries etc. With that said, here it goes.

My thoughts and deepest emotions go out to Arizona tonight. An absolutely terrible tragedy taking place, 19 were wounded, 6 dead, among the critically injured, Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. Such a shame to live in a world where such hate is not only possible, but present. I'm not going to get preachy, I hope for healing of all involved and their families. Politics is politics, but people are people.

Not to be a sudden cynic, but I was rather annoyed that Fox News kept on repeating the sentiments of former Alaskan Senator Sarah Palin over the little scrolly-thing at the bottom of the screen. Sarah Palin was (naturally) appalled and deeply saddened and I certainly respect and share her feelings, but her opinion in the matter was about as irrelevant as Billy Joel's (guess who's on my ipod right now) or Chevy Chase's. Fox had the decency to share Palin's thoughts repeatedly, which I was very grateful for, as I wouldn't know how to react to the tragedy were she not to weigh in so emphatically and incessantly.

No disrespect to Mrs. Palin intended, and I'm certainly not one to define myself by a political party, just a little jab at Fox News.

Let's "move forward."

A word of advice: When watching sports competitions, always save some of your snack for after halftime.

Thought of the Day: Saturn is kind of the goody-goody of the planets. One of the larger planets (I believe second to Jupiter) trying to prove its worth by having its rings made of various rock and ice chunks hangin' out for everybody to see, boasting about its sixty moons and moonlets. Who the heck is Saturn trying to impress? Neptune, Uranus, and Jupiter all have rings, but you don't see them being all hoity-toity about it. Clearly, Saturn is compensating for something. Furthermore, it wouldn't surprise me if Saturn began the campaign to remove Pluto from the planet list. My guess is Saturn is trying to pick off all the planets one by one until it is the only planet left. If intelligent life does exist on Saturn, they're probably a bunch of snobbish assholes that none of use would want to get to know anyway. You can keep your advancements in medicine and technology, Saturn, I'd rather have my self-respect.

Song of the Day: Loving Wings - Dave Matthews Band

Jazz Song of the Day: The Good America- Keith Jarrett