Friday, June 23, 2017

Word of the Day: Meretricious

The Word of the Day is:

Meretricious

adjective  mer·e·tri·cious \ˌmer-ə-ˈtri-shəs\

The definition of today's word is:

  1. 1:  of or relating to a prostitute :  having the nature of prostitution meretricious relationships
  2. 2a :  tawdrily and falsely attractivethe paradise they found was a piece of meretricious trash — Carolyn Seeb :  superficially (see superficial 2) significant :  pretentiousscholarly names to provide fig-leaves of respectability for meretricious but stylish books — The Times Literary Supplement (London)


And the reason we looked this word up today is:

The Mom Who Hosted Naked Twister Also Allegedly Took A ‘Multi-Party’ Bubble Bath With Teens



What is this WORLD coming to?




Thursday, June 15, 2017

A Week in the Life of Deve

I'm working on a personal philosophy of life. The book is tentatively titled, The Tao of Deve. This is obviously a riff on the movie titled The Tao of Steve, with the name modified to a nickname I sometimes use.

That being said, this past seven days has been rather, um, "interesting." Pull up a stool, sit a spell, and hear tell about A Week in the Life of Deve. Have you ever had a week like this?

  • Last Thursday, a person I did not know committed suicide in the parking garage under the building in which I work. Crime scene tape went up, and we are all left wondering what happened to this poor soul to cause this irreversible outcome?
  • Friday, while riding home from work on my motorcycle, I came upon a fatal accident involving a fellow motorcyclist and a truck. The collision had occurred moments before I arrived at the intersection between Richmond Highway and the street that goes to my house. The biker was traveling at a high rate of speed and the impact with the turning truck was so violent as to require life-flights for the driver and the two passengers... of the truck. Let's just say out of respect for the dead that life-flight was not required for the biker, who obviously died on impact. More crime scene tape, and hundreds of stunned neighbors. Saturday, Sunday, and Monday, at the fateful intersection, family and friends held nightly vigils for the motorcyclist.
  • Wednesday morning, a gunman started shooting at people practicing for the Congressional baseball game. This national news occurred minutes after I rode my motorcycle right by the Alexandria park on my way to the office. The camera crews were still there at noon when I went home for lunch. Five people were injured and the gunman, who shot some 50 rounds from his rifle before Park Police and Special Agents protecting Congress-persons stopped him, is dead. More crime scene tape. More questions.
  • Wednesday, continued. While driving my daughter to pick up her car over our lunch break, we witnessed a driver in the lane to our left swerve to his right, over-correct to the left, lose control of his car, and sideswipe the Jersey barrier separating inner and outer loop of Beltway traffic. His side airbag deployed and we watched him safely slow his vehicle to a stop in the breakdown lane. Thankfully, no other vehicles were involved. What-if questions abound. What if he had completely lost control? What if there had been no Jersey barrier and the driver went head-on into opposing traffic? What if he were injured by the impact with the barrier--would we have be competent to render aid? What if there had been more traffic--and more cars involved in a pile-up? Lastly and most hauntingly--what if he had careened into our car?

I share these four vignettes to express my grateful heart and to encourage others to find things to be grateful for amidst the occasionally terrifying events around us. Yes, sometimes we must look a little harder to find the good, but it is always possible and always worth the effort.

Life is stochastic. I personally believe in something I call God-authored randomness. In other words, the Universe is intentionally and deliberately uncertain--by design. I don't believe that there is no plan. Rather, I believe that the plan is to allow random forces to work. If nothing else, this keeps us on our toes. But it also explains why good things happen to bad people.

The effect on me of being in close proximity to any one of these four recent events? I feel lucky. Nothing more. I do not feel protected by the hand of God, though I appeal to God for protection and believe that such appeals have a positive effect. I am only vaguely aware of how often I've dodged bullets like these. I am grateful to be alive in terrifyingly interesting times.

The effect of all four of these events in a week? I take a step back. I get a bit philosophical. I realize I must pay attention to my surroundings. I vow to never take a single day for granted. We should all consider that fate is fickle. Life is good, even when it seems chaotic, unfair, or tragic.

Speaking of chaotic, I had a friend ask me if my concept of God-authored randomness wasn't just a new name for Chaos Theory. Not really, not in my humble opinion anyway. Chaos theory states that underlying the apparent chaos is an unseen order. The oft-cited example is the butterfly flapping its wings in Brazil and causing a a tornado in Texas--"causing" being the key word. Chaos theory depends on the inter-connected-ness of all things. Unbroken chains of events only appear to be chaotic but are actually predictable.

Perhaps God is the Master Watch Maker and the Universe is an inconceivably complex watch, as Chaos Theory implies. But it is simpler and saner (IMHO) to imagine God as an all-powerful but somewhat laissez faire Creator who unleashed the life force and who delights in all its many manifestations as it struggles, adapts, and overcomes all obstacles in seeking its Source. The God-authored randomness theory states that life happens according to the biological imperative (which could be seen as a Divine charter) and the circumstances of daily living are completely random--no underlying order can or should be inferred.

Believe it or not: we are where we're meant to be. Some of us are more successful, some less so. Every moment is a gift. The wind is at our backs. The sun is in our faces. Rain falls gently on our fields. Storms do come and go--some wreaking devastation and leaving destruction in their wake. That's part of the deal. None of us knows what will happen tomorrow, but we can all know that, come what may, life is good. Bad things happen to good people, yet we must strive to be good, just, and compassionate. I am happy, and grateful to be alive.

It's been a rather interesting week in the Life of Deve.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Why Genius Takes Time: Elvis Costello and Leonard Cohen

This post should be entitled, PhilosFX on Open Culture's Article about Malcolm Gladwell's Revisionist History Podcast on Why Genius Takes Time: A Look at the Making of Elvis Costello’s “Deportee” & Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah.” Because, truth in lending, that is what you are really getting here today.





Things I like: podcasts, Malcolm Gladwell, genius, Elvis Costello, Leonard Cohen, Cohen’s song, “Hallelujah,” and writing about all of that on PhilosFX. If today's post strikes some as a bit derivative, so be it. That is a Venn diagram I can really get into! 

Malcolm Gladwell has an new podcast, called Revisionist History. Gladwell recently aired a podcast about the genius of Elvis Costello and Leonard Cohen. Here is a link to a recent episode of unsurpassing interest. The show is 39 minutes in duration, and highly recommended.

Teaser: 

How does genius emerge? An exploration of different types of innovation—through the lens of Elvis Costello’s extraordinary song “Deportee,” once utterly forgettable and then, through time and iteration, a work of beauty and genius. 
Check it out! To learn more about the topics covered in this episode, visit www.RevisionistHistory.com and search for Episode 7, Hallelujah.
When I searched for this podcast, I first landed on this Open Culture story about the podcast (derivative, right?).

One quibble: Gladwell selects John Cale's cover of Hallelujah as his favorite. While there can be no accounting on matters of taste, I respectfully disagree with Malcolm on this point. For reference, I have opined upon this question in a previous post.


Sharing is caring. Here is a bit more info about Open Culture

Open Culture editor Dan Colman scours the web for the best educational media. He finds the free courses and audio books you need, the language lessons & movies you want, and plenty of enlightenment in-between.

And now in conclusion, a bit more about Revisionist History

If you're looking to go deeper into the subjects on Revisionist History, visit Malcolm's collection on iBooks at http://www.apple.co/MalcolmGladwell -- iBooks will update the page every week with new recommendations. 

I love sharing things I love. Today, here on PhilosFX, we are all about Elvis Costello, Leonard Cohen, song-writing genius, creativity over time, and revisionist history through the mind of Malcom Gladwell. Enjoy!



Thursday, May 4, 2017

"Seven Day Weekend"

I rode CERUS[1] to Annapolis to take in the spring sailboat show, along with other things[2]. For reasons which are about to be revealed, I am grateful that I happened to wear a certain concert t-shirt for the day.


Sporting an Elvis Costello Concert T 

I found a convenient parking spot for my Harley and stripped off the outer layer of riding gear to reveal an inner layer: sandals, shorts, and a glorious Elvis Costello concert t-shirt--perfect attire for hanging out on the dock and checking out the sailboats! I was pleasantly surprised at the number of conversations sparked by that t-shirt. It seems I am not the only Elvis Costello fan who also loves sailing!  


This sleek catamaran is owned by a fellow Elvis Costello fan. 

In fact, I was strolling along the dock, about to leave, actually, when a sweet British lass spotted my shirt, commended me for my obvious good taste (ahem!), and, with the promise of a special surprise, lured me aboard a 38' Seawind catamaran. Like a sailor from Homer's Odyssey, I followed

Turns out my siren was a member of the Seawind staff [3]. Coincidentally, she and Elvis Costello are related--in that they both attended the same secondary school: Archbishop Myers Roman Catholic School, which is now St Mark's Catholic Secondary School. Will wonders never cease?

(I suppose most PhilosFX readers can name the most famous person who graduated from their high school. Remind me some day to remind you that I attended the same high school as did the one and only King of Late Night, Johnny Carson.)

Turns out, this was just the beginning of the coincidences in store for me on this day... Following closely behind my siren-guide, I paused at the hostess station and removed my sandals as the hostess beckoned me to sign the guest book prior to boarding the vessel. Lo and behold, the hostess also commented on my shirt, and I began to get excited.

Again under the spell of my siren-guide, I was escorted to the salon and the first of many surprises. Imagine a living room with a wrap-around sectional couch. Now picture the couch lined with comfy pillows. Now flip the pillows around and notice that they spell out a familiar sounding lyric:

"I can't wait until I maybe 
Get off work and see my baby
One, two, three, four, five, 
six, seven day weekend!"

Soon I met a gentleman named Bob, the owner of "Seven Day Weekend." We talked about our common interests, including sleek, super-fast catamarans and prolific, living-legend musical geniuses. We hit it off from jump.




Soon, Bob told me the story of how he came up with the name for his boat. He was playing some Elvis Costello, as he often does--Blood and Chocolate, as it happens--when suddenly a catchy tune caught his attention. The words jumped out at him: seven day weekend. Perfect! And I couldn't agree more.

Enjoy listening to "Seven Day Weekend," the 30-year old Elvis Costello song that inspired the christening of this sleek catamaran.



"Seven Day Weekend"
Written and performed by Elvis Costello and Jimmy Cliff
Available on Blood and Chocolate, 1986


Notes:
[1] CERUS is the name of a mythical warhorse, and my 2008 Harley-Davidson Road King
[2] I also met some friends at Chick & Ruth's Delly for a delicious brunch featuring--what else?--crab omelettes! When in Annapolis...
[3] Here is a link with more information about the Seawind catamaran "Seven Day Weekend"

H/T to MGBW for the ticket to the Annapolis Spring Sailboat Show

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Ode to a Catalina 385

Catalina
Sung to the tune of "Wild Thing"
by The Troggs


Catalina,
You make my heart sing-a



You make everything
G-r-o-o-o-o-v-y! 



Catalina,
I think I love you...
 


But I wanna know for sure!


So c'mon and hold me tight
I   L-O-V-E  you



 Catalina
You make my heart sing-a



You make everything
G-r-o-o-o-o-v-y!



Catalina, 
I think you move me


But I wanna know for sure!



So c'mon and hold me tight
You   M-O-V-E   me


Catalina
You make my heart sing-a



You make everything
G-r-o-o-o-o-v-y!



 

C'mon, c'mon, Catalina



Shake it, shake it, Catalina





Monday, April 24, 2017

'Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance' Author Robert M. Pirsig Dies at 88

Author Robert Pirsig and his son Chris in 1968.


I am saddened to learn about the passing today of Robert Pirsig, author of one of my all-time favorite books. I read it first when I was a teen, and my idea of a cross-country trip on 2 wheels was #RAGBRAI.

Many years later, I re-read the same dog-eared copy as a 50-year-old cancer patient with a broken marriage, an unfinished dissertation, and a glorious #Road_King.


Reading a book the second time can be an amazing experience, particularly if the intervening years had some character-building experiences...

In my youth, I latched on to the lighter part of #ZAMM which deals with adventure--the open road, and a mechanic's appreciation for the well-engineered machine. 

My second exposure occurred many hard miles later. At that time, Pirsig's dark and desperate struggle to find truth, keep his sanity, and add value to the world--all of that absolutely pierced me. 

I am grateful for my life and all of its lessons. I am grateful that every time I was ready to learn, a teacher appeared.
 
Thank you, Robert, for so much wisdom lurking behind the veneer of a travel story. You taught us to not merely exist but to truly "be in the scene." May your heavenly highways be full of twisty turns. In the afterlife, may man and machine work as one, evermore.



Links for further reading:

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Turn the World Down




This is the cover art for the album Black Cat by the artist Zucchero Fornaciari. The album's English version includes collaboration with Elvis Costello on "Love Again" (renamed as "Turn the World Down").

This song--Elvis Costello's words and Zucchero's bluesy rock voice--this is great stuff

Watch a video HERE as you scroll through the lyrics below.



"Turn the World Down"


Now and then
It’s night again
Like black ink pouring from a pen

Curse my eyes
For opening
I’m having trouble just recovering

And in those hours we gazed
Upon white sheets, torn back from a page
My heart is spent

Almost erased
Turn the world down
There’s nothing between?
All this beauty and this suffering?

Please if you know
Get the word out
Let the globe spin
Save everyone and everything.
Like a blade Keen and thin
Scimitar Soft like a maid
Beneath his skin

Upon this scene
Disgrace and sin
Where are you now?
Where have you been?

And in those hours we gazed
Upon red sheets, pulled back by the rage
My hearts are spent

Almost erased
Turn the world down
There’s nothing between
all this beauty and this suffering?

And if you know
Get the word out
Let the globe spin
Save everyone and everything
Turn the world down
There’s nothing between
all this beauty and this suffering?

My mind is all bent
It’s stamping my soul

I’m burning down
To tar and charcoal

To blood and ash
To feathers and trash

I gotta move

Turn the world down
There’s nothing between
all this beauty and this suffering?

And if you know
Get the word out
Let the globe spin
Save everyone and everything

Turn the world down
There’s nothing between
all this beauty and this suffering?

I gotta move
I wanna move
Now and then
It’s night again
It’s night again





You can learn more about Zucchero's 12th studio album and listen to all 15 tracks HERE

The copyright for the Black Cat cover art displyed above is believed to belong to the label, Universal, or the graphic artist(s). Source: Fair use. File:Zucchero - Black Cat.jpg. Uploaded: 24 March 2016.