Friday, December 2, 2016

Things I Don't Get

There are a few things out there in the bubbling cauldron of American culture that I simply do not understand what the big deal or attraction is with them. Some of them are recent, some of them date back decades. But since I am sitting here in the middle of the night at work, taking a break from being responsible, I figured I'd list a few and see if my view is shared by some or most, or whether it's my compass/world's eye view that is skewed. In no particular order:
1) The Beatles. I don't dislike the Beatles, to be  honest. What I don't get is why they, rather than bands like the Rolling Stones or artists like Bob Dylan, were the BIG DEAL in the 1960's. I mean, they were OK, occasionally crossing into "good" territory. But I defy you to name a Beatles song that has aged so well that it is considered a true masterpiece today--maybe "Come Together" because of the iconic bass line. And the things they put out there were regarded as kind of lousy, but given the benefit of the doubt at the time because it was the Beatles, have now, with the passage of time, been recognized for the crap that they were--songs like "Ob-la-Di, Ob-la-Da" and "Let It Be" come to mind. But I really don't understand why the world went apeshit over them. Were the drugs that prevalent in the 1960's that this somewhat pedestrian band was the biggest act in the world? The further we move away from that time, the more the Beatles phenomenon appears to be a "you had to be there" thing. It's sure not obvious now.
And since it is now December, one very interesting artifact of the Beatles era is being brought under the spotlight again. The standard accepted playlist of American Christmas carols has been more or less rigid in my lifetime; if you turn on a radio station that plays Xmas music incessantly, almost all of the songs, regardless of the version being played, were composed anywhere from sixty to a hundred years ago, with a few even older. There are two notable exceptions. One is Band-Aid's "Do They Know It's Christmas," which doesn't get heavy rotation, but it does get played. But the other may well end up being the most lasting contribution of any of the Beatles, collectively and individually, to American music history. John Lennon's "Happy Christmas/War Is Over" has gone from being a novelty item when I was a teen to a full-fledged Christmas carol now; it is hard to go an hour without hearing it on the radio. I'm not objecting; it's good. But who would have thought, in 1971, that the most enduring work of Lennon would be this throwaway topical (at the time) song?
2) I'm not real big on Instagram or Snapchat or any of the more self-indulgent apps that make up a good portion of our social media world. I don't take a lot of selfies, but I don't really have an issue with those (mostly females) that do; women tend to have more and deeper self-esteem issues, and so need more constant reassurance from themselves and the world that they look OK (or so I am reliably assured by my significant other, daughter, and several other friends. If any of the more feminist acquaintances of mine have different ideas, please--don't take issue with me. I am merely repeating what I have been told, and it sounds like a discussion to be had in the ladies room rather than on my web page. Thank you in advance for your courtesy). I understand that--really, I do. I've paid enough attention to the woman I've spent most of the last three years with to know what her motives for constantly snapping her own picture are.
What I don't understand is this current trend for people to superimpose--I'm told it's a Snapchat app, although I personally wouldn't know and would never, ever use it if I did-- a crown of flowers or an animal (usually a dog's) facial features on a portrait/picture one takes. I do not have a clue why someone would think that a crown of obviously fake daisies somehow makes a woman appear more attractive. I have even less of one of why I would want to see an otherwise attractive face marred with the ears and nose of Pluto or Fido.  As a novelty, once-in-three-years, playing-for-laughs snapshot--well, maybe. But every two days? Five or six shots in a row? Egad.
3) I might as well get this annual reminder out of the way at the beginning of December. Those of you that still buy real Christmas trees are very sad, delusional people stuck in the past. You still use an outdoor privy? You still use a typewriter? Then why are you still killing a real tree every year, creating a monumental fire hazard and making a mess in your house every year for something that is invariably on the curb by noon of December 27? Blows my mind.
4) As someone who has recently rejoined the ranks of dog owners, I have a few questions for some of you out there. Do you really think that a dog pissing on your bush is going to somehow harm it? Is it necessary to stare daggers through a living room window when it happens? And for those of you that have fenced-in yards and put your dogs out there for hours at a time--don't look at me and my dog like we're doing something wrong when we walk down the freaking sidewalk and your overbred hairballs freak out and bark like the postal service union was trying to enter their house. In fact, the 70 decibel racket your dogs are making is a lot more of a detracting presence in the neighborhood that the occasional pile of unpicked-up feces.
And annoyances aside, here's something serious. None of you are going to be on TV, or serve as the model for a Great Gatsby-type book. If you have a few thousand dollars you don't know what to do with, please come see me next spring, rather than spend it getting your lawn chemically treated. It's freaking grass, OK? You're not Edward Scissorhands, and your house is just as dumpy or nice as the rest of the neighborhood no matter whether your lawn has a few dandelions on it or not. And it's not worth the poisonous runoff into our rivers, and it's certainly not worth the danger to those of us whose pets walk the hood. I think I'm going to come into your bathroom and set off Raid bombs every few days, and see if it's healthy for you and your kids. What your lawn looks like is  certainly not a sign of status or character; as a matter of fact, it's an indicator that a) you're a sucker for charlatans that make their living fleecing the gullible and the stupid, and b) your sense of priorities is seriously deficient.
5) I've written before on this subject, so I will keep it short and to the point. I don't really see the need for Viagra. I'm 53 1/2 years old, and my body parts still work more than well enough without pharmaceutical assistance. I do get that not everyone in my peer group and older can say that, and so I will not pass moral judgement on you (I will only be smugly insufferable that it's not necessary for me). But those of you in your twenties that use it regularly? There's a word for you that need that kind of help at your age. Put your finger and your thumb in the shape of an L on your forehead...
6) And concluding today's dyspeptic ramblings, the American obsession with fast food and franchise restaurants has resulted in several puzzling "success" stories. Most places have at least one signature item that even discerning eaters/drinkers like me will grudgingly admit is good--like the Whopper, for example, at the otherwise horrid Burger King. But there is one hugely successful franchise eatery whose popularity completely mystifies me, and it's doubly worse now since I started working at the group home.
Because the home is adjacent to Dunkin' Donuts. And I've tried to give this place second, third, and umpteenth more chances. But there is simply not a freaking thing to like there. Their coffee tastes like it was brewed with puddle water. Their donuts taste like they were taken out of storage units weeks ago. Their "eggs" are cardboard, their bacon flaccid, and the main ingredient of their sausage and "steak" appears to be, and tastes like, sawdust. Their Coolatas and such are actually OK--but not worth what they cost; you have to call Capital One for a credit limit increase to actually purchase one. In desperation, I saw that they have added bagels to their menu, and figured, "Well, it's hard to screw up a bagel." But they managed it. They are so soft as to be almost gooey, and they are nearly impossible to cut in half. Toasted, the "bread" really doesn't accept butter very well; I prefer that melted butter saturate the bread rather than pool on the surface--and since they are so soft, one wonders how this is possible, and one doesn't like the answers that come to mind.
So all of you that wax poetical about Dunkin, and can't seem to function without it--you're out of your minds. For God's sake, the revolting Tim Horton's is better than Dunkin.

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