11.30.09 – A Monday


WORD

outlier [out-lahy-er] n. 1. a person or thing that lies outside 2. a person residing outside the place of his or her business, duty, etc 3. Geology. a part of a formation left detached through the removal of surrounding parts by erosion

BIRTHDAY

Jonathan Swift (1667), Mark Twain (1835), Lord Frederick Cavendish (1836), Richard Crenna (1926), Robert Guillaume (1927), Dick Clark (1929), G. Gordon Liddy (1930), Abbie Hoffman (1936), Ridley Scott (1937), Terrence Malick (1943), David Mamet (1947), Mandy Patinkin (1952), Billy Idol (1955), Bo Jackson (1962), Ben Stiller (1965), Clay Aiken (1978), Gael García Bernal (1978)

STANDPOINT

Several years ago, when the reality-television craze began kicking its ugly way into our living rooms, I boldly declared, “This won’t last. It’s a fad. It’ll go away.”

Man, was I wrong.

It has lasted. It’s not a fad. And it refuses to go away. As a matter of fact, it’s continuing to grow. From what I can tell, it’s also making society as a whole dumber. So, of course, that fascinates me.

First off, let me say I don’t think all reality-television is bad. Some of it’s actually worthwhile. Top Chef, The Amazing Race, Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. Those are some I’ve watched without becoming agitated. And that’s inasmuch as those shows are chronicling individuals doing things I can’t (or won’t) do.

For example, Top Chef. I’ve worked in the restaurtant business for almost two decades, in both the front- and back-of-the-house. I’m no chef, but I know my way around a kitchen. Basically, I can make food people like, but not necessarily rave about. So, when I watch Top Chef, I’m entertained because I’m watching individuals do something I can’t, something I find extraordinary. To me, that’s interesting.

In contrast, when I view programs like Big Brother, The Real World, or The Real Housewives of Atlanta, all I see are a group of unexceptional individuals supposedly living lives we’re expected to perceive as somehow “real.” But it’s not at all. Just a collection of nitwits trying to outsmart one another while simultaneously positioning themselves for more camera time.

From the little I’ve seen of Big Brother, it’s never failed to confuse me. Besides the participants, none of which I feed redeemable, and the events, few of which aren’t orchestrated, being actual, what the fuck is so real about it? The answer is exactly none of it. Everyone in the house has a motive. The producers stage events that, without prodding, would never come about. All the footage gets edited to death so the true sequence is lost. To me, that’s uninteresting.

What truly sucks about all of this is that I’m apparently squarely in the minority. I’m relatively sure most of us find things capable of bothering us daily. Also, I was under the impression watching television was supposed to be fun and less bothersome than our daily routines.

If I’m wrong about all this, I’ll accept it. But, before you start popping off on how I’m completely wrong about reality television, I need you to answer the following question: If these shows are so enjoyable, why is it every single conversation I’ve ever heard about them is basically a discussion on which character is more annoying and why?

QUOTATION

This is what politics is to me: Somebody tells you all the trees on your street have a disease. One side says give them food and water and everything will be fine. One side says chop them down and burn them so they don’t infect another street. That’s politics. And I’m going, Who says they’re diseased? And how does this sickness manifest itself? And is this outside of a natural cycle? And who said this again? And when were they on the street? But we just have people who shout, “Chop it down and burn it” or “Give it food and water,” and there’s your two choices. Sorry, I’m not a believer.John Malkovich

TUNE

MewithoutYou is a band from Philadelphia. That’s here. In Pennsylvania. I’ve heard them mentioned from time-to-time, and I think I may have seen the band live once but that might be entirely untrue. In any case, I was recently introduced to the video for “The Fox, The Crow and The Cookie,” and, to put it mildly, it’s pretty fuckin’ great. The song is solid but the whole concept and execution of the video is pretty unique and remarkable.  

CALLIMAUFRY

→ OK, so the whole Tiger Woods car accident thing. I have two questions. (1) Where was Woods going at 2:25am, the morning after Thanksgiving. (2) Why did the wife, after hearing the accident, decide to head out to investigate with a golf club? Woods is going to live to golf another day. He’s fine and that’s great. Truly. Still, everyone’s going to want to discover what really went down. The truth is no one besides Woods and his wife are ever going to know what happened. And, so far, it appears they’re not going to tell. Sadly, for everyone who’s dying to know, it’s bound to become one of those events marked for countless decades of endless speculation. When you’re a billionnaire, you can crash your car and not be expected to give some valid explanation.

Rush Limbaugh is America’s most influential conservative. Still, who cares?

→ No post tomorrow. If you’ve a problem with that, you’ll need to get in line behind my good friend Joe Taylor, who I’ve started affectionately calling “Boss-Man.” OK, I only did it once, but I plan on doing it again real soon.

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