Stupid Tuesday questions, “I’m the Only One” edition

In the sequence of Russell’s Cavalcade of Idiotic, Failed Romances, he occupies the second spot.

(Let me stop right there and reassure readers who are chary of reading about my doomed relationships that I would rather superglue live cockroaches to my face than give any kind of detailed run-down of my long-ago loves.  Suffice it to say that they were almost all Idiotic, and looking back from within the space of a decade-long soon-to-[finally]-be-legal marriage to the Better Half I wish I could go back and slap my younger self on the back of the head at random intervals.  The end.)

Anyhow, I will call him Mark.  Ours was a long-distance thing that collapsed under the weight of its own absurdity within one short weekend of time together in real life.  I’m sure I must have found something about him appealing at the time (and he was handsome enough), but what it was I am at a loss to recall now.  The one thing I can say in his favor is that he provided the prompting that got me in the doors of my very first gay bar (where he proceeded to spend the evening dancing with other people; see above re: absurdity, collapse of relationship and), and long after Mark had exited my life stage left I spent many fun nights dancing the hours away with the several good friends I came to make there.

So, yeah.  Mark.  The reason I bring him up is that he was really my first introduction to All Things Gay.  He was obsessed with “Absolutely Fabulous,” which was just breaking big in the US at the time (and which I sincerely liked, too).  He loved Pet Shop Boys.  Get this — when giving directions, he wouldn’t say “go straight” at a traffic light.  He insisted on saying “forward.”  He had spare, expensive-looking track lighting.  And if he had any straight friends, I don’t recall ever meeting them.

(In writing all of this out, it strikes me as retrospectively hilarious that I spent months mooning over him when our romance bit the dust.)

As part of his “I [Heart] All Things Gay” schtick, he was also totally into Melissa Etheridge.  And because I was totally into trying to be a guy I thought he’d like, I tried to enjoy Melissa Etheridge.  I really, really fought the urge to change the station when her songs came on the radio.  I’d try to find a way of thinking they didn’t all sound the same.  I’d force myself to find something appealing in her voice.

I failed.  No disrespect to her or her fans (different strokes for different folks, y’all), but I just don’t care for her stuff.  Of the (many) reliefs I felt when I finally got over our ludicrous disaster of a relationship, one of them was that I no longer had to try to like Melissa Etheridge music.

So that’s this week’s Question — what have you felt like you were supposed to like (and why), but just couldn’t?  The only other one I can think of (and I grit my teeth admitting this, because it means conceding in a forum where my brother can see it that he was right, dammit) is David Bowie, who for years I just didn’t care for (and I still don’t like all of his stuff), but now turn up when it comes on the radio.  But my distaste for Ms. Etheridge’s music lives on.  What did you try to enjoy for whatever reason, and just simply could not make yourself appreciate?

Russell Saunders

Russell Saunders is the ridiculously flimsy pseudonym of a pediatrician in New England. He has a husband, three sons, daughter, cat and dog, though not in that order. He enjoys reading, running and cooking. He can be contacted at blindeddoc using his Gmail account. Twitter types can follow him @russellsaunder1.


  1. Bruce Springsteen. I hate Bruce Springsteen, outside of “The Fever.” And while I’m at it, Bob Dylan too, save for a few songs where he isn’t whining incessantly about something or other. Actually, most guitar-playing singer-songwriters.

    • I…just don’t really like Bruce either. I know, as a rock fan I am supposed to, but he’s just so damned….earnest.

      And yes, I have seen a concert, and I appreciate the showmanship; but jeez, tone it down, willya? And does it really need to be 3 hours of “climax”?

      Though “Nebraska” is OK.

  2. First answer: Larry the Cable Guy. He’s always lumped in with comedians I do like, but I just can’t stand the guy. I don’t get the funny. More answers to come.

    (Melissa Etheridge is awesome, in my book. Like you say, different strokes…)

    • The funny thing is, on paper she’d be exactly the kind of singer I’d like. I tend to prefer female vocalists, and guitar-playing singer-songwriter types get heavy play. (I love me some Bonnie Raitt, for example.)

      I think it just comes down to her voice and style of singing, which is too shouty for my taste. I dunno, it just hits my ear the wrong way. I don’t hate it, but I’d never choose to listen to it. (Contrast Lana Del Rey, whose voice makes me want to stick a soldering iron in my ear.)

      • “too shouty” – exactly. She has no sense of dynamics. Everything she sings is at 11.

    • “Larry the Cable Guy”

      I have to say that I have never, ever, ever, for even the tiniest moment or millisecond, believed that I was “supposed” to like Larry the Cable Guy.

      • The few minutes of his act I’ve actually seen made me detest him intensely. It was right around the time of the whole Dixie Chicks brouhaha, and he makes some crack about “the fat one” needing to keep her mouth shut. (I paraphrase, but he most definitely makes note of her weight and her need to keep silent.) I have rarely been more disgusted with a statement from a famous performer than I was by that.

        • Russell, I didn’t see your comment when I posted mine – and I have no wish to defend his act, or fat jokes in general – but isn’t the point of the “joke” that her mouth should stay shut so as to not overeat, rather than not speak? I don’t know the joke but am speculating.

          I’m not a fan of fat jokes in general – I find them both cruel and too easy – but it may be of some significance that the performer that plays “Larry” struggles with his weight – he has had many doctors tell him he needs to take better care of himself, and his personal trainer (I know, I know) is perpetually exasperated with him for failure to keep to diet and exercise regimens (my buddy has told me stories – some performers drink and drug, this one eats).

          So I imagine there’s some self-loathing going on there (not uncommon in comedians of all stripes and skill levels).

          • Unless I am grossly misremembering, the joke is absolutely that the overweight one (who isn’t particularly overweight, actually) should keep her mouth shut in regards to speaking. It is entirely about her political opinions.

            1) The hypocrisy of mocking another person’s weight when he obviously struggles with his own smacked of misogyny and an egregious double standard, and

            2) Who the hell is he to tell another person they’re not allowed to express their opinions?

            Edited to add: None of this is to say that he’s not actually a really decent guy in general. Really decent people can be jerks. (Lord knows I’ve needed plenty of slack in my time.) Just saying that this is my only opinion of him as a performer, and I didn’t like it one bit.

          • Yeah, I don’t know the joke and have no desire to seek it out, but I am wondering why he’d single out only 1 of them for expressing an opinion he or his audience don’t agree with, rather than all 3 of them, except to make a “fat” joke, rather than a “you can’t express your opinions” joke.

            IOW if I was going to write such a joke (I wouldn’t) that would be the direction I’d take it. Something like “I’m not saying they all should shut their mouths, but the fat one sure should” (shut her mouth, so as to stop overeating).

            But yeah, it’s not a good joke either way, and you’d think he’d be more sensitive about weight issues. But comedians go for whatever gets laughs from their crowd, and ppl are cruel. 🙁

          • I think the reason he singled her out is that she was the specific one who made the anti-Bush comment that triggered the whole controversy.

          • Ah, I did not know that. I thought they made a song/video that was critical of Bush and that the media comments made were attributed to all of them.

            I didn’t really pay much attention to that “controversy”, not being a fan of either the DC’s or of Bush, so the whole tempest (in a teacup?) passed me by; I was only vaguely aware of its general outlines (DC’s said they didn’t like Bush and country fans got mad and some stations dropped their records for a while).

          • At a concert (in London, I believe), the lead singer said something along the lines of “we’re ashamed that the President is from Texas” (being a Texan herself).

            Which led to them being essentially ostracized from the country music community, with radio stations no longer playing their songs, people burning their CDs, and of course a number of death threats. (In fairness, some of their subsequent comments didn’t help.)

          • Yikes, that sounds more serious than I realized (the death threats and all). Some country fans be trippin’.

            Is it apparent that modern country (and, aside from this one surreal brief tour experience that I just couldn’t pass up, Larry the Cable Guy) are well outside my normal ken?

      • More trivia time: A good buddy of mine from childhood (=the neighborhood, soccer, school, band) is Larry the Cable Guy’s tour manager (they used to work in radio together).

        So, my buddy invited me to go on a short tour leg with them, one city to another, and catch a show (my buddy had his own tour bus, all tricked out with plasma screens and such, with a well-stocked bar; but nowhere near as nice as Larry’s bus – dude makes BANK).

        Even though it is not my style of humor – at all – I did meet & talk to “Larry” (not his real name, obvs.) and he seems like a genuinely nice and really level-headed guy, who has realized that for whatever reason, this is his “15 minutes”, and he is going to milk all he can from it so that his kids never, ever want for anything.

        Glyph, Dropper of Completely-Culturally-Insignificant Names

      • Yeah, but you’re not from the target region like I am. And I like other southern comedians (If you think “You might be a redneck” is Jeff Foxworthy’s only schtick, that’s not the case). But with Larry… I just don’t get it.

        I don’t doubt what Glyph says, though, about him being a very personable guy. In that sense, he’s opposite from Ron White, who I assume to be a very difficult person but who is nonetheless actually quite funny.

        • I’m from the South, Will (though less “South” than my parents/grandparents). But yeah, LtCG’s not my thing.

          RE: Ron White, my buddy’s also told me stories there. Funny guy, but yeah, seems like he has some demons.

          • my home is filled with mater toys, so every day is larry the cable guy helloween for me.

          • I feel you, bro, my boy loves the “Cars” too.

            And every time one of those talking toys speak, another dollar goes into LtCG’s bank account. It is CRAZY to me how popular he is and how much $ he pulls in.

  3. Well aside from Freedom, i’m a liberal after all, i think Law and Order qualifies. The Wife likes it and it was on for 50 seasons so somebody liked it. West Wing also. The In Laws and others keep telling me how good it was but i can barely summon a giant Meh for it.

    Ahh yes my friend Karen would always say “Gayly forward” with a huge smile whenever i said straight. I think she asked for directions for places straight ahead just so she could say Gayly forward.

  4. For me, it’s tomatoes. I enjoy Italian food and trace part of my ancestry to Italy. So I’m supposed to like tomatoes. Big hunks of them in my salads, dices of them on my pizza, big slices of them on my burgers, and sauces derived from them on everything. Tomatoes in tomato sauce served with a glass of tomato juice. And I just don’t like them that much. I won’t put ketchup on French fries or burgers.

    In salsa or diced up bruschetta, as the base to marinara sauce, but pretty much not on their own and tomato juice is just plain nasty if you ask me. (Plenty of nice morning cocktails available other than a Bloody Mary; I’ll make you a nice one but don’t be surprised if I choose a screwdriver or a Salty Dog or a Cape Codder instead.)

    I’m with my man Will on Melissa Etheridge. Yes, many of her songs do sound a lot alike, but I like the sound of that song. (Don’t all Erasure songs sound alike too?)

    • (Don’t all Erasure songs sound alike too?)

      Well, of course they do. (Pet Shop Boys, too.) What, you’re saying that cuz I’m gay, I must like Erasure? Huh? Is that it?

      I kid. I do like Erasure. (Consider yourself warned if you ever happen to be in the car with me and “Chains of Love” plays on the radio. I will be turning it up to cranium-shattering volumes, singing aloud with unabashed glee, and dancing in my seat with no concern about the stares of other drivers.) But voluptuous, exuberant synth-pop is easier to dance to, and (when I’m in the mood for it) a sure-fire mood booster.

    • I never liked tomatoes until I discovered heirlooms. Now I love them, but I only buy them a couple of months out of the year when they’re in season.

      • Statements like these convince me that most people haven’t ever had good tomatoes. 😉

        • I have. I’ve grown my own. Those little pear tomatoes are super-sweet like candy, so much so they aren’t even fruit.

          I’ve had products of friends’ gardens described as “princes,” served on bufala mozzarella with large-crystal salt, basil, and olive oil less than three hundred seconds after having been plucked from the vine.

          Boil ’em up, make ’em into a sauce with a bunch of garlic and herbs and onions and baslamic, we’re good. But you know what, you don’t need an especially good tomato for that. If you like ’em that much, good on ya. Enjoy.

          I may be straight but I prefer a mimosa in the morning and will choose another cup of coffee rather than a bloody mary.

    • Yes! Tomatoes! I should like tomatoes but I do not like them at all. I can deal with tomato sauce, but it’s still not my favorite and I always take the tomatoes off my burgers and pick them out of my food (when not in polite company).

      • i will rep for roseanne prior to the “experimental” final season. intriguing idea, terrible execution.

          • My “Roseanne” story…

            There was an episode of Rosanne that dealt with DJ discovering masturbation. A running joke of the episode was that DJ was spending a lot of time in the bathroom. They never specifically mentioned what he was doing in there, assuming the inference was clear. But I was young and naive when I first caught it and simply thought the idea of him pooping a lot was funny. And most of the jokes worked just as well whether he was pooping or masturbating.

            Fast forward a few years and I caught the episode on re-run. The first time they make the too-long-in-the-bathroom joke, I remember thinking, “HA! Poop! That’s so…. WAIT A MINUTE!!!”

          • Roseanne told my favorite joke:

            “People say to me, ‘You’re not feminine.’ Well, they can just suck my dick.” I’ll will always respect that attitude.

        • Oh, I don’t dispute that should could be funny. But I don’t think her funniness was supposed to be connected at all to us liking her or not.

  5. Hemingway. I like the other 20s guys (Faulkner, Fitzgerald, Sinclair Lewis, etc.), and Heningway is supposed to be the best of them, with his diamond-like prose, his telegraphic style, and his dedication to showing, not telling. So I read the three big novels, and the Nick Adams stories, and the best short stories collection, and you know what? None of it did anything for me.

    Last year my son read The Sun Also Rises in English class, and loved it. So I was sure that, with the vastly greater experience in life and literature I’ve gained since high school I’d be able to see what he saw in it, and more Nope. Dororthy’s Eight Deadly Words all over again.

    • I just can’t read Hawthorne.

      I nearly failed that semester devoted to Puritanical writing in school. I might as well have had a handkerchief and flossed it back and forth through my ears while chewing gum and snapping it.

      Steinbeck, Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Lawrence, Wells and O’Neill – still love ’em.

  6. Oh, man, great question. Where to start.

    First, to clarify, I rarely don’t like things at all that I feel like I’m supposed to like. I usually just like them distinctly less than I feel like I am supposed to.

    For example:

    30 Rock
    The Bourne Ultimatum (as opposed to The Bourse Identity, which I love)
    -Stieg Larsson (or his translators?)
    -the TV show Girls (this counts as among the few I actually don’t like that I know I’m supposed to)
    The Sopranos
    -basically, any musicals with a few exceptions that I know I’m not supposed to like (like The Sound of Music)
    -classic Woody Allen (definitely a not-as-much-as-supposed-to rather than not-at-all; and I like his later stuff much more than the median reviewer seems to)
    -Quentin Tarantino films after Pulp Fiction (though Inglourious Basterds is slowly growing on me, which means I’ll probably give Django a try eventually). Man I’ve tried, but I simply cannot stop seeing this dude as a guy who headed straight up his own ass as soon as he made his fish-you money.

    There’s also this category: Stuff You Don’t Dislike As Much As You Think You Probably Should Or Like When You Think You Probably Shouldn’t (this is not meant to make Sam’s head explode, but written with the awareness it may): for me, that’s, basically, period schlock like
    Downton Abbey
    Atonement (either)
    War Horse
    Schindler’s List
    (notice a pattern forming here?)

    And then lastly there’s Stuff You Didn’t Actually Like As Much As You Both Wanted To And Think You Legitimately Could Have (again, sorry Sam):

    -Last year’s Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy adaptation
    -I feel like I frequently have this experience but I can’t think of other examples right now

    Generally, I have a short fuse on books, so if you’re wondering, that’s why they’re mostly not on here. I didn’t exactly like Gibbon, for example, but I also didn’t *exactly* read Gibbon either, so I’m not going to claim he let me down. I just gave up on him. Mostly if I stay with a novel, it’s because I’m liking it, or I’ve been asked to read it (the Larsson). And generally I read so much peripheral stuff about the non-fiction I read that no clear sense that I’m really supposed to like it survives.

    • I simply cannot stop seeing this dude as a guy who headed straight up his own ass as soon as he made his fish-you money.

      Best line on the Internet, this week.

        • Robert Crais, author of the Elvis Cole novels, has a character in Lullaby Town that is clearly inspired by Quentin Tarantino. Enough that if they ever made Lullaby Town into a movie, they’d have to get a young Quentin Tarantino to play Peter Alan Nelsen.

    • +1 on Sopranos.
      Never did see the charm of it.
      I call it another good reason to not watch TV.

      • My whole list reads like a good reason to not watch TV or movies! And I feel like I don’t even watch that many “shows” (as opposed to news and sports which I without doubt watch too much of)!

        • And for that we thank you! (I have never been a TV watcher.)

    • Well, since it’s no surprise I’d love Downton Abbey. Opulent period pieces are among my favorite genres.

      I think I’m alone in loving “Jackie Brown.” It’s the Tarantino flick that seems the least operatic in its violence and most about real-life human beings. I actually like it more than “Pulp Fiction.”

      I have a similar kind of problem as you with a lot of rapturously-praised movies, which I often see well after the hype has peaked. Perhaps if I’d seen them cold I’d have liked them more, but by the time I got to them I was expecting something amazing, and often end up disappointed to some degree. Easy examples include “Y Tu Mama Tambien” (a movie about two assholes), “Sideways” (a movie about two drunken/philandering assholes), “As Good As It Gets” (Jack Nicholson and Helen Hunt playing themselves) and “Bridesmaids” (just not as funny as everyone said).

      • Sideways…. ah.

        The movie isn’t just about two drunken assholes. It’s about two drunken pathetic assholes. But not pathetic in a way that inspires pity or disgust in and of itself. They deserve all the stuff that happens to them; I have no pity. Their behavior is often disgusting, but not because it’s pathetic, just because they’re assholes.

        It’s the pathetic part that makes them actually interesting. Human beings with character flaws that lead to their own troubles. That’s something that people can identify with, generally.

        OH! I know. Leaving Las Vegas, which I actually haven’t seen myself. Comparable to Sideways or no?

        • Hmmmm. Comparable in the “why the hell am I spending time in the company of these people” sense, that’s for sure. I didn’t particularly “enjoy” “Leaving Las Vegas,” but “enjoying” it would probably be the wrong goal. It is unremittingly depressing, and I’ll admit when it was done I had a hard time figuring out what the point of it all was, other that to expose a particular corner of human misery.

          My biggest beef with “Sideways” (beyond all the critics who fell all over themselves heaping it with praise and Meaning and blah blah blah blah blah) was that it felt like we were supposed to find these assholes somehow endearing or charming or genuine or… something. And I just thought they were assholes, and uninteresting, unpleasant assholes at that. I didn’t think they were funny, I thought they were awful.

        • It’s the age-old story of the pathetic loser who can’t let go of a failed relationship even though a wonderful, strong, sympathetic, beautiful woman is just waiting for him to decide he wants her.

        • Leaving Las Vegas is definitely another one of them. I actually saw the first half of “Flight” recently and it reminded me of LLV in all the wrong ways. It’s not saved by the airplane razzle-dazzle (cool though that was).

    • “the TV show Girls (this counts as among the few I actually don’t like that I know I’m supposed to)”

      I feel like people either really loved Girls or really hated Girls. A lot of whether people like the show or not depends on how they feel about Lena Dunham and to a lesser extent the rest of the cast. Lena Dunham is the child of two famous artists and she grew up ultra-chic and relatively-privileged in New York. Her parents sent her to the posh and private St. Anne’s School. This is the private school for the rich and arty in New York. Hence, a lot of people think she is only successful because of her famous parents and that there are plenty of people of equal talent going unnoticed.

      The rest of the women on Girls are from equally privileged backgrounds so I think a lot of people call bullshit on the so-called realism of the show.

      Personally I reject the slavish devotion many sites have to Lena Dunham. It seems like brown nosing. I wonder if passed around a memo threatening to fire anyone who did not praise her.

      “Downton Abbey”

      This was true for me until Season 3. Now I have a hard time caring about the show. My inner-leftie comes in and I dislike the not-so-subtle defense of the class system.

    • I need to second on Quentin Tarantino films, except that I also disliked Pulp Fiction. I did like Jackie Brown, though.
      Downton Abbey. I can’t get into it.
      Sex and the City. As someone who was single, female, living in a major city and the “correct” age group for this show when it was on, some friends insisted I try watching it. I gave up after about five minutes. I can’t stand the show.

      • I pretty much hate “Sex and the City,” which never rises above the inescapable reality of its main characters’ horrible, horrible narcissism, even though I was also the “right” age living in Manhattan at the time.

        • I liked it because it was often funny, and the characters were mostly so awful I never took them seriously, not for a moment. Also, Kristin Davis.

    • Quentin Tarantino films after Pulp Fiction


      Though it’s a weird case. Most often, someone like QT would go downhill by over-using what made him famous until it became boring or self-parody. He simply abandoned the entertaining shtick in favor of concentrated, mindless violence.

      • Jackie Brown was absolutely fantastic. I can absolutely lose the rest of his oeuvre though.

        • I wish he’d cut about 15-20 minutes from JB. Great flick, but overlong (an unfortunately common problem nowadays).

      • Yes. He kept the violence, kept the weirdness, but lost the craft (though I think has begun to recover it visually in his last two), lost the interest in story and character, and lost any semblance of the at least initial light touch of humor and atmosphere that brought you in enough to not just be sickened from the outset by the violence.

        I’ll have to watch Jackie Brown again, or for the first time. I thought I saw it, but I don’t remember it at all.

      • Movies. I don’t find Ludlum’s writing worthwhile. The movies are less time-consuming entertainments.

        • –I.e., there’s much better spy fiction that (mostly) doesn’t get made into movies.

        • For what it’s worth – and it’s not much if you don’t like Ludlum’s writing*, I suppose – the commonalities between the books and movies are… scarce. Non-existent for #2 and #3 save for the title and the name of the main character**. In the fourth, of course, they don’t even keep the latter.

          * – I actually didn’t realize how much I liked Ludlum’s writing until Eric Van Lustbader took over.

          ** Rot13: Gur frpbaq obbx gnxrf cynpr va Nfvn. Ol gur guveq, ur unf n snzvyl jvgu gur jbzna gung qvrq ng gur ortvaavat bs gur frpbaq zbivr.

          • I haven’t looked at it in a while. Maybe I’ll give it another shot. It just felt a little dated to me, like it didn’t hold up outside of its era the way Le Carre and others do.

  7. Radiohead.

    I had a college roommate who got mad at me and said, “Have you heard their new shit? It’s so, so, so… Poignant!”
    “Do you know what that word means?”
    “Fuck you. Radiohead is brilliant.”
    “Poignant imples a certain sense of sadness. Maybe I’m crazy but I don’t like to listen to music that makes me sad.”
    “Thom Yorke is a god.”
    “Oooooookaaaaaaay…” [slowly backs away]

    • ha!

      i have this terrible party trick of making fun of radiohead in front of a terribly nice person who had all of their emotionally pivotal moments soundtracked by them. i’ve done this at least a half dozen times.

      also: tool. yeeeeeeeeeeeeeesh.

      • I know we talked about this, but I used to like Radiohead quite a bit; but I am reaching a point of “can’t even listen to some of their stuff that I used to like” due to total oversaturation of that voice, and their limitation to a single emotional mode of “alienation”.

        • The only Thom York stuff I really liked were the duets with PJ Harvey on Stories from the City… Other than that, its just too much whine pop for me. Then again, I never really liked shoegazing either.

        • yeah i mean i don’t hate them by any stretch – that’s reserved for the decemberists or grimes or truly awful nonsense – but i just never felt the whole “imma gonna go sing like imma gonna go cry” type stuff. i don’t mind monochromatic emotional stances, but in this case my brain took a raincheck and stuffed it in a drawer somewhere, never to be retrieved.

          • I don’t mind monochromatic emotional stances for an album or three; but jeez, switch it up, willya?

            And I think Grimes actually shows some promise…she creates some great little soundworlds (seriously, get some headphones and re-try the record just for the sonics); if she can focus, she might really be something (hey, Prince was also a “I play all the instruments, look at me, I’m eccentric!” kinda dude, and he made good).

          • her voice is just whacking the GGAAAAHHHHAAAAHHHGGGAAAAHHH button in my brain, ya know?

            contra that, i don’t actually mind lana del rey in very small doses. the nirvana cover floating around is actually decent. (i’m as surprised as you are)

          • “that’s reserved for the decemberists or grimes or truly awful nonsense”

            Hey! I like the Decemberists!

          • As a Decemberists fan, would you recommend “King Is Dead”? I remember being intrigued by reviews that namechecked IRS-era REM and Smiths, despite also carrying obvious red flags like “Portland indie-rock collective”.

            I have never heard their music, though I just called up “Down By The Water” on YouTube and it seemed decent enough.

          • OK, it was under $10 on Amazon, so sold. It’ll be here by Thursday.

          • “Hey! I like the Decemberists!”

            i am not exactly shocked. 🙂

            (full disclosure – my wife loves them. i try to love her in spite of this. i often succeed.)

            “Too often people equate “I prefer something other than that” with “I think shitty you and your shitty band are shitty shit.””

            well, yeah, i mean it’s the root of the mythos of the snotty record clerk. your tastes are not you. hell, i don’t even think they say that much about a person, even though i’d happily bag on the decemberists until the cows come home (or shipyard workers or mermaids or whatever). they may be the mcsweeneys of sound – that is to say, the apotheosis of our cultural nadir – but i think socking your identity into the music you listen to is best reserved for 14 year olds and crusties.

          • socking your identity into the music you listen to

            AAAANNND this will be the subject of my initial music post on MD tomorrow. So dhex, if at least you don’t show up, I’m gonna be sad.

      • Sounds like a fun trick. Tool, I get a bit more, or should say I enjoy a bit more, but I see a similar phenomenon with them.

        Too often people equate “I prefer something other than that” with “I think shitty you and your shitty band are shitty shit.”

        I don’t think Radiohead sucks. What little I do know about music actually indicates to me they are extremely talented. But rarely, if ever, am I in a mood to hear the music they make. And apparently that means I am some sort of wretched sell out. What I sold, I’ll never know…

        • Tool is a band that you have to see live. If you still have an opinion about Tool after seeing them live that matches your opinion prior, then we’ll talk.

          • Replace Tool with Rush in that sentence to see how convinced I am (and I like Tool albums).

          • PC,

            I’ve heard that said about Tool and their life performances.

            But I should clarify. The Tool music I’ve heard, I enjoy. But I think their hardcore fans’ devotion to them outpaces the enjoyment I glean from the music.

            Radiohead? There is a song or two I like. And I get that they’re talented. But I do not enjoy most of their catalogue. And their hardcore fans make Tool fans look like nothing.

            If you put a Tool album on, I’d enjoy most if not all of it. If you put a Radiohead album on, I’d be tempted to punch a cat. Well, more tempted than usual.

          • This anecdote may not be representative, but in college we somehow convinced an artsy, hippiesh Natalie Merchant-type gal to go see Rush play live with us.

            Afterwards, she expressed genuine shock and pleasure at how much she enjoyed the show. I don’t know if she ever bought any albums or anything, but from then on, if the subject ever came up, she would talk about how much she liked the show and how glad she was that she went. I don’t think she was lying or putting us on.

            So what I’m saying is, Sam’s more wussy than an art-school college girl. 😉

            (runs away).

          • people tell me the same thing about neurosis. and i’m sure it’s true, but it’s also true of a hundred other bands, some of which i actually enjoy the recorded music of.

          • Rush sucks. I’ll say it here, I’ll say it to trolls, I’ll say it to fans. I don’t give a good goddamn about Tom Sawyer and I never will.

          • I don’t give a good goddamn about Tom Sawyer and I never will.

            That’s OK, Sam, he gets high on you.

          • My brother loved Rush. He bought 2112 the day it was released, huddled in the corner with the headphones. I picked up Harmonia the same day, an album my brother didn’t understand at all.

            Now his son is the biggest Rush on the planet, a competent guitar player, playing Rush covers with many of my old guitar effects, donated to the cause once my own son showed no interest in them. I’m proud of him, too. My son went on to make Interesting Noises with keyboards and computers.

            But it was on that long-ago day I realised our musical tastes had diverged beyond reconnection…..

          • Nice! (sweet video too!)

            Here’s one for the next family reunion: Trans Am, AKA, “Who put this Kraftwerk in my Rush?”

  8. The Rock Horror Picture Show.

    Really this can be expanded to all things “campy” or “kitschy”. I lack the gene that allows me to appreciate something on a “so bad it is good” level. It does not matter whether the camp or kitsch is intentional or not. Susan Sontag spends time talking about the difference in here famous essay.

    Though honestly I disagree with some of her examples so what is camp or not might change my generation. I don’t like Tiffany Lamps either but I would not describe them as campy. Audrey Beardsley drawings and Swan Lake also include me as odd inclusions.

    More modernly, I don’t know why everyone I know seems to think the Oatmeal (an on-line comic) is the greatest thing ever. Nor do I like Internet memes very much. They are often wrong and binary arguments meant to simply shut down discussion. The non-political ones are not funny either.

    Man this post makes me sound somewhat to very cranky. I do like a lot of things. Really I do.

    • Well, you’re straight, right? I haven’t found a lot of straight guys who dig camp. (That’s not the same thing as hipsters ironically faux-liking something. People who like canp glory in its wonderful, wonderful awfulness. The “Simpsons” episode with John Waters nailed it.)

      I should go back and re-read that Sontag essay. I agree, I wouldn’t put Aubrey Beardsley into the “camp” category. There may be an element of the grotesque that’s shared with some types of camp, but it’s legitimately beautiful (if deeply off-putting) in a way that a lot of camp isn’t.

      • Correct I am straight. Though I do know a lot of guys in fandom who seem able to do the whole camp thing. At least for some stuff like Rocky Horror. I just don’t understand how to glory in “its wonder, wonderful awfulness.” If something is awful, it is just dull and boring to me. I feel sorry for it.

        Good analysis of Beardsley.

        • One of the things that must be present for me to like camp (and I really do like it a lot of the time) is feeling like on some level the people who made it 1) had fun with it/just totally lost their minds, and 2) are winking at the audience.

          For example, I defy you to take Cloris Leachman’s performance in “Wonder Woman” (the gloriously awful TV show) as anything but a joke. The woman is a phenomenal actress when she wants to be, and it’s as clear as day to me that she decided to just go bananas and have fun. So it’s enjoyable.

          Another example is the Marlon Brando “Island of Dr. Moreau.” It is terrrrrrrrrrrrible. It gets worse and worse and worse. And I love it, because it’s obvious that Brando has totally lost his mind and Val Kilmer hasn’t bothered to learn his lines and that at some point the filmmakers just threw in the towel.

          Contrast with the execrable “Batman and Robin” which was terrible in a way that made me genuinely angry to have wasted my time. It’s just shoddy, stupid work. No wit or whimsy or subversive fun. Just glossy garbage.

          • The “Wonder Woman” TV show may have been “gloriously awful”, but theme songs just don’t get any better:


            That is some seriously funky s**t. Those horns! Those drums! “Get us out from under, Wonder Woman!”

          • Plus, Lynda Carter (and Erin Gray, and THOSE COSTUMES) probably had more of an…impact on us hetero boys.

          • You are talking about intentional camp.

            Sontag’s essay also goes into unintentional camp (which she considered to be more pure) and this is where the artists are absolutely serious in their earnestness but they still fail. In other words, camp is failed seriousness. It is people who thought they were more talented than they really are.

          • I would call that more “kitsch,” which I enjoy somewhat, but less than straight-up camp. It’s more fun when I feel like everyone is in on the joke.

            If there’s an element of deflating self-seriousness or pomposity, I can enjoy it. But if it’s simply mocking someone’s failed efforts, I have a hard time.

          • I like Milan Kunder’s definition of kitsch as the “absolute denial of shit.” Thomas Kincade is my ultimate example of kitsch. Largely because I will never forgive him from stealing the title of “painter of light” from JMW Turner and then trademarking it.

            I imagine that in the context of the Sontag essay, Tiffany Lamps and Swan Lake are supposed to be unintentional camp. Both were meant with extreme sincerity by their creators but I suppose are seen as “really? we are supposed to take this seriously?” by the audience. At least the sophisticated and knowing audience. The naive audience might still take both seriously.

          • “It is people who thought they were more talented than they really are.”

            this is why i recommend miami connection to everyone. it’s self esteem gone too far!

          • Dangerous Minds is always pimping “Miami Connection”. I just added it to my wish list.

            Dammit, this post will end up costing me money! That’s not how it’s supposed to work!

          • miami connection is pure entertainment. pure, uncut, 100% entertainment. you could step all over it and still get 120 a gram, etc.

            you got an email?

          • Yeah, but I don’t wanna post it in the wide open for all to see. Paranoid, don’t’cha know.

            I’ll shoot you an email when you show up to my music post tomorrow at MD (hint, hint), because I have the power to see commenter e-mail addys over there now I think.

  9. Lord of the Rings. Mad Men. Bruce Springsteen.

    I’m sure I have plenty more, but those are the big three, in that order – i.e., I like a couple Springsteen songs, I think Mad Men might possibly have a redeeming quality (though don’t ask me what), and I think Lord of the Rings is utter garbage.

    It’s funny to see the things people list that I really, genuinely love – Bridesmaids, West Wing, tomatoes, Girls (which is easily the best show on TV not named Breaking Bad), etc. Subjectivity!

        • I think the movies are marginally better than the books, as they make at least an attempt at being entertaining. The books are a trainwreck of masturbatory, reactionary stupidity.

          • OK, but if you could put politics aside, appreciated the breadth and majesty of the world-building and myth-making, and hadn’t been programmed to find highly orchestrated violence entertaining, what would you think?

          • World-building in service of a stupid story is masturbatory. I’ll grant Tolkien did a lot of work to create Middle Earth, but that doesn’t change the fact that Middle Earth is an uninteresting place used to tell stories that are dumb. Except The Hobbit, which is excellent.

          • Also, frankly, why put politics aside? Literature is political, and LOTR certainly is political. It’s a polemic in service of an ideology (a few different ideologies, actually) I consider mistaken at best and evil at worst.

          • 1984 is a great political work. It’s also an overwrought and clumsy novel. They’re different things. (Animal Farm, on the other hand, works in both dimensions.)

          • That’s a sort of fair point. To this day, I think The Fountainhead is actually kind of entertaining (although “overwrought” and “clumsy” are not words I would fault *anyone* for using to describe it), even though its politics are basically wicked.

            I still don’t think it applies to LOTR. My chief complain is more the “masturbatory” than the “reactionary”. The book(s) is BORING. Kazzy has it about right with the “dicking around” business. There are all these extraneous things that happen so JRRT can show us his cool world building, and none of them have anything to do with the story.

          • “OK, but if you could put politics aside, appreciated the breadth and majesty of the world-building and myth-making, and hadn’t been programmed to find highly orchestrated violence entertaining, what would you think?”

            What if I just don’t appreciate myth-making and world-building? Or don’t appreciate it enough to watch 9 hours of orcs?

          • Or don’t appreciate it enough to watch 9 hours of orcs?

            On a scale of 1 to 10, indicating irrational prejudice against Orc-Americans, I would give this statement a 6.

            You’ve just been orcist-rated by the orcist-rater.

          • I was talking books. The movies are definitely bloated by needless spectacle.

        • Both.

          Tolkien is a very wooden prose writer to me.

          The movies are a pompous mess with my least favorite form of movie music. The overly pompous, pseudo-Wagner (but really sounds like 3rd rate Carl Orff) so-called epic music. This kind of music is pure melodrama, we are told what to feel by the music.

    • “Girls” frankly suffers from hype for me; meaning, I think it’s a good show, with promise (and how’s S2? It started again, right?); but constantly being told it’s the greatest, freshest, funniest thing ever gets my hackles up and makes me harder on it than I’d otherwise be (“be FUNNIER, dammit!”)

      (Baumbach’s debut “Kicking and Screaming” hits much of the same post-collegiate fecklessness, and is much more quotable, though it’s focused on males).

      That’s not fair to the show, but there you go; I don’t think I’m alone in getting defensive/skeptical when being told “YOU MUST LOVE THIS!” and thinking, “eh, its ALRIGHT…”

      • Kicking and Screaming is a very thinly-veiled version of my undergrad. Which happens to be the same alma mater as Baumbach.

          • fun dhex fact: it’s one of the few movies i’ve ever walked out on (free screening in college). i’m not down with aimless angst meekly toeing a human face for 90 minutes type stuff.

          • The only movie I was ever tempted to walk out on was the Blair Witch project.

            The only thing I ever did walk out on was a bad community theatre production of Arcadia. Arcadia is a very difficult play to perform and it was simply well-above the talent level of most of the group.

          • I walked out of Very Bad Things.

            I stopped watching Dogville about an hour into it, and I have never felt even the slightest urge to see the rest. Or anything else by Lars Von Trier.

            I once walked out of a sermon when the minister praised the idea of compulsory national service. Belief in God I can tolerate. But not that.

          • Trivia: I (sort of) know the guys who made “Blair Witch” (that is, I am very, very good friends with someone who served some production roles; and I am somewhat acquainted with the director; I attended college with both).

            And so, I am sorry to agree with you; that movie is pretty terrible, IMO. A triumph of marketing & “right time”, but just I don’t like the movie very much at all (but boy, is it leagues better than most of the director’s student films that I saw back in the day, lemme tell ya).

        • Jason, I love “Breaking the Waves” but had a very hard time watching it a second time,

          “Dancer in the Dark” is bleak in a way that actually makes it an intellectually weak, morally flawed film. (Rose and I saw it together, and we’ve discussed that it makes a genuinely unsound moral argument.) At a certain point, it crosses a threshold from “moving” to “ridiculous.”

          And from what I know of “Dogville,” I would HATE it. I refused to see it on principle.

          NewDealer, I saw “Arcadia” performed at the conservatory at the university where I went to medical school. I saw it twice, I loved it so much. Not all of the performances were that good, but most were very good and the play itself remains one of my favorites.

    • I got halfway through the first LOTR, to the point where they did a “Woh Bundy!” and declared themselves the fellowship of the ring and quite. 90 minutes just to get to the point where they say the subtitle of the movie? And most of it spent watching grossly oversized and undersized people just dicking around in a forest? Meh.

      Mad Men I also gave up on when it started to get magical and mystical or whatever. I have a very fine line for what I enjoy/tolerate in fantasy.

        • I must say I disagree on substance with these takes on LOTR, but I approve heartily on style. I want to see these on the DVD packages and movie posters.

          “Dicking around in a forest” – Kazzy

          “a trainwreck of masturbatory, reactionary stupidity” – Ryan Noonan

          Well done, gents.

          • My main beef is that Peter Jackson can’t fishing edit!! Enough already with the close-up shots of Elijah Wood swooning! I get it.

            (I found his “King Kong” similarly overlong and overwrought.)

          • An odd complaint given that he made a series of movies about books that feature things like Tom Bombadil, the single worst and most pointless character in the history of English-language literature (followed closely by Bella Swan, I think).

          • Glyph,

            For me, the problem is that I’m just not that interested in the substance. Which is a personal preference, wholly subjective.

            I was talking to Zazzy about this last night as she was watching “Mumsford Park” or some other drek that Colin Firth is either in or should be in. Here is my objection to period pieces:

            Unless there is something specific linking the story and the period, setting the story in a specific place and time that is not contemporary is just as likely to distract or frustrate as it is to entertain. I’d much rather watch a modern interpretation of Romeo and Juliet (which itself is really just a particular interpretation of an archetypal story) than a Shakespearean rendition, because I’m not particularly fond of Elizabethan times. That doesn’t mean the latter is objectively worse, just not of much interest to me. Star-crossed lovers are a universal, timeless story. On the other hand, Saving Private Ryan could have possibly been told during a different war, but probably not and it was a war story so it had a very limited window for time and place.

            Fantasy films are similar, in that they often construct a world that is unnecessary to tell the story. As someone not much interested in fantasy, they often lose me. This is not dissimilar criticism from what I offered of QT on the other thread, questioning whether he could have told his “revenge tales” without invoking slavery or the Holocaust.

            And, again, these are wholly subjective on my part. There are some periods/fantasy worlds that do interest me and which I do enjoy but, by and large, they’re not my thing.

            And Colin Firth drek? Fuck that shit.

    • My beef with Girls is that I’m pretty convinced that if the exact same show were set somewhere in the Midwest, most of the people in the media who have said what they’ve said about it would not have said those things. They’d be like me: Yeah, it’s good, and it’s really honest if to a fault. But it’s not that good. Which actually doesn’t mean it’s not one of the best things on right now; despite all the “Golden Age” talk, I actually am just not that drawn into scripted-plot TV right now and haven’t been for a number of years. There are a few things I like, and I mainly watch them only because the people in my life watch them and we enjoy doing that together (1), and (2) they just happened to catch me early on and I got hooked. Recall that the question wasn’t ,”What sucks that people say is good?”; it was more like (or I understood it more as), “What do you not like that everyone else seems to agree is great, and for possibly good reasons?”

      Ultimately, I think Girls received as many plaudits as it did (that’s received them, which not necessarily a claim about not deserving them) because it reflects the life that so many of the people who hold the professional positions that get those plaudits placed in prominent places live or have recently lived (read: “life”: being young (and an aspiring writer, no less!) in Brooklyn; professional position: writer at Slate, Buzzfeed, etc./whatever. Like, literally visually reflects it. I honestly think I’d be more inclined to watch the show if it was called Brooklyn. It’s not just about girls, and it’s sure as hell about people in one particular geographical and cultural place in space and time.

      But again, this whole thing wasn’t about saying stuff isn’t good. I’m sure not going to start arguing that Woody Allen’s classic stuff isn’t any good. It’s just that I’m weird and I actually don’t dig it as much as some of his later stuff that got just dismantled critically.

  10. Doc, knowing what I do about your childhood musical tastes and what you’ve now told us about this particular romance, I must assume the “I’d rather superglue live cockroaches to my face…” line in the OP is a tribute to this, and I approve.

    I kind of hit these recently elsewhere, but the ones that stick out for me most are comedy examples.

    TV: “Kids in the Hall” is widely cited as Python-esque (which I love), right down to the cross-dressing, but it was just meh to me. Likewise, “Arrested Development” sounds like it’s aimed right at me, and I like the actors, and it’s clever (maybe a little too much so – “clever” can sometimes overwhelm “funny” – see also: the uneven “Community”), but there’s a reason voiceover is tricky to handle anywhere (“show, don’t tell”) and I felt that AD’s VO telegraphed the callbacks. Don’t hate it, just don’t love it either.

    Movies: “Big Lebowski”, nearly alone amongst the Coens body of work, falls mostly flat (while still having enough good scenes/lines to be worth a watch), but it’s just not the brilliance I expect from them. Mel Brooks is justifiably a comedy legend, but maybe his innovations had been so thoroughly absorbed by the time I saw his films, that I found the jokes’ rhythms plodding (in contrast to Woody Allen’s, a similarly titanic influence on comedy, where they still struck me as quicksilvery).

    Outside comedy, I still haven’t seen “There Will Be Blood” or “The Master” because I hated “Magnolia” SO FREAKING MUCH that even considering the decent “Boogie Nights” and the intriguing if ultimately not entirely successful “Punch-Drunk Love” as mitigating factors, I feel PT Anderson must be punished.

    Music: Probably too many to list.

    • Whenever I write some kind of “horrible thing I’d rather do instead of the activity I’m describing,” I try to make it worthy of inclusion in that song. It is a work of genius. [Cherished childhood memory — growing up, during road trips our family had a rule that the music we’d listen to in the car was chosen on a rotating basis by all of us. When it was my brother’s turn, it would reliably be “Weird Al.” And we laughed with manic glee when that song played, because of how utterly grossed-out it made my mom.]

      I loved “Punch-Drunk Love.” I haven’t watched “Magnolia,” largely because I have another Idiotic, Failed Romance-related association with the soundtrack. (I’ve written about it before in another STQ, as it happens.)

  11. The biggest one might be this:

    The Princess Bride.

    I don’t hate it per se but it is not a cherished part of my childhood* and constant quoting from the movie tends to grate on my nerves.

    *I have a theory that too much of modernish culture seems to be about being constantly nostalgic about your childhood and not going on to explore more complex and nuanced works. Some of my friends were recently complaining about rewatching stuff they loved as children and how it is bad now. My reaction to this was not surprise. They seemed shocked and saddened though.**

    **Did I mention people have accused me of lacking an inner-child?

    • because i’m annoying, i’m going to recommend you read “retromania” by simon reynolds. good exploration of the constant quoting/reference/nostalgia machine.

      though i will say that there’s plenty of quotations and references in everything; it’s just the more “sophisticated” stuff tends to quote things from the same gene pool, giving it an air of mystery and a sense of belonging rather than the cross-cultural communications it is.

      • Heh. These “nostalgia” discussions with you prompted my Wed. music post at MD for 1/23. Tune in!

        (I am pioneering the use of hyper-personalized marketing).

      • The book looks interesting. I think I will pick it up from the library.

        Thanks for the recommendation.

    • I didn’t read or see The Princess Bride until I was in my forties. It is still space awesome, the book in particular, the best thing Goldman ever did in a long (if uneven) career.

      • My favorite book by William Goldman is The Season : A Candid Look at Broadway.

        In either 66 or 67, he went to see every or almost every single show on Broadway from the hits to the failures and wrote very compellingly about what worked and what did not. His analysis of the problems of Broadway are still largely true today even if his mention of ticket prices are very quaint.

        In other news, he looks different than I imagined him. He is much more handsome than I thought he would be.

        • I never read that one, because what I know about Broadway or theater in general would not quite fill an entire line of this comment box. I loved his Adventures in the Screen Trade books, though.

          • I read it in grad school as part of a production class.

            Another fun theatre thing to watch is CCNY’s public TV program “working in the theatre”. It is informative but the most interesting thing is seeing who is still around and who is not. The show is done panel style and each week is a different topic. The panelists are all supposed to be top of the game. You can or used to be able to find the entire archive on-line (the show is 32 years old). On most episodes, at least three of the panelists will have fallen into obscurity and are now forgotten.

    • you only lack an inner child if you don’t like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and the Simpsons (and It)

  12. Daft Punk.
    Neutral Milk Hotel.
    Arctic Monkeys.

    Breakfast at Tiffany’s.
    Pulp Fiction.

    Wuthering Heights.
    The Sandman.

    I’ll stop now.

    • Daft Punk sucks. Yeah, I said it.

      NMH are really good, but the cult around them is just..weird.

      But Sandman?!! Awright Kuznicki, bike rack outside the school, 3 PM.

    • I have never heard any music by the first band, and have never even heard of the second and third.

      The filmmakers took a terribly sad, wistful novella by Truman Capote and made it… I don’t know what that is, other than “overrated.” I like “Pulp Fiction” well enough. “Braveheart” is one of my go-to examples of drek that the Academy decided to reward for some reason.

      Ulysses is one of those books I think people tell people they liked, but didn’t really like. I can see someone appreciating it on an intellectual level, but I have a very hard time believing someone actually enjoyed it. And I think it (along with almost all modernist lit) is grossly overrated. I’ve never read Wuthering Heights.

      I will be joining Glyph at the bike rack to pummel you in disagreement about Sandman, though I will freely admit I think parts of it are sillier than its adherents (among which I number myself) will grant.

      • Ulysses is awesome. Stop thinking of it as a classic and just read it. Good story. Interesting characters.. Some really funny parts, and a few really dirty parts (they overlap.)

        And Sandman has some really good stuff, but it’s a comic book fercrineoutloud.

        • but it’s a comic book fercrineoutloud.


        • I have terrible trouble when a reader needs a decoder ring to understand what the hell is going on. Perhaps I flatter myself, but I like to believe I am a reasonably dedicated and intelligent reader. If, after read-through number three, I cannot make out what the holy hell is happening on the page, I put the fault on the writer rather than myself.

          Now, I say this as a die-hard fan of “Infinite Jest.” No doubt, its innumerable references will be lost on later readers, probably in the same way that the references in “Ulysses” are lost to people who didn’t live in Dublin around when it was written. Doubtless I’d like it if I were born into an Irish Catholic family in the early 20th century. But reading it in my living room in America at the beginning of the 21st, I spent far too many moments looking up at the Better Half and saying “I have no damn clue what is going on.”

          (And don’t even get me started on Henry Miller. Or Pynchon.)

          • Your point about Infinite Jest is spot on. In 1922, Ulysses was impenetrable, hence its scary reputation. In 2013, we’re used to stream-of-consciousness and obscure references, and can appreciate and/or read past them when required.

          • yeah i’m just sayin’ bro if you can do gravity’s rainbow fanfiction*, you can certainly do ulysses. does it help if you understand early 20th century irish politics? sure. does it help if you get all the little catholic in-jokes, or bits about the personalities in the gaelic revival? yup. but it’s not really that dense. dude invented the cinematic novel, so it helps if you think of it as a narrative driven by a camera that floats about from character to character.

            also what’s wrong with henry miller dude? i feel you on pynchon, he’s funny but probably coulda done a wee bit less hashish, but miller is deeply underrated as both a stylist and a storyteller, mostly because he was such a jerk about women.

            * i’d put dfw on the list of things i “should” like if such a list existed.

          • Just to be clear, I have read “Ulysses.” And there were large swaths where I had to scrunch up my forehead and read the passage four times or more before I could decipher WTF was going on. The bit that transpires in a brothel (I believe) and is structured like a play? Yeah, I have no frigging clue what any of that was about.

            Was some of it beautiful? You bet. But not nearly enough pay-off for the effort. I get the intellectual exercise of it all, but didn’t find it enjoyable in the least.

            And “Tropic of Cancer”? More of the same obscure, stream-of-consciousness (gad, I loathe that style), impressionistic hoo-hah. I… do not care for it.

          • Nothing’s changed, I still love you, oh I still love you
            Only slightly, only slightly less, than I used to,
            My love…

          • Bloom and Dedalus are exhausted, drunk, and overwrought, and thus seeing things that aren’t there.

          • I’m working my way through DFW’s Pale King. By far his most accessible novel. It’s hard going, knowing it’s the last new thing I’ll ever read from him, unless a few more essays are released.

            I love DFW. Not sure I like all the people who have tried to make a demigod of DFW, though. For crissakes, there has to be some distance put between the author and his work.

          • Mike, I have a sense of what’s “happening.” But clearly there’s a lot of meaning in that section that I am missing utterly, and I don’t enjoy the experience of knowing that I’m reading something and missing what it’s saying.

          • At least Ulysses was written in English. Try reading Petersburg, which, in addition to having been written in Russian, is a symbolist novel, meaning that it’s full of symbolism that, in many cases, doesn’t make immediate sense to a 21st century American reader. You will spend more time on in the footnotes than in the text. But it, too, is well worth it.

          • RE: demigod DFW – I think it’s a little disturbing the way people lionize and cultify artists who commit suicide, particularly those who do so at relatively young ages (so I see HST, for example, as a bit different).

            Cobain, Curtis, and Wallace are not better, or lacking in flaws, or immune from criticism because they killed themselves; but you’d think that because they did, that they somehow Glimpsed The Shining Light Of Truth That Is Denied To Us Poor Schmoes Who Lack The Courage To Leap Into The Abyss, or something.

          • HST inspired me to write howitzer prose, great arcs of philippic terminating in titanic eruptions. Problem was, it’s like those bands which release eponymous albums, what can they do for second acts? HST just kept mining the same vein of weirdness to the point where he became a cliché. Now we call it Gonzo Porn when the cameraman has to jump into the frame.

          • HST inspired me to write howitzer prose, great arcs of philippic terminating in titanic eruptions.

            Such as :

            I’ve just read your lousy review of Margaret’s concert. I’ve come to the conclusion that you are an “eight ulcer man on four ulcer pay.”

            It seems to me that you are a frustrated old man who wishes he could have been successful. When you write such poppy-cock as was in the back section of the paper you work for it shows conclusively that you’re off the beam and at least four of your ulcers are at work.

            Some day I hope to meet you. When that happens you’ll need a new nose, a lot of beefsteak for black eyes, and perhaps a supporter below!

      • Russell – listening to NMH’s “In The Aeroplane Over The Sea” is like wandering into a backwoods Southern revival tent, and listening to the preacher holler in some strange cryptic language that you can’t really understand, but there is something raw and real and personal and moving about it all the same*; and you start to wonder exactly what that punch that they handed you was spiked with, because your vision starts to whirl and the whole thing is starting to sound delirious; and then the marching band falls down the stairs.

        This is an endorsement, even if it doesn’t sound like one.

        * I think this idea was really, really influential to Isaac Brock when Modest Mouse was starting out.

      • Ulysses is… something.
        Joyce’s letters ought to never grace a civilized library (unlike playboy…)

      • No. But if you spent ten bucks on the latest superhero epic instead of three bucks renting Pulp Fiction, you’re kind of a silly one.

      • No. But it belongs on the movies one ought to see.
        Like Citizen Kane.

  13. I really dislike it when people call Hurricane Sandy a superstorm. It was either a large, strong tropical storm or a weak Cat 1 that hit a heavily populated area. If Sandy had been a “superstorm” like Andrew, Ivan, Gustav, Rita or Katrina there would have been more dead people than in New Orleans after Katrina.

  14. Make up. It irritates my skin and eyes.

    High heels. Bad for the body.

    One needs neither to be feminine.

      • Plus hair spray and dyes. Just the smell triggers migraine. And it lingers for days, like skunk on wet dog.

    • I feel certain high heeled shoes were invented by a cabal of orthopaedic surgeons who absolutely hated women. Trip and fall in high heels and you’ll get a nasty fracture of the midfoot.

      Every time I see high heels on a woman, I wince. Puts me in mind of those cruel Chinese who used to bind girls’ feet. Ugh.

      • I do sometimes wonder if he trend toward women who buy guns for self defense coincides with the trend of women who wear pointy heels? Because my limited experience suggest they might feel vulnerable.

        • rofl. Yeah, my policy on “holding doors for me” is “If I’m in high heels, please hold the door. I’m hobbled, and likely to fall! Otherwise, if I’m carrying a big box, hold the door. I’ll return the favor.”

  15. Wheel thrown Ceramics – As a sculptural artist, one who enjoys the processes of making things with my hands, I just can’t make myself like ceramics even though everyone around me salivates at the sight of a bowl because of how it was fired and what glaze or cone was used or how even and thin the walls are. No matter how much I would like to appreciate ceramics, in the end a bowl is a bowl is a bowl. I am going to artist hell for this one.

  16. I *hate* chipotle peppers. I love jalapenos, raw or peppered. I enjoy smoked foods, though do have a fine line between things that taste nicely smokey and things that taste burned. I love love love heat and spice.

    But chipotle peppers taste like barf to me. And, somehow, admitting this, is cause for the expression of vitriolic hatred by others.

    • I don’t know if you ever saw “Harvey Birdman, Attorney At Law” on Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim, but Lewis Black voiced a villain who was going off on a Lewis Blackian rant at one point that included a bit to the effect of “And what the hell is a chipotle anyway?!?!?”, which I always think of now whenever I see/hear the word.

      • The ironic thing is that I really enjoy Chipotle. But not chipotles. Fortunately, they don’t use any chipotles at Chipotle.

        • Chipotle peppers taste like barf, and Chipotle tastes like nothing (and you get to pay $8.00 for a bowl or tortilla full of nothingness).

          • Have you seen all the “Lifehacks” on Chipotle? You can get two types of meat… no extra charge! You can order tacos in any quantity with pro-rated pricing! Huzzah!

            Chris, I find your response curious because every now and then Chipotle tastes TOO salty if anything, but certainly never flavorless. Then again, if you are getting something silly like chicken or steak and not the barbacoa, you’re doing it wrong.

            Of course, it can’t hold a candle to Anna’s in Boston.

          • Kazz, it may just be that I live in a place where real Mexican food is never more than a block away.

          • Fully conceded that Chipotle, Anna’s, and other like places are NOT real Mexican food. I believe I’ve heard the style called the “San Francisco burrito”, though I don’t really know what that means. But it definitely lacks the unique flavor profile of real Mexican food… no lime, no cilantro (even though I do believe they call their standard rice cilantro lime), no acid, etc.

            If I want real Mexican, there is actually a fairly authentic place in my town, which is surprising giving the demographics. When I want Chipotle, I get Chipotle. It’s sort of like how Dominos or Pizza Hut might hit the spot for a very particular craving (usually drunk and/or hungover, and this may be more crave-by-association since Dominos or PH were usually the only places open late/early enough); but if you want pizza, they just won’t do, since they ain’t pizza.

            When I lived in NY, there was a fantastic food truck on 96th street called Super Tacos, that sold pretty authentic Mexican fare for cheap. It was real hit-or-miss with customers since a number of people went there expecting Taco Bell. Plus seeing tongue on the menu was a turnoff.

          • Re: price

            Will, I’m a bit surprised to hear that price is an issue. Where I am, Chipotle is pretty much on par with other fast food joints. I mean, if you look at individual unit pricing, it seems pricey (compare a $7 burrito to a $4 Big Mac), but the burrito leaves me full for hours, while I usually need to get something with my Big Mac (I am why the terrorists hate us). Zazzy and I usually spend about the same about at either Chipotle or McD’s (the latter being a staple of her pregnancy). Considering that Chipotle is using far fresher ingredients and providing better overall quality, I consider the price a win. But I realize that might be specific to where I live, where quality ingredients are readily available without a huge premium. I can imagine that not being the case everywhere. How does Chipotle’s pricing compare to other fast food joints? How does it compare to non-fast food joints of similar food quality?

          • Kazzy, yeah, I didn’t mean to make that sound snobby. Real Mexican food (which is anything but bourgie in most cases — I usually get it from a truck, and not a “food truck” in the same way that a Korean-Spanish-Polynesian BBQ fusion cupcakes and fried chicken food truck is a “food truck”) has just changed the way I taste food, since I moved here. I’m from the south, and while I absolutely love southern food, it’s not known for its wealth of flavors. When I got here, in addition to being too spicy, most of the food was really, really flavorful and kind of overwhelming. Now, I put serrano paste on my breakfast tacos and my favorite dishes all have a ton of curry.

          • Kazzy, historically I am a dollar menu kind of guy. At a fast food sort of place, I don’t like to get out paying more than $5. I suppose that’s less the case than it used to be. Chipotle prices are favorable compared to most (but not all) sit-down places.

            I have also found that I can often get a lower cost mission-style burrito elsewhere, if that’s what I’m in the mood for. I used to be able to save a dollar or two at Freebird World Burrito. Back in the southwest, there was another place that was a little cheaper than that.

            I do have to confess that I am not typically an “quality ingredients” guy. The money saved could simply be because of cheaper ingredients. Likewise, the savings could be because the others gave me an option for an equally acceptable smaller burrito. that part I can’t remember. I am so far from a Chipotle now that it’s ridiculous. I just remember Chipotle as being more expensive than what I considered to be alternatives.

          • Chris,

            Where is “here” for you? SoCal? Most of the folks I know from Cali are not huge fans of Anna’s or Chipotle (including Zazzy), likely for the reasons you mentioned. I’m curious to hear more about your experiences eating Southern food, as I’ve always found it to be rich and spicy, but “Southern” food captures a lot of cuisines, plus the food one eats as a tourist may greatly differ from that eaten by the locals on a daily basis.


            That seems fair. Relative to most other burritos, Chipotle is at the higher end. I’m not a Nazi about quality ingredients, but Chipotle tries to turn out a better overall product and it does show. Whether or not that is worth the dough is obviously a personal decision. And Chipotle’s are indeed huge and if you don’t need that big a burrito, there is little reason to pay for it.

            As I noted, I came-of-age on burritos eating at a local chain in Boston called Anna’s, which made really fantastic Mission style burritos. So good that when I travel back to Boston, I work my plans around their schedule and always get one for the rote (since some locations have started opening for breakfast but will still offer lunch burritos, I no longer have to wait until noon to depart; I can hit it at 9AM and grab two for the road and get home at a decent hour, but I’m digressing/drooling). Chipotle isn’t nearly as good, but it is the closest, so it ranks high for me.

            Chipotle also has a pretty strong commitment to sustainable food, which isn’t a huge thing for me (I don’t factor it in to my food buying decisions unless we’re talking about eating Bald Eagle or something), but is a nice perk. And it is admirable/impressive that they’ve build an empire without selling out.

          • Kazzy, I’m in Austin, TX.

            And by “southern food,” I mean traditional southern and soul cuisine: fried chicken (fried everything), greens, grits (shrimp and grits is my favorite meal — if I were on death row, it’d be what I ordered, and I have dreams about the shrimp and grits here), BBQ (Tennessee or North Carolina style), biscuits and gravy, that sort of thing. I should say that it’s not that it lacks flavor, just that southern food’s flavor palette is somewhat limited.

          • Gotcha. Yes, limited seems fair. Does Austin have good authentic Mexican? I’ve visited there a few times and most of the joints we saw were more of the Tex-Mex variety. They might have just been catering to the tourists as that was the area of town we were in.

          • Kazzy, there are plenty of authentic Mexican restaurants here, with a variety of different cuisines (also several authentic Central and South American restaurants), both in the form of trucks (pretty much ubiquitous) and sit-down restaurants. However, it’s unlikely that you’d find one while visiting, unless you knew someone who lived here. They rarely look like much.

            Most people who come here go to Chuey’s or Trudy’s or something, which are definitely Tex-Mex restaurants.

          • We mostly ate BBQ or whatever the bars were serving. I remember Stubbs being quite delicious.

      • I had a friend who hated cilantro.

        I say “had” for a reason: turn down too many invites to eat pho and you’re dead to me.

        • I have developed the ability to enjoy food with cilantro, and can sort of taste “around” it, if that makes any sense. Since avoiding it entirely means giving up several tasty cuisines of the world, I made me peace with it.

          But I don’t like it.

          • there’s always making stuff yourself. or using culantro, or thai basil…

          • If I invited you to enjoy a delicious bowl of pho, would you accept?

            Answer carefully… [squints eyes]

          • “I would delighted to have almost any excuse to share your company…”

            Ha! I’ve fooled yet another one!

          • Ha! I’ve fooled yet another one!

            Careful, sounds like this Kazzy character may be a pho-ny.

            I’ll see myself out; that one actually hurt me.

          • Once the door has been opunned to this sort of thing, there really is no closing it, heh.

          • Glyph is disinvited from the pho party. Especially if you pronounce “pho” the supposedly correct way, which is much more like “fuh”.

          • Is it “fuh”? ‘Round here people say “fah” (but note, I am not in a cultural center, so we could be wrong). I went with “foh” because it read better.

          • In Vietnamese it sounds like “fa ?” Almost a separate syllable at the end, on a rising tone, as we would end a question.

          • Everyone insists on a different pronunciation. “Foe” (rhymes with toe) seems to be the most common pronunciation and is what I usually use to avoid confusion and because I’m not entirely certain that it isn’t correct. But people who seem more knowledgable usually insist on something between “fuh” and what Blaise offered.

          • As while I am a food snob, I see little reason to be the type of douche that goes, “IT’S PRONOUNCED ‘FUH’, ASSHOLE!” when someone pronounces it ‘foe’.

            I’m entirely too busy being all sorts of other douches.

    • you realize that a chipotle is just a smoked jalapeno. They’re good in chili. But the base to chili should be good ancho, and use a bit of chipotle for spice and smoke.

  17. The Three Stooges, even though I’m a guy.

    Rush, even though I was raised in the 80s.

    Any of the Kardashian women, even though I’m straight.

    The fiction of David Foster Wallace, even though I’m big on modern lit.

    Shakespeare’s poetry, even though I’m also into old school lit.

    • On the second-to-last, you might enjoy his non-fiction. Outside of “Infinite Jest” (about which I have already said plenty), I find his fiction hit-or-miss, with some that I absolutely love and plenty that I think is all razzle-dazzle and no heart.

      But I love his essays. He writes in a much more down-to-earth, intelligent but not ostentatious, and deeply human way. My two cents.

      • Oh, I love his essays. The only reason I tried his fiction was because I think his essay work is amazing. He did one about taking a cruise which is one of my favorite essays of all time.

        • “A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again” is an absolute masterpiece. Everything in that collection is a gem.

          If you haven’t read his similarly fantastic piece about covering the annual porn awards celebration for “Rolling Stone,” you must.

          • I like his short fiction pretty well too (short story collection “Brief Interviews w/ Hideous Men”).

          • I love some of his short fiction, find some of it brilliant but too unsettling to “love” (“Forever Overhead” was the one that I remember being the most so from “Brief Interviews…”), and some I find too in love with its own ideas.

  18. Pretty much everything from Kent State to the first Walkman player. They were dark times, folks. You had to process a ton of ore for an ounce of treasure. Especially the early 1970s, culminating in the nadir of Bicentennialism, an orgiastic excess of bad taste, bad music and bad fashion.

    • For a brief period in Obama’s first term, I kept seeing clothing and home decoration fashions in magazines and such that indicated an attempted 70’s fashion revival. I still get the night terrors.

      Luckily, we seem to have come to our senses as a nation, and dodged that bullet. See, we CAN learn from history!

      • Oh, Glyph, you poor, deluded, optimistic soul, heh heh. The one lesson history teaches us is that we do not learn from history. Soon…. soon… the polyester leisure suit will make its return and Satan will chuckle and spread his leathery wings. Mwahahah!

  19. As someone who spent most of the 90s being that “alternative music guy”, I just could not, and still to this day, will not spend a millisecond listening to Sonic Youth.

    • I always had a love/hate thing going on with SY. When they remember that they are a rock band, they can tear yr face off; they are genuinely responsible for bringing certain avant-garde ideas and new tones/textures into rock music; they have a really good drummer IMO; they have made some genuinely great rock songs and records (contrary to popular opinion, this means “Sister”, not the remainder of “Daydream Nation” after “Teen Age Riot”.)

      Then they forget that they are a rock band and think they are beat poets or something, and I want to kill them all.

      • Peace attack
        Early book whistling
        Whistling earth
        Whistling earth day off
        Nature sex
        Nature sex yawn winking

        I hate that song.

          • I consider it a SY an example of when, as Glyph put it, SY “forget that they are a rock band and think they are beat poets or something.”

            It is worthy of preemptive hate.

          • The worst of it is, you might think Chris is joking, and parodying such nonsense. He is not. Those are actual lyrics, and beyond parody.

            But “Schizophrenia”, or “Sugar Kane”? Fishin’ A, man.

          • i’ve never been able to get into sonic youth. i won’t leave the room or anything, but they don’t grab my goat.

  20. I guess another nice thing I can say about Idiotic, Failed Romance #2 is that it has somehow managed to spawn a 200+ comment conversation.

    Strong work, Mark, wherever you are.

  21. I guess I was supposed to like Frank Sinatra–never could understand all the fuss.

  22. Did the title of this post make anyone else think of Russell as Tigger?

  23. 1. Radiohead – I’ve tried, really I have. I recognize they’re talented. But I just can’t get into any of their stuff.
    2. Melons that don’t have the prefix “water.”
    3. Beck – ok, this one I admit I don’t even get what makes people like him.
    4. Elvis Presley. There. I said it. I get that he’s important from a “History of Rock and Roll” perspective, but other than that, there’s absolutely nothing about his music that I find even remotely listenable.
    5. First-person shooters. I played Marathon when it first came out in the early-to-mid 90s, and was pretty much “meh” about it. I played Goldeneye a lot in college because that’s what all my friends wanted to play and it allowed for four players at a time, and basically hated every second of it (it didn’t help that I sucked so bad at it). I have yet to see how any of the multitudes of subsequent first-person shooters are any different from Marathon and Goldeneye.
    6. Raising Arizona – I like most Coen Bros. movies, and Big Lebowski is in my top 3 or 4 favorite movies of all time, but for some reason this one has never clicked for me. I blame Nic Cage.

    • Oh man. Some of this I get, some of it is irrelevant, but Elvis?!? And swapping Raising Arizona for Lebowski?!!

      Some things are just crazy talk.

    • Play Deus Ex? That’s a damn fine first person shooter.
      Hell, play System Shock. Also, insanely good.

    • I am so delighted to have you commenting that I am almost willing to overlook the outright insanity of your last item. Raising Arizona is easily my favorite Coen Bros. movie, and one of the few in which I genuinely like Nic Cage.

      I’m with you on 1,3 (I like “Loser” a lot, and that’s about it), 4 and 5. (A really good, ripe honeydew is bliss.)

      • There’s a word for commenters like him. That word is “recidivist”. Not a very pretty word, is it, Doc?

      • Heh – I need to comment more it would seem. Stupid Tuesday Questions and Monday Trivia at NaPP are easily my two favorite League rituals. My problem with Stupid Tuesday Questions is that they typically spark a fierce debate between me and The Wife, and by the time the discussion is settled, I’ve forgotten to leave a comment.

        • Also, too – maybe I need to give Raising Arizona yet another try. I suspect that the first time I saw it, too much went over my head since I was just a teenager, and my subsequent attempts to watch it were all ruined by that initial bad experience. But seriously – it’s about the only Coen Brothers movie that I’ve seen but just couldn’t get into, and the majority of their movies are easily amongst my 25 or 50 favorites of all-time: in addition to the aforementioned, their remake of True Grit is my favorite film of the last three years, and Fargo was the first movie that I could say that I really loved without knowing exactly why.

        • I submit that there is no shame in disliking any member of the Church of Scientology.

          For what it’s worth, Beck’s second album came out at a time when I was working at a record store. Everything about me at the time screamed out that I should have been a fan, and I’m sure that the store probably had the album playing on loop, so it can’t even be said that I didn’t give it a good listen. And yet…..I passionately loathed it. And still do.

          • Beck is one of the most talented and versatile songwriters and singer/musicians that I can’t imagine anyone really loving, rather than just liking. And I say that as someone who likes Odelay, Midnight Vultures and Sea Change all just fine while they are playing, and doesn’t really dislike his other stuff. But he’s mostly “impressive” rather than “moving” to me.

          • Someday, only words in Autocorrect will be used. People with atypical names will involuntarily have their name changed to the nearest noun, verb, or adjective.

          • What drives me nuts about Autocorrect isn’t so much when it replaces something nonstandard with something standard (though that’s tedious enough). It’s when it replaces something totally standard with another word. “We’re” for “were,” for example. THOSE ARE BOTH REAL WORDS, AUTOCORRECT!!

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