vendredi, octobre 23, 2009

Me No Understand

I don't know when I gave up being a know it all. It might be when I realized I didn't know it all. Since then, my motto has been: "the more you know, the more you know how much you don't know." Some Zen guy said it. It essentially means: "I know it all about not knowing it all." Which is one of the more beautifully ridiculous contradictions of eastern thought.

That said, many of Life's mysteries evade me to this day.

I don't understand why I'm the only one who thinks that early Pearl Jam and Hootie and the Blowfish are aural doppelgangers. Eddie and Hootie have identical vocal agendas. I tell people: Put them both on as background (admittedly the only condition under which I've ever actually heard either of them) and you'll see. When you're on your cell phone with traffic whizzing by you can't tell the difference.

I have no idea why writers and audiences continue to fall for the Time Travel Conundrum (read: COP OUT). Time travel as entertainment reached its apex with the first Back to the Future movie (the nadir being represented by nearly every effort since then.) Why do people keep going back to a well that is so dry? As a plot device, it cannot answer the questions it asks, and those questions end up a gigantic distraction. Even the writers of blessed LOST admitted that writing time travel into a script is a lot like dating a super hot girl. It starts of really slick and cool and makes you think you're really cooking. Then you realize the maintenance is greater, more complicated than you ever dreamed. Did any one NOT begin to lose interest at the increasingly convoluted machinations and implications of season 5? A good friend and admirably devoted husband, let's call him Jason Adair, recently teased around the idea of going back in time to experience relations with the younger, hotter version of his wife. On the glossy surface, the idea had a good deal of initial merit. A few moments of reflection saw him discarding the idea wholesale, and not because of its scientific impossibility.
Honestly, the last time I saw a compelling time travel piece was on Comedy Central. A comedic duo played the role of a scientist and the scientist's friend. It went something like this.

(Scientist is working on his time travel device. Friend enters and inexplicably drinks an entire bottle of gatorade while Scientist eats an entire twinkie. Then the conversation begins.)
F: How's the time travel experiment going?
S: Great. I can now go back in time 30 seconds.
F: Let's try it!
(Scientist pushes a button and lights flash. They rewind to the beginning of the scene. Friend enters and drinks ANOTHER bottle of gatorade. Scientist eats another twinkie)
F: How's the time travel experiment going?
S: Great. I can now go back in time 30 seconds.
F: Let's try it!

You can guess what happened next. At the third iteration, their ability to consume the gatorade and twinkie were significantly impaired. Pink liquid ran down his shirt and all over the stage. I was sure the scientist was about to puke up the twinkies. Still they forged ahead, as everyone watching marveled, and reveled in their genius. How better to encapsulate the rash inanity of slipping even a little time travel into your plot? They went as far as they could without dying, and at some point during their trip backward, the classic Star Trek fight music came on and they engaged in a hilarious slow motion melee. I was breathless. And I hoped that they had ended time travel in entertainment for awhile. At least until a messenger from the future arrives and tells us the idea must be compelling again, lest some future event be prevented from occurring due to a missed event in the past, or our present, which would not have occurred without the messenger from the future travelling back from a time when the event which never occurred was in danger of not happening, or the one that did occur was in danger of un-happening.

I also might not be able to wrap my head around the modern immigrant. To be clear, I honestly consider everyone who wants to come here legally and make a go of it as my brother or sister in arms. My own mother emigrated from South Africa in the 70's, then proceeded to bring most of her family over. I get them. They left their homeland, for which they rightfully allow themselves to harbor a certain amount of fond reverence. But they recognize that they came here for a reason. Or several reasons. My mother is the most patriotic person I know. She raves about America far more often than born citizens. She knows it isn't perfect. She knows no country can be. But sings patriotic songs without even the tiniest hint of irony. She has read the constitution and considers her citizenship one of the greatest privileges of her life. In contrast, my relentlessly negative sister-in-law (let's call her Jorba Jorbensen) seems to have come here from beautiful foreign shores for one purpose: to complain. Americans are uncivilized. Americans are selfish. This country is ugly and the food is terrible. I've never heard a positive word. Her monumental contempt for our history and institutions is equalled only by her unthinkable ignorance of both, which is really odd coming from a person who is otherwise so fun, smart, and hardworking. Every conversation with her leaves one asking: Why are you even here? She's like a person who invited herself to dinner so she could complain about the food. If she represents the current batch of new arrivals, I don't understand them. And I can't comment further without sounding xenophobic.

Every once in a while I think I understand reality television. Then I'll catch a glimpse of a show that represents the ass end of it and realize it is WAY beyond my comprehension.

For the life of me I cannot understand why you are not watching Madmen.

For a second, I understood why Obama got the Nobel. It was for the courageous way that he continued Bush's "failed" policy in Iraq and got the media to keep quiet about it. Or maybe it was for the way he escalated the war in Afghanistan, finding new ways to mismanage a front that Bush had "ignored." Or maybe it was for the way his administration went to such great lengths to ignore the nuclear program in Iran until, apparently, we all have to panic about it. Was it, perhaps, for giving the Queen an i-pod? It all seemed to make sense until I realized the voting process was over just a few days after he took office. So I guess he got it for making speeches. Which I don't get. I mean, they were good, but . . .
Come to think of it, there's another thing I don't get. Just after the election, his supporters all put up these signs that said: "yes we did." Did what? I thought the point, the goal, was to improve America. How can you say you did that after ZERO days in office? I guess the point, the goal, was just to get in office. OK, now I get it, its like Bush's ridiculous "Mission Accomplished" speech. Damn these guys are alike!

But there are more important things I don't get. For instance. . .

Why, WHY are only women's pants allowed to be woven with that blessed stretchy material? It is magical. It is liberating. It is proof that men don't get it, whatever "it" is, and I can't figure out why we don't.

Dang. I didn't know how long a missive about the massive gulf of my incomprehension could be. If I stop here, it is for lack of time, not material.

Suffice it to say that, whatever the topic, my most likely response is a simple: I don't get it.

Which goes to show how enlightened I am.

1 commentaire:

.när'sĭ-sĭz'əm. a dit...

oh goodness man i love reading your stuff.

i always walk away feeling strange and a little stupid but always pleasantly puzzled and brain worked.

honestly, blogging friend, right on.