Sunday, May 31, 2009

Bound to a Chair and Forced to Watch

Unlike a lot of high falutin' critics who like to appear above it all, and who are, after all, paid to criticize, I'm just a fan, and so don't think there's a lot of bad art out there.  I do think that there is a lot of "good but not quite compelling" art.  You might be tempted to call it "worthwhile", but I have a lot less "while" left than I used to, and it's worth more to me now than it used to be.  So please don't think me a snob for passing on almost everything that's out there.


I'm a bell curve kind of guy, and figure that about 5% of stuff is great, another 5% totally sucks, and the rest is in that middle range that I call Movies (or whatever) I might enjoy if you tied me to a chair, put a gun to my head and forced me to watch (Or MIMEIYTMTACPAGTMHAFMTW, for short).


But the principal is especially applicable to watching TV, since it's right there in your house waiting for you. There may not be a gun to your head, unless you count the spouse who thinks you should be spending more time together. It's just too easy to sit down and find something "good" to watch. But I'll bet it's something already seen. And before you know it, 30 or 60 minutes of your life are gone. And for what? A rerun? Okay, "Family Guy", maybe.


Friends and family will swear by any number of shows, and the movie section of the Sunday Times would have you believe that we're going through a sort of movie renaissance. Nonetheless, the latest landmark-in -cinema/change-your-life TV show will have to just sit there at the end of my Netflix queue. Tempted to pick up that $15 copy of Rush Hour II at Costco? Jeez, it's probably on cable right now.


I've put in too many hours on things that were…good. And good just isn't good
enough anymore. Certainly not for an hour a week. So I guess I miss out on the water cooler conversation. I'm sort of anti-social anyway.


The last time I was tied up with a gun to my head was at my in-laws, who were watching "16 Blocks" (Bruce Willis, Mos Def, etc.). It wasn't bad exactly, but I'd sure like those two hours back now, thank you very much. I could have been reading a book or something. Which is an odd sentiment, given how a book will take up far more of my time than a movie. And I'm a slow reader, too, with the attention span of...whatever.


Theoretically, one of the good things about music, is that you can do other things while listening to it. So even if you don't love it, you've not completely wasted your time. Which is why, when I'm a captive audience, I have to do something, or that bell curve just doesn't apply, and the "suck" percentage goes way up. So when I'm over at someone's house for dinner, the host gets the impression that I'm trying to be a helpful guest, when in fact I'm just trying to avoid completely wasting my time. And who knows? Maybe I'll be able to make my way over to the stereo.


But even when the laundry is getting folded, I'm stingy with my music listening time, and consider it a particular imposition when someone thrusts their music upon me. It's too much like how I thrust mine upon them.


But marriage forces some compromises, and I do make an effort for my wife if she really likes something. Back in the Eighties, she loved Men at Work. I thought they were…good, but I wasn't going to expend a lot of my limited listening time to them. I did break down and give them a try on a Walkman while taking the train to work. For some reason - standing uncomfortably in a crowded smelly train? the screeching brakes not quite drowned out by the headphones that wouldn't stay on? Reading my book? - this didn't help much.


Why am I like this? It probably stems from an incident when co-worker Joe, insisting that I hear this great new song, practically duct taped his headphones on me, only to subject me to Chris Rhea's "Lady in Red". I had to sit there, grinning at him as my ears and brain were ground to dust.


So, no thanks, Joe.
I'll see you in hell, Chris.
Good, but not great, Men at Work.



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