Friday, December 30, 2005

Happy New Year!!!!

Happy New Year all, and once again, thanks for joining me in TIA's first full year in blogdom. Hope you all decide to stick around in "The '06" (that's what all the cool kids are saying).

As an extra incentive, I thought I would give something back to the readers today. While most outlets are preoccupied with trendy end of the year lists, year-in-review retrospectives, or soon-to-be broken resolutions proclaimed in fits of self-deluded piety - TIA will go in a different direction.

I will clue you in to some of the deep, dark secrets that lie behind the bloggy veneer of TIA. In the process, I hope to unburden myself with some of the things weighing on my conscience, the baggage that I have been toting around with me throughout 2005 and, in some cases, for most of my three-plus decades. Welcome to my end of year confessional - my purge by fire - from the sublime to the ridiculous.

Literary Confessions

1. Something Old: As a one time English major (before converting to Philosophy) I know I'm supposed to feel differently, but I never was much of a Faulkner fan. His work just never spoke to me, and reading him was always more labor than love. It's one of those rare instances (very rare) where I prefer listening to people talk about the author to actually reading the author himself. I'm more energized by the reverence for him, and the ideas that fans extract from his works, than the actual text. I know I'm wrong, but it is what it is.

2. Something New: Like some of the major cultural/literary trends in recent memory, I never did catch on to the J.M Coetzee buzz. The guy has won the Booker Prize and all sorts of other accolades, and so many people whose opinions I respect are fans, but he doesn't do it for me. His books tend to sit around unread and stare at me with the accusatory stare that a book assumes when it knows that you're watching mindless television filler rather than leafing through its pages. The type of book that nags you. I put him and Phillip Roth in the same category of new fiction that leaves me uninspired.

3. Guilty Pleasure: Page Six. What? Stop shaking your head at me. I know it's Rupert Murdoch's paper, and it's not exactly a "literary" confession, but the truth of the matter is The New York Post does two things very, very well: sports and gossip. The rest is utterly worthless, unless you want to scratch the masochistic itch and read a Michelle Malkin or John Podhoretz column. My roommate has a subscription so I indulge this little curiosity from time to time (and by "time to time" I mean daily). It's perversely gratifying, and life can't be all boring foreign policy tomes all the time. There, now I feel better.

Musical Confessions

1. Guilty Pleasures: Bad things happen when you have an iPod and too many Stella Artois. The ability to find individual songs off of obscure records and download them inexpensively (in the anonymity of one's home) can lead to some pretty embarrassing morning-afters. Try this one on for size: in a pique of alcohol-inspired pop music nostalgia (a nostalgia that most resembles some deranged euphoric recall like fondly reminiscing about leg warmers and shoulder pads), I actually downloaded: "How Deep Is Your Love" by the Bee Gees, "If You Leave Me Now" by Chicago and, last and definitely least, "All Out Of Love" by Air Supply.

These songs offend almost every musical bone in my body, to the point that I cringe when typing this admission. These are the songs that occupy the space in my psyche that defies convention and wants to believe that artists who embody the antithesis of everything that appeals to me on an aesthetic level, on occasion, manage to strike a chord and tap into beauty. Or at least can find a formula of musical expression so catchy and irresistible as to overcome my free will.

But this less critical part of my mind is almost always shouted down by the hipper voice, the more pretentious - and aggressive - purist who has no patience for such trash. Wielding the daunting threat of shame, and the power of arrogant certainty, this more discerning voice almost always wins out and so I go and cleanse my musical palate with something more full-bodied.

And yet, when no one's looking, and I'm in that odd mood, I still put 'em on. Resistance is futile.

Sure Signs That I Hate America

1. Make of this what you will, but when I used to watch the Looney Tunes cartoons as a youngster I could feel myself secretly rooting for Wile E. Coyote. I wanted him to finally capture and eat the Road Runner. I guess that, after a while, I started to empathize with the poor guy. Such dedication, such effort, such ingenuity (albeit poorly planned) - with the object of his desire always just out of reach. A sisyphus-ean toil predictably culminating in a long death spiral and puff of dirt.

Unfortunately for my everlasting soul, it doesn't end there. I was also pulling for Sylvester to finish off Tweety (if anything just to silence the annoying little critter), and found myself siding with Tom over Jerry on more than one occasion. And would it have really been such a tragedy if Gargamel was able to satiate his lust for Smurfs with one or two of the little guys? I mean, would the Smurf Village have been ruined forever by the loss of the odd Smurf here and there? I think not.

2. And for some reason unbeknownst to me, I always wanted to the hare to beat the tortoise in that fabled Aesopian race. Maybe the tortoise just seemed a little smug and preachy to me. A bit too self satisfied for my liking. I remember thinking "Just wake up already," and wishing I could reach into the story to prod the little rabbit every time he took his ill-fated nap. And yet, I think I was on the "right" side of every other of Aesop's fables - intuitively so. I'm sure some pop-psychologist could have a field day with that.

Not Laughing

It's also the case that I'm often on the outside looking in at what many people consider to be comedy. More frequently than I would like, I'm there half-heartedly nodding along, and forcing a smile, listening to a conversation about a comedy classic that failed to garner more than a chuckle out of me. For example, Caddy Shack. Never really moved me the way it seemed to move almost every other member of my generation. In the realm of TV, the standout would be Happy Days. For me, Happy Days jumped the shark with episode one. I'm sure that I just uttered some type of comedic blasphemy, but such is the case. Worse than Caddy Shack or Happy Days: Adam Sandler. I've tried. Honest. But he irritates more than amuses, and his schtick is pretty damn near unwatchable for me.

I'm sorry if I've offended anyone's taste in any way, but I do feel so much lighter now, better prepared to meet my maker. I could go on (trust me), but I think I've done enough damage to my reputation today. Besides, you'll have something to look forward to next year - more embarrasing/incriminating revelations.

Feel free to leave your own suggestions in the comments, or point out how clueless I am about any or all of this. Otherwise, enjoy the final days of 2005!!! See ya next year.

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