Opinions and Rants #2: The Miserable Ramblings of a Geezer

Don't you just hate it when some old geezer starts to whine and moan about how great things used to be and how shitty things are now? Well that geezer is right, and I'm that geezer.

First off, I don't know if you noticed but the sitcom is dead... even the New York Times says so. I like sitcoms, they get a bad rap these days but they were often quite good. Some episodes of "Good Times" were brilliant and poignant. Some episodes of "Three's Company" had me laughing to myself for weeks. Some episodes of "The Bob Newhart Show", "All in the Family" and "Cheers" rivaled a Neil Simon play. Sure, they could often be stupid, like "Gilligan's Island", but then not everything needs to be high art - sometimes being entertaining is good enough.

We are so jaded and cynical these days. Take a good look at contemporary comedians - they're basically a bunch of sarcastic bastards. I recently saw the latest Harold and Kumar movie where Doogie Houser does more drugs and Kumar has a fantasy about having a threesome with a girl and a bag of marijuana. Ha, ha, ha, ha, I get it. The shock. The awe. How over the top. (Read everything in yellow with a cynical sarcastic tone, and you'll understand my opinion of the movie.) Don't get me wrong, I laughed. But we've come a long, long way from The Philadelphia Story, and it kind of makes me sad.

Here's how much of a geezer I am - I didn't even like The Dark Knight. I thought Ledger's rendition of the Joker was brilliant, and the story was pretty good, but I was begging for it to end! What was it, five friggin' hours long? I remember watching Return of the King and begging Frodo to throw the damn ring in the volcano! Throw it dammit! End this movie so I can get out of this stinking theater and go cut my grass! At least they had intermission back in the day, so I might have made it through The Sound of Music. (I would make a horrible movie critic.)

Is it me, or is everyone hanging around the comic book section at the bookstore over thirty? When did comics become primarily for adults? When I was a kid snagging the latest issue of The Avengers , I don't remember a bunch of adults huddled around the stand. Not that there's anything wrong with adults reading comics (I just bought an expensive hardcover collection of Superman comics), but where's the kids? Reading Manga?

And don't even get me started with the music scene. Almost every song in the top forty for the past six or seven years has been R&B/hip-hop. If that's your thing, that's great, you should be in hog heaven right now. Me, I'm in hog hell. I can't stand anything new - and that's the very definition of geezer. Don't tell me indie music is where it's at, and it just doesn't get radio airplay it deserves. Death Cab for Cutie and The Shins are just plain awful. I'm no rock snob either... I'll take ABBA or Andy Gibb any day of the week. It's as if we've run out of original melodies.... in fact, when you think about it, there is only a finite amount of possible melodies in pop music, and we may have tapped it dry. Sounds like a good topic for my next miserable rambling post.


  1. I think the fissures of your brain are beginning to smooth out, either that, or senility (Alzheimer's) is setting in early.....

    But seriously, I agree with your ramblings, and feel your pain. There is plenty of "suckage" out there. While it's much harder, it's better to "light a candle" than to "curse the darkness." Therein lies our mission as bloggers (mine anyway)! Give the people what they need, not what they want (let the gossip bloggers do that).

    I agree about The Dark Knight. To me, it was this: a crowd of people gather and something blows up, a crowd of people gather and something blows up, a crowd of people gather and something blows up, repeat. Heath Ledger was fantastic to watch, but that was about it. And even his performance was "colored" by the fact we were watching a dead man, for all practical purposes.

    A great sitcom is The Office. Just bought the fourth season on DVD today. No laugh track on that one.

  2. When I started this new incarnation of the Cafe it was was with the intent of focusing on things from the past, mostly between 1950 and 1980 I guess. While I have no rules and can discuss anything no matter how recent (or ancient) I seem to gravitate towards older things that are less elaborately produced and flashy, but have some charm I like despite the flaws and shortcomings.

    Even older great movies (like Dr Zhivago or The Lost Weekend) have a special quality I cannot define that most newer films are lacking. I am not sure why this is.

    Sitcoms as well. Yes, some of the sitcoms I like are not really as funny to me now as when I 1st watched them, but I recently got all 3 seasons of Gilligan's Island and really enjoy them and wish i could get others I enjoy, like The Beverly Hillbillys and I Dream of Jeanie. The sitcoms of today (what little I have watched) are based on simply insulting one another. Everyone sits around and does nothing and one person says something which is a set up for someone to make a rude or insulting remark... laugh track... then repeat ad nauseum.

    As horrid as movies and music and TV are in the USA or west, its is all brilliant works of genius compared to what comes out of Asia (I live in China). The worst of the west is replicated here and Chinese pop music is so unbearable I cannot put it into words. The state run CCTV is something no human being should have to stomach, but most people here love the soap operas and corny variety shows. It can all get worse my friend.

    I miss old comic books and music too. I am looking at the CDs by my computer... Billie Holiday, Miles Davis, The Supremes, Stan Getz, The Stranglers and Tangerine Dream... Maybe I should catch up with the times but I see no reason to as of yet.

  3. May I add... there are no comic books at all in China. some low grade manga but not even the best of that stuff. When i say none I mean none.

    Animated cartoons on TV here are almost all Chinese produced now. Seems all the people were watching the stuff piped in form the States or Japan, and how does the Chinese Government solves this? Do they produce higher quality animated shows? Do they advertise or promote what they have more? No, why do that when you can just block all the stuff from the US or Japan and show only low quality Chinese animated shows on TV, stuff that looks like it was done by 1st year film students trying to learn to the equipment still. Horrible stuff. And then there is no need to raise the quality since all competition has been erased. I did see some episodes of Sponge Bob (dubbed in ludicrous Mandarin)in Cheng Du last spring, but mainly all you see here is another retelling of the goddamned monkey King story... so relax a little, it is not so bad :)

  4. Thanks Chris and Bill, your comments have helped me emerge from my ranting maniacal stupor.

    I fear, however, that the next time I catch sight of a show like "The Hills" or "American Idol" my fever may return.

    Chris- have you tried the original BBC version of the Office? It took me an episode or two to get into, but it one of the best shows ever.

    Bill- are you in China on a permanent basis? Sounds like a great experience, but one that I wouldn't necessarily want to live with permanently. Of course, TV isn't everything... I've considered putting mine to the curb several times, and I can't tell you how long it's been since I've listened to the radio (it's either R&B/hip-hip or "More than a Feeling" for the billionth time on a classic rock station). I miss KROQ in California, but I hear that has even gotten pretentious and lame.... I feel another miserable whine and moan coming on, so I better quit while I'm a head.

  5. It seems I have renounced the air-conditioned nightmare and have resettled here in China for a few reasons. The simplet being I have no deep ties in the States and I have decided to make some life with my wife Ivy here. I guess we could go back to America somehow ,though it is not that easy from the American side to get all the visas and permits, and I would have to come back and live for maybe 2 years alone and "establish myself" before the govt there would consider allowing her to come over... and I do not have a good track record of succeeding financially in the US.

    I have been here four years and am becoming one of those Americans who is beginning to lose the thread that connects him to his own culture... but better to be an outsider in a foreign land than in your won I assure you.

    I do not hate America, but I have been set adrift. Alas. But what I wouldn't give for a Wendy's cheeseburger sometimes :(

  6. Gil,

    Forgive my lateness to this post. Chaotic hell of my own with a ton of work at the university lately. Speaking of which - sometimes, just sometimes, I feel slightly less (ever so slightly) less geezerish when I chalk up the current thematic and visual messes to late postmodernism. It doesn't help or really even band-aid my pain, but it does provide a sound theoretical basis for pastiche - which seems to be the basis for everything these days from Family Guy to the stand-up comedians you mention. If these terms are unfamiliar to you - there's plenty out there to read - but, essentially it's "blank parody". Or better yet, let's let good ole' F. Jameson expound:

    "Well-known academic Fredric Jameson has a somewhat more critical view of pastiche, describing it as "blank parody" (Jameson, 1991), especially with reference to the postmodern parodic practices of self-reflexivity and intertextuality. By this is meant that rather than being a jocular but still respectful imitation of another style, pastiche in the postmodern era has become a "dead language", without any political or historical content, and so has also become unable to satirize in any effective way. Whereas pastiche used to be a humorous literary style, it has, in postmodernism, become "devoid of laughter"

    Amen Frederic. I concur. Pastiche these days leaves me cold. I need the bite of real satire or parody - not empty pastiche (a la' FAMILY GUY). Not that it doesn't serve and have a purpose. I just am sick of it.

    Sorry to take up so much room here Gil, but you may recall my similar post about Nostalgia (another major condition of postmodernism). You were kind enough to leave a beautiful comment so I thought I'd reciprocate by saying back to you - AMEN. Why are we fossils at 38?


  7. Percy - And proud of it!

    Chick - Glad to see you back. Thanks for the highly interesting comment.

    I don't ask a lot of comedy (hell, I laugh at The Three Stooges), but this "Family Guy" type of humorless, self-referential, sarcastic, cynical, sardonic, jaded, and necessarily profane humor is oh, so PLAYED... and I'm waiting for it to just go away.

  8. When did comic books become literature for adults? How about when the price jumped from 25 cents an issue (what I paid in the middle 1970s when I was in junior high) to six bucks an issue (at a fraction of the size) today.

    By comparison, we'd go see a cheapee second run matinee at three bucks, or 12 times the price of a comic. Now, mark up the price of a first run as high as you want--make it twelve bucks, and you're still looking at (at best) twice the cost of a slim comic book.

    Here's another comparison. We'd also buy Edgar Rice Burroughs SciFi paperbacks at $1.25 (after the price jump from .95). Comics made a similar price jump to .35 a copy. That's still roughly a paperback for the cost of four comics. Use that same rate of exchange today....How many paperback books would kids be buying today, if each paperback cost $24? I don't even pay CLOSE to that for hardcover books (my eyes have gotten too cranky to put up with mass market paperbacks).

    I don't know if the hip hop happening groovy cats from Nowsville earn their bread (sic) the same way I did back in the day (baby sitting, mowing lawns, and brush painting houses)....but comic books are asking for a lot of sweat for less than 20 pages of story...........