Our culture tells us daily what we ought to care about. From the news that gets pushed to the front page, the daily echo-chamber fascinations of the cable news networks or the music they play on the radio, your environment and options are being perpetually hewed down to what other people think you ought to like. I add one My Chemical Romance song (it rocks and you can't convince me otherwise) to my last.fm library and I have to spend the next week picking bubblegum pop out of my library like so many ticks from the fur of a fellow orangutan. And eating them, 'cause what're you supposed to do? Throw them away? That's wasteful.
We'll start off with a couple buckets of crap I believe have been foisted on an innocent populace by those with their own agendas. And because undiluted Internet Cynicism(TM) is an ugly thing, I'll bring attention to some legitimately awesome things everyone should be appreciating. "The Cake is a Lie" refers to things and ideas that just don't live up to the billing. If you get the reference, props will be awarded at a future date. Save your receipts.
I can't count the number of times I've seen some hippie in the aisles of Trader Joe's, gushing about how much he loves soup. How great it is on a cold day, how tasty the vegetables are. This is bullshit. Soup has an important place in human culinary history, but let's be real: it has always sucked. Soup is the natural consequence of confusion--you have a bunch of food items and don't know what to do with them, so you throw 'em in water and see what happens. Ask yourself whenever you're eating something, "How was this food invented?" In the case of soup, I've put together the following re-enactment:
(Night time in the high desert of Mongolia. Two Mongols are sitting by a campfire.)
Mongol 1: Okay, what have we got to eat? I've got a pot and some water, but no food whatsoever.
Mongol 2: Let's see. I've got a goat's head...and a leather shoe.
Mongol 1: Any other goat parts?
Mongol 2: Just the head.
Mongol 1: I feel you. Is the shoe ox leather, at least?
Mongol 2: No doubt. We don't have anything to flavor the broth, do we?
Mongol 1: I can stab my horse a little and we can use some of its blood.
Mongol 2: I wish I knew how to quit you.
That's how it happened and you can't convince me otherwise. Soup has its place in human events, but we can do better. The sooner we can marginalize it to the point of being just a thin substrate we feed the homeless (much like the Egyptians fed their slaves beer), the better off we'll be.
Two things: first, I support the equality of women in all aspects of life. Second, notice how the WNBA ball looks tiny even in a cartoon that's supposed to over-exaggerate how awesome the league is? That ball is actually drawn life-size. It weighs less than 4 ounces, yet WNBA players still shoot 3s by launching the ball off their chests with two hands. Pretty awesome picture, though. I hope she doesn't shatter the backboard with that layup.
I don't really want to pile on when the WNBA and other all-female leagues are struggling financially, but they just don't produce a quality product. I don't hear about sick moves and amazing athleticism, I hear about Hope Solo's social issues on Team USA, and how these women are inspiring young girls. Inspiration is a great thing, but there's a reason I avoid Rick Reilly's columns like the plague: treacly sentiment isn't that compelling. The on-field/court product needs to be there. Crowds of bored schoolchildren watching sports played at 70% speed (though to be fair, 20% ticket price) by teams named after abstract concepts like Freedom and Beat and "Athletica"? Talk about compelling. I'm sorry, ESPN announcer, I can't look forward to tonight's star-studding match-up between the Hayward Ennui and the West Newbury Anaphylactic Shock (there's a team called the Fever, this isn't unreasonable), held in the Johnson & Johnson Feminine Wash Arena. I'm just kidding; they don't get their own venues.
I get that the NHL and NBA have to a limited degree permitted "concept" team names, but these are really bad. Even when they have golden opportunities, they ruin them. There is a WNBA team named the Minnesota Lynx. Not Lynxes, just one Lynx. I don't care if it's a solitary animal. It's a team sport. You know what's compelling? A pride of lions. You know what's not? A single goddamn Lynx. Why doesn't the Lynx have other Lynxes to play basketball with? Because he's an asshole and nobody wants to play with him. The most inexcusable part? According to their website, the Lynx are the sister team of the Minnesota Timberwolves NBA franchise. The exact same organization that took a stereotypically "lone" animal and made it plural for the sake of decorum wasn't about to make the same move for their WNBA franchise. Not on their watch.
Finally, the WNBA is not the first professional basketball league for women in this country. They replaced the now-defunct NWBL (National Women's Basketball League). Ought you take the obvious step of hitching your carriage to the enormously successful NBA? Nah, let's just slap together an acronym that looks like a blackout-drunk text message and call it a day. Good meeting, everyone.
How much do I really need to say? I dug the big zombie bender we've enjoyed for the last few years, because you can't romanticize zombies. You either kill them, run from them or find a nice balance between the two. You don't empathize with them and you certainly don't make eyes at them across the goddamn school cafeteria. Zombies were safe because we could be reasonably sure there weren't any Hot Topic merchandising deals involved.
Honestly, this is what we're seeing: the generation of children who obsessed over Harry Potter (they didn't just read the books as light entertainment) now holds the belief that magic and witchcraft and teenage hormones should all be wrapped up into an eye-rolling abomination of fiction, just as a matter of course. This isn't going away. You've been warned.
The following are things that I like and that I feel are contributing positively to our culture. Please make an effort to appreciate them more and integrate them more completely into your lives. These sentences are almost entirely useless, but I need them to demarcate where the terrible crap ends and the awesome crap begins.
Take a look at this. Apparently prehistoric crocodiles could "gallop" as well as swim. How, exactly, would our civilization be able to advance with these things running around? Short answer: it wouldn't. Our monkey ancestors (every time you talk or write about evolution, one cancerous cell forms in Sarah Palin's brain. Yes we can.) wouldn't have made it out of the trees. Honestly, the deeper you look into the fossil record the more you realize that the world has been a ridiculous place for most of its existence. It was populated by animals so absurdly well-equipped for predation that the lower links in the food chain didn't stand a chance. God had to call down meteors and ice ages just to wipe out His own overpowered creations. Let's thank our lucky stars He takes interest, because even the predators we see today would be pretty terrifying with even some small changes. Sharks that weren't restricted to the water? Tigers with sticky long-range chameleon tongues? Hell, I run for the hills when I see a flying cockroach.
I don't usually use this space to plug a specific band, show or entertainment product I consume. This is an exception. It's a metal band from the American Midwest, and good innovative American metal is a precious commodity these days. I've enjoyed these guys for a while and it frustrates me that such a quietly, viciously talented band flies so far under the radar. There is a lot of terrible music on the radio and on MTV and all around our country today. These guys do it right. Apologies for going light on the comedy here, but did you really care that much about the positive things I had to say? That's not how the Internet works. Enjoy the song; I don't think the video adds a whole lot. Thanks always for reading.