The post’s title is the name of a trope, and while you may not know it by this handle, you have probably run into it. Perhaps from someone combining the terms “old hat” and “just” — or maybe using the more continental “cliché” (ooh la la) about something once revered as ground-breaking. The trope arises from not recognizing the originator of ideas now in common use. For example, Airplane! and Die Hard seem lost among all the similar films that followed.
But this post really isn’t about the trope or the Seinfeld TV show. The title just makes a neat kick-off point and offers some connective tissue. I really do mean I don’t find Jerry Seinfeld all that funny. Ironically, I think the man is a comic genius, and I have high regard for his comic acumen. Yet his stand-up routines leave me cool.
So this post is actually about stuff I don’t find funny (and why not).
I did something special for #300, but I blew past #400 without really noticing. I had the idea of doing #404 on the “404 Page Not Found” error, but I’d already blown past that milestone, too. I’d pretty much decided to just wait for #500 and really uncork the champagne then.
And it’s all a bit muddled because there are also 29 pages here and quite a few posts on my other three blogs, so it’s not like I’m literally just into the 400s even on just blog publications. For that matter, I’ve been online since the 1980s — I’ve put a ton of stuff out there in three decades (including a personal website since 1998).
But still, this is the 409th post on Logos con carne.
Quite some time ago a woman I’d met read me the riot act over my use of the “R” word. When talking about taboo words, one immediately hits the problem of whether to mention the forbidden word, and if so how and how often? A serious discussion can acknowledge the discomfort people have using a term, but usually must refer to it clearly at least once.
In this case the word was “retarded.” My use was descriptive, not pejorative, so I’m not entirely certain I was out-of-bounds. It seems like one of those fuzzy boundary zones where being respectful and polite gives way to being needlessly constrained by the overly sensitive.
But today I have a different ‘R’ word in mind.
Two things collided. I saw Leon Wieseltier on The Colbert Report and was enthralled by his view of modern social life. That moved a friend of mine to look for other YouTube videos of Wieseltier. She posted a good one that then moved me to look at more. Bottom line, I ended up watching a fair bit of the man last week. Still enthralled.
Meanwhile, after my last post about religion and atheism, a reader commented that she found the article so balanced she couldn’t tell on which side I stood. As an agnostic, that’s the goal. Yet, in one of the videos, Wieseltier expresses an idea that really grabbed me.
It has to do with on which side of what line I stand.
Pure Hawaiian White!
In a former life as a college Film & TV student, I worked on a mock commercial written and directed by a classmate friend of mine. It featured two guys in a run-down warehouse — one wanting to buy from the other some “premium Hawaiian white stuff” for his wife who desperately needed it.
The seller opens a case containing bags of white powder. The transaction is interrupted, and the commercial ends, with both men fleeing sudden sirens and flashing red and blue lights. The piece is really funny because it was done in the mid 1970s, during the height of the sugar shortage when prices skyrocketed.
Just this past week we had a whole other kind of “white stuff.”
Those of you who are bloggers, I don’t know how much you look through your Spam Comments list. I delete spam without looking at it too much. But you must go to the list to click the button, so you can’t avoid seeing some of it. Sometimes there’s a new twist on the basic trick: “I’m a real comment! No, really, I am!! Please let me through!!!”
But most of it becomes familiar in a short time. You see the same comments vaguely praising your post without actually saying anything about it. Some of it makes you chuckle a little; some of it makes you despair. It’s a kind of constant background noise.
Then last September it seemed like there was a lot more spam than usual.
You did, too, right? (Non-USA residents excused.)
I’m not sure Eric Clapton is the greatest guitar player ever. I can think of a number of other guitar “gods” that seem in his class (Carlos Santana and Lindsey Buckingham, to name just two). But I am pretty sure the late (great!) George Carlin was without peer. I can’t think of anyone else who lasted longer (50 years!), worked harder, gave us so many classic bits or been more consistently good. He died in 2008, at 71, having done his 14th HBO special just four months earlier.
I thought he went through an angry period (the 1990s, maybe?) where he seemed to lash out indiscriminately at everything and everyone. He seemed a little less funny to me then, but he was never really wrong… just angry. I only ever really disagreed with him once.
And that was on his view that you shouldn’t vote.