Understanding: sometimes difficult to achieve

My wife was baking muffins and was out of baking soda and wanted to know what she could use instead. I have no idea, and in fact, have confused baking soda with baking powder. I do know, once upon a time, I used one instead of the other in making pancakes, took one bite of the bitter batter concoction and threw them out.

Found this website, Baking Soda Substitutes, which reads: “For each 1 teaspoon baking soda in the recipe, substitute 4 teaspoons of double acting baking powder.” It worked well!

But I still don’t have a deep understanding of what each of them does. And I suppose I don’t care enough to learn.
Sometimes I use words or phrases people don’t understand.

I wrote to one friend, “I namechecked you in my last blog post.” And I had to explain that namecheck merely meant that I mentioned her. “The Peter, Paul and Mary song I Dig Rock & Roll Music namechecks the Mamas & the Papas and the Beatles and Donovan.”

She, BTW, sent me a link to this Louis CK video, Older People are Smarter. Which they are, BTW, but younger people often don’t understand this. She was concerned I might find it profane. Interestingly, no. I wouldn’t USE the language, but hearing the language didn’t bother me (and it might bother you, or not.).

To another friend, I said something was a PITA, and she asked what THAT meant. I wrote back, “Pain In The Butt.”

There was this third example I can’t remember presently, and they all happened within a 24-hour period. The overriding point is that sometimes I think I’m being clear, yet I feel misunderstood. I suspect all of us feel that way some of the time.

I was telling a friend a story about an incident, and my friend interrupts, “Oh, you told that story.” Except that I hadn’t, because this iteration had a different (and more annoying) twist to it.

Cultural engagement

I happened to have gone to a panel at FantaCon this month with Steve Bissette, Kris Gilpin and Dennis Daniel, all of whom used to swap bootleg horror films, fifth-generation recording dubbed in German or Dutch. THEY are ecstatic that those films are now available in a nice Criterion collection.

The cover of the September 20/27, 2013 Entertainment Weekly, its Fall TV Preview, says “get the scoop on 119 shows, PLUS the best new series.” If I need a reminder that the medium has diffused, that’ll do it.

Yet on two successive episodes of the Bat Segundo Show podcast, host Ed Champion declares that there is an “American epidemic of gravitating to mainstream culture in an age of limitless choice.” He and guest Kiese Laymon discuss “why America is terrified of rich and variegated cultural engagement.” Then Champion and Alissa Quart dissect “how outsiders and iconoclasts have been appropriated by institutional forces. Why have we shifted to a culture hostile to original voices? Why is it all about being liked?”

I found myself arguing and agreeing with the dialogues in about equal measure. On one hand, there’s no doubt that a lot of the “outsiders” get co-opted. And there’s the “you’re an idiot if you’re not watching this” meme that Jaquandor discussed, in this case, about Breaking Bad. He’s seen two episodes more than I have and is disinclined not to see any more, which SHOULD be OK, but apparently is not, at least for some tastemakers. (Hey, I haven’t seen either Game of Thrones (and won’t) or Downton Abbey (Bought the Wife the DVDs, so I probably will – eventually).

On the other hand, when there are so many movies, so many TV shows, and I have a finite amount of time and money, why CAN’T I at least look at Rotten Tomatoes, and get a sense of the critical mass of movie reviewers? Maybe I WILL go see that movie with the 12% positive reviews, though probably not.

There was this whole argument on one of those podcasts about finding the obscure films, it seems, for the sake of seeking them out, proving one is “cutting edge” or “outre”; it all felt a bit affected to me. I happened to have gone to a panel at FantaCon this month with Steve Bissette, Kris Gilpin, and Dennis Daniel, all of whom used to swap bootleg horror films, fifth-generation recording dubbed in German or Dutch. THEY are ecstatic that those films are now available in a nice Criterion collection.

Speaking of Mr. Byzantium Shores, he called BS on the Louis CK rant about smartphones. He may be correct about the inauthentic specifics, yet I found it oddly affecting theater. I think a commenter describing smartphones enabling “a sort of rude, in-the-bubble behavior” feels right. Or maybe it’s just my reaction to the people on the bus I see every day, about 2/3s of which are totally detached from the person sitting three feet from them makes me more than a bit melancholy.

Going back to that EW issue, one of the “best new shows” this season is supposed to be the FOX comedy Brooklyn Nine-Nine. Our local social media maven posted one of those flippant comments on Facebook, “Where have all the sitcoms gone?” to which a guy noted that he was watching one at that moment, Brooklyn Nine-Nine. She wrote back, “Isn’t that a drama, and an hour?” Well, no, a simple Google search would reveal that was a new “ensemble comedy about what happens when a talented, but carefree, detective [Andy Samberg] and his diverse group of colleagues get a new captain [Andre Braugher of Homicide: Life on the Street] with a lot to prove.” I thought his information (which I augmented) required an acknowledgment at least to him, but I guess that’s just my projection.

Oh, and I can tell you that many of the sitcoms are now on the Disney Channel. I’ve seen several, none of which are particularly good.
Lots of folks are upset that the Emmys had an individual tribute for, as one person put it, “that filthy drug addict Cory Monteith” by “that no talent Jane Lynch” (I actually read that, naturally on Facebook) while not doing so for Jack Klugman, who was one of my favorite actors, or for Larry Hagman. I thought Mark Evanier addressed this rather well, which is that these things are never “fair.”

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