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Published April 23, 2012 More Info »
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Published April 23, 2012

 

Culture Clash

So, I'm watching television with Mi Esposa Sunday night - 60 Minutes. There was a very inspirational story on this group of folks living in Republic of Congo. Despite the fact they had no electricity, running water, limited food and horrendous housing, they manage to form, from absolute scratch, an orchestra. They cobbled together their instruments from broken and discarded violins, cellos and drums and painstakingly repaired them with discarded materials such as the wire used on bicycle breaks. Despite their abject poverty and no prior knowledge of classical music, over the years they worked hard and became a full fledged orchestra. They closed the show with a resounding rendition of Beethoven's 5th Symphony.

As the show ended, a tear trickled down Mi Esposas' cheek. She hoped I didn't notice. I gently touched her hand and said - I know exactly how you feel.  I fucking hate classical music too. 

She looked at me quizzically before softy whispering  - Goodness, I married a man who is culturally retarded. I of course responded with - What you talking bout - BEATCH!!! Okay, that was my inside voice. I merely mumbles yes dear, and settled down for the night.

That nigh,t as I slept I had a nightmare. It started with Beethoven running again and again in my head - you know the song, - it goes like this:


Ba - da-  da-  da 
Ba - da - da - da 
Ba - da - da - da - dee - dum 


Or something like that - they kind of all sound the same too me. Anyway, after a very sleepless night, I awoke wondering if I have wasted every single cultural opportunity in my life. So, I have spent the day examining my tastes in several areas of culture to see how I would grade myself - kind of like if I was in one of those fancy fine arts schools. The areas of examination included Poetry, Art, Dance, Music and Literature. Certainly, these are not all of the areas of culture - but enough to complete a self examination. In applying the test, it'll basically be this:  if I was locked in a room for two hours, which of the genres in each category would I prefer engaging in the most versus the least. Here goes:
There was a Madam from Nantucket

POETRY




There is not enough to time or space to examine my taste in all poetry - so I pretty much stuck to the basics (i.e., things that rhyme). The categories will include:

  • Classical poetry
  • Limericks
  • Nursery Rhymes, and 
  • Rap.

Classical Poetry has been around since man could first scribble on paper. I actually had a class in it in high school and there is only one poem I can remember. It was a entitled " A Red, Red Rose by Sir Robert Burns. It's still ranked in the top fifty classical poems of all time. The first two verses are:

O my Love's like a red, red rose
That's newly sprung in June
O my Love's like a melody
That's sweetly played in tune


As fair art thou, my bonnie lass         
So deep in love am I 
And I will love thee still my dear
Until the seas gone dry. 

Okay, two hours of this and I would put a bullet in my head (well, either mine or the Poet's - but someone is going to have to die). For me anyway, I can stand the strained metaphors and all the foking thous and thees.   It just seems like such a round about way of communicating. Just tell the gal you love her.

This poem went on for another two stanza's, which I would have posted if it weren't for the nausea. I know that there are some good classical poems. Just none that make me laugh.

Now limericks on the other hand - funny stuff. Even if you toss out all the ones that start with  There once was a man from Nantucket - they're are still many classics we've all enjoyed throughout our lifetimes (Here I Sit, Broken Hearted, comes to mind). Anyway, Limericks are ahead of Classical Poetry on my list and I could probably make the two hours of listening required.

 
Next - on to Nursery Rhymes.
Can You Hear the Lambs Scream Clorise??

Man, there are a lot of classics here. Unlike Classical Poetry, anyone can probably name a half dozen nursery rhymes without even thinking (e.g., The Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe, Little Jack Horner, Mary Had a Little Lamb, Hickory Dickory Dock, etc.). 

So, while there is no doubt Nursery Rhymes will move ahead of classical poetry on my list, I'm not sure how they will compare to Rap. See, Nursery Rhymes and Rap have a common denominator in that no person at my advanced age should be listening to either. But they're so different. If only there was a fair way to compare them. It's not like they even come close in topic (not like anyone every wrote a nursery rhyme with the words beatch or ho in it or a rap song about a cow flying over a moon). So I guess I'll just give up on this one.

WAIT!!!! - I think I have found the perfect comparison.

Humpty Dumpty! There not only is the classic Humpty Dumpty nursery rhyme - there's theHumpty Hump Dance by the Digital Underground. If you're not familiar with this Rap classic, you can listen here as I finish my analysis.



I sat down with Humpty Hump and Humpty Dumpty in a panel discussion to determine which side I was going to eventually would fall on.

Inside the Rapper's Studio.
Me: "Humpty, in your classical nursery rhyme you wrote: 
Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall
All the King's horses and All the King's men
Couldn't put Humpty together again
Just four lines - Why so short?"
Humpty: Dude, I fell off a God damn wall - Pretty fucking straightforward. I'm on the wall - then I'm not on the wall. No need to write an opus - ain't like it's classical poetry or anything."
Me: "The King's men - why couldn't they put you back together?"
Humpty: "Did you happen to notice that I was a fucking egg?"
Me: "Okay, fair enough - then why did you jump." 
Humpty: "Suicide dude. Rap was playing in the Kingdom - I couldn't take it anymore."
Me: "And you thought that was the only way ought?"
Humpty: "You know what they say - sometimes when you break an egg, you got a make an omelet." 

Okay - let's move on to our interview with Humpty Hump of the Digital Underground.

Me: "Mr. Hump, in your classic Humpty Dance rap song, you wrote: 
My name is Humpty, pronounced with an umpty
Oh ladies, how I'd like to hump thee
And all the rappers in the top ten, please allow me to bump thee
And just like Humpty Dumpty
You're going to fall, when the stereo pumps me.
 
What are you trying to say here."
Mr. Hump: "Basically, it's an Homage - you know, to the original Humpty Dumpty. Dude didn't fall of a wall, he was assassinated. The Kings men - they just watched the brother die."
 
Me: "Okay - I suppose. What about the next lyric? It goes:
I like to Rhyme
I like my beats funky
I'm spunky, I like my oatmeal lumpy.
 
I don't understand the reference to lumpy oatmeal - seems out of place. 
Mr. Hump: "You try finding words that rhyme with Humpty. Lumpy was the only one left - and, well, it is associated with oatmeal - what other word was I suppose to use?"
Me: "Well, off the top of my head there's stumpy, grumpy, frumpy, bumpy, jumpy,...."
Mr. Hump: "Keep it up dude - that's how Tupac got shot. Change the subject."
Me: "Have you read any classical poetry?"
Mr. Hump: "Just some stuff from Sir Robert Burns - made me want to vomit."
 
 
Alright - it's go time. I got to make the rankings in this category - so I got to settle on Rap or Nursery Rhymes. I'm going Rap here - although I hate most of it, it's the only poetry with a beat. Besides, frankly, I was a little concerned by Mr. Hump's Tupac reference - I don't want to piss the dude off any more than I already have.

So, after careful consideration, this is the order of preference for Poetry (remember, this is based on the criteria of, if I was locked in a room for two hours, what would I be able to bear listening too). The answer, in order of preference is:

Number 1:  Limericks
Number 2:  Rap
Number 3:  Nursery Rhymes
Number 4:  Classical Poetry.

So - in the category of Poetry, Mi Esposa was spot on - I am culturally retarded. I have to give myself an "F".

ART
Yes, I smile even though my
heart is breaking
.
Tough category, but one I have already examined in prior posts - at least certain aspects of it. In this category I will examine my appeal for Classic Art, Contemporary and Modern Art, Cartoons and Graffiti.

First, a point of definition. By Classic Art, I am not referencing a time period or era (e.g., Greek, Roman, 18th Century Europe, etc.). I use the term to mean:

  • (A) I know what it is that I am looking at - i .e., the artist painted or sculpted that is recognizable, and 
  • (B) It is not something that took the skill level of a elementary school child or a craftsman such as a welder or plumber. 
I paid how much for this piece of $%&#!?
That being the premise, I kind of like classical art. I think Michael Angelo was pure genius as well as Leanardo Da Vinci, Vincent Van Gogh, Diego Valesquez (okay, I know I'm just dropping names now) and the like. There are some more modern artists (I loves me some Norman Rockwell) that are brilliant as well. But, I'm mot including the Salvador Dalis, Picassos and Edvard Munchs' of the world. Edvard Munch you say? Yes, he was the fella that painted The Scream, one of the most popular and expensive art pieces of all time. One that I think could have been painted by any 8th grade art student wishing to get a C- in art. And, I don't want to brag or offend any ones 
She refused to d a nude
 
sensibilities, but I do in fact have some art credentials having been involved in this creative venture for many years. That's me on the left painting a picture of Mi Esposa when we were first dating. I tried to get her up to my loft - sadly, she wasn't having any of it.
 
Anyway, the point being, reasonable people can disagree on what is good or bad classic art. For those artists that fit my particular tastes - I find their works amazing.
 
Contemporary and modern art on the other hand I find repulsive - and I mean like - good gawd, look at the size of that goiter on your neck - repulsive. I won't bore you with my diatribe on this topic in this post as I have already bored you with my diatribe on this topic in this post: http://wordsofwhizdumb.com/2011/12/contempt-poray-art.html

 
OMG - THEY KILLED RONNY - YOU BASTARDS!!!
Cartoons on the other hand for the most part are relatively appealing to me. There are great political cartoons (Doonesbury, Conrad) and they take a great deal of work. I created the one on the right just in case the GOP held one of their 62 Presidential Debates in a town called South Park.
Sadly for me, that never happened and this piece was a total waste of time.

Aside from political - there are just down right funny (Ziggy) and sweet (Charlie Brown) cartoons - I could easily fill two hours.

Now I know, there are some cartoonists that can't draw much like there are classical artists that can't paint. However, to be fair I am not going to condemn all of cartooning for a sins of a few. Cartoons are going to finish in second in this category.

 Last category - Graffiti.

There are few things as vile, destructive, counter productive and outright unappealing as graffiti, That being said, contemporary art happens to be one of them.

At least with graffiti you can chalk it up to gang activity, juvenile crime or some other destructive behavior. Contemporary Art is without justification.

So, time for my order of preference: 
 
Number 1:  Classic Art
Number 2:  Cartoons
Number 3:  Graffiti
Number 4:  Contemporary/Modern Art

So - in the category of Art, Mi Esposa judged me too quickly. I do like real good paintings and cartoons. I have to give myself an "B".


DANCE


 
 
I suppose we need to start with the most cultured of the genre - ballet.

I am the Whitest Swan
Off topic - but they also made one of the worst movies of all times on this art form - The Black Swan. What a fucking train wreck of a movie (and it got Oscars!). How did that pitch meeting go. Dude - you'll love it. It'sWhite Nights meets the Exorcist. 

Anyway, as you can imagine, I hate ballet - although I obviously love ballet outfits (but  please - only the white outfit for me).

Aside from it being boring and tedious, ballet seems a bit cruel - it is simply not natural for a human being to be walking on the tips of their toes. So maybe I am not uncultured. Maybe - just maybe - I have too much humanity in me to tolerate the cruelness of the ballet. Don't keep me wrong, given the choice of having to stand on my toes in excruciating pain for two hours versus having to actually watch a a ballet, I'd pick standing on my toes - it's that - well, it would hurt.

Tap Dance is pretty entertaining with the exception that it can get kind of monotonous after fifteen minutes or so, It's one of those art forms that needs to be combined with other art forms (like variety shows) so that you don't get bored.

Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly type dancing. I don't know what the name of the genre is but I do know I watched a lot of it as a kid. I'll call it Old Movie Dancing for short. Anyway, I really liked it. Even as a young adult I watched the two hour movie - That's Entertainment - and found it very much to my liking. So, two hours in a room would be just fine.

Country Dancing not exactly my scene, especially line dancing, It always struck me as something akin to the Hokie Pokie (Okay Cowboys and Cowgirls - let's go - You put your left foot in, you put your left foot out.....). It certainly isn't as mind numbing boring as ballet - but it won't make me forget Fred Astaire any time soon.

I think I'm going to bypass all the country specific dancing (e.g., Irish - ala the Lord of the Dances, Polkas, Greek, Russian, etc.) because they're just too many to deal with. Same with folk dancing.

Fuck! My Back!
Moving on - Hip Hop.  Now, I know at my advance age I'm not supposed to enjoy or even recognize as an art form Hip Hop dancing (I think that's what the whippersnappers call it). But it probably is the most popular form of dance today and - God dammit - I'm pretty good at.

Not a fan of the Hip-Hop music, the clothes (pull your God damn pants up and square up that baseball cap you moron!), or any of the other aspects of the - cough - art form. But Hip Hop dance - I kinds of like it.

It may be too narrow of a category, so I'm going to throw in everything that Micheal Jackson, Shakira, Paula Abdul (yes - that Paula Abdul) and other contemporary artists did and just refer to this is Popular Dance. 
As an entire category - it gives Movie Dance a run for it's money.

That's pretty much it. I know what you're thinking. How could I not include Pole Dancing.Well, it was a tough call and I can assure you that I did hours and hours of personal research on this genre - one dollar at a time. The problem is this. I'm not sure how I would re-rate any of the other categories if the dancers didn't have their clothes on. While I'm pretty sure it wouldn't add anything to my opinion of Fred Astaire, it certainly could have skewed my opinion of Ballet. So, sorry - in fairness, I only could include dancing forms of the fully clothed variety.

So, this is the order of preference for Dance (remember, this is based on the criteria of if I was locked in a room for two hours, what would I be able to bear watching). The answer, in order of preference is:


Number 1:  Shakira's Hips Don't Lie
Number 2:  Movie Dance
Number 3:  Hip Hop
Number 4:  Tap
Number 5:  Country
Number 6:  Ballet.

Now normally, I think an independent observer would give me an "F" in the dance category. However, since I used the restraint of not including Pole Dancing, which certainly would have been number 1, I'm going to upgrade my self to a "D".

MUSIC


There is obviously an extensive list of categories in the music genre. I will only focus on a view since the purpose of the post is not to examine our musical history. Instead, it's merely to determine if I am a cultural moron. Speaking of moronic, let's start off by examining Opera.
Ohhhhhhhhhhhhh
 - Miiiiiii Esposaaaaa!

Eeeesh - a lot of problems here. Let's start with the fact that most of them are not in English so I don't have a China man's chance in hell of understanding them.  If that were not enough of a problem, the music makes me feel like eating a bullet. I mean even the prerequisite tenor solo that every opera has, to my ears, still sounds like a man stubbed his toe on stepped on a nail. Maybe it's because Opera doesn't have a beat to it (yeah dude, the opera lyrics kind of sucked, but at least you could dance to it). 

And why is that most opera singers are obese (I'm sorry, a little too insensitive - I meant fat). I'm not being judgemental here, (cause I'm pretty fucking fat) I am just being curious. What is it about this art form that requires girth?. I would ask the same question if all Rappers were fat.

Anyway, for me Opera is basically two hours of watching relatively heavy folks sing songs I don't like in a language I don't understand - noice!. Now, I don't blame myself on this one. Most Americans don't like Opera for the very reasons I stated above. If they really wanted to get us involved, they would write some good new ones involving topics we can relate to (Oprah the Opera = Oprahra?)

Country Music has a wide range for me. It can be anywhere from pretty good (Shania Twain, Garth Brooks,  et al) to downright awful. Now, I'm not complaining. Country music was in fact the manner in which I won Mi Esposa's heart (this is only relevant to her, so with apologies to my other seven readers - but do you remember the first time I played you my country classic, Picky Grass and Dog Shit?). 


I like a good fiddle, the music itself it pretty catchy - I guess my main complaint is the lyrics of some of the songs. They can be tiresome and repetitive and it just strikes me that almost anyone could write a country song. Here's a test (honest) - I'm going to give myself 60 seconds to write a country music lyric - hit the stop watch and - GO!

Last night my dog died
Last night my heart cried
I drank whiskey till I drowned my sorrow
Think I'll drink again tomorrow, cause
Last night my dog died. 

DONE! - 48 seconds - American Country music award please.

Old Fucker's Music will be a broad category for all the music that my parents played on the stereo when I was an adolescent (e.g., Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Tony Bennet, Peal Bailey, etc.). Maybe I am biased by the fondness for my parents or just nostalgic about my youth, but I kind of like Old Fucker's Music.

Jazz - I don't like most of it. It basically all sounds the same to me. Something like this:

dum, dum, dum dum dum dum dum - Dee Dee

dum, dum, dum dum dum dum dum - Dee Dee

So, two hours in a room listening to that would be a tough road to hoe. I especially hate the scat singing that often goes with Jazz. It sounds like a cross between someone talking in voices underneath an evangelical tent or a person having a epileptic seizure.

Mitt Master MC
Contemporary Music - a broad category indeed, including everything from Rock, Pop, Soul and Rap. The only one of these I don't really care for is Rap for pretty much the same problem I have with some Country music - anyone could write a rap song. Hell, push come to shove, even Mitt Romney could choke one out. Okay, I'll prove it - put 60 seconds back on the clock and Go!


Last night my dawg died, beatch!!
Last night my heart cried, beatch!!
I drank whiskey with my ho
I'll drink again tomorrow, bro
Cause Last night my dawg died, beatch!!


Done - 23 seconds. Grammy please.

Classical Music is what got me started on this, so I suppose I should close the category with it.  I KNOW the musicians who play it our extremely talented and the folks who wrote it are geniuses and anyone with a cultural IQ over 23 should love listening to it. I just don't. Bullet to my head, if someone said - okay two hours in a darkened room you have to pick between Beethoven or the greatest hits of Milli Vanilli (no Grammy please), I'm probably going with Milli Vanilli. Sad - but true.

The report card:


Number 1:  Contemporary Music
Number 2:  Old Fuckers' Music
Number 3:  Country Music 
Number 4:  Rap
Number 5:  Jazz
Number 6:  Classical Music
Number 7:  Opera.

Given that I have both the classical genres (Classical and Opera) on the very bottom and I should have a better appreciation for Jazz, I see no choice but to give me an "F" in the music category.



LITERATURE


Where Fore Art Thou Garfunkel?
Not going to spend too much time here as I think it is pretty straight forward.

Shakespeare - look, there are a lot of great quotes from the works of Shakespeare. However, none so great that I could sit through an entire play to hear one.

Best Selling Contemporary Novels - i.e. your John Grisham and Dean Koontz's of the world. I don't read real good - but Mi Esposa likes them so I am going to say they're okay.

Comic Books - make me laugh (that Beetle Bailey is a nut!).

Grocery Store Magazines - I don't read the articles, but I do read the front covers as I am standing in line at the grocery store. So, I have to give them credit for being an effective time killer.


The report card:


Number 1:  Contemporary Novels
Number 2:  Comic Books
Number 3:  Grocery Store Magazines
Number 4:  Shakespeare



I have to give Shakespeare another chance. But for now, as sad as it sounds - give me the comic book. Since I did defer to Mi Esposa's  view and put some form of novel on the top of the list, I'll move myself from what could have been an "F" to a  "D"


I need to wrap this up it's time for dinner (damn - I was suppose to a category on food. There's no time left, but suffice it to say I would eat a hot dog before French cuisine).

SUMMARY


And now time for me to look at my complete cultural score card:

My cultural Grade Point Average is "1". Not "1" as in, I'm number 1, "1" as in I got a D.

I don't know why I am such a rube. But I do know this. Mi Esposa was right - I HAVE NO CULTURE! I hope we don't clash over it.

 

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