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  • Writer's picturePete Mesling

Beefs, Gripes, and Peeves

Not a lot of preamble needed here, I think. As I season with age, I lose more and more of my inclination toward outward expressions of negativity. I’m not as quick to spoil for a fight. God knows, my inner thought process is enough of a blood sport without involving the hapless world at large. But I have a comfortable relationship with my dander. It’s kind of like an old friend. And once in a while it wants out, so I oblige. Here, then, are some things that piss me off. In no particular order ...

Superheroes. Loved 'em as a kid. Outgrew 'em. I’ll always have time for a good graphic novel, but at the first whiff of a superhero, I’m outta there. Even Watchmen was a bit of a slog for me in this regard (and one that I came to very late because of the subject matter), despite all the great writing and artwork.

Director worship. We’re so quick to give credit to a movie’s director. Well, guess what? Writing is half the battle, and music takes up another forty percent. The rest is divvied up among the director and all the other cast and crew. These are scientifically proven statistics, by the way. Look 'em up. Why is Topaz a thousand times better than Torn Curtain? Not because Hitchcock was off his game on the latter but because the former is a better story.

Sequels and remakes (and adaptations). Do you really need to be told that sequels and remakes are inherently flawed because they lack the initial creative spark that drives all good storytelling? Good, I didn’t think so. (And no, it’s not the same with adaptations, which often fail for similar reasons but can also succeed wildly when the inspiration is true and the property well matched to the team of adaptors; it also has to be a good choice for adaptation in general, of course.) Now repeat after me: "I will not ever see a sequel or remake until I have first seen the original." Thank you.

The condescending treatment of classical music as a museum piece. Not everyone is going to develop a strong appreciation for classical music. I get that. It takes effort. It’s not a passive thing, like more popular forms. All art has its challenging avenues, after all. But for the love of God, let’s stop pretending that the works of Bach, Beethoven, Liszt, Schubert, Haydn, and Mozart are somehow a collection of dead and dusty relics to be enjoyed with a stiff upper lip and a cup of weak tea. For those of us who enjoy classical music, it’s as alive and meaningful as anything written in the last fifty years. It’s also not necessarily the only style we listen to. Fun fact: I love a wide variety of metal, (real) country, jazz, fingerstyle guitar, and contemporary piano music!

The concept of electability, especially in a post-Obama climate. If President Obama didn’t drive home the final nail in the coffin of electability theory in 2012, Donald Trump is working hand over fist to finish the job in 2016. The last time I checked, the most electable candidate was the one who gets the most votes. The notion of electability is little more than an excuse to promote the idea that a certain candidate, or type of candidate, is entitled to a given office. That’s not how democracy is supposed to work, though, see? We tend to get what we deserve, in other words. Sometimes we deserve strokes. Sometimes we deserve lashes.

People who want the right of way at a four-way stop without actually coming to a stop. You know who you are. You come inching up to the intersection, and before you actually stop, you start crawling forward again, inviting an insipid guessing game of Who Got Here First? Pay attention and come to a complete stop, 'kay? Then wait your turn, and Bob’s your uncle!

The mention of box-office take in articles and reviews about movies. I don’t give two flying fucks how much money a movie makes in its opening weekend, and neither should you. It has absolutely no value to anyone other than those who have suddenly become rich or poor because of it.

Technology. Yes, I’ve saved my most controversial complaint for last. This is more of a love/hate relationship, of course. Technology delights me as often as it angers me. I’m using it right now, after all. But as it continues to perform more and more of the tasks we demand of it, I wonder if it isn’t also diminishing our ability to ferret out the ways of the world for ourselves. What are we replacing our moments of deep reflection with? It seems to me that too many of them are being filled with social media check-ins, Google searches, and unnecessary texting. And that only scratches the surface if you’ve been sucked into the world of video and music streaming. Having a book with us at all times has never been easier, thanks to e-books, but how much uninterrupted time do we have to enjoy them? And then there’s the lack of privacy and the risk of identity theft and the danger of data loss and the lure of Wikipedia. Et Cetera, et cetera, et cetera. Grrr.

Do you get the sense that the above items are merely what lies on the exposed layer of a lengthy scroll? You might not be far off. But there’s one thing that doesn’t raise my hackles, and that’s my readers. In all due and humble sincerity, I thank you for stopping by and putting up with my little rant.

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