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Posts Tagged ‘Craig Ferguson’

 

Being middle-aged is more than watching your waistline expand like a balloon at the carnival; it’s also about watching the myriad pieces of your childhood disappear, one by one, until there’s nothing left but fuzzy memories. This is the way of the world. Time marches on, change is inevitable, and the only guarantees left are death and taxes. Or maybe it’s death BY taxes… I’ll get back to you on that one.

Anyway, another piece of my youth is falling by the wayside. Last week David Letterman announced his retirement. You can watch how he handled it in his usual sarcastic way here. Now, Dave wasn’t necessarily a part of my childhood – I grew up watching Johnny Carson, and he will always be THE late night TV host for me – but Dave has always been my first choice for late night as an adult because of his dry sarcastic wit, his fearless and pointed questions, and his inimitable ability to be the perfect straight man. Supposedly Carson’s chosen successor, there was quite the furor when NBC went with Jay Leno instead, and is the cause behind Letterman jumping ship (quite successfully) to CBS.

That was another reason I stuck with Letterman; I don’t like it when people are shafted (I’m still mad at the Cowboys for how they fired Tom Landry – yes, I hold grudges). I enjoyed Leno as a stand up comedian, but I could just never get into him as a talk show guy. And I’m really showing how curmudgeonly I am by swearing off Jimmy Fallon (almost) entirely. Talented youngster, but most of his stuff isn’t funny to me (okay, some of the musical stuff is hilarious, but I’m a Weird Al Yankovic fan, too, so there you go. You actually have to be a pretty damn good musician yourself to parody others, and that I can really appreciate.) I’m hoping Craig Ferguson gets promoted so there will be at least one crazy person left on late night TV I can still enjoy.

The speculations abound as to why Letterman has chosen to retire now. I think David Bianculli puts forth the best reasons in his CNN opinion pieceIs Internet driving Letterman away?” It all goes back to what I said at the beginning – change is inevitable. The younger generation wants everything in sound bites. Memes and viral videos are the way of the world now, and someone like Letterman just doesn’t translate well to those micro-mediums.

It’s the same reason behind the decline of the printed word. There’s an entire generation of short-attention-span-theater-goers coming up right now, running around with their smart phones, tablets, e-readers and Siri-enabled cars. Most don’t want to bother to take longer than a few minutes to engage their brain in anything. They’re like a bunch of fleas on a hot plate, jumping about from one thing to the next and never landing anywhere for very long. And people wonder about the rise of ADHD diagnoses. I don’t think it’s actually a genetic thing – I think it’s an environment thing. The world is overloaded with sensory input and our frail human brains are having a hard time keeping up with it all.

Don’t get me wrong – I love technology. I have a smart phone and think e-readers are where the future of reading is headed. But I’m also an unapologetic bibliophile. It’s why I’m so insistent on exhausting every possibility at selling my novel into actual hard copy. I want to feel that heft, smell that new paper and the fresh ink, walk into a bookstore and see that spine with my name on a shelf. It is my golden ideal. And, like David Letterman, I seem to be one of the last of my kind.

Books don’t seem to carry the importance and status they used to. Being able to read and write was once a significant privilege reserved only for the carefully selected few (read: stinking rich or high level clergy). The invention of the printing press allowed the greater masses to become part of that vaunted learned class. Once the “ordinary” people gained the ability to see for themselves what all those fancy books said, significant social and economic changes quickly followed. Knowledge is power, and books became the symbol (and actual medium) of that power.

Books don’t need batteries. They don’t bow to public opinion. They don’t change words between readings, or advertise the latest fashion drug between paragraphs. You can use them while your plane is taking off and landing. You can read them in the bathtub without fear of electrocuting yourself. Take them with you to a coffee shop, a convention, or even to court and no one will blink twice. In a pinch, you can level your computer desk or knock out a burglar. Try that with your e-reader.

And in the advent of a real zombie apocalypse, where do you think all you fancy city folk are going to learn how to do anything without your trusty electronic minders? Yeah, books, bitches.

So while Letterman is going out with grace and dignity after a lengthy and successful career, I’ll give up my books with all the grace and dignity of a rabid badger on meth. I know, I know, most of you hear “bookshelf” and think:

 bookshelves coco rocha in vogue

http://cotedetexas.blogspot.com/2012/12/ask-miss-cote-de-texas.html

Not exactly my definition. I’d rather have something more like:

English manor libraryhttp://www.beautiful-libraries.com/3500-1.html

And maybe one day I will. But in the mean time, this old fart will enjoy:

Cheri's bookshelves

…and hope soon my own words will be in those piles somewhere with the rest.

 

© 2014   Cheri K. Endsley   All Rights Reserved.

 

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I’ve never considered myself very funny. I’ve DONE things that were considered funny, usually inadvertently, and usually when I was really trying to be dead serious. And every now and then I can come up with a zinger that most people around me appreciate. But stand-up comedienne I’m not.

Despite this handicap, I’m trying to find more humor in my life, if only to distract me from all the bullshit these past couple years have thrown at me. The problem I’ve discovered is that what I think is funny, most people around me don’t get, or vice versa. Case in point, my husband – a middle-aged man who’s carried a gun for a living for most of his adult life – finds farts hilarious. Especially if one has just been inflicted upon someone else in a confined area. This is apparently a common reaction from most men. I had the foolish notion that a responsible adult would leave that pre-school idiocy behind, but it seems that men are always five years old when it comes to farts.

Then there’s the Three Stooges. I was watching one of the “Lethal Weapon” movies the other day, and was reminded of their abusive version of humor. I don’t get it. I don’t get ANY of those types of comedic rampages. Insulting, degrading, belittling, and hateful acts are not funny. The obvious and crass are just that. While I can appreciate from a historical perspective the contributions of Larry, Curly and Moe (and occasionally Shemp) to the early field of film comedy, my subjective funny bone lays dormant whenever they’re around. Though poking a few bill collectors in the eye while declaring “Nyuk, nyuk, nyuk!” would give me a great deal of personal satisfaction.

The truth is I’m more of a Marx Brothers kind of girl. As a child I loved their wackiness, (even if I didn’t get most of the double entendre until I was much older), and was really drawn to Harpo and Chico and their musical interludes. Music was my first love and even when very young, I delighted in real musicianship (Harpo was a masterful concert harpist, and his recordings are still available, if you look around). I was especially intrigued when they would riff on a theme, or pretend to be really bad when it was obvious they weren’t. This appreciation went on into Bugs Bunny and his Wagnerian escapades, all the way up to P.D.Q. Bach and the Muppets. And, yes, I think Weird Al Yankovic is hysterical, because you have to be a badass musician to parody fellow musicians. And with an accordion, no less. Pardon me while I go laugh myself silly.

Good comedy makes you think. It takes you out of your comfort zone and then throws you right back in, twisted all around so you see the true absurdity of it. Bill Cosby, George Carlin, Robin Williams, Jon Stewart, Eddie Izzard and Craig Ferguson are some of the best at combining sharp political commentary in juxtaposition with equally eccentric observations of the human condition. And since dark comedy seems to be a popular expression for the latter two, I can only imagine the commentary they would come up with when viewing the soap opera that has been my life this last year.

But combine comedy and music, and you have me trapped. Whether it be Victor Borge, Harpo Marx, the “classical” group Pagagnini, or the “rock god” Tim Minchin, I’ll be there, eyes glued to YouTube, getting lost in time and space. It allows me a level of escapism that one or the other by itself can’t manage. A double hit of feel good. It doesn’t work for the musically challenged, though. Just ask my mother. To this day she still doesn’t understand why I pee my pants laughing every time I hear Peter Schickele’s version of Beethoven’s 5th. Sorry, inside jokes don’t work for everybody. But thanks for supporting my bizarre mind anyway, Mom.

So instead of being mired in self-pity, trying to figure a way out of this deep, dark hole that has no possible exit at this time, I’m going to go get lost for awhile in musical comedy, or comedic music, or whatever the term is for laughing your cares away in the key of D minor. It won’t solve anything, but maybe eventually I’ll be able to look back at this point in my life and see the black humor in it.

© 2013  Cheri K. Endsley  All Rights Reserved.

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