Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Easy listening made easier!

In a hospital waiting room on Monday, I heard a Muzak version of the John Denver song "Perhaps Love." Now, I love John Denver and I don't care who knows it. But if there was ever a song that didn't need softening, it's "Perhaps Love." And honestly, when you arrange a really simple acoustic-guitar song with classical instrumentation and no vocals, it just sounds like a very underwritten classical piece. Nobody wins.

I was in said waiting room playing name-that-mangled-tune because I was due for another post-treatment CT scan, just to make sure my old friend Hodgkin's hasn't come back. So, good news: I'm still cancer-free! Plus, the guy who started my IV and, later, the guy who took a blood sample managed to find a cooperative vein without too much poking around, so I was extra happy about that. Go do something to celebrate! The next update's in December.

While I was waiting (and drinking my delicious Crystal-Light-and-iodine cocktail), I flipped through some recent copies of The New Yorker to see what I'd been missing. I started reading a Talk of the Town "Comment" by Hendrik Hertzberg from the August 4 issue, but stopped when I got to this sentence:
(Let us note, in the currently fashionable spirit of joke-explaining, that the baseball allusion is to a long-defunct Class B circuit made up of teams from Illinois, Indiana, and Iowa.)
Oh, get over yourself. Joke-explaining isn't "fashionable." You know what's "fashionable"? Crafting and telling jokes that are funny. Jokes that work and do not need to be explained. That is always in fashion. Getting all defensive and condescending when you fall short of that goal, and then nursing the wound (he would have had to clarify this allusion under any circumstances), is definitely not in fashion. Anyone can make a mistake, but it takes a true child to wallow in it.

I've been pretty happy with my nonsubscriber status in 2008 (I've read books! Actual books!), but I always assumed the time would come when I'd want to sign back up. I'm not so sure anymore.


Anonymous said...

I can't say I've noticed a rash of joke-explaining sweeping the nation. If that's just a reference to the Obama cover: poor form. I didn't think that cover was funny, per se, but I don't think it needed to be the kerfuffle it became--and why would you prolong it with snippy references?

Mollie said...

Yes, I'm sure that's what he's referring to. That's why I found it so irritating -- poor form, as you say. The Blitt Obama cover wasn't the first poorly executed cover The New Yorker has run, but I guess it was the first time they got called on poor joke execution so publicly, and Remnick and Hertzberg reacted like babies. Of course, I of all people should not find that surprising, since "If you don't appreciate my genius then I pity you because you're STUPID" seems to be the standard New Yorker response to criticism. But for some reason I keep expecting better.