These are the thoughts of a Texas transplant in West Michigan who makes his living as a newspaper reporter by evening, and a struggling novelist by day.

Monday, February 20, 2006

classics vs. pop culture

i'll start by saying i enjoy reading anything from the strictest literature to the blandest modern novels, as well as listening to classical music to something rockin' on the radio. i pretty much try to catch whatever i can by reading or listening to it.

some time last week a friend at work posed me an interesting question: how i could read great works of literature and poetry and still manage to read stephen king. that's a good question. i gave some half-assed answer. but i have been thinking about it since and decided to put into workds the reply.

some of my favorite books are classics, like "moby dick" or "the great gatsby" or a hemingway novel or non-fiction. but among some of my favorite books are stephen dobyns' "church od dead girls," king's "'salem's lot," "the shining," "the stand" and the dark tower series and richard adams' "watership down." just to namea few off the top of my head.

i like to mix it up because some of the latter books allow me to put my brain in auto pilot and enjoy the read for enjoyment's sake. i don't have to watch for symbolos or imagery or any significance in words or phrases, i just read (listen) to the books and come away feeling refreshed when the read it done. it's for the pure simple pleasure of reading, something i take serious because of my eye sight condition.

i guess reading is a luxury to me. there was a time soon after i lost part of my sight that i didn't read any books -- i'd say for about a good year. it was such a waste of time for me. in fact, for several years, i don't remember reading much from the age of 15 to 17. i guess the reason for it was adjustment to having to listen to a book on cassette rather than turning a page.

but i digress...

i still enjoy a good classic. i read "moby dick" every two or so years for that simple reason -- pleasure. except that that pleasure is insance since the novel is expansive and difficult to read.

the same applies for music. i love music a lot. my taste has grown from the time i used to only listen to heavy metal (maiden rocks!!), then short bursts of country and some classical. then came my experience withe the fab four, which, in turn, has branched out to other bands from the 60s and 70s and the band's solo projects.

most recently i discovered muddy waters, who i think is fantastic. in addition, i checked out the clash's "london calling" and was blown away by what i heard on the cd.

i will say, though, i do draw the line at teeny-bopper bullship music, the euivalent of a south texas music station in texas Z-95. horrible stuff. but, hey, everyone's entitled to their opinion on what's cool and what's not, i guess.

when it comes to movies, though, i'll admit to beinga bit of a snob. i have recently gotten into the habit of watching old classics (what other kind is there?). bogart's acting enthralls me. his movies are great. plus, black and white movies have something color movies don't have. your mind is drawn to nothing except acting, since there is no color stimulus on screen to disattract you. plus, i do watch really good new movies (nothing like "shawshank redemption or "the godfather"). and sometimes i do watch the other kind of movie.

this weekend i rented several movies because i needed to relax and let my brain absorb nothing serious. i rented "deep blue sea" and "dante's peak." sea is an implausible movie about super sharks that i'd seen several times before. the scene where samuel l. jackson ges chomped on by a shark still freaks me out. peak was kind of lame. bad dialogue, mediocre acting and plot. i'll never see it again. still, they provided dumbed-down entertainment for entertainment's sake. back to the library they both go.

so i've rambled on and no one will read this. but it's done.

so, to sum up, i guess i'll read pretty much anything (even the writing on the wall??) and listen to most anything that has a good beat and leads me to someting else.