Saturday, March 22, 2008

Life's little annoyances 1

I have decided to embrace my inner curmudgeon and, from time to time, provide a list of some things that are annoying me. If you disagree with my choices, then you are annoying me also. Here, in reverse order of blood boilage, are today's nominees:

5. High fructose corn syrup. Does it have to be put into everything? (Well, apparently, yes.) Is it possible that there are people who might not want the empty calories, or who, if they are willing to risk the calories, might want the taste of real sugar? Here in Arizona you can get Coca-Cola made in Mexico with cane sugar; it tastes like Coke did when I was a kid, before the company switched to corn syrup in the US. . . Try finding a barbeque sauce, or a salad dressing, or even a can of soup or loaf of bread at your average supermarket that does not have corn syrup in it. It will be a miracle, and you should build a shrine.

4. Muzak. The other day I was at the dentist’s office and heard, in treacly, instrumental form, “Give me the beat boys/And free my soul/I wanna get lost in your rock and roll/And drift away.” Could there be a more grotesque irony? Satan himself could not have conjured up anything "better" to play in the waiting room in Hell. This beat didn't get me lost in anything, except laughter and a certain degree of existential despair.

3. Hotels where the windows are sealed shut. God forbid anyone would want some
fresh air, especially if the place has been renovated and the carpeting, paint, and luxurious particle board furnishings are outgassing their share of “sick building syndrome” fumes. What does the management think we’re going to do? Jump out the window when we get the bill?

2. Store loyalty cards. So now I have to carry a card for every supermarket I frequent if I want to get the sale price on merchandise at checkout. Ooh, I’m a member of the “Safeway Club.” How nice of Safeway to want to keep track of everything I have purchased, feed it into their computer, and target me with mailings. Why, it even tells the checker my name so they can add that "personal" touch and mispronounce it as they thank me for my purchase. (Sheesh, people, "Arenson" is not rocket science. It's "Air-in-sun," not "Arn-eson" or "Air-EN-son" or that pronunciation of people who just don't try, "Anderson.") Privacy? People have forgotten that one of the treasures of being an American is your ability to be anonymous. Think I'm paranoid? Read this and this and this.

1. Ads for TV programs inserted into other TV programs. Marge Simpson recently asked: “Can’t anyone just watch the show they’re watching?” Well, can’t we? It started with those jarring little logos that networks show on the bottom right of the screen. Now it has gotten way out of hand -- little people walking onto the screen amid flashing graphics to advertise their upcoming shows. Fans of Kids in the Hall will understand when I say "I want to crush their heads." Maybe in this age of multitasking and multimedia people are used to absorbing endless quantities of visual clutter. I want to throw a brick at the television.


Anonymous said...

Re: #5: salt...I mean "sodium". Everything's over-salted IMO. Salt Salt Salt. Leaves a bad taste in the back of my mouth. Maybe we should just have public salt licks around town if people love it so much.

Re: #1: scrolling words on the bottom of the TV screen during a show. Not just ads for other shows, but news, quizzes, etc. As Louis Black said: "I'm watching TV because I DON'T WANT TO READ!!!!!


Anonymous said...

High fructose corn syrup and hydrogenated oils. In almost everything you buy that is in a container. At least awareness has built about trans fats, and that situation is improving somewhat. But people don't seem at all concerned about the HFCS.

Those of us who have lived rather healthy lives and still come down with a bad disease sometimes wonder why. But the real wonder is that, with all the poisons we've been exposed to from before birth, that anybody lives through adulthood without getting a bad disease.

phil said...

I need to see some green foliage still hanging off what I eat. I'm extremely tired of the food industry playing with their chemistry sets and still calling it 'food'.

But on to what I wanted to comment on: 'curmudgeon' - excellent word, and an absolutely necessary state of mind to enter into from time to time if we are to preserve some last semblance of sanity. But a question - As I imbibed a great deal of Jewish culture through the writings of Isaac Bashevis Singer when I was a young man, I found that there were many splendid Yiddish words that described the human condition. Do you know an equivalent for 'curmudgeon'?

David Arenson said...

Lewis Black is one of my favorite social commentators, along with Bill Maher. I think Black has brought the concept of "curmudgeon" to new heights.

I'm afraid I don't know an equivalent Yiddish term. Kvetch is as close as I can think of -- to kvetch meaning to complain constantly.

Someone brought up salt. I'm afraid I can't complain about that one. I tend to use it liberally and Marilyn is a salt creature on the order of those presented in the original Star Trek.

Anonymous said...

Ever try to open one of those items that you buy that are encased in hard plastic ?

David Arenson said...

Oh yeah, those plastic packages from Hell. They have been known to break the blades on box cutters, as well as the human spirit.

Richard said...

If you want to see a curmudgeon in action get a DVD of the BBC series "One Foot in the Grave." I often feel I grow more like Victor Meldrew every day.